Great Books to Read and Gift

I have always loved to read, but with adult responsibilities it is sometimes challenging to find the time to enjoy a book.  I have been making time lately and have some great reads to share with you!  If you are getting stressed from the holidays, taking a few minutes to get lost in a book is a great way to relax.  Many, if not all of these books can be found in your local library, or downloaded to an e-reader (I enjoy my books both ways).

good books
Who doesn’t love to curl up with a great book?

Option B – This is by Sheryl Sandberg, who also wrote the awesome book “Lean In,” which focuses on how women can make new opportunities for themselves in business.  Sheryl is the COO of Facebook, and if you follow her in the news, a few years ago her husband, Dave Goldberg, who was CEO at Survey Monkey, died of a heart attack while they were on vacation in Mexico.  He was in his 40s.  Option B talks about how she dealt with this family tragedy, both in her personal life and at work, and how she has found the path to her Option B.  This is a great read for anyone, but especially someone who has experienced something traumatic in their lives, or is struggling with a setback, or struggling with their faith.

Mirror Sisters trilogy by V.C. Andrews- I started getting into V.C.  Andrews last year (no, I never read Flowers in the Attic in high school) and got into this series “The Mirror Sisters.”  Without any spoilers, it explores the lives of two identical twins who were raised to be identical in every way, not just in their appearance.  It’s a pretty juicy psychological thriller – just think what you would do if you were forced to not be an individual in any way!

It’s Always the Husband  by Michele Campbell -This book explores the lives of three best friends who meet in college and the lives they lead after graduating.  There’s a murder…. and lots of twists and turns to see who did it.  This is a great page turner that will have you guessing….is it the husband?!

Dead Woman Walking  by Sharon Bolton – Two sisters go on a hot air balloon ride, witness a crime on the ground and are in an accident…. more danger awaits them once they are on the ground.  This book had me on the edge of my seat with a lot of unexpected twists and turns!  Who committed the crime?  Will the sisters survive the crash?

Gone Without a Trace   by Mary Torjussen – A woman comes home one night, excited to share her promotion news with her live-in boyfriend.  However, when she gets home, there is no sign of him having ever lived in the house.  Is this guy a major douchebag?  I’ll just tell you that things are not as they seem.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – Two couples who are neighbors get together for dinner, but after that night no one’s lives are the same again.  What happens?  What I can tell you without any spoilers is that everyone’s got a secret in this story!!

I hope something here has piqued your interest.  As you can tell I’m really into thrillers or murder mysteries lately.  I used to read all the chic lit there was years ago, but my interests have definitely changed.

Remember that books also make great GIFTS so if you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, this could be a great idea for the reader in your life!  Or, buy all your friends a copy and start a book club!   I do have some gift guides I put together that you can also check out here and here.

What books have you been loving lately?  Leave a comment!

 

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to buy any of these books!

Lash Extensions – Are they worth it?

I’ve been hearing about lash extensions for so long now and literally have thought about getting them for years.  Well, I finally decided to try it and see if it lives up to the hype.  I wouldn’t say I have short lashes but I absolutely would not leave the house without mascara on.  I have larger, deep set eyes so it looks much more balanced when my lashes are noticeable.  I put off getting this done because from researching the process, I think it is not only expensive, but a big time commitment to maintain them long-term.  I’m already anxious about the 2 hour time I was quoted on the phone for the initial appointment.  This is why back in the day I stopped doing acrylics on my nails – I got fidgety sitting there for the fill-ins at the salon.  I decided to download an audio book to listen to because I didn’t think I would take a nap during the appointment.

lash extensions
Top picture of my lashes before the extensions; bottom is the after.

The application process did take the full two hours and having the book on audio to listen to is what got me through.  The tape that they used on the bottom of my eye (see before photo) was initially a little uncomfortable, but the process itself was not painful.  I’ve read some other articles about lash extensions and most people say they are addictive and once you see the results you will want to keep going.  When I first saw the final product, I did like it but was not “blown away.”  You could see that my lashes were more noticeable but I thought the shape of them was off – they were long in the middle but not on the outer corner.  I asked about that and my natural lashes in the outer corner were not long enough to apply the extensions was the reply I got.  I wanted to get used to them before I rendered a final opinion and really see how it was to live with them on a daily basis.  I was sold the benefits to “membership” where you can maintain the lashes for a fee of $69.99/mo (initial application was $89.99).  While pricey, if you research lash extensions, it actually is a competitive rate.  I decided to go ahead, even if I just maintained the lashes through the holidays.

Pros

lash extension
Here’s another angle on the extensions – see how long they go – almost to my eyebrow!

As time went on I really began to love the lashes.  Waking up and looking like I already applied mascara is a big advantage!  It makes those days when you aren’t wearing makeup much easier and gives me more confidence not having makeup on.  Not dealing with mascara removal in the evening was a nice benefit also.  Not needing mascara also shaves off some time getting ready in the morning which I enjoy as well.  And, the best pro is that they just look beautiful!  I chose the natural lash, so with makeup on, it just looks like I have a couple of coats of mascara on.  I didn’t want anything too dramatic, but there are lashes available that can accommodate someone who wants full on glam lashes.

Cons

I noticed after the second week wearing them that the glue can look a little clumpy at times.  Following the instructions so that the adhesive can dry was a bit inconvenient also (no water on the eye, no steam, sweat or rubbing eyes for 48 hours after initial application.)  I still apply mascara to the bottom lashes. so you aren’t really saving $ by not having to purchase mascara anymore, but it is a lot faster than doing the whole eye.

I wore the initial set of lash extensions for 3 weeks before returning to get them filled.  They still looked pretty good but after the 2 week mark I definitely started to see more lashes coming out each day.  Filling in the lashes was a much more pleasant experience and only took 45 minutes.  The shorter time span and also knowing what to expect is what made this more pleasant the second time around.  I was pleased with how they came out and this time my lashes on the outer corner grew so she was able to get some extensions there which improved the overall appearance.  I have, however, noticed more shedding of the lashes in the week since getting the lashes filled in.  Not sure if this is due to the natural growth cycle of my lashes or if the adhesive is not working as well this time.

Conclusion

Overall, I was glad that I gave this a try.  I am enjoying them and plan to continue to maintain them for now.  Although an investment, I think Amazing Lash Studio allows them to be more affordable than a lot of other places in my area.  The staff is very friendly and helpful so it is a pleasure to go there.  The decision to get them is really a personal one.  I think they are great if you have a special event or are going on vacation.  They are expensive to maintain, so if you are looking for more of a long term investment in lashes, I think using a place like Amazing Lash Studio is a way to enjoy the benefits while defraying the cost.

Gift Guide – $50 and under

Welcome to my second post of my holiday gift guide series.  The last post had some great gift ideas in the $25 and under price range.  This guide contains ideas in the $50 and under range.  I hope this will give you some inspiration for all the special people you are shopping for this season.

 

swell water bottle

Swell Water bottle – $35 This is not just any old water bottle.  Swell keeps liquid hot for 12 hours and cold for 24.  They are available in lots of cool designs and as an added bonus this fits in your car cup holder!  This gift idea is great for anyone on the go or for fitness buffs who are constantly drinking water!

 

 

 

 

kindle e readerKindle e-reader, $49.99 – This is a great deal for anyone who loves to read.  You can be anywhere and instantly download a book or magazine, without leaving your house!  Give the gift of hours of entertainment with this device. Plus, this is a great tech gift when you don’t have the budget to buy an iPad!

 

 

container store mirrored power bank

Mirrored power bank $29.99 – This is a mirrored compact for your purse plus it charges your phone on the go!  This can be a great gift for someone who travels a lot or works from their car.

 

 

 

A rose that lasts a year!Venus et Fleur – Mini round  $39- How would you love a rose that can stay beautiful and fragrant without watering or maintaining for a whole YEAR?  Here is the answer!  Venus et Fleur has some gorgeous arrangements and I feel better giving a gift of a flower when I know that it will last longer than a couple of weeks.  There are some really pricey options, but this single rose is beautiful and would look beautiful on any desk or nightstand to enjoy!

 

Bauble Bar earring setEar Adornment Trio gift set $48 – This boxed earring set from Bauble Bar with three beautiful earrings in a lovely gift box is a great gift for the jewelry lover in your life.  I bought a similar set for myself last year and I am still wearing and loving the earrings.  It’s great quality!

 

 

 

kl polish lips and tips

KL Polish Lips and Tips $45 – If you’ve read my post about my favorite nail polishes, then you already know that I LOVE this brand!  The colors are really unique and they just don’t chip!  KL Polish just released a new limited edition boxed set containing 6 bottles of their new nudes polish, which coordinate with lippies, that were created by Kathleen Lights with ColourPOP.  (Kathleen is the creator of KL Polish and a YouTuber with a huge following.)  The set also comes with a free lipstick, which makes it a great value and an awesome gift for someone who loves to do their nails, or is just a beauty junkie in general!  If you are new to the brand, you can join their newsletter and get 10% off your purchase!

tarte blush bazaarTarte Blush Bazaar $44 I bought this as a gift for myself and think it’s a great value.  First, I own a couple of the Amazonian Clay blushes and love the colors and how they perform.  This set comes with 8 blushes and 2 highlighters in a beautiful circle compact packaging.  I LOVE this – the blushes and highlighters are a good size, the packaging is not only beautiful but great for travel and there are a great variety of shades in the set.

 

martha stewart pom pom throwPom Pom Throw $35 – This is a great gift either for a hostess or someone who really likes interesting home accents.  The little pom poms on the end of this throw are adorable!  This is from the Martha Stewart collection and this price reflects a Black Friday special.  The original price is listed as $120 – yikes!

 

 

Sephora Ready Set StyleSephora Ready Set Style $32- This is a great gift for someone who is always on the hunt for a good volumizing hair product.  I know I am!  This allows you to try out several products in a travel size and see which ones are your favorites before committing to a full size!

Monogrammed Black Leather Snap Valet $43.50- This is a great gift for the guy who travels a lot, or it looks really nice on a dresser to hold keys, money or jewelry.

Holiday Gift Guide – $25 and under

It seems like, once again, the holidays have just snuck up on us out of nowhere!  If you’re like me, you haven’t done any shopping yet – but don’t panic!  With a targeted plan of who you need to buy for and what you want to spend, you can get this done with time to spare!  This is the first in a series of gift guides and I hope I can inspire you with some ideas for the special people in your life!  This guide has gifts that are $25 or less and can be great for grab bags, co-workers, or stocking stuffers!  Read on to see what I’ve rounded up for you!

jewelry pyramid organizer Stackers Jewelry Pyramids (Small $9.99 / Large $14.99)  This is a great stocking stuffer or teacher gift  available at the Container Store.  I like that it is different than the typical dish-looking jewelry holders out there.  I feel like this is more decorative to keep on a nightstand or dresser and hold your jewelry.

 

jewelry roll organizer

Jewelry Roll $15– You can combine this gift with the one above for the jewelry-lover in your life so they can have somewhere to store jewelry at home and when traveling.  These come in a variety of colors and textures at Target but I am LOVING this leopard print!

 

 

corkcicleCorkcicle $24.95 – I first saw this idea on Shark Tank  and was blown away.  I’m not sure if this is the same company, but these travel, spill-proof wine glasses make it great to have wine on the go (think tailgating, kids soccer games) without using a plastic cup.  Plus no need to worry about spills and staining your clothes.  Rather have coffee?  It’s good for that too!

 

Angry mama microwave cleaner$9.99  I love The Container Store’s quirky and unique gifts – another great stocking stuffer for the clean-freak in your life!

 

 

 

 

kelvin multi tool

Kelvin.17 Multi-tool$19.99  Everyone has a guy in their life who loves gadgets or likes to tinker with things.  This multi-tool is for that guy in your life – 17 tools in one.  I don’t even like tools and think this is pretty cool!

 

 

 

Stila Big Shots Stay All Day Liquid Liner and HUGE Mascara Duo $25 – I can’t have a gift guide without some awesome beauty sets for the makeup lover in your life!  Ulta has great gift sets at all price points, but this is a great value!   I personally use and love the liquid liner (it is my all-time favorite) and the full size mascara makes this an awesome set to achieve a festive holiday eye!

 

 

 

too faced under the kissletoeToo Faced Under the Kissletoe $25 – This gift set has four of the brand’s popular liquefied lipsticks in a great variety of wearable shades.  Who wouldn’t love trying out some new colors on their lips for the holiday!?  And the packaging is so cute your wrapping is done!

 

 

 

 

Mini-emergency kits $17.95 – I gave these out one year and they were a hit!  You can keep this in your car or purse and you will be prepared for literally anything! And it comes in an adorable mini-case. You won’t believe what they fit in there:  earring backs, clear nail polish, safety pins, bandages (just to name a few)!

thought a day notebook

 

A great thought a day notebook $14.99 This is a  great inspirational gift recommended by Oprah for our friends and family that love daily inspiration or need some encouragement.

 

 

 

Tagalong charger caseMYTAGALONGS charger case $16 – This is great gift for a teen, college student or really any techie lover, or someone who travels frequently.  Keeping all those charging cords for phones, laptops, etc. can be tricky!

Happy shopping everyone!

 

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to try some of the products!

Tartelette Toasted Palette Review

Tartelette toasted palette
Ta Da! My new favorite palette of life!!

There have been so many new palette releases lately that can make it confusing to select one that best suits you, but I bought the Tartelette Toasted palette and feel like I have hit the jackpot on palettes!  This is not the first product I have purchased and loved from Tarte.  If you are not familiar with the brand, Tarte is a cosmetics company that is cruelty-free and vegan friendly.  Their products are formulated without harmful ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, phthalates and sodium laurel sulfate.  This is an added bonus in my book!

Similar to many other palettes that have been released lately, this one provides 12 warm-toned shades, with a blend of shimmers and mattes.  I personally love warmer shades as they tend to best complement my hazel eyes.  However, I think these colors would really enhance blue, green or brown eyes as well.  This is the first palette I’ve ever owned where I can say that I have used and loved every single shade!  I start out with the best of intentions every time I buy a palette, but always end up having a shade or two that I really don’t like or that isn’t wearable for me on a day-to-day basis.  Also, I love that I can achieve a complete eye look using just this palette.  I hate when I have to jump from palette to palette to hunt for different colors to complete an eye look.  I don’t have the time or the patience for that!

The packaging of this palette is amazing!  It is a great size for travel, has a generous sized mirror and is very sturdy.  The front looks like a warm, cozy fire with gold letters, and when you open it up, there is a faint yummy fragrance that makes it even more delicious!

Look at these scrumptious shades!

As for the quality of the shadows, Tarte does not disappoint.  They use their Amazonian clay formula which is long-lasting and the shadows blend nicely.  Some of the shades are a little powdery but I have not experienced any issues with fallout on my face as I apply them.  I’ve had this palette over a month now and have used it almost every day that I’ve worn makeup.    There is no black shade with could be a con for some, but I use the color “Fireside” as an eye liner and it has worked great for me. Also, there is a rich chocolate brown shade called “Crackle” that might look a bit intimidating as it has gold flecks of sparkle in it, but I find that it is still a very wearable color on the eye.  The sparkles don’t translate like the other shimmer shadows so it can be daytime appropriate.

The palette retails for $46, which is in range for a lot of the newer palettes out there, but for me, it is worth the splurge because the shades are wearable, versatile and flattering.  Yes, you can achieve more dramatic looks as well as daytime looks, but for me, daily looks are what I most use in my lifestyle and this palette has been such a treat to use!  Let me know if you’ve tried this and what you think.

Fenty Beauty Lip Gloss Review and Drugstore Dupe

Rihanna Fenty Beauty
Fenty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer.

Recently Rihanna debuted her own cosmetics line called Fenty Beauty, complete with foundations in all shade ranges, highlighters you can see from outer space and some lip products.  She even has a holiday collection out now that you can check out if you like some edgier makeup. I’ve been checking out reviews for her products and they are very up and down.  It makes me wonder if people really don’t like them but are afraid to be brutally honest because they are a Rihanna fan?  Not sure.  But I did go ahead and purchase this universal lip gloss (Fenty Glow Gloss Bomb – Universal Lip Luminizer, $18) that had a great neutral color and seemed, unlike a lot of the other products, to have consistently positive reviews.

First off, let’s talk about the packaging.  I absolutely LOVE it!  I prefer a shorter, fatter size versus a long skinny gloss.  For me, it fits better into a lot of different size purses so it’s great for travel or just daily on-the-go!  The color is great – it’s a warm neutral that can be worn alone, with some lip liner, or as a topper for a lipstick.  Let me tell you, this gloss is SHINY!  I love it, because I have thin lips, so shiny glosses and lipsticks help them to look plumper.  The gloss is not glittery, but does have some flecks in it.  This has a smell to it – to me it smells just like the pink Starburst candies.  It is not unpleasant but I’d prefer no smell or more of a vanilla scent.  It does not linger so it’s not a deal breaker for me.

The Dupe

Fenty beauty and Loreal infallible pro gloss
These are pretty close, right? One on the right is Fenty. One on the left is Loreal Infallible Pro Gloss in the shade Dulce de Leche.

So I found a really good dupe for this gloss, really by accident.  Loreal has their Infallible Pro Gloss and the shade 825 or Dulce De Leche is almost identical to the Fenty Gloss.  This drugstore gloss is pricey for drugstore at $11.79.  The small differences I’ve observed are that the Loreal is a tad bit more sparkly and the formula is slightly stickier than the Fenty.  Size-wise, the Loreal tube has .21 fl. oz. and the Fenty is .30 fl. oz. so you are paying more, but you are also getting a bit more product.

Fenty Gloss Bomb and Loreal Infallible Pro Gloss in Dulche de LecheSo, which do I like better?  I think I prefer the Fenty gloss but both are really nice.  I just like the formula and packaging of the Fenty a little more.  Hopefully this review will help you if you are in the market for a new gloss.  I am not disappointed with my Fenty Beauty purchase.  Have you tried any Fenty Beauty products yet?  If so, I’d love to know your honest thoughts!

 

How To Train Yourself to Sleep on your Back

If you are wondering why you would want to train yourself to sleep on your back, let me tell you my main motivation- it prevents wrinkles!  If you have lash extensions, it extends their life.  It also helps with drainage in your sinuses!  Do I have your attention yet?  Well, let me share how I did this because for all my life, I have been a side sleeper and I couldn’t imagine a restful night without sleeping that way!

For a long time I was in denial that I needed to address my side sleeping habits.  I used a satin pillowcase, which I’ve read is more gentle on the skin for side sleepers.  It helped a little, but I really burrow my face into the pillow when I side sleep, so I would wake up with marks in my cheek and under-eye area and started to notice that they didn’t go away as quickly as in years’ past.  Still, I would try to sleep on my back only to finally give up when I couldn’t relax and fall asleep in that position.  I’d watch one of my favorite YouTubers, Angie from Hot and Flashy, and she mentioned that she had trained herself to sleep on her back and I remember thinking, “How can you even do that?”  I thought, you either slept on your back or you didn’t.

sleep on backIf you read my blog post about injectables, then you know that I recently got a filler in my cheekbone area to address my concerns about under-eye wrinkles and loss of volume in my face.  Making that investment really made me get serious about sleeping on my back because I don’t want to undo the efforts I have made to improve the appearance of my skin.

So how did I do it?  I arranged pillows all around me that first night – under my knees to make me more comfortable, and on my sides.  It did take me awhile to fall asleep but I was successful!  I knew it took about 2 weeks to either break a habit or instill a new habit so my goal was to continue this process every night until it sleeping on my back became easier for me.  Some nights were easier than others, but my determination to do this kept me trying until two weeks had gone by and I was still sticking to it!

I did learn a trick that allowed me to turn my body to the side, but keep my face from smushing into the pillow.  I hug another pillow and prop the top under my face so it stays somewhat elevated.  I don’t totally turn my face to the side, just move it about 45 degrees.  So far it’s working or me and now it’s been about 6 weeks of consistently sleeping on my back.

I guess it’s one of those things like taking a vitamin and eating your vegetables – you know it’s good for you and the right thing to do, but until you commit to doing it, you won’t have success.  I had tried and failed several times before, but once I realized the benefits were too numerous to ignore and saw what it was doing to my face’s appearance, I got serious and finally was able to enjoy success!

How do you like to sleep?

 

10 Benefits of Facial Massage – Your Cheap Anti-aging solution!

You can massage your face and enjoy all these benefits for free!

Do you massage your face?  Believe it or not, that is the least expensive anti-aging regimen you can do for yourself.  You don’t need to go for a facial to enjoy the benefits of a facial massage.  When I was in school for my esthetician license, we all learned massage techniques and practiced on each other and I saw a definite improvement in my skin.  When I get professional facials today, I am always disappointed that only 5 or 10 minutes of your hour is used for facial massage.  We used to do it for longer in skincare school and I think the power of massage is greatly underestimated!

So what are those benefits?

By massaging your face you are stimulating blood circulation which can give you a healthy glow.  You are also exercising muscles to prevent your skin from sagging and improve your overall muscle tone. The process of massaging your facial muscles actually will relax them (which in turn will prevent wrinkles)!  And, it just plain feels good!  There are absolutely stress reducing benefits of facial massage and who needs less stress in their lives?  If you are looking to maximize the benefits of skincare products in your regimen, facial massage helps to increase their absorption and effectiveness.  Massage helps slough off dead skin cells, cleanses skin of impurities and softens sebum (which helps in acne prevention).  Do you suffer from sinus congestion or puffiness?  Guess what – facial massage can help reduce those symptoms also!

So are you ready to start incorporating this into your regimen?  I am going to describe some quick massage moves you can do on your own face to keep it looking and feeling its best!

You can enjoy the benefits of facial massage free.

How do I massage my face correctly?

You want to hit some key areas on the face that will really benefit from massage – the forehead, around the eyes, the cheeks and the jawline. Note that when massaging, you should use your middle or ring fingers, not your index finger.

Forehead – Using upward strokes, and making small circles on the forehead is a great massage move.  As a rule of thumb, you always want to stroke in an upward direction, not down, as we want to go in the direction we want our skin to stay, which is not sagging!

Eyes– You can do light taps around the entire eye area, and also small circles in the undereye area.  You can also do two swift stroking motions, one above the eyebrow area and another under the eye.

Side of face – You can massage this area with upward strokes using your entire flat hand.  Perform this motion on each cheek and then also on forehead.  You can also perform a light tapping of fingers around cheeks (technical term is tapotement, if you want to get fancy!).

Jawline – To access this area you can use pinching around lower edges of face (technical term is petrissage).  Also, use light upward strokes from base of neck up to jawline using middle fingers of hands.

If you have very sensitive skin, inflamed acne or sunburn you should not massage your face until those symptoms subside.

If you are worried about how to make time to fit this in, you can do it while washing your face, which you are going to be doing at least twice a day anyway.  You can also incorporate some of the massage when rinsing off an exfoliating mask if you are using this in your routine.  Trust me, the benefits of taking a few extra minutes to fit this into your routine will definitely be worth the effort.  Let me know if you have any questions and happy massaging!

Injectables – What you need to know

injectables
Have you thought about injectables to improve your appearance?

I’ve been hearing a lot about injectables for anti-aging, but I really didn’t know a lot about it, so I decided to research and see if these procedures were something I might want to explore.  As diligent as I am with my skincare, I think once you hit a certain age, depending on your genetics, there may be things that you aren’t 100% happy with that can be addressed with injectables.  And what do I mean by injectables?  Neurotoxins (like Botox) and fillers.

Neurotoxins like Botox, or Dysport, are injected directly into the muscle below the skin to relax that muscle.  As we age we start to see wrinkles where our muscles are being used the most.  For a lot of us, that is the wrinkles in our forehead which we get from repeatedly making certain facial expresssions.  By relaxing those muscles, the wrinkle smooths out.  This is only temporary, though.  This procedure typically lasts 3-4 months and varies by individual.  So, if this is something you want to do, be prepared to go back to maintain that look.  Prices vary depending on where you go (I would recommend an experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon) but I was quoted $525 by my dermatologist.

Fillers work differently than Botox – they are injected right below the skin and “fill” areas that we want to plump up, like under the eyes, in your laugh lines, lips or your cheekbones.  As with Botox, this is not a permanent result, but fillers last up to 2 years which would require less frequent maintenance.

My experience with Injectables

I have not been happy with how my under-eye area has been looking lately as well as the overall loss of volume in my face.  When my son told me that I looked so “crinkly,”  I decided it was time to go for a consultation with my dermatologist to understand what procedures would be able to address my concerns.  After discussing this with her, I decided on the filler in my cheek area.  This filler is made by Juvederm, and is called Voluma.  It is FDA approved, hyaluronic acid (which your body already makes naturally).   As I mentioned, it lasts up to 2 years (again the exact time varies by person and how quickly it is metabolized in the body).  The cost for this by my dermatologist was $900 for one syringe.  My derm told me usually two syringes are done for the procedure but as she (and I) believe in a very subtle result we decided to do just one (half a syringe per cheek).  Also, what I liked about the filler is that you see immediate results, unlike Botox, which takes a few days before actual results are seen.

My face was iced to numb it and then the dermatologist made her injections in the side of my face (below the temple where the cheekbone starts) and in the center of my under-eye area (along the cheekbone).  This was done on each side, with her stopping to show me her progress in the mirror.  It did not hurt at all; I simply felt pressure when she injected me.

I loved it in the office;  I actually met a friend for lunch right after the appointment and she did not notice anything!  However, later in the day I noticed that my cheeks were red and swollen at the edges of my face; the left side more than the right.  To be fair, my dermatologist did warn me that the left side would be a bit bruised and lumpy looking, but that it would smooth out.  To me, it looked like a golf ball sticking out.  At that point I  started to panic and wonder did I do the right thing?  Everything I’ve read says that it takes some time to spread out in the face and soften.  I started to see a bruise on the left side but was really not that sore. Luckily, my hair did camouflage most of the bruising.  I do really feel that my under-eye area looks more rested and fresher.  Also I like that the result is subtle – it’s good if no one notices anything.  I know that it’s there, and that’s what really matters!

before and after of injectable Voluma
The left picture shows the swelling on the left side of my face post procedure. The right photo shows the left side of my face as it looks today. The filler does soften over time.

If you are nervous about my description about the swelling, you can take a look at my before and after picture. One week post-procedure the swelling was down, and the look was starting to soften but I still had a faint bruise.  One month later, the bruising is completely gone, everything has settled and smoothed out and looks very natural-looking and more like me.  When I touch the areas where I was injected, I can’t feel anything under the skin.

Overall, I am happy with the results and have no regrets getting this procedure.  Based on what I’ve heard from others who have had this procedure, the results are liked even more around the 6 month mark; so I will check back in with you all at that time and give you my feedback of what I think at that milestone.  I believe that injectables can be a nice addition to a balanced skincare regimen depending on your concerns.  Any injectable procedure does NOT replace taking care of your skin with the correct products.

Have you had filler or Botox?  I would love to know your experiences.

Best Highlighter for Over 40 Skin

Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wand
My holy grail highlighter!

I am so excited that I found my holy grail highlighter!!!  If you are over 40 like me, then you might like a highlighter like this that doesn’t make you look like you are going to a club, but gives a subtle healthy glow to your face.  Easy to apply and wearable every day is another prerequisite I have when looking for a highlighter.  Also, a product that does not accentuate texture or wrinkles is a big PLUS.  Well, I’ve found the product that does all of this!  Let me introduce you to Charlotte Tilbury’s Beauty Light Wand.  I purchased this product about a month ago and have been using it nonstop ever since!

It retails for $38 and comes in a tube with a sponge applicator.  This makes it so easy to apply and its packaging allows for easy travel too.  Just swipe on in the areas you want to highlight and either blend with your fingers or a beauty sponge.  There is only one shade and I would describe it as a beautiful pearly champagne which is a great universal shade.  A little goes a very long way and what I think is so unique about this is the way it looks.  It isn’t glittery or chunky but gives the skin an almost wet look, like a natural glow (not greasy).  And it’s noticeable but not “in your face” glowing.  Since this is a cream product, you should apply to your face before setting with powder for the best result.

There is a contour wand by Charlotte Tilbury that was released with the highlight, but I don’t really like it as much.  I like the ease of application and blendability, but I don’t think it really shows up on my face at all and it doesn’t have the same WOW factor that the highlight has.

So, if you are in the market for a new highlighter, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.  I am really enjoying this product and plan to buy more as it’s really hard to find highlighters that are suitable for more mature skin.