Review: Earth Therapeutics Exfoliating Body Sponge

So maybe I'm a little obsessed with exfoliation. I don't know, there's just something so fantastic about having really smooth skin. Boys don't care about it much for themselves, but I've yet to meet one who doesn't love it on a girl.

Plus, it's satisfying to come home from work and feel like you really washed all the the crap from the day away.

Recently, I read that those nylon bath poufs everyone uses actually harbor lots of bacteria and are essentially disgusting little petri dishes in your shower. Ew. I knew I had to change once I saw that. Enter Earth Therapeutics Exfoliating Body Sponge.

The Exfoliating Body Sponge is my new love. It lathers amazingly, even with a small amount of showergel. Comfortably fitting in my hand, it is just rough enough for a good cleansing scrub but not so rough as to be unusable for daily use. You can really go to town and feel like you accomplished something. It isn't going to be enough for tough areas like soles of feet, but for dry elbows and knees, it works great. And much better than the nylon poufs, I might add. My only complaint is minor: the loop for hanging it up is too darn small. It is about as round as a quarter and isn't big enough to hang on anything in my shower.

The other lingering concern is whether it is actually any more sanitary than the nylon poufs. I can't find a description of what is made of anywhere although I assume it is man-made materials. claims that it is recyclable. If anyone knows, please leave a comment.

All in all, I'd say the Exfoliating Sponge is the best $4 I've spent in a long time. I just hope it's not all germ-y.


Sorry For The Delay...

I've been working a very ridiculous schedule this week so I haven't been able to keep the posting up as much as I would like. But I'll be back in a normal-ish schedule soon and the updates will be plentiful! In the meantime, let's play a game. It's called Guess The Diagnosis!

Number One
Number Two
Number Three
Number Four

Hint: I'm not sure about #4, except that it's a good representation of what I feel like after 12 hours in the psych ER.

I better go to sleep before this gets even weirder.

Images by the genius of Natalie Dee.


Drugstore Bronzer: Hit or Miss?

A few things about summer makeup I will never understand: 1. Why do bronzers come in such large packages? (The Sephora brand bronzer is seriously as big as a CD.)
2. Why in the
hell are they so expensive?!

Feeling bored with my usual bronzer (Bare Escentuals Warmth), I wanted something new, but hesitated because it seemed like such an investment (both of cash and of valuable counter space). After agonizing over department store brands since the beginning of Spring, I gave up and headed to Bartell's. At least there I had some options and wouldn't feel too ripped off if nothing worked out.

It seems as if Physicians Formula has exploded in product number and variety, so it looked like a good place to start. Prior to my drugstore adventure, I checked out their slick bronzer demo to find the perfect shade. I'm def a pale girl and I like a bit of shimmer, so I went with the Shimmer Strips in Vegas Strip ($11.95).

I excitedly took it out of the package, ready to be completely wow-ed with my new bronze gorgeousness. Keeping the dirty face picture in mind, I started with a few light swipes of the brush. And there was...nothing. A few more, still looking. Now I went to town, swirling the big fluffy brush around the entire compact, really working the color in there. And, finally, I saw some results. There was some color, but it looked more like a highlighter than a bronzer. I tried it several more times with different brushes and still no improvement. Overall, I think the problem is with poor pigmentation and saturation. Disappointing. Final verdict: MISS.

After that bummer, I headed to ULTA to try again. Remembering the Sally Hansen Natural Beauty eyeshadow palette I reviewed a few weeks ago, I decided to see if Carmindy could help me out. The Natural Beauty Sun Glow Powder Bronzer in Spring ($12.99) looked promising. I liked that it has a deeper bronzer (far left), a pink highlight (center), and a shimmer (far right).

Again, I started out cautiously, carefully applying color to my cheekbones. Hmmmm, I thought, after the first few swipes, this is looking pretty good. And, it continued to look good that day, the next day, and the day after that. In fact, I've been wearing it every day for over a week and I don't see myself changing any time soon. The pigmentation is much better than the PF and it has the right bronzer/shimmer ratio. Final verdict: HIT!

I'm so glad I went the drugstore route for this little experiment. My success rate is only 50%, but (after coupon and discounts), it only cost me around $20 to find the perfect summer glow. And that's a price I can live with.


Friends & Family Faves

Time for a new, regular feature on the Beauty Couch where I would like to feature the favorite beauty products of my very own friends & family. I sent out the call for submissions and received some surprising and some not-so-surprising responses to share.

My plan is to feature all of the suggestions that I received. However, in order to provide at least some consistency, I would like to try the products out myself first. This also provides me another excuse to haul.

We'll start off nice and easy with a suggestion from future sister-in-law, Amy:
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. This is a staple of most makeup mavens, a cult fave consistently chosen for 'best of' lists. It is a colorless gel containing silicone which provides a smooth surface on which to apply the eyeshadow. Amy writes "You can run around in the rain, cry and sleep with your eye make up on and nothing will smudge or fade all day. It's ridiculous." She includes it in her list of "BEST F-ING PRODUCTS NO BITCH CAN LIVE WITHOUT." I love this girl.

I have tried out UDPP for myself and can't disagree. A little goes a long way on your lids and it does provide a silky surface on which to apply the eye shadow. And, I agree with Amy, the staying power is major. My one complaint is with regard to the bottle design. Notice how the wand is straight and the bottle is curved? It is almost impossible to get any product from the bulge area . This seems like poor planning to me. Other folks agree and have devised clever ways for getting around the bottle and the most UDPP for your money.

If you are a regular eye shadow wearer and are frustrated by fading and creasing at the end of the day, get yourself some UDPP and experience the difference!


Words of Wisdom: K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Dick Page (professional makeup artist at work on the right) authored a one-page article in the June 2008 issue of Allure entitled "Simply Done" that I thought was fantastic and wanted to share with you.

It outlined Dick's "general guidelines on the [makeup] pitfalls to look out for" all under the guise of keeping your makeup simple and fresh. This really resonated with me as we move into the warm weather season (finally!). Who wants to spend precious time on a look that will quickly run off your face in the heat? Not
moi. So here's what he has to say:

"Blush is supposed to be just that -- something that makes you look pretty and fresh, like you've been out in the cold or have a healthy flush in your cheeks. Once people get into stripes, hollows, or contouring, it can all fall apart. My trick for blush is to apply it before anything else -- a dab on the pillows of your cheeks. I bet you'll be surprised to see how using blush alone brightens your eyes and face. A lot of the time, it's best to leave your makeup at that."

I tried this out for myself and will confirm that he is right! Pink blush + one coat of mascara + gloss = perfect 5 minute face.

"It's called eyeliner, not lid liner. It's meant to go as close to the eyes as possible, not on the lids. People tend to think you draw the pencil from the inside corner out in one straight line --not so. The better technique is to draw at the roots of the lashes from the outside in, using small hatches, not one continuous line. Then connect the hatch marks and make sure you don't see any skin between the liner and the lashes."

You know exactly what he means by lid liner, no? I do, and I don't like it. Unless you are going for a distinct cat-eye or Amy Winehouse type look [not recommended except for Halloween purposes], eyeliner should be subtle and give the illusion of thicker eyelashes, not draw a harsh boundary around your peepers making them appear smaller than they are. Example: this vs. this.

"The lip gloss thing went as far as it rationally could before it started to look like people were drooling [beauty couch *coughs loudly* MAC Dazzleglass]. Somewhere along the line, people got scared of lipstick...Apply a neutral shade of lipstick with an eye shadow brush, then blot the color with a tissue and run over the edges with a cotton swab. Using this technique makes the lipstick softer, more natural, and I think, more flattering."

Personally, I find lipstick to be more glamorous than gloss so I hope that it makes a comeback. To ease your re-entry into the land of lipstick, try: MAC Lipstick in High Tea and Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Nude Velvet.

Lastly, Dick provides the following closing words. "Skip the product arsenal. If you're reaching for eye-shadow base, eye shadow, liner, brow filler, and thickening and lengthening mascaras, it's too much. Nor do you need tinted moisturizer, foundation, blush, concealer, and powder. Leave some air in there and limit yourself to the one or two (OK, maybe three) products you need on each feature. The point is to enhance, not hide, yourself."

*hangs head in shame.* I admit, I am guilty of the product arsenal. And, I do think that it does have its place for special events, like your wedding. But, for every day looks, Dick is right: K.I.S.S.


Blogging & Mental Health

I don't really read Scientific American. But occasionally J. sees something on there that he thinks I might find interesting. Recently, he forwarded me this article: Blogging--It's Good for You.

Author Jessica Wapner writes "Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not."

One questions I have is whether the topic of the writing is significant at all. For example, do you have to write about your cancer or your viral load for it to be therapeutic or can you write about anything that is of interest to you? I'm not really sure that writing entries every day about how stressful work is would be terribly fun (or interesting to read). So I'm just going to assume that the topic is inconsequential and writing about beauty & makeup is just as good.

What do you think?


Kinda Cool Contest

There are usually all kinds of contests going on in the beauty blogosphere (oh my god, did I just write blogosphere?!) ranging from giveaways to... well... more giveaways. And, hey, I'm all for giveaways and free stuff, but this contest from stila caught my eye for a different reason: the chance to have your name emblazoned in makeup. Woah! Hold the phone! A contest involving both my love of makeup and my underlying narcissism? Sign me up!

Unfortunately, they already have a lot of lip colors with various names so if you have one of those, it looks like you are out of luck (sorry Marisa). But, I didn't see anywhere in the rules that you couldn't submit a name other than your own. So if you have a beloved relative, lunch lady, or psychiatric nurse that you would like to honor, then head on over there to make your submission today!

Oh, and if you win, please share one of your Namesake Color Free Samples with me. It's the least you could do, really.


Faking It: Clinique Touch of Bronze Moisturizing Body Lotion

As a pale person who burns easily, is afraid of skin cancer, and generally dislikes "outside" activities, I rarely spend time in the sun. But, sometimes a girl would like to have a little color, so I've been known to dive into self-tanner from time to time. Thankfully, self-tanning formulations have gotten much better in the past five years, so if you have fears of turning into a streaky Oompa-Loompa, I'm here to tell you that times have changed!

Clinique's Touch of Bronze Moisturizing Body Lotion was my most recent experiment in the quest for a fake, natural looking tan. They claim that it is "a sunless way to give your skin a natural-looking bronze radiance" and, honestly, who wouldn't like to order up a little more radiance? The directions are fairly straightforward: exfoliate your entire self, apply the lotion as evenly as possible, wash hands, wait 5 minutes before wearing clothes.

First, the positive points. The color develops gradually over 24-48 hours so it's not like you suddenly show up to work one day looking completely different and obviously faking it. So that's good. Second, it is a delicate, subtle bronze color that worked well with my pale skin tone. The tan I eventually developed looked very natural, so much so that my cousin, sister-in-law, and boss were surprised to hear that it was fake. Thinking it was real, my boss even told me that I had lovely skin color! How amazing is that?! Third, it is build-able color so re-applying every day or every other day provides a gradual deepening. Lastly, it has an easy-to-apply consistency and there was no streakiness.

Now the negatives. It smells kind of weird. I don't know what it smells like, but it is definitely not a smell that I would request. It is a clear gel and applies without a color. This could be a positive, but it was challenging to apply the color evenly without having some sort of color indication as to how I was doing. It also left a kind of "film" on my skin that was rather unpleasant. I waited up to 15 minutes (more than the recommended 5) before getting anywhere near clothes, but it didn't feel like the product was absorbed completely even after that time. Lastly, at over $18 a bottle, it is not the most economical of self-tanning options. This is especially true because I got a maximum of 4 whole-body applications out of the 5 fl oz container.

So, what's my final verdict? Well, the best I can say is that it is a mixed bag. If pushed, I'd give it a B grade. I would abandon it completely except for the amazing compliments that I got from friends and family. There was universal approval of my newly bronze-touched self and it's hard to argue with that. Well, universal female support, at least. J. didn't really have much to say although I think he did approve of all the naked-time required for proper application.

A helpful video tutorial about applying a flawless self-tan can be found here.


A Word Of Thanks

As a person with a makeup problem, Sephora is a major place to haul. But, like many beauty-obsessed folks, I have a love/hate relationship with it. My major complaints are:

(1) everything in the store costs the same

(2) they never have sales
(3) the sales associates are usually such bitches (male and female alike)

Not to make sweeping generalizations, but in my experience, the sales associates are often very impatient and grace you with lots of attitude and eye rolling. Especially if you are looking for something specific, as I often am. It is for this reason that I have to give a major shout out of thanks to the Manager at the Sephora at Alderwood Mall. She rocks my socks.

You may recall that I was recently lusting for the Sephora Sun Safety Kit. Well, I hadn't reviewed it yet because they are sold out
everywhere (including online). After calling around to at least four area stores without success, I was beginning to think that this product lust would be forever frustrated.

After my amazing spa day at Olympus (I know, I can't stop talking about it), I decided to give it the old college try to see if one last Sephora that I hadn't called had it in stock. didn't. There was one sad sample kit left with a lip balm that had clearly been used sitting on a sad, empty shelf. After expressing my woe (and possibly whining just a little), this amazing Sephora manager started calling around to stores in different states until she found the ONE LAST kit in Idaho. But, not content with that, she then negotiated with them to send it to me WITH FREE SHIPPING.

Seriously. I couldn't believe it myself and I waited until I had my greasy paws on it before posting because I secretly expected the thing to never show up. But, I can now say that I am the proud owner of the very cute Sun Safety Kit. And, it arrived just in time as I spent the past four days in sunny Southern California and had a chance to try out several of the products.

(I still got a sunburn.)


Parissa Face & Body Sugar

I'm a big believer in waxing for leg hair removal. Mostly this is related to my dislike of taking showers (I find it to be tedious and boring) . Thus, I avoid anything that will extend the time I spend in the shower, like shaving, for example.

The majority of time, I pop into a cheap salon near the hospital for a quick wax. But, sometimes this isn't convenient or economical, so I have done some exploration of at-home methods. Most recently, I tried the Parissa Body Sugar. It is $8-10 for a box kit which will get you through at least 2 half leg waxes. This is much cheaper than a salon and no tipping required.

This is actually really easy to use. The jar of wax heats up in the microwave in a matter of seconds and is easy to apply with the aid of a popsicle stick.The wax is faintly scented and sufficiently sticky. It did make a bit of a mess dripping on the bathroom floor, but since the wax is sugar-based, it was easy to clean up with some warm water. The mess is likely related to my inexperience and I suspect that someone with more practice would have fewer drips.

Here is a pic of what comes in the kit. It also has 20 strips for wax/hair removal. The blue tube is some kind of moisturizing oil to use post-wax, but I skipped this step without any problems. The wax was extremely gentle also didn't dry out my skin like some kits have done in the past. I'll definitely be returning to the Parissa kit for future hair management. You can buy yourself a kit online or at your local ULTA.

*NOTE: I'm going out of town for a few days so posting might be a little sparse, but I'll be back with new finds to share in no time!


F.O.T.D. Inspired by Sephora's Miss August

On the off-chance that you are not makeup obsessed and for some reason are still reading my blog (Hi Mom!), you probably missed the most recent Sephora catalog which featured a pin-up/calendar girl theme. Very cute.

This is "Miss August." You can see the details of her look
here. While each individual feature (eyes, cheeks, lips) are beautifully applied and flawlessly air-brushed, I can't help but feel that the overall look is just too...too...much. The eyes, the brows, the bright red lips, the severe haircut, everything is just over the top. The result is a bit too clownish for my tastes.

So I decided to re-work her look into something more balanced and less cartoony. I chose to copy her smokey eye with a copper shadow and a bold turquoise liner but keep the rest of the features more neutral and balanced.

I started by placing Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Blaze over the lid up to and above the crease and also along the lower lash line. I then blended the dark brown shade from the Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Palette I reviewed earlier into the outer 1/3 of each eye near the crease.

A subtle wash of Stila Eyeshadow in Kitten was added to the brow bone and inner corner of the eye. Sephora Brand Electro Eyepencil in Marine Blue 06 was applied very close to the upper lashline and along the bottom waterline. Lastly,one coat of Cover Girl Lash Blash mascara in Black was added.

Some pics of the final result. [Note: please excuse the brows, they are a work in progress.]

without flash

with flash
Unlike Miss August, I kept the rest of the look simple with Bare Escentuals Pure Radiance used as blush/bronzer. On my lips are NARS lipstick in Honolulu Honey and lip lacquer in Chelsea Girls.

The finished result. Definitely different from Miss August and ultimately more wearable for me. I guess the take-home message is to not be afraid to experiment with different looks that you find in magazines or online. You don't have to follow every detail, but use it as a starting point or inspiration and make it your own!


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