Category: Beauty

Bellapulse facial care system

I was impressed when I first opened my package from Bellapulse.  I was only expecting a tube of eye cream, but also received the bellapulse facial care system complete with cleansers, moisturiser, and one of those vibrating face brushes.

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 1.51.38 PM

After my first few days of using the bellapulse system, my face had a purge.  Lots of my black heads turned into tiny little pimples on the surface and then went away.  But I guess that’s a good thing, the products were working and freeing me of my blackheads.  After a few more days, my skin was looking quite good.

I really like the vibrating facial brush.  I feel like it cleans deeper than a washcloth.  According to the bellapulse website, the brush is the facial cleansing companies “dirty little secret.”  Sure, I like the brush, but come on now, it’s a brush. Besides, a lot of other facial cleansing companies are making their own electronic brushes too.  It’s not some crazy guarded secret or anything.  When I read that line on the front page of the bellapulse website, I didn’t think “oh my gosh, I have to have this.”  Instead, I thought “marketing ploy.”

The set comes with a night facial cleanser, a day facial cleanser, and a night moisturiser.  But where is the day moisturiser?  What am I supposed to use for the day time?

Maybe it’s the bellapulse, or maybe it’s hormones, but after the good skin phase, my face erupted with more pimples than I’ve had in years.  I usually get a couple when it’s that time of the month, but this time, I got about 10.

I don’t look at a products website, or ingredients before trying it out, so that I’m not consciously or subconsciously biased during the trial (which is kind of scary considering some of the stuff they put in beauty products these days!!).  When I finally turned over the different tubes of bellapulse, the first thing that struck me was the misspelling of children.  All products say “keep out of eyes and away from chirldren,” which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

I also found lots of long winded, scary sounding ingredients.  After looking them up though, most of them turned out to be fine.  For example, the night cleanser and moisturiser’s main drawcard, hyaluronic acid.  Anything acid tends to give me images of a liquid substance eating through a floor, but acid is naturally present in lots of organic matter, i.e. lemons.  Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide that is naturally present in the human body.  Manufacturers of beauty products claim that hyaluronic acid lessens wrinkles, and makes for more youthful skin, but according to WebMD, there is “no evidence to support the claim that hyaluronic acid prevents change associated with aging.”  So some say it does help with wrinkles, others say it doesn’t.  I didn’t personally notice any difference.

Other ingredients with crazy long names turned out to be amino acids (which are the second largest components in proteins, but also play important roles in other processes).

Some ingredients are not so good.  Sodium lauryl sulfate, which is not classified as a carcinogen itself, is often contaminated with 1.4 dioxane, which is a carcinogen, and removal of the contaminant is not required by U.S. law.  SLS is used as a detergent, but is a known skin irritant.

Then there’s the the second ingredient in the hyaluronic acid moisturiser (which means it’s the second most abundant in the product): White oil.

I don’t know if you’re ever heard of white oil, but since I’m an organic gardener, I certainly have.  White oil is a mixture of soap or dishwashing liquid and vegetable oil, which is then diluted with water and sprayed onto plants to suffocate soft bodied insects, moth eggs, etc.  The white oil blocks their pores and prevents them from breathing, therefore killing them and preventing them from feasting on my crops.  That’s all good for the garden, but it’s not exactly something I want on my face, and very well could explain the current breakout I’m experiencing (white oil blocks pores, remember?).

Surely they are not talking about the same sort of white oil though, right?  All of my googling yielded no other sort of white oil, so I sent an email to the folks at bellapulse who set me up with the products to try out in the first place.  That was 8 days ago, and I still haven’t heard a peep from them.

I also asked them about the second ingredient in the rose hip seed cleanser, which is listed as AG-100.  The only stuff I found when googling that is motorcycle parts, so I have absolutely no idea what that is, or if it’s harmful.  The last ingredient I enquired about is glycerin.  Glycerin is a simple sugar alcohol, but can either be natural, or synthetically made.  I wanted to know which kind is used in bellapulse.  As I said though, they are not answering my questions or acknowledging my email.

Needless to say, I definitely would not use any of these products again.  Maybe if I knew what exactly the ingredients in question are, but since I’m getting the cold shoulder, I have to think they are not good ingredients.  Plus I can’t support a company who won’t tell me more about their products if I want to know.  I think everyone has a right to know exactly what they are putting in and on their bodies.

PROS:

-Comes with facial brush (which I really like)
-Reasonably priced

CONS:

-Possibly (probably) made my face break out
-Company does not respond to requests for ingredient information
-Spelling mistakes on packaging
-Some ingredients could be contaminated with carcinogens

UPDATE:

After posting this and sending the link to my contact, I received the following email:

Hi Sheri,

Thank you for the link.  I do apologize for not responding sooner, but I have been out dealing with a death in my very immediate family and I am still working my way through all of the emails.  I don’t appreciate that the review references that you would never heard back from a company when I actually have been out dealing with much larger issues than this review.  If you’ve ever experienced a death in the family, I’m sure you know what I am referring to.  If you haven’t, I truly hope you never have to experience the pain.

To respond to your questions, white oil is a mineral oil, and it is natural.  It is also commonly referred to as Paraffinum Liquidum, and is used in baby oil and other cosmetics.  The glycerin is natural and is actually in our own skin naturally, helping to maintain the outer barrier and protecting the skin’s outer barrier to prevent dryness. 

I am sorry that you didn’t have a good experience with this product.  Not every product is for everybody.  Thank you for taking your time to review it.

So now I feel like an ass, but on the other hand, if you have a job where you field lots of emails, you generally put an automatic out of office reply on, or if you have to leave suddenly, a colleague does it for you in your absence so that all of your clients/customers/whatever don’t think that you’re ignoring or avoiding them.

I looked up Paraffinum Liquidum, and this is what I found:

screen shot from European Commission Health and Consumers website

screen shot from European Commission Health and Consumers website

I’m not sure if something that is highly refined and processed can be considered natural, but either way, it’s not something I want on my skin.  Many websites claim that mineral oil in cosmetics and facial products act as a barrier to keep moisture in, but at the same time don’t let sweat and bacteria out, and exacerbates exema.  This could definitely explain my current outbreak (which is starting to get better.  I stopped using bellapulse and instead have been using home made stuff).

They didn’t mention the AG-100 at all.

Arbonne skincare

I’m always kind of scared to try to different skincare products.  My face is prone to breakouts and some skincare lines send my skin straight into eruption mode.  But at the same time, I’m excited to try different products because there is always the chance that they are amazing and take me away to clear skin city.  I’m 30 years old and still have acne prone skin, so that would be nice.

Jeanne from Arbonne sent me a lovely selection of skincare products to try out.  She didn’t have any samples of Arbonne’s anti acne line (unfortunately), so I went with the anti- ageing  line instead.  As I said, I’m 30, and I live in Australia where the sun is particularly harsh, so fine lines will start creeping up on me.  They’ve already started around my eyes.  They don’t even card me at the liquor store anymore, when not so long ago I got looks of disbelief when I told people my age.

arbonne RE9 skincare

As soon as I squeezed some Arbonne RE9 face wash onto my hands, my nostrils were filled with a lovely, fresh, amazing scent.  The wash removed the day from my face and the moisturiser made my face feel smooth and hydrated (and smell delicious).  My skin drank it in felt really nice.

Unfortunately it was too rich for my skin type and after using the day cream in the morning, I was shiny before midday.  I think this line would be fantastic for someone a bit older than me who has thirsty, non acne prone skin.  But for me, it wasn’t quite right.

The eye cream on the other hand….

arbonne RE9 corrective eye cream

I am in love with.  The fine lines around my eyes are not so defined and prominent.  I can’t handle moisturiser that is too rich on the rest of my face, but the skin around my eyes basks in it.  The tiny little sample bottle has lasted me ages because you don’t need much – a little goes a long way.  I’ve tried lots of eye creams before, but I haven’t found one as good as this.  The little bottle I’ve been using for a month now is almost gone, but I like it so much, I’m going to buy some.

 

RE9 Advanced Corrective Eye Cream

PROS:
Reduces fine lines
Smells wonderful
Moisturises delicate eye area
Doesn’t feel greasy
Easily absorbed
Natural ingredients (i.e. alfalfa seed extract, algae extract, etc.)

CONS:
Shipping can be expensive

To buy Arbonne products, click here.  They also do make up, and mens lines!

 

Jurlique Skin Balancing Face Oil

Pros:
-Made from natural, organic ingredients
-Leaves face moisturised and fresh, but not oily
-Feels fantastic on your skin
-Made in Australia
-Face is not shiny even at the end of the day
-Lasts ages as only 2-3 drops are needed
-Inexpensive (when you consider price per application)

Cons:
-Hard to distribute 2-3 drops evenly on the whole face

A few years ago, if someone told me I’d be putting oil on my face, I’d tell them they were insane.  I’ve had bad skin since my teenage years.  I thought it would go away by the time I reached my 20s, and certainly by the time I reached 30, but no, my face had other ideas.  I still get pimples and blackheads and I still get oily skin.

I’ve tried so many face washes, moisturisers, pimple creams, masks, etc. No matter what I do, my skin is always oily by the end of the day.

A while back though, Jurlique sent me a box of goodies.  Some face wash, serums, and best of all, the face oil.  I’d actually been reading a bit about how some oils are actually good for your skin, even if you generally have oily skin, but to make such concoctions, you have to buy a variety of different oils and then mix them together.  I don’t know if you’ve been to a health shop and actually seen the price of such oils, but they are not cheap.  So what if I bought all of the stuff I needed, mixed it up and then found that my face hated it?  I’d be out over a hundred bucks.

Needless to say, I was over the moon when I opened my unexpected box from Jurlique.  It even arrived on Mother’s Day.  That night, I tried the cleanser, followed by the skin brightening essence, and finally the face oil.  I liked all of the products, but the face oil was by far my favourite.

I have been using it for a couple of months now, and I find that even by the end of the day, my face is not oily.  My skin soaks up the oil as fast as I put it on and it doesn’t look at all shiny.  You only need a couple of drops, so despite me using the oil every morning and night for a couple of months, I’m not even a quarter of the way through the bottle.

I did find though, that to get more even coverage, it’s far easier to mix the oil with the skin brightening essence and put it on at the same time.

And the pimples? Well, they’re still the same.  I mostly get them when it’s that time of the month, so no skin care product is going to fix that (they are hormonal).  Some products I try make them worse though, so I’m happy to report that despite being oil, Jurlique’s skin balancing oil does not clog pores.

So many skin care products out there these days are full of harmful and scary chemicals.  Jurlique, on the other hand, uses organic, natural ingredients, many of which are grown on their very own farm here in Australia.  Now that’s something you can’t say about very many skin care products.

The first ingredient on the list (which means it is the most abundant), is safflower seed oil, which acts as a protective barrier to prevent water from leaving your skin, keeping your skin hydrated and soft.  The second ingredient is one that made me cringe when I read it.  It’s a long name that I didn’t recognise: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride.  However, when I looked it up, I found it’s merely “a specific fraction of coconut / palm oil fatty acids resulting in only the more stable, and skin loving, caprylic & capric fatty acids which creates a dry, silky oil form of esters,” which is especially good for sensitive and/or oily skin.  The list of ingredients goes on with heaps of different oils and plant extracts, all with their good purposes, until we get to the end of the list, when we encounter things like “Benzyl Alcohol,” which sounds scary, but is derived from natural essential oils and acts as a natural preservative.  It’s even used as a preservative in intravenous medications (I.V.’s).  So there you go, nothing scary or artificial, which makes me smile.  As an added bonus, it’s made in Australia and not some dodgy overseas factory with less than stellar hygiene and facilities.

If you are in Australia, you can buy Jurlique’s products here

In the U.S. you can buy them here

or from Amazon, which gets me some commission

 

Wonder Winnie

I was excited to try the new Wonder Winnie thirst quenching drinks.  I am all for food/drink products that don’t contain bucket loads of sugar, and aren’t sweetened with carcinogenic artificial sweeteners. I am also a fan of stevia,  which has been used as a natural sweetener for decades in Japan, and centuries in other countries, according to Wikipedia.  Stevia leaves are 30-45 times sweeter than ordinary sugar, extracts around 300 times sweeter, and it has the added bonus of hardly affecting blood sugar and not containing many calories.

I use liquid stevia concentrate to sweeten healthy cookies and muffins and things that I make for the kids, so I’m quite familiar with it.  Wonder Winnie drinks are sweetened not with sugar, or artificial sweeteners, but with stevia.  They come in 5 different flavours, each “enhanced with the added bonus of Aloe Vera, Gingko Biloba,Echinacea, Rosehip, and Guarana.”

After doing some research, I found that aloe vera can actually be toxic, and there is no scientific evidence to back up the claims that it is healthy for the digestive system.

Gingko biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for ages.  Some studies have shown that it can improve blood flow, protect against free radicals, and slow the effects of Alzheimer’s. Other studies are contradictory.  People who are taking anticoagulants, certain types of antidepressants, and pregnant women should not take biloba.  Some people experience side effects after consuming gingko biloba, including gas, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, and restlessness (Wikipedia, side effects), yet there was no warning at all on the label.

Echinacea supposedly boosts immunity and shortens the length of colds, but once again, different studies proved contradictory.  Echinacea should also not be used for more than 10 days in a row, and should never be taken by anyone younger than 1, and is not recommended for children between 1 and 12. Again, nothing on the label states this.

Rosehips are very high in vitamin C lycopene (an antioxidant), and has anti-inflammatory effects.

Guarana is a plant, whose seeds contain about twice the amount of caffeine as coffee beans.  It increases memory, mood, and alertness.  According to Wikipedia, “Guarana extract reduced aggregation of rabbit platelets by up to 37 percent below control values and decreased platelet thromboxane formation from arachidonic acid by 78 percent below control values. It is not known if such platelet action has any effect on the risk of heart attack or ischemic stroke.” Delightful. Guarana is definitely something that kids shouldn’t be having, nor pregnant women, but again, no warning on the label.

All of the info I’ve found regarding these “added bonuses” is quite alarming. Since there are no warnings on the labels, it begs the question, is the 0.1% (the amount put in the drinks) such a small percentage that it’s not even remotely worth worrying about and therefore just added to the label because people in general think it’s good for them, or are they trying to hide the fact that it can actually be harmful?

I tried the drinks before doing any of this research, and therefore had no bias against them. I thought they’d be delicious. Boy was I wrong. I had my first taste when they first came in the mail. It was a hot day and I wanted something to quench my thirst. I nearly choked on how foul the Cranberry, Apple & Lemon Wonder Winnie tasted. It was extremely bitter, with a very strong liquorice like after taste, something stevia is known for at high concentrations.

I thought maybe they’d taste better cold, so I put them all in the fridge and waited. A cold sip proved much better, though still very bitter and still with the aftertaste that lingered for ages. I couldn’t drink the whole bottle, and only managed a couple of sips.  Same story with the rest of the flavours. I just couldn’t bring myself to have more than a couple sips of each one. I didn’t find them pleasant at all.

I’m not really a soft drink (pop/fizzy drink/whatever you call it) consumer though. I drink water, a bit of milk, and occasionally home made iced tea. So maybe I’m not the best judge of flavoured beverages.  I don’t particularly like most flavoured beverages. I really don’t like bitter drinks, like coffee and wine, so maybe those people who do enjoy bitter things would like these drinks.  If you are a person who consumes lots of fizzy drinks, diet or otherwise, the raspberry & cranberry with rosehip flavour (because rosehip doesn’t have any adverse effects) would probably be a good substitute for you.  The aftertaste is something you could get used to, and it’s much better for you than sugar laden or artificially sweetened drinks.

PROS:

-Sweetened with stevia
-Don’t need to be refrigerated until opened (except for the taste, but they won’t go bad if you store them in the cupboard before opening)
-5 different flavours
-Low calorie/Kj
-Bottled in Australia

CONS:

-Questionable “added bonus” substances
-Horrible after taste
-Bitter
-No warning labels for Guarana, Echinacea, and Gingko Biloba

I sent this post to the PR people who sent it to the brand for comment. This is what they had to say:

Firstly, thank you for your feedback regarding the Wonder Winnie range. While you didn’t enjoy the products, we do value all feedback and will take this onboard when reviewing this range.

 

With regard to your feedback on the addition of Aloe Vera, Ginko Biloba, Echinacea, Rosehip & Guarana – we have used these botanicals as a flavouring only, which is why the content is low and is also why we do not reference these as providing a nutritional or health benefit. The botanical ingredients at the low levels we have used, are safe for use in a range of foods and beverages, including non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy, milk products, snack foods, imitation dairy products, chewing gum, instant tea and coffee and soups.

With regard to labelling regulations, all of our products undergo a legal review process to ensure we meet very strict guidelines. We can assure you that all necessary claims relating to the products are made on the packaging.

We have looked into your comments about including warning notes on each label listing the possible adverse side effects of these herbal extracts, and advise that this is not a requirement given the low level of the extracts used in each serve.

The Wonder Winnie products were launched to offer consumers a low calorie, naturally sweetened beverage – as the market is swamped with artificial ingredients, preservatives and additives.

Thank you again for your feedback, we will definitely take on board your comments regarding the stevia flavour being too strong.

If you have any further questions about the range or regarding our labelling i would be happy to hear from you.

It Works

I had to try one of these wraps. I saw lots of posts on Facebook about them by Brooke (we went to high school together, just FYI…), but hadn’t heard of them before that.

She sent me one ages ago, but you’re not supposed to use them when breastfeeding, so it just sat there, waiting. Sigh.

I know, Daniel has been weaned for a few weeks now, but I also wanted to wait until I had a kid free 45 minutes so I didn’t have anyone wanting to be picked up, messing up the wrap, or worse, pulling on it in delight. You know how cheeky my kids are!

I opened the packet and unfolded the wrap, applying the lotion side on my stomach. The skin on my stomach has been stretched to the limit twice now, then shrunk back to size. Unfortunately, it has that stretched-then-shrunk look to it as well. Sigh. Especially around my belly button. My measurements before the wrap were: 26 inches (66.04cm) around the smallest part of my waist, and 28″ (71.12 cm) around my waist at belly button height.

Wrap is on, with cling wrap over it to keep it in place

It felt quite cold. I thought it was just because that’s how lotion always is when you first put it on (unless it’s hot outside of course). But it stayed cold the whole time. At least it felt cold. And tingly. It was nice. I felt like I was getting some sort of swish spa body treatment done. Except that I was doing the dishes while wearing the wrap. Gotta multi task when you have 2 kids! It would have been much nicer to sit on the couch and watch a cheesy chick flick while I waited the 45 minutes. Or maybe laying down and reading a book. Oh well.

When I took the wrap off, I rubbed the excess lotion into my skin, took some photos and measured myself again. I wasn’t actually expecting to lose anything. 26 inches around the smallest part of my waist. 27.5 inches around my belly button (69.85 cm). What?! I’m not complaining though.

My skin felt really smooth and soft and lovely. Less stretched looking? I’m not sure.

Over the next 3 days, I continued to measure and take photos. My measurements went back to what they were before wrapping. Until today, 72 hours after wrapping. Now, the smallest part of my waist is 25.5 inches, and around my belly button is 27.5. My stomach feels less poochy at the bottom, and I feel less bloated. The skin around my belly button is still saggy/stretched looking, but the skin below my belly button feels firmer.

Progressive shots. Not sure what happened to my day 2 photos. I think the camera ate them. Sigh.

Progressive, from the side. If you’re wondering about that scar on my hip, it’s where they took a chunk of bone to stick in my leg. But that’s another story for another day. No, I’m not trying to make the scar less obvious with the wrap, I like my scar.

Over all, I really liked the wrap experience. I think with regular wrapping my belly button skin would probably improve a lot.

If you would like to buy your own wraps, supplements, etc. or have a wrap party (you can even have online wrap parties!), contact Brooke. She can ship the wraps to you anywhere in the world:

Brooke’s It Works website

Phone number (USA) 425-328-7627. We offer a Loyal Customer program where Loyals get products at wholesale cost (they pay what I pay), saving 20-50% on their orders. Only 3 monthly orders is required for the first 3 months, after that they can order when they want and get the Loyal Customer price for life. There is no minimum purchase amount, and the Loyal Customer can change what is sent to them each month so they don’t always have to get the same thing. They start saving on their very first order.