Beauty reviews

I recently posted about changing my beauty routine. I’ve changed even more since I wrote that post. In an effort to help someone who might be thinking of trying one of these products I thought I’d write down my thoughts on each one. With my weird rosacea, and late blooming problematic skin, I’ve been reading and trying lots of late to try to find something that I can live with (i.e. be willing to go out in public with my face issues). I’ve been using the following products for two weeks (unless noted otherwise).


Make-up removing balm – No7 Cleansing Balm ($10) – it works great for taking off my makeup but I do find I sometimes need to use an additional eye makeup remover (I’m using Up&Up from Target). I use Almay regular mascara for sensitive eyes, I don’t even think it’s waterproof, and I use very little but it can be difficult to remove. (For reference I read an average mascara user ‘eyelash swipes’ 20 times. I do 4 times, so…) I remove the balm with a wet washcloth and it leaves my skin feeling nice and clean. You can buy it at Ulta but I believe it’s put out by Boots which is also available at Target.


I do a second cleanse because I use foundation/moisturizer with spf (go to Caroline Hirons to find out why you should too). I am In Love with this next cleanser. Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser. Expensive? Yes, very at $58, and that was hard to swallow from someone who was used to spending $6 at the local drugstore. But I’ve noticed a difference, and it’s made my skin smoother and feel better. It has a wonderful citrus like scent that really wakes me up in the morning. It’s all natural and I really like that too. Most importantly it hasn’t irritated my rosacea like a lot of all natural/organic skincare products do. I linked to the Tata Harper website up above because it is one product I’m really really happy with. It comes in a glass bottle which makes it look nice sitting on the counter too. In case pretty bottles are your kind of thing. I rinse with water to remove.


I’ve been using REN Clarifying toner/lotion after cleansing ($24), mixing it up with the Botanics below.

BotanicsRosewater FacialRadiancePads

I’m not 100% sold on toners – I also have Botanics rosewater spray toner ($8) and I am expecting Beauty Aid Radiance Exfoliating Toner Pads ($30 for 60 pads) in the next day or so. I definitely need exfoliation, especially in winter, and I wanted to move away from the Dermologica daily micro exfoliating powder ($52), that I’ve been using. Plus if it works, it’s a 2-in-1 pad, so we’ll pretend I’m saving money there…


I also use Eysilix eye cream (Indeed Laboratories, $25 at Ulta). I’m not sure I’ve seen any difference, so I’m sort of doing this ‘if I feel like it’ in the mornings and at night.


Next up is Hydraluron ($25) which I use in the morning only. I think this has made a huge difference in hydrating my skin. It’s meant to go under moisturizer, since it’s for hydrating under the top layer of skin.


A new product I’m trying is Karin Herzog Vita-Kombi 1 Mousturizing Cream ($53). I put some on my neck just to test it out when it arrived, and it feels very silky and soft. The problem I have is the scent. It’s very perfume laden, so I don’t know how I’ll do since I dislike scented products. But for the price I might just have to suck it up (an advantage if you want to try this one is to buy it at a makeup store with a good return policy (Ulta and Sephora have exceptional policies for this). I bought it off Amazon, which has a great policy for most things, but I’m not sure about opened, used skincare products.) Everything I’ve read reviewing this cream has been glowing (pun intended) so hopefully it’ll calm my redness from the rosacea.


I’ve also been using REN Clay Cleanser ($34). But I did notice some irritation after using it every night, so I’m switching to only a couple nights a week, and only at night. It leaves my skin silky soft.


I was using Simple Mousturizing SPF for under my makeup but it’s causing redness and irritation in my rosacea so I’ve backed off using it. I also used Aveeno Intensiv Night Cream for quite awhile but it feels like it sits on my skin, is greasy, and even hours after applying if I rub my face it’s like the product ‘peels’ off my skin and I get grey blobs, a bit like rubbing your skin a minute after you shower and the dead skin comes off (which is really gross). So I’m just going to stick with SPF in my foundation and go to town with regular sunscreen if I am actually spending time at the beach or extended hours in the sun. Which considering I live in Seattle and am about to move to London, is equal to about 1 hour per month. If I’m lucky.


For fun I’m tossing in what I use for shampoo and conditioner, Living Proof Perfect Hair Day (which I have a cult love for though not for the $24 price tag) and Not Your Mothers Beach Babe Moisturizing Conditioner ($8). I don’t like the coconut smell of the Beach Babe but it leaves my hair feeling silky, so I’ll suck it up, and my daughter likes to sniff my head after I use it.

So it sticks around for those reasons.

Those are all the products currently in rotation. Past products include Cetaphil face wash, Eucerin Dry Skin Formula (great in winter, though heavy as it’s meant for hands, etc, not face), Acure spray toner and argan oil which I talked about in my other beauty post (both have since gone to the trash because of horrible reactions to the organic products), Simple Foaming Face Wash, Clinique 7 Day Scrub, and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizer (which all you have to do to cross off that one is look at the red and yellow dye in the ingredients list. Sadly, I used this for a long time before I realized how bad it is.) There are others as well that I have tried and tossed, but I could list them all day. The quest continues.

What are you using that you like or dislike? Have you tried anything on my list?

*prices are based on a combination of different websites. I paid less based on where I bought the products or by using coupons/sales. 

Book Review: One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen

I recently had the opportunity to review the Young Adult novel, One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen.  The book will be released in February 2011 by Harlequin Teen.  The story begins with a scene at an old asylum where the main character, Charlotte Silver, is helping her paranormal research parents find supernatural forces.  It’s not something she loves, just a fact of her life.  What she encounters during that morning turns out to be unlike anything she’s ever come across.

Calling itself simply The Watcher, this other world being begins to set his sights on Charlotte.  Complicating her already complex life is the sudden interest of high school heartthrob, Harris Abbott, who’s after more than just Charlotte.  The story is filled with the typical angst of teenage romance while dealing with the more complex situation of her parents marriage slowly going to pieces.  The question is how will Charlotte deal with her parents marriage, an over attentive boyfriend and a supernatural being out for her life?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  The plot is layered, turning each corner it kept me guessing as to what was really behind the relationship between Charlotte and Harris, who was planning the events foretold during the party where they lit the one hundred candles, and how everything would come together.

While the situation of being hunted by a supernatural being is perhaps unrealistic, the characters are believable and real and made me feel like just maybe such a thing could exist.  The author creates a world most teenagers can relate to, the agony of first love, parental upset and everyday life.

This is the second book in the One Hundred Candles series featuring Charlotte Silver by Mara Purnhagen.  You can find the first book, Past Midnight, at local retailers and online.  For more information visit Harlequin Teen.

I was provided with a galley copy of this book through NetGalley to complete my review.  The opinions expressed are mine and were in no way influenced by Harlequin Teen.

Review: Scotch Brite Greener Clean Sponges

One of the mnay booths I had a chance to visit at BlogHer included Scotch Brite.  The booths do tend to blend together after two days of non-stop swaggalicious fun but Scotch Brite stood out in my mind for several reasons.

One, they asked us for our best eco-friendly household cleaning tips and recorded them.  That’s win-win because half the best ideas for keeping things clean come from other people.  If you want to see some of the videos from the event you can go to this link Scotch Brite BlogHer.  Let me know which tip you found most helpful!

The second reason Scotch Brite stood out in my mind was the incedible Greener Clean Biodegradable Expanding Soft Sponge.  Don’t know what I mean?  I filmed it for that exact reason.

I really loved watching it expand.  It was just like watching Sea Monkeys.  Even better the sponge was fantastic for cleaning my dirty sink.  In fact I haven’t decided which product from Scotch Brite I like the best; the natural fiber Non-Scratch Scour Pads,non-scratch Scrub Sponge, or the Absorbent Sponge.  I love that they are natural fiber and eco-friendly.  Scotch Brite is making a difference by using natural and recycled materials and you can too!  Remember to go eco-friendly bring your own grocery bags to the store, recycle trash items like cans, glass and plastic bottles and cardboard.  Every little bit can make a big impact!

What tips do you have for recycling and cleaning that you would like to share?  Leave them here!

Softlips Review and Giveaway

The arrival of fall means a lot of things, changing colors on trees, cooler weather and an influx of dry lips!  But with Softlips you don’t have to worry; they’ve got you covered!  I love Softlips products and was a fan even before I got my review pack.  If you search my house you’ll find Softlips everywhere!  Here are the main reasons I’m falling in love with the new Softlips PURE line

Softlips PURE 100% Natural lip care products, which includes tinted lip balms, glosses, an exfoliating lip polish and a moisturizing lip butter, all of which are free from preservatives, phthalates, sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, and gluten, and not tested on animals.

With all the extra things that go into products these days, it’s nice to know I’m not adding even more just by protecting my lips from the elements.  I have a hard time now figuring out which one to wear because I’m in love with all of them.  Softlips PURE comes in a variety of flavors and tints including Shell Pink, Natural Honesty, Coral Charm and one of my favorites, the Lip Polish in Organic Coconut and Sugar.  My lips feel all shiny and soft after I use the Lip Polish!
Softlips and I want you to experience the new PURE line too!  You can win a great prize pack of PURE products.  Here’s what you need to do: (one entry per item)
1. Leave a comment on my blog 
2. Follow me on Twitter @BlogMamaAndrea
3. Follow my blog

The giveaway is open only to US readers and ends Tuesday, September 21 at 11:59 PM Eastern.  Good luck! (CLOSED)

Winner is: Lucky number 13 – Katie!

True Random Number GeneratorMin: Max: Result:13Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Let’s get healthy! Cystex and Pedia Lax Gummies Review

Recently I had the chance to review two great products, Cystex Liquid Cranberry Complex and Pedia Lax Fiber Gummies for children.  Since both products deal with health I’m putting them together in one easy to find post!

At first I was a little skeptical of trying the Cystex Liquid Cranberry Complex.  I like cranberries but in such a concentrated liquid form…I wasn’t so sure about the taste.  Good news, it tasted fine and it turns out it’s even better for you.  Cystex is gives you the benefit of drinking eight glasses of cranberry juice in just one tablespoon.  Did you know drinking cranberry juice can help reduce your chances of getting an urinary tract infection?  Now I don’t have to chug back eight glasses of juice to have the same results!  The complex can even be added to a hot or cold drink if you prefer a more mild flavor.  The complex is a blend that also contains D-mannose (from cranberries), bromelain (from pineapple), inulin (a prebiotic) and vitamin C; which all add up to good health.  The Cystex Liquid Cranberry Complex is available at drugstores and retailers nationwide.

Pedia Lax Fiber Gummies for ages 2-11 are a relief to every parent who’s ever had kids who are super picky eaters!  My kids are among those super picky eaters.  Now I don’t have to worry if they’re getting enough of what they should be thanks to Pedia Lax Fiber Gummies which supply them with 6 grams of fiber.  Simply taking 3 gummies a day ensures that they are getting enough fiber in their diets to stay healthy.  And they taste great too!  They are sugar free and provide the equivalent of 21 spears of asparagus.  Nothing like eating your veggies when they taste and look like gummy bears!  Pedia Lax Fiber Gummies are available nationwide at retailers like Target and Walgreens.

Pedia-Lax Fiber Gummies “Keep Kids Moving” Sweepstakes
Exercise, along with a balanced diet, helps provide the foundation for a healthy, active lifestyle for every child. August 27, 2010 through November 30, 2010, visit to enter the Pedia-Lax® Fiber Gummies “Keep Kids Moving” sweepstakes for a chance to win one of six prize packages, including a $1,200 gift certificate to the online bike store  , Nintendo Wii’s and other great games/activities!
You’ll find more details and official rules at the Pedia-Lax Fiber Gummies Web site.
What do you do to keep you and your body healthy?

ThredUP: A new way to go green! Giveaway

There were so many vendors at BlogHer that it was very easy to lose track of what I saw.  One of the reasons ThredUP caught (and kept) my eye is their dedication to “Going Green”.  The entire concept of their site encourages us to recycle.  But the recycling is a in a fun and creative way.

We all know how quickly kids outgrow clothes and how many times have we lamented that they’ve barely been worn?

ThredUP’s tagline is “Clothes don’t grow. Kids do.”  The concept is simple.  Browse the listing of boxes of kids clothes.  If one catches your eye you snag it up!  All you pay is shipping! Then pack up a box of gently used kids clothes and list it on the site.  When your box is picked you send your kids old clothes on to someone else.

It’s 1-2-3 recycling!  That’s something I can get behind!  And you can get in on the savings and fun (and help reduce the amount of waste in the world too!)  The wonderful people at ThredUP have offered one lucky reader here at Blogging Mama a one year Pro membership to the site (basic memberships are free when signing up).

In order to get your chance to win here’s what you need to do: (one entry per item)

1. Go to ThredUP and tell me what your favorite part of their concept is
2. Follow me here at Blogging Mama
3. Follow me on Twitter @BlogMamaAndrea

That’s it!  Good luck! 

ThredUP is also on Twitter @ThredUP_kids

The giveaway ends Wednesday, August 25th at 11:59 PM Eastern time.

I received no compensation for this review except a free Pro membership to give to a reader.  The opinions expressed are solely mine.

Book Review: Dead Politician’s Society by Robin Spano

I wish I could say I enjoyed reading this book. But I simply can’t. By the seventh chapter of Dead Politician Society by Robin Spano (publish date will 9/1/10), the story had been told from six different character point of views. It is extremely dizzying trying to keep track of what’s happening in the book. Throughout the story we see these different points of view, chapter by chapter, through the eyes of each character. Normally one to possibly three points of view are normal in a novel. With six it just came out completely jumbled and I didn’t enjoy it. It was a challenge to finish reading the book.

The main point of the book is a secret Political Utopia society that starts killing politicians that they don’t agree with. In the book, the characters are all classmates in a politics class. One member, Clare, is an undercover cop charged with finding out who the murderer is. I found her character unbelievable. At 22, a rookie on the police department, she’s given the task of pretending to be a college student while solving the murder of prominent politicians? It lacked believability to me. A rookie would not be assigned an undercover assignment like this.

The book wanders off on political ideology and for me it went too far into detail losing my interest. I really struggled with finishing it. The killer is brought to justice in the end rather abruptly (and then it turns out he was simply covering for someone else and the real killer then confesses.) For me this book was told from too many views with too much political theorizing to be enjoyable.

An interesting, although unbelievable premise, for me this book would be a pass.

I get my books from NetGalley!  I was provided with the galley of the book in exchage for my review.  My opinion is made without regard to any compensation.

Book review and giveaway: Candy Fairies by Helen Perelman

The Candy Fairies series by Helen Perelman is a delightful set of books for children ages 6-9.  In the first book Chocolate Dreams, Cocoa the Chocolate Fairy is looking after the special eggs for the parade.  Right before the parade the eggs disappear!  Can Cocoa and the other fairies work together to find the eggs in time?

In book two, Rainbow Swirl, the fairies, each with their own special talent, are competing at the Candy Fair.  The Candy Fair is a chance for each fairy to display a new candy of thier special creation.  Raina the Gummy Fairy thinks she’s come up with the most special treat of all.  How will Raina handle things when a terrible storm wipes out her dreams?

The books are full of whimsical illustrations perfect for the young children.  The descriptions of the fairies made it easy to picture Sugar Valley. The books are lighthearted and teach important lessons about working together and realizing everyone has a different talent.  I enjoyed the clear message that if you’re willing to reach for your dreams anything is possible.  

The series is perfect for summer reading.  One lucky reader will be able to win a copy of the first two books in the series.  Here’s how you can enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me you’d like to win!
  • Follow me on Twitter @BlogMamaAndrea.  Leave me your Twitter id with your comment!
  • Tweet about the contest.  Be sure to let me know when you do.
  • Follow my blog

Leave a comment for each item so I can be sure to give you the correct number of entries (four entries maximum).  The giveaway ends Thursday June 10th at 11:59 Eastern.  The giveaway is normally only open to the US (via the publisher) but since I’m mailing the books personally, I’m going to include Canada as well. 

Good luck!

I was provided with the first two books in exchange for my review.  My review is based on my honest opinion without regard to compensation.

Book Review: Deadline Man by Jon Talton

Why does a prominent hedge fund king commit suicide by jumping off his office balcony? That’s what The Columnist wants to know. Especially since moments earlier the man was a reliable source and now he’s splayed on the sidewalk. The phrase ‘eleven/eleven’ and Olympic International seem to be at the middle of a growing web of mystery and murder. The implications might just reach beyond rainy Seattle and touch on national security. With his back up against a never ending deadline, The Columnist starts digging for the truth. It might get him killed in the end but he’s determined to get the story first.

In Deadline Man written by Jon Talton we meet the main character, only known as The Columnist, a hard boiled financial writer who has been in the business long enough to spot the sinking ship that his newspaper has become. While The Columnist’s personal morals, he often has three lovers at a time, leave a little to be desired, I immensely enjoyed the character. He is no nonsense and not afraid to find the story no matter what it might cost him personally.

The last third of the book packs plenty of action keeping the reader on edge, turning pages and wanting to know more. It felt almost like too much happened all at the same time though and I had a harder time connecting all the dots. Despite this minimal issue, the book has a very plausible story with a terrorist and black ops twist that will leave the reader wondering just how much could actually be true in today’s world. The book is woven with plenty of suspense and whodunit and kept me turning pages into the night. Talton places plenty of behind the scenes newspaper knowledge into the story giving the reader a look at the life of a reporter and the dying print industry itself.

Deadline Man is a wonderful first thriller for Jon Talton whose fast pace style and likeable but flawed characters keep the reader wondering what else is peeking around the corner.

Deadline Man is available online now at major retailers and through the publisher’s website, Poisoned Pen Press.

I was provided with an online galley of this book for free by the publisher at NetGalley in order to complete my review. All opinions are solely my own without regard to compensation.

Book Review & Giveaway: Dork Diaries

Today I’m going to review a refreshingly cute book that is published by Aladdin, Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division. Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell is aimed at the 9-13 age range.

I was very pleasantly surprised that even I could relate to Nikki Maxwell’s troubles. Recently transplanted into a preppy private school, Nikki faces the challenges of being the new girl. Without the latest greatest cell phone, mall quality clothes or friends, what Nikki does have is a brand new diary to record her thoughts. As Nikki navigates the horror of having her locker next to popular ‘mean girl’ MacKenzie, she discovers two allies in the form of friends Zoey and Chloe. Throw in an art show, tattoos and the usual dance of a first crush, Nikki has more than she can handle at her new school. How will she deal with middle school woes and still keep true to herself? Only Nikki’s diary will reveal all.

The language in the book easily reads as if it is coming straight from the mind of a teenager as she faces the difficulties of adolescence. With great imagination the author draws on the real experiences we all face. I liked this book and the style in which it was written. The entire book is handwritten on lined pages just as if you were truly holding Nikki’s diary. It’s an unique choice that lends to the authentic feel of the story.

The author has also created a website ‘written’ by Nikki. Nikki Maxwells’s Blog is a cute way to continue the story and readers can interact with Nikki and ask questions. You can find out more about the next book in the Dork Diaries series Tales From A Not-So-Popular Party Girl as well.
Now the really fun part. I’m going to be giving away five copies of Dork Diaries courtesy of Simon & Schuster. All you have to do is leave a comment letting me know you’d like to win a copy. This would make a great holiday gift for that preteen on your list! The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM Friday December 11, 2009.

Good luck!

*I was provided with a copy of the book by Simon & Schuster to complete my review.