I was so super excited when I saw Allison at Southern Comforts was offering custom fragrance oil listings! The idea of having your own scent that's 100% you. Your kind of fragrance, your own unique label, even your own custom name! She was offering not just fragrance oil, but your choice of lotion, body scrub, etc.. whichever you prefer, for $25. With just a few spots available, and my birthday right around the corner, I knew I had to snag one of those spots!
I have a really good nose. I smell everything, which is a blessing and a curse. Smelly people at work? My nose gets them right away, to my dismay. However, you left the gas stove on? I got you, I can smell that a mile away. Since I have such a fine tuned sniffer, I know what I like and don't like. I don't like floral smells, I hate that powdery smell, and together they remind me of that typical old lady perfume and I hate it. I love vanilla, more than any other smell. Vanilla is life. Any smell similar to that.. cake, buttercream, any kind of creamy sweet goodness. Since fall is my most favorite season, I also love fall smells like pumpkin, even better with a hint of spices, like pumpkin pie. Nothing screams fall more to me than pumpkin pie!
I reached out to Allison to see if my perfect scent was even possible. I'm a detail girl, so I wanted to be as specific as possible. I told her I wanted a super sweet vanilla base. I also asked if it would be possible to add a little bit of pumpkin and spices to it, just a little though. I didn't want it to overpower the vanilla. Fun fact: did you know that the pumpkin scent is an aphrodisiac to men? No wonder so many babies are conceived around the holidays! 😹😹
Back on track. Allison was super helpful in understanding the scent I was trying to getting across and told me she could create that scent. I preferred the fragrance oil myself, but might try a different product next time. What's great is that Allison saves your scent so you can always reorder it! Here's what my scent was: multiple vanilla layers, a hint of amber, and some pumpkin and spices in the background.
That was the easy part. Deciding what picture to use for my label was so hard! I found a few and sent them to Allison and she helped me choose one that not only fit the label best, but also portrayed my scent. I'm really glad we went with the one we did.
Picking the name was the most impossible. I consider myself a creative person, but apparently when it comes to being creative for myself, I fail lol. Allison tried to help me as well, but we both were struggling!
Here's the final product:
This fragrance is called "Ashley's Witches Brew" and I think the label photo was perfect for it. I love all things spooky and witchy, and with us going to Salem in October, I can't help but to channel my inner witch! So, even though the name I chose isn't super original, I'm happy I chose it.
The scent is great. You can smell the pumpkin and spices but the vanilla is definitely prominent. She did so great capturing what I envisioned and described to her. I also really like the oil formula. It's really light and it absorbs quickly without any greasy residue. The scent lasts for awhile too. Everyone's body chemistry is different, but this one works pretty well on me.
I'm already thinking of a second fragrance for when she opens up for customs again! Even if custom fragrances aren't your thing, check out her very wide selection of fragrance oils and other bath and body products in very unique scents. Follow her on Instagram and check out her website!
Now that all my detective work has finally paid off and I've concluded that Iron Oxides are the cause of my eyelid Allergic Contact Dermatitis, I've been SUPER excited to buy eye makeup again. How I've missed eyeliners and eyeshadows and mascaras! So far, the only brand I'm able to use on my eyes is 100% Pure, thanks to the fact that they use 100% natural ingredients, coloring their cosmetics using natural pigments from fruits, plants, tea, coffee, etc.. I have yet to find another brand that offers this. While I don't love spending $20 on a tube of mascara, $29 on liquid eyeliner, and $25 on an eyeliner pencil.. with beauty comes great sacrifices. However, it's worth every penny if it means giving me some of my confidence back, and giving me my life back.
Recently, 100% Pure had their 25% off Employee Picks sale. This sale was pretty cool because employees from the stores and corporate chose their favorites, said why they were their favorites, and you got 25% off of them! It just so happens, 2 of the products I've been wanting to try were part of the sale. Actually, like 10 things I wanted we're part of the sale, but I settled on the 2 that I wanted the most. One of which was their Blackberry Liquid Eyeliner. This fruit pigmented eyeliner is a beautiful shade of purple! I feel like purple accentuates my dark brown eyes, plus it's my favorite color!
Here's a complete list of the ingredients, taken from their website:
"Rubus Fruticosus (Blackberry) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Organic Black Tea)* Leaf Extract, Vegetable Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe)* Leaf Juice, Xanthan Gum, Extracts of Origanum Vulgare (Oregano) Leaf, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Flower/Leaf, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf and Lonicera Caprifolium Flower, Mica, Extracts of Lonicera Caprifolium Flower and Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower
* Certified Organic"
Just like with the mascara, I'm surprised how good this eyeliner smells. It's crazy! The eyeliner is a good size too for the price. Their packaging is always so pretty and fancy. It's makeup you want to display. The wand is a good size, and the brush holds the product well. Here's some photos of how it looks on:
I haven't applied liquid eyeliner in literally 7-8 years, so it's not perfect, but I'll get the hang of it again! I used to be a champ at it!
As you can see, the color is beautiful. It's not like an overbearing super bright purple, but it's clearly purple. It's tame enough that you can wear it to work no problem.
I've seen people say it gets clumpy after a few uses. I've only used it once, but it didn't clump up on me when I used it. However, it is a thick formula so I can understand that happening if you're not careful.
I've also read reviews about people saying it doesn't last all day. Let me tell you, I don't know what these people were doing but this makeup lasted me from 7am when I applied it to 10pm when I took it off. And it wasn't like I was just lounging around. No, I was working all day, and it was really busy, plus I can home, made dinner, fed the cats, and made 24 candles. It was hot, I was sweating, and I was tired. Yet it still didn't crack or bleed, it was on there. So much so actually that even with using my eye makeup remover, I had to really scrub to remove it all. It comes off in pieces, so you just wanna be careful not to get any of these pieces in your eye.
Overall, so far I love it. It added just enough color to make my eyes pop and it lasted all day. The price tag isn't cheap, but it's always free shipping and the product, like most of 100% Pure's products, seems to be high quality. I'm a fan!
This post is going to be on the personal side. I wanted to share something with you guys that I hope is going to help someone else reading it. I know the struggle I've been facing since I was a teenager, and if I can help someone else with my story, maybe help them to get some answers of their own, then I'll be happy. I wanted to share with you guys my personal struggle with Allergic Contact Dermatitis.
I know that in previous posts I've talked about my eczema before, and I've made it known my struggle with acne. I've never hidden the fact that I don't have the best skin, despite how much I try not to. Lotions, creams, salves, nothing provides a solution. Some people are just born with it. I'm a 5'0 110 lb bag of problems really. Eczema, acne, allergic contact dermatitis, overly sensitive skin, IBS, OCD, GAD, allergies, asthma.. you name it, I probably have it or have had it. I decided to share about my Allergic Contact Dermatitis today because I have suffered for years and years, since I was 15, with no answers, and little relief. I've seen doctors and dermatologists, and all they ever did was give me some cream which really only causes its own set of problems on top of my current problem, and no real solution. Not to mention, I hate using those chemical laden products anyway. I know the reality is that all medications and prescriptions are tested on animals, and there's absolutely no way around that, so I try to avoid them as much as possible without interfering with me medically.
The only real solution to Allergic Contact Dermatitis is avoiding the allergy itself. The part that proves to be the most difficult is finding the allergy, or allergies. Here's my journey, from a young 15 year Ashleg old to a now 27, almost 28, year old Ashley:
I started wearing make up at 15. I remember distinctly that back then thick white eyeliner and iced blue eyeshadow was like "the thing," don't ask me why but it was. I loved makeup from the minute I first started wearing it. Suffering from low self esteem then (and still now), makeup allows me a small bit of confidence in myself.
After that fun phase ended, I remember my eyeshadow HAD TO MATCH PERFECTLY with whatever I was wearing (OCD, of course.) So, I had every eye shadow color under the sun. I would wear 4-5 colors at a time, eyeliner, mascara in layers.. you name it. Here's some old school photos for reference:
Because I was a teenager, I wasn't buying high quality brands. While I was a vegetarian at a young age, there was a lot I didn't know and didn't understand, animal testing being one of them. I didn't learn about that until I was a senior in high school and did my senior research paper on animal testing. I was using basic drug store brands, not that there's necessarily anything wrong with them, but when you have sensitive skin, you really need to careful about what you're putting on your skin. I remember my eyelids getting really itchy, and I would get these thick patches of dry, scaly, red skin on my eyelids. And they would swell to the point I would wake up and it looked like I got into a fist fight the night before. Since I was young and dumb, I figured I might as well put some more makeup on to cover it up. Teenage logic, am I right?! Not surprisingly, it got worse, and it spread. There were several times that it would go all the up to my eyebrow and even extended out passed my eyes. It would never go passed my eyes though. This would happen on and off. No matter what I used and didn't use, it was the same cycle. It always seemed to get worse around the spring and fall, for reasons I didn't understand at the time. I was using my makeup year round, how could it possibly get worse depending on the season? I was stumped, so I decided to do some detective work on my own. What could this be? What could be causing it? Was my makeup not good enough?
I also started doing some research once I did my senior research paper and started buying cruelty free to the best of my ability. The first higher quality brand I can ever remember using was Bare Minerals (they're not a brand I consider cruelty free now, but back then to me they were), that my Aunt got me for my 17th birthday. I used the foundation, all the face products, the eyeliner and mascara. I thought that this should help with my eyes, since it was more natural and more expensive. But no, the same thing kept happening. It was around this time I first went to see my doctor to get some answers. He gave me this liquid , which wasn't really for use on eyelids, but it would help even though it wouldn't be enough for it to stay permanently away. Something had to give.
Years went by, and it was the same thing over and over again. Between college, working 2 jobs, and trying to have a social life, I put my eyelids on the back burner. I had this liquid stuff that helped temporarily at least, and that was good enough for me, until a few years ago. It seemed that it was getting worse, as in, worse than ever. So, I scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist, who was completely unhelpful. She gave me more steroids and creams, and still offered me no solution. Covering up the problem doesn't make it go away. I knew after all the years of struggling with this, and considering it was only on my eyelids, that it was from one, some, or all of my eye makeup.
By this point, I'm in my mid 20s, and I'm a vegan. Literally, all of my products had changed, and they've changed at least 10 fold from when I was 15. I was like, there's no way that my vegan makeup could be still be causing this. Its got less harmful ingredients! I was stumped.
Fast forward to this Spring 2016, my eyelids were at their worse they've ever been. Take a look for yourself:
I decided it was time to take control back into my life, and I have been determined ever since to get down to the bottom of this. My health is more important than anything else, and I needed to make this a priority. When I went to my new dermatologist, she was better than the last. She confirmed it was Allergic Contact Dermatitis, and informed me to not wear anything on my eyes for 2 weeks, and use this Protopic cream and not the steroids and come back in two months. I was determined in those two months to go back with solutions to present to her, instead of just being told quick fixes.
I started by following her instructions by stopping all makeup and using the Protopic she prescribed. Turns out, I'm allergic to something in the Protopic (of course I would be) so I quickly stopped using it. Instead, I used the corticosteroid she told me not to use only briefly to help with the swelling, and my Zoe Organics Cream (which is a life saver for my eyelids and I highly recommend it!) to help with the dryness. Once my eyelids cleared, I used my Pacifica Dream Big Mascara and that was it. No eyeliner or eyeshadow. I had done research and discovered Nickel was a common allergy so I threw out my metal eye lash curler and got a plastic one. Within a few days, my eyelids started acting up. So I concluded that it was definitely a mascara based ingredient since that was the only makeup I was using. I did thorough research on mascaras for super sensitive eyes and landed on Pure Anada. After my eyes cleared from the Pacifca mascara, I tried the Pure Anada. Within a few days, my eyelids did it again!
At this point, I decided to research every mascara I've ever used, 20 that I can think of, and compare ingredients. The plus side to having issues with both non-vegan and vegan mascara is that I can cancel out a lot of ingredients. I kept coming back to one in pariticular, and that's Iron Oxides. Iron Oxides are extremely common in makeup, giving them their color. It doesn't appear to be a very common allergy, and considering I get everything uncommon and weird, I knew I had to have it. I did research to find an Iron Oxide free mascara, which for the record, is almost impossible. I found one, and it was 100% Pure. Their Maracuja Oil mascara uses black tea leaves for color. Once my eyelids were essentially cleared up again, I tried the 100% Pure mascara. Guess what? MY EYELIDS ARE CLEAR! There's a few spots still dry that aren't fully cleared but I haven't had any more new reactions since! I think I have finally figured out my 12 year long mystery!
When I went back to the dermatologist last week, I came armed with photos, notes, knowledge, and suggestions. I even suggested the Patch Test I'm getting the end of this month to confirm this allergy, plus help me to determine if I have any more allergies I can avoid as well. They test for the 26 most common skin allergens!
The moral of this post: DON'T EVER GIVE UP! Take control of your health. Find solutions! You can do it!
Also, if any of what I described or any pictures reminds you of yourself, please, I'm here to help. Allergic Contact Dermatitis doesn't mean you're dirty or gross, it's allergies. That's all it is! I've learned so much and I'm happy to share it!
Hey Friends! It's been awhile since I've posted a new blog, I know! But I have a fun one for you today! This is a little different than my usual posts, but I wanted to switch things up. I've been really into crafting and DIY stuff lately since I got my creativity back. I was really creative as a kid and even as a teenager, then as adulthood and stress got more profound, I lost that part of me. However, it found its way back and it's stronger than ever!
My husband tagged me in a video by Skillshare last night on how to make a no sew tshirt bag. And it looked easy! I couldn't wait to try it. The amount of tshirts have is unreal. It's a problem. I donate them and sell them, but it never makes a dent since I always buy more since I love tshirts! So this is a perfect way to take a tshirt that you still love but for whatever reason do not wear and turn it into something useful.
Bags are my life. I'm like a bag lady. I carry anywhere between 2-4 bags to work every day for no apparent reason, bringing with me stuff I really don't need, but might need. And I absolutely love reusable bags, I have about 20 of them. So, this DIY project was right up my alley. If you can use scissors and tie knots, you'll be able to do this easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Take an old tshirt or a tshirt you otherwise don't wear anymore. I chose to use this one by Alba Paris because A) I adore the design and B) I'm not the biggest fan of the shirts material, so I never wear it. I'm ultra picky about my shirts. They need to be incredibly soft, not super tight, and they need to have lots of stretch. My motto on clothes is: comfort first, design second. That's just how I roll. This one is kind of a basic tshirt material and there's not a whole lot of stretch, so despite getting a medium which is a size up from my usual size, my girls felt suffocated if you know what I mean, and I couldn't wear it.
Lay your shirt flat out on a flat surface. Take your scissors and cut off the sleeves. If you're like me, you're gonna want to use something like a disposable bowl or plate and a marker to mark exactly where you're cutting so your cut is even. I chose a black shirt (of course I did), so I couldn't mark it I did my best. I suggest disable so if you get marker on it, you can throw it away and not ruin any of your dishes. If your scissors are sharp enough, it might be easier to fold the shirt in half, mark it, and cut through both sleeves at once to ensure they're even. If not, cut one side, then fold that side over to the other side, and use it as a guide to cut the second sleeve. Whatever works for you.
You also want to cut the collar of the shirt. Again, I suggest a bowl and marker to ensure an even cut. Be mindful that however you cut this is gonna determine the width of your bag's opening.
At this point, if you like the fringe look, you can keep your shirt right side out. However, if you prefer the fringe to be in the inside (my preference), you'll want to turn the shirt inside out.
Cut strips about an inch apart. Depending on how deep you want your bag is how long you'll want your strips to be. Just make sure that you have enough to tie a few knots with each strip. Your bag is gonna stretch as you load it up with stuff, so keep that in mind too. It might be helpful again, once you determine how long you want your strips to be, to use a ruler or something with a straight edge and a marker to mark along the width of the shirt so you don't cut one strip too far up and so on and so forth, or you can eyeball it. I have OCD so I can't help myself but to make it even lol.
Now, take the front and back strips and tie them in knots two times. Do this for all the strips. Then, tie the neighboring knots into a knot. These steps are what's gonna keep the bottom of your bag closed and secure, so tie them good and tight! It helps to have a weight on your shirt (I chose one of my books) to help keep it in place place when you're cutting and tying the knots.
Once your all done, turn your bag right side out, and voila! Your bag is ready to go! Tshirt bag complete!
I did a little test run to see how durable it was, and I put my three hardcover Disney books (about 215 pages each) in my bag. *UNRELATED SIDE NOTE: These books are by Serena Valentino and they're amazing. It's the Disney stories we all love, but from the view point of the villains. It also gives some backstory on each villain. There's only these 3 and although Ursula is apparently the last one in this villains series, I really hope she does more.*
They held fine! I'm gonna wash mine today to see how well it holds up in the wash. Plus, mine is now covered in cat hair (thank you Tabby), so I want to wash it anyway. I have about 3 other shirts I think I'm gonna do this with, and I'm really excited!
Although I love my shirt bag, it's not perfect. So, here's a few tips I learned from making my first one that might be helpful:
1) Make sure your scissors are really sharp, or better yet, get fabric scissors. Despite my best efforts to cut as nearly as possible, because my scissors were dull, my cuts are jagged and it's driving me bananas.
2) If you can do it using any shirt other than black, I recommend that. With the darkness of the inside of the bag, and the shadows, it's really hard to tell where your knots are using a black bag. Plus, you can't use a black marker to make your lines since you can't see them.
3) If possible, try to do this somewhere without your cats (or dogs, or kids) around lol. Mine kept laying on my shirt and messing up my cuts. Lucky for them, they're cute.
4) I suggest tying your knots as much as possible. I had a few small holes when I was done the first time, so I went back and knotted everywhere that I could to make it as tight as possible.
5) Try to cut the collar part deeper than mine. The width was good, but I'm gonna go back when I get fabric scissors and cut a little bit below where I did. It's harder to get things in and out if it's as high as mine is. You don't want to go too low of course! It's always good to err on the side of caution and cut less, and go back and cut more after the fact.
If you guys make these, please post a picture and tag me on Instagram or Facebook or wherever! I would love to see the cute shirts you turn into bags!