Products to Help You Perfect Your Manicure

Since I have been so into nail polish, nail stamping, etc lately, I thought I would share the items that I use to help achieve a better manicure.  I am NOT the best at getting or keeping a perfect manicure, but these items have helped a lot.

BASECOAT: Orly Bonder Rubberized Basecoat – The rubber component of this basecoat helps the polish really stick to your nails.  It’s easy to apply and dries in a flash.  By the time you finish painting Bonder on your 10th finger, you are ready to start your first coat of color on your first finger.

TOPCOAT: Seche Vite – I know this is a love-it-or-hate-it product (and is NOT 3-free), but the truth is, it has a lot of fans and has reached legendary status among nail aficionados because it WORKS.  It’s super thick and dries very shiny/glossy and HARD.  If you use this and let it dry thoroughly, you won’t have those dents, dings, or fabric marks in your manicure.

DRY DROPS: Qtica Half Time Accelerator – I will never again paint my nails without dry drops.  These from Qtica are the only ones I have tried, but they were highly recommended and I love them.  When I put on my Seche Vite topcoat, I wait 3 minutes, then put a drop or 2 on each nail, then wait about 5 minutes, then wash my hands and I’m 100% good to go and I don’t have to worry about being careful.

All 3 products are readily available at Ulta, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Amazon.com, and even drug stores (don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure I have seen all 3 at CVS).  So you don’t have to make a special trip or hunt them down.

If you want to see more of my nail stamping adventures, check out my nail blog, Sunshine And Some Polish.

DISCLAIMER: Post above contains affiliate links, however I purchased all products mentioned above with my own money.  All opinions are my own.

Bathed & Infused

As I mentioned in my post from yesterday, several years ago I had a pretty hefty bath & body product habit, starting with Lush.

The Lush forums had a section for people to discuss other bath & body product companies.  It was there that I learned about a number of other mom & pop internet-based companies that were doing various innovative things with soap, fragrance, and even candles.  Some of those sites are no longer around, but a few of them still are.

After I placed my recent Lush order, I started thinking about those other companies I used to love ordering from…And ended up on the Bathed & Infused website.  One of the things I love so much about B&I is their incredible scent catalog.  They have a scent for just about ANY taste.  Everything from “It’s Raining Mint!” to “Coconut Cupcake” to “Lilac & Lavender” to duplicates of your favorite designer fragrances and even laundry brands!  Do you wish that Gain laundry detergent (or Tide, or Downey) made a perfume?  This is your place!  And you can get most of the products in any scent you want.

I recently placed a small order, mostly sample-sizes so I could reacquaint myself with the company and wanted to share what I got!

Each order you place comes with two “perfume paddles” with scents of your choice.  They are basically sample swatches of some of their scents, so you can try a couple to possibly order next time.  I chose Honeysuckle Dream Cream (notes: honeysuckle, oranges, sugar) and Alice (notes: black tea, cupcakes, rose milk, egyptian musk).  I think I fell in love with Honeysuckle Dream Cream!  Alice was nice too, but I think the musk made it a little too perfumey for me (although Tadd liked it a lot).

Here are the rest of the items:

I got the body mist in Liliuokalani, which was one of my old favorites from back in the day (notes: orchid, plumeria, coconut, ocean air).  It’s definitely a tropical floral scent, but the coconut gives it a bit of sweetness and fruitiness that I just love.  I am usually not a fan of straight florals, but I love them when paired with fruity scents.  Especially for spring/summer.  Liliuokalani pairs really well with the Momo scent (notes: gardenia, sandalwood, white tea, white peach, pear, hint of coconut milk) I chose for my honey dream hand cream (HDHC).

The only full size product I got was the bath whip in Pineapple Buttercream Dream (notes: cupcake, pineapple, buttercream).  I am not so sure yet about the scent (I knew it would be sweet, but it’s possibly a little overkill), but I haven’t actually tried it in the shower.  Bath whip is a semi-solid moisturizing soap that comes in a tub.  You just scoop some out of the tub and use it in place of shower gel or soap.

I also got the following lotion samples:

Body lotion in Streets of Savannah (notes: peach, sweet tea, honeysuckle), which I LOVE!  I am keeping this sample on my night stand to use before bed.  I love peach-scented ANYTHING and apparently I am learning that I also love honeysuckle.  And I love that the scent is a tribute to one of my favorite places, Savannah.  This one is a winner for me.

Body lotion in Mango Sorbet…This was an unexpected freebie sample and I can’t find it anywhere on their scent list.  It smelled light and fruity.  Pleasant.

Inbetween Cream in Limelight (notes: vanilla lime, vanilla pudding, marshmallow, sugar cookies, lime buttercream).  Inbetween cream is B&I’s intermediate weight lotion; heavier than the regular body lotion, but not as heavy as the body fluff.  I haven’t actually tried the product yet, but I love the scent.  It’s like a lime creamsicle.

Honey Dream Hand Cream in Orange Cream Daiquari (notes: orange, pineapple, coconut, vanilla ice cream).  Not a huge fan of this scent.  Not sure why, but it just didn’t thrill me.  I actually gave it to Tadd, who seemed to like it.

Can you tell I am into tropical scents this time of year???

One of the cool things about Bathed & Infused is their customer loyalty program.  For every $1 you spend, you get a point.  For every 10 points, you can save $1 on your next purchase.  And it’s not only in increments of 10 points.  For example, if you have 27 points in your account, you can get $2.70 off your next order.  They also have a referral program.  I can log into my account and send any friend a referral email.  If that person clicks through the link in their email to order, they get 10% off their order, and I get 50 bonus points for referring them.

If anyone would like to get a 10% off coupon, please send me your email address and I would be happy to send you a referral email.  You can comment below, message me on Facebook, or email me (sunshineandsometea {at} gmail {dot} com).

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, and all products were ordered and paid for by me.  Thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own.  I have received no compensation for this post, aside from any potential referral bonus program points as outlined above.  Again, just sharing things I love!

Return to Lush!

Let me tell you a story…

There once was a time that I was crazy into bath & body products.  I actually had a whole cabinet in my bathroom devoted to them.  It started with Lush, which was my absolute favorite.  They offer fresh, handmade products with a focus on natural ingredients and minimal packaging.  They have some really innovative items, such as solid shampoo, solid body butters, and the ever-popular bath bomb.  They sell soap by weight and cut it off of a huge block (see the soap display in the photo below).  Some of their items even require refrigeration because they are made with fresh, food-grade ingredients.

About 10 years ago, I traveled to Boston with a very good friend and I knew I wanted to check out this bath & body shop on Newbury Street that I had heard so much about.  At the time, there were only a few Lush stores in the US, and they were all in major cities, including Boston.  I remember, we could smell it a block away.  I purchased a few small items to try that day at Lush, and almost immediately I was hooked.  So was my friend.  A very short time later, Lush opened a store in the Orlando airport, and then soon after another one opened at the Florida Mall.  I joined the online forum on the Lush website and learned about the many themed parties the various Lush shops would throw.  The product was quite expensive for me at the time, but the parties included specials, raffles, and awesome goody bags, so I would buy a few items, and end up with a whole bunch of stuff for free.  Pretty soon, I had a huge stash!  Trying the newest products & scents, discussing them in the online community, and attending the Lush parties had become somewhat of a hobby of mine.  Several of my friends got hooked too, so we would all attend the parties together.  Even Tadd enjoyed some of the products.

Over time the parties started to become less frequent.  Also, around that same time I got really into CVS couponing, and ended up with huge amounts of free or near-free bath & body products.  And we started saving diligently to buy a house.  So my Lush and other bath & body indulgences dwindled, tapered off, and eventually stopped altogether.

Recently I was thinking about how much I  missed some of these products, so I decided to place my first Lush order in ages.  I wanted to share what I got!

First of all, the box made me smile…Love the dueling bunnies “fighting” animal testing.

I got Cynthia Sylvia Stout shampoo…Yes, beer for your hair!  I have kind of fluffy, very very thick hair.  This stuff tones down the fluff without making it look flat and weighed down.  And for the record, it does NOT smell like beer.

And I got my number one, favorite Lush product EVER, American Cream!  I have missed this stuff SO much!  It’s the best conditioner in the whole world and to me it smells like vanilla milkshakes.

I actually washed my hair last night using the Cynthia Sylvia Stout and American Cream, and almost instantly my hair felt different.  Your mileage might vary of course, but for some reason my hair absolutely loves this stuff.  I was left with glossy, silky hair that smelled amazing.  I told Tadd I am never going back to any other combination of shampoo/conditioner.  This is it for me!  And as a bonus, I will be sniffing my hair all day long.  Weird, I know, but it really smells THAT good.

I got Ocean Salt body & face scrub, which smells awesome.  It’s ocean-ish, but also ever so slightly sweet.  Not in a cloying way, but in a light, fruity way.  This stuff works wonders on my rough elbows and knees.  I also like their Buffy solid body butter for exfoliation, but it’s designed to melt at body temperatures, so it’s really not possible to order it when it’s hot outside because it will melt in transit.  The bonus with this scrub is that it’s gentle enough to use on your face too.  Not the case with Buffy.

We have a nice-sized garden tub, and while I’m not a big bath-taker, Tadd actually is, so I got him a few manly bath products.  I got him a Geo Phyzz bath bomb, which sounded like it had the earthy scents he likes.  Pretty much anything scented with pine is a safe bet with him.  And the Hawaiian sea salt is supposed to help relieve achy muscles.

I also got him an old favorite from back in the day; Honey Bee bath bomb.  It’s a nice, neutral scent that I think pretty much anyone would enjoy.

I also got him this new (to us) bubble bar (basically solid bubble bath) called The Wuss.  Funny name, but it was actually developed for guys.  Here’s the description from the Lush website:

Created in the honor of manly man Mark Wolverton, CEO of LUSH North America, it smells like ground coffee, martinis with olives and a sprinkling of tobacco. We stopped short of adding in the scent of freshly ironed jeans and pointy shoes.

I thought that sounded interesting…kind of Mad Men-ish?  So I got one for him to try.

I got a couple of soaps, one for me (17 Cherry Tree Lane, which smells like cherry blossoms) and one for Tadd (Honey I Washed The Kids, which I think smells like gummy bears, but it’s supposed to smell like honey…another nice, neutral scent that pairs well with the Honey Bee bath bomb).  Check out the pretty honeycomb on the top of the HIWTK soap!  Mine is just plain white, but it’s super moisturizing.

Maybe this is TMI, but I have been experiencing very dry feet lately, so I decided to get the online-only Happy Feet package.  It came with Volcano foot mask, Fair Trade foot lotion (which has an awesome pepperminty scent!), Stepping Stone solid foot scrub, and another Geo Phyzz bath bomb (which I gave to Tadd).

As you can see, the Fair Trade foot lotion leaked a smidgen, which was kind of messy and annoying but was easy to clean up.  It’s actually quite liquidy, but it works and smells great.

My new stash:

My love for this company is definitely renewed!  Planning a trip to the Florida Mall location with my girlfriends soon to try to hook some of them!  I probably won’t buy much, since I’m pretty well stocked up now, but I could at least buy myself a Buffy bar and one of their Fresh face masks, which are only available in stores (because they require refrigeration).

Disclaimer: Lush is not aware of this post, and I was not compensated in any way.  The products were purchased with my own money and the thoughts and opinions are my own.  Just thought I would share something I love!