Younique~Moodstruck Lip Exfoliator

I am new to this brand, thanks to one of my friends in Germany, who is a sales agent for the Younique brand. As a cruelty-free cosmetic guru, I was more than happy to learn Younique is not tested on animals and is environmentally friendly. So, when I saw the opportunity to try this lip exfoliator and moisturizer duo, I jumped at the chance. As someone who suffers from chronic dry lips, I’m always on the hunt for gentle exfoliation and moisturizing options that keep my lips both smooth and comfortable. This Younique Moodstruck Lip Exfoliator is the absolute best I have tried.

lip.jpg

This gentle exfoliator leaves lips smooth without drying them out. If you are in a rush, or if you are immediately applying lip color afterward, a second moisturizing agent isn’t necessary. Moodstruck leaves behind a dewy comfort that leaves lips ready for a slick of balm or even the most drying of matte lip colors. My lip color lasted for several hours and my lips didn’t feel dry or tight with extended wear, thanks to my Moodstruck.

If you are interested in trying Younique for yourself, you can find them through a local Younique agent or online at http://www.youniqueproducts.com. You won’t be disappointed in the quality or the price.
As always, live a beautiful life.

*www.youniqueproducts.com/AnjaWalpuski/account/index offers great deals and savings on Younique products throughout the year.

Advertisements

WHEN MAMMOGRAMS SPOT TROUBLE…BIOPSIES, SURGERY AND POST-OP TREATMENT~ Part III

PREVENTION TREATMENT AND MOVING ON WITH LIFE~Part III

A couple of weeks after my post-surgery follow up, I met my new oncologist. At my appointment, I underwent a breast exam and a full review of my biopsies and my health history. From there, the oncologist reviewed with me the averages of breast cancer occurrence in the general population and the likelihood that I would have breast cancer within five years and within twenty years. His calculations, based on my health, my family history and the types of cells found in my biopsies, indicate I am more than twice as likely as other women to develop breast cancer in the next five to twenty years.

IMG_20170727_174652.jpgBut the news need not be so troubling today. The oncologist informed me of various medications that are being used to reduce the development of breast cancer in women who have experienced a pre-cancer or early cancer situation. And I am a candidate for just such treatment. Furthermore, my information will be used as part of a study to rate how effective these medications are for women in the future.

My doctor selected Raloxifene treatment for me. Raloxifene is used for menopausal women who may also be at risk for osteoporosis or other brittle bone issues. The drug comes in pill form and is taken once a day. Yes, there are numerous side effects, many of which sound a lot like pre-menopausal and menopausal symptoms, such as headaches, blurred vision, hot flashes and difficulty sleeping, among dozens of others. After a week of treatment, I have had no indication of any side effects so I am grateful for my apparent tolerance of the drug. Treatment with Raloxifene is for five years and requires six-month visits with the oncologist. At these visits, I will have a breast exam and review my six-month mammograms and undergo a complete check-up that includes a review of where I stand in terms of any reduction in my likelihood of developing breast cancer.

In addition to my Raloxifene treatment, I am continuing with my pescatarian diet and IMG_20170802_195735.jpgdaily exercise routine. Surprisingly, while my surgeon is adamant I remain living a pescatarian/vegetarian lifestyle as part of my fight against breast cancer, my oncologist doubts the studies relating diet to breast cancer occurrence in the general population. That does not mean he gave me the green light to eat and drink anything I want however. He does advocate both diet an exercise as a means of significantly reducing the risk of heart attack and other heart disease and stroke, as well as other types of cancers. So, I’m not off the hook! Furthermore, I was notified that I should never again use any form of hormone therapy including over-the-counter menopausal supplements that contain natural hormone producing ingredients. This also means strictly limiting my soy product intake, as soy is after all, a form of estrogen. And I shouldn’t have to bring up the issue of smoking or over-indulging in alcohol: just don’t do it.

The post-surgery oncology preventative treatment is by far the easiest part of this journey. Yes, it means taking a medication daily for the next five years and undergoing twice yearly tests and reviews with my oncologist. But if oncology prevention can reduce my risk of breast cancer by as much as half, putting me back into the range of the average woman in society, then I’ll gladly do it. And if my information somehow helps with breast cancer treatment for other women in the future, that is just another blessing for my community.

IMG_20170801_142346.jpgOne in eight women in the general population will get breast cancer. These aren’t the best odds for any of us, and for those of us with higher risk factors, our chances can seem overwhelmingly dire. But we can all do things to reduce our risk and increase our chances of survival if we find ourselves to be one of the unlucky gals diagnosed. Knowing how to do self-breast exams at home should be second nature, and an annual breast health exam and mammogram are a must for every woman over the age of 40 and for those in high risk categories. Don’t put off your own breast health. I am one of the lucky few who was found to have an issue BEFORE it turned to full blown cancer requiring more than post-surgery, preventative oncology. Do yourself and your family a favor: have ALL your medical preventative check-ups and tests, on time, on the schedule your doctors map out for you.

Live a long, healthy and beautiful life!

IMG_20170721_150024.jpg

WHEN MAMMOGRAMS SPOT TROUBLE…BIOPSIES, SURGERY AND POST-OP TREATMENT~Part II

THE BREAST SURGERY~Part II

I was checked into the hospital for breast surgery at 7:30 AM, less than a week and a half after my core needle biopsy. The surgery again started with a trip to the mammography department, following my surgery preparation. My usual mammography technician was assisted by a second radiology tech, both of whom set me up for the radiologist. Once IIMG_20170718_163146.jpg was properly positioned in the mammography machine, the radiologist again took a few pictures and numbed my breast prior inserting a wire, via a large needle, into my breast tissue. The purpose of this wire is to meet up with the marker that was placed during the biopsy, and to give the surgeon the exact location of the cells to be removed. Once this wire was in place, I was taken to surgery.

I woke about an hour and a half later, ready to have a snack and go home. When I was being dressed post-surgery, I found I was wearing a sport type bra, well-padded with gauze, over and around my incision. I was told to wear it for the remainder of the day and then I could remove it at bedtime. I was also sent home with a prescription for pain relief medication and informed that ice packing was again appropriate as I felt necessary. The ordeal itself was over.

IMG_20170802_180440.jpgA few days later, my surgeon again called me at home to inform me the post-surgery biopsy report showed the same abnormal cells as the biopsy, but no full-blown cancer. Over the next few weeks, I was sore and tender, swollen and bruised. Sleeping was a bit problematic as finding a comfortable position wasn’t always easy. I was protective of my breast and didn’t want to be too close to anyone who could possibly bump into me. But overall, the experience wasn’t as bad as some might expect. I kept my physical activity limited and got as much rest as I could for the next few weeks.

At the three-week mark, I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon. At this appointment, he reviewed with me the likelihood that I would experience a recurrence and possible breast cancer. The verdict? There is a 20% chance that I will have breast cancer within five to twenty years. The good news? That chance can be reduced by up to half using preventative treatment, combined with good lifestyle habits. I already pass the diet and exercise test with flying colors so the only other task at hand was to give up my menopause related hormone therapy, which I had done the week of my surgery. Welcome back hot flashes, night sweats and hormone related acne! IMG_20170727_160208.jpgFurthermore, my surgeon ordered a six-month follow-up mammogram and appointment with him at the end of the year, and every six months thereafter, until he deems they are no longer needed. Those appointments were also already scheduled for me.

My surgeon then referred and scheduled me with an oncologist at a premier cancer center with a satellite office at the same hospital where I had my surgery—just twenty minutes from my home. Another blessing in my eyes as I need not travel out of town for my medical appointments. The last thing anyone wants to do when they are dealing with a medical issue is to deal with traffic jams, hazardous weather driving conditions and long waits in packed waiting rooms. I have the benefit of top notch care in a small-town environment, and that is stress alleviating indeed.

If you have yet to see your doctor for a breast health check-up, be sure to pick up the phone and schedule your appointment on Monday morning. It just may be the appointment that saves your life.

Live a beautiful life!

 

WHEN MAMMOGRAMS SPOT TROUBLE–BIOPSIES, SURGERY AND POST-OP TREATMENT~

THE MAMMOGRAM~Part1

I’ve been busy the last couple of months. Not just lunching with friends, vacationing with hubby, walking the dog and grooming the horse. But with serious, self-loving behavior. And it all started with my annual mammogram.

I had my mammogram a couple months late this year because I was dealing with

IMG_20170727_162630.jpg

another medical issue and had to tackle one thing at a time. As soon as I resolved the original problem, I scheduled my mammogram and thought nothing of it. I also thought nothing of it when I got a call from my GYN a couple days later to return for a few more pictures. I’ve had call backs before and nothing came of them. Sometimes us gals with denser breast tissue don’t always take the best snaps the first time around. I scheduled my call back and had mammogram number two within a week’s time.

At the conclusion of mammogram number two, my tech asked me to wait while she sent my additional pictures straight to the radiologist so he could determine if any additional pictures were needed. Again, just routine. But what wasn’t routine was the radiologist coming down to meet me in the mammography center to speak to me in person. It turned out I had a spot on my mammogram indicating ‘calcifications’ that are often linked to breast cancer. OK then. The radiologist recommended I seek a biopsy to determine if there was any need for further investigation. He was very kind, explained everything clearly and then informed me he would telephone my GYN as soon as he returned to his office to make the arrangement. Again, I was not in any way concerned or upset by the news. It was just another hoop for me to jump through.

I no sooner arrived home and settled into my tasks for the day when my phone rang. It

IMG_20170727_154216.jpg

was my GYN. Her first words to me were, “How are you feeling about this”? I told her that honestly, I felt very positive and wasn’t worried because I didn’t feel there would be anything wrong. I think she was more relieved to hear that I was less upset about a possible breast cancer diagnosis than she was. She inquired as to whether I had told my husband yet and how he was handling the news. I was so grateful to have a doctor who expressed such kindness and concern that I knew no matter what happened to me, I would be OK. After all, I am surrounded by great doctors in one of the premier training hospitals in the nation. My GYN offered to refer me to a surgeon and I chose the one I had used for past surgeries and felt very confident with. I called and scheduled my consultation that day.

A week later, my husband I walked into the surgeon’s office to learn about what would happen during my biopsy and what the possible outcomes might be. The verdict? Three possibilities: nothing at all; abnormal cells that are not yet cancer but indicative of a future cancer; or, breast cancer. After going through the specifics of the biopsy process, I left well prepared for a core needle biopsy, scheduled for the following Friday.

I had been warned by my doctors that this procedure might not be the most pleasant experience in the world but I have been through far worse. As far as the core needle biopsy went, I was seated in a convertible chair and wheeled up to the mammography machine where you are placed according to how the radiologist needs you in order to

IMG_20170719_164747.jpg

perform the biopsy procedure. Once properly placed in the mammography machine, the technicians took photographs to ensure proper placement for the biopsy. The radiologist then numbed my breast while the technicians kept me occupied and helped me to remain still. Just like in a routine mammogram, I was asked to hold my breath and breath out on several occasions so the radiologist could properly insert the larger needle for retrieving sample tissue. Also during this time, a ‘marker’ was placed in my breast tissue where the biopsied tissue was removed. This is done so my radiologist and surgeon would know exactly where the offending cells were found, should surgery be required. This is also where the doctor’s advice came true: it is NOT the most pleasant of experiences. Although I was numb, I could feel the large, tube like needle being inserted deep into my breast tissue, which was a bit uncomfortable. But I got through it and once the biopsy was done, I was allowed a few minutes to catch my breath as I started to become a bit light-headed. I did eat a light breakfast prior to the procedure but perhaps could have stood a bit more on my stomach. Nonetheless, the entire procedure took about one-half hour to complete. After the biopsy, a few more pictures were taken so the radiologist could ensure she had taken all the samples she wanted. I was sent home with an ice pack and instructions to take Tylenol only and/or use ice to ease any pain. I was prepared for serious bruising and swelling and while I was sore for a few days, the after-effects were minimal. On the following Monday evening, my surgeon called to tell my me initial biopsy results were in and while the news wasn’t the best, it wasn’t the worst either: abnormal cells that would require surgery to remove.

One week later, I was checking into the hospital for outpatient surgery and the next phase of the process would begin.

IMG_20170802_181311.jpg

If you haven’t had your annual mammogram, now is the time to make that appointment. It is easy to do and painless, especially in comparison to the alternative treatment for a long ignored, breast health issue.

Stay healthy and live a beautiful life.

KLORANE MANGO BUTTER CONDITIONER~

Last year I received a generous travel size Klorane Mango Butter Shampoo and I fell in love. I took it with me on a three-week trip to Europe and was actually sad when I emptied the last drop out of the bottle. I had been putting off purchasing the full-sized version because I had a couple of other shampoos and conditioners in my cabinet and I am on a mission to finish using up product I already have before buying more. Alas, on a recent trip to Ulta I came upon a Klorane display of both the Mango Butter Shampoo and Conditioner and I put one of each in my bag. And am I ever in love.

klorane.jpgThe shampoo was wonderfully nourishing and the conditioner is as hydrating, if not more so. My curls crave moisture and this Klorane conditioner is one of the best I have ever used. It’s hard for me to imagine using any other shampoo and conditioner from here on out, despite the price tag–$20.00 per bottle. But I can help offset the cost by racking up more Ulta perks points for future purchases and by remembering my 3.50 coupon that comes in every Ulta sale flyer or via my Ulta app.

In addition to the rich, intense moisture of this conditioner, the scent is heavenly. The fresh mango is as invigorating as my favorite citrus scents and really perks up my morning routine. If your hair needs a good moisture infusion, give this Klorane conditioner a try. You will likely fall in love as quickly as I did.

Live a beautiful life.

 

 

 

BODY BENEFITS SOAP POUCH~

Mr. LucyLoves and I love bar soaps but they can be slippery in the shower and always pose a bit of difficulty when you get down to the last little bitty piece. But with these little bar soap net pouches, that’s no longer a problem.

I found these Body Benefits Net Soap Pouches at my local Big Lot’s while browsing one pouch 2.jpgday and have since seen them in other locations. What a novel idea. These little pouches are made of the same mesh netting as the scrunchy bath puffs so many of us use which are perfect for manual exfoliation. You simply pop in a bar of soap, close the pouch using the pull string and secure it with the locking mechanism on the handle. You can then hang your bar of soap from your shower caddy or any hook for your convenience. You use your soap pouch just as you would your scrunchy bath puff but without having to dispense the body wash onto it beforehand. You aren’t dropping your slippery wet bar in the shower or  wasting the wee stub that is left when you get to pouch 5.jpgthe end of the bar as it just remains in your pouch until it’s completely used in full. When you’re out of soap, just toss in another bar. You can expect your bar soap pouch to last as long as a scrunchy bath puff, which for me, is about four months. I think I paid $2.00 a piece for ours so it’s an economical way to use your favorite bar soaps and avoid frustration and waste.

No matter what your favorite ‘bar’ of choice, you’ll enjoy it more with a soap pouch. As always, live a beautiful life.

WINTER RECYCLING~

Time to toss the containers from the items I have finished enjoying this past winter and here’s a peak at what is in my bin and what I would gladly repurchase or leave behind next time.

With regard to skincare, I am a masking nut. I love to mask and I take advantage of a variety of types of masks, from hydrating to deep cleansing. Here is a sample of the masks I have used up and some of them I have used in multiples.

The Yes To… masks are a bargain, no matter which version you purchase, as you can usually get two uses out of a single use pack.

masks.jpg

The Alba mask was new to me and pleasant enough although I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase that one again. It was the consistency of jelly and I didn’t particularly care for the residue it seemed to leave behind.

I really enjoy the AHAVA masks just as much as the Yes To…varieties. They are a bit pricier as a single use pack really is a one-time mask but the product is worth the price tag.

The Andelou Glycolic Mask is my all time favorite face mask these days and I just opened my second jar. I didn’t see it on the shelf in Ulta the last time I was there and in fact, didn’t spot any Andelou products on that visit so I hope they aren’t eliminating the line from their shelves. I love the cool, tingly sensation and the brightening exfoliation that I get from this mask at far less than its high-end counterpart.

The Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Eye Gel Masks are my favorite eye masks and I hate to be without them. I’ve gone through several of the four packs over the last couple of months and have a few more in my stash for the next few weeks.

Along skincare masks, I finished up a Pixi Glow Tonic travel pack. I purchased this in a pinch as Target was out of the bottles and I had exhausted my supply at home. To be honest, I don’t care for the pre-moistened pads and much prefer to buy the bottles and use my own exfoliating cotton rounds.

face care.jpg

I also managed to finally use up the last of my non-cruelty free Neutrogena Eye Make Up Remover so I will now be on the hunt for a cruelty-free brand. Recommendations are much appreciated.

Finally I squeezed the last bit of retinol out of both these StriVectin retinol serum and eye cream tubes that were in my travel container. I used them up at home knowing there wasn’t enough left in either to get me through another vacation. They are nice products and definitely worth the money if you are looking to indulge in a new retinol routine.

I had this Pur Rescue Squad DD cream in my stash for awhile and I do enjoy its moisture benefits in the winter months. I made a major mess of the tube cutting it open to scrape the last bits out of the bottom but I still had the box from one I had shipped to a friend in Puerto Rico recently.

I also emptied out a few body care items over the past couple of weeks including a body wash and cream from Bath & Body Works Christmas Holiday line. You can’t go wrong with B&BW products when you take advantage of sales and coupon specials and you’re sure to find a fragrance to suit everyone.

I have been enjoying hand soaps from Method at both my kitchen and bathroom sinks after having purchased several bottles on sale. I like this moisturizing version for the dry winter months although I think the Pear fragrance is my favorite.

body care.jpg

Shea Moisture Curl & Shine Shampoo is a winner for my natural curly hair and another great product at a very affordable price.

Bar soaps are a luxury for Mr. LucyLoves year ‘round and, for me, during the summer months when my skin is a little less dry. But we both enjoyed this Sandalwood and Patchouli bar for it’s warm, masculine scent.

Lastly, this Sweet Spot personal hygiene wash has been a godsend since menopause has started taking more of a toll. Yes, ladies, we even get dry, itchy, irritated skin ‘down there’ and this wash is perfect for gentle cleansing without the irritation of stronger body washes and soaps.

sponges.jpg

I didn’t exhaust anything on the makeup front but did purchase new sponges for both makeup and under eye concealer application. I don’t use my sponges that often and with frequent cleaning they last a long time but it was time to retire the old ones.

BBs.jpg

I finished another tin of Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. This has been a favorite of mine for years but now that the cruelty-free status of Burt’s Bees is up in the air, I am not repurchasing until I have a definite answer on where they stand with animal testing and sales in China. If anyone out there has a cruelty-free alternative to recommend, I’d love to know.

As always, love what you use, use it to the fullest, and live a beautiful life.

MURAD ENVIRONMENTAL SHIELD FOR DAILY SUN PROTECTION~

I started using Murad Retinol products this past winter and then when I needed some extra special care for a severe acne break-out, I returned to the line and with great success. It’s no surprise that on my recent trip to Ulta, and after checking out several brands, I decided to give this Murad Environmental Shield City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 a go. That’s a mouthful, I know. And again, I’m not disappointed.

Loaded with Vitamin C, this skin brightening SPF lotion is intended to protect against spf 3.jpgUVA, UVB, pollution, blue light and infrared radiation. The subtle, light tint evens skin tone while shielding skin from nearly everything that could cause premature aging. And as I have been using a vitamin C serum every morning for several months, combining vitamin C with my daily dose of SPF is a win-win. The tint if ever so slight so it’s perfectly suitable for make-up free days. The fast absorbing, non-greasy formula is perfect under makeup as well. And with spring right around the corner and sun-filled days ahead, SPF is critically important.

Yes, Murad products are on the pricey side but no more so than any other prestige brand. And the science behind these products has led to a loyal following. No wonder I am finding myself gravitating to this brand more and more for a variety of skincare needs.

Best of all, Murad is a cruelty-free company and readily available at Ulta, Sephora and online. Good skin is worth the investment so if you have the resources, consider giving Murad a try.

Live a beautiful life.

 

 

 

WET WEATHER READS~

Late winter and the wet, dawning of spring is a great time to dive into some new novels, be it from your favorite genre or outside of your norm. A few I have indulged in over the last few weeks have helped me to pass the time during some torrential downpours as well as windy nights. All of them kept be me entertained and guessing.

THE WIDOW by Fiona Bartonwidow.jpg

This twisting mystery takes you through the years of Joan and Glen’s marriage, from the early days to the unspeakable drama that left the community—and a wife—reeling. Not for the faint of heart, this thriller deals with the dark evils of child pornography and missing children and will have you wondering how anyone could find pleasure in the loss of innocence and pure hatred. It may also leave your wondering how anyone can keep secrets for so long from the one person they have taken an oath to love, cherish and honor for all of their days knowing, that in the end, their secret will be revealed and another life will be destroyed. Fiona Barton has developed an in depth character in journalist Kate Waters and sets the foundation for future thrillers that are just as mysterious and enthralling.

THE SISTERS by Clair Douglas

sisters.jpgThis one is a little less my style but kept me entertained for several evenings nonetheless. While Abi struggles to come to terms with her role in the death of her identical twin sister, Lucy, feeling herself solely to blame, she can’t help but be drawn to a stranger who so closely resembles them. Her new friend, Beatrice, seems to be the perfect new companion and pillar of support in a new life that Abi is pursuing for herself. But Abi is soon pulled into the world of another set of twins with a secret of their own that will leave her revisiting her past and coming to terms with the life ahead of her. Abi overcomes so much self-loathing and anger that we are relieved when she realizes her own happiness and finds a way to move forward. Or does she? THE SISTERS has you rooting for Abi and her ability to grow into her own person alone and will leave you wondering where the next path she has chosen will lead.

THE CUCKOO’S CALLING by Robert Galbraith

cuckoo.pngI read the third installment of Robert Galbraith (AKA, J. K. Rowling) this past winter and immediately checked out books one and two from my local library. This series of thrilling adventures starring private detective Cormoron Strike takes you through danger and mayhem to find the one person Scotland Yard seems to have no luck finding–the murderer. Strike is a charismatic character with a way of charming information out of even the most guarded potential suspect and his penchant for finding the truth at all costs helps him to follow leads that others might, and often do, toss aside as inconsequential. At heart, Strike is a likable and generous spirit whos charm is not lost on his accidental, and very engaged, receptionist-turned-partner. As the mystery plot thickens, so does the relationship between Strike and the one person he thinks he can’t have. Galbraith builds a strong character and a good mystery that will keep you entertained and guessing all along the way.

Wet, soppy weather is great weather for indulging in a good book. If you don’t find one that suits you here, visit your local library or bookstore and enjoy!

As always, live a beautiful life.

GOING CRUELTY-FREE~A Gradual Transition

Like many people, I transitioned to a cruelty-free beauty lifestyle when China opened its market to American and European cosmetic companies but required animal testing for those products in order to be sold in mainland China. This is NOT OK with me and it’s bunny rabbitNOT OK for tens of thousands of people. Fortunately, there is access to vast information right at your fingertips to help you determine your preferred definition of cruelty-free, as well as to help you find cruelty-free products that meet your needs. I also went the route of cruelty-free household chemicals at the same time, which was just as simple.

 
Once you decide to go ‘cruelty-free’, you might be tempted to toss all your now non-cruelty free items into the recycle bin and embark on a major spree. No need, however. To toss out items you have already paid for isn’t hurting anyone but you by wasting your hard-earned money. Regardless of your budget, wasting money is always a bad idea. dollar bunny
It’s far easier to do your research at home with regard to substitute brands for items you know you will repurchase and then start a list that you keep handy. When you find yourself in need of a product, you will already be armed with information to make new, cruelty-free purchases as the need actually arises.

 
Another way to ensure you are shopping cruelty-free is to research and download a couple of cruelty-free shopping apps on your phone or tablet and then you will be able to look up products you stumble upon when you are out and about. Once I decided to go cruelty-free, it took me about six months to convert the majority of my products to safe bunniescruelty-free brands and I still have a few items from non-cruelty free lines in my vanity drawer. Those Estee Lauder and Dior eye and highlighter pallets which last forever are still in my makeup stash and will remain so until they spoil or are used in full. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I spent a lot of money on those products, I still enjoy them, and I won’t disrespect my wallet—or the animals that now find themselves in research facilities—by tossing them in the trash.

 
If you are truly adamant to rid yourself of non-cruelty-free products in one swift motion, consider sanitizing and donating your products to family, friends or a women’s charity where they will find a new life. purchase on sale or full price

 
The transition to cruelty-free products will go much more smoothly than you think. There are numerous brands in all price ranges to fit everyone’s budget or level of prestige. A little homework and a bit of shopping now—and later—will help you begin—and live–your new beautiful, cruelty-free life.