Review

Insta Natural Dead Sea Mud Mask and Vitamin C Toner Review

I've never been one for facial masks. I see them all the time at the drugstore and never bother to pick one up although I am a bit curious about them. A few weeks ago I was having super bad breakouts. I got the opportunity to try the Dead Sea Mud Mask from Insta Natural ($24.95). 

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Here's a little info about the mud mask from Insta Natural: 

"An all-natural detoxifier and purifier that comes from the renowned and sacred Dead Sea. More than a million visitors each year flock to this extraordinary body of water in the Mediterranean, which contains many minerals beneficial to the skin." 

"It is great to expunge acne, pimples and blackheads. It also helps to restore an even skin tone for a smoother complexion." 

So I took them up on it. If you're prone to breakouts or even really bad acne, you know you'll try anything just once to see if it'll be the product that'll actually work for you. This was one of those times. 

Initially it did freak me out a bit to slather mud on my face especially because it's gooey, but I was able to get over it. The directions say to apply a thin layer to clean skin and leave it on for 10-15 minutes until it dries. Don't use the mud mask if you need to talk for the following 10-15 minutes because it will dry out and your face will have a very limited range of movement. For removal, I used a warm, damp washcloth. They say to use circular motions as well. 

I have oily, sensitive skin so there aren't very many products that I can use aside from witch hazel to try to clear my skin. What I liked about the mud mask was that in my case, it was able to bring up the impurities like blackheads and whiteheads, so that I could also use my regular skin care routine to clear out the blemishes. 

During this review, I also got the chance to try out the Insta Natural Vitamin C toner ($17.49) which was kind of perfect timing since I had run out of my regular Garnier dark spot corrector a few days prior and kept forgetting to pick up some more. 

InstaNatural-Vitamin-C-Serum-Brand-Backer-ReviewIt smells VERY citrus-y so if you're not into that scent, I wouldn't recommend it. The directions say to spritz it on your face but I found that the nozzle of the spray head was spraying it solely around the perimeter of my face and completely missing my T-zone so what I started doing was spritzing a cotton pad a couple of times and then just wiping my face with the cotton pad. So far, it seems to be working but my face hasn't totally cleared up yet so I'm just giving it some more time. 

I've only been able to use the mud mask once in the time that I've had it and I'm actually wearing it as I type this up. Depending on how it goes, I'll see whether or not I'll add the mud mask into the weekly maintenance rotation. 

I'll do a follow up next month to let you guys know how it's going! 

Until then, I will let you know that this is a SPONSORED post, but the above statements and opinions are 100% my own. I did not receive monetary compensation for a positive review and should my opinion of the product change in the future, I will let you know. 

Amanda ❤

#HelloKeurig: Keurig 2.0 Review

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About a month ago, I qualified for the new Keurig 2.0 campaign from Influenster and I'm SO glad I did. Let me first say, full disclosure y'all, that I got it for free and the following review/opinion is 100% my own. 

At first I was a little intimated by the package because, I'll be honest, this thing is huge! I have very limited counter space and so I had to rearrange some items for me to be able to set it up but I finally got around to it. 

One thing occurred while setting it up though. The plastic for the lower filter holder clips to snap in place was a little too hard so I accidentally broke one clip while trying to insert the water filter. Oops!

I've never had a Keurig before so I guess one of the novelties of the new 2.0 is that it has the ability to not only brew single cups of coffee, but a full carafe as well. I also received a few boxes of K-cup pods along with the actual machine and carafe. I received an 8-count box of Green Mountain Coffee Decaf Breakfast blend carafe pods, a 4-count coffee variety pack of carafe pods, and a 6-count coffee and tea variety pack of K-cups. 

I've come to LOVE the Donut House coffees and will definitely be buying more! I also really like that there are a variety of non-coffee pods that you can try. I picked up a box of hot chocolate for my sister but saw that Lipton tea, lemonade, and apple cider were all other viable options for her since she's not at all a coffee drinker. 

The machine itself was easy to set up with a couple of taps on the touch screen. The light that glows from the water compartment can be changed between red, blue, green, or white. There's also an option to choose cup sizes like 6oz, 8oz, 10oz when dispensing your drink. 

And to get SUPER honest with you, I've even used the hot water option to bypass boiling water to put into a cup of noodles. Yup. You may call it lazy, I call it time efficient. 

The 2.0 has made such a difference in my morning routine. Whereas before, if I wanted coffee, I would have to take the time to boil water and do a pour over. Now, I can just press a couple of buttons, wait for it to preheat and then a couple of minutes later I have a nice, hot cup of fresh brewed coffee and I'm out the door. 

I've really only had to small negative experiences with it. First the clip that I mentioned earlier. The second being that I work at Starbucks and get a free markout of coffee every week. I went this past week and got k-cups specifically for the Keurig, not Verismo, and went home to use it. Turns out, the old K-cups are not readable for the technology that the 2.0 has. So now I have an entire box of Breakfast Blend that I can't use. Big Bummer. 

Were you a part of the Influenster campaign too? Have you bought the new 2.0? I'd like to hear your thoughts as well. 

Amanda ❤

Coppertone Clearly Sheer Review

Coppertone Clearly Sheer Sunny DaysI'm a big proponent of using sunscreen, but I'll admit that I forget to put some on sometimes. I normally use Hawaiian Tropic but then this opportunity from Bzzagent appeared and I said, "Why not?" That's usually how things go. I often think, "What have I got to lose?" Anyway, I decided to accept the invitation for this bzzkit, and I'm really glad that I did. I had noticed that the product that I was using before was leaving my face even more oily than what it naturally is and I was having really bad breakouts and I couldn't figure out why. I was doing my normal face routine, I regularly change out my pillowcases but it never occurred to me that it could be my sunscreen. 

Coppertone has two formulas for this specific sunscreen. One for sunny days which is basically every day use here in Southern California and one for beach and pool. I received the sunny days sample, which I don't even think I should say sample beings that Bzzagent sent out a full size bottle. I didn't know what to expect from it but when I first opened the bottle to smell it, I was quite surprised. The sunscreens I'm used to usually have that beachy smell but it was the opposite when it came to this. It smells light and airy which makes sense afterwards beings that it's for everyday use, and usually one doesn't go to work smelling like the beach. 

After making the switch my face cleared up almost immediately but it also left my face feeling super soft as well. Since getting it in the mail, I'm already more than halfway out of it. I've been thinking about whether or not I'd buy it again but everyday I'm leaning more towards a repurchase and not going back to the Hawaiian Tropic one for everyday use. So obviously, I REALLY like it! 

Actually, I still have two samples left so if you'd like me to send them to you so you can try it yourself, leave a comment and I'll send them out to you! 

Amanda ❤

May 2014 Beauty Buys

May's Beauty Buys

Somehow I got really into watching beauty videos on YouTube. Mainly DulceCandy and Liana Beauty, but also a little bit of Natalie Kayo from Discoveries of Self, as well. I think I have a thing for British based vloggers. Oh well. 

When it comes to makeup I like to keep a very neutral face. One reason I'm wary of putting on too much product is because I have very oily skin, so I feel if I put way too much on, the oils are just going to seep through and product is going to shift. I'll tell you right now, I'm definitely a drugstore girl. I'm on a budget and I'm totally not afraid to admit it so with that being said, let's get into it. 

Neutrogena Wave: Okay, I KNOW that the wave is ridiculously old, like 2009 old, but lately I've been super bummed that Clarisonic's are out of my price range. During the lady times part of the month I'm prone to really bad breakouts and I wanted something that was going to really get in my pores and clean them out. Not to say that I don't wash my face regularly because I do have a routine, it's just that when it comes to wiping away product, I was using just a regular face washcloth and I didn't feel like I was getting everything. While I don't necessarily feel this is really getting everything as well, I definitely feel like it gets more than what the washcloth was. 

Curls Unleashed Curl Defining Creme: I know this is a product for the natural hair niche but let me tell you this works wonders for my hair. I have thick, wavy to curly hair  and actually, all three colors (Red, purple, and teal) work great for me depending on what I want my hair to do. I just wash or condition my hair and while it's still wet, I apply this evenly throughout. I have a little quirk, I like to have something weigh down my hair slightly so that it isn't prone to frizz and whatnot, despite just washing all the product out. This stuff is just the right amount of heavy that I like, but not too heavy where I feel like I just washed my hair in vain, and the curls that I get from these products are AMAZING! My favorite part is when I'm walking and have my hair down, when the wind blows, I can get a whiff of this stuff and it makes me smile. It smells AMAZING. Like a light lemon chiffon. You can see my curly hair routine here. 

Renewal Deep Action Pore Cleansing Strips: Ain't no shame in buying store brand, especially if you're on a budget like mine. Let's get straight to the point, I needed something to pull those disgusting little blackheads that accumulate on my nose out. I don't need to pay $8 for Biore strips when the Rite-Aid brand will do just fine. I'm just saying! 

Bag Balm: Remember how I said earlier that I'd been watching Youtube videos? Well, YT being the quicksand of the internet that it is, somehow I got led to this video of Essiebutton and FleurDeForce doing a drugstore dash. This was one of the things that Essie picked up and it seriously intrigued me. I have really dry and ashy elbows. No matter how much lotion I put on them they never get softer so I wondered if this stuff would be able to help me combat that. First of all, if you've never been to the countryside and/or are curious as to what cows and horses smell like. I highly suggest you go to your local drugstore and take a whiff of this stuff before you purchase it (if you do). I'm completely used to the smell beings that my grandparents live where there are high number of cows and horses so that didn't put me off. Really, it just made me miss my grandparents but getting back on topic. This stuff really works! It has the consistency of petroleum jelly so it's very thick....and it smells like cows. If that alone grosses you out, I would consider trying something else to cure your dryness. As for me, I just put it on my elbows at night about 30 to 40 minutes before I go to bed and then just wash it off in the morning during my shower. I can't stress enough though, if you're not used to the smell or it grosses you out, try something else. 

NYX Matte Finish: Back in the day I used to obessess over MAC's Fix+ finishing spray, but $21 is a little too costly for my pocket nowadays. I happened to come across this stuff and I love it. I like setting my makeup with a spray as opposed to a powder for some reason and this works perfectly. Oily skin= Matte whenever I have the option. 

Maybelline ColorSensational in Rum Riche: When I buy lipstick, I tend to go for red, coral, or orange and it dawned on me that I don't have a good dark nude. It comes off as more of a raisin color on my skin tone 

NYX Eyeshadow Base in Skin Tone: Another replacement of a MAC product. I used to use the eyeshadow primers a lot back in the day. I quit wearing eyeshadow because I felt like it should shift and crease too much because of my skin and I'd been thinking about ponying up the dough to get the MAC primer again until I found this at the drugstore. This helps your eyeshadow stay put. The only thing I'm concerned about is that the pot is small, really enough to get a finger in there, except I don't like using my fingers, so I'm going to have find a brush small enough to use for this.  I used it and I did not see a crease at all in my eyeshadow that day so I'll be hopping back on the eyeshadow train again. 

NYX eyeliner pencils in black and brown: Believe it or not, I've never used an eyeliner pencil. It's always been liquid liner for me so I decided to give it a shot. Black for when I want a dramatic look but honestly, I've been using brown the most for a soft everyday cateye look. How have I never used these things before? It's basic makeup 101. Obviously I missed that, but I'm making up for it now. 

Coppertone Clearly Sheer for Sunny Days: This is the latest campaign I'm in for BzzAgent so I received this free actually (I'm required by law to say that). I've been testing it out. I'm a huge proponent of sunscreen. Mostly on my face, neck and hands, to prevent aging because we all know I love me a good tan everywhere else. This isn't my normal sunscreen but I'm giving it a shot. So far what I've observed of it is that it's light in that it doesn't leave me feeling like I've just slathered on a nickel sized amount of SPF 30 on my face. It absorbs quickly into my skin and it's actually left my skin feeling softer, but the best part? I haven't had ANY breakouts since testing it. Remember, oily skin and lady times? So far I really like it, and am even considering buying it once I run out of the sample. It also doesn't have that beachy, tropical scent that my regular sunscreen has, so it really is great for everyday use. 

And that's it for my long ass post so I'll be seeing you in a few days! 

Amanda ❤

Influenster Uni Voxbox Review

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About three weeks ago I received my Influenster Voxbox in the mail and now it's review time. Let me first  state I did receive this for free from Influenster for review purposes, that all the following opinions are my own, and that I wasn't compensated for anything (aside from the free product in the box). Let's get into it: 

Rimmel London Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation

MSRP: $4.99-$5.49 

When I received the preliminary e-mail saying that I was selected to be one of the Influensters to receive this box, they also asked to match my skin tone to one of the colors that Rimmel had available. The first two swatches I could tell were too light for me, but the following three or four swatches looked exactly the same, even though they were supposed to be different. I immediately tweeted Influenster and letting them know that I couldn't see a difference in the swatch colors to be able to choose the closest one, and then I waited. I waited two days. No reply. So I just chose one in a shade that seemed appropriate. True Beige. Turns out, it's still a little too light for my skintone. It does feel a little cakey to me, but then again, I have to admit that I rarely use liquid foundation. The sad part is, I  was really looking forward to trying to out because my favorite mascara ever is Rimmel's Endless Lash Accelerator. 

 

NYC Expert Last Lip Color

Color: Forever Fuchsia 

MSRP: $1.99

Oh. My. God. I LOVE this product, or rather, I should say that I love their formula. When I first opened the box I was caught off guard. A bright pink lipstick. Totally not my style AT ALL. It reminds me of Candy Yum Yum. I was hesitant to try it. Even though I'm a total budget girl, I still have reservations about things that are on the lower end of a price point and it never crossed my mind to pick up any of their lipsticks, even though I use the NYC bronzer in Hampton's Radiance. The color's highly pigmented, glides on easily with a velvety feel and stayed put for hours without drying out my lips. I loved it so much I went to my local Rite Aid to try and see what other shades came in the line and unfortunately I could't find it. I haven't tried any of the other local drugstores to see if they have them. Maybe I should get on that. 

 

Playtex Sports Fresh Balance

MSRP: $3.99- $4.99

I'm going to admit something that I've never told anybody. Tampons with applicators have freaked me out ever since I started my period. When I finally switched to tampons, I started using non-applicator OB tampons, and what's the saying, "If it ain't broke..." I've never used anything else so this was a little new to me. There is a distinguishable "fresh" scent that I actually would have enjoyed if it weren't for the fact that it was on a tampon and I can't quite figure it out so I can't tell you what it smells like. As far as protection goes, I did get some leakage/spilling, whatever you want to call it, but it's because I have a fairly heavy flow and these were regulars. That being said, it wasn't anything out of the normal because I wear pantyliners as well. It was just a couple of more changes a day. Nothing too big but if I do decide to purchase these on my own, I will be getting the supers. 

 

Red Rose REAL TEA Water Enhancers

MSRP: $4.49

Let me just get this out of the way. I think this new water "enhancer" trend is so stupid. How can you go and turn water, the most healthiest beverage on earth, into a sugar-y chemical mess? By adding water enhancers. If I want to enhance my water, I'd actually drink real tea, or add fresh cucumbers, strawberries, ginger, lemon or any other real fruit to my water. Not this stuff, but for the sake of Influenster, I tried it. Let me also tell you that I don't drink black tea. I'm sensitive to caffeine and black tea has more caffeine than coffee. It would have been nice if they asked in the initial E-mail to choose between the options that they have instead of automatically giving us black tea. I definitely would have chosen green instead. I used half a squirt per 8oz of water (The instructions say one full squeeze, but I wasn't trying to stay up all night) and it just turned my water, this murky brown color. 

 

Broadway Nails imPRESS Press-On Manicure

MSRP: $5.99 for colors/ $7.99 for patterns

I've never worn press on's before mainly because I keep my nails short on purpose. Typing with nails is annoying to me but just like the tea, I tried these things on for a bit. I don't know what it was with the color fuchsia and this voxbox but these nails came in the same color. Fuchsia is a color I equate my godmom wearing in 1999 or 2000. It's an outdated color to me, and I don't like it. The tabs to pull off the plastic backing were too small to grip, the actual press on nail itself was too narrow for my wide nail beds and you could tell where they were removed from the plastic template used to make them because the ends had this little ridge that you might have had to sand down if you were using them. That's all I have to say. 

That's pretty much it. Usually I like the items that come in for review but this time, it pretty much missed the mark on a majority of the items. The only thing that I can say I loved from the box is the NYC lip color, now if only I could find it in a store near me.

Amanda ❤

A Beautiful Mess Photo Book Review

A Beautiful Mess Photo Book Review

So as most of you already know, the ladies from A Beautiful Mess, Emma and Elsie, just published their first book together. 

To be honest with you, I totally forgot that I pre-ordered it and I wish I hadn't paid $16 including S&H, for this. Does anyone know if Amazon does refunds? Anywho....

You see, I've been following Elsie from the very beginning, and when I mean very beginning, I mean, like, TJ beginning but it wasn't until recently that I've finally given up on her. Really, it's been a long time coming though. From her Blog Love E-Course to her Dream Job E-Course and almost everything in between. The book is the final straw for me. 

Although the pictures are bright, cheerful, and pretty, this book is vastly underwhelming. I always try to give her the benefit of the doubt but she continues to disappoint. 

The book is broken up into sections including capturing your favorite people, using beautiful lighting, and capturing yourself but the reality is that almost everything in the book, is something that she's already posted about in her blog. Like backlighting and sun flares, taking amazing photos of your home, and and homemade filters even using most of the same photos. I would say a good 80% of the photos are photos that's she's already shared so if you're reading/browsing through the book and feel like you've seen the photos before, it's because you most likely have. 

But fear not! There is a demographic that the A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book would greatly appeal to! 12 year old girls with an interest in photography. So if you have one of those, a 12 year old girl, I mean, who's interested in photography, go ahead and get her this book, but then swiftly direct her to Darren Rowse's Digital Photography School as well. 

Bottom Line: Don't buy the book. Read through her photography tab instead. 

Amanda ❤

Lifeway Kefir and Greenberry Shakeology

Lifeway Kefir Influenster Review

Today I wanted to talk a little about Lifeway Kefir. I was recently invited by Influenster to try this product but what made me jump on the invitation was the fact that I had read a little about it in the April issue of Cooking Light

What? Kefir, usually pronounced key-fur, keh-fear, or keh-fur. It's like yogurt but not really. The probiotics in kefir have the good kind of bateria that help aid in digestion. Lifeway in particular has 12 live, active cultures compared with yogurt which usually has 2. 

I don't know if I'm slightly lactose intolerant but I can't really have dairy products that are too heavy without them upsetting my stomach. That means, milk-based ice cream, yogurt, milk that has higher than 2% milk fat, and even cheese (But I won't give up my Muenster and Colby Jack). Nope, no sir. 

Anyway, I genuinely DO like eating yogurt but knowing what it does to me, I don't eat it very often so when I read that it's more like a liquid yogurt and 99% lactose-free, I just had to try it. It's also gluten-free but I'm not on that bandwagon so that didn't really hinder or help my initial thought of it. 

I've been regularly drinking the Greenberry Shakeology shakes from Beachbody and thought that mixing the kefir in with my shake would be perfect. I used a cup of Coconut Milk from Fresh & Easy, 1/2 cup of Blueberry kefir and a scoop of the Greenberry shakeology and mixed it in my blender bottle and it really makes the shake taste that much better.

I also tried it by itself and it really is delicious! It kind of reminded me of those Go-Gurt snacks. I don't know if they're still around though. It's totally drinkable and didn't upset my stomach in the slightest. I have to stop myself from drinking more than one cup a day, and honestly I've already bought more since trying that inital bottle, and will most likely continue to do so. They say that there are frozen versions like pint sized and popsicles but I have yet to encounter any of those though I really wish I could find those versions. 

The only issue I had was that three of my local grocery stores didn't carry it so I had to go to a little bit out of the way to find it. If you want to try it out and want to know what local grocery store carries Lifeway Kefir, try using the store locator to help you in your search. 

DISCLAIMER: I received this product from Influenster for reviewing purposes and the above is my 100% honest opinion. 

Amanda ❤

Bauble Bar Review

Bauble Bar Review

I don't remember how I cam across Bauble Bar but I know I signed up for E-mails before I actually ever ordered anything. I finally decided to take a look around their site until I found something I liked. I don't wear bracelets very much but I loved the way these looked so I ended up buying one in Turquoise and one in black. Then I learned that there was a promotion going on to get a free necklace with your purchase, and naturally I had to take advantage of the offer. 

Well, my mail carrier isn't quite proficient in matching his numbers, meaning I have to keep track on packages that I know are coming because he doesn't know how to deliver them without sending them back to the office and not leaving a slip notifying of an attempted delivery. 

I notified Bauble Bar that even though the tracking number said it had been delivered, it in fact actually hadn't been. They told me to wait a few days because sometimes the USPS marks packages as delivered even thought they haven't been, and to notify them if it still hadn't been delivered. I complied and waited those few extra days. When it still hadn't arrived, I went to the Post Office to see if maybe it had been brought back to them, but that turned out to be a negative. No package was there waiting for me. 

I updated Bauble Bar with the information and a representative named Kirby followed up with me. Like the USPS, they claimed no responsibility for lost packages and apologized for having not received the package, but wanted to make it up to me by sending my order again. It was only a few days later that I received my first order with the company, and I'm very pleased with the way they handled everything. 

I've since purchased other items from Bauble Bar and all those, I'm glad to report, have all come in without a hitch! Make sure to sign up for the E-mails and you'll get notified when the hidden bauble is announced. This is usually a piece of jewelry that's been discounted for the day. The earrings that I'm wearing in my birthday post are actually one of the hidden baubles that I bought. 

XO Panda

Amanda ❤

First Bites of Green Giant Veggie Snacks

I know in this video I said that I didn't like the sweet potato sea salt chips, but a couple of days after shooting this, I found myself craving them. Suffice to say, I ended up liking them tremendously in the end, and not liking the zesty cheddar at all, afterward. Oh, tastebuds! Now it seems like I just can't get enough. 

I got these snack chips for free courtesy of Bzzagent. My opinion in the video is solely my own based on my experience with the product. 

Amanda ❤