Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's here! SkinMD Natural Review and Giveaway!

***This giveaway is closed!***
The winner: Ninel! (confirmed)

Obviously, as I’m trying my best to lead a healthy life, I’m pretty concerned about what goes on my skin. Loads of chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, and if you check out the ingredients of a lot of popular skin care products, you’ll find some nasty stuff in there.

So I make sure to read the ingredients on the products I use, especially since we started trying to conceive. Recently, I had the opportunity to try out SkinMD Natural shielding lotion. Here’s what I loved on my first visit to the SkinMD website. They have an ingredients list right there on the site AND they tell you exactly what each of the ingredients is, and why it’s in there. There’s so much transparency for this natural skin care product, which as a concerned consumer, I really appreciate!

Instead of replacing the skin’s natural oils like moisturizers do, a shielding lotion protects the skin by forming a natural barrier – which keeps environmental toxins out and encourages your skin to regulate moisture naturally. (When I was in school, all of us art students became very familiar with barrier creams for protecting our skin from the chemicals we were using, whether that was in printmaking shop, painting studio or even the woodworking studio. SkinMD kind of reminds me of a gentler version of those barrier creams.)

Let me just get a little personal here and explain that I have had skin issues for years. I have recurring seborrheic dermatitis on my face as well as acne. The dermatitis leaves me with red, flaky, itchy, dry skin (not lovely) and the acne ranges from sebaceous filaments to those big, sore cysts that swell up like mosquito bites and hurt like heck. Not fun!

Believe me, I’ve tried everything - from the pharmacy acne creams to natural remedies, both over the counter and prescription. My dermatologist even prescribed long-term, low-dose antibiotics to help with my skin problems (which I have stopped taking!). I’ve tried retin-A creams, ProActiv (which is pretty much just benzoyl peroxide), salicylic acid, AHA’s, tea tree oil… you name it, over the years, I’ve tried it.

And now I’ve finally found a regimen that is keeping my skin clear - for the first time in about twenty years!!! I haven’t had a major breakout in weeks. For me this is huge.

I’m not certain exactly what has solved the problem as I’ve changed a few things in the last few weeks. I’ve stopped eating eggs, I’ve started using an organic oatmeal soap on my face once a day, and I’ve started using this SkinMD lotion on my face as well. I have also completely stopped the prescription acne cream and antibiotics that my dermatologist had me on. I had those two random hormonal rollercoasters lately, plus I am getting older and who knows, maybe I’ve just hit that threshold where my skin has balanced out. So I don’t want to claim this as a miracle cream or anything (SkinMD doesn’t make any claims about acne, as far I as I could see), but it is part of a new skincare regimen that has been working wonders for me.

The acne has gone away. I still have the sebaceous filaments, but that’s not uncommon and as long as they don’t get infected I’m okay with that. The dermatitis has really disappeared, and to say that in the middle of a dry Canadian winter is really something! Is it the protective silicones, or maybe the natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients (like aloe, comfrey, arnica, yarrow & chamomile) in the SkinMD? Did I have an egg allergy that just showed up as skin problems? Who knows.

My husband and I tried the SkinMD Natural shielding lotion, and samples of the SPF version as well. The lotion itself has a light, neutral scent – it just smells ‘like lotion’, but it’s not overpowering. It’s got a light consistency that smooths on easily, but absorbs very quickly. I hate when creams leave my skin feeling greasy; with the SkinMD a few seconds after application it’s no longer wet to the touch, but my skin doesn’t feel dried out. After I do my face I rub any excess on the backs of my hands. I also found that because it doesn’t feel greasy I am not tempted to wash it off my hands. So my hands are looking and feeling better, too.

I found I needed to use two applications of the SkinMD on my face at first. I do my under-eye cream, wait a little for that to absorb, then apply the SkinMD all over. A few seconds later a second round of SkinMD to finish off. It sounds like a lot, but it really is seconds between coats. The reason was that the dermatitis makes my skin super tight so it tended to flake, especially on my forehead (yuck).

After the first couple weeks I am down to only one light application, and this is something that I’ll admit I was skeptical about. Their website describes that you can taper off your use. I thought, Really? What company would tell you to use less and less of their product? But honestly, that has been my experience. I am using less than when I started and my skin is looking GREAT.

My husband suffers from eczema on his legs. I showed him the before and after shots on their website of eczema sufferers (the photos really are amazing). He was still skeptical. (My husband is one seriously stubborn guy.) So, he has used it a few times on his problem areas, but not enough to notice a big difference. I think if he really gave it a shot he would see results, just based on what it’s done for my dermatitis, but I have found that my man does his own thing no matter what my good advice is!

The facility that manufactures SkinMD has recently installed solar panels and utilizes solar power to produce Skin MD Natural. Not only that, but they don’t test on animals. Way to go!

SO what is the point of all this?

Well, for one to brag for the first time EVER that I actually have nice skin. Yay, me!

Secondly, to say that I’m loving the SkinMD and while I do find it a little gaspy at $18 USD a bottle (with another $9.95 shipping fee to Canada)… but very comparable to your typical Olay creams, for example, at $30 CDN a pop (which are smaller tubs, and are full of who knows what); I would pick this any day.
To make that just a little sweeter, SkinMD is offering my readers a 20% discount code!!! Woo hoo! :) To receive this discount, simply enter the special code FFSR at checkout!
And THIRDLY, what you have all been waiting for, to offer you, my lucky readers, the chance to test this out yourself when one of you wins a bottle of the SkinMD Shielding Lotion.

The giveaway: A bottle of Skin MD Shielding Lotion.

How to enter: Visit SkinMD, and tell me another product you would be interested in trying, AND something you learned from the website. Please be sure to include your email if it’s not public in your blogger profile! Anonymous comments without a way to contact you will be deleted.

Extra entries (leave an extra comment for each):
  • Sign up for the Skin Free RSS feed and let me know you did
  • Use the store locator to find the nearest store to you where you can buy SkinMD products, and let me know where it is
  • Follow my blog (publicly) – 2 entries, leave 2 comments
  • Add my blog button to your blog- leave the URL
  • Blog about this giveaway, linking back both to this post and to the SkinMD website – 2 entries, leave 2 comments
That’s 9 potential entries!

Eligibility: Open to US and Canadian residents.

Ends: January 28th at 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be emailed and announced on this post and on a separate post on my blog. If I don't hear back within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Lastly - now that you know how great this product is - take a moment to enter their Valentine's Day contest as well! With a big prize pack up for grabs, this is going to make one more winner very happy!

This review was based on a product that I received as a sample from the sponsor. No payment was made for this review. Prize will be shipped directly from the sponsor.

Hang in there -

My newest giveaway will be up later today! I'm just waiting on a little bit of extra info.

I made veggie burgers last night, inspired by Dairy Free Betty, in turn inspired by OhSheGlows. I followed the original recipe, except that I didn't have pepitas on hand so left those out. I used a tin of mixed beans because for some reason we were out of chick peas (how did that happen?!). And I made six burger-sized patties instead of eight small ones. They were pretty yummy and easy! I liked that they were baked - no oil at all. We had them on cheese buns with guacamole, cucumber, tomato and cheddar, with a side of steamed asparagus with toasted sesame seeds. The leftover cooked patties are in the freezer, ready to toss into wraps or buns when we need a quick dinner.

My husband is still deeply in love with the cashew burgers I make from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, though. (The recipe is online, here!) They are just as easy and the cashews really add a wonderful texture and flavour to the patties. The trouble is, the recipe contains an egg. I'm still deciding how to get around that. I guess I should just try it with 1 Tbsp ground flax to 3 Tbsp water as a substitute and see how it goes. What I'm worried about is that the egg really acts as a sticky binder in this recipe, and I'm not sure how well the flax mix will bind things together. By the way, I know I've mentioned it before, but this is such a great cookbook if you are looking to increase your meatless meals or otherwise find some new vegetarian recipes. It's HUGE and is kind of like a Joy of Cooking for vegetarians - that thorough. There hasn't been one recipe that we've tried that we haven't liked, and some are now among our favourites. Plus it's really reasonably priced. I got my copy for Christmas three years ago and it's on regular rotation. I was shocked to find out it was under $30 (not on Bittman's site - try Amazon or Chapters for the good prices!).

Meanwhile, here are some other blogs' giveaways to keep you going. Wouldn't want to deprive anyone of their giveaway fix!

For baby:
For the ladies:
For anyone:
  • Win a $100 gift certificate to Threadless Tees at Bargain Moose. Open to Canadians only! Ends January 22nd.
  • Win a $25 gift certificate to EcoStore USA at The Ahoteiloa Family blog. Ends January 22nd.
  • Another chance to win a $25 gift certificate to EcoStore USA at Eco-Cheap Mom. Ends January 25th. (I recently won this prize at My Silly Monkeys, so I'm not entering these ones - I'll let you know what I think of the products once I get them!)
  • Win an item of your choice from Bored, Inc. (kawaii!) at Frugal Mommy of 2 Girls. Ends January 22nd.
  • Today is Giveaway Day at Save Money in Winnipeg. A giveaway each hour! Open to Canadians only!

Would anyone like an invitation to join Beyond the Rack? It's a members-only online designer outlet. Great deals on designer stuff from handbags & other accessories to clothing (men and women). Click on the link, or comment with your email address (just mention it if you don't want your comment with email addy published), and I'll send you an invitation!

... It just sank in that today is my due date from the first lost pregnancy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Guess what?

I've got another review and giveaway coming up tomorrow!

How exciting. It's a product anyone can use, I love it, and I think you will, too.

Ready? Set... Wait for it...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Random stuff

So I keep entering to win a Flip camcorder... they look so neat and I think it would be great for when we finally get going on this having a family business. So far, no luck, but this time I'm asking for your help - if you wouldn't mind. If you go here, and then in the search panel at left select "ALL", type Emily and hit search (it looks like this image) - you should see a few photos I've submitted for a chance to win. Please cast a vote for me!

(And if you're Canadian, you can also enter to win (and let me know - I'll vote for you!). The contest is run by Scotiabank - here's the main page.)

Next topic! Did anyone else get a reassessment letter from Revenue Canada?! I got one yesterday - they want another $400 from me for last year's taxes. Ouch! Called my tax preparer first thing this morning and she told me RC's been busy as she's getting lots of calls! I'm sure it's a mistake, though, as the income they're debating was already claimed. Still, what a pain.

Oh, last night I got a blog award from Hyla over at Green Earth Journey (thanks, Hyla!). How fun! The idea behind the Honest Scrap award is to reveal 10 secrets and then tag someone else.

I'm not sure I have 10 secrets.

Ha! Who am I kidding! Of course I do.
  1. I ate Tostitos Hint of Lime chips for breakfast. There's vegetable (corn) and fruit (lime) in there, right?
  2. I have two family-size chocolate bars in a drawer in my studio for emergency use. Shh! That's my private stash!
  3. I'm actually really ticked that one of the women who'd signed up for my eight-week painting class sent me an email two hours before the first class saying she wasn't going to join the class after all. And that I should let her know next time I run a class. This is why I usually get payment in advance. So I'm really more ticked at myself for being 'nice' and not insisting on her paying me when she said she was committing to the class. And also at her, for holding a spot in the class when someone else could have joined (I only have room for 6 people, after all!).
  4. I'm mad that I'm not still in my twenties. Grow old gracefully, my butt!
  5. I fake being bright and cheery a LOT. My mum used to tell me that if my face smiled, my brain would get the message and my mood would improve. After many years of in-depth research, testing and experimentation, my expert opinion is that that's a lot of bunk. Up side? I'm not bad at faking it after all those years of practice.
  6. There's only one cutest baby I know and I lied to the rest of the mums.
  7. I hate when my husband gets angry at other drivers and tells me how stupid they are. Yep. people are stupid. Let's move on.
  8. I talk to myself. Like, all day long. Is that weird?
  9. I actually don't enjoy camping all that much. I used to. But now it seems like a lot of discomfort, tiresome chores and dirt. Given the choice, I'll pick hotel over tent any day.
  10. I'm becoming my mother. Only snarkier.
Yikes! Don't tell anyone.

Anyone else want to play? I nominate Brie at Capital Mom, Jenn at Baby Makin{g} Machine, and Jessica at Dairy Free Betty who I think might have fun with this.

Okay... you know I have a bunch of giveaways that I want to share with you. I'm working on that so check back right here for more.

For baby:
For the ladies:
  • Win a $20 gift certificate to Affordable Scarves at The B Keeps Us Honest. I think this is open to Canadian residents - there's no eligibility note in the rules. I know the sponsor ships to Canada so it should be okay. Ends January 15th.
  • Win an 88 palette, an 88 shimmer palette and a 13-piece brush set from Coastal Scents at Cool Canucks. Ooh, just the sort of thing I need. Ends January 21st.
  • Win a blush, eyeshadow and lipstick by Pur Minerals at Simply Stacie. Ends January 18th.
  • Win the New York Gift Set by Monave (powder blush, foundation, eye shadows and corresponding brushes) at The Five Fish. Ends January 20th.
  • Win a lavender pearl necklace from Pearl Distributors at Park-Avenue Princess. Ends January 17th.
  • Win Cream Perfume at Dev's Favorite Giveaways. Ends January 18th.
  • Another chance to win Cream Perfume at New Age Mama. Ends January 19th.
  • Win a Scrunchy Cashmere Scarf from Nepali by TDM Design at Feisty, Frugal and Fabulous. Ends January 20th.
  • Win some luxe skin care products from Spa Boutique at Cool Canucks. Ends January 27th.
For those who sew:
  • Win 20 lovely vintage print, cotton fat-quarters from rikrak studio. Um, I actually don't want you to go enter because I adore fabric and my stash is like a hungry, hungry hippo. Ends January 13th. You really probably don't have time to enter. Too bad. ;)

Monday, January 11, 2010

My weekend

Food, glorious food!

On Saturday, we had a family get-together to go to. It was the last (thank goodness) of the Christmas celebrations. The extended family of my husband on his father's side gets together for this once a year. Usually it's kind of... interminable. But this year was actually pretty nice.

The dinner is potluck, buffet style. We took a couscous salad. DH was worried his family (full of picky eaters) wouldn't touch it. But lo and behold, the salad was almost gone after dinner. People definitely knew it was us who brought the couscous, just because it's different, I guess, from the standard meat and potatoes fare (I'm not kidding - there were three different potato dishes and two different meats. Plus that creepy marshmallow salad - ew!). So I was thrilled that the couscous salad went over well. The recipe was from my Vegetarian Times cookbook, and you can find it online here. We're not even generally huge fans of couscous, but it really was flavourful and yummy, as well as simple and quick to make. Recommended if you have a potluck to go to, or for a family meal that has it all: grains, veggies and protein!


Testing, testing, 1-2-3

The low point of this weekend came on Sunday. This part's kinda personal. I've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting for a visit from Aunt Flo. I'm on day 37 today of my cycle (it's never been this long before, without me being pregnant). With the ectopic pregnancy and subsequent methotrexate shot at the end of October, my OB/gyn told us to wait three months to try to conceive again. So we have been pretty careful in the meantime. We are waiting for February to roll around. But this extra-long cycle had me worried. So on Sunday morning I took a pregnancy test. Just to be sure. And the result was...

Negative. Just one little pink line, not two.

My response has me really upside-down.

I'm relieved
- I would probably have worried a little about the MTX not being completely out of my system. However, I've been doing a lot of reading and have read from many sources that often doctors only recommend waiting one full cycle after the shot. So I wasn't super worried about that. Relief is maybe 5% of the emotional stew.
I'm disappointed
- the slight possibility of being pregnant had me feeling absolutely elated. I was seeing signs every day that were potential signs of pregnancy. I guess that was just wishful thinking or I was reading too much into things.
I'm bitter
- I wish I weren't, but there it is.
I'm frustrated
- with DH, who is completely logical and not at all emotional about things like this. He doesn't understand my disappointment at all, when we both know that I'm not supposed to be pregnant now, it wasn't likely considering how careful we have been, and we would have been worried about complications. To him that makes it a complete relief. To me, my brain knows all that, but my heart still longs for a little one, and despite my best efforts not to hope for a positive, I couldn't extinguish that spark of hope. I wish he could understand that the logic of the brain and the illogic of the heart can co-exist.
I'm annoyed - with my dumb random cycle. What the heck?!
I'm tired - of the rollercoaster, and of waiting in general.

So... I'm still in waiting mode. Waiting for the next Day 1. Waiting for February - the month of love! Waiting to feel like I'm moving forward and not just in stasis.


Nerves of spaghetti!

Meanwhile, I'm also full of anxiety because tonight I'm starting a new class in my studio (I teach oil painting classes for beginners). I have three new people coming tonight (and some returning students), and it's the first class of an eight-week session. I have a little stage fright! I've been teaching for, oh, maybe 12 years or so, but every new class feels like I've never done this before. I couldn't sleep last night. I know that once I get into it, it will be fine. But oh! I'm anxious.


That's a lot of me, me, me. How was your weekend?