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.

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

CALM HEALING FOR ANGRY, MIDDLE AGED SKIN~Murad

While I’m blessed with smooth, relatively uniform skin, illness always causes it to act up in an almost violent manner. When anything in my body is out of sync, it shows on my face. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up with an angry spot or two after a bout of illness and those pesky eruptions will sometimes take weeks to heal. I can’t help but feel the same annoying frustration that I felt as a teenager upon waking up to find an unsightly mark on the night of the school dance. While adulthood brings maturity, it doesn’t make me feel any better about a breakout.

This winter I went through a bout of illness that extended over a couple of months. Thankfully it isn’t terribly serious and I’m on the mend, but my skin went into a major state of rebellion. For weeks I battled several unsightly spots—those hard, swollen, sore and red irritations—that did not want to cooperatively go into submission. After a few weeks of seeing no results from my routine skincare, and knowing that it might be awhile yet before I was feeling completely myself, I decided I needed to switch things up a bit and invest in skincare for mature, acne prone skin while my entire body healed.

Many acne products contain benzoyl peroxide, an agent that is proven effective at healing minor breakouts but which is often far too irritating for dryer or older skin. And such is the case for me. I already use a salicylic acid cleanser on a once daily basis and I’ve been pleased with this one from Murad, which I have been using the last few murad cleanse.jpgmonths. So, I headed to their counter at Ulta to see what else they might offer for soothing and calming my facial eruptions. I was more than pleased to find an entire line of acne skin care products including a couple specifically geared to the mature age group.

First picked up another tube of the Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser with 1.5% salicylic acid and I began using it twice a day. I was hoping to happen upon a tube of the Acne Control Anti-Aging (I hate that term) Cleanser but again, my store was out of stock. I’ll give it a try when I can finally get my hands on it.

acne solution.jpgFrom there I went for the Murad Acne Clearing Solution, which is a mild .5% salicylic acid and tea tree oil treatment that is applied twice daily after cleansing. The lightweight gel absorbs immediately into the skin, leaving a soft feel. The purpose of this treatment is to aid in clearing up any clogged pores and help prevent future break outs.

Finally, I chose the Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment, a 2% salicylic acid treatment with Pine and Thyme extracts, intended to send advanced healing to those angry spots for speedy healing, while reducing swelling and redness. The gel-like treatment is much less drying for older skin and has given me far quicker results compared to other treatments I have tried.

I am still experiencing a bit of roughness in the couple areas where my breakouts rapid spot.jpgoccurred, but my skin is finally getting back to normal after a couple weeks of use. Once my complexion has returned to it’s normal state, I can stop using all but the cleanser once a day and resume my normal routine until the next interruption that requires treatment. Anyone who suffers breakouts on a regular basis will likely have success maintaining a healthy, clear complexion with ongoing use while avoiding dryness and flakiness than can otherwise dull and distract from your beautiful face. I would definitely check out the Murad skincare products for acne prone skin if this is an issue for you.

Murad is cruelty-free, of course, and I love their little uplifting sayings inside the packages that remind me to be beautiful no matter what life throws my way.

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SAMPLE SIZING IT~it Cosmetics Base Products

A girl’s day out was a great day to try a few new-to-me it Cosmetic products as part of my look. I received these little gems either in an it Cosmetics order or from Ulta as a gift with purchase, and I finally got around the giving them a go.

No. 50 Serum Collagen Veil Anti-Aging (Why DO companies use that term?) Primer

This is a

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skin smoothing, silky primer that provides a luxurious surface underneath your makeup base. Used sparingly I could have gotten two uses out of this little foil packet but one try was enough to know that I would be happy using this product on a regular basis, at least during the dryer winter months.

CC+ Cream with SPF 50+
This it Cosmetics CC+ Cream has been hailed as a ‘holy grail’ foundation base by millions

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of women and surely must be it Cosmetic’s number one seller. While I like this product well enough, it’s actually a little too full coverage for me. I don’t need to hide or disguise my skin and prefer my skin show through my makeup so I wouldn’t use this one on a daily basis. However, it did the job on a day when I wanted to conceal the remnants of a couple of angry spots that had erupted during a period of illness a couple of weeks prior. I can understand why this is such a popular product especially with the built in SPF 50.

Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage, Waterproof, (and again, ‘Anti-Aging’) Concealer

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I purchased and do enjoy the it Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Illumination concealer which is a highlighting version of this original product. As concealers go, this is a great one, providing good coverage for those who have dark circles or other discolorations to hide, at a good price point for a high-end range. I’d absolutely purchase this concealer when I’ve exhausted my current stash.

it Cosmetics has a loyal fan base and I have to say, I am one of their regular customers despite their push to ‘anti-age’ me. They make a very nice product for a good value and best of all, they remain a cruelty-free brand. Worth taking a look if you haven’t already.

As always, live a beautiful life.

JACK BLACK INTENSE THERAPY LIP BALM~

If, like me, you suffer from perpetually dry lips, finding an intense moisturizer that

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absorbs and does the job without leaving a gooey, sticky or tacky mess can be a challenge. But you likely need search no further as this Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF 25 should do the trick.

I picked up two of these balms last year when I was purchasing Jack Black personal care supplies for Mr. LucyLoves, thinking I would give them a whirl. I ended up liking them so much that I have nearly discontinued using my other balms and treatments altogether and I just repurchased two more replacement tubes. I have been slowly using up other balms by keeping them in our cars and my handbags for ‘touch ups’ but these Jack Black balms are the ones I have come to rely on for real moisture. I keep one in my skincare cabinet for morning use and one in my nightstand to apply at bedtime. This twice daily application provides far better moisture treatment than other balms that I would apply several times throughout a 24-hour period.

SPF in a lip balm is a necessity for me as I am mad about protecting my skin from sun

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damage. The variety of flavors is also a fun aspect as there are several to choose from, including the well-loved mint that dry skin sufferers do well to avoid as mint is actually a skin irritant for many. The tiniest dollop of this Shea Butter-rich formula is all you need to relieve the tight dry feeling on your pout that those of us with intensely dry skin seem to forever experience, no matter the season.

Jack Black products are cruelty-free, of course and this little $7.00 gem is well worth the investment. An affordable way to do something good for yourself and enjoy a luxury treat in the process.

As always, live a beautiful life.

LASH ENHANCEMENT EYELINER~Does it work?

I stumbled upon this Physician’s Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner and Serum at one of my local drug stores on a sale display. I hadn’t heard of this product anywhere and I’m not a fan of liquid eyeliner in my middle age, preferring a moreeye booster.jpg muted pencil or powder version. But I decided that it might be worth considering due to, a) the 2 for 1 price tag which would allow me to give it a good go without shucking out a lot of dough, and b) the availability of brown instead of black, which I find much more flattering on my middle-aged, golden brown eyes.
You use this product in place of or under any other eyeliner on a daily basis. And that is glitch number 1 for me. I don’t wear makeup every day anymore so I had to apply it every morning even on days I didn’t plan to wear makeup. Ah well, I can wear eyeliner around the house even if the rest of my face is bare. No real hardship for trying it out. Again, I’m not a fan of liquid eyeliner but this one served its purpose with respect to adding a nice even line and, you can turn the pen to make it as narrow or wide as you like with a few strokes. It was easy enough to use and I like the rich brown color.
eye booster cover.jpgLike any lash enhancement serum, it takes a month or more to see any results in terms of lash lengthening or volume enhancement. While I did notice a wee bit of attempted lengthening of my lashes after about five weeks or so, I don’t think it worked quite as well as the lash serum I have tried in the past but there was definitely a slight different. Personally, it was not enough to make me give up my preferred eyeliner formulations or to inspire me to return to daily makeup application. But for someone who is going to wear a made-up face everyday anyway, including a liquid eyeliner look, this is definitely a much more affordable means of trying to improve your lash mane than the traditional nighttime use serums.
Despite their cruelty-free status, I don’t have any other Physician’s Formula products in my arsenal although I have had one or two products in the past. They seem to make a good product for the money and a gal or guy on a budget, who is also animal friendly, can appreciate that. If you are looking for alternatives to more expensive lash serums, this is definitely worth a try.
As always, live a beautiful life.