Thursday, July 30, 2015

DIY Lip Balm: Is It Worth The Cost?

We all use lip balm. A chapstick (a/k/a upright lip balmsells for up to $3.00, including the tinted variety (like Maybelline's Baby Lips, which is very moisturizing). A 13 ounce tub of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (a/k/a pioneer lip balmis even cheaper per ounce, costing about $3.50 a jar. What's more, there is no science behind fears that petroleum jelly is unsafe to slather on lips. I do it all winter.

So is it worth making your own lip balm? Well, the answer is yes and no. If you can't finish a batch in a year's time, it's cheaper and more convenient to just buy lip balm as you need it. 

However if you blaze through chapstick like wild fire, it is cost-effective to make a batch. After buying the necessary ingredients and containers, you can bring the cost down to about $1 a pot or stick. Plus, they make lovely gifts, or you can sell them if you are an entrepreneur.

An easy recipe I like for homemade lip balm uses 3 main (and 2 optional) ingredients:

Beeswax-Coconut Oil Lip Balm


1 cup grated beeswax
1 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil

Optional ingredients:

a few drops of soothing peppermint oil,
food coloring; or a slice of lipstick for a tint. (A slice of a clean crayon works too; so does powder blush. All these options will add a tint.)


1) In a microwave safe dish, grate the beeswax until you get one cup.
2) Add a cup of coconut oil, which will be solid at room temperature. (1 to 1 ratio.)
3) Microwave the mixture for 20 seconds, repeat until it melts. Go slow so it does not boil.
4) Remove and stir them together.
5) Optional: 
 a.  Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil.
 b. If you wish, tint the lip balm with a few drops of food coloring; or a slice of lipstick. (You can microwave the mixture for a few more seconds if needed.) Stir together.
6) Finally, add one teaspoon of vitamin E oil to the mix. It gives the lip balm its shelf life. Stir all the ingredients until uniform.
7) While warm, pour into containers with lids. Some people recycle old, washed lip balm containers. Other folks repurpose their Altoids (mints) mini tins. While still others buy a supply of pot jars or cylinders like these, which can be labeled and gifted. 
8) After pouring into containers, let cool.

Note: Shea butter could probably be substituted if you don't have beeswax, though I haven't tried it.

I won't lie. Although I love the natural, luxe ingredients of this homemade lip balm, I usually just buy a chapstick (or Baby Lips tinted stick) as needed.

I'm more likely to make my own Vaseline Rosy Lip Therapy because you can't buy a full size jar. I've only seen teeny, tiny jars of it -- .25 ounces to be exact. That's a Lilliputian size. Why so small?

What we can do is buy a regular size tub of clear Vaseline, then add a few drops of pink, or red food coloring or Kool-aid ... plus drops of a nourishing essential oil like coconut (or drops of almond oil; or rose oil if you have it). You can also add drops of peppermint oil, if you wish. Set the Vaseline on a stove top and let the pilot light soften it so you can blend it easily without melting. Voila ...  we have a full-size jar of homemade Vaseline Rosy Lip Therapy. However, it's more practical to make small pots at a time, and keep the rest of the Vaseline clear for other uses. The idea is to save money by buying a regular size jar of Vaseline and adding your own tints and oils.

I mixed a chip of cheek blush (arrgh, dropped my blush on the bathroom floor and a piece broke off!) with Vaseline to make a lovely lip gloss. Alternately, you can mix a slice of lipstick with Vaseline for a moisturizing tinted lip balm. It's too easy-peazy, not to do it yourself to get more product for less moola! 

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Uniqlo's Flare Sleeveless Dress ... And More

Uniqlo has styled the perfect summer dress. It's airy and feminine ... visually, a classic! Designing affordable, lightweight, yet substantial clothing is Uniqlo's trademark, and this dress is no exception. The material is a smooth, durable cotton blended with a touch of stretch. The dress is soft, comfortable and cool.

You can wear it to the office, as well as, out to dinner afterwards. The flare cut is ultra flattering. Sleeveless; gorgeous lines; and t-shirt-cozy -- the dress comes in 5 colors. I bought the pink stripped pattern and love the contrast of the overall pink with navy accents. So practical and casual-posh, I think I'll get another color. Cost: $29.90.

Whether traveling, going out at night, or blasted with air conditioning, you sometimes need an article to cover your shoulders. Uniqlo offers nearly weightless summer options. All are easy to tote, or roll up in a suitcase:

Slip on a 100% cotton sweater from the retailer's UV Collection. It blocks out 90% of the sun's harmful rays.

Or throw on one of Uniqlo's many types of hoodies. Some are cotton with stretch UV protection. Others are airism UV cut mash to keep you cool and dry in a warm climate. All the hoodies have innovative fabric and extra bells and whistles. High collars protect your neck, and thumb holes let you cover the backs of your hands.

I often carry one of Uniqlo's linen/cotton stoles to drape on my shoulders in the summer. I have a navy blue one to match several dress colors. It's so thin, I can fold it up to carry in my purse for when I get cold.

In fact I had to rebuy it. The first Uniqlo navy scarf I bought (it had a bit of silk in it) was lost in someone's closet at the end of a house party. Surprisingly, we couldn't find my book bag with its contents of my scarf and a mini umbrella when it was time for me to go home. As I don't suspect the lovely hosts nor anyone at the party would have taken it, to this day the disappearance is a great mystery. Life!

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Mizon All Over Makeup Stick

Mizon Oh! Shy Volume Up Lovely Stick
This hot all-in-one eyeliner has taken Korea by storm. Korean women use it to create what they call an aegyosal effect -- i.e. contouring the illusion of a bulge under their eyes. Why would they do this, you may ask? Because ... with age we lose fat under the eyes, and the area begins to look hallow. So Korean women use shading to restore the appearance of fat under the eyes in order to produce a fresher more youthful look. According to Peach & Lillya retailer who specializes in Asian cosmetics, "creating a plumper eye area under the lower lash line erases years" off your face.

The Mizon Oh! Shy Volume Up Lovely Stick has two ends: (1) a glittery champagne powder/shadow and (2) a taupe pencil/liner.

The (simmering pink) champagne powder can be used to highlight your entire face. Here is a how to video: Dot it about the inner corners of your eyes, brow bone, bridge of nose, Cupid's bow, center of lips and cheekbones, then blend into the skin with your fingers. 

Moreover, that's not all the stick does. The taupe pencil/liner can be used to define your brows, accentuate your cheekbones, or lift your nose (shade the sides of your nose, then blend). You can also use the liner to create a softer daytime smokey eye.

It's always fun to explore another country's idea of attractiveness, as well as, their innovative beauty products. The qwest of hanging on to a youthful appearance floats across boundaries!

Certainly, the Mizon Oh! Shy Volume Up Lovely Stick is a multi-tasker, which makes it ideal for travelers. Cost: $19.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

How Does Kate Middleton Wear Those High Heels?

Photo: Zimbo
Ever wonder how Kate Middleton walks so effortlessly in high heels? She made wearing a 3-inch heel while pushing Princess Charlotte up a concrete-and-grass path to the royal christening look easy. How are her feet not killing her?

According to Vanity Fair magazine, the Duchess wears leather Alice Bow insoles as her "secret weapon."

Without a doubt, our beloved Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, has access to the very best products. Alice Bow insoles are carefully made in London from fine Italian leather. They look and feel luxurious underfoot. The superior padding absorbs shock, lets feet breathe and has antibacterial properties.

The insoles fit any shoes to make walking in heels comfortable for hours on end. They are designed to be as thin as possible while providing ultra padding only where you need it -- in the case of high heels, that is under the ball of your foot and not under your toes.

In fact, there are two different designs of Alice Bow insoles: 1) one crafted for heels and 2) another made for flats. Each variety sells for £13.90, which is a bit of an investment. For those of us not living in the UK, we'll also have to pay a hefty shipping charge. So stock up if you find yourself visiting.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Trying To Find A Natural Deodorant ... And Hair Conditioner

I'm not a hippy-dippy nature gal. Still, it's a smart idea to cut the number of chemicals we put on our bodies everyday by grooming with personal care products. Recently I began using organic soaps, shampoos and body lotions. Done!

Nonetheless, I have two mass produced holdouts: Commercial 1) hair conditioners and 2) underarm deodorants are hard to give up! Not only cheaper, they usually work better than their all natural counterparts.

It's hard to beat Pantene Beautiful Lengths, or Aussie 3-Minute Miracle conditioners for shine and taming hair. Although I like the organic hair conditioners I order from Puritan's Pride, I still use the commercial brands on days when looking my very best really matters.

Regarding underarm deodorants, recent medical studies link the aluminum compounds in most of the mass produced ones to cancer and Alzheimer's. I think that's alarming, don't you?

Any yet, I am slow to switch to the organic choices. Evidential (I mean judging by my actions), I am more afraid of odor than cancer! People who have b.o. seem to lose the ability to smell it. In public places everybody knows but the stinky people. I don't want to be one of them while everybody else tries not to breathe!

Other bloggers have ventured into territory I dare not go  ... yet. Kate Stoeffel of The Cut tested 11 Natural deodorants. Two of the deodorants, Soap Walla ($14) and Lavillin ($10) are recommended by several other beauty editors also. (They are two of the cheaper options.)

I guess I need to be brave and try them for myself ... eventually. On that day should my organic deodorant fail, please don't let me be the last to know.

Do you worry about harmful chemicals in your grooming products? And, have you found a better natural alternative that works?

Update: August 29th, 2017 - Here is a helpful link from with their list of the best natural deodorants to use after considering effectiveness, safety and price.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Amazon Echo Is A Cool Tool

Amazon Echo would be a spurge, since it's more technology than I need right now. And yet, it's a super cool tool at an affordable price. Echo is like having Sari in a room, except Echo is handsfree and responds to the name, Alexa (or Amazon). Ask Alexa all kinds of questions, such as "How many tablespoons are in 3/4 of a cup?" It will answer, "There are 12 tablespoons to 3/4 of a cup."

Echo the gadget is connected to Alexa, a cloud based service, so it can access all sorts of information when you ask; and the cloud is always getting smarter. 

Alexa can pick up your voice from anywhere in a room even with background noise like water running in a kitchen, or a television playing in a living room. Echo fills the room with immersive sound. That means it blurs the line between the physical and digital worlds.

Alexa also responds to commands. It can create shopping lists, provide news, traffic and weather reports, turn on lights, keep your calendar, set timers and reminders, plus reorder items from your Amazon shopping history if you have an Amazon Prime account. (Yikes, spends your money!)

You can play music off the internet from sites like Pandora, iHeartRadio and more; or have Echo read you audiobooks. If you ask, Alexa will even tell you jokes.

It would be easy for a household to get addicted to the convenience of Echo. Like what we saw on the Jetsons, or Star Trek right? Wow, whether you ask questions or give commands, the technology is real and available today. Not very expensive either. Cost: $179.99 with free shipping.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Caribbean Queen, A Favorite Song Of Mine

I featured Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean on a guilty pleasure song list before, but today it stands alone as one of my favorite pop songs. More correctly, it's a R&B song, but because it was a hit on pop radio, climbing all the way to #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 (1984), let's call it a pop song.

I just learned that in other parts of the world, the song had other titles: European Queen and African Queen. That doesn't seem right! But I guess it depends on what you get used to hearing.

As it happens, I can have a setback, or be under stress, and if this song comes on, it brightens my mood instantly. I can listen to it anytime of the year, but it especially reminds me of summer, and I never get tired of listening to it. Ever.

On my wish list: I'd love to see Dancing With The Star's Derek Hough choreograph a Latin dance to the song. Something needs to replace the 1984 official video. It's not good enough for such a stellar foot-tapping, feel-good song, in my humble opinion. (Billy Ocean was handsome, yes. The singer likes a classy background dancer, yes, but I don't get the marionette theme.)

Need a quick pick me up? If so, click play and let the song work its magic! 

And feel free to share your favorite songs under comments. If you think about it, these songs are 3-4 minutes of theraphy. They get our brain to secret endorphin.

Word is out that Senator Chuck Schumer of New York loves to hear the Weather Girls's It's Raining Men (which also made one of my guitly pleasure lists, so I understand you, Senator ... God Bless Mother Nature! 

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th Of July

The Declaration Of Independence by John Trumbull

Trubull's famous painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence is rather idealized. Not only was the document not signed on July 4th, our Founding Fathers didn't all sign it on the same day. But that doesn't bother me. 

Our Founding Fathers were revolutionaries, and the democratic principals which gave birth to the United States were revolutionary ... and idealized. Who could have predicted how long a democracy would last?

Does it mean that the founders got everything right? We know they did not. Our nation from its inception, was and continues to be based on compromise. Revolutions are usually imperfect and messy. 

We live in a more perfect union. More perfect unions happen step by step. Later there was a need for the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

What didn't get worked out lead to the drafting of the documents named above, as well as, to the American Civil War ... the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th and 14th Amendments, and so it goes. Our democracy is always evolving. Changing with the times.

With success and prosperity come responsibilities. The world is getting smaller.

And yet when I look at history, I am impressed with how smart our Founding Fathers were. The signers comprised a group of highly intelligent, educated men. Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration Of Independence, was influenced by the principles of the Enlightenment, as well as, the writings of John Locke. We had the brilliant minds of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. I am thankful that such able statesmen got our nation off to a good start.

Happy Birthday America!
Photo: Total Beauty - Jin Soon nails
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Moodmatcher Luxe Twist Sticks

Recently, I discovered the best long lasting lipstick on the market! Women have used Moodmatcher Luxe Twist Sticks for 30 years. So where have I been?

Don't let the initial odd hues fool you.  They go on one color, but instantly change according to your body's chemistry. You get customized color that is ideal for you. Each lipstick transforms into one-of-a-kind color that is perfectly suited for your complexion and mood.

The silky smooth formula has "12 hours of staying power" without bleeding. It is "smudge proof, sweat proof and kiss proof," according to the retailer. I can verify that the color lasts for hours, but haven't actually tested the 12 hour claim. After several hours, I usually dab additional lip gloss over the Moodmatcher color to freshen up.

With vitamin E and aloe vera as ingredients, lips do, indeed, feel hydrated. Although Moodmatcher colors like a lip stain, it works like a lip treatment, or stay-on chapstick.

There are 6 rich colors -- that react differently to each person's lips.

The yellow turns into a light pink.
The green becomes a bright rose.
The orange transforms into a pink-coral.
The blue and pink sparkle turn into darker pinks.
The red becomes a red/plum shade.

Fran Wilson is the genius who created the innovative Twist Sticks to deliver soft, matte lip coverage that can take you from the office to a night out on the town. At $2.99 each, they are a steal!
This cart lets you know what the intensity of the color is, but isn't totally accurate. The yellow, green, red and orange are warmer pinks, while the blue has cooler undertones.

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