Saturday, May 31, 2014

An Interesting Perspective on Manners

One of my friends said something about manners the other day that struck me. She said that manners are all about making the people around you feel comfortable. So it's not about knowing which fork to use for which dish, but instead about creating an enjoyable environment for the whole table. This could entail doing anything from eating with your mouth closed, to demonstrating enjoyment of the food (even if it may not be the best), to just projecting confidence even if you're not sure what's going on.

I'll definitely be bringing this to my next social eating occasion.

Friday, May 30, 2014

My Drugstore Sunscreen Picks

I've certainly splurged on very pricey sunscreens before (I'll be posting a review of one of them shortly), but to be honest have rarely found them to be worth it. In fact, branded, expensive sunscreens are just as likely to contain the "Avoid" ingredients as drugstore ones and the performance gap just isn't enough to warrant the high price tag. 

Here are three of my drugstore sunscreen picks that you can get for under $10. You can zoom in on the ingredients list in the photo below and see that all three pass the "Avoid" test.  

Aveeno Natural Protection: This one leaves the most obvious white cast, so for that reason it's my least favorite of the bunch. It's fine for the body, but I would keep it far away from the face and neck - I once put it on and despite blending it as best as possible, I had people commenting on what the white stuff on my face was. Yikes. However, the texture is quite smooth and less goopy than some of the others, making it easier to spread out than a couple of the others.

I will warn you to watch out against the other products in the Aveeno sunscreen line. They have a Protect and Hydrate SPF 70 version with very similar packaging, but that's a chemical sunscreen with Oxybenzone. Stick to this Natural Protection version if you're doing this brand.

Banana Boat Kids (Yellow Tube): This is my favorite. It's also conveniently the cheapest of the three, costly less for 8oz than the others for only 3 or 4oz. You'll note that I have two kids choices up here, because it seems manufacturers are at least becoming aware of the importance of keeping harmful chemicals off kids skins. But don't be deterred, because these work perfectly fine for adults too!

This one is a nice medium between the other two. It's fairly easy to spread and does not leave a white cast when blended out. I use it on my face and body.

Banana Boat Kids Natural Reflect (Green Tube): To be honest I'm not sure what the major difference between this and the yellow tube are, especially as this costs over twice as much per oz. It is a significantly thicker texture though, so maybe it has a higher coverage (I noted the Titanium Dixoide is 3.6% versus 3.1% for the yellow tube)? Anyways, as much as I like this product, I really don't like the thick formulation. This one is literally impossible to rub in - you have to aggressively pat it onto the skin because it's so thick.

However, unlike the Aveeno one, once you pat this in it all but disappears, leaving a flattering glow to the skin. In fact, that's what I kind of like about mineral sunscreens - they make the skin appear luminous after. Just make sure to powder, or else your face will be too shiny.

As always, make sure to apply sunscreen often, and keep protected!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

All About Sun Protection - Why It's important, What Ingredients to Avoid, and Application Advice

With summer now well underway, here's a summary of my knowledge on sun protection. I'm not a professional, but I have read up extensively on the topic.

Why use sunscreen?
Most people don't realize that the sun is associated with as much as 90% of wrinkles and skin aging. Even worse, the effects of sun damage may not show up for 20 years, so what may seem like harmless tanning or Vitamin D-getting now can wreck havoc on your skin later on. 

Additionally, UV penetrates the clouds year-round, so whether you live in gray Seattle or the sunny equator, be sure to apply any time you'll be outside, rain or shine!

General: There are two types of sunscreens:
·        Physical: Use minerals Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide to physically block sun. May leave a white cast on the face with flash photography, but generally safer to use.
·        Chemical: Uses chemicals that absorb UV rays (e.g. Oxybenzone).

·    Oxybenzone: Active ingredient in most chemical sunscreens, a hormone disrupter that may be absorbed into the skin
·    Retinyl Palmitate: A form of Vitamin A that can increase risk of skin cancer when the used on sun-exposed skin
·    SPFs over 50: Generally not shown to be effective, and may even cause more exposure to UV radiation
·    Parabens: Preservatives included under inactive ingredients

Make sure to:

  • Reapply at least every 2 hours because the sun breaks down the sunscreen
  • Find a “broad spectrum” sunblock that covers UVA and UVB. UVA causes wrinkles, UVB causes burns. Some sunscreens only protect against UVB so make sure to be aware of this.
  • For spray sunscreens, make sure to not inhale while spraying (or spray on hand and then rub onto face). Also make sure to spray a couple times to ensure even coverage.
  • Apply if you're sitting in front of a window or driving in a sunny car! Glass only blocks UVB, but not UVA rays, so keep your skin shielded.
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats whenever possible - they're not only a fashion statement, but also offer valuable protection. Try to get a hat with tightly weaved straw so that the sun isn't able to get through. For the winter, look for stylish black wool options.
  • Pat, don't rub, sunscreens into your face. You don't want to tug mercilessly on your face and cause wrinkles!
Stay tuned for a list of the specific sunscreens I use!

Links to read more:

Check the list of the safest sunscreens here:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Accessories Haul: ASOS & Dailylook

Bag | ASOS

I couldn't resist an online shopping look at ASOS and Dailylook, especially to try and stock up on pretty accessories. I've been wanting a simple brown saddlebag for ages now, and this one from Oasis hit the mark. It's not real leather, so the quality isn't fantastic (and the fabric does unfortunately suffer from indentation), but I liked the simplicity, and for the price it was a satisfying buy. 

Top to Bottom:

Multi Row Triangle Necklace | ASOS
Spiked Rhinstone Necklace | Dailylook
Geometric Pyramid Necklace | Dailylook

I've been trying to accumulate some more "edgy" jewelry, and the above really appealed to me. The lighting is a bit washed out, but the Rhinestone necklace is almost a pure gold, and very sparkly on. The ASOS necklace would be great layered over a more high-collar shirt, while the pyramid necklace seems like a versatile piece that could work with just about any outfit. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bite Beauty: Agave Lip Mask and Rhubarb Lip Crayon

Update: I have to say the packaging for this brand is HORRIBLE. This is after about six months of use and throwing the items in my purse, but the gray paint on both the metal tube and the lid of the lip gloss are peeling like crazy - they leave little gray bits around everywhere. The metal tube is also proving to be very difficult to squeeze now that it's no longer completely full. Products themselves are good, but when every application leaves you with gray clingy stuff all over your hands / lips it makes it far less appealing.

Forget the Bath and Body Works lip balms I reviewed earlier. Bite's Agave Lip Mask is about 1000000x better, and is literally a miracle treatment for my constantly chapped lips. I cannot go without this stuff anymore, it's that amazing.

The lip mask is made with Lanolin and smells mildly like vanilla. It's a pale yellow cream with a very sticky texture, but goes on smoothly like a balm. 

Most people probably use it as what it's intended to be, a mask, but for me I treat it like a daily chapstick and reapply multiple times a day, whenever I feel my lips starting to tighten. While other balms leave my lips feeling peelly and horrible less than an hour later, this will last for several hours if I don't eat or drink. 

Moving on, I've also tried one of their matte creme lip crayons in Rhubarb. I was afraid the color would be too dark, but it applies so lightly and is surprisingly flattering. 

It's also very moisturizing, although it's definitely no where near the level of the lip mask. I usually put the lip mask on first, then apply a layer of this. I like that there's not much need to sheer it out, unlike with the Rimmel lip glosses

On the lips the color is much more subtle than in the swatch above. My only issue with it is that the color rubs off very easily and thus doesn't last long. But the creamy formulation makes it very easy to apply.

Overall, I'm very impressed with Bite, and believe their products are worth the hype. The items are a bit pricey though, with the lip mask retailing at $26 and the crayon at $24. However, they are supposedly handcrafted and contain all sorts of good-for-you ingredients like Manuka honey and resveratrol, so that at least makes me feel less bad about the splurge.