Sunday, November 23, 2008

Review: Nature's Gate Tea Tree Calming Conditioner

I have issues with my locks. In addition to my frizz-prone moisture-sucking hair, I admit that I have scalp issues. I should have known that I would, seeing as my father has been sporting a collar-full of flakes for as long as I can remember. He has always used an anti-dandruff shampoo with absolutely no effect whatsoever, so he just lives with it.

I had some flakeage, but it wasn't too bad, and wasn't bothering me much. But then lately it seemed to be increasing and started making me feel self-conscious. I don't want to be the woman with the dandruff, but I didn't have any faith in anti-dandruff shampoos either. So I wasn't quite sure what to do to improve the situation.

And then I needed some more conditioner, and looked at the Nature's Gate shelf in the store for their Hemp Moisturizing Conditioner, which would be my holy grail product if only it was organic. The store was out, unfortunately, but I saw the Tea Tree Calming Conditioner for irritated, flaky scalp, and thought "what the heck, I'll give it a go."

The conditioner is a great texture - not too thick, not too thin, and has a really invigorating mint smell. As soon as you put it on, you can feel the mint + menthol seeping into your scalp, so it really feels like it is doing something good. It moisturized my hair well, leaving it soft and not frizzy, which was a surprise, as usually that's a tall order for a lot of hair products. But the most amazing thing? It calmed my scalp right down.  You see, I didn't even realize that I had an irritated scalp until the irritation went away. I didn't realize how often my scalp bugged me, or itched, during the day - I must have been scratching away unconsciously all the time.

And of course, I can't really say how much flakeage actually makes it to my shoulders, and how much this has reduced it by, as I've never really measured. But it seems to be causing less snow to fall on me, so I think it is working. It hasn't gone away 100%, but it's enough to cut down on the self consciousness a lot.

So now you'll have to count me in as a Nature's Gate fan. Not only are the conditioners paraben-free and full of lots of herbal goodness, not only are they reasonably priced ($4.89 for 18 fl oz) but they work. Two winners out of two that I have tried.  If only they were organic! 

Four and a half stars. It would be five, nay in fact it would be six stars, if only it was the same price, the same quality AND organic.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Review: Alba Botanica Pineapple Quench Lip Balm

If you were to dredge through my various handbags, work bags, cosmetic baskets, and cabinets, you would get the distinct impression that I am a lip balm fiend. I have many, many of the little buggers. But the actual truth is that I am often tempted by a cheap, shiny, new little stick of potential heaven, and then I am often sadly disappointed when I go to use it. Sometimes they are too greasy, sometimes sticky, sometimes the stick breaks when I go to apply it. Sometimes they are OK but just don't live up to the hype. Sometimes they start out well but then the texture breaks down over time.

But there is one lip balm that I reach for again and again, and has a fairly permanent place in my most-used bag. And that is Alba's Pineapple Quench lip balm. It's not colored, it's nothing fancy, it doesn't taste (or smell) too pineapple-y. It has nothing really to mark it out as being a winner. And yet, it works for me, and somehow I find myself reaching for it in preference to most other balms in my collection. It goes on smoothly, it is not too greasy, and it keeps my lips moisturized for a long time when the weather turns cooler. 

It's about $3.49 and lasts a good long time. I think I might stick my neck out and give it 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Review: Pacifica Spanish Amber Soap and Perfume

I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of Pacifica's French Lilac soap. I am pretty much working my way through their entire range in search of another one that I love as much!

While I love the Tibetan Mountain Temple perfume that Pacifica makes, the matching soap did not wow me as much, mostly because it is a hard glycerin bar that doesn't lather very well.

Sadly, the Spanish Amber fragrance (I have tried both the soap and the spray perfume) is both not wowing me on the smell factor or the soapiness factor.  I know fragrance is such a personal thing, and what I dislike you may very well love - and vice versa. But the Spanish Amber really is a huge blast of sandalwood and not much else to my nose. Sure, there's a hint of amber in the top notes of the perfume, but it is very fleeting.  The soap, when the packet was first opened, was also a big burst of sandalwood and not much else, but after having been next to the sink for a few weeks it has mellowed into more of a straight, yet disappointingly feeble, amber smell. It barely lathers, however, and is not endearing itself to me, given that sandalwood just makes me think of hippies. And while I am often proud to be called a hippy, I don't necessarily want to smell like one.

Sigh. 1 and a half stars. Maybe. I think I am being generous here.  But then again, like I said, fragrance is a personal choice so you may love it, and it might work better on a man.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Review: Lavera Anti-Age Sunscreen SPF 20

I may have very strong cheap tendencies, but that doesn't stop me wishing that I could slather my face with the likes of Creme de la Mer on a regular basis. There's a part of me that secretly thinks that using a $100 face cream will have me looking 20 again. Even when nobody ever thinks I look as old as I really am, and my $15 face cream is working just fine, thankyouverymuch.

But still, seductive catalogs can still draw me in. There I was, perusing a natural beauty type catalog, sighing longingly over all the Lavera organic vegan anti-aging goodness, which had an average retail price of about $65 when the anti-aging sunscreen caught my eye. At a price of $28 or thereabouts, I wondered if it might be worth spending a little more than I usually do in order to get some anti-aging benefits at less than half the price of their night creams.

Once the product arrived, I was a little taken aback at how little it was, although I knew I was getting 50ml but somehow the size of the tube brought home the idiocy of trying to go cheap on high end products.

The sunscreen is a titanium dioxide physical sunscreen, which means that you have to rub it in or you'll end up looking like a 16th century lady who has painted her face in white lead powder. This product seems to require more rubbing in than others of the same type. I have regularly gone out of the house with a big unnoticed smudge, or a white eyebrow, or what appear to be white hair roots around my forehead. In fact, sometimes I stand in front of the mirror and carefully check for no white smudges, only to find some a few hours later. I guess I rub my forehead and some of the sunscreen forms into new smudges.  Otherwise, it has a pleasant texture. It is designed for sensitive skin, and as I don't have sensitive skin I can't comment on that, but I am not careful with it around my eyes and haven't noticed any stinging or other problems.

As for the anti-aging benefits, if you concentrate really hard after putting it on, you can feel some slight skin tightening. The dark shadows under my eyes appear to have lessened, but that could be due to the time change and getting more sleep.  Overall, I can't really ascribe too much difference to this product, not that that's a really fair test, as nothing is really going to give a dramatic effect.

I'm undecided on whether to buy another tube of this. I like it well enough, and am willing to hope for more anti-aging benefits with continued use (after all, that slight tightening might be doing something). But it's not wowing me, I have to say. If this was a $12 product, I'd probably be gaga over it, though, so perhaps I was expecting too much.

3 stars.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Review: Giovanni Organics Frizz Be Gone Hair Serum

I can't say that this hair serum is particularly frugal.  In my ongoing quest for frugality and greenness, I have tried to do away with unnecessary products as well as unnecessary chemicals. So, eye cream, toner, shower gel and a few others have all disappeared from chez Frugalista.  I have also tried to buy the cheapest green version of products I can find - while I'm not quite at the point of making my own green products yet, I figure the cheaper and simpler something is, the better. 

Except where things don't work, that is.

See, I keep trying to do away with the Giovanni Organics hair serum.  I keep trying cheaper products. But either I end up with a head full of fluff, looking like I've gone back to 80's-style backcombing, or looking like I haven't washed my hair for several weeks. And then I give up and go back to the Giovanni, my hair thanks me profusely by looking cute and curly rather than like I just stuck my fingers in an electrical socket, and all is right with the world. A little really does go a long way, it doesn't feel too oily or greasy, and has a barely detectable herbal smell. Except my wallet isn't necessarily thrilled with me, but hey, when you're trying to be all organic, at least $7.95 or thereabouts for a teeny 2.75 fl oz bottle is better than $35 for a different teeny bottle of a similar product. So I console myself that sometimes frugality is a relative concept, and sometimes you just gotta hang on to what works. This does. In spades.

3 and a half stars, only marked down because I'm cheap and don't like the price.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Review: Ultra Dishmate Natural Grapefruit dishwashing cleaner

I've been having dishwasher issues lately, so I've been doing all my dishes by hand. It's been strangely calming and I have (don't tell anyone) enjoyed doing it, which is in stark contrast to other times when the dishwasher has had mechanical problems and I have rushed to have it fixed before doing anything else.

Dishmate is made by Earth Friendly Products, and it's about $3.99 online for 25 oz, though I can't remember what I paid for it - I bought it when it was on special offer. I like that the cleaner itself is more or less transparent - it has a very slight yellowy/peachy tinge to it. I much prefer when manufacturers don't waste chemicals just coloring up something to make it look "prettier." The scent is a nice mild grapefruit - it is quite true to life, and is mildly uplifting and not at all overpowering.

However, despite the label's claims that the cleaner is very concentrated and that a little goes a long way, I have found myself using quite a lot of it. It seems to lose steam quite quickly and gives up the ghost with pretty much any sautee pan with a small amount of grease on it. So I end up using more and more in order to try to get the pan clean. It seems fine for dishes at the beginning of the wash, but the bubbles don't last a terribly long time. Call me a bubble freak if you will, but having done a dishwashing job in the dim and distant past while at school, I know that once the bubbles have gone, the grease fighting ability goes fairly quickly afterwards.

One nice thing is that it doesn't seem to leave a residue on the dishes, and even glasses can be done without rinsing them afterwards but just letting them drip dry - they still seem to sparkle. As it's a saving on water if you don't rinse, that's a good thing in my book.

Comparing it to my last dishwashing detergent, which was Mrs. Meyers - green but definitely not budget, I'd say that the Mrs. Meyers has Dishmate beat very slightly on effectiveness. I used slightly less Mrs. Meyers to do the same job. But all-in-all, this is a good product, and what with the dark color of the Mrs. Meyers and the increased price, I think I'll stick with the Dishmate. I expect that using a tad more of Dishmate which doesn't contain color chemicals vs. a tad less of the Mrs. Meyers which does, it's probably a wash (pun, geddit?) as to how many chemicals in total go down the drain.

3 stars.

A review a day

When I first started this blog, reviewing was so easy. I had a lot of things to say, and a lot of products to say them about. Now...not so much. There are many products that I haven't been inspired to write about because they are....adequate. They do what they are supposed to, more or less. And I have been waiting for inspiration, or telling myself that I should just keep testing for another week in case something comes to mind.

But, I could be waiting for ever. So I have decided that for the next week, I will commit myself to writing a review a day, to see if I can get back into the shoot from the hip groove.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Shopping Report: Walmart

It's been a while since I was in Walmart but I was there today and my eye was drawn by a large display area with colorful t-shirts and other basics at pretty great prices. So I picked one up, thinking I might allow myself a non-organic purchase but when I looked at the back of the packet I was stunned that they were all organic cotton.

Be still my beating heart! 

I couldn't snap things up quick enough. In fact, I may have to go back to get more.  They're all made out of thin t-shirt fabric, some with an interesting knit, some a standard jersey knit.  I don't think the dyes used are eco-friendly but I just think it's such a game changer to be able to get organic cotton at reasonable prices so I think it's a great, great first step.

They do have a chemical/plastic odor when first removed from their bags (which are ziploc-type bags so they can be reused). I can't tell if that is from the plastic bag, or from the item itself. If you're very chemically sensitive, you might want to skip these, but for the rest of us hopefully one wash will take care of that issue. Be careful if it looks like something has been replaced in the bag - I just opened one of them to find it was the wrong size - typical Walmart. The tops seem roomy, the pants seem snug, but that could be due to the enormous size of my backside.

Bags and scarves are $5, tanks are $6, t-shirts are $7 or $8, and the pants are $9. They are labeled Seed Supply Co. and have various countries of origin.

Get some before they run out! Get some to tell the big suppliers that organic cotton is the way of the future! Get some because they are amazing prices!

Can you tell I'm excited?