4/29/16

Outremer Eau De Toilette Vanille (REVIEW)

When my sister was home for break, we made one of our typical ventures to the mall, and as we normally do, went into Anthropologie to lust over, well, pretty much everything! I have always adored the clothing and housewares that Anthropologie sells, but on this trip I was particularly impressed by their beauty and perfume selection. I'm always on the hunt for new beauty products, and I love exploring new scents so their selection of perfumes was quite the perfect situation.



I love how nearly all the perfumes they had on display were ones I had never heard of before, and not the typical perfume you can grab anywhere. We spent a good twenty minutes oooh and ahhing over the packaging and smelling all the difference perfumes. It was overwhelming, but in a very good way!





I ended up picking up this perfume from Outremer. It is their Vanille eau de toilette and it smells like the very best kind of vanilla...like the vanilla you get excited to use when you're baking (you know, the good stuff!), or even perhaps, vanilla bean itself. It's a creamy, cozy, scent that isn't too intense or overpowering, yet lasts really well.






What is perhaps most impressive, is that this perfume was super affordable, especially considering the store I purchased it in (we all know how pricey Anthropologie can be!). This beautiful bottle (I mean, seriously! Look at that packaging!!) of perfume only cost $18.00!! It's likely the most inexpensive perfume I've ever purchased, and it's now my absolute favorite! I also love how the scent mingles with my Almond Supple Skin Oil, which I talked about recently. Together, they smell like the best cookie ever! If you're looking for a new perfume, you seriously need to go and check this one out!!

4/25/16

Look for Less: Kate Spade Initial necklace DIY



I'm fairly picky about the jewelry I wear, and I often keep it rather simple, gravitating toward more minimalist pieces over louder jewelry. One of my favorite pieces is my Kate Spade "One In a Million" Initial necklace. It's super simple, but there's something about it that I really enjoy. I picked mine up from Nordstrom, about a year ago and have no regrets and would absolutely recommend the necklace if it's something you're interested in. However, I wanted to share with you all today, a far cheaper and more affordable option, if you're perhaps a bit apprehensive about spending so much on a small necklace, or if you just enjoy DIY's and dupes!






This is a super simple, no tools needed, DIY project that you can complete in a matter of minutes. It's also super affordable! The two supplies that you need for the necklace, I picked up at Jo Ann Fabrics for less than $10.00! (Bonus tip: make sure you look for coupons when you're picking up the materials for this DIY!!) The letter charm is here.







The chain I used for this project was a bit thicker than the Kate Spade necklace, but you can easily opt for a different chain! All you need to do is pull open the little ring of the charm ( you can use needle nose pliers but I found it wasn't necessary), slip the charm onto the chain and close up the ring! That's all there is to it!


 





If you like the look of the Kate Spade initial necklaces, but not the price tag, this super easy DIY can save you $48.00 or more!! If you make this dupe necklace, I'd love to see your finished projects! If you have a request for a future DIY/Dupe post, let me know in the comments!!

4/22/16

Almond Supple Skin Oil (REVIEW)

I think that I have found a new holy grail product. Something that might make me ditch all my lotions and body butters for good. As a dry skin sufferer, that is quite the statement.




In all honesty, I don't moisturize nearly as much or as often as I should. Largely due to the fact that I hate when a product just sits on the skin, or takes a long time to dry or absorb, or leaves me feeling tacky. There is nothing worse than taking a nice relaxing shower, getting all clean and then slathering on a lotion that ends up leaving you feeling like you need another shower. So I was quite curious, and to be fair, a bit skeptical, when I came across the Almond Supple Skin Oil from L'Occitane.




I knew that at the very least, I would likely enjoy the scent as I love all things almond (in particular almond crescents and bear claws....). However, I wasn't expecting to love the product just as much as I actually do. The first time I tried this oil out, I was blown away. It didn't leave my skin feeling greasy or oily and wasn't difficult to work with like some oil based products can be. I found that it absorbed into my skin rather quickly as well.




In terms of moisturizing, I was surprised at how well this product worked, as well as how long lasting it was! I didn't feel like my skin got dry at all during the day and I couldn't stop touching my skin because it felt so soft and hydrated...and HAPPY! Oh, and the scent? I love the scent...and paired with my vanilla perfume, I smell like a walking, talking cookie. It's a bit intoxicating to be honest! ;)




If you put off moisturizing because of the feeling it leaves you with, I would highly encourage you to try out this oil! It's really a lovely change from the chore that normal lotions can often be, smells great and really does the job it claims to. Oh, and the packaging is adorable! I love the simplistic and slightly retro feel! Bonus points too because the oil comes in a glass bottle rather than plastic! In my opinion, this oil earns high marks all around, and has made me want to try out the rest of the almond range. If you'd tried any other products from L'Occitane, I'd love to hear your thoughts/suggestions in the comments!


4/18/16

Fitbit Charge HR (REVIEW)

 
I heard about Fitbit years ago from reading various blogs and was intrigued the first time I read about them. However, I didn't jump right out to get one. Since then, they have changed a bit and when I heard about the Fitbit Charge HR , I was more intrigued because this particular model claims to monitor your heart rate and sleeping patterns. As someone who has pretty odd sleeping patterns (I have bouts of insomnia that challenge any normal schedule I try to maintain), I was curious to see how this device worked, and to gain better insight into my sleep. I received my device as a gift for Christmas, and I thought that after playing around with it for awhile, I would provide my thoughts on the device!

My initial thoughts on the device were that it was larger than I thought it would be and I felt like it sat oddly on my wrist. I had it on my non-dominant hand initially, but quickly learned that you could choose which wrist and after switching to my dominant hand, I felt that it sat better (I can't tell you why, it just felt more normal to me!). I also found that as I wore it more I got used to it and it didn't feel overly large anymore. Honestly, I can't tell you the last time I wore a watch and I'm not one for bracelets much so I don't know if it was that the device itself felt weird, or just that I wasn't used to wearing anything on my wrists in general. I'm used to it now though, though I find that there are definitely nights that I just don't feel like wearing it.

I really enjoy the heart rate monitor and I find it to be a very useful feature. It was one of the features that made me want this specific model actually. To be honest, I was mainly interested in the heart rate monitor and the sleeping tracker over the actual fitness tracker. It is helpful to see how my heart rate fluctuates throughout the day and to have a better understanding of what is normal for me.

I also really enjoy the sleep tracker. It will tell you how long you slept for and within that time, how long/often you were awake and how often you were restless. I find this feature to be quite fascinating actually. As someone who often wakes up feeling exhausted, its interesting to see how much of my sleep is actual sleep versus restless sleep. You can also set a sleep goal, and its rather satisfying when you reach your goal! Who doesn't want to reach their sleep goals?! 

Now the fitness tracker is where I have some complaints. First off, I find it to be enjoyable to use overall. It's fascinating to see how many steps I get in a day (especially on the days that I run errands!), and it feels satisfying when I reach my goals. However, I have noticed many inaccuracies during my first few months testing out this device. One night I was knitting and after a few hours, I glanced at my device and I noticed that I had logged THOUSANDS of steps! Considering I had been laying on the couch, I was well aware that this was not the case. I have also noticed that it will track steps when I cook, write/draw, and even when I read sometimes. I don't think it should be this sensitive. I think it would defeat the purpose of the heart rate feature, if I were to take off the device any time that I wanted to knit/cook/write/draw/read/etc (not to mention, annoying). So for now, I deal with it. I can easily tell when it has tracked inaccurately because these are all activities that are quite sedentary, but when it bumps me over my goal for the day it irritates me because its not truly accomplished. For individuals who are using this type of device solely to track their fitness, I could see this being an even bigger gripe!

I can also say that it holds a charge rather well. I only have to charge it about once or twice a week and it charges up fairly quick! 

Lastly, I want to touch on the technical issues that I have had with my device. There have been numerous instances in which the device will not sync. When it does this, I have followed all the troubleshooting they suggest and nothing works. The time gets thrown off and it doesn't track anything. I have reached out to Fitbit concerning this, and have not received a helpful response. In all honesty, I found that their customer service leaves a lot of room for improvement. I have also noticed that this is a known issue with the Charge HR so it will be interesting to see if they remedy it in the future. Through playing around, I've gotten my device working again and it hasn't been giving me any problems for awhile, but it can be rather frustrating when your expensive new piece of technology stops working and its impossible to receive adequate assistance!

Overall I would still suggest the Fitbit Charge HR if you are interested in an activity tracker that also monitors heart rate and sleep. If you are only looking for a device to monitor your activity I would reccomend looking at one of the more basic Fitbit devices. Hopefully this review is helpful to someone, I would love to know your thoughts on Fitbit in the comments - especially if you also have the Charge HR!!

4/15/16

Ben & Jerrys Non-Dairy Ice Cream (Review)

When I heard word that Ben & Jerry's was coming out with vegan, non-dairy versions of their famous ice cream flavors, I just knew I had to try them out! Ice cream is easily my favorite sweet treat, and while I am not vegan, I do try to avoid dairy whenever possible, as it seems to be an area my body and I disagree on. (which is unfortunate as I am both Italian, and a huge lover of cheese). Most of the time, I will just eat ice cream and deal with the consequences...it's just something I can't quit (I've learned you just have to pick your battles!). But I am also open minded enough to be willing to try any sort of non-dairy/vegan version of something at least once. In the case of these new non-dairy Ben & Jerry's flavors...it was four times, as they released four non-dairy, vegan friendly ice cream flavors.




Ben & Jerry's has produced four non-dairy flavors that include: Chocolate Fudge Brownie, P.B. & Cookies, Chunky Monkey, and Coffee Caramel Fudge. My sister happens to also be a huge ice cream lover, so while she was home over her spring break, we set out to try all four flavors!







When I opened these up, I felt that they looked just as I would expect ice cream to look. However, I did have to let them sit out a lot longer than regular ice cream before I could easily spoon any out of the containers. I think that the almond milk gives them a bit of a more icier taste and texture than regular dairy milk ice cream has, but it's nothing so overwhelming that it is inedible.

I enjoyed the Chocolate fudge brownie, and Chunky Monkey flavors the most. Not that any of these were bad though! The Chunky Monkey definitely surprised me by how much I enjoyed it. I have actually never tried the regular version, despite how popular it is! The caramel was perhaps the sweetest of the bunch and while I liked it, I can't see eating tons of it. I actually felt that they were all super sweet, so I'd probably opt for a smaller portion than I would with normal ice cream. Overall though, there isn't a bad flavor in the bunch! 



Besides the texture and flavor of these, I have to say that I love that they are also fair trade certified, as well as non-GMO! Those are definitely features I like to see in a product! If you are vegan, avoiding dairy, or just a curious foodie like I tend to fall, I would suggest giving these a taste test of your own! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've tried any of the non-dairy Ben & Jerry's in the comments!


4/11/16

Wet & Wild Gel Polish (Review)




I have a tendency of hoarding makeup and nail polish is quite the addiction for me. I can't help but browse whenever I'm at the store and admittedly, I very rarely use the same color on multiple occasions, which is something I should try to do more. Since I try to purchase cruelty-free products whenever possible, I have learned that nail polish is a tricky area. Unfortunately many of my favorite brands, are not cruelty-free (if you know of any I should try, please let me know!!). I knew that Wet and Wild was, and when I saw that they had come out with a gel polish, I was immediately intrigued and knew I had to try it.


perhaps not the best paint job. This is real life, people! 
 

Not only is the polish cruelty-free, but its also a mere $5.00!! That's quite the price difference compared to a brand that was my favorite until I saw their polishes go up to $20.00 a pop! For someone who often uses a shade once, that is quite a hefty price! The Wet and Wild 1 Step Wonder Gel polishes definitely grabbed my curiosity and I had high hopes that the polish would be a winner.

First off, I love/hate the packaging. Overall, it's nice and certainly worked in grabbing my attention, but I wish I could see the color in the bottle. I do like the brush though - sometimes the thicker brushes are a little tricky for me to work with and this one is sort of in the middle size wise. I found that the polish applied really well, but that the drying time was a bit longer than other polishes I have used. I also wish that they had more colors. When I purchased mine, the colors were picked over and I didn't have too many options. I'd like some more lighter, less intense colors! I see a few on their website that I wish had been available when I picked mine up. Also, I did use a top coat (I use this one and love it!!) - more so out of habit than anything. They claim that you don't need one with this polish though.




I found that the polish lasted really, really well - especially considering its such an affordable drugstore polish. It didn't chip until about five days in, and nail polish always chips on me. I also found that it came off super easily when I wanted to remove it. I can't exactly criticize the gel claim as I've never had a proper gel manicure, but I will say that it looked "thicker" than the average polish when on my nails which I liked. So, affordable: check! quality: check! cruelty-free: check! In my opinion, this polish wins all around!! If you are looking for a $5.00 manicure, I'd highly recommend checking these polishes out!




4/8/16

Ten Natual Product Favorites

In honor of April being earth month, today I thought I would share with you ten of my favorite natural products. These are in no particular order, and are all products that I can personally vouch for.

 10  N A T U R A L  P R O D U C T  F A V O R I T E S


 

1. Tom's of Maine Toothpaste - I am very picky about toothpaste, so to find one that I like, that works for my teeth, and is natural is like a home run! Not only is this toothpaste fluoride-free (something I was looking for), its also gentle enough for my sensitive teeth and the taste is light enough that it doesn't make me gag (yes that is an issue for me ....what can I say, I'm complicated!). PS - the price on Amazon is way cheaper than what I pay at my local grocery store! 

2. Wegmans organic cotton rounds - Okay, now this might seem like an odd thing to include but I wanted to share with those of you lucky enough to have a Wegmans near you. These cotton rounds are organic, super freakin' soft (seriously - they feel luxury!), and they're durable which is important. I use them for both face products (toners), and for removing nail polish and I love that they are strong enough for the latter, with no ripping or shedding! Oh, and they're cheaper than non-organic options?? Win, Win!

3. Neti Stik - I have never used a Neti-pot because to be completely honest, they really freak me out, This little inhaler though is something I have no problem using. I was skeptical at first, but I find that it truly does help! I love that its small enough to lug around wherever, and that its natural. I strive for natural options whenever possible and this is a great little thing to have around. When I was sick for a few weeks at the beginning of the year, this thing was a savoir!

 
4. Hurraw Lip Balm - I've talked about this lip balm in the past, and I would still recommend it. It's vegan and cruelty free, which are great qualities to have! They also come in a multitude of scents so there is bound to be one for everyone!

5. Badger balm - I'm a huge fan of this brand in general. I've loved nearly everything that I've tried from them, with their aromatherapy balms being a particular favorite! Cheerful mind, stress soother and yoga & meditation are three that I enjoy. A quick peruse of their website made me realize that despite trying tons of their products, there are still plenty to explore! I'll have to get around to doing that. ;)

6. Headache oil - This might seem crazy, but I have found that this headache oil from Aquarian Soul does help with (some) of my headaches. I say some because I get pretty much every type of headache there is, with migraines being a particular nuisance. I find that it is helpful with more mild headaches and sinus headaches (I think the peppermint oil helps in this case), but when it comes to headaches, I feel like everyone has different experiences so this might work better or worse for you. I'd suggest giving it a go though! I try to utilize any natural options before taking a pill whenever possible, and this has helped in many cases.

7. Salt Lamp - this might seem like it doesn't belong on this list, but in my eyes it absolutely does. A Himalayan salt lamp not only gives your space a nice ambiance, but they also remove toxins and purify your air! I think they're a win/win! They're aesthetically pleasing as well as providing health benefits!

8. Alaffia coconut face wash - this face wash is a million kinds of awesome. It's cruelty-free, non-GMO, gluten free, so on and so fourth. It's also super affordable. I love how well it cleans my skin without making it feel stripped, like many face washes do. The smell is fantastic and I appreciate the packaging because it allows you to see how much you have left (no surprises here!), and to get every last drop out! I have yet to find a product from Alaffia that I don't love, and this is a perfect example!


 
9. Kiss My Face Active Life Natural Deodorant - natural deodorants can be a tricky product. It's often difficult to find something that works well, especially when you're used to the more standard deodorants out there. This one from Kiss my face does a pretty good job. I can't say that it is my holy grail or anything, and to be honest, I'm not sure that there is one out there, but most days, this does what I need it to do. I also really like the cucumber green tea smell. It reminds me of the cucumber melon scent from Bath & Body Works that I was obsessed with when I was younger. ;)

10. Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo - this might seem like an odd thing to include but I really enjoy using this shampoo. I have sensitive skin and my scalp is no exception. I also suffer from flaking occasionally and this shampoo largely keeps that at bay. I love how it feels on my hair and that it does its job without any junky ingredients. Unfortunately this is harder to acquire if you don't have a Trader Joes (mine is about an hour away), but if you can get your hands on this, I suggest trying it! Psst...it's much cheaper in store!

I hope this list helps if you are looking to venture into the world of natural beauty a bit more. I'd love to hear your natural favorites in the comments! 

4/7/16

Wet & Wild Budget beauty (REVIEW + Swatches)




Lately, I've been trying to explore more of the cruelty-free options that reside at the drugstore. Actually, I've been trying out drugstore options in general, in an effort to find some more affordable options. In all honesty, I haven't tried much from Wet & Wild, at least not since my high school days (minus their gel polishes...which you will see more on soon)! But, since I knew they were cruelty free, and super affordable, I figured it was time I dove in and tried a few things.






I ended up picking out an eye shadow palette and one of their new limited edition high lighters. The palette is called Comfort Zone, and the highlighter is called Where The Dreamers Go. I was instantly drawn to the colors of the eye shadows, and in all honesty, it was the packaging that really sold me on the high lighter - which I think is much nicer than their traditional packaging. It's just cleaner in my opinion.










The shadow palette is from their Color Icon eyeshadow collection and features eight shadows. Each shadow is super soft and buttery, and I found them to all be wonderfully pigmented. The only complaint I might make is that there is a bit of fall out, but it was nothing insurmountable, or that I haven't experienced before, and often from much more expensive shadows. I absolutely love the green color, which is certainly my favorite of the eight shades. I do wish though, that the shadows had names!! Oh and did I mention that this palette was only $5.00!?! Even if you only liked one color, that's still far more affordable than many other options both in the drug store and high end!





The highlighter drew me in with the geometric design and the packaging (BTW, I love that the cruelty free symbol is now proudly being shown on the front of their packaging!!). These highlighters are from their limited edition Spring 2016 collection, of which there are three. I have tried this out a few times and I will say that if you are looking for an intense/strong highlight, then this might not be for you. However, if you are like me, and like something a bit more subtle, or that you can build up without worrying about looking like a greasy disco ball, then I would suggest giving this a go. Again, this highlighter only cost $5.00 so it's worth the gamble if you're curious!

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of these Wet & Wild products and I will certainly be keeping the brand on my radar. If you have any suggestions of what I should try out next, please let me know in the comments!