Emu Oil

If you wear eye makeup as religiously as I do, you're not doubt familiar with the following scene:

As you gently wipe away the mascara, the eyeliner, the eyeshadow that you carefully layered on your precious lids, you inevitably take away those fragile lashes along with all the gunk. Horror, the horror!

And if you're Asian like me, then this is even more frightening. We're just not genetically blessed with long, thick and full lashes and when a few goes missing, it really shows.

That was what happened to me this week. As I stood in front of my bathroom mirror frowning as I fret over the bald spot in my lashes over my right eye, I couldn't help but wonder if these lashes will ever come back. The answer is they probably will, but it'll take a while and I'm not prepared to wait a month.

So I went online and googled. I searched and searched and the best thing I could come up with was "Emu oil". This oil that I've never heard of is derived from an inedible part of an Australian bird species and people from everywhere claim it works. They say that if you use it continuously for 28 days it will give you stronger and thicker lashes. It supposedly works so well that if you accidentally rub it on some skin that has hair follicles, it'll sprout hair even if you didn't plan to have hair there. I thought: WOW. This is some serious stuff.

The next day, I purchased a little bottle of Kalaya Emu Oil from Choices Market. This oil is not transparent like some other oils; it has a whitish hue. I thought it would be very thick but when I squeezed the oil from the dispenser I realized it was surprisingly light. I went for the lashes right away...and it got into my eyes!  I taught myself another life lesson: if you're going to put something oily near your eyes, do it before you sleep...

I liked the oil. Although it's still too early to tell if it'll revive my lashes from the dead, it did keep the skin around my eyes very smooth the whole day and night. I also rubbed some on my eyebrows hoping to get that Audrey Hepburn look someday. Then I progressed to rub it into my hairline because I thought the left side of my forehead could use a little pick-me-up. 4 days later I'm happy to report that I see some furry little hairs sprouting from the hairline! I will keep using the oil and keep posting the progress!

the magic of dancing

When I was young, my mother like other enthusiastic mothers out there, tried to take me to all sorts of dance workshops in hopes of making a dancing princess out of her only daughter. Sadly, she was told by different instructors that my coordination was bad and that I was just too painfully shy and awkward to ever be the graceful ballerina that she envisioned. The experience haunted me. I couldn't dance for the longest time. Everytime I attempted to sway my body to a song or started moving my feet when eager friends yelled: "Dance! Dance, Sabrina!" I would remember those words and I'd stop and say: "I can't. I'm not meant to be a dancer."

Then I found myself staring at a wall of mirrors inside a dance classroom and I suddenly realized what I was about to do. The instructor turned on the music and as the exotic rhythms of Egyptian music filled the room , I thought I was going to pee in my pants. Before I could act on my growing self-doubt, the door swung shut and I was forced to take my place on a mat on the floor. 

Welcome to belly dance.

There's something magical about the whole dance. As soon as I wrapped a black hip scarf that was fully decorated with the jingling coins around my hips, I felt myself woven into the thread of music. Instead of being afraid of the rhythm, I felt, for the first time, a connection with it. My body begged to move, to make sounds of its own with the scarf tied around me. I extended my arms and imagined myself swimming in a warm lake. I felt my lungs expand with glorious oxygen and for the first time in almost a year since the transplant, I felt alive; I felt free.

I walked out into the dark night just beaming with joy. I felt like every cell in my body did a little dance of their own and I was already hungry for more. I even practiced the new shimmy I learned at the bus stop! (in my defense I wore black from head to toe and I was alone and it was raining hard so technically nobody could see) I'm so glad that I finally stepped outside my comfort zone and rediscovered myself all over again.

Exciting Giveaway!

Fellow organic skincare/beauty blogger Robin Adler is hosting an exciting giveaway for Real Purity Organic Skincare products!

The winner will receive full-size products from Real Purity, an established brand dedicated to making genuine organic products. The items are:

Milk Cleanser
Honey Almond Face Scrub
Facial Masque Dehydrated
Creme Supreme

YUM! The scrub sounds delicious.

You may enter the giveaway until April 10th, the giveaway ends on April 11th, 2010. ACT fast!!! 
Here's a link to Robin Adler's Real Purity Giveaway: toxicbeautyblog 
To enter this giveaway, just follow the simple rules and you might just be the winner to take all that great organic goodies home!

buzzzzz of bees

Initially turned off by the heady scent of Burt's Bees, I was determined to stay away from this brand, but after years of hearing just how "great" Burt's Bees is, I finally succumbed to the bees. 

The two items I'm currently using are:

1. Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm (I bought it on sale for $3.99, normally it's around $4.99)
2. Burt's Bees Radiance Night Cream with Royal Jelly ($24.99, but it was a gift)

I'm very impressed with the night cream. It's not thick, not greasy, and yet very moisturizing. My skin is going through a self-discovery phase right now; some days it feels dry, other times it's oily and this product definitely keep my face hydrated without the annoying little break-outs you'd sometimes get with a "cream" product. At first when you put it on, you almost feel like "what is this?!" because it takes a while for it to sink into your skin. It feels a little tacky to the touch, like you've just rubbed liquid honey on your face (obviously since this cream is made with royal jelly, a rich, nutritious honey bee secretion). This feeling should last for a couple minutes but once the cream settles, your skin becomes really soft. The best of all, the ingredients are 99.02% natural!
I started noticing positive changes to my skin about 3 weeks after I started using the Radiance Night Cream. My skin just looks more supple, well-hydrated, and has a natural glow. The skin around my nose was a little red and flaky before and now it's taken care of, and I'm very happy with the results. It's the perfect night cream for women in their 20's who are looking for a light, nourishing night cream to keep the soft lines at bay!

I was not so impressed with the lip balm however. Maybe my expectations were too high, but it really didn't win over my heart. I thought the cooling effect of the menthol was pleasing, and the 100% natural ingredients aspect was awesome, but the balm wasn't as moisturizing as I had hoped it would be. I felt like I really had to "push" the lip balm onto my lips and it didn't glide on as smoothly as my other lip balms from Dessert Essence, perhaps it's just because it's a brand new tube? My lips just didn't feel super hydrated at all, it didn't "wow" me and I had to reapply 30 minutes later. I have a hard time imagining this as my go-to lip balm when I have seriously chapped lips but I will give this lip balm a chance just because one night I put it on before I went to sleep and I did wake up with very soft lips. 

Overall, I think Burt's Bees have some great products, but not everything lives up to the hype. It's all about personal preference. I give the Radiance Night Cream with Royal Jelly a 8/10 and the Beeswax lip balm a 7/10

My Love of Rooibos

I fell in love with Rooibos tea years ago when I worked in a coffee shop. The rich aroma and mild earthy taste of this  tea stood out to me even though I was surrounded by endless assortments of teas and coffee. I recall looking down in the cup, at that deep, deep red colour of this humble tea, a red that was so dark that at first I thought it would be bitter, but it wasn't. Since then, I've been in love with Rooibos.

Rooibos, or "red bush" tea, is grown only in a small region of South Africa. It not only lacks caffeine, it's also low in tannin(that's why it's not bitter) and high in antioxidants. It has a mildly nutty flavour enhanced with a natural tinge of sweetness. Rooibos is considered an excellent choice for the health conscious tea consumers because of its beneficial properties.  I  like to brew a cup whenever I just want to unwind because this tea really kicks away stress. It's also a great digestive aid and I always have a cup of it at my side when I know a meal is going to be particularly greasy. I make no claim that it will help you lose weight, but making it a part of your regular diet will definitely help with stomach and digestive issues. Some articles even claim that the flavonoids in Rooibos have anti-cancer properties. 

I drink my Rooibos sometimes with a spoonful of honey, sometimes without. It's delicious either way. It's not overpowering like mint tea and it doesnt have the bite of green or black teas, it's just a great, quiet companion any time of the day.

cure the dreaded "ah-choo!"

It was Sunday night when I detected something odd at the back of my throat, and I said out loud: "O boy...I think I'm coming down with a cold."

and I did. Despite all my attempts to prevent it(like gargling salt water and squirting salt water up my nose), I still woke up the next day with a nasty ache in my throat. Then I tried drinking Rooibos tea with honey and it eased the ache quite a bit--until I started sneezing every 5 minutes and tore through the kleenex box like a raccoon looking for candy. That night I had chicken soup noodles because that was all I could manage with a bad headache, and then a hot shower followed by a good night of sleep.

I'm doing everything right. I'm avoiding sugars because sugars cause phlegm build-up. I'm eating lots of fruits and veggies to replenish vitamin C. I'm drinking so much water I'm practically drowning...but like you and I both know, a cold, like bad tenants, lingers far longer than you'd expect and you can't do much except waiting it out. 

What about you? What helps you the most when you have a cold? Got a home remedy that you'd like to share? I'd love to get rid of the "ah-choo!" sooner!