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UPDATED: Favorite Things For Looking Refreshed & A Holiday Gift Guide

UPDATED: Favorite Things For Looking Refreshed & A Holiday Gift Guide

UPDATED:  Below December 8, 2014

November 26, 2014

This site regularly shows companies behaving badly and when I started it ten months ago, I remember people asking if there was enough corporate fraud and corruption to keep a website going. (Kinda funny- huh?)  It’s recognized the site’s subject matter is often heavy but newsflash life if you’re living it right it is often heavy. Taking steps to protect ourselves and loved ones from harm is a full –time job and that stress can take its toll both mentally and physically.

My Godmother, the amazing Ann Cibik who has since passed, imparted on me as a child that even if you don’t feel good-look good. Admittedly, something I’d probably taken a little too literally at points in my life but there’s a fundamental element of truth to her statement.  Essentially doing little fixes to make yourself look better will also make you feel better and in turn more productive.

My Godmother was from the Czech/Ukrainian side of my family and why I attribute my softest edge being on the corner of cut glass and a razor blade. So if you’re looking for warm and fuzzy, this site isn’t it. It’s a “tell people what they need to hear and not necessarily what they want to hear,” kind of site. If the desire to want to hear the truth and constructively build on that to create positive change either in your own life or to help others then this is the right place for you.

And I’m not excluded from that type of sugar-free feedback so when it was mentioned (more than once by many that love me) that “the last few years have aged you,” it didn’t fall on deaf ears.  It clearly has fallen on a face that can no longer afford Botox though. Long gone are the days of people guessing my age 8-10 years younger than my actual age and I’m ok with it.   Botox certainly helped fight the signs of age but anger and rage first over my own personal injustice which transitioned to problems much larger than my original myopic view solidified the 11 at my glabella.



I’ve also come to accept that I’m going to have anger and rage until some of the injustices discussed regularly on this site are met with forced accountability to create positive change for the greater good and I’m ok with it. And the people that aren’t? Well, there’s name for them-criminals. It’s in my blood to fight but I guess it’s also in my blood to not look like I’m fighting a war every day so with that some over the counter remedies (no Paltrowing) supporting good companies that help us look and feel better.

I’m truly humbled by the number of loyal readers and would love to keep adding to the list below, so if you have some go-to products from positive companies to help alleviate stress in your life please feel free to share them with readers (please include links if possible). In full transparency I have not been paid by any of the manufactures of any of the products listed and if you’re going to submit a product please indicate if you’re compensated by the company (doesn’t mean you can’t post-just giving readers all the facts).

Tara Spa Herbal Ease Uni-pack

Tara Spa Therapy Herbal Ease Uni-Pack


Toss this in the microwave for two minutes and it’s like you’re at the spa. AKA “the microwave boyfriend” it keeps you warm, smells like cinnamon and cloves and helps ease muscle aches (and you don’t have to share the tv remote) especially great if you’re sick. I’ve given this in conjunction with the item below several times as gifts to rave reviews. I sent it to a girlfriend in NY who had just broken up with her boyfriend and is why we now refer to it as “the microwave boyfriend.”  Not sure it mends a broken heart but it’s a great comfort item.  It’s also one of two items (out of thousands) we’ve purchased for my dad that he actually uses.


Tara Spa Therapy Herbal Ease Neck Pillow


*I’d recommend getting the boxes and storing them in air-tight bags inside the box-it help keeps the fragrance. And if you have to choose between one or the other go for the Uni-Pack.

Tara Spa Black Friday Special

Origins No Puffery

Origins No Puffery


This gel is great under your eyes and is the one product that truly does what it says. Tip: put it under your eyes before getting into the shower and by the time you get out your eyes look better than new.

Give Good Face

My sister told me about Makeup Artist’s Choice in 2008 and we’ve only had great experiences with the company and their products.  They ship quickly and give samples of other products so you get to try before you buy.  If you don’t have time or the money to get a facial these products (along with many on their site) are great for giving your winter skin a glow while refining the small lines. They also sell sample sizes so you’re not locked into an expensive purchase if it doesn’t work out for you.

I also like that customers (real customers) provide their feedback with before and after pictures and not hokey “Brand AmbASSaWhores Ambassadors” who shill for every product on the market.

Make Up Artists Choice 40Lactic  Acid Kits

Makeup Artist’s Choice 40% Lactic Acid Kits



  • Loosens and removes the surface debris on the skin.
  • Softens comedomes.
  • Deep cleans pores.
  • Softens fine lines.
  • Extremely effective at stimulating natural collagen production
    for a fresh, moistened look.  Great for mature skin.
  • This particular formulation contains licorace extract, an extremely effective botanical skin-lightening additive.
  • Is a non-irritating acid treatment and great for sensitive skin.
  • No “down time”, no noticeable flaking of the skin, just a sloughing-off of the dried, glued together
    sebum and surface skin debris.

Makeup Artists Choice 30 Glycolic Kit

Makeup Artist’s Choice 30% Glycolic Kits



  • Skin is better able to absorb moisture…use of topical moisturizers is greatly enhanced.
  • Removes dead, dry, dull cells on surface layer of skin.
  • Diminishes appearance of fine lines.
  • Refines and smoothes skin texture.
  • Unclogs and cleans dirty pores on acne-prone skin.
  • All over revival of skin to give a more youthful appearance.
  • No “down time”.The effects of Glycolic Acid are cumulative.
    Use as directed (enclosed with kit instructions) for maximum benefit

The Big Gun for a Big Event

This is the peel you want to do a few weeks before and big event and not right before. As with all facial products it’s better to start at a lower percentage and titrate up over time.  This is also great for spot treatment on a pimple. I jokingly say it’s like putting battery acid on pimple but upside it’s usually gone the next day. Know your skin and don’t go crazy starting with a higher percentage on this one or you’ll do more damage than good.

Makeup Artists Choice 8 TCA kit

Makeup Artist’s Choice 8% TCA Kit


Trichloracetic Acid is the primary ingredient in the Obagi Blue Peel.
Noticeable peeling will be realized, with some down-time that
will vary from client-to-client, dependent upon your skin type.

Our TCA Home Peels are excellent for softening deeper wrinkling,
reducing/removing less severe facial lines, improving sun damage, fading hyperpigmentation (freckles, “age” spots), reducing scars (not keloid scarring, however), reducing acneic conditions with/without scarring, reducing and/or completely removing upper lip lines.  Improved skin coloration/brightness will be seen after peeling, with a fresh, more refined texture to the skin.

***TCA peels typically tighten the skin and provide a lifting effect.

***Begin with either our 8% (lightest/beginner’s kit) or 12.5% peel if you haven’t used TCA’s previously.  Once you have become accustomed to using TCA’s at home…and should you feel you need to use a stronger percentage…graduate-up to the 15% or 18%.

21% should *only* be used by clients who have tolerated the 18% very well.  21% is *very* strong and not for the beginning/novice TCA user.

A TCA peel of 12%, 15%, 18% or 21%, performed at a doctor’s office,would cost at  *least* $500 for one treatment.

Make Up Artists Choice Promo Code 11 26 2014

Click here for updated promo codes Makeup Artist’s Choice

Other products may claim they’re like “Botox in a bottle” and I can say after trying products spanning from $300 (La Mer) down to $10 Platinum Skincare’s Apple Stem Cell Complex 35 by far this the best.

Platinum Skincare Apple Stem Cell

Platinum Skincare Apple Stem Cell Complex 35


And the investment piece: I purchased mine in 2009 (Mia-gen 1) and replace the brush every 2-3 months. This by far is the best thing I’ve done for my skin daily. All of my products work better because of the Clarasonic. This is the Paltrow (most expensive) item on the list.  Yes there are less expensive ones on the market but I started with this one and haven’t had any complaints.  At least 15 of my friends have it and love it-and it’s tough to get us all to agree on a restaurant (so this is saying something).  The downside is you have to charge it at least once a week (if not more often) upside when traveling with friends at least one of us always has a charger).   Expect to break out a little at first-it sounds dramatic but it’s like your skin has never been this clean before and agitation (and the constant need to feel how smooth and clean your skin is) settles in a few weeks.

Clarasonic Mia 2

Clarasonic Mia 2


There’s a larger one but I like this one for every day and it travels well.


#TMWF Mesh Awareness Bracelet – turquoise (Small)*

$ 45.00

This site often highlights the number of women who’ve been injured by mesh and 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the bracelet goes back to The Mesh Warrior Foundation for the injured-so this is really two gifts in one!  Also head over to the site for more items that help support injured mesh victims.

Updated: December 8, 2014

The Today show did a segment with a great author of children’s pop-up books Robert Sabuda.  These are not your typcial pop-ups and they’re not inexpensive but they’re worth it-just look at this expression and tell me it’s not.  These were their special books they had to read with adults.

Sabuda Christmas 2010 2

Christmas 2010

Sharks and Other Sea Monsters (Encyclopedia Prehistorica Series

Sabuda Sharks

DC Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book

Superman._V198451009_Encyclopedia Mythologica: Dragons and Monsters Pop-Up Book

Dragon Sabuda

These were all of their favorites (so far), Dinosaurs, Sharks, Super Heroes & Dragons!

Simon & Schuster List of Robert Sabuda Books (not the full list of his work)

Remember to keep checking back and the bottom comments for reader suggestions and feel free to add your own!

1 Comment
  • Try Sally’s Beauty Supply for lip liners, eye liners.. less than $2.00, lip gloss & tiny nail polishes $1.00, OPI nail polishes discounted. Get their discount card for $5.00 and you save $2.-$5. On purchases of $20.00 or less. I never buy department store brands for these anymore cause I like these products.

    And Maybelline has a B.B. cream for $8.00 I now use instead of a Lancome base I was paying $48.00 for. Buy it at Publix grocery store, or wherever. I actually like it better cause of better coverage as my skin has changed.

    I still buy Lancome mascara and eye shadow. Haven’t found a replacement for those.

    Thanks for the ideas on the skin creams cause those I had not found!

    November 29, 2014 at 10:57 pm

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