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.






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.


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.

Live a beautiful life.2.jpg

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

it 50.jpg

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

it CC.jpg

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

it bye bye 2.jpg

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.


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

lip 2

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

lip 4.jpg

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.


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.



Spring will be upon us soon and now is a good time to consider updating your wardrobe and makeup style. And lashes play an important role in your appearance, no matter what your preferred fashion. So why not dare to bare a more dramatic look as spring roles in if you haven’t done so already?

Mascara is a blessing, and many people swear by their lash growth serums, especially for those who find their lashes waning with age, and those who never had much of a lash mane to begin with. While false lashes might not be for everyone, for every day (as is the case for me) false lashes need not be intimidating. Like any makeup or cosmetic application, it just takes a little practice to perfect your skill.

lash kit.jpg

I found this KISS Lash-101 All-in-One Kit for Lash Beginners on sale at one of my local drug stores. This complete kit includes a set of natural looking lashes, safety scissors, safety lash tweezers and a mini lash glue complete with how-to, pictured instructions for lash beginners.

Admittedly, I was not well versed in false lash application as the idea of them seemed a bit intimidating and unnatural to me. But I thought I’d give this kit a try and I’m glad I did. It took a few attempts, but even I was able to successfully apply my lashes and felt comfortable enough wearing them to actually appear in public! And that’s saying a lot for this severely far sighted, middle-aged gal. Once I got used to them, I actually enjoyed them and found I liked the look of these bar lashes probably as much as if not more than a lightly mascaraed version.

lash kit 2.jpg

If you haven’t tried false eyelashes, be it because you are intimidated by them or you don’t think they will appear natural, you might want to consider giving them a try. You might find they are the best update to your appearance that you’ve made in a very long time. And once you get the hang of them, you just might venture into trying more daring volumes and lengths.

As always, live a beautiful life.


I’m all for investing in skin and haircare but I’m also one for investing in my own financial security. So when I find a product I truly love, I will look for alternatives at a lesser price and if I don’t find one, I will purchase the more expensive product and use it wisely. Not that I advocate wasting any product you spend your hard-earned money for, but there is a certain joy is relishing in high end products while making them last as long as possible.

My all-time favorite high-end skincare product that I refuse to be without is, of course, Josie Maran 100% Argan Oil Light. I discovered this lightweight moisturizer several years ago and fell in love. It provides just the right amount of moisture for my combination oily skin and I credit it’s properties to reducing my shine and hormonal breakouts. Well worth the price tag for me, this is probably my sixth or eighth bottle. I usually need to repurchase about every six months.
My naturally curly hair needs and responds well to a bit of taming in both the summer humidity and the dry winter air. However, I hate product that leaves my hair feeling stiff or sticky in any way. I’ve tried nearly every curly hair taming product on the market and this Living Proof Curl Defining Styling Cream is the one that works. It gives my medium textured curls just the right amount of hold while maintaining shine and my natural silky-soft feel. And I hate any product that detracts from the soften of my stands. That’s no problem with this product so I will continue to repurchase. As I wear my hair short, I can manage with one bottle a year.

On another hair note, curly hair craves moisture and I like leave-in style conditioners more than rinse out versions, although I occasionally use both especially in the very dry winter season. This Pacifica Hairvana Leave On Detangling Conditioner provides the perfect amount of hydration without accruing on my mane. And you can’t go wrong with the price tag for any Pacifica products.
Of course, my skincare favorites are all cruelty-free and available at either Ulta, Sephora or online. I’d love to hear what your favorite, can’t live without products are and what you find your best investments to be.
As always, live a beautiful life.


Retinol is a staple in my skincare routine and I enjoy trying different brands and formulations when I am in need of replacement product. I found myself in need of serum in the late fall and roamed Sephora in search of an alternative to the Strivectin I had been using. I happened upon a Murad consultant in store that day and she led me to the Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewel Serum. A few dollars less than the retinol 2.jpgStrivectin retinol serum I was about to finish up, this Murad version has a similar silky texture and no fragrance. It absorbs quickly and leaves my skin feeling like sateen. I can, and do, immediately apply moisturizer or argan oil over the top without any difficulty.

When I made my purchase, I was given a 14-day sample of the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum which I loved. It smoothed on without tugging and didn’t irritate my eyes, including my eye lids. Yes, I apply my retinol eye products to my lids as well as undereye area, albeit carefully, and I’m pleased with the results. I will gladly purchase the full-size version after I have exhausted the Strivectin retinol eye serum I still have.

retinol eye.jpgBoth Murad and Strivectin make a good line of retinol products and I would gladly use either. But if I can save a couple of bucks on the Murad then I might as well purchase it when it’s readily available. The Stivectin skincare range can be found at Ulta stores while Murad is available at both Ulta and Sephora. Both products are also available through online retailers.

If retinol is a must in your own skincare routine, consider giving this Murad line a try.

As always, live a beautiful life.