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philosophy Boughs of Holly & Sparkling Cranberry 3-in-1 Gels Reviews & Photos

philosophy Boughs of Holly & Sparkling Cranberry 3-in-1 Gels

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly

philosophy Boughs of Holly 3-in-1 Gel and philosophy Sparkling Cranberry 3-in-1 Gel (each $22.00 for 24 fl. oz.) are super-sized, holiday-themed scents in philosophy’s 3-in-1 formula (shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath). I am a long-time fan of philosophy’s 3-in-1, and there’s always at least one scent in our shower. We really try to finish one before opening another, but it can take months to get through a regular-sized bottle (16 fl. oz.)!  Both of these holiday scents come in decorative heavy-duty cardboard cylinders–perfect for giving.

Boughs of Holly smells like crisp berries, a little greenery, and a touch of spice. It’s lightly sweetened, and the predominantly scent is berries/fruit. Sparkling Cranberry smells exactly as it is named; there’s the fizzy, bubbly soda scent along with the sweet-and-tart scent of cranberries.  Both are red with glitter in them, though Boughs of Holly is a deeper red.  The scents do not linger beyond the shower, which you may love or you might prefer a lingering scent, but it will be aromatic while you use it and as you shower/bathe.

I like the formula best as a shower gel and bubble bath, as it does both well, and as a shampoo, it cleans, but I think if you have hair that is at all picky or particular about its products, you’ll want to stick to your regular products.  It has an excellent lather, slips and slides across the skin well, and never leaves my skin feeling dry.

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MOOM Hair Removal Kit with Tea Tree Oil (Classic) Review

Moom Hair Removal Kit with Tea Tree Oil (Classic)

I Did It! At-Home Waxing!

MOOM Hair Removal Kit with Tea Tree Oil (Classic) ($19.95) is a sugar-based hair removal system. According to MOOM, the creator brought “sugar, chamomile, lemon juice, water, and tea tree oil” together to create the system. It’s supposed to contain certified organic chamomile, lemon juice, tea tree oil, sugar; and then water. The idea behind MOOM was to combine the benefits of waxing and sugaring without any drawbacks.

Since moving, I had to give up my previous wax therapist. I’ve tried waxing at a local spa here, which was rather expensive, and it was the most painful waxing experience I’ve ever had. It’s amazing how important it is to have a good experience; even if painful, a good therapist will help you through it, whether by helping you time your breathing, applying pressure, etc. I had painful bruising that lasted for four days. I’ve used two therapists (both were excellent) prior to the bad experience, so luckily, I didn’t swear off of waxing–but I might have if my more recent experience was my first.

I decided to do something I didn’t think I’d ever attempt again: at-home bikini waxing. The last time I attempted this, it ended with me on the floor–crying–trying to remove all the wax and feeling like there was no hope for removal. It was rather traumatic at the time, LOL! I looked on Amazon for highly reviewed hair removal products, and I ended up purchasing MOOM (4/5 stars, 320 reviews, Prime shipping, and $13.33!).

I wasn’t expecting to write a review, but I was so impressed by the product that I felt compelled to share! The kit contained 6 oz. of the hair remover, 18 washable/reusable fabric strips, and 4 wooden applicators (two small, two large). It actually wasn’t very painful. It’s not something that feels good, but it’s more than tolerable and doesn’t persist. I was surprised at how little pain there was. What impressed me more was that the remover was truly water soluble and while sticky like honey, it completely dissolved in seconds under water. The fabric strips really are reusable, too, as the remover dissolves and dislodges from the fabric, along with any hair.

The removal process is very much like waxing. You heat up the jar in 10-second increments until it’s warm but not hot–and it actually holds temperature well, as I didn’t need to reheat it during the time I was using it (about a half hour). Then, you use the wooden spatula to spread a thin layer across the area, spreading in the direction of the hair growth. Next, press the fabric strip over the area and smooth it over a few times. Finally, pull the fabric strip in the opposite direction of the hair growth.

I’m pleased to report soft, smooth, hair-free skin that’s neither red, irritated, or bruised. MOOM was exactly as described, and extremely impressive for someone who was rather nervous about doing it themselves!  I’m over the moon that the fabric strips are reusable, because those are often the most costly part of at-home waxing.  I used about half the jar for this go-round, which would be 3 oz., but it was my first try, so I might be more efficient next time 🙂  You can purchase 12 oz. jars of MOOM for $19.95 (MSRP).  Compared to a $75 wax at the salon, ~$5 each time is a total steal.

MAC To the Beach Body Oils

MAC To the Beach Body Oil

MAC Hey, Sailor: To the Beach Body Oil

MAC To the Beach Body Oil ($22.50 for 1.7 fl. oz.) is available in two shades: Man Rays (glowing tan with multi-dimensional golden shimmer) and Seaside (dirty blushy pink with multi-dimensional sparkles). They’re designed to impart a “sheer sheen and sexy gleam to skin” while softening and moisturizing the skin.

The two are noticeably different, but I think if this is your type of product, you don’t need both. Man Rays is a warm-toned bronze with gold sparkle, so when you apply and blend it out, it imparts a subtle warmth and noticeable gold sparkle. There is a sheen, but there is a lot of sparkle. Seaside is nearly colorless with white/silver sparkle. It didn’t add any tint or warmth to my skin tone, just sheen and sparkle. I think Man Rays is more suitable and usable for summer, when a lot of people are reaching for self-tanners and the like. It’s sheer and not overly warm, so I think cool complexions can still happily enjoy it. But if you want to be on the safe side, then Seaside would be most suitable for cooler complexions. I didn’t think the silver sparkle looked so great against my warmer undertones.  Man Rays does seem similar to To the Beach’s Bronze.

There was no noticeable scent, nothing fragranced but no chemical scent or the like either.  It comes in a plastic bottle with a pump dispenser that you can lock and unlock, which is great for travel.  I had no problems with the pump on Man Rays and was able to get half a pump or a full pump with ease, but Seaside spurted out in big blobs.  Both body oils impart that glossy sheen and lots of sparkle.  The sparkle is downplayed indoors, but it does catch the light well outdoors.

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My Favorite Place to Spa: Burke Williams

My Favorite Place to Spa: Burke Williams

I’m not a person who relaxes easily or often. I have to schedule relaxation, and for me, it’s even better when I’m able to kill two birds with one stone by getting a massage. It’s a set time, both when and for how long, where I have no choice but to lay there, breathe deep and slow, and enjoy.

A year or so after I had moved back to the Bay Area after having attended college in southern California, I started looking for a good place to get a massage. Naturally, I used Yelp! to kick off the search. The first place I tried was Burke Williams (San Jose location, on Santana Row), and I had a Relaxation massage. It was amazing. The facilities are immaculate–clean, relaxing, well-done–and the therapist was equally good. That was some three or four years ago. Burke Williams is, unsurprisingly, one of the more expensive places to get a massage in the area, so I wasn’t willing to commit quite yet. I worked my way through five or six additional facilities, but no experience came close to how I felt about Burke Williams–so the next time I needed a massage, I went back to Burke Williams to see if it was as good as I remembered. It was.

What sets Burke Williams apart, for me, is the facilities. It is a full spa; it’s not a small facility where there are one or two massage rooms where you go in, strip down, and lay down–and then you pop back into daylight right away. Burke Williams has a general lounge, but then they have separate facilities for men and women that include jacuzzi, steam room, dry sauna, cool misting room, showers, locker rooms, and quiet rooms. In the women’s locker room, they have several stations for you to doll yourself back up–blow dryers, brushes, and the like. All of these amenities are for you to use before or after your service. Ultimately, these are the extras that bump up the price tag, and if you use them, you’ll get your money’s worth.

But… become a member, and the prices per service are very comparable to the rest of the Bay Area and you get the truly luxurious experience of a fully-equipped spa. This is what I ended up doing, and I spent nearly two years as a member of Burke Williams. Membership is $79 or $109 per month (the latter allows you to access the spa whenever you want, so not just before/after a service). When I signed up, you needed to commit for a year. The monthly fee is actually applied to your first service of either a massage or facial, and you’re allowed to rollover the payment once, so I usually went every month and a half to two months. As a member, you also get member pricing on any additional services (about 20-30% off), except waxing. If you’re not ready to become a member–like my fiance, who very much enjoys a massage but refused to become a member–Burke Williams typically has a coupon for one of their services every other month or so that brings the price near member price.

I didn’t use all their services, but these were the ones I have indulged in: Pure Relaxation Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Spa Style Facial, and Spa Pedi. I’ve also used massage enhancements in aromatherapy, hot stones, and detox. I will say that detox made me feel like I was being prepared for a Thanksgiving feast when they rubbed in the Himalayan salt, so that was not my favorite! Aromatherapy and the hot stones are both nice enhancements, but I don’t feel any less/more relaxed, so they usually weren’t something extra I’d spring for unless it was a member special.

I’m a deep tissue massage kind of gal. That’s my thing. When I first started going, I was all about the Pure Relaxation, because I love the long, fluid, relaxing strokes, but ultimately, I have far too many knots in my neck and shoulders. The lovely therapists are Burke Williams are very educated and knowledgeable, and what I liked was everyone had their own style. I went through many, many therapists before finding the one I really clicked with, but I never had a bad massage there–each one was good or great. Many therapists will help show and explain to you the different modalities so you can determine what makes sense for you.

As a now veteran spa-goer when it comes to massage, let me give you one piece advice: NEVER be afraid to tell your therapist that the pressure is too much or too little. The massage is for you, and frankly, you are likely paying a fair amount, so you should get an enjoyable experience out of it! We all have our own tolerance, and some of us want to be right up against that line of good pain and relaxation while others want just to relax. Communicate with your therapist–and I swear, every therapist has always appreciated me being more vocal about what is good/bad pressure.

If you’re able to visit the Burke Williams Spa in San Jose (they have locations all over California), I highly, highly recommend Nova as a massage therapist. She is absolutely amazing. As I mentioned earlier, it took me awhile to find the right person, but Nova is excellent. She’s knowledgeable, educated, and she is all about communication. If you like deep tissue massages, make an appointment with her! I was devastated that by moving, I wouldn’t be able to see her regularly any more. Ahh, so good! I felt like she really took the time to understand my needs.

Ironically, what really inspired me to write-up my experience with Burke Williams was that it was as good in the beginning as it was in the end. After we finished the move, I called Burke Williams last week to cancel my membership, and it took about two minutes. And in those two minutes, they put the remaining credit I had (which was two months of member fees) onto a gift card and had it sent overnight via FedEx, and cancelled my membership. It was such a pleasant experience, and I really appreciated having the credits onto a gift card, so I can use them when I am able to make the trek to the spa but don’t have to worry about when!  Just to put it into context, when I called my cable/internet provider to cancel because they did not provide service in my new area, it took me an hour to cancel and they kept trying to convince me to stay!

Even the Tech Guy agrees…

Tech guy here!  I will have to concur with what the Christine-ator has to say about Burke Williams. The price is truly the one sticky issue and I could only indulge myself once in a while. I would generally need to view the receipt while standing in front of a bed so I could faint without cracking my skull.  Here are some guy tips for all the men who read Temptalia:

First, there’s total nudity allowed so keep your gaze towards the ceiling at all times. Don’t worry, they cushioned all the wall corners so if you run into one while you’re admiring the ceiling you won’t hurt yourself. If you can get off work early or go in the afternoon, you literally have the men’s area all to yourself. I rarely ran into anybody while attending the facility so I was left without permanent brain scarring due to unfortunate nudity.  They give you some sweet moccasins to walk around in, but apparently they think one size fits all because my feet were pushing the limits of their expandability.  To really get the full experience, make sure to take advantage of the spa, hot tub, and crazy cold water room. This room has a seat where you pull a chain and have a torrent of cold water land on top of you. You know, just in case you want to have a heart attack at an expensive spa. I wanted to use it once just to see my life flash before my eyes, but it wasn’t functioning at the time. Lastly, if you think massages are for wimps, then try a deep tissue massage. If you ever wondered what your spleen tastes like then this is a good way to find out because they can press so hard that your organs tend to jump into your mouth!

Bottom line:  Burke Williams Spa offers not just an excellent service but an excellent experience from the minute you walk in the door. You’ll never feel rushed or stressed.  It’s calming, inviting, and relaxing.  You can stay awhile and enjoy their spa facilities (love the sauna).  There are only a few places I really miss since moving, and this place is one of them.  (The other is our favorite sushi restaurant–Sen Dai Sushi in Milpitas.)

Disclaimer: Every single service at Burke Williams was paid for by me. I never volunteered information that I was a beauty blogger or that I had any intentions of writing about them on the blog (and as far as I know, nobody knew!). Only recently (as in, this past week) did I actually receive an email from their PR team about a Mother’s Day special–go figure it’s after I’ve moved!

LUSH Do Knot Disturb Review & Photos

LUSH Do Knot Disturb
LUSH Do Knot Disturb

LUSH Do Knot Disturb

LUSH Do Knot Disturb ($29.95) includes four products: French Kiss bubble bar, Sex Bomb, Lust soap, and Soft Couer massage bar. Note, mine is a press sample, and it came with Dirty Toothy Tabs, whereas the ones for purchase include French Kiss–boo!hiss! since I adore lavender! The bubble bar as the fourth item is a way better pick, because those Toothy Tabs aren’t for everyone (so just ignore it in my photos!). With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to share this with you, because I think it’s absolutely adorable. Totally a cute gift to give to your special someone who loves LUSH!

French Kiss is a bubble bar, which is described as a “calming and reviving lavender, rosemary, and thyme bath.” Bubble bars are typically used to add bubbles and scent to a hot bath. While you can certainly drop the whole thing into the tub, the best way to use these is to crumble a few pieces into the bath. I normally get two to three uses out of each bubble bar.

Sex Bomb is a bath bomb, which is described as “jasmine, clary sage, and ylang ylang.” It also has soya milk to make the water milky and helps to soften your skin while you soak. It primarily adds scent and color to a bath, and this particular bath bomb turns the water pink. Not as moisturizing as a bath melt, but skin won’t feel dry after a long soak with this. It will leave a faint purple ring around the tub, which I found rinsed off once I turned the shower on, but still something to mention.

Lust soap is all about jasmine. It’s full-on, unabashedly jasmine. I’m personally not a fan of jasmine (or most floral-based scents), but if you do love jasmine-scented products, it’s nice. It’s not synthetic or like a layered perfume.

Soft Couer is a massage bar, which is described as a mix of honey and cocoa powder. If you’ve tried Honey I Washed the Kids, the scent should be familiar. Massage bars are solid forms of moisturizing butters that melt as they’re slid around the skin (assuming you’re warm-blooded, of course!). I actually picked this up a couple of years ago in a trio of massage bars. If you do any massage, these are excellent–they really melt upon contact with the skin, and you can work it in over time, because it doesn’t dry down immediately.

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Haus of Gloi Lavender Sugar Bubbling Scrub Review, Photos

Haus of Gloi Lavender Sugar Bubbling Scrub

Haus of Gloi Lavender Sugar Bubbling Scrub

Haus of Gloi Lavender Sugar Bubbling Scrub ($8.00 for 6 oz.) is described as “straight French lavender and a heapling spoonful of pure muscadovo sugar.” Haus of Gloi’s Bubbling Scrubs have a lightly foaming base with both fine and medium grain sugars, and then they add shea butter so you feel moisturized post-scrub, too.  I love that you can buy a sample size (2 oz.) for $3.50; sample sizes are probably the best part (my opinion, of course) about shopping with smaller companies.  I picked up the full-size myself, but if you like to hop around scents, unsure if you’d like one, and so on, smaller sizes are often available.

If there’s one scent that I really, truly love and tend to love and gravitate towards in body products, it’s lavender. I am the type of person who can’t relax; like I get stressed out just trying to relax. The only time I ever feel totally relaxed is about forty minutes into a massage–and that’s when I finally can let go of my five mile long to-do list and twice as long worry list. Lavender helps me get there, even if I so rarely achieve perfection in relaxation, the scent always reminds me to relax, to focus, and to breathe in long and deep and slowly.

Lavender Sugar is just right for someone who loves an herbal, earthy lavender with just a faint hint of sweetness. The sweetness of the overall scent kicks in a few hours later, making it less herbaceous. If you tend to prefer sweet, more vanilla-like scents with a hint of lavender, the lavender in this will be too potent. It’s definitely the note at the forefront. The scent isn’t very nuanced, but it’s beautiful in its purity. It does linger throughout the day–about six to eight hours for me–but it clings, so it’s not a scent that will waft, but you’ll be able to smell it on your skin.

I like scrubs that have a good grit that gets dead skin sloughed off but with a little lather so it glides and melts against the skin. A lot of sugar scrubs seem to use a larger grain, and while I wouldn’t describe my body’s skin as sensitive, it’s not always the most pleasant. This scrub has a nice mix of sugar granules that really do melt while you’re massaging the product against the skin, but it doesn’t melt instantaneously–about thirty to forty-five seconds of massaging and most of the granules have dissolved.

It has a milky lather that helps the scrub glide across the skin–I hate when a scrub is so thick that it sticks and doesn’t cover the entire area–and leaves skin with a light moisturizer. It’s not enough hydration to cure dragon scales from infrequent body moisturizer application, but if you regularly moisturize already, you could probably get away with skipping the moisturizer after using this scrub.  You’ll never feel dry, tight, or oily post-scrub, though!

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