Ambi Fade Cream Review + Dark Spot Progress

Hullo friends.

I blame my recent obsession with skincare on this GD virus. If it weren’t for the ‘rone, I would not have countless hours to devote to inspecting each and every dark spot, line, wrinkle and yes, RAISED mole on my body. If it weren’t for the ‘rone, I would still be blonde. If it weren’t for the ‘rone, my consumption of Liberty Creek would be somewhat sporadic. Maybe this needs to be a new thing – “if it weren’t for the ‘rone….” GO!

Over a month ago, after spending countless nights reading through forums and trying to find miracle products that are affordable, I happened upon an ingredient that I’d been sleeping on – hydroquinone. Apparently it has been around for ages and can be prescribed in concentrations of up to 4%. However, you can get it in 2% over the counter. One of the most popular products featuring this ingredient is called Ambi Fade Cream and you get it for less than 5 bucks on Amazon! I promptly placed my order and began incorporating it into my current skincare routine.

Here is my progress with that routine and use of the Ambi cream at almost 8 weeks of use, once a day.

*I am applying this cream directly to the age spots, after serums and moisturizer.

BEFORE

AFTER

SIDE-BY-SIDES

After actually inspecting these photos on my large monitor here at my home office (my computer stacked on a couple puzzle boxes on our kitchen table) like…guys – I think the spots look a wee bit better, no?

It should also be noted that I just ran out of my products from The Ordinary, so I placed an Ulta order today! I ordered another Alpha Arbutin 2%, as well as this:

Anyone out there used hydroquinone for dark spots? What were your results?

That Quarantine Life

Hi there my pecan sandies!

I figured it was time to start writing about my experiences during this absolute bat-sh*t time.  Because once it’s all over and we’re back to normal (someone please reassure me this is going to happen) I am going to feel like I blacked-out. Like the past several months were just a bad dream. And, I KNOW. I know I am supposed to keep my chin(s) up, be #thankful for what I have and see the silver lining in all of this. But as I like to say, “first things first I’m a REALIST”. And the realistic part of me has nothing good to say about this…because it freaking sucks. It just, does.

Luckily, the other part of me loves a good meme. And watching people make asses of themselves on TikTok (I don’t care what vodka says, you still can’t dance).

So we laugh. We fight. We bicker about whether Mighty Ducks 1, 2 or 3 is the best (it’s 2). We make up new “house rules” due to shared unpleasant experiences. 4 people in a 1,500 SF house on a rainy day…need I say more? Especially when 50% of the people are scream-singing “Into the Unknown” or just plain screaming.

these are the rules so far

Whew. My back hurts. My whole back. Damn Ikea dining chairs don’t hold a candle to the ergonomic Herman Miller Aeron chair collecting dust at my office. GOD stop complaining Natalie. Let’s get to it.

Food and bev has been top-notch. Not because I have turned a new leaf and suddenly started to enjoy cooking but because my husband shares my affinity for Digiorno. And the Rite Aid down the street always seems to have Lib Creek on sale for $5.98.

I should have warned you that some high-quality photos were in store, my mistake.

The girls, well. Clara obviously could GAF what is going on. She is just living her best toddler life, toddling around, getting in to sh*t she shouldn’t and learning words like “No!” and starting to hit me in the face. (ps i don’t even care that she hits me in the face, i love her sooooo much she is my perfect babyyyy). E is weathering the storm too. Poor thing had to turn 9 during all of this and took it like a champ. Here is what has gone down with them:

New hairstyles

ok she looks a lil crazy here

E being forced to become bffs with someone 8 years her junior.

in the television daze

This killed me. E dressed them up in her Uma (from The Descendents) Halloween costume. Major Toddlers & Tiara vibes.

why YES that is homemade cornbread on the stove!

Fort building.

Floor puzzle construction in a dazzling art smock.

Here is the “double decker” pb&j that E made because she was “so hungry” when we only had one precious loaf of bread left.

she barely ate half

Clara’s 15-month well child exam with our amazing pediatrician. We could only send one parent (hence the FT) and temperatures were taken in the car before they could come in. LOVE it.

As for David and I…we’re hangin. THANK BABY JESUS for good tv, puzzles, alcohol, you know. We are both working from home and trying our best at being parents. We look SO forward to our 8:30 ish alone time where we recently polished off season 3 of Ozark (HIGHLY recommend).

my home is SO clean

As for me…I have had my moments. I have run the gamut of emotions. One moment I am perfectly fine and the next I am in the throes of anxiety. Depression has also crept in…yuck. However I take a little comfort in the fact that I know I am not alone. The whole world is feeling this. So if everyone else can do it, so can I.

Here are some things that have helped along the way…

I MEAN

owwwww

My mom gave us a bag of “girl books” from her house recently. I found a few gems from my childhood including this one. I opened it up, found this message and yep, ugly cried.

Man I miss my parents. And our friends. And TJ Maxx. THIS IS HARD.

How are YOU surviving?

Quarantine Skincare Routine

Hi hi hello! Happy hunkering to you all.

Among the millions of quarantine activity ideas out there, I have seldom seen skincare mentioned. The horror!  You see to me, skincare is a legitimate activity. It takes a good bit of time, can be quite therapeutic and makes us humans better-looking. You see? It’s perfect.

As promised, I am here to present my current skin care routine. I am very excited about sharing this information because unlike so many other times in my life – I am actually being consistent with my skincare. And you guys…I can actually see the difference! I feel like my skin has improved since I bought and have started using products from The Ordinary and Erno Laszlo over a month ago. Click here to read more about that.

Without further ado, here is my current skincare route from start to finish!

Step One – Cleanse

The first step in this routine is probably where things vary the most. Most nights I am too tired to wash my face so I use a makeup wipe. I would love to tell you that I buy really high quality ones but the reality is that I usually get these Up & Up ones at Target:

When I have the energy to stand at the sink to wash my face, I use the Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser. It is a great, affordable cleanser that does the job! I am also weirdly obsessed with the way it smells.

Step Two – Tone

Man I love a good toner! As per my recent haul from The Ordinary, I have been using the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. I only use this stuff at night, as the directions state.

This toner is not for the weak. It definitely would not work for anyone with sensitive skin because it does cause a very mild irritation on the skin. It also leaves a bit of a film behind. Not necessarily tacky, just a little something left behind. It definitely is not comfortable or soothing but I actually kind of like the sensation because I feel like it is WORKING. I dunno. I’m weird.

For daytime…

As a daytime toner, I love using the Erno Laszlo Hydraphel Skin Supplement. I was lucky enough to receive a bunch of Erno Laszlo products from our Aunt Sandi and so far I have LOVED everything I have tried. This toner is like the polar opposite of the glycolic acid toner. Super soothing, feels great and leaves the skin feeling hydrated.

Step three – treat

I am currently using two face treatments from The Ordinary . First, I apply the Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA and then the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. I use about a 1/4 of a dropper for both sides of my face and pat it in lightly. I try and let the Alpha Arbutin dry as much as possible before applying the Niacinamide. Both feel slightly tacky when applied, but do not cause irritation. I will say however, that neither feel particularly “soothing” on the skin.

After that, I apply a small amount of The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG under my eyes.

For daytime…

For daytime, I start with the Alpha Arbutin and follow with the Erno Laszlo Transphuse Day Serum.  This serum has a green tint and really wakes up the skin. I really love this combination and it feels like the perfect base for primer + foundation.

Step four – moisturize

At night, I apply all of my moisturizing products in bed. I love looking at them all lined up on my bedside shelf like a little cavalry. First, I take a small amount of the Erno Laszlo Hydra-Therapy Memory Sleep Mask and apply that to my entire face and neck. A little of this stuff goes a long way and it is SO luxurious. I compare the hydration level to that of La Mer. I seriously wake up in the morning and can still feel this stuff working!

Under my eyes, I apply the Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. This is just a simple, hydrating under eye cream and similar to the Laszlo moisturizer – it is SO soothing.

On nights where I have time and need a little extra somethin’ under my eyes – I have been using the Everydaze Gold Charcoal Hydrogel Eye Patches. These babies are seriously hydrating and they feel ahhmazing on my face. How I lived this long without doing eye patches is totally beyond me because I feel they make such a difference. These ones are on sale for $28 for 60 patches right now which is a steal!

If David is staying up later than me, I will also throw on this adorable sleep mask from Everydaze. I mean….HELLO! So cute.

For my lips, I have been working through the ever popular Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. It feels great on the lips and is very hydrating. This product claims to leave lips so moisturized they are soft to the touch the next day. I do not notice hydration the next morning, but I also feel like that is an impossible feat, especially if you are a tummy sleeper!

For daytime….

For my daytime moisturizer – I have been loving The Organic Skin Co. Daily Rituals Moisturizer. It smells amazing, is the perfect thickness and feels refreshing on my skin.

On my lips, I have been loving several products from Eco Lips, namely the Nourish Lip Balm and the Mongo Kiss Lip Balm in Vanilla Honey. If you have not tried products from this brand, definitely check them out next time you’re at Whole Foods. An added bonus to purchasing these lip balms is that they are fair trade, gluten-free and use cruelty-free ingredients!

extras

I cannot talk about skincare without mentioning masks! I love a good mask. I really feel like they make a visible difference and usually make my skin feel amazing. Recently I tried a sample of the Erno Laszlo Pore Cleansing Clay Mask and oh brother was it nice! Totally recommend this one.

This one is the Erno Laszlo Firm & Lift mask. It was such a luxurious experience! Like I was at the spa.

I cannot sing the praises of Grande Lash – MD enough. If you want to see before and after photos click here! I use this serum once every other day or so and yes, it works wonders. It also costs about 1/3 of the Rodan and Fields version :).

Also worth mentioning are two new body care products I have been loving! David got me this Bath & Body Works Into the Night Body Cream and I looooove the scent. It is definitely a rich, more evening appropriate smell with hints of jasmine. So good.

David also gave me one of the new Lush reusable bubble bars! This is the Candy Bubble Brush which smells like my all-time favorite thing – cotton candy. The bubbles from Lush products are seriously unparalleled. And the scent lingers FOREVER too!

So there you have it everyone! My current routine extensive but like, what else am I supposed to do during these trying times? Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite skin care item at the moment!

*The products from Everydaze, The Organic Skin Co. and Eco Lips were sent to me complimentary for testing. All opinions are my own.

2020 Beauty Haul

A good ol’ fashioned haul is what the world needs right now amiright!?

Along with love, sweet love, of course.

Gone are the days of buying multiple new products from the eye-catching stands at the drugstore. Or casually picking up a few things from Sephora just cuz. Disposable income in our house is now put towards pragmatic items like baby food pouches, GD toilet paper and value sized bottles of Liberty Creek Pinot Gris.

C’est la vie.

Excitingly, I have accumulated enough over the last 3.5 months for what I have deemed to be a proper beauty haul. Let’s get to it.

Real Techniques Miracle Remedy Sponges

These are my favorite way to blend out my under eye concealer hands down! I already have a set that was looking a little worse for the wear so it was time to upgrade.

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara

Was gifted this from sister Rachel. I have heard amazing things about it and will be using it soon as it is next in my rotation. Anyone out there a fan of this?

Davines Liquid Spell Bodifying Fluid

My SIL Shannon gave me a Davines gift set for Christmas, containing this product. It was perfect timing because I was just about to go out and get a thickening product from Bumble and Bumble. You guys already know about my epic postpartum hair loss and this stuff is helping immensely by adding tons more volume to my hair.

Too Faced Primed & Poreless Pressed Powder

My sister Megan gave me this powder for my bday! The verdict is still kinda out. Not sure I love it more than the Laura loose translucent but I will tell you it does make the skin look airbrushed. Which hey, is kinda the best.

Too Faced Natural Lust Bronzer

This bronzer is gorgeous! Megan also fave me this for Christmas and the dual-tone gives such a lovely, natural finish to the skin. I love applying this with a big fluffy bronzer brush and focusing the colors on the natural contours of my face.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Highlighting Fluid

This highlighter (from Rachel!) comes in a lipgloss-type component making the application wonderful for very specific application. I enjoy drawing a line down the bridge of my nose and on my cupids bow and gently blending with my finger. It looks lovely, provides a nice sheen with subtle sparkle and last a long time.

Wet’n’Wild Bretman Rock 3-in-1 Face Mist

I have used this face mist a few times and so far I LOVE it. The mister is really good and produces a perfect amount of product. It smells like coconut sunscreen. And I really like the dewy effect it gives my skin. Love the packaging too!

Colourpop Brow Boss Pencil in Blonde

I am almost out of my Anastasia Brow Whiz in Taupe and did not feel like shelling out $20 so I am trying this one. I have high hopes!

Elf Hydrating Camo Concealer

YOU GUYS. I may have found a new holy grail concealer.

I got the original Camo Concealer about a year ago (in this haul) and aside from a few random uses it hasn’t really gotten much use. The original camo concealer was just too much. It was like paint. VERY high coverage, matte, and it dried down in less than 10 seconds. I only used it when I wanted a super beat face. Which let’s be honest, is not very often for me.

I feel like this new hydrating formula completely kicks the original’s ass. It is better in every way – does not dry down as quickly, does not settle into fine lines and does not take much to set. It is perfection and I am in love.

Kiss Press-On Nails

Full disclosure, I was sent these products for free from Influenster. If you are at all interested in getting boxes filled with free product and have a  fair amount of Facebook or Instagram followers, click here to sign up. It’s free.

I am really excited to take these nails for a spin. Last time I used press-on nails I was completely surprised at how long they lasted and how amazing they looked. These ones are gorgeous and perfectly shaped.

And that’s my haul guys. Hope you enjoyed! Now I am off to the store where I plan to fill my car with Digiorno pizza for the apocalypse.

 

The Ordinary Skincare, Take Two

Hullo friends.

You may remember that I tried a smattering of products from The Ordinary about 2 years ago before baby (or BB) to assist in eliminating some dark spots, brightening and hydrating the skin and for general anti-ageing purposes. Check out this post for my before and after photos. I feel like it did a decent enough job and I was on a roll, so to speak.

Then I had a baby.

My skincare routine fell victim to extreme fatigue, excessive Little Debbie consumption and far too many Netflix binges. I could barely drag a makeup wipe across my face let alone apply multiple serums, creams and tonics AM & PM. And so, my beloved products from The Ordinary sat in the cabinet and collected dust.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago, when baby girl turned one and I took a good hard look in the mirror at my poor, neglected mug. I decided it was high time I dust the cobwebs off my skincare shelf and get back in the saddle! I quickly made the sad discovery these products had likely expired and therefore, much like The Office, I needed a re-boot.

So, I made David bounce Clara around Ulta while I squatted in the aisle for 30 minutes, bent over my phone like a mad scientist trying to figure out which “regimen” I should go with. Do I go for a retinol? Squalene? Is hylaraunic acid still the IT ingredient? Do I need a peel!?

After my research, I decided upon the following:

  • Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
  • Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
  • Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
  • Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

The first three items are all to help with my dark spots while the caffeine solution is for my atrocious under eye circles. If you would like to read more about these products and the science behind them, I would check out their website. 

And for accountability purposes, here are some “before” photos (taken a little over a month ago):

Obviously I am using other products besides these 4 from the Ordinary. I am working on a current skincare routine which I will share very soon so stay tuned for that!

My Non-Beauty Favorites

Hear ye! Hear ye!

I see SO many “Amazon Favorites” lists flying around the internet I thought it was high time I make my own. But it should be noted that I do not buy everything on Amazon. I get things at other fine establishments like Target, Goodwill, TJ  Maxx, Ross and as much as it pains me to say…Walmart.

These are things that make my life better. That make my days run smoother and my nights more wine-filled.

Black & Decker Handheld Vacuum 

Because what mom doesn’t need a good old fashioned dust buster in her life? I use this baby about 723094 times a day. Giant hat tip to my sister Megan for recommending this baby. Here are my favorite applications:

  • Cleaning up the food remnants beneath Clara
  • Removing the copious amounts of hair from the bathroom floors, counters and inside drawers
  • Getting allll the pine needles off the ground in the entry way
  • Sucking up all the loose setting powder I spill on my vanity err day

Liberty Creek Pinot Gris

Can’t say I am super proud of this one guys. But I am nothing if I am not honest. And this white wine…is gooood. Is it great? Probably not. Would it satisfy an individual with a sophisticated palette? Nope. Am I going to buy it forever because it costs $7 for 1.5 liters? Yep. I have got my whole family drinking Lib Creek and WE AINT MAD AT IT.

Walmart Rain Jacket

Calling all the amazons! My sister Megan gave me this coat for Christmas and it has easily become my new favorite. It has the perfect amount of lining, is the perfect length, comes in like 5 cute colors and best of all – ACTUALLY FITS ME. Well, actually – It has those little sleeve extenders with the thumb  holes which makes the sleeves extra long. On a normal person, they would extend beyond the knuckles and allow the person to utilize the aforementioned thumb holes. On me, it reaches my wrists, which means I cannot utilize the thumb holes. But I don’t like thumb holes anyway so it’s a win win! I just ordered a second one in black :).

Warby Parker Glasses

Warby Parker Eugene Women’s Frames in Tea Rose Fade

Warby Parker Durand Women’s Frames in Rose Water

Totally not spons’d by Warby. I just love me a good purr of $95 glasses! My insurance covers the standard $150 frame allowance and if you have shopped at your local optometrist’s office you know – the frames start at like $300! The frames at Warby Parker are cute, the selection is great, and best of all – it is SO EASY. Portland has a Warby Parker location (lucky us!) and there are no appointments. Just walk in, try on frames to your heart’s delight and when you’re ready just let them know. Hand over your prescription, they take some quick measurements and you get the glasses like 7-10 days later in the mail. I LOVE THEM.

“Clara” Nameplate Necklace

It is no state secret that I am obsessed with my kid. I am one of THOSE people. And when I am not with her, I am a little sad. For my birthday, my husband had this necklace made for me from my FAVORITE local establishment, Roger and Ives (seriously if you’re in the Portland area you MUST check this place out).  I probably wear this necklace everyday. I love it so much. I love that David got it for me. It makes me feel like Clara is always with me. I am now tearing up.

Oster Cordless Electric Wine Opener

I hate to add yet another kitchen gadget to the ol’ counter top. And believe me, counter space at our house is highly coveted due to the lack of it. This little gent however, will always claim a spot. It is hands down, the wisest purchase I have ever made. It opens a bottle of wine in less than 10 seconds and takes ZERO effort. Both my sister and my mom now have one and it also comes with a very handy foil cutter. Do yourself a favor and spend the $17 on this.

Bath and Body Works Candles, Soaps and Wallflowers

My home may not be perfect. There are crumbs, floors that need sweeping and surfaces that need cleaning – but one thing I know for sure my home is NOT… smelly. I am big on smells. It is the first thing I notice when I walk into a space. And when I walk into mine, I want it to smell like there are cookies baking, or tulips blooming or tiny fairies that smell like Gain are prancing across the furniture. BBW is a pioneer in the home-fragrance department and if you don’t burn a Marshmallow Fireside candle during the holidays, is it even Christmas? FIGHT ME.

Some of my favorite scents from Bath and Body Works include OF COURSE Marshmallow Fireside, Tiki Beach, Summer Boardwalk, In the Stars and Pink Petal Teacake.

Those are the non-beauty favorites for now! It really was hard to think of items I love that are not somehow loosely beauty-related…because really, are those NOT the most life-changing?

 

Baby Faves – 1 Year Edition

The more you know, right?

Today I am here to report on our favorite things after one year in the books. But before I do that, please note that the first rule with babies is that there are no rules!  What works for some will not work for others. This includes but is not limited to sleeping, eating, drinking, nursing, not nursing, oksobasically – everything. Every human being has different needs and the human we are attempting to raise is no exception.

But here are the things that stick out in my mind that have made this journey, well, better.

  1. SwaddleDesigns Cozy zzZipMe Sack

These have (hands down) been our favorite sleep sacks. The Cozy zzZipMe Sack is perfect for winter, or if you like to crank the AC in the summer. SwaddleDesigns swaddles, sleep sacks and blankets come in ALL different kinds of fabrics from cotton to fleece. We have made these sleepsacks part of our “routine” for both naps and bedtime and I feel like when we slip her into it, she knows it’s time to go to sleep. I basically want one for myself.

2. Bek and Jet Vegan Leather Bib

These bibs are wipeable and waterproof, yet surprisingly soft for being made of pleather! I am no Vegan but I can appreciate that they are. I mean, does a baby need real leather? I think not. I love that this thing stays looks nice no matter how much we spill. I have brought it out to dinner a few times because it is our “classy” bib.

Clara gives it a thumb’s up too.

3. Skip Hop Playpen

We got this Skip Hop playpen second hand when we realized we needed a way to keep Clara away from the Christmas tree. Since then, it has stuck around and been an immense help with keeping her little paws away from stuff. As you can see below in the super high quality photo I took of Clara sitting in her toy box, it goes across the fireplace and bookshelf so she cant get up on the hearth. What I love about this baby gate in particular is that it is pretty transparent (you can see through it) and it isn’t completely unsightly. It actually goes fairly well with the colors in our living room! I also love that it can be a playpen or just a babygate, as the wall sections bend either way and can be removed so it can fit any space.

I should also shout out this PINK baby piano she got for her birthday (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!), She absolutely adores it.

The photo below is how we wrapped it around the Christmas tree. And also…

4. THIS TRIKE! (Little Tikes 4-in-1 Trike)

We won this at a silent auction and have taken her out for a spin a few times with GREAT success. The kid absolutely loves it. I cannot image the fun we are going to have when it isn’t drizzling 24-7. Here we are on a couple more adventures.

Hat tip to Auntie Megan for the matching hats.

5. MUSIC!

Trying to open the piano.

I realized early on, that this child LOVES and reacts very strongly to music. She loves something with a beat, but also sways her arms back and forth to slower stuff too. If you have been following this blog for the ALMOST DECADE that I have been writing (holy t*ts) you know that music is in my veins. I sincerely hope that love gets passed on to Clara. Here is a list of our favorite songs at the mome:

  • Mozart – Rondo alla Turca
  • Vivaldi – The Ring of Mystery (on Spotify)
  • Fitz and the Tantrums – Hand Clap
  • The Office Theme Song

And that’s the list!

I mean, we have a million other things that make life easier for us. But when I find myself getting caught up in making sure she has alllll the “right” things (age-appropriate mind-stimulating toys, cute all-natural cotton clothes, grass-fed antibiotic-free milk, etc. etc.) I try to take a sec to realize she already has everything she needs. Because she has US. *cue the violins*