Wednesday, April 27, 2011

No-Buy: the Beginning

Many of you have heard of lollipop26's "Project 10 Pan" creation (aka torture.) Laura created this project for makeup addicts like myself (and probably yourself) to help control the continual shopping urges. Participants stop purchasing new makeup (or skin care, hair care, etc) until 10 products they already own are used up.

That's not what I'm doing.

While I think that is a great idea, I know myself too well. I would "accidentally" waste product, try to give it away, etc and in the end, come to hate it. Perhaps when I come to having a healthier relationship with my products, I can attempt this. In the mean time, I am putting myself on a No-Buy, which means no new products for two months (this is my arbitrary time limit). Here are the rules:

 -If I run out of a product, I can repurchase that product only if there is nothing else in my collection that satisfies that need. For example, if I run out of mascara and do not have any more, then I can repurchase it.
-Limited edition items are exempt from the no-buy rules. If there is a item I have to have, then it is acceptable as I will not be able to purchase them later. However, this rule is not to be abused. (Note to self.)

-Birchbox items are exempt as I have a monthly subscription. However, purchasing full-sized items from the Birchbox website is not allowed until the end of my two months.

-Skin care is a little trickier. I would like to include this in the no-buy, but if I run out of an item that is working for my skin, I will repurchase despite having other products that have the same function (in about every category). My skin is fickle and I am trying to maintain a consistent skin care routine.

-If I do feel that there needs to be a new skin care item purchased, I must wait at least a week to see if I really need it. 

I am hoping that this gives me a chance to focus on what I have, not what I want. Also, it's a great way for me to save some money.

Here are a few items I have purchased recently that I look forward to using:

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in "Coral Reef"
A great summer shade, very pigmented

Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in "R.S.V.P."
I have used this almost every day since I bought it. It's beautiful.

Essie Nail Polish in "French Affair"
I loved "Nice is Nice" so I had to pick this up too.

LaVanila Roller Ball Perfume in "Vanilla Grapefruit"
The smell of this is divine. A full-sized bottle may be my first purchase after the no-buy.

 As you can see, I have a lot of new things I'm loving, as well as some old favorites. So Sephora, see you on June 28th. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Garden Review: Week 4

I'm of two minds about the product for this week. Yes, I was able to control myself and only test one product. Amazingly.

Creamy Cleanser (unscented)
If you thought of a basic milky cleanser, this would be it. It is the least drying of the three cleansers I ordered in my sample pack. It is a white cleanser with a "slippery" feel to it. There is a faint smell to it which I don't care for, but am willing to look past as it is not too overpowering.

*Picture will be added soon*

I took this on vacation with me and my skin has finally started to look great. My skin tone is more even, I have no breakouts and my "chin bumps" are starting to lessen. However, I feel like there are many factors that may have added to this, not just the new cleanser. First of all, I have stopped putting any oils directly on my face and I think my skin is appreciative of that. While I needed the extra moisturization during the winter months, I think my skin is now only suffering from dehydration. The oils have become unnecessary and perhaps a bit too heavy. Secondly, I cut down my skin care regime as I was traveling; I only used this cleanser, the Strawberry Hydrating Mist and the Majik Coconut Revival Cream (plus some eye cream) while I was away. Whenever testing new products, I always come back to the conclusion that simple is better and this trip proved that yet again. GoW has so many products that all do so many great things, that I think the layering of products is the norm. However, I feel that most days I only need to do the classic "Cleanse, Tone, Moisturize." I love the direction my skin is moving in now.

This cleanser is a little on the pricey side in my mind for something fairly basic. Because of this, I am going to spend this week using the Burt's Bees Radiance Cleanser, which is a creamy cleanser that I have used in the past. I know that I love my hydrating mist and moisturizer and that these are unique products, but I am not sure that I need to order a basic cleanser from GoW to use with it. The Burt's Bees Cleanser is $10 for 6 oz while the Creamy Cleanser is $14.30 for 4 oz. That is a moderate price difference, especially since I feel that I need to use quite a bit of the Creamy Cleanser each wash. If it turns out that this cleanser does significantly contribute to the look of my skin, I do not mind paying the price. But being able to use a less expensive and more easily accessible product as a cleanser and turning to GoW for their unique products is an ideal situation.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Never Again: Parabens and the Revlon Temptress

About a year and a half ago, my skin freaked out. I had more acne than I ever had in high school and my skin was just not happy. I started using a Lorac foundation I had lying around, but quickly realized that this was only adding to the problem. I switched over to the Clinque Perfectly Real Foundation which is a beautiful, easy to use foundation.

I had read up a lot on parabens. Parabens are preservatives used widely in the cosmetic industry. They are found in many liquid formulas, but also in pressed products as the binding agent needs to be preserved. But they have caused quite the stir in past years due to health concerns. There are arguments for both sides of the debate, I will let you do your own research and decide. When I thought about how much of our makeup and skin care we accidentally ingest or absorb, I decided it would be a small change to make. On top of that, many products that contained parabens just weren't right for my skin, while options without them were gentler and more healing.

So I switched my skincare and I started to see improvements. My skin cleared up except for three large spots that never seemed to go away. Or they would clear up and new ones would occur. It took months for me to realize how much the Clinque foundation was taking a toll on my skin. My mentality was "Clinque is all green and lab-coat-y. They must make things that are good for me skin." Right? Wrong. I stopped using the foundation and those spots cleared up.

Reading the ingredients list will really open your eyes. Companies are great at marketing and not all of them live up the image that they present. (Another ingredient that is good to stay away from is Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, which is the agent that causing foaming, but is incredibly drying.) For example, Lush seems like a natural solution. Almost all of their liquid products contain parabens and many contain sodium lauryl sulfate. I love Lush and use their massage bars frequently, but I have restricted my use to their solid items.

Every now and then, something tempts me away from my paraben-free regime. There is no doubt that Revlon Colorstay is one of the most popular drugstore foundations out there. Perhaps included in the general popular foundations category, as well. And every time I walked down the cosmetics aisle, it called to me. "Isabel, here I am. Your solution to the most flawless, perfect skin. You'll wonder how you lived without me." (This is what most products say to me...) I caved while CVS had a Buy One Get One Half Off deal. I put it on right when I got home and my skin did look pretty amazing. The next day my boyfriend, who can always tell when I'm wearing foundation, took no notice. It was that good. And my skin's reaction? Nothing. Nada. The same as usual.

For two days.

Then, my chin started getting more and more bumps. I started breaking out and I knew I had made a mistake. My skin cannot handle products with parabens and it never will. It's a long, hard diet. In a lot of ways, it is a lot like my gluten intolerance. It is in most things, there are few side effects of eating/using it for a little while, but ultimately, it has bad side effects. If you are having problems with your skin, I would try a paraben-free diet. There are many main stream options out there. Origins is paraben free, Neutorgena has a new "naturals line." Covergirl Natureluxe is an option for paraben-free foundation.

As for me, I am saying "Never again" to parabens.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What I'm taking: Carry-On Edition

So I'm off on a weekend trip with my fam and I quickly snapped a picture of what I'm taking along with me:

-Naked Palette
-Josie Maran Tinted Moisturizer
-Milani HD Advanced Concealer
-Urban Decay Primer Potion in Eden
-Josie Maran GoGo Mascara
-Mac Mineralized Skin Finish
-Josie Maran Blush/Bronzer in Flushed/Contoured
-Mac Studio Finish Concealer 
-Benefit Powderflage
-L'oreal Lineur Intense
-LaVanila Rollerball Perfume in Vanilla Grapefruit

-Tarte Blending Brush
-(my new!) Beauty Blender
-Lowell Cornell Brush for lid color
-Sephore Blending Brush
-Mac 187SE
-Sonia Kashuk Blush Brush
-Eco Tools Blush Brush (I use it with bronzer)

Happy weekend everyone! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fitness Journal: Running

I have not been to yoga since the last horrible one. I felt uninspired and cramped and grumpy. Cardio was missing from my routine. I finally gathered myself up and went to the gym. And you know what?

I liked it.

Let me preface this by saying, I have never been super athletic. I played soccer for years, but not well. In gym when we had to run the mile, I ran a 9:30 mile and was gasping for air by the end. Running sounded as god-awful to me as it did to most (sane) people. 

I started the Nike running program last year which is fantastic. I needed a pair of new running shoes so I investing in the Nike+ shoes and the little doodad you put in your shoe. The walk-to-run program I participated in took 12 weeks and took you from walking for 15 minutes to running 20-25 minutes straight. It took me a few times to really commit to it but I finished it in the end.

I also suffer from shin splints when I run on concrete. All of these obstacles have held me back from running. But a week or two ago when I got to the gym and started running I felt great. My stamina was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be and I had no shin issues the next morning. Since I have started running some more my energy levels have been through the roof. I never believed that this was true; I always felt miserable and exhausted after running. Sometimes after running in the evening, I laze around for the night. But in the morning, it is easier to get up and I drink less coffee. I'm almost in disbelief that I feel this way about running, but I plan on trying to continue running as long as possible. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Garden Review: Week 3

There was no Garden Review last week as I felt I needed some more quality time with the products that I have been testing. But now I have three brand new items to review.

Strawberry Hydrating Mist:
I felt that my routine was missing one of these hydrating mists, as well as a few other products, so I placed a second order to fill the gaps. These mists can be used multiple times throughout the routine, but I use this right after I cleanse my face. I chose Strawberry because it is recommended for acne-prone skin, but there are many different options for the hydrating mists. I like the way this feels on my skin, but I'm not too keen on the smell. Many of the other items with fruit smell delicious, but this smells like the strawberries have gone a little mushy. I don't mind too much though, because I am seeing great results with this in my routine and I don't get that weird, discolored look I got when using the CocoBasil clarifying toner. When this runs out, I am going to reuse the bottle to make Jen's Vinegar Toner

Sorry for the blurry picture. Hope your eyes aren't crossing!

Majik Coconut Revival Cream:
This may possibly be my favorite item from GoW that I have tried. As you probably know by now, I love coconut oil. This moisturizer is as if coconut oil and heavy whipping cream met and had a baby. My skin was very dehydrated before starting GoW. Dehydrated skin is skin that lacks water, which can be aided by a moisturizer. Dry skin, on the other hand, is skin that lacks oil, which is aided by a carrier oil such as jojoba oil.  This cream feels incredibly luxurious going on and you only need a small amount. It leaves my skin healthy and hydrated. I really don't feel like I need anything else when I have this (though I often use it in conjunction with my argan oil or the Blueberry HA serum). As an added bonus, I love the silky-almost-matte finish the cream dries down to. It's almost like airbrushing your face! 

Some Kind of Wonderful Detox Serum:
This was the product that I really needed the extra week for. This is what the GoW website says about this product:
"When toxins and impurities build up within the layers of our epidermis, our skin becomes dull, gummy, often times exhibits signs of blemishes and in worse case scenarios, full on breakouts. A serum for all skin types that need a little "boost," this formula will help to detox the skin, allowing it to be radiant, glowing, and revert back to its natural beauty.
This serum also addresses bacterial and fungal issues, helps to discourage hair growth, and aids in the maintaining of skin elasticity. It may also address collagen damage in the skin due to UVB absorption, and may inhibit wrinkle formation due to UVB absorption."
The idea of a detox sounded great as I transition over to the GoW way of life. I have not been as consistent as I should have been with this one is going to hire me as a research assistant anytime soon... but I do think my skin has shown signs of improvement. If you are worried about the word "detox" don't be. I didn't have a massive breakout from this product, just a few here and there and all of the bumps cleared up very quickly. Also, it helped my skin return back to normal after making a poor makeup decision. Two days ago my entire chin was red and bumpy. Today, it was clearer than before I started using previously mentioned makeup item. I think this is a good product to have at the beginning of a routine and I know that no one is going to object to some extra glow.

Be sure to check out my other GoW reviews:
Garden Review: Week 1
Garden Review: Week 2

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Do You Stretch Your Feet?

We all know the importance of stretching before and after a workout. Most likely, we stretch the areas that have been utilized the most: runners stretch their quads, pilates practicers stretch out their core and shoulders. However, few people remember to stretch their feet.

Feet do the most work for us, whether we are working out or just walking around. In high school, my dance teacher always told us how important it was to stretch your feet. I never thought much of it. But after living in a city where I am walking constantly (and usually not in the most supportive shoes... I choose fashion over comfort), I understand why this is so important. There have been morning where I could barely put my full weight on my feet.

To stretch my feet, I sit with my foot in my lap and move it in all possible directions, using my hands, not the muscles of my feet. I'll bend the top of my foot in and then stretch it back the other way. Separate your toes in all directions. It may seem weird, but trust me, it helps.

However, the absolute best tool for stretching your feet is a cat toy. Yes, you read that correctly. A foam cat ball is the best thing for sore feet. Put your foot on the ball, apply some weight (not all of it, but enough to feel some pressure) and roll it around the ball and arch of your foot. A few minutes on each side before you go to bed will help eliminate pain in the morning. I know it sounds weird, but give it a try! Your feet will thank you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Outfit of the Day

It's finally starting to feel like summer! Today, I just had class and I'm off to the gym after posting, so nothing too fancy.

Jacket: Urban Outfitters
Shirt: Ella Moss (from Anthropologie)
Boyfriend Jeans*: H&M
Flats: Matt Bearnson

From Left to Right
Chunky Crystal (esque) bracelet: J. Crew
Watch: Anne Klein (found it at Nordstrom Rack)
Black Pearl bracelet: Nordstrom Rack
Chain bracelet: Tiffany's

(I am still working on getting a good photograph of my makeup)
Face: Revlon Colorstay, Josie Maran Bronzer in Contoured, JM Blush in Flushed
Eyes: Naked Palette Sin on lid, Buck blended in crease
Lips: Revlon Pink Pop Lipgloss

I have also been having some Photoshop fun with my photos. I might start using this effect for when color is not as important (i.e. when it's not makeup).

Original Photo

Fun photo!

Hope you're all taking advantage of the sun. I'm off to the gym before my friends come over for our usual Thursday night get together.

*A note about boyfriend jeans: They are not always the most flattering cut. I think they look better in real life when you can tell where your leg is and where it's just material. I like wearing them, however, because they have a laid back look and they are so comfortable. 

About Me "Tag"

I love hearing a little about YouTubers and bloggers and I was just watching "Zoella280390" video on this so I took this straight from her video and thought I'd answer them myself:

About Me Questions:
1.Do you have a middle name?

I do but it's just my mom's maiden name. "Gaines"
2. What was your favourite subject in school?

English. I'm always reading and now I'm an English major (so I have to always be reading.)
3. What's your favourite drink?

Coffee with half and half. I have had quite a craving for a root beer float lately though...
4. Favourite song at the moment?

I have to choose two. "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as well as "Perfect for Me" by Ron Pope

5. What would you name your children?

Something unique. I've never had anyone else named "Isabel" in any of my classes and it's been great. I grew to appreciate having a unique name.
6. Do you participate in any sports?

I do yoga and I have gotten back into running. As for team sports, I played softball in high school.
7. Favourite Book?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts; If you ever need a 900 page book to read, this should be the one. It's incredible and based on his real life.
8. Favourite Colour?

Blue; there are very few ugly shades of blue
9. Favourite Animal?

I can't choose just one. I'm CRAZY about animals. I want a shiba inu when I get a dog and I point out every one I see to my friends (which, obviously, they love).

10. Favourite perfume?

Euphoria by Calvin Klien. Sadly just finished my bottle.
11. Favourite holiday?

Thanksgiving; The food is amazing, fall is my favorite season and it's a warm and cozy holiday.
12. Have you graduated High School?

Yep, three years ago.
13. Have you been out of the Country?

I have been out of the country many times. My family travels a lot and I studied abroad in Paris last summer.
14. Do you speak any other Languages?

Some French. I am a French minor.
15. Do you have any siblings?

I have a younger brother who is 17.
16. What's your favourite store?

If I had to choose one, I'd probably say J. Crew. I'm liking Zara lately too.
17. Favourite Restaurant?

Olive Garden! This has somehow become a joke among my family and friends. I have never actually been to one.
18. Do you like school?

I used to love school. I have one year left so I'm a little burnt out at the moment.
19. Favourite YouTubers?

MakeupbyTiffanyD, Pixi2woo, Meganheartsmakeup, and I've just discovered Zoella280390 who is incredible.
20. Favourite Movie?

I really love Garden State and Donnie Darko... quite different movies.
21. Favourite Tv show?

Seinfeld and Arrested Development. But favorite show still on TV: Modern Family
22. Pc or Mac?

23. What phone do you have?

iPhone 3Gs
24. How tall are you?


13 Personal Questions:
1. What do you order at Starbucks?

Grande coffee (and I add 2.5 sugars and lots of half and half)

2. One thing in your closet you cannot live without

Jeggings by JBrand
3. What's one thing most people probabaly don't know about you?

I have my scuba diving license. And I've bungee jumped. Guess that's two.
That actually is me. I bungee jumped on a trip to Bali.

4. Name one thing you want to do before you die

As long as we're on the topic of extreme sports, I want to sky dive. I'm absolutely terrified by it though.
5. What's one food you cannot live without?

6. What quote/phrase do you live by?

"Be who you are. Everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde
7. What do you like/disslike about the YouTube community?

I'm not a part of it, so this does not really apply. But I know I love watching the videos.
8. What's your most listened to song on itunes?

Hey Soul Sister - Train
9. What kind of style would you define yourself as having?

I don't think I really have a style type. I just like to look pulled together.
10. Favourite number?

11. Two Hobbies?

Cooking and Photography
From a high school photography class

12. Two Pet Peeves?

There are so many! But actually, people who blow their nose really loudly in public (my friends give me a hard time about this, but I think people should just politely excuse themselves or go to the bathroom.) I also hate it when people chew with their mouth open.
13. Guilty Pleasures?

YouTube, Makeup, chocolate, shopping, Jersey Shore. Pretty standard actually. 

*Starbucks photo from Special thanks to Zoella280390 for introducing me to this website.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Grocery Grooming: Coconut Oil

*The new feature "Grocery Grooming" will be replacing Garden Review this week. Back to our regularly scheduled programming next week.

As I look at my (ridiculous amount of) skincare items, I have noticed that more and more the items that fill the shelves come from the grocery store. So every other or week or so I will be featuring a grocery store item that I use in my routine.

This week's product is one I have been raving about on Twitter: Coconut oil. Coconut oil is an inexpensive product that can be found in most health food stores and many grocery stores. Interestingly, it is a solid at room temperature (this is due to the high amount of saturated fats). However, it is easily liquified by being run under warm water or applied directly to the skin.

I bought coconut oil months ago to use as a moisturizer. I dream about a grocery grooming exclusive skincare rountine and I was expecting coconut oil to be the answer to all of my prayers. (This is not as true now that I have discovered Garden of Wisdom.) I got a little ambitious one first testing this out and my finicky skin was not happy. I used it as a face wash and a moisturizer morning and night when I first got it. Needless to say, my skin was not having it and it resulted in a few breakouts which caused me to worry I was torturing my skin and so I quit completely. This may explain why I have so many skincare items...

Please excuse the odd picture. This is coconut oil in both a solid and liquid form.

I forgot about the coconut oil until a few months later when my skin was in dire need of hydration. This time, I approached it a little more slowly, first using it only as a moisturizer at night and then increasing my usage. Coconut oil feels great, smells like summer and leaves my skin bright, hydrated and plump. I was so happy with my results that I used it as a hair mask next. I saturated my dry hair with the oil (which takes quite a bit) and slept with a shower cap on it. I had to shampoo twice in the morning, but it gave my moisturized hair and it had released some of the weight of my hair, giving me a natural curl I didn't even know I had. A week later, I could tell that the effects had worn off at my hair was much less manageable. I even gave some to my mom when she had an allergic reaction to some Vietnamese food, resulting in a skin rash.

Coconut oil is often used in cooking. I have not experimented with this much, but I tried it spread on toast and it was surprisingly good. My next experiment will be using coconut oil for weight loss. There is a lot of varying opinions about whether coconut oil is healthy, so you be the judge from your own research, but I have read many accounts of weight loss from a tablespoon of coconut oil every morning so I will be starting that soon. For now, my skin and hair are happy and hydrated.

To stay updated with Grocery Grooming, please subscribe!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yoga Rant

I just got back from a yoga class. Not just any yoga class, the WORST yoga class I have ever attended. I go to a donation-based studio which means that there is an abundance of bodies everywhere. And you can bet, if they can squeeze you in, they will. Don't get me wrong, I love the studio and I think it is great that they give everyone an opportunity to practice yoga, but sometimes it can get a bit...squishy.

I was already in a bad mood walking to class. I have not been feeling well the past few days and I just wanted to bum around at home, but my boyfriend reminded me how much better I feel after yoga. At the studio, a girl came up to me and hounded me about which spot I was saving, and then sat down next to me and started yammering away to her friends. We were asked to move multiple times to allow more and more people into each row and I could feel my impatience growing. The teacher dimmed the lights and instructed everyone to move into child's pose. Usually, at this point, I allow my body to relax and focus on the next hour of yoga. However, there were still people in line for the bathroom making lots of noise. Someone was dropping something metallic on the floor repeatedly, cell phones were ringing and beeping and a guy in the back farted. Loudly. All these noises kept me rooted in the present and my frustrations.

I tried to stay positive, thinking that once the sweat got going I would focus more on the pain and less on the people around me. I did not click with this teacher and I never really found my flow with this lesson. Furthermore, my lower back, neck and shoulders were feeling crunched and sore (which has been a constant obstacle for me with any exercise I do). I returned to child's pose often because I felt that continuing would be worse for my body than taking a break.

At the end, all of those people who were squished together, tried to squish through the one narrow door, gathering shoes and jackets, giving donations and catching up with friends, all at the same time. I did not feel like my body had been challenged to the usual degree. But do I regret going? Not at all. All of this is part of the practice. Sometimes my hour will not be as rewarding as others. But I still got myself over to the studio and committed to allowing my body and brain to move and stretch for an hour even when TV and junk food where calling to me. Every hour counts, and while this one may not have been as enjoyable as others, it was an experience in and of itself.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Haulage 1: BBW, Revlon, Essie and More

I have been doing some shopping this week. My purchases have been mostly Spring related. The weather has been depressing here lately so I was ready for some light and fun colors. Here's what I got:

Lipsticks: Rosy Nude and Carnation Nail Polishes: Nice is Nice and Watermelon

Rosy Nude is a perfect every day color when sheered out and a nice rosy color when applied straight from the tube. Carnation will be perfect this summer. It is a pronounced color, but not too in-your-face to wear during the day. These colors wear well and feel moisturizing.

I had a 20% of coupon to Bath and Body Works. When I was picking up a few Wall Flowers for my apartment (Fresh Lemon for the kitchen, Vanilla Coconut for my bedroom), I saw this moisturizer by the checkout counter. Sometimes I just can't get to a sink and Purell dries out my hands so this is the perfect solution. I wore Sweet Pea body spray in middle school so this lotion also includes major flashbacks.

Today, I went to Sephora because my current mascara was just not working out. (More on that later.) I went to pick up a mascara I knew would not lead me astray: Bare Minerals Flawless Definition Volumizing Mascara. 

While I was wandering the store, this box of everything I wanted caught my eye:

Josie Maran is the brand I gravitate to every time I'm in Sephora. There is nothing I don't want from her line. And when I saw this box (the last one!) I knew I had to have it. I thought that the products would all be sample sizes. When I opened the box, this is what I found:

At $52, this might seem expensive. However, the lipgloss, blush/bronzer and argan color stick are all full size. Buying those separately would already be over the price of the box. It also comes with a half-size illuminizer, the sample size of the argan oil (which I already have and love), a sample size mascara and a sample of the hair serum. I was so excited to find this box, I just couldn't pass it up. 

Blush in Flushed, Bronzer in Contoured, Argan Color Stick in Rosey, Illumizer, and Lipgloss in Soledad

Illuminizer part way rubbed in. How beautiful is that?

I am thinking about doing a Project 10 Pan after my upcoming trip (can't pass up international makeup!). With these items I feel like I have everything I will want this spring and summer. What colors or items are you loving as you await the sun?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Garden Review: Week 2

It's Monday again and it's time for another Garden Review. This week I exhibited a little more self-control and only tried two products. Weirdly, I'm not sure what to say about either product, but I'll try to give a sense of where I am at with them right now.

CocoBasil Clarifying Tonic
This was a product I added to my original cart on Jen's recommendation. I am prone to small bumps on my chin and she recommended this to help keep them at bay. There is a definite basil smell, which was not my cup of tea, but many people enjoy it. I sprayed this on after cleansing and let it dry a little before moving on to my HA serum. I only used this a few days though because it gave my skin an uneven tone. It's difficult to describe exactly what it did my face as there were no acne bumps or dry patches. It just made it look strange. I did not stick with it long enough to notice any affect on my chin-bumps (quite the image, right?), but I may have to give this another try.

Mandelic Acid [yes alcohol/ yes seaweed]
This is what GoW says about using Mandelic Acid:
Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that helps clear away dead skin cells that have built up on the skin's surface, and because of its smaller molecule size it can also work within the pore as well. Unlike glycolic acid, it cannot penetrate the skin's layers to enable deeper exfoliation, but it can help to refine pores. Mandelic acid has antibacterial properties.
I was excited to try this exfoliator as people have great things to say about it on the forum. I was expecting a burning or stinging sensation, but I felt nothing. Previous use with acids may contribute to my skin's lack of reaction. In the morning, there was no real difference in my skin. I only got a chance to try this once. As my skin is very sensitive, I try not to scrub, exfoliate, treat, etc. all the time. I have had much better luck when I keep my routine simple and gentle. I have not given up hope on this product. I think over time the results will be clear. Once I finish this sample size, I may order a larger concentration or try the lotion version of this product.

At the end of last week, I reexamined my routine, perhaps a bit prematurely, but these are the thoughts that aid me in my constant procrastination. I love my cleansers; after reading my post last week, Jen recommended mixing them with some oil to help avoid the flakes. I have been mixing Jen's Green Tea and Shea Cleanser with a drop or two of jojoba oil and it makes it even more luxurious. I love my moisturization routine. However, I do have some spots and clogged pores and I felt like nothing in my order was targeting those problems (the Mandelic Acid may have some affect in the future). I placed another order for some samples so I can make an informed decision when I order larger sizes of a set routine. Stay tuned next week to see what I ordered and what I am testing out.