Saturday, February 26, 2011

Crepuscular Rodents & "Chacne"

This post is from my beauty blog, Glambunctious.

Confession: I have an on-again, off-again tumultuous recurrence of the dreaded cystic acne, a form of acne vulgaris (REALLY? As if it isn't hard enough to have acne, the latin name includes the term vulgar? File under "ironic" and "rhinoplasty"). Sometimes I can feel a VERY painful, blueberry-sized knot beneath the skin on my face for months before anything rears it's ugly head on my skin's surface like a crepuscular rodent. Before I discovered this phenomenon was known far and wide as cystic acne, I referred to them as "monsters of rock" zits, because they were just that epic. Research concludes that cystic acne is the hardest form to treat because it originates deep below the surface (much like satan), but the simplest solution is simplifying your skin care regimen and using products containing BHA's (beta hydroxy acids) and good old fashioned benzoyl peroxide.

I must admit that lately I've been using a veritable rainbow sherbet of products; judging from the current breakouts on my chin and cheeks, my skin is not amused. After researching products that will best help control/avoid these nodular zit-tastic flare ups, I settled on Paula's Choice CLEAR Regular Strength System. Paula Begoun AKA "The Cosmetics Cop", is a cosmetics consumer expert and best-selling author who has appeared on CNN, Oprah, Dr. Oz, PBS, etc, etc, etc. She runs the wildly popular website Beautypedia, which is a rich resource for those looking for consumer-focused reviews of beauty products. It's a wonderful site if you're looking for the FACTS about cosmetics, not just the claims made by the brands that produce them. Paula's Choice has been around since 1995 (aw! Back when I was rockin' mary jane Doc Martens and bowl-cut bangs and was madly in love with Brad Renfro) and the customer testimonials speak to the quality and effectiveness of her products. The CLEAN Regular Strength System includes a cleanser, toner and an acne-fighting treatment that contains 2.5% benzoyl peroxide which, according to the site, "is considered the gold-standard for preventing acne breakouts." As an added bonus, they offer a 60 day money-back guarantee and they are having a 15% off sale, thus making this $46.85 three-step kit ring up for a slammin' $39.82. The entire Paula's Choice line is extremely wallet-friendly. Typically, when someone considered an expert creates their own beauty line, they expect customers to fork over a veritable kwan cornucopia, so Miss Begoun's choice to keep prices equal to or less than drug store brands is very refreshing indeed.

I am very hopeful that this system will help me avoid future "chacne" (chin acne) blow outs and help coax the current breakouts away. I will definitely keep you posted after I receive the products and put them to use!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

REVIEW! | Farmhouse Fresh Bourbon Bubbler Brown Sugar Body Scrub

I first heard about Farmhouse Fresh Goods on Twitter from one of the style and beauty mags/blogs I follow, and after reading the description for this product, especially the "rich, gingersnap-pecan scent", I knew I wanted to try it! What's not to love? It contains real brown sugar and Kentucky whiskey, it's hand-made in Texas, and the lovely Dianna Agron of Glee claims to use it daily (I'm sure she wasn't paid to say such a thing, right?! Wink, wink). I have now used it twice and it is by and far the most effective body scrub I've ever used. Go easy on the amount of elbow grease you utilize whilst scrubbing! I am used to scrubs that require some serious physical exertion to get the job done. Not this one, my friends! If you apply too much muscle, you may wind up removing your entire epidermal layer. The scrub smells absolutely ahhhhh-mazing; like fresh-baked pecan pie enjoyed by a fireplace during the winter holidays! It leaves your skin incredibly smooth and soft after use, but I did find that you have to use lotion after showering to avoid that uncomfortable itchy dry skin effect. I only have two negative things to say about this product.

1.) You have to clean your shower after you use it because the oils adhere to the tile and tub, creating a very slippery slope during one's shower dismount.

2.) The product comes in a glass jar, which is charming but impractical. Your hands get very slick while using it due to the emollients, so be careful. Jason suggested putting it into a plastic Tupperware container, which is definitely a solid idea. After all, no one wants to end up like the fabled Miss Susie, falling upon a piece of glass when all they were trying to do is take a shower.

Overall, this product is very useful, smells wonderful and does precisely what it claims. If you want extra soft, extra smooth skin, I highly recommend it!

To order one for yourself, visit Farmhouse Fresh Goods.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

{Glambunctious} Review - Coco Mademoiselle

Overall score: 1 out of 5 jazz hands

Fragrance Notes: Top Notes - Orange, Bergamot, Grapefruit. Middle Notes - Litchi, Rose, Italian Jasmine. Base Notes - Indonesian Patchouli, Haitian Vetiver, Bourbon Vanilla, White Musk

I can't tell you how much I wanted to love this fragrance, from the beautiful bottle design to the fact that it's Chanel, and what's not swoon-worthy about their high-quality products? Unfortunately, I cannot claim to love it because the scent lingers so long that it made me nauseous. I gave it 1 jazz hand because the bottle is so gorgeous!

I had originally smelled this a week ago when I hit up Macy's with my mom. The lady at the fragrance counter sprayed some on a piece of paper for me and I set it on my bedside table at home. Every night when I'd get into bed, I could smell it and thought "Wow! Now this perfume is quality! The staying power is ridiculous!" This should have been my first clue that it was too strong for me to actually wear. I bought a bottle of it yesterday at Sephora - Lenox Square and sprayed the lightest imaginable spritz on my scarf. It lasted all day long. I'm used to perfumes that need to be reapplied, so the staying power excited me. Before we went to the Thrashers game last night, I sprayed 1 pump into the air, let it start falling for two seconds and then waved my forearm through the trail. By the second period of the hockey game, I thought I was going to be sick! It has a very powerful scent that lingers like a mildly truculent poltergeist. My boyfriend Jason commented that maybe I should just use a little less. When I described to him how I'd applied it, he agreed that I should return the mofo to the store.

Sadly, the fragrance is just too strong for my nostrils and will have to go back to Sephora. I'm aware that fragrances smell differently on everyone and this one probably just clashes with my personal Ph balance. I prefer a less-heady aroma, even if it means reapplying it more often. The scent of Coco Mademoiselle haunted me like a debt collector.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

¿Donde esta el autopista? Remembering, and longing for, Puerto Rico

I first visited the beautiful island of Puerto Rico in 2008 with my BFF Emily. It was her second trip there, and I quickly understood why she'd wanted to get back. The people are so friendly and laid-back, the food is outrageously divine, and the scenery is breathtaking. Puerto Rico has a real spirit to it, where you can be driving to the store and pass horses trotting free on sidewalks in residential neighborhoods, or stumble upon a remarkable overlook completely by accident (see photo below from our drive across the Panduras Ridge). Another favorite thing about this place is the roadside stands selling coco frios, or "cold coconuts", that they hack into and create a shapely little to go cup out of the nut with a machete! I assure you, life would be better on I-85 if someone set up some of these delightful coconut stations.

Emily had taken some Spanish courses as an adult and I was armed with a mediocre knowledge of French ("They're cognates! How hard could it be?!"), the locals were gracious and forgiving of our linguistic bumbling and answered us in English (except at McDonald's, where we floundered so badly that we ordered a cheeseburger and a Coke and received an order of fries aka "McPapas" and some sort of frozen orange slushy). One of the best stories was when she and I were relaxing on Jobos Beach and there was a Puerto Rican couple with a small child sharing something that looked delicious on a blanket behind us. Emily and I were really hungry and kept quietly debating whether or not we should ask them whether it was chicken or fish and where they acquired it. Emily spent a long time amping up her courage to trundle up to them and inquire, en Espanol, about their edibles. I was extremely handy in this situation, what with my vast knowledge of French vocab, as we pieced together the proper sentence necessary to pose. I swear this took 15 minutes. When she sidled up to their blanket and rolled out "Es que el pollo o el pescado?", the woman says as casually as you can imagine, "It's fish. We got them over there." and points to a boardwalk-type row of food stands! They were grinning from ear to ear, so we knew they'd overheard our quarter-hour Spanish planning session before we mustered up the courage to ask what they were eating. We laughed about her response, "It's fish", for days. I could spend an hour alone talking about the food, but I don't want to make anyone hungry for things you can't readily get here on the mainland. Suffice it to say, it is what dreams are made of. Puerto Rican food would be my #1 favorite if I could access it here, but it's pretty hard to find.

All this is to say how much I want to return to this wonderful island and take Jason with me so he can experience the magic for himself! I think the thing that is going to be the most jarring for him is the peculiar but legendary Puerto Rican driving. These folks gun it from every stop light and driveway and change lanes with the zippy zeal of Cameron Diaz's character in "My Best Friend's Wedding". They would be classified simply as speed demons, but they are too unique for that. In order for them to make a turn, they bring their motor vehicles to an almost complete stop and then guide their cars into the turn with all the haste of a drowsy Loggerhead tortoise. It is truly something to behold! I hope Jason and I will be enjoying the views live very soon!