Ahava Something To Tell You…Get It? {Skincare Series 1}

Okay Skincare Review Series, episode 1. How about we start with my favorite of the moment: Ahava.

Ahava LogoNot only is Ahava the Hebrew word for “love” (aww) but it is also a skincare line from Israel whose products are made from Dead Sea minerals and plants as well as other all-natural ingredients. Depending on what type of skin you have and what you want out of your skincare regimen, you can pick which line is right for you.

All products are:

  • Paraben free
  • SLS/SELS free (sulfates)
  • Allergy tested
  • Approved for sensitive skin
  • Not tested on animals
  • Produced without petroleum, harsh synthetic ingredients, or GMOs

My favorite line of products from this brand, Ahava Deadsea Plants, is heavenly. Honestly I hope heaven smells like this. If so, Lord take me now.

Our store carries all four products in the Plants line – you can distinguish them by their green lettering. Overall, the scent of the Plants line is so refreshing. It’s like…plants. Duh.

The Caressing Body Sorbet makes your skin feel so silky smooth and completely moisturized, without feeling heavy, oily, or sticky. This stuff smells so wonderful, I honestly want to eat it out of the tub. And then, when it’s on my hands, I want to eat my hands.Body Sorbet

The Firming Body Cream is similar to the sorbet, except it seems a bit thicker and smells a little less amazing. I’m unsure why that is, but I prefer the smell of the body sorbet to the body cream.Body Cream

The Dry Oil Body Mist is awesome. Apparently oils are all the rage nowadays for skincare, even for oily skin. Weird, right? I actually tested it side by side with another brand’s body oil spray on my legs. I joked with my coworker that we were going to be so oily we could just slide right home after work.Body Oil

But they aren’t like putting on baby oil where it’s just thick and goopy and makes you look slicker than the hair of a 1920s mobster. It’s a light mist that you spray on your body, gently rub so that it soaks in thoroughly, and you are left with glowing, dewy-looking skin. And it smells absolutely fantastic.

The last product, the Smoothing Body Exfoliator, does not smell the best. This would be my least favorite of the four products based on smell alone. It is not harsh or super gritty since Moroccan Argon shells serve as the exfoliators. I have not tried its actual exfoliating power since I am at work and would most likely try it on my legs. Or feet. And that would be weird to do at work. Right?Exfoliator

If you read my Hair, Skin, & Nails post (if not, do it to it my friend!) my skin is super dry and sensitive. Something else that is sensitive: my olfactory nerves. My mood will change drastically if something smells bad; like, I transform from Happy to Grumpy in a nanosecond. Although, side note, Once Upon a Time taught us that Grumpy was originally named Dreamy.

Long story short: I need intense hydration that is gentle and that smells divine and Ahava Deadsea Plants definitely provides that.

Apparently Duane Reade and Target both sell Ahava products, although they go by the name ‘Dead Sea Essentials’, are not found on their website, the packaging is much different, and the prices are much lower. This is definitely something to look into if you don’t want to splurge on the “real” stuff. I’ll admit that Ahava products are pretty pricey and not as readily available as the less expensive alternative.Dead Sea Essentials

For more information on their products, the company, or to order some shweet stuff, you can go to their website, www.ahavaus.com. Also, let me know if you’ve tried Dead Sea Essentials and what you think; I may try it out myself…

Hair, Skin, & Nails >1 Month Update<

It has now been 4 weeks since I started taking the Hair, Skin, & Nails supplement, so I’m updating with my overall impressions after one month. As was mentioned in my previous post, I am only taking 2 of the caplets when the suggested dose is 3 per day. So let’s see what (if anything) I’ve noticed…

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My skin has been on and off with pimples here and there, and it still feels dry without moisturizer. I realized, however, that when I work out my skin tends to freak out. Since our 5k at the end of June I haven’t been working out as much with school and my new job. My skin was looking fine and then one day I decided to run, and by the end of that day I had two pimples starting to take form. To be fit or not to be fit?

Also, the back part of my scalp went through a couple days worth of itchiness and I was actually afraid that I had gotten lice! I bought Neutrogena T-Sal shampoo and T-Gel conditioner and (thank God!) it felt better by the next day and (again, thank you Lord) I have not had the itches since.

My hair seems a little bit more lively, but I’m not sure how much the supplement has to do with that. For one, as mentioned before, I have a different shampoo and conditioner combo – I’ve been mixing the T-Sal/Gel products (for dryness and softness) with some Brilliant Brunette (to help with the color).

Second, I picked up the “It’s a 10 miracle leave-in product” and have used that every time I wash my hair for about two weeks now.

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Third, to promote shine, I started rinsing my hair with really cold water in the shower. So after my whole shower routine is done, when I’m all ready to get out, I torture myself by turning the water to cold and holding my head to it for about 20 seconds. I haven’t gotten any comments about my hair blinding anyone with it’s shine, so it may be all for nothing, but what the heck? If nothing else, it wakes me up in the morning.

Finally, and probably most helpful, I have cut down on using heat on my hair. I’ve only used my straightener to curl my hair maybe 6 days this month as opposed to every other day. It helps that it’s been so sticky and humid. Honestly, there’s no point in even trying to make my hair be anything but curly and frizzy when it’s so hot and humid. So I save time and my locks when I go semi-au natural.DSCN1136

So when I wash my hair with said shampoos and conditioners, I spray said leave-in product and squirt some mousse in my hair, comb with my head upside down, flip right-side up, and finger-comb/shake my waves out to my normal parted style. I then create a braid at the front of my hair using my bangs because they get the most out of control and awkward looking when left to air dry (seen above…kind of).

Against all these great improvement-inducing products and routines, I dyed my hair about 2 weeks back. I am now all brunette again (I used Natural Instincts #12 Light Golden Brown if anyone is wondering) because I wanted to blend my highlights and cover my grays. I let it go for quite awhile longer than normal, but a male coworker pointed it out one day so my self-conscious self took over and I caved. Ugh, when are they ever going to patent that cure for gray hair?Natural Instincts #12

All that said, I’m glad to report that I definitely notice my baby hairs are less pronounced and seem to be growing because they aren’t breaking due to heat tools.

My nails took a beating at the beginning of the 4 weeks because I had gotten gel nails done at a salon. After almost 2 weeks, I started picking and pulling at them and a few of my nails ended up really beat up. Because the top layer(s) were pulled off with the gel nail, I ended up buying acetone to take the remainder off. So needless to say they’re still recovering from that.

I haven’t felt nauseous or anything while taking the supplement, but I’ve been taking them with breakfast and dinner, so I think that helps. I have about 3 weeks left of these pills and I’m not sure whether I want to continue with the regimen or not. If I do, I will definitely look into getting a different brand/pill because these are large and horrid tasting when they don’t go down the first four tries because of their being large. Since I take 12 pills a day for my Crohn’s, I’d rather not continue to add two more huge pills to the equation.

I will update either when I finish the supplements and change over to a new kind or in another month. Or when my hair is thick and luscious enough to do a super sexy hair flip.

Until then, I’ll just keep looking like this:White Chicks

Cheers to healthy mind and body. And humor.

Hair, Skin & Nails (oh my!)

DSCN1126I’ve decided to try taking the Hair, Skin, and Nails supplement by Spring Valley in hopes that I will become a smokin’ hot, glowing supermodel with long, luscious locks to my tush. Alliteration aside, I guess I would settle with stronger hair with less fallout, stronger nails with less breakage, and maybe a bit of a glowy complexion. That sounds a bit more realistic.

I have heard so many girls (mostly on YouTube) who buy Prenatal vitamins in hopes that their hair/skin/nails will improve. I mean, we all hear about how pregnant women’s skin glows and how their hair and nails grow like dandelions on Miracle-gro. But honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with hormones. So instead, I’ll try this collagen support vitamin and hope for the best!

So I’ll start by giving you an idea of what I’m dealing with right now so that an update can hopefully show improvements.

A little about me: I’m a very dry person. And no, I’m not talking about my humor.

My hair is really dry, so it frizzes if I don’t put some sort of product in it. I usually use a mousse because my hair is curly but fine, so I don’t want anything too heavy to weigh it down or make it flat but I need some sort of control. I color my hair quite often because I was blessed with graying hair at the age of 16 (Proverbs 16:31 – crown of glory, holler) so that adds to the dryness.

Lunch copyAt the moment, my hair is about 2 inches past my collarbone and is not very thick (density-wise, not diameter); I have fine hair, but quite a bit of it. I also have a ton of baby hairs around my face, so I’m hoping this whips them into shape. I also have been trying to cut down on using heat on my hair, so hopefully that will help as well. It stinks that heat makes it look so much better! #firstworldproblems anyone? Anyways, see picture (left) for current hair condition.

My skin is always dry unless it’s really hot and humid (causing me to sweat profusely) so I am constantly reaching for lotion. I have had bouts of eczema on and off since high school, so I try to be very conscientious of applying lotion when my skin feels dry. My face suffers hormonal breakouts around my T-zone (typically once a month, if ya know what I mean) and is sensitive, so finding gentle but effective cleansers and moisturizers is difficult.

My nails have taken a beating over the past year; I was diagnosed with Crohns disease in October, and my malnutrition showed in my nails. I had pits and ridges on every nail and was unable to grow them very long because they were pretty brittle. Since I have returned to normal eating habits, they have gotten better, although I still have some ridges and waves.

DSCN1124So that is the condition of my hair, skin, and nails right now. In terms of the supplement, the serving size is 3 caplets per day, to be taken with meals.  So far I have been taking them for three days, although I have only taken two caplets each day instead of the suggested three.  They are kind of large and are kind of smelly, but I’ve taken larger pills, so it’s no big deal. I’ve heard that it should take 2-3 months before full benefits are seen but I will update any changes I see after the month mark.

I looked up a bunch of reviews, from YouTube to Amazon (you can read through them here), and here’s what I found:

Good experiences

  • Many reviewers on Amazon and YouTube claim that their hair and nails grew longer and stronger after only a couple weeks. Also, skin was less oily and more glowy with fewer breakouts.

Bad experiences

  • I read a bunch of reviews where bad skin breakouts occurred; apparently the collagen found in these kinds of supplements is broken down through hydrolysis, so it is recommended by many to drink plenty of water while taking it.
  • Others complained of nausea caused by the pills; it is important to take any supplements with food. Your stomach will be producing acid to break up the food and supplement instead of the lone supplement sitting and rotting the lining of your stomach and/or causing nausea.

Unfortunately I was unable to find any proper research on these sorts of supplements, so this will be a self-study. I shall update after one month. Ready. Set. Sports Illustrated cover, here I come.

5 Minute Gel Manicure: A Review

My friend (and fellow blogger) Courtney (check her out here!) decided to give a gel manicure a go. We have both heard so much about these manicures and how long they last, that we wanted in. We did not go to a salon (ain’t nobody got time or money for that! Well, we don’t at least) but instead we picked up this nifty kit from Walmart.

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For just about $10, Nutra Nail Gel Perfect 5 Minute Gel-Color Manicure supposedly gives you a gel manicure without fancy lights or other equipment. Unlike other kits like Sally Hansen, you must purchase the light for at least $60 in order to get the manicure, not to mention buying any subsequent colors you want.

The Nutra Nail kit (we picked the shade “True Romance”, a soft, rosy pink color) comes with the Activator, Gel Polish, and Brush Cleaner – everything you need to get your gel manicure. The packaging claims the following:DSCN1089

  • Sets rock solid in 5 minutes
  • Lasting patent leather shine
  • No UV/LED light needed
  • Ding-free protection

**We do want to note that we did not prep our nails as suggested, so we have taken that into consideration for our review. We didn’t have files or nail polish remover to prep with, but neither of us had polish on before doing this. Our hands/nails were clean and we did not have lotion on…as you can tell by our dry hands!**

DSCN1084Courtney went first, and her first reaction was in regards to the smell. Upon opening and applying the gel color she stated, “This is potent – my eyes are watering!” She realized that she should go slower and be more careful so that the gel activator and color polish do not get on the skin because it hardens and sticks to everything. Within a couple of minutes, she said she was impressed because her fingernails felt hard.

First Coat

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After my first coat, I observed much of the same. Towards the end of the first hand, the color became kind of stringy and the brush hardened. I honestly believe that the “activator” is just a glorified term for “nail glue” – it smells and dries much like nail glue. The first coat is very sheer – this may depend upon the color you choose.

We also both were annoyed at how terrible our right hands turned out; the most plausible reason is because we are less coordinated with our left hands, therefore it takes longer to polish them and so the polish dries before we get through each nail.

Comparison

We both noted the annoying number of steps in order to completeDSCN1124 each step of the manicure. The directions give you a simplified as well as a more in-depth (with tips) version of the directions. We constantly forgot to switch the gel color and brush cleaner brushes, a necessary step in order to keep the brush from hardening with the combination of activator and color polish. It was cool watching the color just kind of clump and fall off the brush inside the cleaner bottle.

The second coat definitely got rid of a lot of the streakiness; they looked fine from far away, although close inspection revealed many flaws. Courtney noted, “If you put too much activator on, it will pool and that’s where all the gel polish will want to go. You have to find a balance.” We both ended up going for a third coat which simply built the color up and continued to cover streaks. Courtney asked me to apply her third coat and she was happy with how it turned out.

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So our overall first impressions were not too bad. We only ended up using half of the activator and polish after both of us applying 3 coats, so there is plenty of product. It was interesting the next morning seeing how all the color had settled in the bottom of the brush cleaner bottle.

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We planned to do a 2 week update post because that is usually the time frame that gel manicures are supposed to last. However, mine lasted less than 24 hours. We completed these manicures on Friday evening around 10:30. By about 12 in afternoon the next day, I already had some big chips (see picture). Later that evening around dinnertime, I had even more chips and after texting Courtney about this she responded that she had the same problem.

I decided to pick off any that I could because my nails looked terrible with so many chips. Needless to say, I ended up picking every last bit off of my nails. Maybe we would have gotten better results if we had prepped our nails beforehand, but either way it was super disappointing.

Pros:

  • Dried and hardened within 5 minutes, as it claims
  • Very shiny, as it claims
  • You get a lot of product – we only ended up using about half of everything for 3 coats each
  • Price

Cons:

  • Streaks were very difficult to avoid
  • Must be fast but precise
  • Number of steps and things to remember (for example, swapping the brushes after each hand)
  • Smell
  • Chipped within 12 hours

Did you try these and have better luck? Have you tried other brands that worked better? Let us know in the comments below!

Tweeze your heart out

A few years ago, my mom bought a new pair of tweezers that have a gripped handle and feature an accentuated circular dip for perfect thumb positioning. I guess they worked better for her hands. Meanwhile, I just ended up with her old metal pair. Who cares? They’re metal, they should last forever, right? I mean, it’s not like they could get dull or anything. I’m just plucking out hairs, not removing screws or staples or something (at least, I shouldn’t be anyways).

Present day: I usually pull a few stray hairs every morning, which may seem daunting and overkill to some, but it works for me. If you’ve seen any of my middle school (read: pre-tweezing) pictures, you would see that I inherited my father’s dark, full eyebrows, which grow quickly. Honestly, not only am I told I resemble Anne Hathaway, but I’m pretty sure without managing my eyebrows, I could turn out to be Mia Thermopolis’ doppelgänger. 06

Over the past couple months, however, I have been noticing a heightened difficulty when plucking. I was unable to grab hold of many of the tiny hairs, ending up with a bunch of little black spots around my eyebrow area. Then I would try digging them out a bit, but that only left my skin red and emphasized the tiny hairs more.

So I made it a point to check out tweezers at K-Mart today. I went to the one in Penn Station, which is 3 stories, but I now have the floor plans memorized. I knew there would be a large selection and vast range of prices; not only that, but there are millions more out there on the interwebs and beyond. I’ve heard marvelous things about Tweezerman tweezers, but honestly why should I pay $25 for them? For a small piece of metal that, while they may be able to take out splinters and ticks (gross), they won’t save lives and therefore aren’t worth spending that much on a college student’s budget (cheap or free if you’re lucky).

So anyways, K-Mart had about 5 different choices that I looked at, and the prices ranged from $0.99 to $10. I could choose from slanted; they offered enamel. Or I could get ones with a special carrying case. And then there was a combo set of slanted and extra pointy. I JUST WANTED A PAIR OF TWEEZERS!

With so much pressure and so little money, I said, “To heck with it!” and went with the $0.99 Image Essentials Slant Tweezers. If they suck, I’d only be out a buck right? When I got home, I figured I’d test them out and hopefully they’d be at least a small improvement from the retiring ones. Needless to say, I’m so impressed! For a little more than a dollar (because of stinking NY taxes), I found a pair of tweezers that pulled out all the teeny tiny hairs I missed this morning!

So all in all, I’m happy with this tiny purchase. I cannot say how long they will stay in such brilliant condition, but for now they work fine. If anyone has tried Tweezerman, can you tell me what the big hype is? Are they made of gold? Do they magnetically/magically pull out unwanted hair? Are they worth the $25?

My Secret (until now) Obsession

About three years ago, I stumbled upon the world of YouTube beauty videos. My first video, How To: Miley Cyrus Inspired Curls by a username juicystar07 (reminds me of AIM days…to which I admit, my first username was sweetcuddler88; don’t judge, I’m sure your’s wasn’t much better).

blairAnd this was only the beginning. From here, I looked through a bunch of Blair’s other videos. These videos included makeup tutorials, Outfit Of The Day videos (OOTD for seasoned veterans), and random talk-y videos. (Blair is juicystar’s actual name, although not her birth name; just one of the many things I’ve learned over the past 3 years. Creepy? Maybe. But she puts it out there for all to know, so there.)

Needless to say, I became obsessed. I started searching for certain makeup tutorial looks, began subscribing to other beauty gurus, and even used my roommate’s face to try and recreate the looks (Note: A huge thanks goes out to Becky: for enduring my cheap and sometimes painful non-makeup brushes, and later buying me actual ones for Christmas!). They show you step by step what products they use, how they are applied, and explain everything in between. There are super natural looks and crazy dramatic looks. Colorful or neutral. The list goes on and on. And not just makeup, but nail polish, clothing…EVERYTHING!

Since I began watching, my makeup collection has grown, as has my respect for these young women who use it on an every day basis. Even more respect for filming yourself doing it and having it come out looking amazing!  I contemplated starting my own channel to create such tutorials, but I realized I’m just not as obsessed with or dedicated to makeup, the latest trends, and fashion as some of these girls are. So I’ll leave it up to them.

Three years later, I am still subscribed to Blair. Although her videos feature less makeup tutorials (I mean, I guess there’s only so many color combinations AND the fact that there are hundreds of girls like her doing the same thing now) I’m still a fan. My subscription box has grown to other beauty gurus; here’s just a few of my favorites:

  • juicystar07 – Blair with her brown hair and brown eyes (twinsies!)
  • AllThatGlitters21 – Blair’s older sister, Elle, who has blonde hair and blue eyes
  • MissJenFABULOUS – she does amazing nail polish tutorials!missjenfabulous
  • shaaanxo – she’s from New Zealand, so her accent is great
  • kandeejohnson – she not only covers fashion and beauty, but she has a super sweet and loving heart as well
  • TheStyleDiet – she has an Irish/American accent that’s simply garjuss. Her older videos feature color combinations based on your skin/hair/eye color – it’s fabulous. And she now has an incredibly adorable 6 month old named Emilia, whom I watch on her and her husband’s daily vlogs (video blogs) on LeFloofTV

It’s crazy thinking that this started 3 years ago. Here I was, a junior in college, sitting in my dorm room, just wanting to be pretty and learn how to have hair like Miley (this was around the time when The Last Song was coming to theaters, so her long, luscious (albeit fake) locks were everywhere). And now I am a first semester grad student, sitting in my dorm room, wanting to be pretty, and writing about it. Well, I guess not all that much has changed.

Question: What is your secret (or not so secret) obsession?