Monday, November 9, 2015

Little update

Has it really been a month already since I last blogged?

Wow. I feel like October flew by and I barely got to enjoy it - there's been a lot going on lately. I can't believe it's already November, soon it will be Thanksgiving. And then December is a big month too, my son's first birthday, then my wedding anniversary, and then Christmas. Woah!

I have some products to review coming up soon - a few beauty products and also some food stuff. I'll be working on getting those done and posted in the next couple weeks.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Influenster VoxBox: Pampers Cruisers Diapers

I received some Pampers Cruisers diapers from Influenster to try out for free in exchange for honest reviews.

I really don't like writing less than positive reviews, it's not fun to bring to light the negatives of a product. But, because I'm honest, I'm going to share how I feel about Pampers so others moms can shop more wisely.

Every mom figures out what works best for her baby as time goes on. You find what's worth it, what isn't, what's necessary, and what you can do without. You also figure out what brands to stay loyal to, and what brands just don't work out for your needs.

For us, Pampers doesn't work out.

My son is almost 10 months old now, and by now, I have found out what diapers work for us. When he was a newborn, we had a huge stash of diapers from the baby shower, and we got to try out all kinds of brands for several months. Pampers, Huggies, Luvs, and all kinds of generic brands. I used them all with indifference, not really noticing any particular brand at first until I started noticing some leakage problems. I started paying attention more closely, and noticed the diapers most prone to leakage were the generic brands (some of them) and Pampers.

Nothing feels yuckier than picking up your baby and feeling his outfit is cold and wet because his diaper leaked!

When Influenster invited me to this Pampers Cruisers campaign, I was hesitant because of the history of leakage we've had with their brand. But, they insist the Cruisers are supposed to hold more liquid, resist sagging, and so on. I figured, hey, why not give them a try? Maybe we'll have better luck this time.

I put my son in a Pampers Cruisers diaper and shortly after, he dirtied it. I had no problems that time, I changed it as soon as possible. The second time in a Cruisers diaper, he wore it for a couple hours without any particular issues.

The third time, though.... We went about our day as usual, and we were on the bed and playing and cuddling. He was next to me, and suddenly I saw a huge puddle forming underneath him. What the heck? LEAKAGE! Pee! All over the bed! I immediately changed him into one of his regular diapers, and stripped the bed because it was soaked. UGH!!! He hadn't even been wearing that Pampers diaper for even 2 hours yet.

Two out of the three Pampers diapers were fine, but the third had major issues. I would just rather stick to a brand that works for us and doesn't have problems with leaking. At this point in the mommy game, I have found that Huggies and Luvs diapers work best for us. He can even wear them overnight without problems in the morning.

Sorry, Pampers. I gave you guys a fair shot, and I really hate to say that your diapers don't work for us. I have friends that swear by Pampers, but not us, unfortunately. I'm glad Pampers works for other babies, though.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bleach and Henna

I truly love henna, but now that I'm a mom, the super involved routine that henna requires is unappealing. I have to prepare the henna the night before, then slather it on my head the next day and let it sit for at least four hours, the smell bothers me, it's heavy and makes my head/neck hurt, and on and on. My hair is always beautiful afterwards, but man, I just get sick of what I go through to achieve it. I also don't like that with repeated treatments, it darkens my hair, and I've found it very difficult to apply the thick henna-mud strictly on my roots.

If you are reading this, perhaps you got here because you are wondering if it's possible to bleach your hair that has henna in it. I am not a professional stylist, and everything I discuss is based on my own experience. Your mileage may vary, definitely consider seeing a hair stylist first, please do more research, so on and so forth.

Getting down to business: Can you successfully bleach henna hair? The answer to that question, in short, is yes. Well...maybe. There are things to consider.

Contrary to what rumors are out there, you CAN bleach or dye hair that has been treated with henna, as long as what you used is PURE HENNA. It will not have the same results as on "virgin" hair, though. Henna is extremelyyyy permanent and almost impossible to remove, even with bleach. So, your hair will lighten, but it will mainly stay orange, and not a traditional blonde shade.

Bleach, though. Just the word "bleach" alone is enough to send shivers down your spine, isn't it? It makes you think of the stuff you scour your bathroom tub with (even though it's not the same type of bleach). It just sounds terrifying.

It really isn't all that scary, as long as you do as much research beforehand as possible, take the necessary steps to protect your hair and skin, be realistic about your hair goals, and keep a few things in mind. First of all, and probably the most important thing you need to understand, do not attempt to use bleach or any other chemical hair process on henna that you are not absolutely positive is 100% pure henna. Any henna that has been mixed with other unknown additives can react horribly with traditional chemical hair processes.

First things first, we need to figure out: what is your goal here?

- Is your henna too dark, and are you just wanting to lighten it up a shade or two?
- Are you wanting to break up the color a little, with some highlights or maybe ombre?

The above is fairly easy to achieve. But...

- Are you wanting to go blonde?
- Are you wanting to fully remove the henna?

If those last two are on your mind, go no further. If you are wanting to channel your inner Gwen Stefani and go platinum bleach blonde after henna, forget it. Do not attempt it yourself. See a professional!

Also, very important: What is the condition of your hair? Can it handle bleach and still retain most of its health? You need to have very healthy hair before using bleach at all. Go slowly if you can - do small bleaching over the course of a few weeks or months and baby your hair in between. Don't compromise the integrity of your hair to get results fast.

Second, you also need to realize that hair that has been henna'd will not lift in the same manner that virgin hair will (or hair that only has regular dye in it). Henna itself is very reddish-orange, and when you bleach it, your hair will be BRIGHTER reddish-orange. Continuing to bleach the hair to get to blonde most likely will result in extreme damage. My advice, if you are wanting to go blonde, is definitely go see a professional hair stylist, and be honest with them about your use of henna.

If you are wanting to bleach henna hair to lift it just a couple levels, this is something that is attainable. Just remember to keep in mind that it will indeed be VERY orange the lighter it gets.

I would suggest trying a Vitamin C hair treatment (or a few of those) to see if the henna color will budge a bit before trying bleach. You can also try a "soap cap" - where a small amount of bleach is added to shampoo, and it lifts the hair more gently and slowly. Or, like what I did - you can use a blue toned bleach and a low level developer (20 volume) to give yourself an ombre style - it lightened up the overall look of my hair, without causing much damage, and it was very easy to do myself.

Before bleaching, it's important to prepare the hair. Coconut oil treatments before bleaching can help protect the hair and minimize damage, as well as NOT shampooing the hair for as long as you can stand before you plan to bleach. I personally did not shampoo for three days ahead of time, but I used those three days to condition, condition, condition my hair.

Like I said, when I used bleach on my hair, the result was very, very orange. My goal was to add pink/red vegetable semi permanent dye over the top, so a little bit of orange was not a big deal because I was planning on staying within the "warm" color range of pink/red.

If you are wanting to tone down the orange as it lightens, definitely look into getting a "blue" bleach and a toner to use afterwards as well. You may not be able to fully remove the orange from the henna, so keep that in mind.

It's really important to be patient with your hair, and not try to get the result you want as fast as possible. With bleach, and henna, it takes time. Be nice to your hair and give it a break. Bleach can be done in smaller increments, with deep conditioning in between. And, of course, baby your hair after any chemical process to help repair any dryness or damage that occurs.

If all of this sounds frightening to you - again, definitely find a good stylist/colorist who has experience with henna. I'm just the type of person that likes to read about hair, watch hair videos, and experiment with my own hair (as safely as I can!) and I have had pretty good results. My hair is still really soft and smooth and in good condition. But please, do as much research on this as you can before you attempt it.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Raspberry Pink Ombre with Ion Color Brilliance Brights

I felt like shaking things up a bit, and decided to do something totally different with my hair. I wanted pink!

I haven't had pink hair in a few years. Last time, I bleached my entire hair and colored it a bright cotton candy pink. Then I did a darker rose pink, and purple, cherry red, and so on and so forth. I like to take chances with my hair every now and again.

I have mainly kept to my dark brown or henna hair color for the past year and a half or so. I was missing pink, though...

I'm a stay at home mom now, and I figured, why the heck not? Let's get some colorful hair again!

I decided on an ombre style, because I did not want to bleach all of my hair, and I didn't want it to be TOO vibrant. I figured if I get sick of the pink, once it washes out I will be left with a regular ombre style.

I went to Sally Beauty Supply and purchased the tools I needed. This is what I used:

- Salon Care 20 volume creme developer (here)
- Salon Care Prism Lites Blue bleach (here)
- Ion Color Brilliance Brights in Magenta (here)
- Ion Color Brilliance Neon Brights in Hottie Pink (here)

...everything cost me under $15.

To prepare for bleaching, I did not shampoo my hair for 3 days. I conditioned it, and used deep conditioner a couple times as well.

I bleached my hair into an ombre style - I wasn't overly meticulous about this, I just applied bleach here and there on the ends and rubbed upwards. I left it in a little over 30 minutes, probably. I chose 20 vol because I didn't want a HUGE lift, I wanted something that lifted a little slower and a bit more gentle. I have henna in my hair, so I wasn't going to be able to lift to a blonde (I'll blog about bleaching henna soon), so I had a pretty orange-y result.

I have never used Ion Color Brilliance Brights before. I've seen them in Sally's, but I usually reach for Manic Panic or order Punky Colour instead. My vote has always been for Punky Colour, it's the best semi-permanent dye I've found for funky colors. I decided to get the Ion because it was $5ish a tube and BOGO half off. Two tubes cost less than one jar of Manic Panic. Having never used Ion before, I was a little unsure what to expect since I've read a lot of mixed reviews.

The product itself seems fine, my first impression of it is okay. The scent of the dye reminds me of Caress soap, kind of a flowery powdery soap scent. Not as great smelling as Punky Colour (which smells like grape juice, mmm) but it isn't awful either.

The Magenta color is a typical fuchsia shade, and the Hottie Pink from the new Neons range, was more of a cool-tone pink. Not really neon, but I bet on platinum hair it's probably stunning. I mixed them together about half and half.

The color result? Dark strawberry/raspberry pink. I like it, it isn't exactly what I pictured in my head, but I do like it. It's quite a change from what I've had lately.

Putting the pink on top of the orange resulted in more of a reddish pink.

Before and after

A note about the Ion Brilliance Brights color - this stuff is THICK. Very thick, like toothpaste - it isn't super creamy like I'm used to using with other brands. Many people complain that there isn't enough in the tube because it's so thick. The trick to using this stuff is to ADD WATER. Add water to the Ion and stir, stir, stir! Do not add conditioner like with other brands. Adding water doesn't affect the pigmentation of the product, it only thins it out to make it easier to work with.

I'm not sure if I would repurchase Ion Brilliance Brights or not... I will update once I've shampooed my hair a few times to see how long it lasts.

Pinky goodness!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

When Breastfeeding Doesn't Go As Planned

Breastfeeding seems like such a natural part of motherhood, however, it does not come easy for every mother.

When I was pregnant, I was so determined to breastfeed my son exclusively. I couldn't wait to provide milk for him, and I fully planned on trying to nurse for two years like the experts recommend now. At the very least, my minimum goal was to make it to one year.

Unfortunately, that isn't what happened. My milk dried up shortly before my son turned 9 months old.

Breastfeeding was a struggle from the very beginning. My delivery was difficult, 13 hours of labor ending in emergency c-section. Then, my son had some problems that required immediate attention - he had jaundice and dangerously low blood sugar. 

The doctor and nurses gave me two days while in the hospital to attempt to breastfeed. It was very difficult, and even with additional pumping, nothing was coming out yet. I knew that it could take almost a week for milk to come, but in my son's situation, we couldn't wait a week. His levels weren't improving with the few drops of colostrum I was providing.

I was told we needed to supplement with formula because my milk hadn't "come in" yet, because he needed nourishment right away to bring his levels back up to a healthy number. I won't lie, when I was pregnant I bought into the whole "formula shaming" bandwagon that's going on these days, so when I was told formula was necessary, I hung my head in shame and cried right there in front of the doctor and nurses.

His levels did get better after having formula, his jaundice improved, and they allowed us to go home on day 4. On day 5, my milk started to come. However, the struggle didn't go away.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Negative thoughts

Today has been a hard day.

The kind of day where I'm too "inside my head", the kind of day where I feel that only tears can express my thoughts. 

The thoughts are negative and relentless sometimes.

You're not a good wife.
You're not a good mother.
Nothing you do matters.
You don't matter.

Even though I know those things aren't true, it hurts.

I had to put my son in the crib for a moment just so I could cry for a few minutes. Seeing his sweet, innocent face looking at me cautiously as I'm crying is more than I can bear. I don't want him to see me like this.

I wish so much I could talk to my brother, or my dad, but I can't. They're gone... and sometimes I feel so very alone.

Looking at what has become of my life, of my family, I cannot believe it. There's been good things, wonderful things, like my husband and my son. But there's also been so much sadness and loss... I never thought those closest to me would be gone while I'm still young. 

Seeing people with their families, laughing and having fun, is hurtful because it becomes all too obvious to me that I don't have that anymore. 

The reality of it, that they are not coming back, I push it aside for as long as I can just so I can function. Then it bubbles to the surface and I just can't keep it inside any longer. Sometimes being strong for everyone else is not possible. Sometimes I need a moment to myself to process.

I can't process it, though.

It's so hard.  It's too much.

I'm not okay.

I feel so alone sometimes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: Menow Generation Liquid Lipsticks

I have had these products for months and months, and I've been meaning to post about them forever. But, you know, life and all...

If you've spent at least three or four minutes in the beauty blog-o-sphere, you have seen these lipsticks - they are everywhere. They are being touted as dupes for products 18x more expensive - supposedly, these are just as good as Kat Von D and Lime Crime liquid matte lipsticks. I have not tried those, myself (lolol you think I'm going to spend $18+ for a lipstick? Child, please.)

These are sold all over ebay and aliexpress - simply type in "lipstick" or "lip gloss", and it will be one of the first results. They are sold for about $0.99, often less.

I was curious about these, because these (allegedly) are lip glosses that dry matte, they last all day without needing re-application, and they don't transfer? You mean I can drink coffee and water, kiss my husband, kiss attack my son, and I will still have lipstick on? Well, say no more - I'm interested.

So, on to my review...

Click for more swatches and review details.