Tag Archives: skin care

SAY CHEESE- Jessamyn’s New Favorite Thing of The Week!

STOP- before we go any further, I need to ramble about a product which has slowly but surely taken over my life. It is perfect in every way, and while it’s not a food, it definitely falls into the category of great skin care (a recurring theme recently- check out my Stages of Beauty product review and my Six Tips for Jealousy Inducing Skin).

Anyway, I don’t think anyone likes having dry lips. I HATE it- my friend Whitney and I have always joked that we should buy stock in blistex– we’re both completely obsessed with having satin-smooth lips. I usually try to have at least three tubes/pots in my possession at all time- one on my night stand, one in my wallet, and one in my backpack. Because my name is Jessamyn, I manage to lose my lip balm at a rate of one/week, so I end up spending way too much money on this particular product. In fact, because of the loss equation, I tend to only buy really cheap tubes- blistex or chapstick, mostly. I mean, I don’t mind losing a $0.99 tube of blistex, but I get PISSED if I lose my $2.99 tube of Burts Bees. However, as a token of appreciation for my work on 1776, one of my new favorite people was nice enough to buy me a truly awesome gift to feed my lip fetish:

body shop mango lip butter

I don’t usually shop at the Body Shop– I tend to think it’s a bit overpriced. However, this lip butter is enough to make me a regular customer. Butter is the only proper descriptive word- it’s literally like rubbing dairy fresh beurre on your pecker. The mango odor is very realistic- none of that sticky, sweet fake mango flavor that cosmetic companies usually favor. And it’s long lasting- I can involuntarily lick my lips multiple times and my lips won’t get patchy. While it’s DEFINITELY not cheap ($8.00), if you can afford to splurge this should definitely make your short list. Personally, if anyone ever gives me a gift card (HINT HINT) this is a Body Shop product I would not hesitate to buy again.

Ok, I didn’t mean to ramble about skin care products AGAIN, but what can I say? I’m obsessed.

Anyway, there was a four-way tie for this week’s New Favorite Thing. The tie was so intense that I will need to write separate product reviews for the other three items because they were all just that tasty and handy. Major emphasis on the ‘handiness’ because since my schedule is so hectic, I need foods which can move at my pace.

Anyway, anyway, ANYWAY: What’s my new favorite thing of the week?

annies parm pasta

Ok, I love macaroni and cheese. If you were spontaneously quizzed about my food preferences, this is probably the factoid that will jump to mind immediately. However, though my love of homemade baked macaroni and cheese is well documented, I have to admit something- I freaking HATE boxed macaroni. I mean, I’ll eat it. What kind of stereotypical fat kid would I be if I turned down boxed mac and cheese?Smile Forget about stereotypical fat kid: what kind of former college student and four year dormitory resident would I be if I didn’t admit to (over)indulging in easy mac from time to time? But, as an adult, I would never buy boxed mac and cheese voluntarily.

For one thing, it’s SO bad for you- I mean, regular mac and cheese isn’t traditionally healthy either, but if you’re going to fall into a cheese coma, shouldn’t it be from freshly grated cheese and not questionable cheese ‘powder’?

Also, it…doesn’t taste good. Yeah, I loved to eat it poolside with hotdogs after an afternoon of hanging out by the pool with my childhood friends. But I’m an adult now. And as an adult, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I don’t like it. I’m not judging anyone who always stocks up on Kraft mac and cheese when it’s 10/$10 at your local supermarket, but I have developed a serious aversion to these products.

Therefore, I’ve been a bit skeptical of Annie’s Organic boxed pastas. I’ve heard good things, but would I be able to shift my way of thinking to accommodate Annie’s?

First of all, you should check out the Annie’s philosophies. Their list of core values is really awesome:

  • Annie’s is real, authentic, and trusted by consumers.  As a company we strive to build upon this legacy with every decision we make.
  • Annie’s only makes products that taste great; they delight our consumers.
  • Annie’s uses only simple natural and organic ingredients, no icky additives or pesky preservatives.
  • Annie’s sources only from places and people we trust, with high emphasis on quality, as well as agricultural and environmental sustainability.  We believe in transparency.
  • Annie’s is a socially responsible company, and through our actions and programs, we spread awareness and act as a positive role model for consumers and other businesses to do the same.
  • Annie’s and its valued employees treat consumers, customers, suppliers, shareholders, and each other, with the same high degree of respect, fairness, & honesty that we expect of others.

How does this fit into their food? Well, unlike other boxed pastas, you can recognize every ingredient on the ingredient list– In fact, check this out:

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC WHEAT PEACE PASTA, ORGANIC VALLEY ® ORGANIC PARMESAN CHEESE (ORGANIC CULTURED PASTEURIZED MILK, SALT, NON-ANIMAL ENZYMES), ORGANIC WHEY, ORGANIC VALLEY ® ORGANIC CHEDDAR CHEESE (ORGANIC CULTURED PASTEURIZED MILK, SALT, NON-ANIMAL ENZYMES), SALT, ORGANIC CORN STARCH, ORGANIC CREAM, ORGANIC GARLIC, NATURAL SODIUM PHOSPHATE, ORGANIC ONION, YEAST EXTRACT, ORGANIC WHITE PEPPER.

This week Annie’s box pastas are on sale at Whole Foods, and I decided to give it a  try. I went to the grocery store after a fairly intense exercise session, so I was pretty famished by the time I lugged all my (reusable!) bags home. I ate my pasta with a Lightlife Smartdog (my fave) and a GIGANTIC serving of steamed baby bok choy and peppers. For the record, both the baby bok choy and the smart dog were DELISH. But the star of my dinner plate was the Annie’s Peace Pasta and Parmesan. Seriously, if I didn’t know it came out of a box, I would have thought it was homemade. The sauce was really delicious- it says the addition of butter is optional, but I threw in some earth balance to thicken it up and it was a great addition. Also, I’m generally a little put off by pasta with funny shapes- you know, spongebob squarepants, and the like. However, the little peace signs are absolutely adorable and they actually help the sauce stick to the noodle. Excellent idea, Annie’s.

All in all, this dinner hit the spot and Annie’s Peace Pasta and Parmesan deserves a fair share of the credit. I can’t wait for summer pool parties, where I will definitely have to introduce all my friends to the beauty of Annie’s boxed pasta. Oh, and smartdogs. We will definitely be eating smartdogs. Smile

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Jessamyn’s Six Tips for Jealousy Inducing Skin

Like I mentioned in my Stages of Beauty Product Review, I am frequently complimented because of my (allegedly) smooth skin. In my eyes, my skin is not very smooth. But nevertheless, everyone seems to think I was born with really great skin.

Unfortunately for me, I was not- I come from a long line of women (and men) who have suffered at the hands of the environment, time, and other external influences with the result being that their skin does not look like a baby’s backside.

Because of traumatizing experiences during my adolescence, I have developed an irrational paranoia about my skin. Though this  paranoia manifests in some rather unorthodox and (probably) unnecessary habits, there are a few habits which I think are absolutely necessary for an individual to have and maintain clear and smooth skin.

Some of these steps may seem obvious, and some of them will remind you of reading teen magazines in middle school, but trust me: when combined, these six tips are absolutely fool proof.

water glass1. Water is Your Friend: I’m not saying other beverages are illegal or satanic. Ok, maybe I will say that from time to time (I’m liberal and I’m loud- so sue me). But no matter what other liquids you enjoy, you can’t expect to have fresh and vibrant skin without drinking a lot of water. That whole 8-8oz glass equation? Yeah, that’s real life. You need to do it- it will also help control rampant midday hunger pains. I’m sure you’re probably wondering how you can manage to fit that much liquid into your diet. It’s simple- invest in a 32 oz water bottle, fill it up at the start of the day, and aim to drink the whole thing by lunch. Then, after/during lunch, re-fill your bottle and sip the contents through the rest of the day. See? Boom goes the dynamite- you’ve just ingested 64 oz of nature’s kool-aid. But whatever you do, DON’T buy disposable water bottles. They are, in the words of The Office’s ever-wise Gabe Lewis, the “scurge of the earth”. It really is worth it to buy a reusable bottle- they are very affordable nowadays, and they are super handy. Inexplicably, I’ve managed to acquire a mini-collection of nalgene bottles. But if you don’t have time to gradually accumulate products, check out this nalgene model.

smoking and drinking2. Put Down That Cancer Stick and Cork Up Your Wine- Ok, I’m not an idiot and I was born in America’s tobacco capital: I am well aware of the prevalence of smoking among young adults, ESPECIALLY those living in the Old North State. Because no matter what your parents or DARE coach said, smoking does have a certain ‘cool’ cache. Especially when you’re young and hanging out in seedy yet bad ass locales. Same goes for alcoholic goodies- if they didn’t look cool and weren’t fun, most adults wouldn’t imbibe so frequently. But here’s the thing- if you overindulge in both of these common vices, you can kiss clear skin good-bye. Because as much as you don’t want to admit it, smoking and drinking will shoot your skin straight to hell (not to mention the rest of your body). I’m not here to be the hypocritical morality police- god knows I’ve got enough vices and bad behavior to make a school girl blush. But I have seen too many beautiful girls smoking like chimneys to not make an internet plea. Even if you don’t care about your vocal cords (or your liver…or your gums…or every other precious internal organ), think about your cheekbones. And your teeth. And your bone structure. And your eyelids. Think about how all of those lovely features are going to be riddled with stains, blots, lines, and other disfigurements. And it won’t have anything to do with age. You’ll be a 35 year-old with the face of a 45-50 year-old. And there’s no skin care regiment to fix that sort of damage. So do yourself a favor, and lay off the unnecessary (and premature) damage.

fruits and veggies3. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies- Popeye had the right idea. So did whoever said ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Increased intake of fruits and vegetables (especially a wide array of colors and types) has a profoundly positive impact on skin.  By integrating a wide variety and LARGE quantity of fruits and vegetables into your diet, you will see noticeable results within a week or two. Honestly, when I think my skin looks especially bright and ‘glowy’. It’s usually because I’m stuffed full of a veritable cornucopia of vegetation. However, this is another area where people can’t seem to figure out how to reinvigorate their diets. There are dozens of ways to do it, but here are three of my favorite ways:

  1. When you leave home in the morning, toss three different fruits in your bag. That way, when you get the midday munchies, you have a healthy and skin brightening snack on hand. I eat a lot of oranges, apples, and bananas, mostly because they are wicked portable. But don’t be afraid to slice fruit on the go, or pair your fruit with a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter (I’m partial to almond butter).
  2. Green Monsters are the way of the future. The vitamin intake you can get from one green smoothie will blow your mind, and you can fit a day’s worth of fruits/veggies into one beverage. Plus, they taste freaking delicious and are really versatile. You can throw together  a green monster with whatever fruits and veggies you have on hand. I’ve actually already written about this topic- check out my tribute to Jack Lalanne’s Power Juicer and the magic of the green monster.
  3. Make a point to add extra vegetables into your evening meal. Start small: spinach topped with special seasonings. Try adding an array of chopped bell peppers to your pasta, or just try out a new-to-you vegetable. Better yet, find a fun recipe for your least favorite childhood vegetables- braised Brussels sprouts, perhaps? Cauliflower topped with earth balance and old bay seasoning? Make your childhood nightmare into your new favorite side dish.

yes to carrots eye makeup remover4.  Remove Makeup Before Bed- I know, it sucks. You’ve been out having the time of your life, you watch the sun rise with your best buds, you stumble home at 7am and you’re ready to fall face first into Egyptian cotton and down feathers. However, before you can go into a vampire coma, you have to….REMOVE YOUR MAKEUP AND WASH YOUR FACE?! SAY WHAT?! But, um…yeah. You do. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my female family members, leftover makeup+your skin+bed friction does not equal happy fun times. It equals mascara tears, perma-lipsticked lips, and (the worst part) facial bumps that make your face look like the exterior of  a black truffle. And let me tell you something about truffles- fun to eat, NOT FUN TO LOOK LIKE. Do yourself a favor, take 15 minutes before bed, and give your face a good wipe down. I use two different makeup removers: Boots Sensitive Eye Makeup Remover and Yes to Carrots Eye and Face Makeup Remover. I like them both for different reasons, and I use them interchangeably. It’s really important to use a remover that’s not harsh on your skin (say no to toner– as a makeup remover, that is), and make sure to wash your face afterward. Both of these products can be found really easily- you can buy them both at Target and Boots only costs about $5-6.

neutrogena sunblock5. Wear Sunblock- For the love of god almighty,put on some freaking sunscreen. I don’t care if you’re ebony, ivory, or somewhere in the middle. Wear it. Even when it’s not sunny. Because here’s a fact of the universe- just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean it’s not beating the crap out of your skin. The sun is obviously really awesome- who doesn’t love vitamin D? I certainly do. But unless you want a side of skin cancer with your breakfast, you’d better lather up before you head out. Even in the winter. This is not just for girls– year-round sunblock application needs to be a genderfree rule. However, if you plan on wearing makeup (or don’t like blotting sunblock grease from your forehead), buy a dry-touch sunscreen. I really like Neutrogena’s sheer dry-touch product– but I’m cheap and it’s expensive. Therefore, I buy the Walgreens knock off– in my opinion, it’s just as good as the real thing. And it’s both oil-free and water resistant- very important traits.

vaseline brand lotion6. Use Separate Face and Body Lotions- Surprisingly, skin on your face is not like skin on your feet. Or your butt. Or your back. Due to evolution, it does different things, is exposed to different elements, and needs to be taken care of differently. Because my skin is so dry, I refuse to use body lotions that are not SUPER thick and creamy. I have a test- if I pump some lotion into my hand, overturn my hand, and the cream slides to the ground, I know not to use that product. I only use body creams that are thick enough to literally defy gravity. However, my face doesn’t need quite such a thick formula. I prefer to use a much lighter face cream, and I can definitely tell the difference. Don’t just buy one lotion and think you’re perfectly ok- invest in your lotion options, and I guarantee you’ll see a difference.

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t talk specifically about face wash. After spending the last decade trying out different products with mixed results (some good, a few bad, and some REALLY F****** ugly), I’ve decided that the best face washes vary from person to person. For example, I usually swear against scented products on my face- but I use Neutrogena’s Pink Grapefruit Face Wash on the daily and I think it gives me the best results I’ve ever had.

neutrogena face wash

My only real advice is to do research on your skin type, and try out different products. If you can afford to do so, talk to an esthetician and get their advice. But if you rely on the internet and your own wit, trial and error is the best response.

ALSO, how’s this for exciting: Stages of Beauty wants to make sure their products are accessible to all ladies (regardless of financial means). Therefore, to help out, their offering all Jessamyn Not Jasmine readers a 20% discount on all online Stages of Beauty purchases made from until 12/31/2011. Just enter my name (JESSAMYN) in the promo code box during check-out. Smile

Basically, the key top having skin that makes everyone jealous is to take care of yourself. Treat your body like a temple, inside and out. And all of these tips (especially the dietary habits) will result in a stronger and healthier total physical package.

What are your skin-care rituals?

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Skincare for Dummies: Jessamyn’s Stages of Beauty Product Review

Before I can review this product, I need to explain something to you.

I am very sensitive about my skin. During my adolescence, I faced quite a bit of humiliation because of its natural dryness. In fact, becoming ‘ashy’ is something most people of color are constantly trying to prevent. Even now, as I approach my mid-twenties, I refuse to leave my apartment without the proper application of skin product. As one might expect, this can be fairly time-consuming. My post-shower prep probably takes me about 15-30 minutes longer than the average person because of my skin regiment. As a result, I am frequently complimented because of the ‘softness’ and ‘cleanness’ of my skin. As much as I’d like to say I rolled out of the cabbage patch with perfect skin, I fear I must admit that my ‘great’ skin is really just the product of horrible childhood memories and paranoia.

That being said, I’m constantly on the look out for products which will help my skin maintain its youthful appearance. To be honest, I don’t mind being mistaken for an 18 year-old- however, I know the day will come when my skin is less forgiving, and I need to be prepared. I’m not really worried about the signs of aging, but I don’t want to look back at my mid-twenties and think ‘Why didn’t I take care myself?

312011 049

Stages of Beauty took note of this quandary and came up with a  truly remarkable concept- create skin care products which speak to the needs of a specific age group. Basically, when I’m in my 30s, 40s, and 50s+, my skin will be different. It will be more mature and it will require more mature products. However, in my 20s, I need a really light cream which can help repair my skin from daily trauma (makeup, wind, sun streaking, etc.)

312011 046

I am always on the lookout for great new products, so you can imagine how stoked I was when the nice folks over at Stages of Beauty asked me to review their Radiance Treatment Cream, crafted specifically for 20 somethings. I’ve been using the cream for about three weeks- our skin is really affected (positively and negatively) by the weather, and the shift from a  blustery Carolina winter to a subtle and warm spring was the perfect opportunity to see what these products could really do for me and my twenty-something readers.

(NOTE: I am not endorsed by Stages of Beauty. If I review a product, I’m giving my real opinion- for better or worse.)

312011 047

PACKAGING– Stages of Beauty is really focused on minimizing their carbon footprint, and this can be noted by the small amount of packaging used in the shipping process. You can’t really tell from this photo, but the box is pretty small and they use paper packing materials as opposed to evil plastic bubbles. I really appreciate this attention to detail, as there are companies (*cough*AMAZON *cough*) that use a ridiculous amount of extraneous packaging in the name of ‘protecting the product’– more like ‘destroying trees unnecessarily’. In addition, the tube which protects the glass bottle inside is really handy when traveling- when I was on my beach adventure last week, I had no trouble bringing the cream with me and it stayed snug as a bug in the tube. This is really important because, when travelling, I usually have to put my beauty and skin care products in additional plastic bags or wrap them in cloth so they don’t break and/or make my clothes smell a Neutrogena display.

SIZE– I admit it: I’m a cheapskate. I blame my frugality on my tight budget- either way, when I make purchases I am frequently forced to choose quantity over quality. For the 20 something sans trust fund, Stages of Beauty is a bit out of my regular purchasing options- the 30 mL bottle costs $52.99. To be fair, if you purchase beauty products at a department store, you will pay similar prices for department store brands (Lancome, Estee Lauder, Clinique, etc). That being said, I’m not so cheap that I can’t understand the benefit of choosing quality over quantity and choosing the best products even if they are expensive/come in a small quantity. However, the steep price could be enough to stop even the most skin-concerned young woman from purchasing this product.

TEXTURE/ODOR– I am still swooning over the texture of this cream. It is SO FREAKING SMOOTH. Seriously, it feels like rubbing fresh goat’s milk into my pores. That might sound awkward but trust me- it’s a great compliment. I usually stick to a really thick cream for my allover body care. However, when you’re wearing makeup or heading out for a busy day, you don’t want to have a thick cream clogging up your face. The texture of this cream is absolutely perfect for everyday wear, and it doesn’t leave a glossy/wet finish like other products I’ve used. It’s perfectly matte, and dries quickly- this is really important if you are going to be wearing any other products, ESPECIALLY makeup. Who likes to blot their skin dry of excess moisture before applying foundation? NOT this girl. In addition, odor is REALLY important to me. I have kind of sensitive skin (if you obsessively read Seventeen magazine as a teen, you know that my skin is technically known as ‘combination’ skin). This means that extra fragrances in skin care products make my toffee colored skin look like bumpy, cherry flavored toffee. And I like my toffee PLAIN, not fruit flavored. Therefore, it’s absolutely imperative that all my skin products be sans odor (except for my favorite face wash- I’ll discuss that later). The Radiance cream is 100% fragrance free and it’s not tested on animals. So my skin won’t turn into cherry flavored toffee, AND monkeys are not deformed as a result of the product manufacturing. Where I come from we call that a win.

FINAL VERDICT? Last week, when I was at my parents’ house, my father commented on the smoothness of my skin. I don’t think you understand the brevity of his statement- he NEVER comments on my skin. That comment, plus the fact that my skin feels smoother than usual and my usual bumpy nose appears to be a thing of the past are all signs that this product is the cat’s meow. I can’t overemphasize how much the price deters me, and will probably deter anyone with a budget. But the quality is very high, and it’s definitely worth the price. I would love to see how this product works on women in other age brackets, and women with different skin conditions. However, for my sensitive skin, Stages of Beauty Radiance treatment cream is the nectar of the gods.

Want to know more? Check out the Stages of Beauty website and tell them Jessamyn sent you. Winking smile

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