Sunscreen experiment #20

Here’s another inane sunscreen experiment to break up the heavier content in my last four posts! Kinda like one of the Hulu commercial breaks while I’m watching episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I wanted to have this post ready for National Sunscreen Day on 5/27, but I wasn’t able to pull it together in time. Better late than never!

I was torn on whether to publish this post under the header of “sunscreen experiment” or “retail therapy” since I purchased this sunscreen along with a number of other beauty products from the e.l.f. website on 3/25. I really just wanted to buy one item (Hydrating Under Eye Primer), but in order to qualify for free shipping I threw some other things into my cart that seemed promising. I’m sorry to say that most of the products I purchased aren’t working out as well as I’d hoped, but luckily the order wasn’t a complete loss. The e.l.f. Active Stay Out & Play SPF 50 is one of the items I bought on a whim and now I’m so glad I did. It’s similar to a much more expensive product I used a while back (Bare Minerals Mineral Shield Daily Prep Lotion SPF 50, which I think has been discontinued), but with surprisingly superior qualities. This SPF 50 has a liquid texture and feels powdery after it is applied. I was surprised to discover that it also has a light tint and it somehow works perfectly with my fair skin tone. That is not usually the case with tinted products considering how pale I am. I covered my face and neck with this lovely sunscreen last Friday and it got me through a full day at Disneyland with my friend and her daughter. And isn’t Disneyland the real test of any sunscreen? It’s really fantastic. So glad I gave it a chance!

Many forms of self-care (with a sunscreen addendum)

“So this is the foundation for my internet diary – searching for the truth and seeing what else comes along on the way.”
5/19/99 webpage post

I’ve been thinking about self-care a lot lately and how it comes in many forms. I’ve written so much about beauty products in 2018 due to my retail therapy obsession (or rather my mental health coping technique), and the biggest benefit of those impulsive purchases is that they helped me pamper my skin when I needed comfort the most. My beauty routine has proven to be a very restorative ritual and I still employ it as my daily outward form of self-care. (And with all of the Buzzfeed articles I keep reading about promising new products I don’t expect to run out of retail therapy subjects anytime soon.) The other day I started a called “Blogging is my self-care” (to be shared soon) because of how much writing helps me feel whole. Not that I’m a particularly prolific writer, but I have been maintaining my online presence in one form or another for the last 19 years (my first post was May 19, 1999!) and the feeling of publishing a well-written post (at least by my own reckoning) fills me with a sense of pride. But on the outside I think it’s pretty obvious from a lot of my posts this year that taking care of my skin is also an important part of my self-care. It’s mostly motivated my vanity, specifically trying to keep the acne and wrinkles and sun damage at bay, but also the simple routine of doing something beneficial for my body brings me peace. Maintaining some semblance of youth as I approach my 40th birthday is a nice bonus too.

If you live in Los Angeles you’ll understand how important it is to moisturize regularly in our arid, desert climate. If I skip any of my face or body moisturizers for more than two days my skin gets very uncomfortable. Due to that fact I wanted to write a quick post about my newfound appreciation of a sunscreen that I’ve had in my medicine cabinet for years, but have sadly underutilized. But after spending time in very dry locales I appreciate my Olay Complete All Day Sensitive Skin Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF 30 so much more. I’ll admit that it’s not good under makeup because it’s thicker and stickier than my everyday products, but it’s great for weekend sun protection. Two days in Las Vegas last month and my face was so dry that it hurt. Thankfully I was smart enough to pack this Olay sunscreen in my bag and it made all the difference. So even though I sometimes despair at how many different SPF products I have in my bathroom, I’m so glad that this one is still with me. And my skin is happy too!

P.S. My first ever blog post is also where I wrote about “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” It premiered in May 1999 just like my blog!

Sunscreen experiment #19

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of my purchases this year have been beauty products. This is what happens when you listen to an over-the-top self-care podcast, don’t budget your disposable income well enough, and are still searching for the “perfect” products (which might not actually exist). It’s a dangerous and expensive combination, especially when you’re not feeling great about yourself and retail therapy is a major source of comfort. And on a lighter note, if you’ve ever visited my blog before you are familiar with my ongoing search for the perfect sunscreen. At this point I have accepted that this could be a lifelong mission. So here’s my 19th sunscreen review that no one cares about but me!

It’s about time that I took the plunge into Korean skincare. As a general rule we don’t embrace paleness here in the United States, but other parts of the globe actually do! Thus the need for adequate daily sun protection – something that isn’t the easiest to find in our “you look better with a tan” culture. I should have made the switch to Korean brands years ago! I think the first time I learned about MISSHA Sun Milk was from a Buzzfeed article. (This is becoming a trend. I should stay away from Buzzfeed if I want to save money, but then I’d also miss out on some great products. It’s a mixed bag.) Then I heard a favorable review of it on the Forever35 podcast where I’ve gotten so many good recommendations. After doing a little research on my own I ordered a bottle of MISSHA All Around Safe Block Essence Sun Milk (SPF 50) on Amazon. This is the moisturizing variety (there are also matte and waterproof versions) which I definitely need because my skin is generally very dry due to the arid Los Angeles climate. So what’s the verdict? I love this stuff! It’s just fantastic. It’s my new daily moisturizer and sunscreen that I wear under my makeup. And the SPF 50 is a big step up from the Olay SPF 15 lotion I’ve been using for so many years. I can’t say it’s the best primer, but I’m making it work with some new moisturizing concealer as well (Benefit Cosmetics Boi-ing Hydrating Concealer). The combination of the concealer and the Sun Milk keeps my makeup from settling into the lines around my eyes – a plus for a woman who is almost forty years old. Bottom line: I finally found a winner. I am very happy I purchased this sunscreen and I have a feeling I’ll be using it for years to come.

2017 Resolution #1 revisited

“As far as race bibs go, I have a huge stack of them in the same box as the old medals. The most recent ones get displayed on the front of my refrigerator, but after their tenure there is over they are filed away. My goal for 2017 is to put all of them (OK, maybe not the ones that I can’t even remember what race they’re from) in a scrapbook or album for future reference.”
1/4/17 webpage post

4/26/18:
It’s getting dangerously close to May, but I still haven’t documented any solid resolutions for the year. It seems silly to even consider the traditional New Year’s enterprise now, being nearly four months behind schedule, but at some point I’ll probably make a list anyway. However, in order to avoid getting too far ahead of myself, I figured I should probably follow up on my 2017 Resolution #1 before making any for 2018! Regarding 2017 resolution #1, I never posted this revisit (that I started writing a whole year ago!) because I had only accomplished half of my goal, but at this point I’ll take credit for that portion and the rest can wait.

4/25/17:
As April is drawing to a close I can happily announce that I’m finally making some real progress on my first New Year’s resolution. On March 12th I ordered a scrapbook for my race bibs from an Etsy shop that makes them specifically for this purpose. Then last week I finished putting my first 75 bibs in it. They range from April 2014 to December 2016. I admit that some of the bibs from that backlog got tossed because they were so generic that I either couldn’t remember which race they were from, or they weren’t memorable enough to keep. I’m really happy with how the scrapbook turned out. It’s a fun memento that reminds me of all my achievements and doesn’t take up space. But funny enough, it’s already almost completely full! I’ll need to order a second one for future race bibs.

Business travel again (Part 2)

A continuation of my musings from the Denver airport on 4/14 while waiting for my flight to DC. Because my train is tired tonight and writing something original isn’t going to happen after such a long work week!

As I was preparing for this trip I checked the DC weather and saw that it was going to be fairly cool, but not exactly frigid while I was there. It’s been three weeks since my last visit and much to my delight I wasn’t going to need the super warmth factor of my North Face down jacket this time around. So while I was packing I flipped through my closet and pulled out another option. It was the North Face jacket that I purchased back in 2016 for a January trip to DC. You know, the one that went completely unworn because the week I was there was unseasonably warm? Well, it still had the tags attached! I can’t believe it’s been hanging in my closet for over two years, lonely and neglected. But no more! It’s a lovely purple color and it fits great so I’m glad I kept it. Hopefully this jacket will be just what I need to brave the weather in DC this week. Of course I already spilled some of my protein shake on it this morning on the way to the airport so that’s annoying. It will have to go straight into in the wash when I get home!

This time around I also didn’t need the boots and their accompanying knee socks I hastily purchased in March. It’s not going to be nearly cold enough to require such hefty footwear. And it’s a good thing too because those boots gave me blisters. They fulfilled their purpose of protecting my feet from the cold on my last trip, but I don’t foresee myself wearing them again anytime soon. My favorite little leather flats were perfectly suited to handle the last gasp of winter in DC this week. And they take up so much less space in my suitcase. That allowed me to pack both my running shoes and my gym shoes for maximum workout potential. Whether I’ll wear both pairs on this trip seems unlikely, but at least I have them if I get ambitious with my exercise!

Business travel again (Part 1)

Written on 4/14 in the Denver airport while waiting for my flight to DC. I never feel comfortable using my laptop on a plane anymore given how cramped all of the seats are so I spent most of my layover in Denver writing. I have a silly follow-up story that I will post later this week.

I’m headed to DC again this morning. Currently I’m sitting in the Denver airport waiting for my connecting flight. And in similar fashion to all of my other recent travel, it’s delayed. Why am I not surprised? When going to DC I always like to arrive as early in the day as possible, but having to stop in Denver this time makes that a bit difficult. Luckily all I really need to do when I arrive this evening is go to the grocery store. There’s no way I can maintain my clean-ish eating plan without some fresh produce and healthy snacks. Temptation is always present! This time it will be in the form of Firehouse Subs and Potbelly Sandwiches. (Maybe they make salads? I’ll have to check.) Luckily I did find at least two restaurants that are salad-focused so I won’t have to eat pre-packaged ones every day. If I can stick to my diet this week I’m going to be very pleased with myself. And a little shocked! Similarly, I’d also like to hit the gym tonight, but that’s debatable given that my flight won’t arrive until about 5 PM. I’m missing my usual classes at the gym this week, which annoys me, but I’m going to try to keep up with the workouts on my own. My running buddy will send me the exercises from the classes she attends and I’ll do my best to replicate them in my hotel fitness center. I picked this hotel because they seem to have a nice, large workout space, unlike so many other places that only have a couple of cardio machines, and sometimes only one of each kind which can be problematic. I’ll definitely need some weights to do the boot camp routines. I really should run on the treadmill a couple of times as well, but that’s unlikely given my hatred of that infernal machine. I even brought both my running shoes and gym shows with me this time in case I feel motivated to mix things up. There wasn’t a single bit of extra space in my suitcase when I finished packing, but it’ll be worth it if my fitness routine doesn’t deteriorate while I’m away from home.

Regarding my flight back to LA on Friday, I was fortunate/smart enough to book a nonstop flight to LAX to hopefully avoid the drama of my last trip. Like last time, I have an event that I don’t want to miss shortly after I get home. I’m going to the Dodger game with some co-workers on Friday night so I absolutely, positively have to meet them at 4 PM to carpool to downtown LA. I hate making that drive myself, especially in rush hour traffic. My flight home is supposed to land at about 11:30 AM so that should give me more than enough time to stop by my house, change into baseball game appropriate apparel, and still make the required rendezvous. It’s Hello Kitty night at the Dodger game so there’s no way I’m going to miss it. We get t-shirts! Also, we’re sitting in the coveted all-you-can-eat section of the stadium. Usually that’s a great deal because you can get as many hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, drinks, etc. that you want, but it’s not so great for those of us on a diet that prohibits almost everything that tastes delicious! If I can successfully avoid sugar and grains while I’m on business travel I think I’ll allow myself to eat one or two hot dogs (necessary carbs for weekend running) at the game. And I’ll wash it down with unlimited diet soda! Not the healthiest choice I could make, but not the worst under the circumstances either. I do have a race on Saturday morning as well so that’s another reason to get home on schedule. Funny enough, it’s the Angels 5K at Anaheim Stadium. My running group is will all be there. It’s funny that I’ll be visiting both LA baseball stadiums in less than 24 hours!

Stay tuned for part 2!

Necessary purchases

“When I went to DC the week before last I took four jackets with me. This Florida/California girl does not handle much more than a mild winter very well so I packed two fleeces, a sweatshirt, and a North Face jacket that I’d just bought. I haven’t needed a heavier coat in years so in order to be prepared for potentially cold temperatures in DC I went in search of one before I left on my trip. … And after all that effort I ended up not needing it at all! In fact, it was too warm in DC that week for just about all of the outerwear I brought with me. So this new jacket that I went through so much trouble to obtain went completely unworn.”
2/15/16 webpage post

On March 12th I found out I was going on a business trip to New York and DC the following week. On its own this was great news since I haven’t traveled for work in more than two years (January 2016 per the above quote) and I miss seeing my DC co-workers on a regular basis…but then I checked the weather. The place I was headed to in New York was going to be freezing. I don’t own a single jacket or pair of shoes that can handle lows in the teens and highs in the 20s. Brr! My time in Florida and California has done nothing to equip me for such temperatures. My closet full of light fleece jackets and flimsy leather flats just weren’t going to cut it in such a cold climate. So on March 16th I went to the North Face store, browsed the sale rack in desperation, and then begged a salesman for help. He was invaluable helping me pick out a jacket that was appropriate for the minimal amount of time I was planning to spent outside in the cold (basically just walking to and from my car at the airport, my hotel, and work). And on sale too! You don’t know how relieved I was to walk out of the store with a jacket. I wasn’t going to freeze to death in New York!

Then on March 18th, the very last day before I left town, I went to the mall in flip-flops and a hoodie (a true Southern California outfit) to find a pair of boots for my trip. I thought for sure I would find lots of options to try on and choose from at DSW Shoe Warehouse, but I was wrong. Turns out mid-March is way too late in the year to shop for boots. I had no idea! I got rid of my last few pairs years ago and now I wish I hadn’t. (In the last couple of years I have fallen in love with Tieks flats and I haven’t worn anything else to work since then.) After striking out at DSW I suddenly got very anxious about finding suitable footwear for cold weather before leaving California. Luckily, a lovely Macy’s employee scoured their limited stock of winter shoes where she found a pair of simple black ankle boots in my size. And by some miracle they actually fit my crazy narrow feet and felt pretty good. Hallelujah! I am so grateful to that Macy’s saleswoman. My feet weren’t blocks of ice in New York thanks to her. (The downside was learning the hard way that the boots were NOT made for walking. Hoofing it through three airports on March 21st was painful.) So I figure the necessary purchases of the jacket and boots make up for the unnecessarily purchased jacket for my trip to DC two years ago. Things have a way of working out eventually!

Sunscreen experiment #18

I know that basically no one cares about these reviews except me, but I am going to continue writing them anyway. I just wanted to add this note here because I realize that I expounded on the pros and cons of this sunscreen product quite a lot more than I expected!

Buzzfeed strikes again! Surprisingly, this particular purchase wasn’t motivated by a need for retail therapy, but by my seemingly neverending search for the perfect sunscreen. I’ve been documenting my sunscreen experiments for nearly four years, but I’ve been trying out different products for about two decades. These days I’ve found a lot of products that I love and am loyal to, but when I see new, potentially superior products I jump at the chance to give them a try. For example, my daily facial moisturizer from Olay is fantastic for many reasons, but it’s only SPF 15. I’ve been looking for one with better sun protection that meets all of my specifications, but I have not been successful yet. I admit that I am incredibly demanding when it comes to sunscreen, and I’m lucky that I have so many options to test, but it’s still frustrating. The SPF 30 version of my favorite Olay face lotion is pretty good, but it’s just too sticky to be used under makeup. Still good for the weekends when I spend more time outside, though. In the last couple of years I’ve tried several higher SPF primers from Bare Minerals and Coola, but they aren’t moisturizing enough for my dry skin (thanks, Los Angeles).

So when I saw IPKN Big Apple Sun Cream (SPF 50) on a list of recommended beauty products I was intrigued. I hadn’t ventured into the world of Korean skin care products before this, but I had heard that they are beneficial for pale women such as myself. And fortunately the Big Apple Sun Cream wasn’t too expensive so I didn’t feel guilty impulsively some from Amazon. You can definitely drop a lot of money on beauty products if you’re so inclined. Without going into a massive amount of detail about all of the times I’ve used this sunscreen over the last week, let’s just say that I still haven’t found the perfect product for me. On the plus side, the Big Apple Sun Cream feels moisturizing without being sticky, practically a miracle, but just doesn’t work as a primer. My makeup settled into the lines on my face very quickly. I even tried two different concealers to make sure that wasn’t the culprit. Unfortunately it was terrible both times. Dang. I will definitely be using this sunscreen on the weekends when makeup is so this sunscreen won’t go to waste. Unlike so many others, I do not regret this purchase!

Throwing money at a problem

One of my favorite ways to resolve a problem is to throw money at it. Remember last year when my only available option to fix my malfunctioning iPhone 6 before leaving on vacation was buying an iPhone 7? All I really needed was a new battery, but the Apple Store couldn’t do that in an acceptable amount of time. It was ridiculous. So purchasing a brand new phone was indeed a viable solution to my problem, but certainly not the most economical. To be clear, I feel very fortunate that throwing money at a problem is a choice that is available to me. I don’t think of myself as an extravagant person (in spite of all these retail therapy posts I’ve been writing lately) so purchasing a very expensive smart phone was a big deal, even if I wasn’t worried about having enough money in the bank to pay for it. I realize that not everyone has this luxury.

A few weeks ago one of my running buddies confessed that she was feeling overwhelmed and depressed, and that she really needed to start exercising again to regain her work/life balance. After performing practically zero physical activity in 2018 I realized that she was speaking my language, so I told her we would go back to the gym together. A combination of companionship and guilt would motivate us to get moving again! This is the woman who initially got me started at boot camp classes almost two years ago, which was extremely beneficial, but things have gotten complicated since then. Last summer we got Groupons for a 4-week trial at another gym so that we could try out their classes. To make a long story short, I didn’t continue after the four weeks (I went back to my old gym instead), but my friend did. Fast forward to now and I decided to join her gym so that we can work out together even though it wasn’t my favorite. Hence, throwing money at the problem! Yes, this means that I currently have two gym memberships. But it’s been working really well so you can’t argue with results. The price of fitness (with a side of stress-relief and friendship) is high in 2018, but I’m hoping that the pay off will be worth it.

Not retail therapy for a change!

“Yesterday was my favorite day of the year – holiday potluck day! It was a great day. I arrived to work early to get the hot chocolate started. I can’t believe anything that simple could be so popular, but I had several people ask me for the recipe again this year. The biggest lesson I learned is that I need to get an extra large Crockpot so that I can make a double batch next year!”
12/17/16 webpage post

I was half kidding when I wrote about buying an extra large Crockpot specifically for hot chocolate back in 2016. But a year later when I was once again preparing for the holiday potluck I did some research on Amazon and discovered that a humongous 8-quart Crockpot would only set me back about $30. It was practically a no-brainer to go ahead and order one. It seemed a bit silly to have a slow cooker for the single purpose of making hot chocolate once a year, especially with my limited kitchen cabinet space, but it ended up being a great decision. I was able to make a double batch of my much-loved holiday beverage (including a full gallon of milk as well as a quart of cream) with no extra effort, and it was still absolutely inhaled by my co-workers in record time. Due to planning difficulties this year the potluck had a much smaller guest list (I was grandfathered in after about a decade of participation), but it seems that an 8-qt Crockpot full of hot chocolate was still not enough. I couldn’t believe how quickly it was drained. I swear everyone just grabbed a straw and sucked it dry. Crazy! It wasn’t easy to find a spot to store this new addition to my kitchen arsenal, but even if I only pull it out once a year it will still be worth the investment. Only nine more months before I start planning holiday food for 2018!