AFTER the Unboxing. How did the July products work? Glossybox

 

I am always the last person on the planet to get my subscription boxes.  So living my life vicariously through others, I watch every unboxing on YouTube with bated breath.  And if I’m lucky, an unboxing will morph into a first impressions video.  (Yes, I am a beauty addict.)

Once the video ends though, that’s pretty much the end of it. We rarely hear anything further about the products in that particular box.  Oh, the ‘good’ stuff may make a reappearance or be repurchased, but the bad stuff is never mentioned again.

The box that we waited for so eagerly is tossed aside and fades into memory.  And we begin the impatient wait for the next one.

I don’t have a lot of ‘extra’ income and the splurges that those boxes represent are important to me.  They are an extravagance in my budget  and I want them to be worth the money that I spend on them.  It’s partly about discovering great new products but it’s also a way that I spoil myself.  I don’t go out for pedicures but I really enjoy my subscription boxes.

Glossybox is a subscription box with several different subscription plans.  The average plan is about 20 dollars a month and promises 5 luxury beauty products.  You can log into your account and collect ‘glossy dots’ by leaving reviews and making purchases.

Here is a referral link if you’d like to sign up (Note: I don’t make any money from this link.  I just get a few extra points toward a free box which makes my budget happy):

https://gbx.to/r/USCI=NDQwMjA4

So here are my ‘picks and  pans’ for the July Glossybox.   This is not a first impressions blog, because  I have used these products for about a month.  This is a straight up ‘was the box worth it after a few weeks?’ review.

I keep the products from each month’s boxes in a basket on my makeup table.  And everyday I try to use at least one product out of it.  I rarely can do a ‘full face’ makeup look, but I try to find ways to use a color of eyeshadow that may not be something that I’m used to or a new product that may be out of my comfort level normally.

The  hits and misses of the July Glossybox.

It started off with promise.  The box was themed ‘Tropical Beauty’.  It wasn’t the normal pink box (which is always an elegant touch).   An erotic garden of Monstera deliciosa adorned the outside to add to the ‘tropical’ theme.  It was beautiful.  This unboxing was starting off well.

Inside were 6 products.  Wait, what?  The packing slip that comes with every Glossybox says that there is 7 products.  Hmmm.

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Well, this started out auspiciously but are things taking a down turn?

1.  Dr. Paw Paw Multipurpose Soothing Balm.  $10.00   8 oz

The ‘Spin’:  The description reads:  One of the most talked about balms is here to soothe your skin for the summer!  The aloe, olive oil and Carica Papaya extracts are blended together to create a multi-purpose formula that you can carry with you at all times.

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The ‘Real’:  This is a tube of glorified vaseline.  No, seriously.  The very first ingredient is petroleum jelly.  It is heavy and greasy on my hands.  It stained my sheets when I used it on my feet. According to the tube, you can use it as a hair conditioner.  You have got to be kidding me.  I’d never be able to get it washed out of my thick hair.  

2.  Trifle Cosmetics Lip Parfait in Exotic Fruits.  Full size/ 19.00

 ‘The Spin’: The description reads: Wrapped in adorable packaging and infused with cocoa butter, this 100% cruelty-free lipstick keeps lips plumped and glowing with its intense color pigments

 

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The ‘Real’:It was fashionable when I was in the 6th grade (1969) to wear white lipstick.  This product took me straight back there.  I’m not sure who could wear this ultra pale nude.  I’ve read the ingredients and I’m not quite sure how the company can make the claim to keep lips ‘plumped’ any more than chapstick does.  The ‘adorable’ packaging referred to on the packing slip was a CARDBOARD tube.  The lipstick was broken when it arrived.  

3. NCLA ‘Clean Up YOur Act’ Full Size $16.00

The ‘Spin’: The description reads: “We all make mistakes.  Lucky for you NCLA’s precision nail lacquer remover pen is here to help clean up any accidents!  Pen includes 3 replacement tips!

 

 

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The ‘Real’: This pen was empty when it arrived.  I have no idea if the product simply evaporated (it’s July in California and the heat is intense).  Or if there was some sort of quality control problem at the factory and it was shipped empty .  As a consumer, neither really matters to me.  What matters is that I have nothing to work with or evaluate.  (sob)

4. La Roche – Posay  Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser  Full size 15.00/13.5 Oz.

The ‘Spin’: Your skin should never feel tight after cleansing!  La Roche-Posay’s gentle products remove impurities and reduce excess oil while helping to prevent over drying.

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The ‘Real’: I liked this product.  Or at least, I think that I might have liked this product.  But it didn’t come in a 13.5 fl oz tube as the packing slip showed.  It actually came in a .5 oz tube, which was about 2 uses.  And this certainly wasn’t a $15 dollar value which was very misleading.

5. Doucce x Glossybox Blush Duo Palette  Freematic Small Cass 10.00  Freematic Blush Mono 14.00

The ‘Spin’: Hand selected for you by our Glossy color experts, this limited-edition Blush Duo is a fashionista’s dream…

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The ‘Real’: I liked this product.  I’ve used it frequently throughout the last month.  I thought it was a great color (sort of similar to Nars ‘Orgasm’), highly pigmented and has a really buttery texture.  It arrived with a tiny chip (you can see it in the bottom right corner) and that caused quite a bit of fallout but I didn’t mind that.   I just don’t understand why we only received one-half of the product and the rest is supposed to arrive in next month’s Glossybox?  Apparently this is what caused the discrepancy between the 7 products listed on the packing slip and the actual 6 products in the box.  

6.   Luesta Beauty  Coconut Milk Shampoo and conditioner   Full size shampoo 14.00/16.9 oz. Full sized Conditioner   $14.00/16.9 oz 

The ‘Spin’:  Over having dry, damaged hair?  This nourishing shampoo and conditioner duo help battle brittle locks with vitamin packed coconut milk and a healthy pH level.

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The ‘Real’: These were not 16.9 oz products that were shown in the packing slip.  These  were 1.4 oz tubes of product.  It’s hard to form an opinion about a hair product after just two uses.  And again, very misleading as far as what the value is.  

I’ve been subscribed to Glossybox for around 6 months.  I think that this was the most disappointing box during that period of time.  Perhaps I was lured into a false sense of excitement by the promise of the beautifully themed box.  But the products were not up to their usual standards and it feels as if the retail value was exaggerated.

But boxes can be hit or miss and thankfully I have had more hits than misses.  And I’m waiting (impatiently) for the August boxes.

 

Note:   I was a military wife for almost 30 years and now live on a very modest pension.  It does not cost you any more to purchase a product through my links, and  only means that I receive a small commission on the sale (really, very small) to help me get by.  So if you actually do put that yellow ribbon on your car, please consider purchasing through my links.  Thanks so much. 

 

 

 

 

Can I Live Without It? Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

One of the higher-end products that I don’t find at the drug store and have become dependent on is Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Cream. (According to the website, it’s pronounced ‘Boom-Boom Cream’. Apparently, ‘boom-boom’ is a cute, slang term for your, well, you know.) It’s only found at Sephora stores or on-line. And it’s 45 bucks a jar.
http://go.magik.ly/ml/64za/

I don’t use it on my er…bum, but on my arms, shoulders and legs. The scent ranks among one of the best that I’ve ever smelled in a beauty product. It’s a sort of white chocolate, brown sugar, night-blooming something sort of smell. The website says ‘the fragrance is Pistachio Caramelo’.  Do pistachios smell like this? (I don’t know where the cosmetics industry get the names that they use, but I want some of whatever they’re drinking.)

Bum-Bum Cream makes the skin on my arms look firmer and smoother and my skin seems so soft now. And I spent a lot of time trying to understand why.

The website says “Guananá, the key ingredient in this product, is known to temporarily tighten and lift the skin’.  https://soldejaneiro.com/faqs/
I couldn’t find any ingredient that is used in skin care called ‘Guanana’. I was able to find Guarana, which is a caffeinated berry found in Brazil. So I’m going to assume that’s a typo. Paullinia Cupana (Guaran) seed extract is listed as the 14th ingredient in the ‘Bum-Bum Cream’ after water and several kinds of alcohol. The caffeine in Guaran is supposed to tighten your skin.  Would using a caffeine serum do the same thing?

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When I use the cream, it doesn’t really seem to ‘moisturize’ my skin very much. The cream soaks in quickly and there’s no oily-greasy after feel. I’m not a chemist, but I’m guessing that the several types of alcohol listed in the ingredients do not help with moisturizing the skin.  I’m bummed (no pun intended) about that.

Also, there are tiny, tiny, tiny bits of mica in the cream.  You don’t see them in the jar.  You don’t see them when applying the cream.  I never noticed them until I was outside on a morning after I had applied the cream before bed.  The mica seemed to be stuck pretty solidly to my skin and was so fine that my skin almost seemed pearlized.  According to the make-up scientists  mica  “gives the illusion of a softer more youthful look by reflecting light away from visible lines and wrinkles. Mica acts as a texturizer, filler and thickener”

Hmmmm.

Yes, my skin looks firmer, but could I get the same effect with cheaper ingredients? Probably.  But the smell is amazing and I haven’t found another less-expensive lotion to replace it.

I always forget about ‘the dog’ part of the blog.  I actually have more than one dog.  This is Little Vita.  She was my husband’s service dog.

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These days, she has a lot less responsibility in life.  She never causes me a single problem (unlike her sisters and brothers).  She’s become my primary hiking partner because she never wanders far from me and gets along with the dogs and people that we find on the trail.

Note:   I was a military wife for almost 30 years and now live on a very modest pension.  It does not cost you any more to purchase a product through my links, and  only means that I receive a small commission on the sale (really, very small) to help me get by.  So if you actually do put that yellow ribbon on your car, please consider purchasing through my links.  Thanks so much. 

 

 

No Make-Up Make-up?

 

Back in the day, we had two choices:  bare skin or foundation.

Today there’s a confusing trend of ‘no makeup-makeup’.

As a  young woman, I didn’t stray much from a classic, conservative look for two reasons: 1. It might have been the ’60’s but I come from a small town where there was a whole lot of judging going on.  Girls were lectured in church about the length of their skirts.  Schools had dress codes.  And ‘mean girls’ abounded.  Stick to the ‘norm’ or risk being ostracized.  2. Worse than any pubescent ‘mean girl’ hell was my mother.  From Paris, my mother was the epitome of ‘classic style’.   She never wore a pair of blue jeans in her life, went to the ‘Parlour’ every single week and often wore white gloves.  My mother’s mantra was ‘it doesn’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look’ and she drilled that into me.

As I grew older, I developed my own power and style.    While the ‘mean girls’ got fat and frumpy, I got an education and traveled the world.   I developed a love of art and color and incorporated them often into my life wherever I could.  Thanks to Mom, I had a good foundation in classic, timeless style and simply put my own rift on it.  Make-up is just an extension of what I already loved because what is make-up besides art and color?

Frankly, I’ve never been entirely comfortable with bare skin.   Even in my 20’s I needed  a bit of color correction under my eyes and a little ‘sumpin-sumpin’ calming my red nose.

But I liked the idea of an uncomplicated easy look.  I live out in the sticks, and I tend to bundle up my errands to save gas.  A trip to town might include a dance class, a trip to the grocery store and a casual dinner out.  I don’t need to look glam for a dance class or a livestock auction,  but I want to look nice for a late lunch at a charming little bistro.  So playing with ‘no make up make up’ looks has been fun.

Probably the most important thing that you can do to rock a ‘no-makeup’ look is to have your skin in tip-top shape.  All the make-up tricks in the world can’t cover up an unloved complexion.    No one reading this will be surprised by the basics of skin care.  It starts from the inside out:  diet, exercise, drinking water, moisturize, exfoliate.

A ‘no-makeup’ look actually uses makeup, just not a heavy foundation.  There are many lighter choices:  BB cream, CC cream, DD cream (and yes, I saw an EE cream), tinted moisturizers, tinted sunscreens, tinted self-tanners.  Most have skin care ingredients and sunscreen.  So you’re actually helping your skin to be healthy by wearing them.

I’m enjoying a couple of ‘no make-up looks lately.  They are very easy and I don’t have to throw a lot of products into my dance bag to put make on between dance and lunch.

I start by applying  POREfessional Primer by Benefit to help smooth out my old lady pores. I just use my fingertips and push and pat the product into my skin.  The translucent formula contains a vitamin E derivative known to protect skin from  free radicals and really helps minimize my pores.

You can find it here:

http://go.magik.ly/ml/65p7/

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I have fallen in love with IT Cosmetics CC cream (in the shade light’).  Honestly, I think that this product is driving the trend for the no-make up look.  The tag line is ‘your skin but better’ and it’s true.  It has an SPF of 50, hydrates your skin and is color correcting. It helps diffuse the look of wrinkles, and give your skin a more radiant look.  I love it.  IT Cosmetics is certified by PETA as being cruelty free.

http://go.magik.ly/ml/65p8/

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To add a bit of sun-kissed glow, I’m using the Stila Convertible Color Duel Lip and Cheek Cream (I’m currently loving ‘Camellia’, a sort of warm peachy caramel).  I love the creaminess of the translucent formula and it just melts into my skin, imparting a soft glow.  This is a cream that I pat on to my cheekbones with my fingertips and swipe on my lips.  (I don’t normally care much about packaging, but the compact is really sweet.)

Available here:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/65pa/

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I follow-up with a few strokes of L’Oreal’s lash Paradise mascara and I’m on my way. This look takes me literally takes me 5 minutes to apply after I’ve washed my face, and I’m good for an afternoon in town.  And it’s four products that I don’t have to worry about breaking because they are all in plastic, sturdy containers with no powders.  Have you haven’t heard the hype, you’re missing out.  http://go.magik.ly/ml/65pc/

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Another ‘no foundation-foundation’ that I recently discovered is the Charlotte Tilbury Unisex Healthy Glow All-Year Hydrating Tint Summer Tint Moisturizer.   I had seen the Wayne Goss review and he was in love with the product.  You can see his review here:

I couldn’t find the product anywhere locally.  Even Nordstrom didn’t have it, so I ended up ordering it online.  It applies as an off white lotion that warms up and adjusts to your skin and gives you a lovely sort of ‘rose-gold’ tint.  There’s no SPF, but I don’t mind that because after an intense dance class my pores are open and sometimes an SPF can sting a bit.   Charlotte’s products are cruelty free.  http://go.magik.ly/ml/65pd/

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I think  that this moisturizer is beautiful alone, or you can use it as a base before foundation.  If worn alone, there is not a lot of coverage, but it does even out your skin tone.  It’s very, very natural looking and doesn’t look like you’re wearing anything at all.

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Note:   I was a military wife for almost 30 years and now live on a very modest pension.  It does not cost you any more to purchase a product through my links, and  only means that I receive a small commission on the sale (really, very small) to help me get by.  So if you actually do put that yellow ribbon on your car, please consider purchasing through my links.  Thanks so much.  
 

Drug Store Dupes

Stick with me, babe. I’m a dupe searcher.  A bargain hunter.  A seeker of good things that will save me a few bucks yet still work like they’re queen-worthy.

C’mon.  We all are.  That’s why dollar store and drug store make-up sections exist.  We’re always looking for something that works just as well as that high-end product you got at the department store.  Finding a bargain is good, but finding a replacement for a product like Too Faced ‘Better Than Sex’ mascara makes my heart beat just a little faster.  (Pssst…if you haven’t been paying attention, L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise will rock your world and is a legitimate contender to knock Too Faced off of the ‘King of the mascara  mountain’.  All of the lash fattening goodness at less than half the price.)

So I regularly prowl the shelves at Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS looking for what’s new, what’s pretty and what will work for me; a non-traditional beauty guru (read:  old).   And it’s the perfect habitat for a bargain hunter since it’s rare that a drug store doesn’t entice us with buy-one-get-one-half-off sale. Or even better, the buy-one-get-one-free sale that positively makes my toes curl with pleasure.

Here are a few others.  I hope that they work as well for you as they do for me:

Tarte Shape Tape $25  VS  Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser  $8

 

I’m old.  I use concealer by the bucket.  No, I don’t have the acne breakouts of a teenager but I have dark circles, fine lines and all kinds of train wrecks going on around my eyes. I need coverage, concealing and brightening action to keep me looking like I’ve gotten enough sleep even though the cats have been keeping me awake at night.    (Get it?  Cats?  Old cat lady?  C’mon!  Lighten up!)

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Ask any YouTube beauty guru… Tarte Shape Tape is ‘it’.  It’s hydrating and the long wearing formula delivers natural, radiant coverage across all skin types so you can instantly brighten and cover dark circles and redness while softening the look of pores and fine lines. It’s good stuff.   http://go.magik.ly/ml/654q/

But you know what?  I like Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser BETTER.  It dries quicker and the formula seems lighter but has the same coverage.  And I don’t need to bake with it.  This super-concentrated treatment concealer features a micro-corrector applicator to eliminate the need for any extra sponges.  And at 1/3 the price of the Tarte product, it’s going to stay in my makeup kit.  http://go.magik.ly/ml/654s/

Fionna Styles Soft Cheek Veil in ‘Valley’  $20  VS Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer  $11

I’m fair-skinned.  I’m never going to be a ‘Bronze Goddess’.  (Hey, a life threatening bout of malignant melanoma will cure you of that shyte quick.)  Still, I don’t want to look like a ghost.  What’s a girl to do?  I use a very light bronzer to just add just a slight hint of color and dimension.  I was born with good bones, I rarely feel the need to contour.

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I love Fionna Styles velvety soft pressed powder blushes.  The ultra fine, sheer-silky powder glides on seamlessly and blends easily delivering a buildable, natural-looking glow.  The shade ‘Valley’ makes a perfect low-key bronzer for me.  It adds just a touch of color.  But at 20 dollars each, I needed a dupe.  http://go.magik.ly/ml/654t/

I found one in Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer at about half the price.  Infused with a powerful blend of Murumuru Butter, Cupuacu Butter and Tucuma Butter from the Amazon (what is with the Amazon marketing lately?  Why is it different from products from any other great river…like the Mississippi!  It’s incredibly soft and buttery and it smells amazing!    http://go.magik.ly/ml/654v/

Laura Geller Spackle Mist $32 VS L’Oreal Infallible MakeUp Extender $8

I’m not a fan of ‘touch-ups’.  To begin with, I rarely carry a purse.  I have a sort of wallet that I keep some lipstick and my identification in.  I’m afraid that if I carry a purse I’ll leave it behind somewhere.  So I don’t carry powder or foundation or much else of the traditional ‘girl stuff’.  When I put my makeup on, I expect it to stay.  And sandwiching it between a primer and a good setting spray does the job of locking it in place.

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Laura Geller products are really up at the top of the line in make up.  There are so many that I LOVE and that I want to spend my money on.  But her Spackle Spray isn’t one of them.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s really, really good.  (Although I do have a problem with the aerosol pump on this product.  It darn near drowns me. ) But I found a drugstore dupe so now I can spend more money on her other products.   http://go.magik.ly/ml/6550/

L’Oreal Infallible Make-Up Extender is a setting spry keeps my makeup looking fresh all day with no touch-ups, melting or fading.  Lightweight and oil free it keeps my makeup from smudging or setting into fine lines.  It’s a quarter of he price of the expensive stuff.   And the aerosol is a fine mist.  It feels so good.   That’s a no-brainer.  http://go.magik.ly/ml/6552/

So these are my current dupe favorites.  What are yours?

 

Note:   I was a military wife for almost 30 years and now live on a very modest pension.  It does not cost you any more to purchase a product through my links, and  only means that I receive a small commission on the sale (really, very small) to help me get by.  So if you actually do put that yellow ribbon on your car, please consider purchasing through my links.  Thanks so much.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Pee When You Sneeze? I don’t!

This will be the final post (in a series of three) written about my experience with stress urinary incontinence and the repair to my urethra which caused  the problem.  Stress urinary incontinence is an embarrassing problem for many mature women, yet few women are willing to speak out because of the stigma attached.  

If you read my other blogs, thank you.  If you just landed on this page without knowing my history, my story is not unusual.  Stress urinary incontinence began to manifest in my life after the birth of my children.  The problem began with mildly annoying symptoms (such as peeing a little when I sneezed) and progressed until post-menopause, when the dribble began to interfere with activities in my life.

Despite high anxiety about the anesthesia and having been advised to not have the procedure done by another doctor, I checked myself into the outpatient wing of the local hospital at 5:30 in the morning.

I had grabbed a book from my library at the last-minute and stuck it in my bag.  In retrospect, the title wasn’t the best choice for my situation.  The book was ‘Stiff.  The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers’ by Mary Roach.  Funny as hell, but not the best choice  when you’re having some reservations about your decision to undergo the knife.

Going through surgery alone came with a lot of logistical problems such as actually getting to the hosital.  My kids do not live close and I like it that way.  I have intentionally let my driveway grow over with blackberry vines to discourage visitors.  I’ve learned the hard way that people take advantage when there’s not a man around.  I’m not a stupid woman but I am much too trusting.  My best friend had just donated a kidney and she couldn’t drive. I swallowed my pride and asked the neighbors to take me to the hospital and pick me up.  I walked the half mile down the driveway in the dark that morning so that they wouldn’t scratch their car.    At the hospital, when asked for emergency numbers, I couldn’t think of any and gave fake ones. Yes, I’ll admit it.  I have become a full-on hermit.

fawns

At the hospital, I was given bed in the equivalent of what would be an office cubicle.  It wasn’t a room, but more of a partitioned space.  There were a lot of other patients there. Someone was playing a radio too loudly.  I was given a lovely lavender paper gown and grey socks.  A nice male nurse gave me six warm, disposable cloths and told me to wash from my neck to my knees.  He checked my vitals (my blood pressure was still a little high from anxiety) and left me alone to read my book.   WHY DID I BRING THIS BOOK?

There were several other nurses that came through to ask questions at the computer. Each one was pleasant and professional.

The anesthesiologist came in and I told him about my fears of the anesthesia.  He just poo-poo’d me and said that every one had the same fears.  Honestly, if there was anything that pissed me off during this whole experience, it was his attitude.  “You know what, Dude?  I am not everyone.  I am me.  And I am frightened enough by what is happening here that my blood pressure is elevated and you’re telling me that I am just like everyone else and that is really doing nothing to alleviate my fears. THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.”  But of course, I didn’t say that because I am a sweet old woman and he wouldn’t have listened anyway.   So I smiled and shut my mouth.

And then Dr. X came in, looking boyish in his navy blue scrubs.  He smiled at me. I have been blessed to have doctors in my life with really good bedside manners.  (Well, except for the aforementioned anesthesiologist.)  Dr. X was no different.  He made me feel at ease and that everything would be easy.  For him, it probably is.  He performs this procedure often.  If there’s one thing that I’m good at it’s giving the appearance of being strong and a tough old broad.  Being tough makes the other person feel better.  They feel as if they don’t really need to get any further involved.  They think to themselves that you have a great attitude and are doing fine.  I’ve seen it again and again.

Soon they were wheeling me down a maze of halls and I was reading the plaques next to the doors and I was completely surprised by the number of operating rooms that we passed.  This was a much bigger hospital than I realised.

And then we were waiting outside of ‘my’ operating room and the anesthesiologist stepped into the hall to stick an injection into my IV of something to ‘make me relax a little’.  WHERE THE HELL WAS THIS AN HOUR AGO? (But of course,  didn’t say this. Because I am an old woman and I am expected to behave.)  Someone put an oxygen mask on my face and we entered the OR.  I was surprised by how small it was.

The last thing that I remember was Dr. X shaving my pubic hair off.  And dang, he was not being gentle.  It sounded like a rake on gravel and probably would have bothered me even more if I hadn’t had the aforementioned injection.

And that was it.

At some point during the surgery, someone woke me up.  I think that I remember someone slapping my face.  But maybe I dreamed that.  I was extremely surprised to see all of these strangers.  I know that I wanted to question who they were, but I didn’t.  I know that I really wanted them to bring me pancakes, but for some reason I was afraid that they would get mad if I asked them for some.  (It’s anesthesia folks.  Stuff doesn’t make sense.)  Dr. X asked me to cough a few times.

And then I woke up a few hours later.

Sweet Chelsea was with me in my cubicle.  Chelsea is Dr X’s nurse and she is awesome. She asked me to get up and try to pee.  I couldn’t.  The tissues around my ureter were too swollen.

This had been explained to me previously.  9 out of 10 patients are not able to pee after this surgery and must  return home with a catheter, temporarily.  But I have always been a classic overachiever.  I wanted to be the 1 out of 10 that didn’t.  I strained to pee. Chelsea stopped me.  I failed the test.  I have failed very few tests in my life and it was humbling.  I was getting a Foley to take home and be my pet for three days.

I walked back to my bed and Chelsea outfitted me with the catheter, and a huge bag,   which brought up another problem.  I had been told to wear something ‘loose and comfortable’.  I wore baggy jeans. Catheters with huge bags are a bitch to wear with jeans.  But just like every thing else, I managed it.

And then thankfully I was released and back in the car with a script for painkillers and antibiotics.  I walked the half mile back down my driveway with my huge catheter bag and I was happy to see lizards dancing away from me into the brush.  After the chill of the operating room I enjoyed the feel of the scorching white heat of the California sun on my skin.  I reveled in my peace and quiet again.

But being home comes with its own set of problems.  I am not allowed to bathe for 6 weeks or lift more than 15 pounds.  My house is 117 years old and doesn’t have a shower and there is always something breaking or falling.  I live alone on a farm with animals.  There have been obstacles but I will persevere.  Because that’s what we do.

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Wearing a catheter at home wasn’t the worst experience of my life but it was a tremendous pain in the ass.  The dogs were constantly stepping on the tubing and it got caught in bushes outside as I worked.  It wasn’t painful but the damn thing was constantly in the way.  After 3 days,  I drove myself to the city to have Chelsea remove it. She filled my bladder with saline one last time measured and sent me across the hall to pee.   I pee’d more than she had put in!  There was almost no urine left in my bladder after voiding.

Success!

I’ve been home now for a week.  I still cannot lift anything or exercise but I have not leaked.  Not a single drop.  And I’ve coughed and sneezed, laughed at the animals and gone for long walks.  I have one spot that is still quite painful, (one of the external spots that is close to another scar.  I wonder if there is some sort of nerve damage from the previous scar?) but I’ve stopped taking the painkillers.   I’m trying to be compliant with my post-op instructions.

In the end, I’m happy that I was brave enough to have this procedure done.

We live in a culture where women over 50 become invisible.  While cookie baking grandmothers get a few kudos, most single older women become ‘spinsters’.  I can’t change social mores, but I can be responsible for myself having have a good, full life and happiness.   I had this surgery not because I’m vain (well, ok, maybe just a little) but because I have some self-respect.   The face that I present to society is a mark of my own self worth.  I have not disappeared.  I am relevent.

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On a Budget? 12 Masks for 10 Bucks. #Guiltfree

I have champagne taste on a beer budget.

I like high-end skin care products but I can’t afford a lot of them.  So I settle for spending a little less in some areas so that I can spend a little more in others.

When my kids were little (in the ’70’s),  store-bought masks weren’t very popular. The three commandments of skin care then were: 1. Cleanse 2. Tone 3. Moisturize.  (Is it weird that I actually remember the first time that I heard the word ‘exfoliate’ in skin care?  It was in 1995 at a Beauticontrol party.  And we weren’t simply ‘told’ to exfoliate.  The word was led like a cheer: ‘Exfoliate! Exfoliate! Exfoliate!)

In addition to the 3 commandments, and under the guidance of our grandmothers, many of us country girls made ‘old-fashioned’ masks in our kitchens.  It was a solid part of our skin care routine.   We used things like milk and rosewater, honey, strawberries, avocado and cucumber on our skin.   Olive oil and vinegar and chamomile and lemons went on our hair.  As time went by, we added things like green tea and coffee grounds and rice water to our homemade products.  And you know what?  Those homemade masks were awesome.  They were hydrating and brightening, soothing and clearing.  I still make them for my ‘pamper-myself-Sunday-spa-days’…which sadly I don’t get time for very often.

Today, there are a lot more ingredients available to help and hydrate our skins.   Serums, vitamins, minerals and acids are mass-made in labs and usually are cheaper than a basket of strawberries (which says a lot about our society).  For so many of us, beauty really does come down to a price tag and time.  And I’m always looking for ‘easy buttons’ to save both.

So when a friend recommended an on-line store called ‘shopmissa.com’, I took a look.

Nothing in the ‘Miss A’ store was over one dollar.  You might scoff but it wasn’t that long ago that e.lf. launched with on on-line presence only and every single item that e.l.f. carried was either 1, 2 or 3 bucks.  That was their hook.

Here’s a link to their store:  https://www.shopmissa.com/

So I wasn’t dissuaded by the cheap prices that ‘Miss A’ offered.  Especially when I saw that their FAQ page said that they offered cruelty-free products.    (I wasn’t able to find any of the brands on the ‘Leaping Bunny’ website though, and I’m still trying to clarify that completely. )

Their FAQ also says that they are able to distribute directly from the manufacturer which keeps the prices low.  The on-line reviews were pretty good (I actually don’t have a lot of faith in on-line reviews these days because it seems like manipulation is so easy), but I spoke to people whom I know and had ordered from the website and they were happy with most of the products they received.  I valued that intel much more than anonymous reviews.

So I ordered some stuff including two sets of 12 masks.  The transaction was easy.  It was fun because every product was only a buck!  I was able to try some silly stuff (like unicorn highlighter) and check out a few dupes (a knock-off for the Vero Mona brush cleaner and e.l.f. brushes?) and a boat load of masks.

All the products that I wanted were in stock.  They sent a confirmation notice.  The shipping did take awhile  (over two weeks).  I didn’t mind because my shipping was free since I had ordered over 50 dollars worth of products.  Barely.  If I had paid a lot for shipping, I would have expected my package faster.

The masks arrived bundled and wrapped in bubble wrap.  None had leaked.  I’d seen many of the brands at local retail outlets and on Amazon, with most of them priced at just over 2 dollars each.   The ones from Miss A had come in at about .83 cents each.  (Also, it seems to me that I got a few of these brands in a subscription box a few months back, but I’m not 100% positive. )

The 12-pack K-Beauty Sheet Mask set included:  6 masks from the Creme shop (rose oil, milk, blueberry, collagen, pink lemonade, green tea), 1 by Cala (hydrating coconut oil), 3 by Celavi (tea tree, coconut and avocado), and 2 from Naisture (cooling cucumber and sweet honey).  All ingredients were listed and they were highly variable from mask to mask.  Some had ‘better’ ingredients than others just as any masks that you buy at the drug store would.

The Glowy Skin 12-Piece set included:  8 masks from Naisture (Lovely Strawberry. Fresh Aloe, White Rose, Elastic Q-10, Moisture Green Tea, Brightening Arbutin, Juicy Pomegranate, Revital Collagen), 4 from Beauty Treats (Papaya Purifying Dead Sea Mud Mask, Peach Oxygen Bubble Mask, Vitamin E Skin Brightening Natural Pearl Mask and Plumeria with Refreshing Vitamin C)

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Bottom line?  Yes, I’d prefer to take the time to make my own masks with intention and love.  Yes, I’d prefer to buy masks with higher end ingredients.  But right now, that’s not in the cards.  I’m crazy busy.  And these masks do a good job.  They hydrate and add  emollients and make me feel as if I’m spoiling myself (and I deserve that).  So I think these inexpensive masks are an alternative and one that I will be ordering again.

I also enjoyed the site.  It was fun to shop and actually order a ‘Haul’ that came in under 50 bucks.  Yes, there were a few products that I didn’t like.  But there were others that I am really enjoying.

With everything under a dollar, it’s a totally guilt free shopping trip.  I wish that I could say the same about my homemade ice cream and soda.

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Cleaning Make-Up Brushes and Sponges

I’m home, recovering from surgery. I’ll wait until after my post-op office visit with my Doctor to finish writing about my experience correcting my ‘don’t make me laugh or I’ll pee’ series.

I’m a little bit limited in the realm of my activities, so I’m choosing a topic that doesn’t take a lot of physical activity.  I’m taking pain medication, and although it might be entertaining to watch me put make-up on , I’ll pass for now.  In the meantime, let’s talk about something that doesn’t require a lot of hand-eye coordination: cleaning brushes.

Is it weird that I get extreme satisfaction from cleaning my make-up brushes?

I have an eclectic collection; a few high-end brushes, a lot of mid-range quality brushes and a few really cheap ones. There’s even a paintbrush in the mix. (Honestly, that paintbrush is one of my favorites for applying eyeshadow to my crease.)

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Brushes and beauty tools are a relatively new concept.

Max Factor added a sponge to his make-up compact in the 1920’s; still most women relied on fingertip application of their foundation until the ’80’s.

I remember buying my first package of white disposable triangle sponges at Merle Norman back in the ’90’s,  The beauty tool industry has come a long way since then,

These days, when I purchase a new make-up palette, the first thing that I do is throw away the cheap applicator that it usually comes with.  If I’m spending money on a quality product, I’m going to use a quality product to apply it.

And there are so many options.

The Beauty Blender and it’s countless knock offs, Wayne Goss, Morphe, e.l.f., Artiste, Sigma, Bobbi Brown, Silisponge, IT, MAC, Sephora, Ulta.  Rose Brushes, Unicorn brushes, natural bristle, synthetic  bristle. vegan. cruelty free.

Because we are making an investment in our tools, we want to take care of them.  We want them to last.  Also, brushes can be a breeding ground for bacteria because they become packed with old makeup and dead skin cells, If you don’t clean your brushes, you are re-applying those nasty things back onto your face with every stroke.

For cleaning purposes:  I sort my brushes into 3 basic types:

Powder brushes (for powder blush and foundations).  I usually only clean these every week or so.  All they need is a good wipe with a damp cloth.  If you’re using a heavily pigmented powder, then consider giving them a bath every few weeks.

Eyeshadow/eyebrow brushes.  Although I clean these after almost every use (I don’t want last night’s ‘smokey eye’ showing up on this afternoon’s pastel ‘halo eye) I’ll use a dry cleaner, such as the Vera Mona Color Switch (see below).

‘Wet’ brushes that are used for applying liquid foundation, cream blushes and eyeshadows and lip brushes.   These are the brushes that will harbor bacteria.  To avoid breakouts, these brushes should be cleaned often.

Just as there is a price range of make-up brushes, there’s a wide range in cleansers.  Here are some of my favorites:

Good Ol’ Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Soap.  Honestly, is there any place that you can’t use this stuff?  After rinsing my brush in warm water, I’ll swirl it around in a bowl with a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s added.  Rinse with more warm water and lay flat to dry.  (Don’t stand on end until the brush is dry.  Water in the ferrule will cause it to rust or loosen the glue that holds the bristles.)  All ingredients In Dr. Bronner’s soaps are certified fair trade and cruelty free, and it’s a most economical brush cleaner.

You can buy it here:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/62qc/

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Sephora Color Switch by Vera Mona.  A simple sponge that removes pigment from the brush instantly without moisture.  It’s perfect for swatching or between eye shadow colors.

Buy it here:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/62qd/

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Cinema Secrets professional grade Makeup Brush Cleaner.  This is a quick drying and rinse free formula.  It’s advertising as smelling like vanilla, but I think that’s a stretch.  It’s not an unpleasant smell, but not very vanilla-y to me and more baby powderish.  The nice thing about this is that your brushes dry very quickly.  It does contain Naptha and Isopropylparaben, so I’d make sure to use this in a well ventilated space.

Check it out here:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/62qg/

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IT Brush Bath Purifying Brush Cleaner.  This alcohol free formula removes even the heavy, oily foundations from brushes easily.  It’s the ONLY cleaner that I’ll use on my IT brushes.  I love it.

It’s available here:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/62qj/

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Keeping your brushes clean helps keep your skin clean.  And you want to take care of your investment!

 

 

Stress Urinary Incontinence and Me.

Note:  This is the second blog  in a series about older women who suffer from urinary incontinence.  

Know that I’m not an expert on Urogynecology.  This is simply my story, my experience. Yours may be different because, well, because we’re all different. Your story may be much worse or much better.  Like Popeye says ‘I yam what I yam’. 

To simply recap the last blog, I have been diagnosed with stress incontinence.  I’m not the kind of girl to shirk away from a problem, so I’m dealing with it head on.  I hope that this blog helps other women who unnessarily suffer from the embarrassment of an easily correctable problem.

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Many women suffer from stress incontinence and are too  embarrassed to seek treatment.  That thought makes me so sad.  If I can be brave enough to deal with this, so can you.  This is a very physical problem with very psychological consequences.  As a 60-year old woman, I already struggle with maintaining a presence in society.  Mature women become more invisible as we grow older.   This syndrome intensifies things by hundred.

I live alone on a farm.  I could simply hide here until I die.  Believe me, there’s enough work.  But I refuse.  I am not done.  I still want to wear evening dresses and flirt and love. I want to fish in the Gulf of Mexico and wake in the dust of Africa again.   I’m old. but I’m not dead.

SI can be a result of pelvic support problems such as the stretching or weakening of the tissues and muscles which hold the pelvic organs in place.  Pregnancy, childbirth and aging all take their toll on a woman’s body and may result in organs that sag out of place.  The urethra, bladder, uterus or rectum may drop down, causing urine leakage.

There were several treatment options that were explained to me.  To be completely honest, deciding upon the options made me feel quite alone and vulnerable.

-There are non-invasive treatment options.  Often women need to be taught how to perform Kegels.  I had the whole Kegel thing down pretty well though.  One lover said that I crushed him with my ‘hoo-hoo’.  I don’t really know if that’s something to be proud of.  😉  Doctors can use biofeedback to make sure that you are doing the Kegels correctly.

-There is electrical stimulation which sends a mild electrical current to the pelvic muscles or nerves to train them and get them back into condition.

-There are bulking agents which are injected into the wall of the urethra to help control urinary flow.

-There are mechanical options.  A Pessary, a ring that you place in the vagina to help support the pelvic organs can help.   I found this solution really rather fascinating (- because I am still sexually active and  I keep thinking about the golden ring on the merry-go-round).  But my gut reaction was: I have dealt with placing tampons, IUD’s, sponges and assorted other items up my vagina for 40 years. I’m not doing that any more.  My answer to this option was simple and straightforward:  ‘Oh, hell no’.  My Doctor smiled.  He has a good smile and I felt a little more at ease about him when I saw it.

I can understand  how a Pessary ring might be a perfect option for some women. No surgery, easy and no more  invasive than a tampon.  I totally respect this choice as an option;  but I did not want to have to worry about 1.  Dang, where did I put that thing?  2. Can he feel it?  3.  Wait, have I lost it inside me? 4.  Dang.  Where did I put that thing?  5. Will it fall out on the dance floor? 6.  Is it going to be cold?  7.  Dang.  Where did I put that thing?

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-And finally, there are two minimally invasive surgical sling procedures that would be appropriate for my condition.

However, both of these options included a word that sends chills up my spine….’mesh’.

Both options are simple outpatient procedures that involve building a sling (made from mesh) to  provide support for the urethra. I envision my urethra kicking back in a mesh hammock, drinking margaritas and listening to Jimmy Buffet.

Anyone who has picked up a newspaper in the last 5 years is aware of the problems that are caused by mesh when inserted into the body.  It’s a foreign object and our bodies do not play well with foreigners.  Ok, that French guy was hot, but you know what I mean.

Fortunately, I have dated two doctors in the past years.  Although I had ended both relationships (here’s some advice:  don’t date doctors.  They are too busy to be quality companions.   Wait.  I just realized that I am a doctor too.  Well, that certainly makes a few things clearer… ) we had remained friends.  I called each of them for their opinions.

Bill is a Urologist and although he agreed with me that he didn’t like mesh, he admitted that he actually had some in his body for a hernia repair.  He told me that Dr X was one of the best in his field and to trust his judgement.  Ross (the Internist) told me that it was out of his area of expertise, but after some research warned me not to have mesh inserted into my body.  He sent me page after page of medical reports as to why’mesh was not a good choice and advised me about alternative methods.

Dr. X had given me a position statement from the Society of Urodynamics, Female Pelvic Medicine and Urogenital Reconstruction (SUFU).  I’m no attorney, but it looks like it says that:  1.  the mesh is safe. 2. the procedure that uses mesh is the most extensively studied in the world 3.  The mesh is a great advancement over previous procedures 4. The FDA says that the mesh is safe.  Dr. X also assures me that when the mesh procedure has not been successful,  it was because the mesh  was put in place by surgeons that were not adequately trained to use it.

Dr. X also informs me that one side effect of the surgery was that a second type of incontinence might result.  This does not make me happy.

After much thought, I have decided that I will have a surgical sling put in place to give my lazy urethra a break.  He has taken care of me pretty well for 60 years and deserves a some tequila  and a rest.  Mesh will be inserted through a small incision in my vagina and will exit externally through two small incisions on either side of my ‘mound of Venus’.  (‘Mound of Venus’  is a totally bullshit descriptor that’s  as romantic as hell.  It’s actually the mons pubis and if you’re confused about where that’s at, just look down at the mound with hair on it.)  There will be two small butterfly band-aids placed to cover where the mesh will actually be exiting my body.

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Yes, I am apprehensive.  I have a friend dropping me off at the hospital.  Another one will pick me up.  The anesthesia worries me.  That shit is variable.  I feel as if the surgeon is strong.  I have faith in him.  But damn.  How many animals have I anesthetized that ended up dying?  That’s the scary part for me.

Anyhow.  This part of the blog is done.

Onto the final chapter!

 

A Camera Up Your ‘Cooter

Note:  This will be a series because I’m in the middle of this whole experience.  

Know that I’m not an expert on Urogynecology.  This is simply my story, my experience. Yours may be different because, well, because we’re all different. Your story may be much worse or much better.  Like Popeye says ‘I yam what I yam’. 

 

I’m actually good with getting older.

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And I think that I’m holding up pretty well. I’ve never had a face lift and I don’t want one (for now anyway.  But never say ‘never’).  Men still tell me that I’m stunning.  (I am a vain and silly woman and I enjoy that.)

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I’ve certainly grown wiser, stronger and tougher with age.    I was fortunate to get a good, solid education.  I’ve worked hard.  I was a military wife for almost 30 years.  I’ve seen the world and I’ve done amazing things in my life.  I’ll have some really good memories to hold me over when I get to the rest home.

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And the best part is that it’s not over yet.

Yet there’s one aspect of aging that I just can’t help but be embarrassed about and that’s urinary incontinence.

I had some slight problems after my children were born.  A little leak here.  A dribble there.  A sneeze might result in a change of panties because of a tablespoon of ‘leakage’.   But really, the symptoms were very mild.  I didn’t dwell on them except as a minor inconvenience.

Until menopause struck.

Here’s the thing; I was the girl that looked forward to menopause because my periods were so heavy and painful.  And of course, (probably because I wanted it so badly) menopause didn’t hit me very late compared to most women.  I was well over 55 when my periods finally stopped.

FREEDOM!

Menopause came some mildly annoying problems, but compared to having periods, it was a joy ride for me.  Because I am a cancer survivor, I didn’t want to take HRT for any of the minor problems that menopause brought.    I just slogged though it, like most women.

As an older woman, I can say that for the most part, we are invisible. Social media doesn’t want to hear about our problems.   The advertisers, the drug companies, the skin care alchemists,  all fight for the dollar of the beautiful boisterous youth.  Older women’s  problems fade in the tapestry of society as they become the background. Youngsters take up all the oxygen in the room.  Check the internet and see how many advertisements there are for wrinkle treatments versus how many advertisements there are for menopause management.   This is why it so important that we older women stick together and help each other by sharing knowledge and loosening up some stigmas.  We need to discuss these problems and not keep them hidden under the shroud of ’embarrassment’. We will be happier and more productive.  We won’t hide in our houses.  We can enjoy life fully without limitations because we have earned that right.

There wasn’t a lot of information about what to expect from menopause available to women of my era.  My mother would never talk about such things. Luckily for me, it really wasn’t a tough transition.  But I’ve known many woman that have suffered.   And the hardest part was that it seemed as if there was some ‘great mystery’ involved.  But in retrospect, the ‘great mystery’ only happened because no one talked about it.  If people were able to talk about it, it wouldn’t be such a great mystery.  I feel as if the last few years have been better with so many legitimate medical websites on the web.

My personal revelation about menopause was that with the loss of hormones that keep our muscles youthful and supple, my incontinence seemed to get worse.

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I worked at my Kegel exercises constantly.  Kegels  didn’t seem to help my leakage issues (although I could crush…oh, never mind).  I bought special ‘incontinence underwear’.  They had a microfiber insert and were pretty much ‘granny panties’.  I felt as if I couldn’t dance anymore, couldn’t jog any more, couldn’t laugh hard anymore for fear of leaking.  I felt as if I was losing out on so much joy because I was literally afraid of peeing my pants.

And then the most embarrassing thing that I could imagine happening, happened.

I leaked while having sex.

I was mortified.  My partner asked me if I was undergoing ‘female ejaculation’.  (Apparently, there are a whole lot of men out there that know very little about female anatomy, orgasm or biology.)   I nodded my head yes.  He thought he had hit the jackpot.  Sleeping in the ‘wet spot’ had a whole new connotation that night.

At this point, I couldn’t deny that my incontinence was having a negative effect on my life and I decided to seek treatment.

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The next day, I made an appointment with my primary physician.  He assured me that I probably wasn’t doing the Kegel exercises  properly and referred me to a type of specialist known as a ‘Urogynecologist’ named Dr. X.

Dr. X seemed to be crazy busy.  I had to wait a full month to be seen by him.  When I finally did get an appointment, the waiting room was full of ‘old ladies’ (like me).   We laughed and giggled and shared an uneasy camaraderie.   We all seemed embarrassed to be there.   I used the office candy dish as an excuse to break my Paleo diet.  Dr. X kept a team of at least 6 nurses, receptionists and physicians assistants busy.  I mean the place was ‘jumpin’.  I was delightfully surprised.  I didn’t feel so ‘alone’.

The first visit included peeing into a cone.  I’m not gonna lie.  That was weird.  But there was a lot more weird things to come.

I had  a fairly lengthy interview with Doctor X.  He rarely looked me in the eyes, which I found a little bit odd.  I suppose that I was just one of a hundred woman that had shown up in his office that week, but it did make it feel a little bit impersonal.  Still, he had a very calm demeanor and that helped soothe my embarrassment.

A physical examination followed and he inserted a catheter into my urethra.  Although I had just peed into the weird cone, I was apparently not fully emptying when I voided, because there was still urine in my bladder. That was a surprise to me.

And then another embarrassing moment happened when he asked me to cough and I peed.   While laying on the examining table.   In front of him and his nurse.  Onto the floor.  Apparently, it happens all the time.  It is a symptom and is something that he actually looks for.  I stammered out a red faced apology while covering my face.  (Apparently, I am a reincarnated ostrich.).  My God in heaven, you cannot imagine how mortified that I was.  I HAD PEED ON THE FLOOR IN FRONT OF A STRANGER.  But they said that it happens all the time and seemed sincere enough about it to make me feel better about it.

Dr. X had me perform a Kegel exercise while his finger was in my rectum.  Yes, that was embarrassing but not as embarrassing as peeing on his floor.  He assured me that I  was doing the Kegels correctly.  Yay, me.

I got dressed and Dr. X spent a long time educating me about urinary incontinence and asking me questions.  It seems that there are 4 types and a woman can have more than one.

  • Stress incontinence-In this type, a woman leaks urine when she coughs, laughs or sneezes.  Leaks can also happen when a woman walks, runs or exercises.  It is caused by a weakening of the tissues that support the bladder or the muscles of the urethra.  Stress incontinence is the most common type in younger women.
  • Urge incontinence-A woman may have a sudden strong urge to urinate and leaks urine before she can get to the bathroom.  This type is sometimes called ‘overactive bladder’.  It can also be caused by problems with the nerves that send signals to the bladder.
  • Mixed incontinence-A woman has symptoms of both stress and urge incontinence.  This combination may cause more urine to leak than either type alone would.
  • Overflow incontinence-A woman has steady leaks of small amounts of urine,  This type occurs when the bladder doesn’t empty all the way during voiding.  The bladder muscle may not be active enough, or the urethra may be blocked.

Dr. X recommend that I undergo a series of tests, spread over three appointments to determine the exact cause of my leakage.  The tests would include:

  • Urodynamic tests-my bladder would be filled through a catheter and the function of the bladder and urethra would be checked.  This test was conducted twice during two different appointments.  My bladder was filled with saline and I was asked to cough at various times.  The catheter was attached to a computer and took various measurements of my urethra at certain volumes.  There were also probes placed in my vagina and taped to my buttocks  to see how different muscles were functioning.  At the end of each appointment, I was given AZO tablets to help with any irritation that the catheters may have caused my urethra.  For the first appointment, the two tablets were not enough, I had to go to the pharmacy and purchase a box of Azo.  If you’re not familiar with the side effects, know that you will pee a brilliant orange color for several days.  This was a painless test, although at times my bladder was filled to a point of uncomfortableness.  I had to pee in the ‘Cone of Weirdness’ several times.  Apparently, there are sensors in the cone that recorded the length and pressure of your urine stream.  The worst part of the exam was the irritation experienced after the appointment, however the over-the-counter medication soothed the burning well.
  • Postvoid residual volume test-The amount of urine that is left in the bladder after urinating is measured by placing a catheter into the bladder.  This was done regularly throughout my three ‘testing’ appointments and was quite painless.
  • Stress test-During a stress test, I was asked to cough or ‘bear down’ a few times with a full bladder.  Any loss of urine was recorded.  I can only say that I am so thankful that I didn’t pass gas during any of these exercises.  Because, hey.  I’m an old woman.
  • Cystoscopy-a thin, lighted tube with a camera lens is used to look inside the bladder and urethra.  This was really fascinating.  Am I weird that I love to look at my organs?  Aren’t you totally blown away by the technology that lets me look inside my own bladder?  It was totally painless and wondrous.

And then, thankfully, the testing period was over.  Seriously, my Paleo diet was being challenged by that beautiful candy dish in Dr. X’s office.  I think that his employees got tired of filling it up after each of my visits.  That candy dish had become the high point of my existence during my month of tests.   I have completely quit sugar, but my visits to Doctor X gave me an excuse to indulge.   It was my reward.  No one has candy dishes these days.

After looking inside my bladder, Dr. X sat down with me to talk to me about my options.

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In my particular case, stress incontinence was the culprit.  My urethra simply wasn’t closing the way that it should,  It was very clear during the ‘camera up your cooter’ phase of testing.   (OK.  For clarification sake, the camera wasn’t technically up my ‘cooter’.  It was up my urethra.  But ‘cooter’ sounds catchier.)  This type of incontinence  is most often seen in younger woman as a result of child birth.  Mine had gotten worse through age and the loss of elasticity that happens to old women.  No amount of Kegels were going to help.

 

 

And I had several treatment options.

I’ll discuss those in my next blog, along with how I came to the decision on what treatment I would undergo.

 

 

 

 

 

Highlighters and Mature Skin

See how it sparkles.  See how it shines.

I have an unreasonable love for highlighter.  I swipe through Instagram images and gaze longingly at dewy faced young princesses  who glow like the northern lights.

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But I’m no silly princess.  I’m a full-on Queen.  With all the knowledge that a long life brings.  And the power that goes with it.

And unfortunately, the skin that accompanies a long reign and a long life.

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Ask any makeup guru and they’ll say:  “Old ladies can’t wear highlighter.  They have too much texture on their face “.

And in many ways they’re right.

I’ve taken care of my skin.  I’ve baby’d it, worn sunscreen and used all the best skin care that I can afford (OK, spoiler alert:  There were times when I couldn’t afford all that much.)  But en with preventative care,  time still took it’s toll.  I have fine laugh lines and large pores and some dry patches and even a few acne scars from when I was one of those ‘dewy princesses’.

I have the skin of a 60-year-old. Because well, because I’m 60.

Think of highlighter as if it were a mirror reflecting light.  Texture and fine lines are just going to make that mirror look as if it’s broken and the flaws will really stand out.

But no logic could dissuade me:  I wanted to wear highlighter so much .

Gollum: We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.  

(sigh)

And  I wanted more that just an ordinary  highlight.  The plain sort of highlighter that comes in a regular ‘contour-highlight’ palette;  with it’s  too-white chalky glow was not enough.

I wanted that disco-ball-glossy-sheen.  But I didn’t want to look like a dented copper pot.

It took some compromise (as all good things do) to achieve a look that’s good for me. It’s not over the top.  It’s tasteful, yet gives me a nice illusion of glow and being lit from within.   And it’s NOT something that I would wear ‘everyday’.  But it’s awesome for special occasions.

And it takes a little more work.

But damn.  The results are worth it.

Pick Your Battle

I know that I am never going to rock a glam highlighter during afternoon tea.  The sunlight is simply too unforgiving.  In the images below, I photographed out in the bright morning sun simply for demonstration.  Ol’ Sol will accentuate the texture in your skin  and make every pore look like a pit.  There was a reason that Blanch Dubois kept her lamps covered.

Instead, give me roses and candlelight.  Take me out for an evening, swathed in a black evening dress, with the curtain opening on the ‘Phantom of the Opera’.  Give me the mystery of the night.  Daylight is too harsh, but starlight reflects my glow perfectly.

Hydration. Hydration. Hydration.

Before the big event, stay hydrated.  Those wrinkles will pop out like crushed tissue paper in a gift bag if your skin is  dehydrated.    This means taking in water internally (drinking water) and externally (with moisturizer and serum) , through your skin to keep your skin firm and plumped.  A few of the serums that I use to plump things up:  (note that your mileage may vary):  hyaluronic acid, squalane, matrixl 3000, caffeine and rose-water.

Spackle  (The most important part!)

With enough spackle, even I (as the old lady) can rock a crazy glowy, molten golden hue for an extra special occasion.

Currently, prior to applying a highlighter, I use 3 pore fillers and a foundation filler.  This lays down a smooth, matte base for my highlight to sit on.  (Guurrrlll, I told you that we were going to need extra product and steps.)

I start by applying  ‘No Poreblem primer by touch in SOL’ with my fingers all over my face as if it were a moisturizer.  A good drugstore version of this is e.l.f. Cosmetics  ‘Poreless Face Primer’

Here’s a link:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/60vs/

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My second step is to apply the ‘Porefessional’ by Benefit into my t-zone with my fingers.   I know.  It sounds redundant.  But stick with me.  Think about fixing a broken wall.  It takes prep work prior to painting.   I tap and gently push this product into my pores to smooth them out.

Link:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/60vy/

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Next I dust my t-zone with It Cosmetics ‘Bye Bye Pores’ powder.  After dusting with a brush, I lightly tap the powder into area with my fingertips.

Use the link below and get 3 dollars off every 15 dollars spent by using the promo code:  MAGICLINKS350

Link:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/60w0/ 

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And finally, I mix Urban Decay’s ‘Velvitizer into my foundation.  Just take a dime size amount and mix it on a palette.  This will mattify your foundation and amp up the coverage.

Link:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/60w4/

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Make sure that you use a setting spray after this step.  It helps keep all your work in place.

So these images show the difference.  I have a hard time photographing myself, and I wanted the brutal day light to show all the flaws, so look inside the circled areas (which are the normal place for highlighter to go.  (Note that I’m old and technologically deficit so there’s no chance that I used PS.)

This shows my normal foundation with out preventives.  The large pores are evident:

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This image shows my skin when I’ve used the fillers and taken the steps needed to help reduce my pores and help my skin:

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PLACEMENT

Place your highlighter on after your setting powder.  Don’t dim the glow by dusting over it.  Don’t use a dense brush or your fingers,  Opt for a fan brush or some other thinner bristled brush.  Build up the glow if you want with several layers instead of one heavy one.  Buff and blend the edges.  If it’s not blended, it will have a less ‘lit-from-with-in’ glow and instead be more of a ‘someone-taped -a piece-of-aluminum-foil-to-my-face’ look.

If you have fine laugh lines (as I do), try placing your highlighter a little lower, almost running over your blush.  Also, don’t place it too close to your nose, because you’re entering the t-zone, where most of the texture will be found.  Keep the highlighter toward the outside edge of your cheekbone and away from the center of your face.  I also put a dab exactly in the middle of my cupids bow (but not to the sides of it) because I have fine lines above my lips but not in the arch of the cupids bow.   I tend to stay away from my forehead (because of my ’11’s), unless I’m wearing my hair in an updo, then I might place some on my temple.

Also, keep in mind that there are warm and cool highlighters.  Although my coloring is neutral, I look better in a warm highlighter (think rose-gold) than an ice diamond color.

And don’t forget the notch in your throat and your shoulders.  And your decollete (if it’s in good shape.)  We’re old.  But we’re not dead.

SETTING SPRAY

Finish up with a setting spray.  Currently, I’m enjoying Laura Geller’s ‘Set n’ Spray’ but I can’t wait to try her ‘Spackle Mist’.    And I love the drugstore setting sprays too.  Maybelline and e.l.f. make awesome ones that do a great job.

Final Thoughts

If you have a liquid highlighter, don’t be afraid to add a few drops to your liquid foundation before applying it.  It will give you a bright and glowing all over look.  It’s one of my favorite looks.  I’m using a ‘Temptu and Boxycharm’ collab right now (from a subscription box) that I love beyond reason.

Link: http://go.magik.ly/ml/60w5/

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Also, about Benefit’s ‘Dandelion Twinkle’.  It’s very subtle.  I think anyone could wear this without much prep.  But it doesn’t have a lot of ‘bling factor’.  I love it very much, but really I don’t feel as if it’s a traditional highlighter.  It adds a sort of ‘je ne sais quoi’ to your look.  A very subtle and lovely glow.  Don’t underestimate it.

Link:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/60w6/

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So the upshot is that the tastemakers and the gurus will try to tell us what we can and can’t do.  Au contraire my loves.  We’ve earned the right to tell them to pack sand.  We can do what we want and we can rock what we do.  With style and grace.

Me.  On my 60th birthday last week.  With my lines and still rocking a golden glow.

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