A Mini-Mani…In 30…In the Car. Was It A Success Or Flop?

Found!  Yes, I have found the perfect place to perform a mini-mani…

The car!  Today I did a quick polish change in my car – in a half hour – and here’s why I think it’s the perfect place:

1.  The steering wheel makes the perfect mount to place my hand on while I polish.  I didn’t miss a single edge because I had such a great view of the nail.

2. 5 minutes with the AC blasting and my nails were dry!  Yep. 

3.  Keeps me out of the stores from spending more money that I don’t need to be spending.

So I left for lunch with a chipped-up yet shiny gray manicure and came back with some plastic-y red nails (more on that in a minute).  Some quick notes, though.  First, this wasnt a full-on manicure.  I just went for a manicure last week so my cuticles are in good shape and my nails didn’t need shaping/filing.  It really was just a color change.  Second, I didn’t use a top coat because this polish isn’t meant to have a top coat (again, more on that in a minute) so that could have helped.  However, the formula on this was thick and so 2 coats of this probably equals 2 thin coats and a layer of top coat.  Finally, bring non-acetone polish remover with you!  Granted this was a clean job – my beige pants and beige leather seats went unmarked (I know, I’m crazy).  But I did get a mark on my steering wheel.  Non-acetone remover took the spot away and didn’t stain my black steering wheel.

So what color did I use?  I picked up a bottle of Orly Plastix in Retro Red yesterday while I was in my local Sally Beauty Supply.  I swear I stopped in to browse, but when I saw the display I couldn’t resist.  I had been wanting this color since I first saw the previews on some of the other beauty blogs a few months back  but wasnt dying for it (unlike some of my other lusts, cough cough OPI Mad As A Hatter).  And being the impatient person I am, just couldnt wait to make the switch.  But my CEU’s (continuing education units – my personal training certification is almost up and I need to complete these so I don’t lose it) are keeping me from doing much in the evenings so lunch was my only option.

I know this color has been reviewed by many other sites but heres what I think.  The color is meant to have the finish of plastic.  Visually it is a smooth, eggshell finish.  To the touch it does feel a bit plastic-y!  I havent tried any matte polishes because it’s just not my ideal (nails are meant to be shiny) so I can’t compare this to a matte, but this has just enough sheen to not be dull.  The color isn’t really a true red to me.  In some lights in looks like a very bright coral and yet I wouldn’t call it that either.  Reminds me of something Betty Boop would wear for some reason.  The formula was really thick on this but wasnt unmanageable.  Not gloppy, but definitely thicker than a regular Orly.  I almost expect this to be a chipalooza but we shall see.  I have one dent in my thumb, but that’s because I was trying to dig through my bag for a q-tip to touch up the edges.  The one thing I will say, is that it does dry fairly quick and thanks to not needing top coat, made this a breeze in terms of drying time. 

Overall, I think this is a great polish just because its different.  Is it something to rave about?  Not really.  The color is nothing special but something about it is interesting.  I’m guessing its the plastic finish.  I just wish it were available in more colors.  I’m not a fan of oranges and blues, and the purple was just too Barney for me.  Reds are right up my alley.

And just as a quick mommy note, Orly has amazing rubberized handles on their brushes – my 10 month old has much fun teething on this (supervised of course) and will sit quiet for a good 15 minutes massaging his gums on them.  Go ahead, judge me, but when your kid is cutting 3 teeth at one time, anything helps.

And stay tuned!  I have some colors/brands to try that I dont beleive have been swatched/reviewed on any other blog!

Links:

http://orlybeauty.com/

http://www.sallybeauty.com/

I Swear I’m Telling The Truth!

My name is Jen and I live in New Jersey! 

I am 28 years old and have lived here my whole life (heck, I live in the same town I grew up in and graduated high school).  However, if you met me you would probably call me a liar.  Why?

I don’t have a tan – I’m pale and proud.  I don’t have big hair and long acrylic nails.  I don’t dress as if I’m heading off to work on a pole.  I’m well-spoken and educated and say ‘Jersey’ not ‘Joisey’.  And this has been me my whole life.  My friends follow suite in this.  So do most people I know/see/meet. 

I don’t live outside my means.  My husband and I earn honest livings, live in a home we can afford, and drive cars we can afford. We rarely shop for ourselves anymore (shopping for our son is much more fun and the priority).  As a matter of fact, my husband needed 2 new pairs of pants for work last week.  Where did he get them from?  Wal-Mart. 

Between MTV’s Jersey Shore, and most recently, the circus that is Theresa and Joe Guidice from Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey, New Jersey is taking a hard hit to its image.  Whenever I read an article online I always like to view the comments – and I see a lot of Jersey bashing.   

Like any state, NJ has both beautiful and no-so-beautiful places.  And we have a mix of people.  So its sad that because of a small handful we are represented as ‘Guido’s’ who have no financial responsibility or sense’.  I’m the farthest thing from this.  So is my family, so are my friends. 

There are lots of beaches in New Jersey – not just Seaside Heights and Belmar!   My family vacationed in Wildwood for YEARS.  The beaches are clean, the water is clean, and it is an all-around family friendly environment.  This weekend I will be heading down to Long Beach Island with my husband and son.  I cannot wait to dip his toes in the ocean and watch him play in the sand. 

I live in a 2 family home in a quiet suburban neighborhood about 20 minutes outside NYC.  Any store in the mall would be a splurge for us right now.  We are constantly trying to cut expenses and put ourselves on a path that will provide the best life for our child (even if it’s not the fanciest). 

So there you have it – the other side of life in New Jersey.  Not so bad, right?

The Results Are In…Are My Teeth Whiter?

And if so, are they good, great…or the same?

I’ve always had a penchant for teeth whitening products.  I’ve tried strips but they always make my teeth too sensitive (however, I never used them in conjunction with a sensitive teeth toothpaste.  Hmm…).  I also tried this paste-like stuff that you squeeze out of a packet and then paint on your teeth (this was at least 6 years ago) and all I remember are sensitivity issues.  Finally, throughout the years I’ve tried different toothpaste products that claim to whiten your teeth, but I never really saw a difference.  Then again, I wasnt snapping pics either so who knows.

Which is why, when I saw commercials for Crest 3D White Vivid Toothpaste I just had to try it.  But this time I was determined to see if it really worked.

PRODUCT CLAIMS: 80% reduction in tooth surface stains over 14 days (website link at end of post).

NOTE: although I am NOT a smoker (yuck), I drink 2-3 cups of coffee today, 1 – 2 cans of diet coke, and occasionally a glass of wine (usually red, sometimes white).  I brush my teeth twice a day – once in the morning, once at night.  Throughout the duration of the 2 weeks I brushed my teeth twice a day and consumed my usual diet.  I say this because I don’t feel this should affect the final result, seeing as how in the commercial all the girl seems to do is drink wine, coffee, and eat blueberry pie. 

I took the first picture on Tuesday 7/13/10 before using the product and started that evening as my first brushing.  The second picture was taken 6 days later on Monday 7/19/10.  The final picture was taken Tuesday 7/27/10.

REVIEW: overall, as a toothpaste, I enjoyed this product.  The taste was minty but not overpowering take your breath away, and my teeth felt amazing after each cleaning.  You can see the little scrubbing granules in the foam you spit (gross but had to say it) so you know your teeth are getting scrubbed.  But did I see a difference in the color of my teeth.  A little. 

I can’t say if the surface stains were reduced by 80%, but they do seem a bit brighter.

CLOSE-UP OF TEETH

Before - 7/13/10   7/13/2010 – Before 1st use.

Halfway 7/19/10   7/21/2010 – 6 days into test, roughly half-way.

End of 2 weeks 7/29/10     7/27/10 – after 2 weeks of using twice per day.

FULL-FACE SHOTS

Before    After

Do you see a difference?  Other than looking sickly in the first picture, I think they are a little bit brighter.  You tell me what you think!

So – will I be re-purchasing this?  I’d say so, but only for the whitening effect.  When I purchased mine at Rite-Aid it was on sale and came out to $.99…how could I resist!  Usual retail I believe is in the $3-$4 range.  So slightly higher than the $2-$3 toothpaste but I’m curious to see if it keeps working or if the effect tapers off after 2 weeks.  I guess maybe I’ll have to see what my teeth look like next Tuesday!

Product details and where to buy:

http://www.3dwhite.com/crest-products/3D-white-vivid-toothpaste.aspx

Pure Mom – Installment 1

I started this blog with the intention of it being a beauty blog, and in a sense, a consumer blog.  But sometimes, I want to just talk about being a mom.  So I am starting a series called ‘Pure Mom’.  Nothing matters here except the joys/perils/hardships of being a mom.

Todays installment, in my opinion, discusses one of the joys. 

July 2009: I was 7 months pregnant, peeing every 40 minutes (soon to be reduced to 20 minutes), and counting the days until maternity leave (9/11/2009). 

July 2010: Planning my sons first birthday.

I can’t believe I am planning his first birthday.  It feels like only yesterday I was complaining about pregnancy and swearing I would never do it again (which of course was the pregnancy talking, not me).  When I think about it, I’m floored by how much life has changed in a year.  And here we are…2.5 months away from the big day.

Of course, we all know the 1st (and probably 2nd) birthday is for the parents, really.  I’ve got my guest list (need to start the invites), quotes from caterers, planned activities for the older kids, and about 5 to-do lists (oh yes, I’m a list maker).  While reviewing the progress with my husband last night I realized maybe I was being a bit excessive, but I was almost as excited for this party as I was when I found out I was going to the hospital to have my baby.  Crazy?  I don’t think so.  Sure, my son will have no clue whats going on and will not remember any of it.  But I don’t care – that’s what cameras and video cameras are for.  We are celebrating so much that day.  The celebration of a new life, the celebration of all the milestones of the first year (of my husband and I surviving the first year), the celebration of us becoming a family – its more than just a birthday! 

So I will plan my heart out for 2.5 more months and try to make it the greatest day I can.  So tell me guys, what did you do for the ‘big day’.  Did you go simple (family and cake) or all out (pony rides and clowns)?  Maybe somewhere in between?  Tell me!

A Big Old Mess

Yes, that is my hair.  Of all my beauty obsessions my hair is usually the one part of me I don’t go crazy over. 

My hair is super dry and always has been.  I’ve been in search of a Holy Grail (HG) shampoo and conditioner for as long as I can remember.  The priciest products I’ve tried are Nexxus Therappe Shampoo and Humectress Conditioner.  I’ve always had Joico and Redken on my to-try list but just never want to shell out the big bucks.  I’ve tried hair masks too.  Currently in my shower is Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask and it works wonders (do I sense a before/after coming up?) but I need a shampoo/conditioner that will give me great moisture with each washing.

When I was using Nexxus a few years back (ok, 4 years back in 2006) I remember my hair being at its best.  Then I got engaged and started saving for my super wedding.  Budget cuts were necessary and hair products took a hit.  I decided to try the Suave Professionals Humectant shampoo and conditioner (supposed to work as well as Nexxus) and remember being happy, but I can’t remember why I stopped using it.  Probably because I have the urge to constantly try new products and never found my way back.  Will I ever be satisfied?

Lately my hair has been extra dry and dull.  Extra dry as in plain old crispy and extra dull as in it just doesn’t reflect shine.  Which is odd, because I rarely blow dry/iron in the summer, giving it a chance to recover.  Could it be my current shampoo and conditioner?  Maybe.  Could it be something more like a vitamin deficiency?  Sure.  So what did I do?  First, I made an appointment with my Dr. just because I was due for a checkup and wanted to rule out anything medical.  Second, I decided I needed a new shampoo and conditioner.

Money is tight right now and I just can’t justify spending upwards of $15 per bottle and not be guaranteed I’ll get the results I’m looking for.  Rite-Aid had some decent sales last week and I was going to try the new line of Pantene shampoo’s and conditioners (2 for $7 wasnt a bad deal).  Specifically, I wanted to try the ‘Dry to Moisturized’ products for ‘Medium to Thick’ hair.  But then, on the bottom shelf (barely visible), there they were – Suave Professionals Humectant shampoo and conditioner.  And they were 2 for $4!  I hadn’t seen these babies in a while and sat in the hair care aisle of Rite-Aid for a good 15 minutes contemplating which pair to purchase.

What did I end up with?  I ended up with the Suave products.  Why?  Because I do remember being happy with it and figured I had nothing to lose.  The results?  Well my current shampoo and conditioner just ran out (at the same time, which NEVER happens) so when I wash my hair tomorrow, I will be trying these two products out for the first time in about 4 years.  I am excited – I’m like a kid with a new toy.  And I’m hopeful they inject some amount of life into my hair. 

I don’t have many before pictures of my hair that I can show you (today is an off day so it’s not washed, which means I will take a picture but it probably wont look too great) but I will still take some after pictures (after day 1 of use and then after 3 washings) to see the visual difference.  Of course I’ll only be able to tell you if it feels great, the same, or worse.  So check back to see!

Links:

Nexxus Shampoo/Conditioner:

http://www.nexxus.com/Products/Moisturizing

Neutrogena Hair Mask:

http://www.neutrogena.com/econsumer/ntg/productdetail.browse?segment=women&catId=4&subCatId=12&productId=206&target=/products/hair/triple-moisture-deep-recovery-hair-mask.jsp

Pantene Shampoo/Conditioner:

http://media.pantene.com/en-US/hair-care-collections/medium-to-thick.aspx

Suave Shampoo/Conditioner:

http://www.suave.com/Professionals-Shampoo-and-Conditioner/Humectant

Oh The Satisfaction

One of my first posts documented my crazed mission to obtain a bottle of OPI Mad As A Hatter.  I said I would post pictures, as well as pictures of the franken MAAH I attempted to make on my own.  I will owe you pictures (just have not had a chance to spend some quality time with my camera) but figured I’d at least give an update.

My bottle finally arrived on Thursday.  Yes, it did take a long time – 3 weeks – but I can’t blame the sender who had a family emergency.  The minute I pulled out the bottle up my eyes lit up – the bottle is pretty enough on its own to where I could just stare at it and daydream.  I immediately put a swipe on my nail (which prompted my husband to say “I hope you plan on doing your nails tonight”) and was not disappointed – so much glitter!  Two coats gave great opacity, but 3 coats left absolutely no visible nail.  I’ve never achieved this before with a glitter (as you will see with the franken polish which is two glitters mixed).  My nails sparkled, literally sparkled.  Blinged out would also be appropriate here. 

And then I woke up.  No, it wasnt a dream – I was just as fascinated by my nails Friday morning as I was Thursday night.  My only gripe is the chip fest that is this polish.  I was bummed because I touched up the nails what seemed like 3 times between Friday and Saturday before finally removing it on Saturday.  So you might be wondering if I was disappointed after all the work I went through, to be so initially happy with the product, just to be let down by it.  The answer?  Nope!  All worth it.  The polish itself is amazing.  I ordered a new bottle of sticky base coat and I’m hoping that will help keep it in place.  In the meantime, I do feel this is my next pedicure color! 

So yes, my dears, you are owed pictures.  PLUS!!  I have been using my whitening toothpaste for just under a week!  I can’t tell if I see a difference just from looking in the mirror, but I will be taking pictures of my teeth tonight for a ‘Day 6 Comparison’.  I will post all pictures at once to show the full progression.

Mommy’s Little Helper

Pre-mommy bed time routine:

Remove eye makeup, wash face, swipe with witch hazel, apply eye cream, apply night moisturizer, spot treat any blemishes, hit the hay.

Mommy bed time routine:

Swipe face/eyes with cleansing towelette, apply eye cream, maybe night moisturizer, hit the hay.

What a difference, huh?  By the time I get ready for bed I’m beat…sometimes I have to peel myself off the couch and practically crawl to the bathroom.  Its horrible.  It wasnt too bad when I was home for 6.5 months, but since I’ve become a working mommy it has intensified three-fold.  Oh, and my sons bedroom is right next to the bathroom and the water has woken him up in the past…anything to not wake a sleeping baby!!

So today, all I’m going to do is a rave about my nighttime lifesaver – Equate Facial Cleansing Towelettes.  I picked these up shortly before I gave birth 10 months ago and have used them just about every night since I came home from the hospital.   I cant say enough about these babies – they clean my skin well (lightly textured to exfoliate – bonus!), leave me feeling soft not dry, and I seldom have a blemish. 

When I went back to work I was skeptic if these would still work.  While I was home my makeup routine consisted mostly of moisturizer, brown eyeliner, undereye concealer, and bronzer – simple yet effective and not too much to clog up the pores!  My work makeup on the other hand is the works – foundation, concealer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, mascara, and blush/bronzer.  And you know what?  They havent let me down.  I’ve been back to work for 3 months now and my skin has had 1, maybe 2 blemishes pop up and that’s probably because there were a couple of nights I went to bed without even swiping a wipe across my face (yes, that tired sometimes). 

As you know, I’m also a gym rat and frequently work up a sweaty mess.  Again, these towelettes have not failed me.  I’ve used just these in lieu of face wash and still no breakouts.  Sometimes I’ll use 2, but it’s still quicker and easier than lathering up.

I’ve never had such success with a face cleanser – and I’ve tried so many over the years I can’t even begin to name them all.  These are my lifesaver – they make my night routine a lot easier, reduce the risk of waking my child, and keep me looking great.  My only caution is be careful around the eye area.  A lot of nights I don’t have the energy for eye makeup remover and use these.  They work great but do sting a bit (and I’m sure there is a warning about avoiding the eye area on the tub, I just choose to ignore things).

I purchase mine at my local Wal-Mart.  Initially you purchase the tub  (with a package of towelettes in it), and then you can buy 2-pack refills.  Not sure of the pricing and it’s not available on the Wal-Mart site, but trust me when I say they are cheaper than commercial brands.  And they last – they last longer than a bottle of most face washes.  All around, I have not one complaint.

Check them out:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Equate-W-Chamomile-Vitamin-E-Triple-Tea-Complex-Facial-Cleansing-Towelettes-60-ct/11047655

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