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Archive for beauty

Make It Monday: Seeing Green

I am slowly getting back into the habit of blogging again after a crazy, busy summer.  And I thought it might be fun to share some DIY beauty recipes once a week.

To start off the series, I was inspired by Olivia at The Unknown Beauty Blog, who, in turn, was inspired by Lisa Lise at Natural Skin Care.  Inspired by what, you may ask?

By blue-green algae.  Cyanobacteria.  Spirulina.  Gorgeous stuff.

Spiralina growing in the clear, clean waters off the coast of Australia

Spirulina growing in the clear, clean waters off the coast of Australia. Photo from Super Greens Online.

Spirulina was grown by the Aztecs, dried into cakes and used as a travel food.  It is high in protein as well as B vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals. Since it is so easy to grow– even in space, both NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) have plans to use spirulina as a nutrient source for long space missions.

I have been known to take a few tablets when the days are long and the junk food is calling.  I think it helps my energy levels so I can keep going even when I want to pack it in.

So when I read the post, “It’s so easy feeling green with spirulina” on The Unknown Beauty Blog, I knew I had to try it!

The Spirulina mask is very easy to make.  Just take spirulina power — or if you have tablets, crush them into powder — then add water and smear on your face.

Crushed spirulina tablets

Crushed spirulina tablets

It goes on very dark and is a gorgeous deep teal color.  My husband was mortified.

Looks like I missed a spot on my nose!

Looks like I missed a spot on my nose! I can’t smile because it dried so tight!

The mask dried into a firm film, so I took Olivia’s advice and rinsed it off in the shower. It rinsed off easily and didn’t stain anything.  I had expected such a tight, dry mask to leave my face tight and dry, but my skin was soft and hydrated and glowing.

LOVE at first smear!

Since then, I have tried the mask with:

  • water and smidge of honey — my favorite – leaves my skin super soft.
  •  water and a drop of grapeseed oil — very nice.
  •  water and a couple drops of lavender essential oil — smells heavenly!

If you haven’t tried putting blue-green algae on your face, you are missing out!  But maybe you should try it when your significant others are not around unless they are of stout heart and not easily scared…

A few of my favorite sunscreens

It’s been a long summer and since I work outdoors most of the time, sunscreens play a vital role in my daily routine.

My "office" at Seaport Village in San Diego

My “office” at Seaport Village in San Diego

Here are a few sunscreens that I have used all summer:

Some of the sunscreens I have used most often this summer.

Some of the sunscreens I have used most often this summer.

Banana Boat Baby Tear-Free, Sting-Free Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 50



The active ingredients are: Titanium Dioxide, 3.1% and Zinc Oxide, 4.0%

This lotion is cheap, cheap, cheap at Walmart.  It’s goopy, very water and sweat resistant, and seems to last forever.  This is my go-to body sunscreen when I work outdoors.

Sunology SPF 50 for Face
Sunology sunscreen

Sunology sunscreen

Active ingredients: Zinc Oxide 10.0%, Titanium Dioxide 7.5% Inactive Ingredients: Aluminum Hydroxide, BIS-PEG-12 Dimethicone Candelillate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, C18-38 Alkyl Hydroxystearoyl Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Feruloyl Soy Glycerides, Glyceryl Isostearate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Hydrated Silica, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Propylene Carbonate, Quaternium-18 Hectorite, Tocopherol.

When it’s hot and humid, this is what I wear.  Yes, it looks greasy and goes on greasy, but that oil absorbs quickly and protection lasts and lasts.  It’s also non-irritating and reef-safe if you happen to be snorkeling or diving. Just a little goes a long way — if you try to glob it one, you will get white streaks.

Another perk of this sunscreen, my skin has not been as dry and irritated at the end of a long day at the park as it was last year when I used a different daily sunscreen. I like to think of it as a sun shield.  Our local drugstores no longer carry this product, so I found it on Amazon.

Mineral Fusion untinted mineral beauty balm, spf 30 all-in-one BB
Mineral Fusion Untinted BB Cream

Mineral Fusion Untinted BB Cream

Yes, it’s called a BB cream, but since it’s untinted, it’s really a glorified sunscreen.

Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 20% Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Sorbitan Stearate, Castor Oil, Polyglycerol-10 Laurate, Mineral-Peptide Blend (Magnesium Asparate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5), Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunower) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Rosa Canina (Rose) Flower Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

It is supposed to leave a matte finish, but I find that I get a more dewey look.  The tinted formulas only have an SPF of 9! And both shades are too dark for me.  I use this to lighten other BB creams that are too dark or I just use it on its own as a daily use sunscreen for non-outdoor days.  I am not sure how it stands up to sweating, so I don’t use it when I exercise or work outdoors.

Supergoop Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum, SPF 30
photo from

photo from

Active Ingredients:
Homosalate (Sunscreen) 8%, Octisalate (Sunscreen) 4%, Avobenzone 3%, Octocrylene 2%

Inactive Ingredients:
Purified Water (Aqua), Cyclomethicone, Isostearyl Neopentanoate, Glycerin, Ceteareth-20, Polypropylene, Cetostearyl Alcohol, Xantham Gum, d-panthenol, Octanohydroxamic acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Silica, Triacontanyl PVP, Cetyl Dimethicone, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, PEG-40 Stearate, Tocopherol, Disodium EDTA , Pentylene Glycol, Panthenyl Triacetate, Sodium Lactate, Lactic Acid, Serine, Urea, Sorbitol, Sodium Chloride, Allantoin, Oleyl Alcohol, Ethyl Linoleate

This was included in Sephora’s Summertime Crushes collection. It goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly.  I like to use it as a first layer of sunscreen underneath a physical sunscreen like Sunology or Mineral Fusion.  It is packed with moisturizers (glycerin, urea, sorbitol) as well as vitamin B5 and vitamin E. It is like a skin treatment with the added bonus of sun protection.

Murad Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35


from Murad's website

from Murad’s website

This is another gem from the Sephora Summer Crushes collection.  It’s a cute little stick that is non-greasy and very easy to carry anywhere.  Although it’s a completely chemical sunscreen, it’s still a useful tool to have in your purse or workout bag.

Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46


Active Ingredients: 9.0% Zinc oxide, 7.5% Octinoxate Inactive Ingredients: Purified Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Niacinamide, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polyisobutene, PEG-7 Trimethylolpropane Coconut Ether, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lactic Acid, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Butylene Glycol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane

I discovered this product last year and still am in love.  It’s broad-spectrum, has a physical sunscreen, and actually calms my skin when it’s feeling red and stressed. It is not water or sweat resistant, so it’s definitely not something I wear when I’m exercising or working outdoors. But for those days when I’m just running errands or doing a lot of indoor gigs, this is the sunscreen I reach for.

These are a few of my favorite sunscreens this summer.

Have you tried any of them?  What are your favorites?

When the spouse is away….

I shall have a spa day!


It has been ages since I had a whole day off all by myself!  Hubby is in Tucson at a meeting, and I had a surprise cancellation.  Woo hoo!

My spa day actually started yesterday evening with an hour-long massage from Nell at Spa 33, followed by a half hour in the sauna.  Then I had a spa dinner of stir-fry over quinoa and read magazines with the cats.  Heaven!

This morning I got up at my usual time and slathered my hair with a mixture of coconut oil and camellia oil (available on Amazon and at Asian groceries) — and covered it with a plastic bag.  Then I went for my walk.  You would never know that my hair was getting beautified underneath my walking hat!


Doing the hot oil treatment and getting fit, too!

Having the kitchen to myself for a few days seemed like the perfect opportunity to try a new diet.  I saw this book at the library and could not resist the title: Happy Hormones, Slim Belly: Over 40? Lose 7 lbs the First Week, and then 2 lbs. Weekly – Guaranteed. by Jorge Cruise.  The premise, in a nutshell, is that women start craving sugar (meaning sugar in a global sense — everything that breaks down into sugars in the digestive system, so sugars, fruit, carbs, etc.) to help boost their serotonin levels which are going haywire during peri-menopause. The result is weight gain and difficulty sticking to diets which make us miserable.  Jorge’s answer: what he calls carb-cycling.  It sounds like a modified marriage of the Atkins Diet and the Fast Diet — 2 days a week, you avoid all “sugars” (eating as much meat, dairy and vegetables as you want) and then the other 5 days you eat a sensible Mediterranean diet.

My hormones certainly are going haywire… and my weight is currently plateaued at 20lbs more than what the Dr. considers healthy…

So I’m on the second day of the Diet which has 2 “Slim Days” and 5 “Happy Days”  Today is a “Slim Day” — and it’s going well.  I have some fruit cravings, but have almonds instead. And the avocado with lunch really helped fill me up.

Tomorrow I get to have tortillas again!  It seems fairly easy to work around the spouse.  He will be happy with the increase in bacon consumption… All I really have to do is not eat the carbs on my slim days, but in practice, I’m not sure I can watch my husband eat bread without having some myself….

I am dubious about the losing 7 lbs in one week part…. and I’m pretty sure the guarantee won’t apply to me since it was a library book… but we’ll see how it goes.

So, back to the spa part….

I made a simple scrub by adding some Hawaiian red salt to Alba’s Coconut Milk Facial Wash.



Ingredients: Aqua (Water), C14-22 Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract*, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil*, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Panthenol, Polysorbate 60, Potassium Hydroxide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Alcohol*, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol , Coumarin, Fragrance (Parfum) * Certified Organic Ingredient

Then followed that with the Honey Girl Organics Rejuvenating Mask (which although is clay-based, has enough oils and honey that it is actually not drying at all)


Ingredients: Raw Pupukea Honey, French green clay, organic diatomaceous earth, Hawaiian blue green algae, Royal Jelly, propolis.

Then washed the oil out of my hair with Whole Foods 365 Lavender Shampoo — which has no sulfates or other nasty stuff. It left my hair soft and clean, but not squeaky and stripped.  This was one of the freebies I got from the Whole Foods Blogger event last month.

365 Shampoo for dry and normal hair "lavender blend": water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium cocoamphacetate, wheat germ amidopropyl, betaine, sodium chloride, benzyl alcohol, glycerine, citric acid, dehydroacetic acid, burdock root extract, panthenol, vitamin E, hydrolyzed soy protein, rosemary, lavender, tangerine

365 Shampoo for dry and normal hair “lavender blend”: water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium cocoamphacetate, wheat germ amidopropyl, betaine, sodium chloride, benzyl alcohol, glycerine, citric acid, dehydroacetic acid, burdock root extract, panthenol, vitamin E, hydrolyzed soy protein, rosemary, lavender, tangerine

I also tried the Whole Foods 365 French Milled Organic Lavender Soap (also a sample freebie from the Blogger event) — and it was delightful!  Nice lather, and a fresh lavender scent. Definitely a keeper!

Wholefoods_LavenderSoapAlas, being at home is not the same as being at The Golden Door, so there were still chores to be done.

But my hair and skin feel fantastic, and after a bowl of hearty soup, there is a Disney Princess movie marathon (on the couch with the cats in a pile) on the agenda…

I feel ready to face the next 5 weeks (without a day off)!

Natasha’s Thai-Inspired Spa Chicken Vegetable Soup

In a soup pot:

1 tbl coconut oil
1 chicken breast, chopped
1 tbl (or so) of fresh chopped garlic
1 tbl chopped ginger (I like the ginger cubes that I found at our local Asian market)

Then add:
1 can low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbl chopped ginger (I like the ginger cubes that I found at our local Asian market)
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 cup frozen spinach
1/2 yellow squash, chopped
2 chopped fresh tomatoes
1 celery stick, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas

Sriracha sauce to taste





Beauty Bonanza at Whole Foods

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post at the invitation of Whole Foods and their Summer Fun promotion. All views and opinions, however, are my own.

Last week, Whole Foods in La Jolla, CA held a beauty blogger’s dream event — an open house that showcased product lines carried in their stores — and also a goodie bag of delights!  The sparkling sodas and salad mixer with other bloggers was an added bonus!

There were four product line stations.  I started at Evan Healy‘s station.

Evan Healy discusses her philosophy of skincare.

Evan Healy discusses her philosophy of skincare.

Evan Healy, the founder of her eponyous skincare line was actually right there to explain her products, how to use them, why they work, and her philosophy of treating the skin and body gently to encourage balance. All of her products use the highest quality plant and mineral materials, many of them organic.

Each blogger got a quick assessment of primary skin issues and was given a skincare kit with 2 weeks worth of products. As a mature person dealing with hormonal breakouts (two of which I have since learned are actually pre-cancerous objects of interest and NOT breakouts — more on that in another post…), I was given the Rose Treatment Kit since its key ingredient, Rose Geranium essential oil encourages hormonal balance and is also good for aging skin.

The Rose Treatment Kit contents: Cleansing Milk, Rose Hydrosol,

The Rose Treatment Kit contents: Cleansing Milk, Rose Geranium Facial Tonic Hydrosol, Roship Treatment Facial Serum, Rose Vetiver Day Moisturizer, French Rose Clay for weekly treatment masks.

All of the kits feature a treatment serum which consists of a special blend of oils and essential oils.  The key is to put a few drops of the serum oil into your palm, then spritz a few sprays of the hydrosol on top, mix quickly and massage onto your cleansed face.  The combination absorbs almost instantly, leaving the skin super-refreshed.

I am currently testing this group of products and so far I love it!  My breakouts have calmed down significantly and I no longer get dry patches by the end of the day.

The next station featured Aura Cacia Products.  I was already familiar with this line since I use their lavender and eucalyptus essential oils in my henna paste.  They have a high standard of quality at very affordable prices. Their environmentally friendly farming and packaging policies are also a plus.

Aura Cacia Bath Salts

Aura Cacia Bath Salts

The Aura Cacia representative gave out full-sized sample packets of aromatherapy Mineral Bath salts.  He also demonstrated that you can make your own therapeutic bath salt mix by adding several drops of essential oils to either Kosher Salt (shown in the tin above) or epsom salts.  He also recommended massaging a drop or two of peppermint oil on the soles of your feet before going for a run to increase circulation.  And a drop of peppermint oil rubbed in the palm and then inhaled gives a quick caffeine-free boost.

Next up, Dr. Bronner’s station.

One of the Bronner clan discusses the many benefits of the classic liquid soap.

One of the Bronner clan discusses the many benefits of the classic liquid soap.

Dr. Bronner’s All-One Magic Soap is practically a hippie institution.  I remember buying the classic peppermint soap at our local health foods store in Nashville (run by the good hippies from The Farm, a utopian community). The scent was a blast of peppermint and it made everything tingle when I used it in the shower.  But it wasn’t just for showers… it was (and still is) the jack-of-all-soaps — dish soap, floor wash, window wash, hand-wash soap, shampoo (albeit a bit harsh), flea-repellent dog wash, eco-friendly bug spray for garden plants… the list goes on and on.

Now the company makes much more than just liquid castille soaps — there are lotions, hard soaps, baby products, hand sanitizers (made from natural coconut alcohol), lip products, and natural cooking oils.

The 4th and 5th generation descendents of the original German soapmaker immigrants have taken the All-One transcendental philosophy and applied it in their practices of partnering with Fair Trade farmers and promoting organic integrity, the reintroduction of industrial hemp production in the U.S. and fair trade practices.

I still love the liquid jack-of-all-soaps — and make sure I have a bottle on hand both at home and when we go camping.

The final station was the Mineral Fusion Booth.

I am already a big fan of Mineral Fusion — but had not tried their nail colors. They are Formaldehyde, toulene, camphor and dibutyl pthalate free — and come in 61 gorgeous colors!  Whole Foods in La Jolla had the full range of nail products as well as their acetone-free nail polish remover and treatment products.

a small selection of Mineral Fusion Nail Products

a small selection of Mineral Fusion Nail Products

The representative had 2 gifts for us:

Mineral Fusion Mini Polish Trio

Mineral Fusion Mini Polish Trio


Mineral Fusion Lip Sheer Pencil

Mineral Fusion Lip Sheer Pencil

The nail polish colors are perfectly yummy — the sea green is now my favorite summer shade…. and the Sheer Moisture Lip Tint is exactly what it says it is: a sheer wash of super-moisturizing color.  It is totally goof-proof and not only makes your lips feel amazing, it smells good, too.

If that weren’t enough fun for one evening, Whole Foods gave each of us bloggers a reusable shopping bag filled with full-sized body care items for us to try.

The goodie bag...

The goodie bag…

My husband immediately took the Desert Essence Coconut body lotion… reminds him of Hawaii… and it takes care of the chapping he gets from working in the garden.

Some of the items in the gift bag.

Some of the items in the gift bag. Reviews are in the works.

Squee!!! I suppose not many people get a thrill out of cotton balls… but as someone who uses them all day long to prepare skin for henna, I truly appreciate a quality cotton ball… these are made from organic cotton — so you know there’s no nasty pesticides used in growing the cotton (better for the planet, and the birds, bees and other beneficial insects).

Organic cotton balls are just a small item that shows the company’s commitment to lessening harmful environmental impacts from unnecessary (and toxic) chemicals — and its investment in the future of the planet.

Another way Whole Foods shows its commitment to a healthier planet is its stance on not allowing microbeads in any of the products they sell.  Microbeads are very small plastic beads used as exfoliants in soaps, body washes, body scrubs, facial scrubs, and some toothpastes.  These beads are plastic which means they never biodegrade, but just accumulate in our fresh and saltwater environments. Illinois has already banned products with microbeads; Hawaii and  New York are currently debating the issue. Microbeads are a serious problem in the Great Lakes, causing malnutrition in fish who see them as food and cannot digest or get rid of them. In addition, the beads absorb toxic chemicals and are a haven for bacterial blooms. According to NPR, “Lake Ontario’s levels are highest, with counts of up to 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer.” Pretty scary stuff.

In addition to being committed to caring for the planet on a large scale, Whole Foods also has stringent quality standards for its beauty and body care products.

  • They only sell personal care products that have not been tested on animals
  • They are committed to high-quality products with a proven track record.
  • They promote products with naturally-derived and plant-based ingredients, pure essential oil fragrances, gentle preservatives and non-petroleum ingredients.
  • They carefully evaluate each product they sell.
  • They aim for products with minimal environmental impact in both manufacturing and packaging.
  • They make sure their personal care products are accurately labelled, have established safety data and are less likely to cause skin irritation or allergies.

I had sort of known about the standards but was very impressed when I checked out the website to see the full measure of their policies and the practical ways these are implemented. It makes me even more impressed with their own store brand, 365 — to know that their own products are also made with strict standards of quality. (Which I knew empirically through use, but it’s nice to see it in print.)

Whew!  That was a lot to cover in one post!  Thanks for hanging in for the duration!

As a special gift for my San Diego readers, Whole Foods has given me a coupon good for Friday, June 27, 2014 only — at any of the San Diego Whole Foods locations: Del Mar, Encinitas, Hillcrest, and La Jolla….

(I love you, Whole Foods, but can you please open a store in East County? Thanks!)





MAC Attack

It was a rainy week-end.  I was feeling a bit blue because 1) plans to go rent a car for the week-end and go snorkelling had been nixed due to the “winter storm” (which caused storm surges, 45ft waves off the North Shore and heavy soaking rain), and 2) I had a report from my long-suffering mother-in-law that our bad cats had knocked all the towels down out of the closet and peed on them.

The bad cats and the mother-in-law are in New York, 6000 miles and 5 hours time distance away.

They look so sweet when they are sleeping...

They look so sweet when they are sleeping…

So we decided to take the bus to the Ala Moana Mall, get some Yummy Korean BBQ and run a few errands.

When we got there, the center stage which usually has lunchtime hula performances was a giant MAC studio!  There were dancers in frothy flower-inspired confections and free makeovers for all!  Just what the doctor ordered to take my mind off my troubles!

Before the make-over

Before the make-over

Jessica (and about 30 of her closest MAC make-up artist friends) analyzed my coloring, and decided to give me a glowy look with eyes inspired by orchids…

The event was to celebrate MAC’s spring limited edition line called: A Fantasy of Flowers, “a dream world bursting with brilliant blooms of color…” So that might explain why my artist was thinking of orchids…

Jessica and about 30 or so of her make-up artist friends perform free makeovers for the masses of Ala Moana in downtown Honolulu on March 1.

Jessica and about 30 or so of her make-up artist friends perform free makeovers for the masses of Ala Moana in downtown Honolulu on March 1.

First, she prepped my skin with a spritz of Prep & Prime Skin, then blended two colors of foundation in her hand which she applied with a brush. She gushed about the brush, the 159 Duo Fibre Blush Brush, and confided that it is her go-to brush for foundation, blush or finishing powder. Then she added a glow of blush (Azalea in the Afternoon).

Jessica applied purple eyeliner on top and gold eyeliner underneath my lashes.

Jessica works her MAC magic on me.

Since I already had on purple eyeliner (which elicited several squeals of approval from other make-up artists — it is, actually a Sephora eyeliner in Eccentric Diva — when set with powder, it stays put even in extreme heat and sweating conditions…), Jessica decided to use the dark olive shade from the “In the Meadows” quad on my outer corners, then she brought some of the green in over the olive and across the middle of the lid.  The vanilla shade was used to open up the inner corners of my eyes and under the brow bone. Then she used a gold eyeliner on my lower lashes and finished my eyes off with several coats of False Lashes mascara. A swipe of Star Quality lipgloss (a sheer watermelon shade) completed my look.

Apres make-over

Apres make-over

Even hubby was impressed.

I felt so much better after a quick pampering.

And then I bought “In the Meadow” shadow quad and the Star Quality Creamsheen glass lipgloss. I would have bought the blush, but it was (alas) gone when I got to the check out counter.

Hubby’s birthday is tomorrow and I plan to use my new make-up tricks when I get dressed up for our dinner out.

Have you had a makeover that transformed your mood?



Cuckoo for Coconuts!

Surfer on a wave statue at Waikiki Beach celebrates surfing culture in Hawaii

Surfer on a wave statue at Waikiki Beach celebrates surfing culture in Hawaii

There are a few things you cannot avoid in Hawaii.

1) The culture of the ocean — surfing, snorkelling, swimming, beaching

2) Palm trees and coconuts

I can’t go to the ocean every day… but I can enjoy the delights of coconuts!


Coconuts and coconut oil have gotten a bad rap over the years becoming stigmatized as the evil forces of saturated fats that will clog your arteries if you just look at them.

However, recently there has been a coconut revival and even Dr. Oz touts their health benefits!  It turns out that unrefined coconuts contain medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that actually helps you regulate your blood sugar and lose weight. Studies have shown that women who ingested about 2 tablespoons a day of coconut oil did not gain extra weight, but in fact, lost abdominal fat — the kind that is notoriously difficult to lose!

In addition, coconut oil is full of antioxidants which nourish the skin and hair when applied topically.

Coconut Oil for the Skin
I use coconut oil to soothe my dry cracked heels, as a shaving oil, and as a facial cleansing oil.  It leaves my skin super soft.  I have had no problems using it straight on my face — in fact, I think my face loves this stuff! I massage the oil in, use a hot washcloth to rinse it off and then I have clean and moisturized skin!  Add a dash of brown sugar to that coconut oil and you have a super gentle scrub.

Coconut Oil for the Hair
I was hesitant to put oil straight on my hair at first.  My hair is baby fine and gets greasy easily.  However, being in the sun as much as I am, I decided to give my frazzled locks a coconut conditioning treat.  I simply massaged raw coconut oil into my hair, let it sit while I caught up on email, then washed it out with my regular shampoo.  I used a tiny bit of conditioner on the ends, then let it air-dry as usual and voila!  Lovely, shiny, soft hair!  And no frizz!  It did relax my curl slightly, but the absence of frizz is worth wavy vs. curly hair! Now I use coconut oil as a deep conditioning treatment once a week.

Coconut Oil in my DietI have become convinced that getting more real fat in my diet is probably a good thing so I have started cooking with coconut oil and eating coconut butter (which is super-yummy!) instead of peanut butter.  It is too soon to tell what kind of effect this is having — and I don’t really expect to lose abdominal fat. But two weeks into the experiment, I feel good — energetic instead of sluggish and my skin is clear and glowing (probably also due to the Honeygirl Organics regimen I am following).

I decided that the Coconut Diet by Cherie and John Calboum was not for me.  It is a modified Atkins type diet that eliminates whole food groups. Of course you will lose weight if you restrict what you eat. But I have found that I end up craving those foods even more and when the diet is over, I binge on things like pizza… and that is not the balance I seek.

So, in the interest of balance, I eat whole grain breads, lots of local produce and fruits, meat, rice and use coconut oil for cooking. And then, for the other side of the spectrum, we eat out a few times a week — our local shopping center has Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hawaiian BBQ, Italian, Mexican and Pizza places! It’s not really a diet for losing weight… but I’m not too concerned about that right now since this is a time to try new things and enjoy our surroundings, including restaurants!

I still have yet to experience a fresh coconut… that is on the list!




Hello Humidity!

Our neighborhood... note the thick clouds and rich green of the mountains...

Our neighborhood… note the thick clouds and rich green of the mountains…

When I left San Diego, the average humidity level was around 5%.  My sinuses were shrivelled and my skin was breaking out due to the dryness. My hair had split ends and refused to curl.

Here in Honolulu, the average humidity is around 100%… and now I have new issues… FRIZZ!  And make-up slide… usually Urban Decay’s 24/7 eye pencils stay put without any trouble until I take them off… but that is not the case out here where the weather is warm (around 80F during the day) and very humid.  Even though I am not sweating, my make-up is! By the end of the day yesterday, I had giant blue raccoon smudges even though I had set the pencil eyeliner with powdered eyeliner…

So I’m trying 2 new products to see if it helps. One is Tarte’s Smooth Operator Clear Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder (I got a sample with a Sephora purchase several months ago — and I’m so glad I thought to include it!) The other is John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease hair gel.

Curl Keeper vs. Frizz-Ease

Curl Keeper vs. Frizz-Ease

Curl Keeper is what works for me in San Diego.  It helps coax curls when the weather is very dry and it keeps them manageable during the summer months.  However, it did absolutely nothing in Honolulu… within minutes, my hair began to swell, rise up and terrorize small children… The Frizz-Ease seems to be working… 2 hours in and so far so good… the real proof will be at the end of the day.  I will check in tomorrow with the results.

FrizzControlledThis is with the Frizz-Ease in the hair and the Smooth Operator lightly dusted over my whole face and eyeliner.

So far, things seem to be staying put… but the day is young, yet and there are many errands to complete before I can claim victory.  It would be nice if the solution were so simple.

Have you dealt with severe humidity?  What tips do you have?

The Best of 2013: My Baker’s Dozen

As 2013 draws to a close, it’s time for year-end round-ups.  And it seemed only just that I create a list of 13 top items for 2013… and then I read the post by Paris at My Woman Stuff and she framed the year-end summary so beautifully, that I am going to use her structure and give you my list of bests of 2013.


  1. Best Makeup Tip I Learned in 2013:
    Defining my hooded eyes from this tutorial from Olivia at Into the Palette
  2. Best Lipstick of 2013:
    So many lipsticks, so little time…but one that I’m really enjoying right now is Mineral Fusion’s lipstick in Precious. It’s got shea butter and antioxidants — and it’s gluten-free, too! (Definitely want my lipsticks to be gluten-free… )
  3. Best Thing I Did For Myself in 2013:
    Go snorkelling in Hawaii on my 50th birthday… so many glorious colors, fish and corals and I got to say Aloha to a sea turtle!


    Hello Honu!

  4. Best Skincare Tip I Learned in 2013:
    With menopause come skin changes and the best defense for me is not to fight acne with acne medicine, but to add more moisture.  And thanks to to the on-call doctor at Kaiser who suggested using CeraVe moisture cream when my skin starts getting fussy.  This cream is packed with glycerin and hyaluronic acid which keep the skin hydrated but not greasy.  Although, I also learned not to fear oil on my face… a little argan oil is amazing!
  5. Best Budget Sunscreen Discovered in 2013:
    CeraVe Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 50.  I wore this all summer long and never once got burned.


    Best budget sunscreen

  6. Best Body Care Discoveries in 2013:
    CeraVe Moisture Cream… on the face, on the body, this stuff rocks!


  7. Best Eyeshadow used in 2013
    The most versatile eyeshadows I discovered this year was Urban Decay’s Naked Basics — I actually use this palette every day and it’s one of 2 palettes that I brought with me on my trip to NYC to visit the in-laws.

    Urban Decay's Naked Basics

    Urban Decay’s Naked Basics

  8. Best Spa Experience I had in 2013:
    I only had one spa experience in 2013.  But it was pretty darned awesome.  I definitely recommend Spa 33 for a delightful and affordable spa experience.  And you do a massage, sauna, oxygen treatment and then a facial for a full day of blissdom…
  9. Best BB Cream in 2013:
    Actually, my favorite BB cream of this year turned out to be a CC cream: The Face Shop’s Aura Color Control Cream.  It has a lovely texture, good SPF and lasts all day even in hot weather.
  10. Best Personal Growth Experience of 2013:
    Attending the Henna Intensive Retreat in September.  This was a fabulous week-end in the mountains full of art, great people, and tons of inspiration.  It was just what I needed to halt burn-out… and I found some fun eyeshadows (from EyeCons), too!
  11. Best Concealer Used in 2013:
    L’Oreal True Match Concealer Crayon.  Good color match, great coverage without looking cakey, easy to use and cheap affordable… what’s not to love?

    L'Oreal TruMatch Concealer Crayon

    L’Oreal TruMatch Concealer Crayon

  12. Best Travel Experience in 2013:
    A week in on the big island of Hawaii!  The Big Island has so much diversity, great snorkelling, lava fields, tropical rainforests, volcanos, glorious beaches, and fantastic restaurants.  I hope we get the chance to return soon!
  13. Best Skincare Product Discovery in 2013:
    The Face Shop’s Chia Seed Skincare line.  It’s light, moisturizing and layerable.  I love how it makes my skin feel!

    The Chia Seed Skincare set

    The Chia Seed Skincare set

    Thanks again to Paris B for this great list!

    What are your top 13 for 2013?

Trying something new

After I finished my Influenster assignment with the Dr.Scholls Active Series insoles, I was certain I’d never be asked to review anything else again… after all, I am not on Vine or Vimeo or much else… and I don’t always remember the required #hashtags…

So imagine my surprise when I got an email from Influensterinforming me that I’d been selected to try an anti-aging product from Meaningful Beauty.  And it arrived in the mail today!  Woo hoo! #MeaningfulBeauty #Influenster Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, free sample!!!


My skin and my schedule have calmed down so I’m definitely ready to try a new product!  In order to see the real benefits of this product, I’ll stick to very basic cleansing and moisturizing (CeraVe cleanser and CeraVe Cream and a daily foundation without whitening agents) and I’ll check back after a couple of weeks to see if I notice a difference.

What I’m hoping for: some firming around the eyes, some evening out of pigmentation, good hydration and no irritation. To be honest, I have fairly low expectations since this cream doesn’t contain any retinoids which are the only thing I’ve tried that have created dramatic results in the past… but we shall see.

Have you tried anything from Meaningful Beauty?

My Five Minute Face

Several of the beauty bloggers I follow do challenges every Monday.  This Monday, the Make-Up Wars challenge was a 5-minute face, starting with Gouldylox Reviews.

Each blogger made her own rules of what was crucial and what wasn’t; the only stipulation was that the end result take 5 minutes or less.

It sounded like a fun challenge, and one that I could enjoy since I’m always looking for shortcuts so I can spend more time drinking coffee with my hubby in the morning before dashing off to the office.

Here is my naked face.  It’s a little pink because I’d just finished a 4 mile walk a half hour before.

Good morning... I really need a cuppa joe and some MAKEUP!

Good morning… I really need a cuppa joe and some MAKEUP!


Here are the products I used:


In order of application:

  • The Face Shop; Face It Aura Color Control Cream
  • The Face Shop adorable Meex Petit Cheek Stick in Coral PongPong
  • Benefit’s Gimme Brow
  •  Maybelline Color Tattoo Metal 24 hour Eyeshadow in Barely Branded
  • Urban Decay 24/7 glide-on Pencil in Demolition (from last year’s Ocho Loco collection)
  • e.l.f. High Definition Undereye Setting powder, also dusted on forehead and nose to cut shine
  •  Covergirl LashBlash Clump Crusher Mascara in Black
  • Mineral Fusion Lipstick in Precious Gem

And here are closer looks at some newer products:

Benefit Gimme Brow in Light/Medium

Benefit Gimme Brow in Light/Medium. I love how easy this is to use!


The Face Shop's Lovely Meex Petit Cheek Stick in Coral PongPong

The Face Shop’s Lovely Meex Petit Cheek Stick in Coral PongPong: Blush just doesn’t get any cuter than this!


e.l.f. High Definition Undereye Setting powder

e.l.f. High Definition Undereye Setting powder. Really keeps any eyeliner on my lower lashline in place, and also reduces shine anywhere else you put it.


and the final result


and with glasses