DIY Thursday: Soothe Those Sensitive Legs!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jar of simple, 15 minute (preparation-wise) cream

10 minutes after pouring into a jar

This is what it looks like when the beeswax, cocoa butter, and oil are melted.

This recipe is great for those who are need some extra TLC right now. It's going to be 90 here tomorrow and it is already HUUUUUMID! Is your skin sun-sensitive? Perhaps you are shaving your legs every single day and they need to be soothed. Maybe the air conditioning is cranked up and the dry air is sucking the moisture right out of your skin. Perhaps it is normally just a bit parched.

This isn't a salve or balm, nor is it a smooth and silky cream with silicones and extra fillers. This is a basic, extra nourishing treatment that won't take you more than 15 minutes to make. I have shared this recipe with you all before, but is in actually one of my most popular posts and I thought I'd share it with you lovelies once more--

This recipe yields about 10 ounces. I am splitting mine between an 8 ounce mason jar and a 2 ounce jar. One will be for a friend to use right up and the other one will be used by the boys and me. They'll have it slathered on after baths and I'll use it from my neck to toes over the next couple days. I use a new spoon for each of us to scoop it out so we're not all dipping our hands into the jar.

You can keep this for up to one week stored in the fridge.

The natural chocolate aroma from the cocoa butter and the honey scent from the beeswax smell fun and refreshing, yet comforting when the pink grapefruit essential oil is added.

1/2 cup grated beeswax
2 T. unrefined cocoa butter
1/2 c. rice bran oil
1/3 c. aloe vera juice
1/2 c. glycerin
8 drops of grapefruit essential oil
1 vitamin E capsule, pricked with a pin and squeezed into it (antioxidant)

How to:

Melt the beewax and cocoa butter over medium high heat on the stove. While it is melting, add the rice bran oil. Once the oils, wax and butter are blended, add in the glycerin and aloe juice. Squeeze in the vitamin E oil.

Turn off the heat and stir like mad. I stir this for about 10 minutes with a wooden sppon. Stir it the way you would a homemade pudding. It needs constant stirring.

Once it has thickened and cooled a bit, pour into your container (s).

Let cool a bit on the counter and then put  in the fridge. I like to chill it overnight. If you do not, it'll look done, but you'll get a liquid center. So cool it a bit with patience and use it the day after you make it.

Sun Smarts: Summer 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I thought I would align my annual post about sun safety with Monday's release of the EWG's Annual Sunscreen Guide.

Over the past several years, there has been a very active–and necessary–campaign convincing the public to wear sunscreen daily in order to prevent damage from the sun’s UVA (skin aging) and UVB (skin burning) rays.

Wearing an effective sunscreen on a daily basis is something that can not only prevent burning, but it can help prevent skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there are anticipated to be more than 76,000 new cases of melanoma this year, a number that continues to rise each year at an alarming rate. 

According to Allan C. Halpern, MD, Chief of the Dermatology Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and a Vice President of The Skin Cancer Foundation, more people are getting checked for skin cancer and he says that he believes "that part of the increase in incidence is due to greater awareness of melanoma." In addition to skin cancer, a majority of skin’s premature aging and damage can be linked to sun exposure.

If you get an up close look at the skin of those who do not wear sunscreen or who go to tanning beds (please don’t!), you most likely will notice brown spots, uneven texture and tone, more noticeable fine lines, and wrinkles. I know so many people equate a tan with good health. People will argue that having a tan will make you look thinner, younger, healthier, etc. A tan, though, is evidence of skin damage rather than good health. I am super fair. I burn very easily. Any natural “tan” I get comes a couple weeks after a painful sunburn. 

I am all for having a bronze glow. I don’t want to put on shorts or my bathing suit and see porcelain legs anymore than most of you do. I wear sunscreen and any tan I have comes from a bronzer or self tanner.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SAFE TAN unless it comes from a bottle and is applied to skin that has been protected with sunscreen. "Base tans" are dangerous. Period.

I really believe in my heart of hearts that wearing  a natural sunscreen is one of the single most important things we can do for our skin. There is so much credible evidence out there that advocates the importance of wearing sunscreen. I live in Upstate New York where it is cloudy for much of fall through spring. 

I do not avoid the sun altogether, though, because there ARE benefits-- a more uplifted mood in many cases as well as the benefits you get from Vitamin D. 

That said, I do take care to protect myself against the UV rays.

I wear my sunscreen even in January’s cloudiest days--and there are many of those days in this neck of the woods.  

Avoiding harmful ingredients when it comes to sunscreen, though, can be very difficult. There are some toxic ingredients used in sunscreens and it is up to the consumers to read the ingredients list and know what it good and what is not. I want to provide you with a simple guide to choosing the best sunscreen for your family.

Here are some tips that I recommend:

*Making sure that a sunscreen's UVA protection is sufficient is very important. Both UVA and UVB rays are harmful, but UVA rays are generally more harmful because they penetrate deeper into the skin and can cause the cell changes that are linked to cancer.

*Do not choose sunscreen sprays. While I realize that a spray can be quick and convenient, you end up inhaling what is in the product and this can be harmful to your health. Most sprays also contain artificial fragrance, another health hazard linked to asthma and other health issues.  Yes, it may take a bit longer to apply and thoroughly blend in, but you do not want to sacrifice good health and adequate sun protection by choosing the wrong formula.

*Avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone. This is a synthetic estrogen and some believe it can be carcinogenic. 

*Also avoid using sunscreens with Vitamin A. If the label doesn't say "Vitamin A", look for its derivative Retinyl Palmitate. Why? We know that Vitamin A can be anti-aging--that is why retinol products are so popular. However, retinyl palmitate may speed tumor growth.  This makes sense because we know that Vitamin A makes your skin more sensitive to the sunlight.  That is why you should only use retinol products at night. 

*If you see a product with a label of higher than SPF 50, be suspicious. I have seen products at the store claiming to be "SPF 100+." That sounds super protective, doesn't it? It isn't. The FDA says that numbers beyond SPF 50 are misleading. This gives people a false sense of safety and often makes them think they can stay in the sun all day long. 

The reality is that higher numbered sunscreens really are NOT more effective! You may see a product on the market with an SPF of 50, but in reality that may be MUCH LESS EFFECTIVE than a natural mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or 20 that also provides BROAD SPECTRUM protection, which is what you need.

*Mineral sunscreens are best. Look for products with zinc oxide. These are generally a safer option because they are what is known as a physical sunscreen. Zinc oxide provides the best protection against UVA rays.  Zinc oxide is also STABLE, which is important.

5 Myths About Natural Sunscreen

Myth #1: Natural sunscreens are all thick and hard to rub in.

Natural sunscreens generally are thicker than their chemical-laden counterparts. However, the most natural sunscreens these days are fortified with emollients such as olive oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, shea butter and more. These not only moisturize the skin, but they absorb beautifully into the skin.

Myth #2: Natural sunscreens leave a white film behind on the skin.

This is not always the case. When natural sunscreens first came on the market, they were usually formulated solely around zinc oxide.  This is the ingredient that blocks the sun's rays, but it also can leave that white residue. Products are being formulated to still protect the skin naturally, but also be more user friendly nowadays. Look for a titanium dioxide/non-nano and zinc oxide blend.

Myth #3: Natural sunscreens do not protect your skin as well as traditional sunscreens.

Not true. As long as you use the recommend amount, natural sunscreens will work just as well as chemical sunscreens. By the way, this applies to all sunscreens. If you're not using the proper amount, they won't work as well.  If you do not reapply as recommended or fail to reapply after swimming, they also will lose efficacy.

Myth #4: Natural sunscreens are too expensive.

Natural sunscreens generally are more costly than drugstore chemical-filled and potentially harmful sunscreens. This is true.

What is so important to remember, though, is that a good sunscreen is going to be your best anti-aging product. Since much of aging can be attributed to UV damage, sunscreen is imperative.

Most people will not hesitate to spend quite a bit of money on a night cream or serum or on a handbag or shoes. In fact, I know of people who will spend $250 on a handbag, but do not want to spend the money on an effective natural sunscreen.

Think of it this way: you only have one skin. It should only make sense that you take care of it. Sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer AND help prevent the signs of aging. Not many products can say that!

Myth #5: Natural sunscreens are hard to find.

This used to be the case. Not anymore. As people become more and more aware of the importance of sun protection and harmful ingredients, more and more natural sunscreens are hitting the market. You can find natural sunscreens with ease now at Wegmans, drugstores, and mass merchadise stores like Walmart and Target.


I also would like to address some things I have read from people who take the idea of natural ingredients to a whole other level. You know I am very cautious when it comes to ingredients I use on my skin and my boys' skin. I don't use parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, formaldehyde-releasers, or artificial fragrance to name a few. HOWEVER, I also am realistic. While all-natural is GREAT in most cases, it isn't always the answer for everything. 

Chances are your friend told you, another blogger told you, or your holistic-minded Aunt Betty told you -- "Coconut Oil is a natural sunscreen."  Or perhaps, "Olive oil and shea butter are natural sunscreen."

Folks, this is NOT--I repeat, NOT true. These natural oils may (I say MAY) contain very minor sunscreen properties to a certain extent, but they do NOT provide any UVA protection. They only can very mildly protect against UVB rays. This is because of the cinnamic acid found in shea butter, which anectdotally has been shown to provide some level of protection.


Please check out the newly released 2013 GUIDE TO SUNSCREEN from the EWG. It lists the best natural sunscreens on the market.

What am I using now? 

I also rely on Jane Iredale to protect my face. I use Jane Iredale Amazing Base on my face each day this time of year, with a few spots on uneven tone of the Glow Time BB Cream. Both provide broad spectrum protection and have kept my face completely sunburn free. Click here to shop Jane Iredale.


J.R. Watkins Sunscreen  SPF 30 is great -- and it is only $11.99.

The one I use on my boys is Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunscreen SPF 30 Fragrance Free. It is under $10 as well!

Big Bargains!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Have you been to Big Lots lately? If you have one of these bargain shops near you and you are looking for natural beauty products, food, and some other stuff, you might want to check it out!

You really have to sift through the aisles to find something, but at recent trips to the locations in Irondequoit and Dewey Ave. in Greece, I stumbled upon lots of natural food products from Bob's Red Mill. I stocked up on flax seed meal, which I put in smoothies and in my no-grain pizza crust.

I also found my beloved Sunflower Dream sunflower seed milk for just $2 per container and it doesn't expire until later this summer!

Also found-- K-Cups for my Keurig at just $9 a box. I found Barista Prima House Blend, Van Houtte Creme Bruless, Van Houtte French Vanilla, Van Houtte Costa Rica, and Wolfgang Puck Breakfast in Bed blend.

For just $4 each, they also had Organic Wear by Physicians Formulas bronzer, loose foundation, and finishing powder. What a savings!!!

The biggest bargain I happened to find at the Dewey Avenue Big Lots over the weekend? My favorite sunless tanner!!! And it was THREE BUCKS a container! This is the $34 self tanner I reviewed here on the blog 3 years ago and it is paraben-free Kardashian Glamour Tan! Woo hoo! THREE BUCKS!!! Here is my original review.

UPDATE! ATTENTION!!! The Glamour Tan from Big Lots? SKIP IT! I stocked up. BIG mistake! This is NOT the same quality as the one I last had. It came out LIKE had a funky smell to it, as if it had gone bad :(

Have you found any deals lately?  Share them with me!

The Benefits of Seaweed

Monday, May 13, 2013

I am having a love affair with seaweed lately. I have always read up on the benefits, but pretty much skipped incorporating this into my life other than having a seaweed body wrap done at a day spa. Why is it one of my favorite ingredients now? For many reasons!


 I have told you about my lifestyle overhaul, which began in late winter. Now TWENTY pounds lighter, more energetic, and more content in general, I can attribute that partly to seaweed. You may know that I cut out sugar and wheat from my diet, started stepping up the exercise, etc.  I also started taking capsules called Emerald Sea each day. To be exact, I take three daily.

Emerald Sea is an all-natural blend of 7 sea vegetables, including Organic Norwegian Kelp, Organic Dulse, Organic Kombu, Organic Bladderwrack, Organic Sea Lettuce, Organic Wakame, and Organic Nori. This is a proprietaty blend from Emerald Essentials and all of the ingredients are certified organic and have been sustainably harvested by hand.

I have been taking Emerald Sea for 3 months now.

I have experienced many benefits.

*My last round of bloodwork was stellar. No problems at all. My doctor commented on how good my bloodwork now is.

*Adding this to my daily regimen has really helped shrink my belly! I really believe that Emerald Sea has played a major role in my weight loss because it helps to regulate metabolism.

*Emerald Sea is a natural source of iodine, and I believe that is why my thyroid levels are so good. I was on the verge of being put on medication and that is no longer the case.

*I have carpal tunnel syndrome and have intermittently had to wear a brace.  Typing is often painful for me and has been on and off for the past 15 months.  My symptoms have greatly diminished. I also attribute this to Emerald Sea, which has been shown to help with bone and joint health.

*My skin has benefited from the sea vegetables, too. My skin is so clear an feels so supple. Seaweed has many skin benefits!

After experiencing the benefits of Emerald Sea, I have looked for other ways to incorporate seaweed into my daily life. Here are some of my favorite seaweed items--

*Trader Joe's has seaweed chips for just $0.99 a bag. The treat is called a Roasted Seaweed Snack and it's pretty tasty! I have some everyday. Because the only carbs (1 g.) are from fiber, it is a truly no carb snack. They have regular and wasabi. I am a wimp and it feels like the inside of my nose is on fire when I have wasabi, so I always get the regular!

*The Seaweed Bath Company has a lovely, super rich foot butter made with Bladderwrack that is just lovely! It is called the Wildly Natural Seaweed Foot Butter and retails for $9.99.

*100% Pure has a newer line of hair care and I am loving the Kelp & Mint Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner! It smells heavenly and I love how they make my hair feel as I am in the growing out stages and want some oomph! My hair is super shiny with these items. Seaweed is mineral-rich and can stimulate hair growth and improve the overall health our your scalp and hair.

Here is a great article from Mao Shing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., PhD about the benefits of seaweed on the Dr. Oz website: Dr. Mao Shing Ni article

Is seaweed a part of your life?  Share what you love about it in the comments section below.

Congrats to the Silk'n Flash & Go Winner!!!

We have a winner of the $299 Silk'n Flash & Go permanent hair removal system!!! The winner was chosen at random via Rafflecopter/ and will be sent the product directly from the company. CONGRATULATIONS! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mother's Day Giveaway: Silk'n Flash & Go

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We have given away some really fantabulous prizes over the past 6 years on Chic & Green, but this one is the best!

Yesterday, I told you all about the Silk'n Flash & Go Permanent Hair Removal system. It has worked for so many thousands of people and I am using it right now with some great results.

How would YOU like to win one?

Now is your chance!

The folks at Silk'n are going to give away a Silk'n Flash & Go to one of my lucky readers in honor of Mother's Day!

This contest is open to all of my US and Canadian readers over the age of 18. Follow the steps below to enter. A winner will be chosen Sunday, May 12th and announced Monday morning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Silk'n Flash & Go Review

Monday, May 6, 2013

I am hairy. I admit it. I have super pale skin, but dark hair on my body thanks to my Greek genes. My hair also grows SUPER fast. It's something I really have hated and been self conscious about since high school. I remember my friend Ryan saying to me, "Wow! You have more hair on your arms than I do." That was the day I went home and shaved my arms.

Hairy arms, hairy legs....I can remember the horrible smell of Nair, followed by the rash and bumps that would follow after it only took off half my hair. I have shaved, wax, sugared, threaded, epilated, and tweezed hairs from all over my body for years and years. Once I hit the hormone jackpot after having kids, the hair came darker and faster. And in the worst places.

Because my hair grows so fast, waxing keeps it at bay for LESS THAN ONE WEEK. I kid you not. When I shave my legs in the morning, the hair is gone, but my skin is so pale that you can see that dark root deep down practically showing through.  If I sneeze and get goosebumps, it is all over. My legs (or arms) feel stubbly.

Chin hair? Yep. Got it. Pesky hairs growing on the upper lip? An errant hair near my belly button? Yep. It sucks, but it's something I deal with. I can pluck it from the roots and it comes back by the next morning. It is awful.

I cannot even begin to think about how many hours I have spent just removing hair. And I am sick of it. A couple years back, I even had bloodwork done to see if I had some sort of hormonal issue. At least then I would know WHY I grow hair with such ease. It was all normal. I am just hairy.

Enter the Silk'n Flash & Go.

Here is how the website describes the device:

"Silk'n Flash&Go is an innovative light-based device for hair removal with FDA clearance for permanent results. The new high tech design of the Flash&Go applicator allows individuals to properly target and zone into any area that requires treatment. No area is too big or too small!"

The wonderful folks at Silk'n sent me a Flash & Go to experience first hand.  I began my first treatment on March 16th.  First of all, I need to say that I am the ideal candidate for this. It works best on people with light skin and darker body hair. That is me.

I also have to tell you that this is NOT an instant fix. It will take time and multiple treatments need to be done. I cannot tell you, "Wow! I started in March and now I have no hair on my body except where I want it and it is gone forever!"

That is not how this works.  You do treatments every two weeks. Silk'n recommends doing the treatments every 2 weeks at first, progressing to higher levels of energy (ouch factor, LOL). After that 3 to 4 treatments, they recommend once a month if you have hair growth going on.

Eventually, it is ADIOS to hair.

To use this, you need to shave first.  You can't wax or use anything that rips out the root right before doing this. The device is hand held and you plug it in. It isn't noisy, but there is a soft fan noise. If you have ever had a children's hair styling play kit with a battery operated hair dryer, the Flash & Go has that same humming noise. The lights indicate when it is ready and you press the device on your skin and push the button. A flash appears--like an old fashioned camera with a popping noise.

You do the treatments every 2 weeks because of the hair growth cycle. As you know, there are three stages of hair growth. The light can only really impact the hair during the active growth cycle. It is estimated that about 20% of our hair is at that active growth stage at any given time, so you need to space out treatments to be sure that there is a point when it will truly work.

Back to what I called the "ouch factor". I should not have even said "Ouch."  This does NOT hurt. It is a warm sensation on level 1 and when you move up levels, it is nothing more than a warm rubber band snapping sensation. It is NOT painful. Not at all. This is coming from someone who CANNOT tolerate pain. Waxing, tweezing, and using an Emjoi are MUCH, MUCH more painful. This is just warm...on the highest setting it was just a tiny bit of a nuisance. That is all.

I can do the chin/upper lip area in less than 2 minutes.

It takes me about 30 minutes to do both legs up to my thigh and about 10 minutes for both arms. My underarms--the area which seems more sensitive to the discomfort than anywhere else--take all of 2 minutes for both.

The Cons

* My skin is MUCH more photosensitive. This is to be expected with this type of treatment. I typically wear an all-natural sunscreen based with zinc oxide. It is normally effective. After using my Silk'n Flash & Go, this sunscreen does NOT cut it. After being outside for my son's lacrosse game, I have a sunburn on my arms and legs despite using sunscreen. I have found that I need a chemical (more unhealthy) sunscreen with HIGH sun protection if I am out in the sun. And the site does advise you to avoid sun exposure, so they do tell you. With kids playing outdoor sports, avoiding the sun isn't feasible.

*After three treatments, the first cartridge died. The box included a replacement, but I will soon need another. These are $45 each. That said, because this product works and I will eventually not need razors or have to spend all that time on removing hair, this will be well worth it.

The Pros

*After three treatments, the hair on my arms has been reduced DRASTICALLY. In fact, I would say it is about 80% gone. What has grown back is growing very slowly and is MUCH finer and hardly noticeable.

*After three treatments, I do NOT have to shave my legs everyday anymore. I can get away with every 2 or 3 days which is unheard of for me. There are some spots that have NOT yet grown back. This only improves with each treatment.

*After three treatments, the area that seems to be taking the slowest amount of time is the pesky chin area, but it is much better than before. The hair is much softer and the growth rate is slowing down.

*This product is working. I promise to check back and share my results in another few weeks and then again a few weeks after that.

*Compared to laser treatments at a medical spa, this is VERY affordable. Yes, it is $299 right off the bat.  When you think of the thousands of dollars and time spent going to get laser done, this is so much more affordable and so much more convenient! You have privacy, do not have to make an appointment, and results are effective

*This is PERMANENT hair removal. If you are like me and have had it up to HERE with shaving, tweezing, and waxing, this is really a wonderful alternative.

The Biggest Pro

This one is easy. Having this little machine has helped my self esteem. It can be a real bummer to wonder if your legs (or worse--other spots on your bod) are getting a five o'clock shadow within hours of shaving. Who wants that!? The Silk'n Flash & Go is really a fabulous product and I highly recommend it!

For more information about the Silk'n Flash & Go or other Silk'n products, please click here.

Disclosure: I was sent a Silk'n Flash & Go at no cost for possible review. All opinions are my own.
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