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Friday, February 03, 2023

Great Website for The Roots Naturelle Products (free shipping)

 This is gonna be a quickie. I found a new place to buy my Roots Naturelle products. The site is called Black Panther Strong (don't be hating on the name, folks!) and I was really impressed after ordering the hard-to-find (at a good price) Bouncy Curls Hydrating Creme.

Number One, the shipping is free - on all orders. Let's just applaud that from a business. When is the last time you saw free shipping without a bunch of restrictions and small print walk-backs?

Number Two, the packaging and shipping were awesome. I ordered (and was able to pay via PayPal) and received tracking information for my package which arrived 4 days later. Shut. Up. That's almost better than a lot of Amazon orders these days...

When I opened my package, I was surprised and pleased to see that a sample of another product was included. The sample was not simply tossed in like "Here ya go!"; it was in a plastic bag so nice that I'm going to re-purpose it.

I have shopped a lot of online sites for my hair products and this is the first time that I felt so valued and respected as a customer. It's as if good service, good pricing, and pride in product presentation are so rare that I was shocked. All that should be standard but it's not. And this is a family-owned business - so that's another positive point in my book. The family also runs this site carrying The Roots Naturelle products and a larger variety of items.

I am now going to be getting as many of my hair products as I can from this site and I wanted to pass along the link for anyone else.



P.S.: I've reviewed Bouncy Curls back in 2015 but that was when I got the product free via Tomoson so I won't re-post. Instead, I will do an updated review. For one thing, my hair is different now. For another thing, I got that product free of charge and I no longer do those types of reviews. 

Thursday, February 02, 2023

My 5-Star Product List

After reviewing items for years,  I am finally compiling a list of products that I love, love, love. The best way to do this was to make an Amazon list that I could link to - not for you to buy from Amazon, but for you to see the list. Always shop around for the best prices. I purchased some items from Walmart, Target, mom-and-pop shops, and beauty supply stores.

NOTE: I am NOT an Amazon affiliate and I DO NOT get any compensation if you click on the link or buy any of the products. 

The things on the list are items that I have been using for a long time (at least a year and as long as 5 years). There is one exception and that is the Embryolisse cream that I recently reviewed (and it's so good I added it right away!).

There is one thing that I could not add because I did buy it from Amazon and it is no longer available there. It is the  Next-Shine VS6610 Vacuum Sealer Machine. I wanted to share it because I've had mine for over 5 years and, after using it at least once a week, it's still popping along like new. Comparing it to an expensive fancy machine that I was given (one that never worked and was returned), the Next-Shine kicked butt. I got it on a lightning deal for a great price. So, yeah.

Once again, I am only sharing this list because I find it fun to tell you about things I like. I don't get paid or compensated in any way if you click on any links here. That goes for all the reviews I do.

This is the link to my "FreeBeing's 5-Star Items" Amazon Idea List. This is the link to my Amazon profile so you can see my other lists if you'd like.



Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Best Multipurpose Beauty Product EVER

The best product I have in my bathroom pantry is also one of the cheapest. Back in the day, my mom used petroleum jelly but it's much too heavy for some uses. I have gone a better route.

Anyway, I'm not going to tease you with a lot of lead-in jibber jabber. The product is a bottle of glycerin that costs me about 50 cents per ounce. I'm not sure if the brand matters but I have used this one from NOW Solutions for about 5 years or more (since I moved to Iowa where the winters are harshly dry).

Just glycerin*. That's it.

One bottle usually lasts me about 6 months (I do Subscribe and Save) and I never have paid more than $10 for a 16-ounce bottle. Depending on how you use the product, you may go through a bottle faster. (Keep in mind to test that you are not allergic to glycerin. Use your common sense.) Here are some of the ways I use my glycerin:

  • Relieve dry skin or cool down from heat - Add it to water - I use about 5 parts water to 1 part glycerin - in a spray bottle. I spritz my face and hair throughout the day to relieve dryness in the winter or cool myself down from the heat in summer. I have lately begun to add rosewater to glycerin for this.
  • Skin & hair spritz - Add a few drops of glycerin to rosewater for my hair and skin. I can use this all year round to help with dryness.
  • Boost hair products - For my hair products that are not as moisturizing as I like, I will mix some with a bit of glycerin. 
  • Boost cheap lotions - As with hair products, the same goes for cheap lotions except I tend to add a lot more glycerin to lotion.
  • Soften scented lotions - When I buy a scented lotion and want to tone down the fragrance - or make the lotion last me longer - I will add glycerin.
  • Hair mask - If I don't have any conditioning masks handy, I will make some using regular conditioner and glycerin. I have sometimes added yogurt to this mix and I recently tried adding powdered goat milk. You have to choose and adjust any additions depending on your hair type, texture & needs. My hair tends to be dry so, often enough,  just adding the glycerin will work.
  • Dry feet - For dry feet or after a nice pedicure, I slather on glycerin and put on some socks for a few hours or overnight.
  • Perfume boost - Instead of petroleum jelly, rub glycerin into your damp skin & let it rest before applying perfume. This only works so-so for me but other people say that it helps a lot with the longevity of their scents.
cheap little sprayer
  • Lip balm - Add a little with a drop or two of water or another oil to a small container to dab on your lips. Glycerin does have a sweet taste so you may or may not like that. I have added food flavoring to these balms to help with the taste.
  • Lip scrub - in place of coconut or other oils, use glycerin in your homemade lip scrubs. I like to use glycerin and water with a small amount of baking soda.
  • Cuticle care - rub some into your dampened nails and cuticles. After I do remove any gel polish, I use glycerin for several days to treat my nails.
  • Face wash - On the rare occasions that I use anything other than oils to clean my face, I use glycerin. This is especially when I use any soap product. Also...
  • For a face & neck wipedown - if you are on the go and cannot properly wash your face and neck, use a baby wipe and glycerin with water to clean away oil, dirt, and sweat without drying out your skin.
  • Body wash - Add a few drops to your body wash. I tend to use "moisturizing" body wash but if I do use any other kind, I add a little glycerin.
There are probably several more ways to incorporate glycerin into your personal skin and hair care - just like with some of your favorite oils. My most-used formula is probably the water-glycerin-rosewater mix. And don't bother buying the pricey rosewaters made specifically for the skin or hair. The cheapest and best rosewater I have found is the Cortas brand which is mainly used for cooking and baking. I like it best because it's just rosewater and nothing else.

Just rose water. That's it.
By the way, when I was writing this, I decided to look up how other people use glycerin and randomly found some sources and am surprised by some of what I learned:
  • WebMD - always points out cautions. This is not a substitute for checking with your doctors, folks!
  • From Very Well Health - I did NOT know about wound healing or laxative effects. Wow.
  • Homesteading - You can treat mouth ulcers with it???
  • Bellatory - explains how to make bath bombs and soap. I've seen glycerin soap. I'm too lazy to make my own!
  • Lifehacker - There are ways to use glycerin around the house. (I'm leery of anything with the word "hack" in it but...)
Basically, you can replace - or boost -  a lot of products with glycerin. You're welcome.


* Vegetable glycerin is usually made from some type of plant source (vs animal). The label does not indicate the source for this brand's product, and neither does the NOW website as far as I could tell. However, this is the detailed description given about halfway down the Amazon product page: 
Pure vegetable glycerin is an outstanding moisturizer and skin cleanser that also provides softening and lubricating benefits. It’s easily soluble in water, making it suitable for use in all of your favorite cosmetic applications. Pure vegetable glycerin has a long shelf life and does not easily oxidize. It is derived from non-GMO palm, grape seed, or coconut oil. Ingredient: Glycerin. (my bold)

**REVIEW** Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré (Hidden Beauty Gem)

 Those beautiful French women have been holding out on the rest of us! I see you, Marciella!

As you all know, I have been going through a cycle of trying-loving-ditching face moisturizers. Mama did not tell me that my skin was going to go through this many changes as I age...

For the record, I am still using my homemade goat milk-glycerin lotion as my go-to body moisturizer. I am still using German Nivea as a night face cream and foot cream. But, for taking care of my aging (dry, sensitive, and tap-dancing on my last good nerve) facial skin, this is what I have landed on. 

I love this Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré and still have to Google how to pronounce the name. Shut up. (BTW, it sounds like  "om-bree oh-leese lay crim". You're welcome.)

I'm sure that in 6 months or a year, my skin might do an about-face and possibly need a change-up but this stuff satisfies all my facial skincare needs - including price. And we all know that for my broke self, that price is the deal-breaker.

Here is what I like, love, and crave about this:

  • The texture. It's like a wet cream. It's light, non-oily, not thick (or too thin), and very spreadable.
  • There is no scent. 
  • The first ingredient is water.
  • The main ingredients (other than water) are shea, beeswax, aloe, and soy.
  • It's affordable at $14 a tube. (And a dot the size of a baby aspirin treats my entire face.)
  • It's not made in China.
  • It doesn't break out my skin - nor make it shiny.
  • It makes my skin feel supple & it immediately soothed it and cleared up any dryness.
  • It's multi-use & can be used on the face & body; as a mask; as a makeup base & remover; and as an aftershave.

It's been since before the pandemic that I've even thought about wearing makeup. If I'm feeling pippy, I might put on some lip gloss. To be honest, I was thinking about getting a tinted moisturizer though because my face has been so dry and dull-looking. The Nivea and my oils work to make my skin feel better but I'd lost some of the natural natural-ness if that makes sense. 

I'm not mad. That's just my regular face!

About two days after I started using this, I noticed that my skin was looking back to its old self - "old self" as is healthy, not as in "I'm 30, y'all!" I mean, this stuff is good but it's not magic!

In addition to what this does for my skin, I have to add that I'm impressed with how well-packaged the product is. It's been a long time since I've used a beauty product that was very clear and detailed about ingredients and manufacturing. Our French brothers and sisters are on to something.

Anyway. Unless something drastic happens, you all won't hear me talking about another "holy grail" moisturizer for a long while because I did a subscription to this.

So now, I have this, my oils &  homemade goat milk body lotion, and the Nivea for my feet. I'm done.


By the way, unlike the TikTok and YouTube folks who tout "holy grail" products, I do NOT get paid, sponsored, or compensated in any way for the items I review. I don't even have an Amazon page that I link to for affiliation or compensation. So there.

Bottom line: I only review products that I actually buy & use. #just saying.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

**REVIEW** Uncle Funky's Daughter Travel Kit

 Since I've tried Aunt Jackie, Miss Jessie, and Carol's Daughter, I figured I'd give Uncle Funky a shot. The first thing I can tell you is that getting a trial kit or samples is best. The full-sized items tend not to be cheap...

The first thing I did was text one of my nephews to tell him that I was going to try some hair products by "Uncle Funky". After we got through laughing about it, I did actually give all 5 products in the travel kit a test.

By the way, I'm being silly. The product line is Uncle Funky's Daughter, and I (kind of) love the name. But it's a long 'un so I'll tag it as UFD from now on.

First I have to admit that I only got the travel kit (with some Google Rewards money) because honey chile! The individual products are priced as if they are Uncle Funky's Gold... You can take a peek at the UFD Amazon storefront or go to the official UFD site.

The kit is nicely presented in a little plastic zip case. There was even a security zip tie on the zipper when it arrived. I appreciate that because we've all gotten products that were wrapped in cheap, stained plastic.

The insert cards give an overview of the key ingredients for each product. As when trying any new hair product, I first did a wash and condition. I began applying the UFD products to my towel-dried/damp hair in the order suggested on the insert. I will use that order to give my take on them. The descriptions are from the Amazon product's "About" section.

(When ordering via the UFD official site, shipping is free on orders over $49 & customers can earn "reward points".)

Step 1 - Midnight Train (8oz) Amazon: $18.54 ($2.32 / Fl Oz)  UFD: $10.99 

Lightweight, herbal conditioning mist. Strengthens dry, weak strands. Adds softness and pliability for comb-out. Works best on curly and kinky textures. Mist generously on hair strands.

Me: 4 .5 stars for the effects and pricing. This smells good - Has a very light, soapy-green scent. It is moisturizing and I think it's what kept my hair from drying out for a few hours after washing. That moisture did not last and I can tell that I would have to re-use the spray more than once a day. It does make my hair feel very soft while it is working. As with the next product, this worked better on my day-old hair.

Step 2 - Supercurl (8 oz) (or Extra Butter) I used Supercurl first. Amazon: $21.99 ($2.75 / Fl Oz) UFD: $19.99

Smooth, lightweight, no-hold formula; Adds amazing softness and moisture, Stretches tight curls to aid in comb-out, Works well on all curl patterns and styles, Rub in palms or on strands and style;

Me: 3 stars for the effects and pricing It smells okay - like a basic rinse-out conditioner. This added more moisture and softness on top of the Midnight Train. My hair does not love coconut oil products for some reason. this did not help my newly washed hair. It works much better on my "day-old" hair and it really boosted the moisture. If I use this to freshen my hair after having used my usual products (StaSofFro), it's wonderful. I like that it softens my hair without adding a heavy or greasy feel. I don't like it enough to pay what it costs...

Step 2b - Extra Butter Curl Forming Creme (8oz) Amazon:$19.99 ($2.50 / Ounce) UFD: $19.99

Thick, creamy, whipped formula; Fortifies curls with natural shea butter, coconut, and palm kernel oil. Elongates curls, detangles & deeply moisturizes to aid in comb-ability. Provides residue-free style ability with this moisturizer. Apply evenly through damp or dry hair, then style.
Me: 3.9 stars for the effects and (mainly) the pricing Another light, clean and unobtrusive scent. This is a product that I would think about getting in spite of that ridiculous price. My hair is a mix of curl patterns - some strands are really curly/coily, some are straight and some are just slightly wavy. This crazy hair of mine is also resistant to curl creams. The only ones to work best are the eco-styler types and Taliah Waajid's Curly Curly Cream. This one is somewhere in between those types. It's not super thick like Curly Curl and it's not a "sticky styler" like the eco gels. I like it the most out of the products in this kit. The downside is that this works best on day-old hair after I have used other softening products. There's not a lot of reason for me to switch from the Curly Curl by Taliah Waajid. On the other hand, if someone with a more consistent curl pattern asked me, I'd recommend this.

Step 3 - Curly Magic (18 Fl Oz) Amazon:$24.99 ($1.39 / Fl Oz) UFD: $24.99

Aloe-based formula; natural fragrance.  Firm hold provides lasting curl definition. Delivers unmatched frizz-fighting ability. Defines curls in curly, wet hair. Finger comb thru soaking wet hair.

Me: 2 stars for the effects and pricing (and smell) I hated the smell of this one (like Eau de floral gasoline) and the texture is of an almost obscene slimy viscosity. I guess some people would say that at least it has "good slip"... Ugh. To be honest, I think I used this one wrong. The product page says to use it on soaking wet hair while the insert says wet or damp hair. By the time I tried it, my towel-dried hair was only still damp from the other products. I just can't with this one - because of the smell and that price.

Step 4 - Thirsty Curls (8 fl oz) Amazon: $14.99 ($1.87 / Fl Oz) UFD: $14.99

Lightweight, coconut water-based mist. Revives the bounce in frizzy, fallen curls. Aids in comb out and styling. Great for day-after Curly Magic use. Spray generously and fluff style.

Me: 3.5 stars for the effects and pricing The smell of this one is neither bad nor good, but it is odd. In my opinion, this is a decent product but, like the others, it does not play well by itself. It was good on my day-old hair but, as I mentioned, by then I'd had to use some StaSofFro. This did help refresh the moisture but I have several cheaper products that do the same.

So, overall, what do I think about these products? 

I have to tell you, nothing really wows me enough to pay the current prices. I'd be more inclined to dish out for the Midnight Train at $10.99 and the Extra Butter at a much lower price (if I didn't like my current and more affordable products better).
The main issue for me is that these don't really work well as stand-alone products. Also, they don't solve my dry-hair issue without my having to supplement them with something like StaSofFro. That's not a big problem because I find that to be the case with several other products. But these are much pricier. If I'm paying 15 to 25 bucks for a hair product, I don't want to have to spend more money to boost its effects. 

On the other hand, I can see that for some hair types, UFD products would be really good. As I mentioned, my hair doesn't like some of the key ingredients and my nose obviously hates some of the smells. 

I have one niece with a 2b hair type and I think I'm going to send her this kit. As for me and my nappy naps, I will stick with my current regimen - which now includes a hairdressing cream I'm loving. I will review that soon (or have, depending on how I schedule the posts!).


Saturday, January 21, 2023

If Sellers Noted "American-Made"...

 Look, I'm trying really hard to buy American-made stuff these days. Maybe I should be totally honest and say that I'm actually trying hard not to buy China-made stuff. But, as I've said more than once, that's tricky.

If sellers of non-China-made products wanted to rack up more sales, they'd be smart to make sure that the country of origin is prominently marked. I know for sure that if Amazon sellers displayed the country of origin more boldly, they'd get more sales.

Right now, when I'm browsing for something (the latest thing was a bowl scraper), I have to play detective to find out where the item is made. Often, I have to contact the seller or put in a question for other shoppers to tell me. 

A few weeks ago, after I got my Christmas present (another stand mixer, y'all, to replace the one that I killed), I wanted to get an Anchor Hocking measuring cup. My mother always used A.H. cups and cookware (along with Corningware and another brand I can't remember right now). I remember that the measuring cups were really accurate and sturdy. You could throw that glass across the room and it wouldn't break. (I won't tell you how I know that!)

Let's take a moment to talk about prices, shall we?

I went to Amazon (of course) but the prices were outrageous! One 4-cup measuring cup was priced anywhere from $18 to $35. I'm not kidding. Well, that's a big old Not For Me. A couple of days after I saw those prices, I was ordering groceries from Walmart and happened to see the very same Anchor Hocking cup - for $5.17. I almost broke a finger putting in the order. To make it better, for $3.90, there was a 2-cup size. Yep. Got it.

My insurance covers certain OTC items ordered through Walmart. So the other day, I was getting some vitamins and... happened (yes, happened) to see an Anchor Hocking 5-ounce measuring cup. For under $2.50,

Just because I was curious, I tabbed over to Amazon to price the same cup. The prices were all over the place. Some were as low as 9 dollars (the same as the non-sale price at Walmart) and a couple of them were as high as $25. A couple of the cheaper ones were not Prime so the shipping was crazy high.I snagged the one from Walmart.

Okay. Back to the country of origin thing...

Now, here is my gripe about the beloved Anchor Hocking brand...

When I did a quick "where is it made" search, this kind of thing came up more than once:

Anchor Glass Container has manufacturing facilities in China; Tampa, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; Warner Robins, Georgia; Lawrenceburg, Indiana; Henryetta, Oklahoma; Shakopee, Minnesota; and Elmira, New York.


I checked the Anchor Hocking  website and saw this:



We’ve been making Anchor Hocking glassware right here in the USA for more than a century. For all that time, our products have remained a staple in kitchens around the world by staying on the edge of craftsmanship and in the center of American-made quality. 

Supporting American jobs is a source of great pride for us, and it’s important to our customers too. They appreciate our dedication to the workforce here at home. And abroad, “made in the USA” means something else – quality.

Well, that... reassuring???

Anyway, I love the Anchor Hocking brand for the same reason I love Lodge and the original-made-in- New York Corningware, and hot grits with butter: my mama did. (By the way, I think modern Corningware items are made in France.)

So I've got my set of Anchor Hocking cups and I've got the beautiful uh, made-in-China Cuisinart mixer the kids got me for Christmas so I'm good. (I'm still mad that I thought Cuisinart was made in the USA and that they put the c/o in the smallest font possible on the bottom of the box!)

Apparently, I can't afford any more measuring cups, no matter where they are made so it's a good thing my set is now complete... Hopefully, my glass cups will last as long as Mama's did. Hers never did break but I have no idea who I gave them to when we were moving house. I do still have a couple of the good old glass bread pans from her .

Anyway. I wish there was a way that I could get word to a lot of sellers. If they could help the customer out by letting us know that their items are NOT made in China, that would be a big help to us and a boost for them.

In the meantime, I literally have "Is this made in China?" pinned to my PC clipboard. That way I can just plug it into the question box for Amazon products. Yeah. It's like that.



Monday, January 09, 2023

YSK: How To Contact a Seller on Amazon

 This is  something I shared on Reddit's You Should Know sub and wanted to share here also:

Why YSK: Because you might want to deal directly with the seller about any issues before contacting Amazon.

As far as I know, this works best with items you've bought (that are not "sold by Amazon") There are 2 ways to contact the seller of something you've bought:

1. On your Orders page, find the product and go to the Order Details. Click on the "sold by" link to see the seller's storefront, or click on the "Ask Seller" link.

2. Go to the Seller Feedback page, find the specific product & click on the "View Seller Profile" link. 

The first way is best because there are times when you may not be able to offer feedback. 

I didn't know about these ways for a long time. It's the best way to let ask any questions of the seller or to let them know if you had problems. Otherwise, try contacting Amazon with the chat/phone call option. I prefer chat because I can copy/paste the convo for reference if needed.

(Honestly, I do try to always buy items "Sold by Amazon" because it's much less hassle.)

This is on the Orders page. Find the "view order details":

Order Details has 2 links you can use to contact the seller:

This is found on the Feedback page. 
You can use the "view seller profile" to get to the contact/ask a question page:

Whenever I have contacted the seller, I (usually) get better results than trying to go through Amazon's chat. Also, your email is protected because the emails are routed through Amazon and not directly to your email address.

By the way, I did the Reddit YSK post because, apparently, a lot of people don't know how to contact a seller when they have problems or questions. Half of the  "Can you answer this question" emails I get from Amazon involve queries that only the seller can answer. One recent question had to do with whether or not a product is kosher. That's really important for some people but only the seller can be responsible for the answer.



Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Quick Rant (and when brands cheat on pricing)

If you want, you can skip the rant and go straight down to the list of money-saving tips. They are things I've learned about that save quite a bit of money. Or you can keep falling for marketing hype and making greedy people rich...

The Rant:

I was shopping for some more of the Root Erase permanent hair dye I've used in the past. It was $9.97 when I bought it for the first time a couple of years ago. I was able to get multiple uses from it because I only need to touch up my temple hairs (mostly). I ran out and don't want to deal with the henna process right now. What does the same product now cost? $19.99 - and that's with the current 33% markdown... It's typically $29.99. 

 Now, this is where the rant really comes in: all the other similar products are in that high price range. I could find single-use products for cheap but... Just when I gave up and was resigned back to doing henna, I decided to check one more thing. What, I wondered, do men pay for dye? Answer: $8.52 for a tube that I can use over and over and over.

The Tips & Tricks (some are repeats from prior posts):

  • Don't buy women's razors, shampoo, dye, etc., without checking what's on the shelves for men... And when comparing chick products against our wonderful male counterparts, make sure you are comparing ingredients and not just the marketing labels & hype. Results are what matter.
  • Don't you dare spend a lot of money on those Lemi Shine "dish detergent booster". The full product description on most retail sites is "Lemi Shine Dish Detergent Booster, Citric Acid Cleaner, Pre-measured Tablets". Right now, you can spend about $10 for 15 tablets. Meanwhile... I often buy citric acid by the pound for less than that. I mix some citric acid with water to put into my dishwasher's rinse cycle and I add the powder when washing clothes or doing any other cleaning with this hard as metal tap water.
  • I have stopped using Zzzquil to battle insomnia when my magnesium oil's not working. I recently discovered that Benedryl and Zzquil have the same "active" ingredient: diphenhydramine. One of my infusion nurses almost fell over laughing when I told her. She thought I always knew this - otherwise, why do I go into such a doze coma after taking Benedryl prior to infusions?
  • I cut way back on buying pricey lotions, conditioners, etc after I learned to boost the cheap stuff with guar gum and/or powdered goat milk. I had no idea that guar gum was so good at softening the skin and conditioning the hair! I thought it was only good for giving my Ninja Creami creations better texture.
  • Speaking of hair and beauty products, years ago, I learned about buying and using base ingredients to make cheap versions of my favorite staples. I don't get into the complicated ingredients that I'd need a science degree to use but buying the same oils, emulsifiers, and such things that are in the store-bought stuff... genius.
  • Another reason I shop at suppliers like Making Cosmetics is because of the quality of carrier oils and other ingredients. I do like Majestic Pure's oils but I can often get my jojoba and such cheaper at cosmetic suppliers. Piping Rock has bad customer service but I will shop there for cheap stuff that I'm not as picky about. I often get my Marula oil from them.
  • Back on the magnesium oil that I use to help induce restful sleep. After using it that way for years, I learned that applying it to the underarms makes for a good deodorant.
  • Maybe the simplest way I started saving money a long time ago was by not buying purse/pocket-sized grooming products. I can buy (in bulk) cheap little containers - again from the same place you can buy cosmetic ingredients if you want to avoid Amazon. I have a baggie full of little squeeze tubes, and small bottles with lids and dispensers. I use them to hold small amounts of whatever I like to have on the go or in my purse/pocket and for traveling. The tubes and bottles come in plastic that will safely hold lotion, vaseline for the lips, and even perfumes. They come with sprayers and droppers, etc and you can get them in glass if you prefer. The same goes for not buying both full-size and travel-size perfumes. There are cheap little roller bottles available to transfer perfume into. I think the first set of empty glass perfume sprayers I bought was at Perfumania back in Anchorage. Using the spray nozzle on a perfume bottle, you can aerate small amounts into cute and handy purse-size sprayers. If you want to really be cheap, you can order empty perfume sample tubes (with sprayers) from Amazon or a cosmetic supplier. 
  • When it comes to cleaning products - think Lysol Greased Lightning, etc. - buy the big refills and fill up some of the cheap (but good) empty sprayers. I will buy empty spray bottles from Menards or Amazon for cheap - as long as they have both the "stream" and "spray" options - and slap a sticky label on them. (Make sure you get the kind that can hold cleaning liquids. I will ask the clerk or go online and read reviews first.) Also, I have bought concentrated odor neutralizers from suppliers to save money. It is cheaper to add water with it in a spray bottle than it is to buy premixed products where I am, as usual, paying for marketing and packaging.
  • Speaking of cleaning products, one huge ripoff is the Mr. Clean "magic" erasing sponges. Those are literally just melamine foam cut into convenient sizes. You can buy that stuff almost anywhere and save money. I wouldn't even start on Amazon looking for it. Sellers have figured out that buyers have wised up and are buying basic melamine. Check local hardware stores for the best prices.
When shopping for anything, try not to be influenced by labels and marketing. Look at ingredients when comparing something like a dandruff-fighting shampoo. Sometimes, it's not that products have the same ingredients overall but where on the label the ingredients fall. Being higher up or lower down on a label tells how prevalent or potent that ingredient is in the product formula. I like to use INCI Dedoder to decipher product labels and compare products. 

the pure citric acid has no fragrance/additives
pure citric acid

The LemiShine has fragrance added

Sometimes though, you just like what you like. For instance, all dark roast coffees are not the same, even when the beans are from the same region. I prefer Yuban and Lavazza to many other brands of coffee. But when it comes to, say, a hair product, I want whichever one does what it says and that usually has to do with ingredients - period.

Here are some examples of the types of products you can use to save:
(and sorry but Blogger is not letting me format photos placement!)

About $3

Concentrated funk-killer! LOL

I share perfume
with my SIL!

I blend this with oils (&
guar to thicken)

For cleaning products
industrial plastic

1st kind I ever used to carry 
perfumes on planes

great for essential oils or perfumes

I use it straight

find at local hardware & paint stores

So there you have some ideas for ways to save or stretch your dollars.

By the way, I am not recommending that anyone go messing with ingredients and chemicals. I am telling you what I have done and used to save money. I am always careful to ask my brother or someone to help me research and understand what I am dealing with. Use your head. Use common sense. Be responsible for what you do.

As far as that hair dye fiasco, I can't be mad at brands for trying to milk us for as much money as possible. I'm just mad at myself for not being savvier. I usually catch this kind of trick. Live and keep learning, I guess. 


Monday, January 02, 2023

Perfumes of 2021-2022

 Perfumes are one of my favorite wastes of money! Whenever I buy one, my first thought is, "Yay!" and my second is, "There goes my coffee budget!" But it's worth it.

Smelling good or just smelling something (or someone) that smells good is such a mood-lifter. It's like one of those memes: I don't buy perfume often but when I do... 

... I try to shop smart. I rarely blindly buy full-size perfume. That's what sites like the ones I list at the end of this post are for. 

Also, I signed up for PopSugarDabble and they regularly send out free samples from Macy's. So, yay. When I am curious about a scent, I check Frangrantica where I can get an overview to see if the notes are to my general liking and to read reviews from other users. Some of those reviews are hilariously brutal! So, I do try to limit my perfume buys and I do try to put a lot of thought into it before I spend even one dollar.

However, I did make 2 blind buys that I will never regret. More on that in a moment. For now, here is my list of the perfumes I've bought or sampled and whether or not I liked them and why. I am mostly having to refer to any Fragantica or Macy's reviews I wrote in the past couple of years. I will link all I can find to Fragrantica for you to read more about the scents for yourself.

The Worst (IMO)

  • Keep Glazed (from The House of Oud). I got to try this from a niche house sample sent to me (I didn't even ask for it, so...). It's described as being "sweet, fruity, tropical, vanilla, coconut, citrus". Sounds amazing but, it was a big nope for me. Did not live up to the hype. I don't generally like anything with "oud" in the name so I shouldn't be surprised.
  • What About Pop (The House of Oud). This is said to be "sweet, vanilla, lactonic, caramel, woody". Another freebie that I loved the sound of but didn't like. Maybe it's the "wood"? I mainly smelled Vaseline in this one. I guess this whole line is more like The House of Nope for me.
  • Juicy Couture (Juicy Couture). This brand is home to 1 of my favorites but this isn't it. It's boring. Thank goodness I got a discounted set of it in stick form. I don't think I paid but $10 for 3 of the little tubes. I think the "green" among the accords is what ruins it for me. So, nope!
  • Irresistible Givenchy Givenchy (Givenchy). A free sample, thank goodness. Described as having "musky, powdery" notes (which I love) but the "woody" (yep, there it is), "iris" and "fresh" makes it smell like soap. Not good, clean soap but just boring and generic, sales-bin soap. Says something about places I've shopped...
  • Soft (Al-Rehab). Saw on Amazon for cheap and liked the idea of "citrus, caramel, vanilla". It made me smell like a man. Not a bad-smelling man but more man than any woman. If that makes sense - because I do have a couple favorite por homme scents. I also tried Al-Rehab's Golden Sand and it's another non-favorite.
  • Dreams (Mariah Carey). This one surprised me by being so bad that I think maybe I got a fake. How the heck can "vanilla, sweet, powdery" come off like this??? It smells so cheap and Barbie Doll-like that I am still horrified. Usually, when I don't like a certain perfume, I can pass it along to someone on whom it smells better. This was so bad that I demanded that Amazon give me a refund and I trashed it. I told them that if it wasn't a fake, Ms. Carey should claim that it is. Got my refund.
Okay, that's not a full list but you get the gist. I hate woody smells, and smokey or harsh notes but love soft, vanilla, caramel scents. Next up are the ones I gave away or that just sit in a drawer to be blended with something else.

The "Meh" Collection
  • The Only One (Dolce&Gabbana). I am still super-ticked off about this one. I used a gift card to get a roller-ball from Sephora. I shouldn't be surprised. The description mixes my favorites (caramel, sweet, powdery, vanilla) with "violet, coffee, warm spicy". Who does that? And why? This doesn't reek but it smells (on me) like warm hair grease with a spritz of perfume to kill the hair grease smell. I gave it to a nephew who can wear any scent and smell amazing. Have at it, buddy!
  • The Mix:Bar collection (Target) is decent. I tried a sampler set and liked a couple. However, the Coconut Palm and Sparkling Hibiscus were okay but forgettable. The Mix:Bar collection is a budget line and the scents fade as fast as they dry on your skin, My hair will hold a scent longer so that's how I use the rest of this sampler. These two just didn't "whelm" me one way or the other. For my hair and undergarments, I do like the Cloud Musk (it really does mimic Cloud from Ariana Grande) and Vanilla Bourbon. They were good but so weak.
  • Vanille (Solinotes). Another "budget" line I found on Amazon and as weak (or weaker) than the ones from Mix:Bar. I it and the Tonka scent with Google Reward Points and use them as hair scents.

There are some others but all too forgettable to waste time mentioning.  I will suggest that, if you get a perfume that is almost but not quite there, try layering it with other scents or a scented powder or lotion. That will sometimes unlock hidden magic.

Now for my fave-fave-favorites! There was a time when I wore a lot of Guerlain and Versace scents. Those times have passed. I needed to break out of old habits and explore things more in my ~hahaha~ "budget". I'm glad I started looking not at bougie names and prices and started paying attention to my favorite notes - regardless of what's on a label. I now have **** scents that I claim as staples.

The Most Loved

By the way, you will notice a trend here that still surprises even me

Fancy (Jessica Simpson). All I ever knew about her was to do with some chicken or tuna thing she said. But this perfume... Baby girl done went and did it. The others on this list are in no particular order but this is number one. It was a blind buy recommended after I loved another scent on this list.

This is everything - ev-ver-ree-thing - that I love in perfume. It's got the "sweet, vanilla, caramel, powdery" cloud that I always wanted. There's some amber and almond there with a tiny bit of floral to hold it all together. It's been years since a scent smelled so marvelous on me that I always get asked what I'm wearing. A receptionist at a doctor's office liked it so much that she actually wrote down the name.

Not A Perfume (Juliette Has A Gun). Fancy is my flirty perfume but Not A Perfume is my I'm-grown-and-killing-it perfume. It's very soft but memorable. Actually, I describe it the same way I did a former favorite, Glossier's You, as being like very soft and powdered tissue. Not toilet paper but the fancy wrapping tissue I'd get with Nordstrom gift boxes. Weird, yes, but that's what it reminds me of. It's a lot of powdery, soft, and feminine quietness in a bottle. "You" was like that until Glossier changed something. 

Not A Perfume is not a cheap perfume so I get a 5ml bottle for around $16 from the Scent Split decant site. I do the same for my 2 other favorites from the same designer Citizen Queen and Vanilla Vibes. Vanilla Vibes is one I will live without in favor of the other two. It's got a tangy vanilla, well, vibe to it that I love when I love it and am just "meh" about with I don't. Of all three, Not A Perfume is right after Fancy for me.

Another top one is  Fantasy - Intimate Edition (Britney Spears). I told my friend that I don't know what else these little gals are doing in life, but they did it for real with their perfumes. I bought this blind after reading about the accords, which include all my usual: 
white floral

When you compare it to Fancy's...

white floral

... you see how similar they are. Fantasy is a bit more playful than Fancy. It's almost like the 2 scents really reflect the two singers' public personas. What surprised me is that Fantasy is more "grown up" than I expected. 

Finally, there is another one by a youngster - could I have designed such scents at their age? - and it's Cloud (Ariana Grande). I should not be surprised that I like this so much when looking at the accords:


 What did surprise me is, again, how simple and sophisticated this is. I only have a decant for now but I might have to get a bottle soon. I get a lot of compliments - the sweetest one from one of my brothers who said, "That's by who?" LOL

That concludes my top-top-top favorites list but I have to give an honorable mention to another little floozy (just kidding, people, don't go off on me!) and that is Paris Hilton's Can Can. Actually, I stole a vial of this from one of my nieces and ended up buying some more later in a discounted tester bottle (off of eBay I think). 

I wasn't crazy about it the very first time my niece let me try hers. When I tried it later, it was beautiful. It's one that I love to layer with others - the Solinotes Vanilla or Mix:Bar's Cloud Musk - but it plays well solo, depending on how hydrated I am or what the weather is like. I won't go out of my way to buy this unless it's on sale, a decant, or as a tester but I do like it quite a lot.

Other honorable mentions:

Just Because

I've said that I have (and do) wear or enjoy fragrances for men - not just on them but... This is one that I like so much that I spray my pillows with it (you know, in lieu of having an actual man in my bed ~sigh~)

Fahrenheit (Dior). This is probably the most irresistibly attractive fragrance for men that was ever designed. The price reflects it! I did get a microdose and every now and then, I take a sniff. It's just a great smell and I can actually wear it quite well. The first time I ever caught a whiff of it is when a coworker walked past me. I just about fell out of my chair trying to follow the sexy! LOL

Habit Rouge Eau de Toilette (Guerlain).  I have always called this the brother to my beloved Shalimar. I can no longer wear Shalimar well so I sometimes cheat and dab on some Habit Rouge. 

Emeraude (Coty). This is from my youth and was my first "real" perfume. I still keep a bottle of the vintage around (found on eBay). I will spray it on my hair and undergarments when I just want to feel pretty for no reason. Again, can you spot why it's a favorite?

warm spicy

The patchouli is probably the only surprise other than the woody note. I never even notice that when I wear it. I just get a lot of powder and soft vanilla.

So that's it. I will most likely not try too many new perfumes in 2023 now that I've found my Greatest Hits List. 

By the way, I have mentioned here before that you don't have to go broke (or hungry, cold, or homeless) when treating yourself to perfume. There are a lot of sites for buying decants and places where you can get microdoses of perfumes. Also, try buying samples or testers from reputable eBay, Poshmark, and Mercari sellers. If you want to get regular vial-size perfume to try, check out one of the subscription services. And don't forget to sign up for something like PopSugar Dabble. Personally, I use the following sites and have never had problems. 
Hope you all go into this New Year with blessings, hope, and peace.