Wednesday, August 29, 2018

**REVIEW** Purelace Wigs (not what they seem) **UPDATE**

UPDATE: I was only getting "canned" responses from Purelace when I requested refunds. One letter went so far as to try sounding 'girl-friend-ish', calling me "Sis". That pissed me off more than anything. I went through my credit card company to get a refund. I'm still adding comments on every Purelace posting I see. I have learned a lesson. Other ladies tell me that there is no way I was going to get a decent lace front wig for such a low price. Now I know. Now I know.




Note: You might see videos on social media (especially Instagram) for "realistic" lace front wigs. Make sure that you check where the link goes before you get excited. I saw at least 10 videos with different screen names but they all go to Purelace. The following post details my experience with them...

Recently, I've been having problems with uneven hair texture. I figure I need to "rest" my natural hair and thought about protective styling - like braids or a wig. That's how this whole saga started.

I saw the wigs from these folks on Instagram. The video is amazing and that should have been clue Number 1. This is a screenshot from that video. Notice which user it's posted under?
the link goes to Purelace.com

Clue Number 2 came after I order the wigs... I started seeing more of either the same video or videos very much like it. When I thought to check the link the posts led to, I realized they all went to the same website - even though the posts were under different headings. For example, this is a screenshot of a totally different post than the one that first caught my attention:


link goes to Purelace.com
Guess what? The bitly link goes to the same Purelace site I ordered from.  There were (at my last count) over 10 videos under various screen names that all link back to Purelace. Oh, and don't let me forget to mention that they were accused of having stolen the video from another site. I have no opinion about that, but still, people, people, people.

It's like they are playing mind games.

Here's the thing, whether or not I like the product is one thing, but service is a whole other deal. I do NOT like the service and will not likely order from these guys again. Here is why:

  • You have to be a detective to figure out that anything you order will be coming from China.
  • China Post shipments are a pain to track and they take forever.
  • Purelace isn't quick on the order processing. It took DAYS after placing an order before it was actually ready to ship. 
  • Getting in touch with someone is touch and go. There is a contact form on the site but you won't get a quick response - if you get one at all. I had to threaten that I'd have my credit card bounce the transaction if I didn't hear back from someone. They got back to me, but a customer shouldn't have to do that.
  • When I got an email response from someone at Purelace, that email address went dead after a couple of days and mail would get returned to sender (me). Ugh.
  • They have a Facebook page that they are not very active on - except to post more radiant images of their wigs.
  • The whole thing smells, if not scammish, definitely shady.
So let's get to the part where the wigs finally arrived... When you look at these photos, I want you to keep in mind that they are supposed to be full lace and/or lace front pieces:


So... even if they had been lace front, you can see how awfully fake the hair looks. Unlike in the video, you are not able to "part this anywhere" and there is no lace front at all.

Purelace is, in my personal opinion, a steaming hot mess. I'm an idiot for falling for something I saw on Instagram. My bad. But the least I can do is warn others. Mission accomplished. I will let you know what happens as far as getting a refund. I'm done and out,

Peace
--Free

Thursday, August 16, 2018

**REVIEW** KRSI Short Afro Kinky Curly Hair Wig

So.

I have decided to grow my own hair back out after cutting it a while back. There are medicines I take that make it hard for my hair to grow. I have to work hard at getting my hair to grow out evenly and healthily. Oh, how I miss the days when all I had to do was put in some braids for a couple of months... I don't really know anyone here to braid my hair so I decided to try wearing wigs for a while.

I've ordered 3 of the cheaper types and the first one arrived. It's the Short Afro Kinky Curly Hair Wig from the Amazon seller KRSI .  This is what the product page makes the wig look like:




Not bad, right? That's what I thought. Also, all the ladies who posted pictures showing themselves wearing this wig looked pretty amazing.

Yeah.  Well.

At first, I was NOT happy because this is what the wig looked like straight out of the packaging. (And I just realized that I didn't get a photo of the top side. Oops.)



I have to say that the color is more dark brown/red than the described "black" on the product page. Also, the part is SUPER obvious. Not good.  Still, I decided to just put it on and see what it looked like.

Uh... who let the Lion King loose?????

Hahaha!!! Wow...

Oh boy. When I finished laughing at myself, the first thing I thought was that there went $17 down the toilet. I can buy a lot of butter and eggs for that kind of money.

Okay. So maybe I could fix this mess, right? I went online and checked different resources. How to soften the curls in a poofy wig; how to make a wig look more natural; and how to fix an obvious part.

After finding some good suggestions, I used boiling water to soften the curls. Next, I started trimming down the ends so that I had a more manageable length. Last, I used my little eyebrow trimmer to give the part a more ragged look. The results are, I think, much better.




The most helpful suggestion I got came from, I think, Reddit and that was to not be so self-conscious. And that is a true thing. Even if people know that this is a wig, I can just think of it the same way I do makeup: as an enhancer. I have to stop taking myself so seriously, I guess - and stop caring so much what other people think and concentrate more on how I feel. This wig makes me feel pretty.

I'm the only black person in my apartment building. I can't wait until one of my neighbors sees me taking out the trash or something.

Anyway, just to sum up. I will tell you what I like and don't like about the wig. I gave it 4 stars. For the price and quality, I would have given it 5 stars if there had been more instructions for newbie wig folk. I had to work a little too hard on it.

What I like:
  • Looks pretty good for a cheap price
  • Came with a cap, inserted combs, and a set of lashes
  • Was durable under the boiling water (because it's heat resistant)
  • Doesn't shed as much as I expected for the price
What could be better:
  • That part. It's for Caucasian skin even though the wig if made for black people to wear.
  • The seams at the edges are very thick and have to be hidden with your own hair.
  • Took a lot of work to fit it to my liking because it was very long and VERY voluminous.
I will be doing reviews on the other two wigs when they arrive. They are from an Instagram ad that I'm kind of made about now. It will be a while I guess because they are shipping from freaking China...

Peace
--Free





Tuesday, August 14, 2018

**REVIEW** JUUL E-Cigarette

DISCLAIMER: Nicotine is an addictive substance. Using E-cigarettes (vaping) is to be used by adults only. All forms of nicotine use is habit-forming and may be hazardous to ones health. This post is regarding my personal experiences and is not meant to encourage anyone to begin smoking.



As some of you know, I have struggled with cigarette addiction for a long time. I have cut back considerably and, recently, I was able to abstain from smoking. For a while. When I went back to smoking more, I wanted to find something that would help me cut back down and/or quit.

I have tried e-cigarettes before and never found a type that I could tolerate. Either the product didn't satisfy my cravings or it was just plain nasty - and that is coming from a cigarette smoker, so...


This time, I had the chance to try yet another e-cigarette device. It's the JUUL, which is an electronic cigarette from JUUL Labs (formerly PAX Labs).




First, let's discuss the cost of this bad boy. A starter kit will rin you A Starter Kit will run you 50 bucks ($49.99) or about the cost of 5 to 8 packs of cigarettes, depending on where you live. The kit contains the JUUL device, a USB charging dock, and four JUULpods in 5% nicotine strength (Virginia Tobacco, Mint, Creme, and Mango).



 



Once you buy the kit, you will be invited to participate in a research survey. Upon completing the survey (which takes about 20 minutes), you will be given the chance to apply to receive a Visa gift card in the amount (at the time of this writing) $30.00. The gift card offer is legit and comes through either immediately if you sign up for the digital version (which requires the creation of an account) or in about a week or so if you sign up for the physical card.

Now, let's go over what I found to be the Pros:

  • It lacks the other chemicals in a traditional cigarette. (Still, do NOT forget the addictive nicotine.)
  • It's slim, light, and very easy to take with you anywhere. I think this would be the best kind of thing to sneak-smoke if trying to be polite around non-smokers.
  • It charges from a USB port (i.e.: the computer or a phone charger).
  • It's MUCH less harsh, IMO than other nicotine delivery devices I've tried. 
  • You can control the strength of the "hit" you get. If you cover the space where the nicotine pod fits into the device, the hit is stronger. I think it is almost too strong.
  • It's very simple to set up and use.



WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

And now the Cons:

  • It is made to use nicotine pods and, let's say it one more time: nicotine is highly addictive. Also, at the time of this post, there aren't any non-nicotine pods made for the JUUL.
  • Because it is so discreet, it would be easy for people to violate rules and use one where vape devices are not permitted.
  • JUULs are very popular with minors. This is probably the worst thing, IMO. If someone is not already a smoker, I don't know why on earth they should be encouraged to start vaping nicotine. I would like the whole point to be getting cigarette smokers completely weaned off the nasty habit.
  • It's expensive, in some people's opinion. I think that, for someone who lives in a state that puts high taxes on cigarettes (hello, Alaska!), the cost of these for a moderate smoker would be about the same. For me, I have actually cut back on smoking and am really hoping that this will help me to quit. In my case, these are not really that expensive. I will be clocking how long the 4 pods last me and do an update if I remember to.
Honestly, though, I have to say that, as an adult and someone trying to quit traditional cigs for good - this is the best alternative that I've found.

With cigarettes, I smoke full-flavor, non-menthol, 100 size types. I didn't think I was going to like the flavored pods that came in the starter kit. Guess what? The Mango flavor is my favorite. It's not as strong as the Virginia Tobacco pod. I haven't tried the Mint because I have not liked menthol type of cigarettes for a very long time. I will get around to trying them all and let you know what I think.


One more thing I want to mention is that I am already breaking part of my habit. When I smoke, I go outside to a particular spot. With the JUUL, I just take the occasional hit and there's no need to go out in the heat or cold. I realize that a big part of quitting cigarettes is breaking the habits associated with smoking. I'm monitoring my JUUL use by keeping a scratchpad of notes and I try to drink a lot of water instead of sucking on the device!

Peace
--Free








Sunday, August 12, 2018

**REVIEW** Monk Fruit Sweetener

A couple of years ago, when I was actually attempting to do Keto, I did a blog post about the different types of sugar substitutes. It's a great post so go and check it out, but as you know, Keto has gone buh-bye for me. I now do intermittent fasting and just attempt to eat low-carb.

One of the serious issues I have cutting out carbs is not bread or preservatives or any of the common carb bombs. My problem has to do with my coffee. Lately, I have gotten better at sipping black coffee during my fasting hours. I'm still working on tea... Now, it looks like I don't have to give up sweetening my coffee. And it's because of these sugar substitutes right here:


Both brands look the same to me

Those are the 2 brands of mong fruit sweetener I am trying. Don't they look a lot like regular table sugar?

Of course, like with any other trend, everyone in the game and their mama has jumped on the wagon. There are so many brands and types of monk fruit out there that I got dizzy trying to read reviews on them all. That's why I finally just chose the 2 brands to test out.

One is from Health Garden (via Walmart) and the other is Lakanto brand (via Amazon but can be found everywhere).

The Health Garden brand on the left is in 6-gram packets (nice for tucking into my purse), and the Lakanto on the right is a loose form.

Again, looking at the nutrition labels, Health Garden is on the left:








































 Before a couple of weeks ago, I had never even heard of monk fruit. If I had, I'd forgotten all about it. Now I'm really glad I tried it.

Let me go over what I consider to be the Pros:

  • Taste, taste, taste - or, rather, no aftertaste. I literally ate some of both these brands right off a spoon. I wanted to know if I'd get that metallic 'bite' that I do with most sugar substitutes. Nope. Not one tiny taste of nastiness. Remember that I did try Erythritol by itself and I did get that aftertaste. With the other fakes that were tolerable, after this one, they just don't live up to the hype anymore.
  • The cost, while much higher than regular table sugar, is right up there with other substitutes. Also, because this is a health issue, I'm not going to cry about paying around $0.50/oz for the loose sweetener. I was paying $0.11/oz for Sugar in the Raw - which was not helping my fasting.
  • The packets are more convenient, but the loose sweetener is the most economical. Now that I see there is no difference in taste, I know which type to order.
  • You can do everything with this substitute that you can with table sugar - or so I've heard. I don't usually cook with sugar and will probably just stick to using this for my beverages (more on that in a moment).
  • This is a 0 on the Glycemic Index, which I learned more about here. That's going to be important for when I am fasting.
I can't help but come back to the taste being what sells me on this. When I talk about being able to use this in beverages, you don't know what a game-changer it is. I've been wanting to do a liquid fast again. Last time, I did okay but I got really tired of just water and plain coffee and green tea. I looked up some information and it looks as if I will be able to fast and have this sweetener in my beverages. That means... I can add lemonade to the mix. Yay. Lemon water is supposed to be all kinds of good for the body but I could never do it without a little sweetening.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know about this sugar substitute.

Peace
--Free






Saturday, August 11, 2018

**REVIEW** Elebase Galaxy S8 Plus Battery Case

WHY did I not know about this before???  (This is going to be one of two reviews this week that start with that sentence.)

As someone who is always moaning about a dead phone battery, I don't see how the idea of a battery charging case got past me. I'm that chick who was in the airport last year, lurking in the corner, trying to charge my phone ten minutes before boarding a flight. I have one of those external batteries that someone in my family gave me a couple of years ago, but what a pain in the butt. I have trouble keeping up with my phone; I don't need another piece of electronics to keep tabs on.

Anyway, now that my rant is over, let me show you this Galaxy S* Plus Battery Case from Elebase:

Since I don't know much about these cases, I had to read a lot of reviews (as usual) and get my brother's input. He is the one who told me about the "mAh" in the product descriptions. Of course, I have forgotten what it meant, so you better check that link! All I know is, this particular case has 5500mAh - which is supposed to be pretty good. ~shrug~


The actual case looks fairly simple and that's because it is. You can charge the case using one of your phones charging cords or the USB port on your PC. Once it's all charged up, you use it like a regular phone case. You simply insert your phone into the case, making sure that the little metal power thing at the bottom slides into your phones charging hub. (Decode that sentence the best you can...) When your phone's battery is running out, you can have the case battery kick in by touching the button on the back.

You will see your phone charging as if it's plugged into the usual power source. You monitor the case's battery power left by watching the little light on the back.

RED = the case battery has 1%-25% power
BLUE = 25 - 50%
GREEN = 50-75%
WHITE = 75-100%

Now, is it just me, or does it seem like that color system is warped? I thought that Blue would indicate the most charged. Whatever.





********By the way, this is where, if you are paying attention, you could win a free battery charging case for an S8 (not a Plus; just a plain S8). Details at the end of this post***********


The Pros to this item are kind of easy to figure out:
1 - Not having to carry an external battery
2 - Charging case doubles as a case
3 - Simple to use

What I want to talk about are the things that irritate me. The Cons:

1- The biggest issue I have is that the case - while very rugged and protective for the back of the phone - leaves the front wide open for damage. There is no raised 'lip' around the edge. The phone's glass front is not very exposed.




Since the case is so heavy, if you do drop the phone, it's going to hit the ground hard. Also, because of that heavy case, those pop-socket holder thingies don't seem to work as well for gripping it. The first day I had the case, I was holding it by the pop-socket - which popped right off. Good thing I had the phone cupped with my other hand.

2 - When charging my phone, the bottom of the case (where it connects to the phone) gets very, very warm. I also noticed that my CPU monitor always indicates over-heating. The first time, the monitor read CPU at 176 degrees. 

3- That color system for the charging power is double-flawed. Not only is it just weirdly designated but it leaves too much guessing room. A 25% gap is huge when it comes to phone power. I saw other cases that monitored by exact LED numbers. 

I guess I like it well enough. I have ordered a screen protector to use with it. Also, I only plan to use this when necessary - while out and about or traveling. 

So, yes, the idea of a charging case is awesome, but there are not a lot of choices for my S8 Plus model. There are tons of S8 choices, which leads me to the giveaway...

I mistakenly ordered this case and didn't realize it wouldn't fit my phone until the day before it was delivered. Amazon was nice enough to save me the hassle of doing a UPS return. They issued a refund and just let me keep the case to do with as I wish. Well, I won't sell it since it was a freebie for me so I am going to send that blessing forward. I will not be liable for anything after I put this in the mail to you. So don't be coming at me with any problems you encounter. The thing comes with a 24-month warranty for which you will have to apply. The instructions for that are in the case.

The case is by PowerBear and here are some photos:






If you have an S8 phone - not a Plus model - you can leave the comment "I want it" on this very blog post. Whoever has the first comment (by time-stamp) wins. I will notify you by whatever Profile is on your comment. We can take care of the mailing address via email. I will send the case via Flat Rate mail.

That's it.

Peace
--Free





Friday, August 10, 2018

**REVIEW** Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil

A few weeks back I was able to try a Rose Hydrosol (Rosewater) that impressed the heck out of me. As a matter of fact, I just updated that post with some photos.

Anyway, the same company that sent the Rose Hydrosol is letting me try this now:

Majorana Hortensis

That is Sweet Marjoram 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil from Vita Pure (sold by Banyan Pure*). It is (like the Rose Hydrosol) steam distilled.

The botanical name is Majorana Hortensis or Origanum Majorana. There is apparently no difference between the two - mostly - because they stand for the commonly known herb of sweet or knotted marjoram. This particular one I have is labeled on the Product Page as "Sweet Marjoram" so that is the one I will use for looking up all info.



The smell is not unpleasant, but it's not one that I would use as a personal fragrance. It reminds me of Manuka oil with a hint of clove or oregano. When I looked it up, I found that the smell is normally associate with oregano. This is how one site describes sweet marjoram:
Marjoram Essential Oil is derived from the flowering tops and leaves of the Marjoram plant. It's a very close relative to Oregano, and although its scent is similar, it's much less pungent and far more pleasant. It's got a slightly camphorous, woody, herbal scent with a hint of spice. It's actually a very nice scent! (source)

I had to do some research (aka - going to Google!) because Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil is completely new to me. After the success with the Rose Hydrosol - which is antibacterial - I want to try something else that had possible healing benefits. First, I checked WebMD and took a look at some of the ailments that marjoram might be used for with the disclaimer of "lack of sufficient evidence"... It's a long list
Asthma (Early research shows that taking 2 drops of marjoram oil daily along with asthma medication for 3 months might improve lung function in people with asthma better than taking asthma medication alone); Coughs, Colds, Runny nose, Stomach cramps, Colic, Liver problems, Gallstones, Headache, Diabetes, Menopause symptoms, Menstrual problems, Nerve pain, Muscle pain, Sprains, Promoting breast milk, Improving appetite and digestion, Improving sleep, etc. (source)
As with anything, people, we have to use some common sense with these things. So, use your head and do your own research before using any kind of E.O. That said, one of the benefits I will be exploring is the healing of wounds and skin infections. The rosewater has almost completely cleared up the psoriasis on my feet, but I will try using the marjoram in place of the rosewater for the next several days. That way I can save the rosewater which I also like to use as a fragrance and in the diffuser.


By the way, this is what my feet currently look like after using the rosewater for the last few weeks.



Of course, I did use some pedicure implements (which I will be reviewing) and applied more rosewater but you have to know what my feet looked like before!

I also have less itching. That itching used to wake me up out of a deep sleep! I have read where marjoram is supposed to be an analgesic so maybe that will help continue fighting the itching.

One thing I can't even think about is ingesting this. I read that most of the benefits can be gotten from applying topically - with or without a carrier oil - but a couple of people talk about using very small amounts to flavor their food. No thank ya. All I need is to start foaming at the mouth or barking like a dog...

So, bottom line is that there are a lot of potential benefits to this essential oil. I will come back and update on any that I experience.

Peace
--Free



* I am contacting the Seller to find out why the change in names. On the Product Page, it shows the bottled labeled as "Banyan Pure", but my bottle arrived marked as you see in the photo labeled with "Vita Pure" I will let you know what I hear.

DISCLOSURE:

In exchange for providing my fair and honest review, I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free or at a discount using. Regardless, I only review products that I have personally used and can give an opinion of.



Sunday, August 05, 2018

**REVIEW** E.L.F. Cream Contour Palette

Let me start by admitting that I don't use contouring in my makeup routine. I don't even have what you'd call a makeup 'routine'. I just like a little foundation, eyeliner and maybe a touch of lip color. If  I'm feeling wild and crazy, I will use some eyeshadow.

I wanted this palette because I do sometimes need help with my eye area. I notice that having a creamy base helps my eyeliner go on better, The under-eye area looks better when I hide the fine lines.

So... I like having a palette. Most don't have shades that compliment my deep-dark skin tone. This one does. And it's cheap. I got mine from - where else? - Amazon.


Usually, I try to use cosmetics by Black Radiance because they have my shades down pat. B.R. had a similar palette but it was more expensive and had only 1 choice of the deepest shade. I can use every one of these - though I'm not crazy about that Ivory shade up on the left...


I like this one. It is super creamy and smooth. I noticed that, like most inexpensive cosmetics, it can be a little greasy, but, oh well. I tried to get the contrast and sharpness just right so you could better see the arm swatch I did.



love those colors. Well, all except that chalky one up in the corner. As you can see, the darkest color (bottom on arm and bottom right in the palette) could almost work as an all-over foundation for me. That is the one I use in the under-eye area to smooth the look of fine lines.

I don't want to forget to mention that this compact comes with a mirror - one of the good ones, not the cheap lightweight or plastic ones.




What I love most about this is that I didn't have to apply foundation around this. Often, when I use any kind of color on one part of my face - eyes, cheeks - I have to use some foundation so that the added shades aren't obvious. The colors I used in this palette blended beautifully with my natural skin color. Yay.


Other than the slight sheen of sweat (it's been scorching here!), you can't really tell that I have touched up my eye area. That's a good thing.

The one thing that was odd about the palette is that it's not labeled as being Deep, Medium, or Light.  Still, I'm going to give it 5 of 5 stars.

Peace
--Free