Friday, May 29, 2015

Sensitive Skin Essentials for Clearer Skin

For a long time, I've been in a constant cycle of breaking out, then using something harsh to control the breakout, then it getting slightly better, then getting a rash or itchy, red skin, then giving up, and then starting all over again. After my last particularly bad cycle, I finally got fed up with being itchy! So I decided if I can't stop my skin from breaking out, then I'm at least going to do something about my constant skin irritation. I went to amazon and did some perusing and decided to find some products that are sensitive skin friendly and don't have any questionable chemicals to hopefully calm my skin. While the products I found aren't fun or flashy, they've done the job. My skin overall is a lot less red and itchy. I'm still breaking out some, but my skin looks a lot better which makes me wonder if a lot of my breakouts were coming my attempts to stop them. I thought I'd share with you what I've found so that hopefully if you're dealing with the same issues you can find something that works without having to read a ton of Amazon reviews!

1. Basis Sensitive Skin Bar
For a long time I've used Dove's Beauty Bar for Sensitive Skin. I really want to love it because it doesn't irritate my skin and I love Dove products. However, it doesn't do enough to soothe my skin, so I decided to give Basis a go.

I was pleasantly surprised by this bar soap. It's very gentle. I can use it on my face and body which is very convenient and economical. I also immediately started noticing that my skin wasn't red like it usually is after I wash it. It sounds silly, but my skin really does look calmer when I use this soap. While it does not have any added fragrance, it does have a light chamomile scent from the chamomile extract in the soap which I think is lovely. The light scent makes me feel a little better about not getting to use a fun, scented soap. This soap is a safe choice for people with sensitive skin. If you try it and find that it doesn't work for you, I'd try Dove's Beauty Bar for Sensitive Skin. Several people in the Amazon reviews said either one or the other worked for them.

2. A Konjac Sponge
The Basis Sensitive Skin Bar is working beautifully for my skin, but I need a little exfoliation on my face to keep my pores from clogging up. I decided to try a Konjac sponge because they're very in at the moment. I see why! When dry, it looks like a sponge and feels basically like sturdy styrofoam. Then, when you put water on it, the sponge gets bigger and softens. You can use it without soap, but I like to use it with the Basis Soap. I'm obsessed because the sponge is so soft and cloud-like. It gives me a little extra gentle exfoliation without irritating my skin. I'm liking Ecotools Konjac Sponge because it's perfect size for my face, it doesn't have anything extra like clay or charcoal added in, and it's affordable.

3. Neutrogena Clear Face Sunblock
Wearing sunscreen daily is so important for preventing skin cancer and aging, but it's so hard to find a good one that's not too sticky or pore-clogging. Neutrogena's Clear Face Sunblock is amazing! I bought it for the first time about four months ago, and I kicked myself for not trying it earlier. For some reason I had it in my head that it would be heavy and sticky. Now that I've tried it, I see that it's actually very light. Once it absorbs, my face feels lightly moisturized but more also matte. So if you're looking for moisturization, this lotion is not for you. It's perfect for my oily, sensitive skin though. If you're worried it won't be sensitive skin friendly enough, then try Elizabeth's favorite and go for Neutrogena's Sensitive Skin Sunblock.

4. Cetaphil Eczema Calming Body Moisturizer
I don't think I actually have eczema, but I figured if this lotion works for people with eczema, then it should definitely work for me. At the time, my skin was crazy itchy, and I was desperate. I saw the Good Housekeeping seal, so I knew it had to have promise. Since I've started using it, it has not let me down. It's unscented and free of irritants. The lotion is not anything fancy but, it keeps my skin moisturized, itch-free, and calm. It's a great everyday lotion for people with sensitive skin.

5. Dove Go-Sleeveless Anti-Perspirant Deodorant in Soothing Chamomile
The skin under my arms gets so irritated and itchy from shaving, which I just cannot deal with. I decided to try Dove's Go-Sleeveless Deodorant in Soothing Chamomile, and I'm really pleased. Now, after I shave, I put a little of the Cetaphil Moisturizer and then this deodorant on and my problems are solved. My underarms look a lot less distressed, and I'm not going crazy from being itchy. I really like the light chamomile scent. It's not especially sweet or fruity but more of a very mellow, natural scent. If you truly have sensitive skin though, then I would say skip the Dove Deodorant since it is scented and try Almay's Sensitive Anti-Perspirant Deodorant. My dad has super sensitive skin, and this is all he'll use. It's free of fragrance and definitely should not irritate your skin.

If you're like me and your skin is in constant turmoil, it may be because you're treating the symptoms but not the root of the problem. I think for me, I was using stuff that was too harsh for my skin trying to treat breakouts, and really the harsh products were making my skin a lot worse. So it's worth a try to walk away from the hardcore stuff for awhile and try using a base of simple products for sensitive skin and see what happens. Then, if you need to, maybe try using just one product a day for breakouts. I alternate using a benzyl peroxide lotion and a salicylic acid/retinol lotion at nighttime. It's just enough to keep my skin under control without it turning my face perpetually red. Hopefully, this is helpful! I'd love to hear your favorite sensitive skin products and tips!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

March Julep Box

I'm a little late on this review, but better late than never. For my March Julep box I decided it was time for a new look for Spring. So I ordered Julep's Soft Focus Finish polish in Ali, Plush Pout Lip Crayon in Aurora Pink, and Orbital Eye Shadow in Earthshine.

Julep Soft Focus Polish in Ali

 Ali is a super pretty semi-matte seafoamy mint polish. (I'm wearing a topcoat over Ali which sort of negates the matte finish.) Every time I wear this polish I get compliments! It's perfect for the spring and summer months. It is a bit trickier to apply than some of Julep's other polishes. It takes at least two coats to get an even color and takes a bit of patience. I'd say for the color it's well worth it though.

Julep Plush Pout in Aurora Pink
 Julep is spot on with the coverage and moisturization of their lip crayons. I love the formulation of their Plush Pout sticks. However, their shade depictions need a little work. From the website and name I was expecting a rosy pink color. I was really surprised to put it on and end up with a bright poppy coral color. The color is beautiful but just not what I was expecting! Luckily, Julep customers are very good about posting their reviews of products on the product pages. So next I'll be looking there before I buy another lip crayon.

Aurora Pink 
Unlike Aurora Pink, Julep's swatch for their Orbital Earthshine eye shadow is spot on. It's a highly pigmented deep, shimmery treebark brown shadow. It has a lot of staying power and is easy to apply. A little goes a long way! It's a very versatile every day shadow. I like to use it on it's own, as a compliment to lighter shadows, or as a powder eyeliner. 

Julep Orbital Earthshine Eye Shadow

I can't wait to try more of their Orbital Eye Shadows. I would love to have their Pan The Story Begins Orbital Eye Shadow Collection. It's a whimsical collection rich, shimmery hues like Supernova- a charcoal with electric orchid pearlescence and Moonbeam- a silver with lilac pearlescence.


Last but not least is the lovely bonus polish, Brandis, that Julep added to my box. (Always check your email ladies so you don't miss Julep's fun bonus offers!) Unfortunately, I don't have a swatch of this colorful turquoise creme polish because I sent it to camp with Elizabeth. Brandis went on super smoothly and was very rich. The formulation made it a breeze to apply. I was a little intimidated by the color at first because it's so bold, but it was a unique accent to my boring grey ensembles!

As always, if you think you want to try Julep, I'd love to refer you! Simply, click here to check out Julep's offer this month. It's free the first month, and if you don't like it then call Julep to opt-out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

May Journal Prompts + Printable

Like always thanks to everyone who has used and shared the previous months' journal prompts. You can share this month's prompts with your friends through pinterest here.

To those of you who started journaling in January as one of your resolutions and who are still going strong with journaling, good for you!

Unfortunately, I slipped some last month with my journaling. But, since I spent most of the month traveling, I can't complain.

On to May.

A printable version of these prompts is available at the bottom of the post.

31 Journal Prompts for May

1. A recent compliment
2. Are you organized or messy?
3. Your biggest victory
4. A moment that challenged you
5. What worries you?
6. The last book you read
7. A few of your favorite things
8. How do you show love?
9. Three things you are proud of
10. Describe your best friend
11. What is a hero?
12. Who is your role model?
13. An outfit that makes you happy
14. The last piece of real mail you received
15. What are you looking forward to?
16. One quality you want to improve
17. The songs in your life soundtrack
18. What are you working towards?
19. One good thing you can do tomorrow
20. Something you've learned from a mistake
21. A recent good moment
22. The people who make you the happiest
23. Something that needs to change
24. How are you taking care of yourself?
25. How are you taking care of others?
26. Top three favorite experiences
27. Life goals in five sentences
28. A person you'd like to meet
29. The best kind of cake is...
30. The habits you want to have
31. The best thing that's happened this month

Download your printable PDF of the prompts here.

Make sure that you get next month's prompts by following along with Life of Lovely on bloglovin, pinterest, or twitter.

We'd love to hear from you if you decide to use these prompts. Let us know how it goes in the comments.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Favorite Workouts for Spring

Over the last month, I've really started to notice that sitting all day in class and at home studying is starting to show in how my back and legs feel. It's become clear that I'm going to have to step it up and do more walking, stretching, and exercising this month! Here are five of my favorite workouts that I've found lately. 

The Ultimate 30-Minute Cardio Pilates Workout!

This workout is a doozy! It makes your arms, legs, and abs burn and gets your heart rate up. My goal for the month is to make it through whole the workout. Right now, I do well until the last ten minutes and then I turn to jello! This is perfect for when you want to work everything, but don't want to spend forever or do a bunch of different workouts to get it done.

The last couple weeks I've had issues with one of my legs going numb from sciatic entrapment. This video is short but seems to be helping loosen my tight muscles and relieve the pressure on that nerve.

4 Back-Strengthening Moves | The Yoga Solution With Tara Stiles

Last week in my classes we learned about transfers and about the kinesiology of our back muscles. I never realized before how important it is to protect our backs from injury! Little back strengthening workouts like this one, along with using good body mechanics, can help keep you and your back happy and healthy.

Yoga for Women - Yoga For Cramps and PMS

Love my Yoba with Adriene! We all need this sometimes.

Little Black Dress Boot Camp - Total Body Sculpting Workout

I haven't tried this workout yet, but I tried a fitness blender workout this week and love it! The videos are very straight-forward and tell you at the beginning how many exercises you'll be doing, how long you'll be doing them, and how many rounds. You will need your own music though since there's none in the video. I've been in a dresses and skirts mood, so I thought this workout would be perfect!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge: March Update

Still progressing well with my goal of reading 100 books in 2015. I read a total of 10 books in March which puts me on track.

I am very much enjoying my reading challenge because it reminds me to read when I have free time. It is too easy to get distracted by the internet and not even think about picking up a book. I do absolutely love to read. So, for me, the goal gives me that little bit of encouragement that I need to choose a book over other distractions.

Here's what I read in March.

The Together Teacher - Maia Heyck-Merlin
Since my time in France is ending, I've started to prepare for teaching in the US again. I had seen reviews of this book before, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. It is an excellent resource for teachers who need to get organized. Yes, there are plenty of books on organization and time management, but a teacher's day is so different from other professionals. This book has strategies that work for teachers. I will be using the techniques in this book. If you are a teacher, or you know a teacher, this book is very much recommended.

My Week with Marilyn - Colin Clark
This book has been on my to-read list since I saw the movie. How could anyone not enjoy a book with a personal account of time spend with the movie star Marilyn Monroe? While not quite as charming as the movie, the book is an interesting read.

Shades of Milk and Honey - Mary Robinette Kowal
I've accidentally started a new series. This book is a fantasy novel (points since I enjoy fantasy.) As I was reading it, I kept feeling that it resembled a Jane Austen novel. So, I was pleased in the acknowledgements to read that the author was inspired by Jane Austen (more points because of Jane Austen.) Also, since I caught the Pride and Prejudice theme, I thought I knew which character the main character would end up with, but it turns out I picked the wrong one as being Darcy. So it's a fantasy novel with Jane Austen elements that is cleverly written. Basically, everything that I want in a light read.

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
This book was on my reading list because I've heard it described as a new "classic." The story of adventure and personal discovery is interesting. The writing style is enjoyable. But. It didn't have a profound influence on me. It is good, but for me not as amazing as I had been led to believe. Which is fine.

The Perks of Being  a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
A friend recommended that I read this book. Quite frankly, I still don't know how I feel about the book. It deals with a difficult subject. Emotionally, it was difficult for me to read. I know that lots of people love this book, but for me, it was too much at once.

Beauty and the Werewolf - Mercedes Lackey
I'm still reading the Five Hundred Kingdom series. This is the 6th book in the series, and as the title implies, it is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (with a little bit of Little Red Riding Hood and plenty of other fairy tales mixed in.)

Prince - Kiera Cass
Prince is a novella in the Selection series. The story is told from Prince Maxon's point of view as he deals with the idea of meeting and choosing a girl to marry during the selection. Since I like Maxon's character, I liked having his point of view on the proceedings. While it isn't necessary to understanding the plot of the series, it is a good read while waiting for the rest of the series to be released.

Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry
This is the second book in The Giver Quartet. I liked reading The Giver in high school, and it is interesting to read the rest of the series now. I still haven't figured out yet how this book is related to the first one, but I think that the two collide somewhere later in the series. It is an intelligent dystopian novel. There is less drama than in some of the current popular dystopian novels aimed at young adults. I'd definitely advise adding this book to your to-read list.

Harry Potter et le Prince de Sang-Mêlé - J.K. Rowling
If you've been following these updates, you'll know that I've been trying to finish all of the Harry Potter books in French before I leave France. I know that I've said it before, but these books are so good. I remember very little from the first time that I read them (it's been a while), but I am so impressed by the quality of the plot and the writing.

Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher's First Year - Esmé Raji Codell
I finished off the month with some more non-fiction. In this work, the author recounts some of her experience during her first year of teaching in a difficult school. For me, it was good to read and relate to some of her struggles during her first year. Her story was inspirational to me as well. I certainly did not handle my first year teaching in the same way that she did. She has an unconventional approach, and while my approach to teaching differs some, I will definitely be trying to keep the same spirit that Esmé has while teaching.

Those are the books that I read in March. I have quite the mix of styles of fiction and nonfiction, but I think that it's more fun to read as many different types of writing as I can. In the upcoming months, I'll be reading more books about teaching and books aimed at teens since I will hopefully be teaching high school or middle school English in August (not that I will complain if I manage to find a high school French job.) My goal in April is to read as many books as possible because I know that things will get extremely busy once I start my summer job in May and my teaching job in August.

All of these books are available on Amazon. It's an affiliate link, so a portion of the price of anything that you buy after clicking on the link will go to support this blog and allow me to buy more books to read!

What did you read in March? Do you have any suggestions for my reading list?

Monday, March 30, 2015

April Journal Prompts + printable

Again thanks to everyone who has been sharing the previous months' journal posts. I'm so glad to hear from those of you who are using these prompts in your own journals.

This month, I am happy to share 30 new journal prompts for you to use. Pick a time out of your day to sit down with a hot beverage and spend some time writing. A printable version of these prompts is available at the bottom of the post. 

If you have never journaled before, or if you want some pointers on starting your journal, check out our post on starting a journal.

30 Journal Prompts for April

1. Your biggest dream
2. What place do you consider your home?
3. What are you most grateful for?
4. The most important qualities in a friend
5. One thing you need to stop doing
6. One thing you need to start doing
7. How are you feeling today?
8. Three things you and your best friend have in common
9. Your life story in five sentences
10. A place you have never visited
11. How important is fame?
12. What is a "perfect" day?
13. How do you make decisions?
14. Describe kindness
15. 10 things you should always have
16. The word that you overuse
17. A pun
18. How would you like to be described?
19. Your favorite song to sing
20. Would you like to know about the future?
21. How do you show people you care?
22. Your last important decision
23. Something that is always easy for you
24. A motto to live by
25. Happiness is...
26. Organized or messy?
27. A recent compliment
28. Where you want to be?
29. A happy moment
30. Your preferred method of communication

Download your printable PDF version of the prompts here.

Make sure that you get next month's prompts by following along with Life of Lovely on bloglovin, pinterest, or twitter.

We'd love to hear from you if you decide to use these prompts. Let us know how it goes in the comments.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge: February Update

My goal of reading 100 books in 2015 seems to be going well. I read 9 books in February. According to my challenge tracker on goodreads, I am near where I need to be in order to read all 100 by the end of the year.

I've recently gotten a subscription to Scribd which lets me read as many books from its catalog as I want each month. So far, I've been happy with the service. Plus, since I'm currently living abroad, I don't have as much access as normal to books in English. I do try to read in French as much as possible, but it is more difficult for me.

Here's what I read this month.

Harry Potter et l'Ordre du Phenix - J.K. Rowling
Still reading Harry Potter in French. I finished the 5th book early in the month, but I haven't been able to move on to the 6th one yet because who ever borrowed it hasn't returned it yet even though it was due two weeks ago.

The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli
My book club decided that we should read this. I have to admit that it isn't my type of reading. While I do find political science interesting, I'd have to know more about it to understand why this book is important and how the thoughts in it have shaped different leaders. 

Hyperbole and a Half - Allie Brosh
This book was written by Allie Brosh. You might have seen her blog with the same name. Chances are that you've seen some of the memes based on what she's created there. I enjoyed her mix of writing and web comic on her site, and for that reason, I wanted to read her book when it came out. Her sense of humor is quite particular. While I did like reading parts of the book, she deals with some heavy topics like her struggles with depression. Lots of people find her writing on this subject to be very relatable, so I'd definitely recommend this book for some people. However, for me, it was interesting, but difficult to read at points.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Benjamin Franklin
As the title of the book implies, this is an autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I remember reading an excerpt of it in high school and wanting to read more. It was a slow read for me, but I learned some things about an important figure in American history.

Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher
This memoir is by Carrie Fisher who is best know for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars. Since she was the daughter of two incredibly well known celebrities, her childhood and life was extremely different from most people's.

The Dress Doctor - Edith Head
Edith Head is a costume designer who won 8 Academy Awards for her costume designs. The list of stars and films that she designed for it too long to list, but you'd recognize names like Audrey Hepburn and Ginger Rogers on it. This book was adapted from her autobiography and includes her advice about how to dress for different occasions as well as tales about stars from the golden age of Hollywood. While the specific instructions about what to wear might not work as well today, I found this book to be an entertaining, easy read.

Fortune's Fool - Mercedes Lackey
I've talked before about how much I enjoy the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. It's a type of fairy tale re-telling, and I like the way the the author handles mixing the different tales together while still keeping the reader unsure of exactly how the story will end.

The Sleeping Beauty - Mercedes Lackey
Another book in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. I'd definitely recommend these if you enjoy reading fantasy or fairy tales.

Lettre du Mon Moulin - Alfred Daudet
The teachers at one of the elementary schools where I work recommended this book when I told them I wanted to read more in French. It's a collection of short stories that describes life and culture in the south of France during the 1800s. I found it easy to read because I could stop between stories and because the subject changes frequently from day to day happenings to folk-tales to observations. If you're looking for a mid-range level French book to read that the French public will be familiar while, this is a good choice.

So, those are the books that I read in February. I don't have quite as many French books as I'd like on the list. I'll have to make more of an effort to read more in French during March. Now that I have Scribd it's much easier for me to read in English while I'm here. Actually, in order to stay on track with my challenge, I probably need to read as much as possible during March and April because I think things will become much busier once I return home, and I won't have as much time available for reading.

All of these books are available on Amazon. It's an affiliate link, so a portion of the price of anything that you buy after clicking on the link will go to support this blog and allow me to buy more books to read!

What did you read in February? Do you have any suggestions for my reading list?


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