Dirty Girls Club

Whether you’re into sheet masks, heating or cooling packs, mud masks or clay masks; we’ve all been touched by the magic that is the face mask. I discovered masks really late in my life, but once I rubbed clay onto my face for the first time, I was hooked. Not only does my skin prefer this type of pampering, but I love the whole process. As I discussed at length in an earlier post about clay masks, they really do transport me to a tranquil space. Emotionally they provide me with therapy, physically they help my hormonal acne, and immediately they calm & centre me. Now, I can’t imagine living without them. Luckily for us, it doesn’t matter the type of face mask you like, there are so many choices out there on the market. Korean or not, you can find the right one for you through trial and error. And, for the first time “trial and error” translates to a fun beauty adventure.

During my last eBay haul, I bought a slew of different clay & charcoal masks. More than anything else I’ve found, these types of masks do wonders for my skin. I never have to worry about them breaking me out because they are so neutral and calming. I have sensitive skin and skin that doesn’t like to be fucked with but I can’t remember a time when a natural based clay pack or something similar ever caused a problem. It’s one of the reasons I always go back to them time and time again. I don’t have to think about it and because of that, it adds to the relaxation in the process of my facial cleanse.

There are three stages to keep in mind when you are using a clay or charcoal mask. The first stage is when you apply the mask pack and it is smooth and wet in consistency. While the mask is moist, our skin is receiving beneficial minerals and nutrients from the pack. The second stage is when the mask becomes tacky, at this point your capillaries are getting good exercise as the pack tightens and contracts. This also stimulates blood flow to your face aiding in your skin’s regeneration. In the third stage, the mask will dry – now, the longer you leave it on after this point, the more you leave yourself open to dehydration and irritation. Ideally, you want to wash off your mask pack at the end of the second stage just before the third stage is in full swing. Before it dries, cracks and leaves you unable to move your mouth or any other parts of your face.

I often get far beyond the second stage because I often apply these masks while I am readying my two year old for bed at night. Thirty minutes or more will go by before I’ll get to wash my face. Luckily, I tend to be able to get away with this, though it is not recommended. It is important to remember that if you forget to wash off the mask before the drying stage is complete, don’t over compensate with too much heavy moisturizer. This could possibly overload your skin, stress it and trouble won’t be far behind. By all means moisturize, but use it sparingly.

There are several different types of clay and they vary in colour, mineral density, and level of absorption ability. For example, white clays are best for sensitive skin, brown clays are great for exfoliation and green clays tend to be packed with minerals. I seem to work well with all three, though it is beneficial to know that any clay mask can bring on a breakout at first as they all will draw out toxins, bacteria and extra sebum from the pores. This is normal, but minimize this possibility by picking a mask that compliments your skin type, and don’t let it over-dry and crack. Similarly to clay, charcoal does much of the same. It absorbs what you don’t want and it delivers nutrition your skin will benefit from.

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My recent purchases included a charcoal & bamboo mask pack from Nature Republic. Already a fan of clay masks, I was eager to try this one in particular. As I expected, this one acted much like any other clay mask would, except I noticed that charcoal’s ability to absorb and draw out sebum was extremely powerful. I did leave it on for much longer than intended – as you will see in the pictures – but because of that lapse in judgment you can really see the level of absorption and the efficacy of this mask in particular.

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After removing the dried pack, I noticed refined pores and a decrease in overall redness. I followed with a mild oil cleanser because I left the mask pack on much longer than intended and I wanted to head off the possibility of dehydration. After, I did not find my skin irritated or dehydrated which I expected. Hours later, my skin feels drier than usual but soft. All my acne spots are reduced, flattened and feel less irritated. I certainly feel like it delivered on it’s “detoxifying” claims. With this mask’s seemingly powerful grip on absorption, I wouldn’t use this more than once weekly whereas with a white clay mask I might use it twice a week or even three times depending on my skin’s condition.

In the end, I really like this mask for its potency and effectiveness. I’d add it to your next shopping haul if you’re looking for a powerhouse absorbing monster of a mask. At a fraction of the price of say a celebrity favourite like Glam Glow, which I can’t for the life of me shell out for … for stay at home moms like me, Nature Republic might just be where we get our own glam glow-ing skin!

Until next time, Beauty-bombshells. Be safe out there.

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A WTF Moment

Everything was going so well. i mean, so well. at first, i had apprehension but as more Korean goodies arrived at my doorstep, the more my worry faded, and the more fun I had and for a while even I – the always critical one – saw a noticeable change in my skin.

Was it anything more than the mystique of the magical looking elixirs, that convinced me of significant and positive epidermal change? Well, we could argue that long into the night. The point is, me and the “probably Korean drugstore products” as Hubby would say, well we were getting along. Making beautiful beauty music. But, I guess I always knew that one day it would come to a screeching halt.

By no means is my skin perfect. Who’s is? Yet, my skin and I, we’ve got an accord. I know her, intimately. I know her inside and out, I know her tendencies, I know when she’s about to get bitchy and I know how to put her back in her place, but all bets were off when I started experimenting with lotions & potions from afar.

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Usually with a proper cleanser, and a decent drugstore foundation I could pull off looking like a female. Win. Sure, sometimes people would tell me I was more pale than the dead … but what of it? I was a stranger to the tan, but lucky to have just bouts of hormonal acne once in a while, and as I aged my skin got a little less sensitive. We were in a good place. So what drove me to dally and gamble with my skin care routine?

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The promise of “even better skin.” A harrowing thought now that I’ve taken a turn down another path: Reaction a la ma-face-she-go-boom.

It is extremely hard to nail down a culprit to label devil but I have a hunch! Dick Tracy hats on, Beauty Detectives.

I am not as smart as many of you out there currently receiving Memeboxes. Most of you open one product, use it and then open another. Or you all have specifically rendered routines where you have three or four (five, six … twelve) products you use over the day and night and you become well accustomed to each one and their results on your individual skin. Very smart Memeboxers!

I am more a student of chaos theory? Yes, I have a few items I use without fail because I love them (e.g. LJH Tea Tree Essence) but with every box that arrives, I’ll throw something new into the mix. I play it fast and loose, and shoot from the hip. And, apparently I’ve gotten a little too bold with it. I had a really good run with my skin for so long, and I stupidly started to feel invincible. New cleanser? Yes! New serum? Why not? New moisturizer? Hells yeah, baby. Pour some sugar on me, I am your sweet sweet cherry pie!

… Wow. Total Eighties hair-band flashback.

New (weird, odd smelling, EGG SHAPED) facial soap? Again, I said yes but this time, I hadn’t realized I was in the presence of pure evil.

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photo credit: memebox website

I was so excited to receive my “Free from Oil & Trouble 4” box from Memebox and this one had some real winning products. I figured one night, as I was lazily soaking in the tub that the “Linzy Egg Soaps” would be nothing short of deeeeelightful!

I wish I could smack those soaps right out of the hands of Kelsey of the past, but no. I left my Wiccan powers in my summer jacket. AGAIN.

Now, I know it is unfair to point the witchy-poo finger at the eggy soaps, but I have thought about it. It is the only new product I’ve introduced in the last week. Everything else that is relatively new has been with me now since the last box I received which was weeks ago. Thusly, I elect the eggies as the evil-doers.

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Here’s the D-L on the haps, peeps. I broke out in the weirdest (angriest) way. The pimples came and they came with friends. They were the red, painful kind – not a lot of whiteheads or blackheads, just round painful dots, ranging in size, spread out from the underside of my chin up to about mid-cheek. Against my white skin, they looked exactly like little constellations splattered out from chin to lip to cheek. Constellations as in just like the stars, but in pimple form. But curiously? Less attractive. And, definitely less romantic. You get a sense of what I mean by the pictures above – the polysporin I’m using to quell the rage and take the edge off the pain, covers their pattern pretty exactly.

For about three days now the infection has been spreading and worsening, because I didn’t think the innocent white and red eggs were the issue at first. I also did some things in an attempt to calm my skin, that I found out recently you should not do. Not ever!

One. I tried popping the buggers.

Ok. So I know already that isn’t what you’re supposed to do – so sue me.

Two. I tried using a hot compress to help heal up the broken skin.

Apparently, no! You should be using cool water, to calm, close the pores and not irritate.

Three. I introduced yet another new product. Blithe Patting Water (soothing & healing green tea). Something which had no hope of helping! Zero chance because let’s face it, this was no small skin freak out and again, *hangs head in shame* I used super heated water.

So Beauty Adventurers, where does this leave us? Well, it leaves me to go to a baby shower on Sunday looking like my good old halloween pal, Freddie. And, it leaves you with this cautionary tale. Yours to use as the last line of defence!

What was my last line of defence, you ask? Well my darlings, I have a two-year old that was obsessed with the evil eggs from the moment he saw them … So after the obligatory will this give you flesh eating disease? check …

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Ancient Practice For Modern Girls

Well, Let’s face it. There is just something primordial and satisfying about slathering your face in mud. I can’t be the only one who feels this way – am I? I mean I know I am the cheese … and mayhaps in this case the cheese stands alone?

I ask you to walk with me on this one. When I am stripped down to my all-together (that’s naked, darlings) and I sink my fingertips into in the cool, soft, pliable clay of my mask packs, I am instantly soothed. Then, as I spread the muck across my face, the warrior in me emerges, slowly at first and then more and more – meeeeoooow – and by the time my face is fully greyed-out, I begin to feel a kinship between me and ancient man. Going back thousands and thousands of years my ancestors did this very same thing. You know … late on Wednesday evening, when the little cave-babies wouldn’t shut their gobs, and the cave-husband forgot to take the carcass out, again … you can bet our cave-sisters took a stroll to the water’s edge and packed on some clay for relaxation, therapy, and of course to cleanse. Believe it or not – getting mucked up – is a very natural thing to do, even now, in the age of sanitation, technology and zero relaxation time. For me, a clay mask is a beauty must, a soul rejuvenator and mind relaxation tool … all reasons why I may or may not have purchased several varieties of clay pack in the last few weeks, two of which tonight we shall discuss in finite detail. Parchment and quills at the ready, beauty geeks!

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The Volcanic Ash Pore Pack from Secret Nature is from the raved about Earth & Sea box. A slow-starter for me, because by the time I had hit midway to the bottom of the jar my thoughts were undecided. A few weeks ago, I explained my findings like this:

This is a great middle of the week mask. It hasn’t broken out my über sensitive skin – yet – and it is easy to apply and wash off. What I like about this clay mask is pretty simple – it’s non irritating and the 100g container is enough product to get 5 – 7 masks applied. Many of you might get more as I tend to really pack on products like this in thick layers. I don’t mind the fragrance but I don’t love it – It’s a little pine needle-y but in a more chemical way than say, natural but fear not, it’s light and it dissipates. As for results I find this mask helps to just keep my facial skin “calmed” I can’t say it does more than that however, that is fine with me – for a mask that’s a result I would expect but not one you always get! I find the action of applying it very therapeutic, it is velvety-smooth and because of that it doesn’t quite dry like other clay masks. Its very unique texture is extremely smooth, and the clay has a very subtle blue hue or undertone. If you leave it on for eons it will dry for the most part. If you require that your mask dry, try applying less than I apply, if you like it dried out and tightened on the skin. Is this mask a repurchase for me? Probably not simply because I’m not in love, it was a great mask to play with and to experiment with but I’m not keen on the scent, not enough to buy again, however, if it is as integral to my clear skin as it could be, I may have to reconsider.

Now, a few more weeks have passed and I am a little more “in love” with this mask, one because I’ve now compared it to another, and two because I think this mask had a larger effect on my clear skin than I had given it credit for prior. Also, call me crazy – don’t worry my friends do – but the scent grew on me, and that is saying something. Usually I am pretty steadfast in my opinions … don’t know if you’ve noticed. So after some real quality time with Secret Nature’s Volcanic Ash Pore Pack, I can say it is effective. Not only does it clean the pores, but it calms the skin really well, and quickly. It doesn’t irritate the epidermis or the olfactory – Also, I got way more than 5 – 7 uses out the 100g, like Kelsey of a few weeks ago told you. That chick is batshit crazy. This pack delivers ten uses or more. After use, my skin felt clean, and primed for absorption of further skin care. This mask gets a solid 7.5/10 and find it for yourself, here.

In the other corner we have a mask I picked up from Memeshop (on the memebox website) as part of a late-night, wine-induced small spending-spree. At the time my skin was going through its usual hormonal breakdown mid-month, culminating in those deep-seated, painful bumps that are both unpopable and impossible to calm. When they descend – it’s all hands on deck – and fingers – and it just makes it all worse. Enter Velieve White Clay Mask.

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I know, I know. It is a stunning picture – thank you. I get asked this all the time, and no. No, I do not model.

On to my findings. All right. yes. I saw the Toucan on the label and was definitely swayed by the stupid tropical creature. But let’s remember, it isn’t just me that is always raped and pillaged by good packaging … but the bird and then the “limited edition” comment on the top … oh it was all so good and before I knew it, it was in my basket. I paid around 15 dollars in USD for the beaked bird and its clay. When it arrived, I went against good sense and dove into it before finishing my last open clay pack – but it was a good thing. These two packs ended up being very different from each other.

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Velieve’s clay pack was a lighter in colour (white amazonian clay) and is a more dense clay and therefore it felt much dryer to apply. It also dried quicker and more throughly than the volcanic one from Secret Nature. It has no discernible fragrance which for me is a good thing, and usually means it won’t be as reactionary with my skin – my rule tends to be, more smell more chance of holy shit my face just blew up. This clay mask is effective but maybe a tad average. It does do a lot of what the first mask did, but just on a lesser scale, I suppose. I did feel it just wasn’t as active in taking out the red or calming the inflamed areas as well, but it did leave my skin dryer – not too dry – and more matte than the volcanic ash mask. If that is your preference, then this mask would be great for you. For myself, I did find this mask useful for the morning routine because my makeup went on my skin flawlessly and with ease because my skin was calm and matte after the mask application. This reason was the one quality that both set it apart from the other mask and differentiated it. In the end, I enjoyed it and it did perform as expected, I just wish it did more to heal up and calm breakouts, so 7/10 is where it stands.

I have been looking for a more in-depth list of the ingredients than the memebox website provided, when I come across an English list of ingredients for both masks I will be sure to add them for your perusal.

In closing, if you should take anything away with you from this piece, then let it be this: slapping a little war paint on and having a soak will do more for you than you think. And maybe, just maybe you’ll feel akin to your ancestors too. Until next time beauty-adventurers, be safe out there.

Don’t be Daft – I Have Many Obsessions – This is Just One of Them

This was me in july when i received my first box. 2014-08-07_1407380172

My dear friend Chelsea’s voice was ringing in my head, “Beware products from overseas! They’ll burn your skin off!”

Ok, well. She said something like that anyway. I usually listen to Chels, my beauty guru. She knows everything about cosmetics, she has exquisite taste and she is obsessed with sparkly trinkets and glitter just as I am. If I wasn’t already twenty years deep with Bestie, I’d consider giving Chelsea the best friend crown. Katrina, my best friend is going to read this and be thinking my head would look prettier separate from my body. Well? Not everything can be helped, Bestie, and our relationship would be healthier if you didn’t roll your eyes at me in Sephora when I ask your opinion on eyeshadow. For shame. Sephora is holy.

So, against my friend’s advice I ordered my first box. When I received it weeks later, its hot pink outer shell and wondrous and zany innards made my beauty-geek fingers tremble. It was cosmetic-love at first sight. it wasn’t long before I was obsessed with this company called “Memebox” and I was chatting online in the forums, posting and gabbing on Instagram. Actually, I’ve met and made some fantastic new friends from all over the world. These twenty-something dollar boxes have improved my social life. It went from non-existent to expensive but riveting.

Now, I’ve been in deep with these pink boxes since the summer and I’ve acquired a few more boxes since I decided I might try my hand at being a beauty-blogger. So this, my dear ones, is the recap of what I’ve experienced so far – in rapid fire speed.

I’ve been unboxing my treasures on Instagram and doing small reviews on the products that to me were gems, and the products that did less than shine in my opinion and they have been fairly well received by my small audience of friends in the memebox addiction realm. It has been fun, but the more I posted the more I grew and nurtured this new compulsion: to blog about beauty. Why? Well, because I am already a mommy-blogger and writing is in my blood. It was only a matter of time before these two loves got into bed together and shagged. Now, here we are, in post-coital beauty bliss.

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That’s a selection of my unboxings – and don’t worry, mom. That “selection” is most of what I’ve acquired. From the top down we’ve got the Earth & Sea Box, The Anti-Aging 2 Box, The Honey Box, The Moisture Surge Box, The Anti-Aging 3 and finally, The Whole Grains 2 Box. As I said I’ve done a few mini-reviews on products here and there and in the coming days I will post those findings here on the blog for your amusement as your personal product-testing-monkey.

As for how this blog will unfold, well, as far as memebox is concerned, I will do unboxings but I will focus on reviews of individual products because this is what I see the least of, out there in the blogosphere. And, it is what I love to read personally, not just a product’s specs as given to us by the company or memebox but how it feels, smells, reacts and if it follows through on its claims. You know – the real beauty nitty gritty.

You know I’ll bend toward the more “natural” products I receive so expect to see a lot of that but please leave a comment if there is something you’d like to see, discuss or have reviewed, you know should anyone ever see this little blog … she’s a modest one but she desires to be undressed by your eyes! Huh. I think sounded way less creepy in my head.

And, I believe in transparency! So, tonight I became an affiliate to Memebox because it was time. I spend enough money so I better just have a link for those of you wanting to tread down the path I did. It’s nice here. Think I’ll stay. Join me, won’t you?

I’ll have a link below of course, but here are few things to know: Memebox is a company based in Seoul, Korea. They have another headquarters in San Fran USA. They are non-subsciption service catering to those who desire new and cutting-edge Korean Beauty Products. Adventurous spirit an asset. By non-subscription I mean you don’t get a box every month or at any interval that is set by the company – you set the interval. Buy a box here, or buy twenty boxes there – it is completely up to you. The boxes are themed, come in different sizes and run the gamete of prices from $15 to $60+ dollars (USD) though the majority of boxes are priced at $23. I have exclusively purchased boxes between the $19 – $29 dollar mark (except one. Damn you Anti-Aging Box 2) because I am a stay at home mom on a budget but the boxes I’ve received have exceeded the purchase value and have been well worth it. Though be knowledgable, in doing some research I have found that memebox can inflate or overstate the retail value of the individual products – but that doesn’t seem to affect the box price, just memebox’s estimated value of the box. In short, the boxes are a great, extremely fair deal but if you want individual products and you’re looking at memeshop (on the memebox website) some times it pays to look at ebay or amazon to compare prices.

I look forward to blogging about all my upcoming boxes, discussing with you the winning products, the poopers and hopefully giving you reviews you find helpful and engaging.

To all my other beauty bloggers out there, thank you. Your blogs have truly made me feel apart of a little community, I hope this blog finds its place among you. Now. Onward. To beauty adventures!

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{Disclaimer – all boxes on this blog have been purchased by my own money, and all links are affiliate}

The Spark

The magic apothecary in my home as a child was my mother. She would always look to the most common sense solution for an issue before anything else. Especially when it came to taking care of us all. If it was a cold, we would have to gargle with salt water, follow it with drinking copious steaming mugs of hot water, lemon and honey. And repeat. If it was a swollen something, she would alternate heating and cooling the affected area. Mental calamity? Talk it out. Sunburn? Aloe. Pimple? Tea Tree oil. Headache? Peppermint oil on cold compress applied to the head. It was rare my mother would ever prescribe a simple tylenol, employ expensive therapy or do something as outlandish as serve us something for dinner that was frozen or from a can.

That was just who my mother was, and still is. If she’s going to do something she’s going to do it the way her mom taught her, the most natural way, with the most natural ingredients she can find. It’s even in the way she loves. It’s no frills, serious, simple love. I never doubted that my mom loved me. If I did she would slap me upside the head and ask, “What. Are you stupid?!” And, maybe that sounds awful to some – but it is such a comfort to me. It started me in this life with a handful of very firm answers to all of life’s problems: don’t over complicate; if you’re going to trust two things let it be your gut and nature; use what’s real, tried & true, and simple; and finally, her favourite – a positive attitude will cure anything. Now, at almost twenty-nine I am happily married and mother to a healthy, beautiful two-year old boy, unequivocally because my mother taught me everything I know.

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Hence the spark. This blog is dedicated to her (even after she finds out how much of my husband’s money I’m spending.) My love of bath salts, essential oils even beautiful, quirky bottles filled with mysterious ointments and elixirs, all of it is her. And, if you haven’t already sorted it out, this blog might have a particular bend toward the natural elements, ingredients, methods and remedies … someday I’ll tell you how she once told me to rub bergamot essential oil between my hands, hold them to my face and then inhale, and how that saved my life in my teenage years.

Whatever the seemingly intangible quality I love about these lotions & potions, they certainly have never lost their magic – or effectiveness – for me. I hope this venture leads to some beauty adventures, I hope to find my explorative spirit and honour my childhood self, the little girl who spent hours mixing up trouble in the sink when she was supposed to be gargling salt water and going to bed.