Friday, June 24, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Drugstore Oil Blotting Sheets

E.l.f. Essential Shine Eraser $1
I use blotting sheets everyday.  If I forget to bring a pack of them in my purse, I get all stressed out, haha. Not all blotting sheets work the same, but if you use enough of them they seem to get the job done. But I do wonder one thing: why do so many contain mineral oil? If anyone knows the answer to this, I would love to know!

I don't know if I am using these wrong or what, because I have read quite a number of positive reviews on this.  I honesty think that tissue paper would work better than these sheets.  I do like that these papers are only rice paper and green tea (unlike the chemicals in other brands). Since I bought four of them at Target, I'm going to continue to give these a try and hopefully figure out whatever trick these people who love them use. Obviously, they fit in my purse better than tissue paper, haha! As for now, I'd recommend spending a few more dollars on another brand.
CVS Oil Absorbing Sheets $5 -- Neutrogena Shine-Control $7 -- Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets $6
These three I find comparable in performance, with Neutrogena coming out slightly on top. If they're available or on sale I like to get the Neutrogena, though I honestly have no idea why these ones work slightly better. They all have very similar active ingredients and no parabens as far as I can tell. Neutrogena does come with 60 sheets, whereas Clean and Clear and CVS come with 50. So even though they are a couple of dollars more, I hardly ever need more than one sheet, and they have the added bonus of ten more sheets. Lately, Neutrogena has been harder to find. I don't believe CVS carries them anymore (the blotting sheets) but I do believe Walmart and Target may still have them. Since it's been a few months since I've seen Neutrogena at CVS--where I most frequently shop for these types of things--I have been alternating between the CVS and Clean and Clear brands.  Despite the mineral oil in all three, I do not believe they break me out. However, I am thinking of using the e.l.f. sheets for a while to see if this is the reason my skin isn't completely clear. I'm sure I'll go through those fast as one sheet of e.l.f. is hardly comparable to any of the above three.

TGIF! I hope everybody has an amazing Friday and fantastic weekend! Thanks for reading!

♥ Danielle

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Food Scoop: Homemade Spinach Dip

July 4th is coming up in two weeks so I thought I would share with you all my mother's recipe for Spinach Dip. It is a fantastic appetizer or finger food for a July 4th BBQ or any friends and family get-together. 

What you need:

(1) 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach
(1) 16 oz container of sour cream (I use Daisy)
(1) cup of Mayonnaise (I use light mayo)
(1) package of Knorr POTATO LEEK recipe mix
(1) 8 oz can of water chestnuts
(3) green onions, chopped
(1) loaf of sourdough bread

This is the same recipe on the back of the Knorr Vegetable Recipe mix with the exception that Knorr calls for the Vegetable mix, not the Potato Leek mix. According to my mom, the recipe was originally on the back of the Potato Leek recipe mix, but sometime during my childhood they came out with the Vegetable recipe mix and put the recipe on that mix instead.  Both my mom and I have tried this same recipe with the Vegetable mix (I tried it because I didn't believe her when she said it was gross ha ha) and it tastes a thousand times better when using the Potato Leek mix.

The first thing you're going to do is defrost and cook the 10 oz of frozen chopped spinach. There is typically a microwavable time on the bag, but I usually empty the spinach into a glass bowl, add about a tablespoon of water and then cook it completely frozen in the microwave for four minutes.  Once that is done, you'll need to let it cool, then strain it to get rid of the moisture (the dip will be plenty moist without it and can get runny if you do not get all that pesky water out).

While the spinach is cooling, open your can of water chestnuts and drain it. You can leave them whole or chop them into smaller pieces. Personally, I like to quarter them. Next you're going to rinse and chop up your green onions.  I use all three green onions in my dip because I think green onions are one the greatest tasting foods in the world ha ha. If you find all three too strong you can alter this to your taste preference, but I really think green onions are necessary to give this dip the extra kick that is often lacking in store bought spinach dip.

In a glass bowl that preferably has a lid for refrigeration (you could also use plastic wrap), mix the container of sour cream, mayonnaise and contents of the Potato Leek mix. Once the spinach has cooled and you have strained it, add that along with the water chestnuts and onions.  Refrigerate for at least two hours (the more the better) before serving. This way all those fantastic flavors will come together.

Slice up some sourdough bread into bite sized pieces, dip, and enjoy!

♥ Danielle

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Scoop on Healthy Living: Daily Moderate Exercise

To become and stay healthy we need to eat a well-balanced diet and exercise on a regular basis. As we age, the more exercise we need to maintain or lose weight because we were naturally more active in our youth.  If you think about it, "exercise" as a child consisted of playing tag outside with your friends or riding your bike down to 7/11 for slurpees, or even running drills at practice (if you played a sport).  As adults, we typically work 40+ hour work weeks and spend much of those 40+ hours sitting in an office. 

The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans now include an estimated amount of daily exercise needed in order to reduce the risk of chronic disease and to manage body weight.
To prevent chronic disease, engage in moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Moderate exercise means maintaining an elevated heart rate, but not so intense that you cannot hold a steady conversation. If your goal is to prevent weight gain in adulthood, it is recommended to do 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week. When engaging in vigorous activity, you should definitely break a sweat and find it more difficult to maintain a conversation. Lastly, in order to achieve sustainable weight loss in adulthood, the USDA recommend 60 to 90 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week. You would choose one of these three options according to what your goals are.

Moderate Exercise
Walking is an excellent form of moderate exercise, as long as you walk quick enough to get that heart rate up! You can walk the dog/push a stroller, do yoga or pilates (both can be tailored to more vigorous workouts as well), chores like washing your car inside and out, cleaning the house etc. Basically anything that gets your heart rate up.

Vigorous Exercise
Slightly more intense, this includes running, biking, swimming, weight training/lifting, taking an exercise class, bikram yoga, and playing football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, etc.

You can switch it up throughout the week as well.  Maybe on the weekends and two/three days a week you engage in moderate exercise for 30 to 60 minutes (like go for a walk), and then for two days out of the week you do a vigorous activity for 30-60 minutes (like go to the gym). 

If you follow me on Twitter, you might already know that my favorite form of exercise is walking. I'm lucky enough to have a lake a couple of blocks from my house and the ocean just a few miles away. Last night was a beach night and I took my landlady's dog along.

I'm not sure, but it might be cheating that I prefer to walk on the "hard" sand :). Soft sand definitely works the gluts a lot more!
This is where the dog gets her exercise, she likes to go for a swim here where there is barely any water movement. The ocean tide on the other side freaks her out!

Takeaway: Exercise doesn't need to be something you constantly think about and can be an activity you enjoy. For me, I enjoy long walks, while my brother enjoys a pickup game of basketball with his friends. Just keep in mind that exercise is something that is added to your daily routine. For an example, if you already clean the house every day and are still gaining weight you will need to add an activity like a brisk walk or something more intense if you're looking to lose weight.  If you have specific questions about weight loss and exercises, your doctor or a Registered Dietician (nutritionist) will be full of helpful information tailored to your physique and current health.

♥ Danielle

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Cover Girl Natureluxe Review

I recently picked up the Natureluxe ($10 at CVS) foundation. Cover Girl made a paraben free foundation! Isn't that fantastic? Hopefully it will catch on. I tend to like Cover Girl make up--I don't love ALL of their makeup, but I have tried quite a bit of their line. If you read one of my very first blogs, you'll already know that their Oil Control foundation is pretty much the best drugstore foundation for oily skin, in my opinion. So here's the thing: this foundation would probably not suit anyone with oily skin. Every now and then, though quite rarely, I get dry skin on my face.  This is probably the only time I will be able to use this foundation. It is extremely moisturizing! However, if you have oily skin like me, then the fact that it never quite settles into the skin may annoy you. It has medium to full coverage and I think it matches my skin tone quite well--I have the 305 shade. Even though it is oil-free, this foundation unfortunately does nothing for oil control. I had to blot much more with this on. I really like how it feels though, it's moussey and so moisturizing, I would definitely recommend this to people with dry skin or even normal skin. I would imagine this giving those with normal skin a dewy finish.

Takeaway: Paraben-free drugstore foundation for only $10. Suitable for dry skin, but not oily skin.

♥ Danielle

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Pangea Organics #1 Facial Scrub Review

I recently purchased quite a few of the Pangea Organics skin care line. I picked out the ones that were geared towards people with oily skin because that is my skin type. I decided to give their line a try because I am hoping I will benefit from their natural ingredients as an alternative to chemical based products. I don't really expect much from products for my oil control, because I honesty think that has more to do with how I eat and hormones, etc. If you know anything about the causes of oily skin, I'd love to hear about it. I do expect products that I invest in to improve my overall skin tone and texture. I'm going to review a few of the products individually as I figure out my opinion of them and later I will do an overview of how I think Pangea Organics did or did not work for me.

The first product I want to review is the Facial Scrub. I actually paid $32 for this from the Pangea Organics website, but I just found that if you search a bit on the internet, you can get it as low as $21. I'm mostly mentioning this because it's true for many of their other products and if you want to try them out, you definitely want to pay the lowest possible price! Shame on me for not bargain shopping haha.
Pros: It is completely natural and organic, with no added fragrances and no irritants. Using this simply as a cleanser is probably it's best use. This scrub feels nice on the skin and I did not have any bad skin reactions after using it.

I do not think this is the best scrub I've ever tried, nor do I think it comes close to the St. Ives scrubs. There are very few exfoliates in this scrub when compared to other scrubs I've tried (i.e. Clean and Clear, St. Ives, Neutrogena etc.).  I would not recommend this to someone if they were looking for a scrub. It's difficult to exfoliate when pushing only a few beads around your face. 

I won't be purchasing this again. I will stick with St. Ives for now--they're not organic but they have no parabens.  I liked that this was completely natural, but when paying over $30 for a scrub, I expect to be able to exfoliate my face. If you're looking for a good organic cleanser, and are willing to spend $21, then you could definitely give this a try.

♥ Daniele

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Beauty Scoop: DIY Hair Dying Disaster

Accidentally Brunette

Before swatch of my permanent dyed blonde hair
I am the queen of DIY hair disasters.

It took me a while to get the hang of it, to learn about the different kinds of hair dyes, and how to pick colors that can be done realistically at home. Since I did not go to beauty school, it was really a trial and error process for me. The best advice I can give you is to follow the directions! Not following the directions can result in some pretty big surprises like dark brown instead of light brown hair!

The moment of the disaster took place a couple of weeks ago when I noticed that my roots were getting a bit ridiculous. I didn't have time to go to a salon, so I decided to do a demi permanent dye at home to go a few weeks longer before getting it done.

Ion Demi Permanent Color Brilliance in 9NG $4,
 Sensitive Scalp Developer in 10 2$

Tools: Either a plastic mixing bowl and application brush or a application bottle with a precision tip for mixing hair dye and developer. I usually use the brush and bowl when I need to touch up my roots and use application bottles when doing my whole head. Gloves are a must. You can use whatever ones you want, but they should fit your hands and not be too big. If you get dye from the drugstore, the kits come with them inside. If you buy dye at a beauty supply then you need to purchase them separately. You'll want a shower cap to keep dye from getting on your stuff while it's processing. I wear an old shirt, but if you're worried about spillage or dye getting all of the place, you can cut the bottom off of a trash bag and wear it K$sha style to keep the dye off your clothing. I used to do this because I was much messier when I started out. And of course, you will need dye and developer. Drugstore hair dye comes with both inside but you'll need to purchase them separately at a beauty supply. If you're a first time beauty supply buyer, it's best to ask someone to help you pick out your dye/developer. That way you'll know you got the right level developer. 

I used Ion demi-permanent dye in 9NG and a 10 developer. (for permanent blond color, you would typically use a level 30 or 40 developer, demi-permanent cannot lift color so you only need level 10).
I purchased my hair dye/developer at Sally Beauty Supply.

For a couple of great DIY videos, you can check out Kandee Johnson's "How to Color (dye) Your Hair like in a Salon at Home!" video on Youtube or Anna Saccone's video on The Style Diet channel "How to Dye Your Hair At Home" . They show two different methods and they're both great.

Below is a swatch after going one shade darker.

Level 9 Natural/Golden
So even though going a little darker evened out my hair and made my roots look better, about a week later I decided I wanted to try a red blond and used Ion's 6WR Dark Warm Red Blonde. 

This is where I went wrong--
I decided to dye my hair after work and make dinner while my dye processed because I was starving. I used the same brand, so I knew the instructions and even read them again, which makes it all the more embarrassing.

By the way, I do recommend the Ion brand! They are not expensive and as long as you follow the instructions, you're hair should come out fine.  It is important to keep in mind that demi permanent hair color does tend to come out a shade or two darker in general, but since it washes out completely [unlike permanent hair dye], after a couple of showers your hair should technically be at the color you wanted.  However, I left the dye in for about 10+ minutes longer then I was supposed to because I lost track of time and it came out a kazillion shades darker. I would have never intentionally gone so much darker (at home) with permanent blonde dye as my base, and I'm honestly surprised the color came out as nice as it did.
Here's my hair today: 
Bottom Line: Don't do anything DISTRACTING while dying your hair. ALWAYS set a timer with an alarm (like your cell phone).  ALWAYS follow the instructions and ask the beauty techy in your life what to do if something goes wrong. Luckily my cousin went to beauty school and told me the quickest way to fade / strip my demi-permanent hair color is to wash hair with dandruff shampoo or laundry detergent. It's a much warmer auburn color today than it was a week ago when I first dyed it (it was pretty close to black).

I hope you all can learn from my mistakes. It was really just me being silly and forgetting to set the timer, but I also didn't think leaving dye in for a couple of minutes longer would matter. Now that I know what a huge difference 10 minutes make, I'll definitely be doing a strand test from now on and following the directions (should be a no brainer, right? haha).  I actually like the color a lot now that I'm used to it and think I'll keep it for the summer. May be it was meant to be. 

If you have any DIY beauty tricks, feel free to leave them below or post a link to your blog.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Jason Tea Tree Scalp Normalizing Shampoo and Conditioner

Quicktake: won't be purchasing again. Shampoo wasn't that bad, but the conditioner definitely didn't work for me.
This was the first Tea Tree Shampoo and Conditioner set that I've tried. Ever since I began dying my hair blond (at a salon with bleach and all that jazz) a few years ago, I started to experience scalp sensitivities. I was using dandruff shampoos for a while, but I don't actually have dandruff (I don't have flakes) so I kind of felt like I was putting these synthetic chemicals on my scalp for nothing.  It's more of an irritation than anything but the dandruff shampoos did sometimes sooth my scalp. I have sensitive skin in general--especially my face--so I just needed something soothing and conditioning for my scalp to be happy.

By the way, if you follow me on Twitter, you'll have heard I accidentally dyed my hair dark brown last week, haha, if you guys want a "what not to do when dying you're hair at home" blog let me know. It looks pretty good, now that I'm used to it, but if you're a blonde who has gone dark before (and I did this on purpose in high school) then you know that the initial shock takes a few days to get over. Anyway, I used demi-permanent dye, and it didn't irritate my scalp at all--just FYI for those of you in the same boat as me scalp-wise.

I had some "extra bucks" so I thought I'd splurge on a new shampoo and conditioner at CVS, which is where I bought this set a couple weeks ago. This brand is paraben-free and uses a combination of natural and organic ingredients.

For those of you who don't know, Tea Tree oil has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and disinfectant properties and unlike many substances, it can actually penetrate the lower skin layers for maximum effectiveness. Aside from shampoos, it has also been used as an ingredient in acne treatments and I'm sure there are many other uses for it.

I was much more excited to try the conditioner. The shampoo bottle seemed to have a pretty common description on the back, a little information on tea tree oil and how it was going to help normalize the scalp. The conditioner on the other hand claimed it would sooth an irritated scalp, hydrate and "plump up hair fiber to protect against heat styling", etc.

I liked the shampoo a lot. I am planning on trying another brand next, however, just to see what else is out there. My Belegenza GrowOut Shampoo is still my favorite for the moment. The conditioner, unfortunately, was a flop.  As far as conditioning it's pretty much the worst one out there. My hair felt as dry as if I had just shampooed my hair.  I'm planning on keeping it around until it's gone. I'm mixing it with the shampoo when washing my hair because I do like the added soothing ingredients like Aloe Vera. So I would cautiously recommend the shampoo as I have no other Tea Tree shampoo to compare it to, but would say steer clear of the conditioner.

Have you tried any products with tea tree oil or extract in them? I'd love to hear what they were and what you thought of them.

♥ Danielle

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Beauty Scoop: St. Ives Purify Exfoliating Body Wash

This new St. Ives Purifying Exfoliating Body Wash is so amazing. It's probably not new, but it's new for me since I just started using it. Here's what it looks like:
St. Ives Purify Exfoliating Body Wash, $3
This body wash is only $3.00 at Walgreens! If you have tried Philosophy's Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash, $25, then this would be a fantastic drugstore alternative. I personally think it's better because my skin isn't left feeling as dry. Either way, it's always a good idea to moisturize after exfoliating. It has very fine exfoliating beads, but unlike many exfoliating body washes, it has thousands of little beads so you don't have to waste a bunch of the product to get enough of those little guys to exfoliate. 

My skin felt so soft and clean after using this. Even though I just started using it, I already know I will be purchasing it again when it runs out. Also it is all natural and paraben free! I'm declaring this my Holy Grail body wash. Love it! Pick it up if you have a chance.

Now if I can just find a store that carries the Collagen Elastin line by St. Ives so I can try it out, I would be so happy!

♥ Danielle