June 28, 2013

MidNite Sleep Aid Review

BzzAgent sent me a review kit for MidNite Sleep Aid. I don't usually take anything to help me sleep except an occasional Benedryl, but I have had trouble sleeping in the past and didn't know how to deal with it. My kit included:
  • A full sized 30-count package of MidNite
  • 2-count samples of MidNite to share with friends
  • Coupons good for $2-off any 28-count or larger MidNite product
Going through cancer and surgeries and the extended hospital stays took a toll on my sleep health. During those times, I tried Ambien, but that didn't help provide good sleep and I sleep talked and even woke up to find myself drinking water (it splashed all over my face). I even participated in a sleep study for cancer survivors, which helped a little bit but required some interaction after a meditation period that generally woke me back up. The routine was also not ideal for nighttime awakening.

I took a look at what MidNite claimed before deciding to try it. I don't want to take something addictive or that will leave me feeling like crap in the morning. According to the makers of MidNite, they offer a drug-free formula with a blend of melatonin, lavender, chamomile, and lemon balm. This means you'll sleep more naturally and wake up without feeling groggy. Though it's not FDA regulated like a traditional medication, it is backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and has been well-reviewed by other consumers.

What I liked is the chewable tablets that I could take whenever, without needing water. It's not the greatest flavor, but it doesn't linger so I don't mind. When I'm having trouble sleeping, it really does help. I fall asleep faster and return to sleep immediately if awoken by my cats or a noise outside.

Overall, I'm grateful for BzzAgent sending me MidNite to try. Both my husband and I have used it a few times and will be keeping it on hand for those unfortunate restless nights when we need help sleeping but don't want to feel groggy in the morning. It works.

There is a downside to MidNite. It's not 100% perfect. It definitely seems to help get me to sleep and keep me asleep, but I don't have good dreams. I do dream, so it's not eliminating my REM sleep cycle (assuming here, as I'm not a medical professional), but the dreams are unpleasant. I don't feel agitated and can't really remember my dreams in the morning but I am aware of having bad dreams each time I've tried MidNite. Otherwise, I don't often have nightmares. My husband, and my sister, who have both tried MidNite, said they experienced the same side effect.

To me, the bad dreams are worth a full night of sleep, so I suggest giving it a try. MidNite is gluten and lactose free, great for if you have those sensitivities. They offer three products:
  1. MidNite combines melatonin (the body’s natural sleep-wake regulator) with a blend of natural herbs like lemon balm, lavender and chamomile to induce restful sleep without knocking you out.
  2. MidNite PM takes the original formula and adds bromelain (made from pineapples!) to soothe the minor aches and pains that can otherwise keep you up at night.
  3. MidNite for Menopause is specially formulated with soy-derived genestein isoflavones to provide natural support for menopausal night sweats and hot flashes while also helping you get some sleep.
For more information, visit the MidNite website or check out their Facebook page.

June 24, 2013

The Honest Company Shampoo & Body Wash Review

I've been on the lookout for a gentle shampoo that my daughter and I could share. I don't want my color to fade, and at the same time, I want a product that will be easy on my three-year-old's hair.

Since we order from The Honest Company regularly, I was excited to try Honest's shampoo & body washicon. I had the most amazing luck when just before ordering online, I found a two-pack at Costco. One for me and one for my daughter!

I'm pleased with how gentle it is on both my hair and skin, but the real test is on my daughter. She hates having her hair washed, so I need a product that offers great clean but rinses fast.

I'm sure I used too much this first time, but I wanted to get a good lather. She had a ton of food and crafting stuff stuck in her hair from preschool. The shampoo lathered well and felt like it was doing a great job at cleaning without stripping her hair. Even though I used a lot, it rinsed super fast with no complaints from my daughter. In fact, she said, "Mommy, it smells good!" It really does smell good. :)

We then used it as a body wash, which my daughter loved. She definitely liked this better than using a bar of soap or her usual, less pleasant smelling baby soap.

The Honest Company shampoo & body wash is a winner in our house!

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Honest Essentials are 100% Natural, Non-Toxic, and Affordable! Learn More

June 23, 2013

GHD Flat Iron Review

I have course, thick, wavy hair that's hard to tame, so I usually rely on a flat iron to keep it smooth between washings. Over the years, I've owned five or six irons, all different brands, and all except this one, the usual Target or Walmart variety ($20-30 price point). In the past, I was always complaining to my husband that either the iron handle gets too hot, or I can't get a good smooth look without several passes, which is time consuming, or my hair gets caught between the plates and handle pieces. At the salon, my stylist can straighten my hair quickly, without catching my hair, burning her hands, or frying my hair, so a few months ago, I decided it was time for something much better. I just never expected something THIS nice. As a gift, my husband got this limited edition flat iron from GHD during a Woot special.

Anyhow, what I like about this flat iron is that it gets super hot, heats up quickly, beeps to say it's ready (this is really useful), the casing stays comfortable to the touch, it doesn't catch my hair, and it works incredibly well. I go over my hair once or twice, not 6-8 times. That alone was worth huge expense compared to the ones I'd used before.

I also love the cute case and the heat protector, which lets me leave the iron on the bathroom counter after use without having it hang over the sink edge. The included hair clips were a nice bonus as well, which make it easier to keep sections of hair out of the way while working on the under-layers.

I can't believe I own this flat iron. Seriously, I don't normally want expensive things and my husband normally wouldn't go for spending a ton of money on a hair appliance but he agreed with me, it's worth it!

To give you an idea of what this flat iron does, I've put an example above. My hair when completely left to its own devices is a bit like Janis Joplin. If I round brush it with a blow dryer, it's fairly straight but HUGE. I left a small section un-ironed to take this picture so you can see how well my hair straightens (and see how shiny it gets!), but also I'm amazed at how much longer my hair is straight vs wavy. Insane.

Before ironing, my hair looks like a damaged, frizzy mess. After ironing, I look fresh from the salon. Most irons couldn't get my hair this smooth and straight but the GHD does.

June 22, 2013

Pauley Alpaca Company Manure Review

Normally I use this blog to review products that benefit my skin or hair, but I just have to rave about something a little (not a lot) stinky - alpaca poop.

Yes. Alpaca poop.

My friend and his family run a small farm with several adorable alpacas. They offer alpaca manure for a very reasonable price, so I picked up a bucket for my small summer garden.

My biggest problem with my potted plants has been weeds. It seems like the birds are dropping seeds in the pots constantly, so I'm pulling the little things every day. I also was worried about insects and keeping the soil moist under the hot summer sun.

I'm good about feeding my plants properly, keeping them watered, checking the soil, and pruning, but I felt like these guys needed something extra and it turns out what they needed was manure from the Pauley Alpaca Company.

You can see below how beautiful my plants are. Just a week ago, they were noticeably smaller. The soil was drying out quickly, and I was weeding constantly. In the past week, I've only had to weed once and the plants are growing like crazy. It's like magic fertilizer!

If you live in SE Minnesota, visit the Pauley Alpaca Company for some of this magic fertilizer, a dozen eggs from the Pauley hens, or if you're out of town, check out their website for an awesome pair of alpaca socks.


Revlon ColorStay Makeup Review

My sister is visiting for a few weeks and brought with her everything from her dorm. Though she doesn't often wear makeup, I noticed she's been using Revlon ColorStay foundation and decided to try it. I've been struggling with the right tone for my skin lately with everything looking too beige or too dark. Some foundations look like I slathered paste on my face or rub off all over the place.

The Revlon ColorStay foundation I used was "ivory" and meant for normal/dry skin and it looked exactly how I wanted it too. My skin looked smooth, fresh, and younger. I'm thrilled! When I tested it out, it was around 10pm and I wore it to bed.

The photo below is from this afternoon, before washing it off, so about 18 hours after applying it. Amazingly, it looks just like how I applied it last night. It truly is "colorstay."

One thing I really like is that I didn't use a primer or concealer or moisturizer before applying it. What you see is just foundation, blush, lipstick, and mascara (clearly I need to touch up the lipstick). That's it. How's that for an easy way to get ready in the morning?!

I'm headed to the store later today to get myself some of this foundation. It's that awesome.

Related Posts:
Aveda Inner Light Tinted Moisturizer
Sinful Colors Polish Review

June 18, 2013

Dr. Scholl's For Her High Heel Insoles Review

BzzAgent sent me Dr. Scholl's for Her High Heel Insoles to try with my shoes. They're designed for heels at least 2" tall, helping to shift the pressure off the ball of the foot, which is my biggest complaint when wearing heels.

The insoles come in this pretty secure plastic packaging that I found quite difficult to open. I went at it with scissors but kept worrying I'd cut through the very clear (hard to see while cutting) insoles. Since I'm a big fan of good package design, this crazy one irked me. I think there's a way to pull off the back, but I couldn't figure it out.

My first thought was to try them in a particularly uncomfortable pair of Mary Jane's (the green shoes below). You can see they are fairly stiff leather with a high chunk heel. The insoles fit well in the shoe and were easy to properly place, but my foot didn't fit without a squeeze! Totally uncomfortable.

I really wanted the Dr. Scholl's insoles to work, so I gave them another chance with my favorite strappy sandals (below). These ones aren't too uncomfortable but when I wear them for a few hours out shopping or on a walk downtown, my feet tend to ache after taking them off. It can be hard to walk flat footed for an hour. My hope was to have some resolution to that, and also to not have to shift my weight to rest on my heels while out to give the ball of my foot a rest.

my favorite summer shoes without insoles

insole placed
As you can see above, the insole is really discrete. When I put my shoes on, no one could see I'm wearing insoles. They're barely noticeable even with my shoes off. This is fantastic!

I was able to wear my sandals without my feet feeling tight and wore them while out for Father's Day with the family. We went to brunch and did some shopping (new bass guitar for my husband!) and I came home to relax after several hours.

Here's the verdict:

On Pain:
Dr. Scholl's For Her insoles promise to prevent foot pain from high heels. For me, it's both a win and not. While wearing them, I felt uncomfortable and had trouble with balance. I'm just not used to having so much support in my arch. However, after taking them of, it was like I had flip-flops on, not heels. No pain or stiffness!

Insertion and Placement:
They're easy to put in my shoes, stay in place as promised, and come out without leaving a sticky mess. Definitely a win. I had absolutely no shifting around while wearing them.

Ball vs Arch:
The insoles do as promised. They take pressure off the ball of the foot by supporting the arch. I did appreciate the support, but do wish it was less awkward feeling. I think I lobbed around the store after a while, trying to figure out how to walk with insoles in my shoes.

I'm continuing to try them in other shoes and will update as I get used to the insoles and test them in heeled boots and dress shoes. If you want to have a try, there is a $2 off deal on the Dr. Scholl's website. Dr. Scholl's is also running an Extra Step Challenge, asking women to try them for a week. I suggest checking it out!