Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chomps Beef Jerky Review

You say beef jerky and I think Slim Jims. 
Not because I love them, but that's a brand that I'm familiar with. 
I've had the occasional hankering for some, when I can't run to my Polish butcher for some 
homemade stuff. 
But, we also know that they are loaded with chemicals. 

Being a teacher, I often have "snacky" lunches, or something that can tie me
over through an almost hour commute. 
I had the chance to try an assortment of beef jerky complementary from the brand

As their website declares:
Well, considering the fact that I know that Slim Jim's are terrible and contain questionable "meat", anything could be healthier. 
Apparently, if you follow the Whole30 or Paleo movement, 
these are also approved by both programs.  
I don't really follow either, but I do try to opt for healthier, and more natural foods when I can.

But, I had the chance to try three flavors, so in ranking of my favorite to least here we go!

Hoppin Jalapeno

I should preface this with, I love spicy food.  I love spicy meats even more. The texture of this is very similar to a Slim Jim, with a thin outer casing, and softer inside.  You get actual, identifiable chunks of jalapeƱo within the stick *you've been warned*. The fat was well distributed, although the minor downside is that I wish it didn't have a sweetness to it.  It needs just that little bit more of salt. 

Yep! Mid-study snack!
This is closest to what an original Slim Jim would be like.  Has the meaty-ness, the savory flavor.  
This does not have the sweetness of the other two, and therefor you get a nice steady heat.  This comes second best as there was just something about that Jalapeno which tasted just a TINY bit better. 

Crankin' Cran
You can see a a little bit of cranberry in this bite!
This is for the hot and spicy and sweet wallop lovers. I love my spicy and this is the spiciest of the bunch, BUT the sweetness of the cranberry plus the natural sweetness of the stick combine to be a bit sickly. You can see the actual chunks of cranberry and habanero peppers, and your mouth will feel the heat, which I LOVE. But that follow up sweetness is something I disliked. 

As you might notice, these sticks have a sweetness to them, which I don't LOVE. I LIKE 
the flavor options. I LIKE that they are actually spicy and not a whimpy flavor. But that sweet after taste leaves me with a ".... um what?"

Nutritional Facts versus Slim Jim
Okay, so let's talk about those nutritional facts. What are the stats on this thing?

So let's start with the portion, both are 28grams. So same size, great!
The Chomps stick is only 100 calories, while Slim Jim's are 140.
For those who follow strict food programs, that might already become a deal breaker. 
Slim Jim's have 11 grams of fat, 25mg of cholesterol, 480mg of salt and 4 grams of carbs. 
Meanwhile the Chomps stick has 3 grams of fat, 20 mg of cholesterol,  and almost HALF the sodium at 250mg.  It also has zero carbs.  Considering that we eat a lot of foods already with salt, I'll be glad to take the lower option. 

For my protein loving friends, Chomps has 9 grams of protein, while Slim Jim has 6. 

So looking at the Nutritional Facts, the Chomps brand is more mindful, and probably the "healthier" option of both. 

So let's discuss ingredients.  It's awesome to see a short list of pronounceable ingredients.  In Chomps Original Sticks there are 10 ingredients.  There are actual spices, and they use celery juice as a preservative.  (I never knew you could do that!)

Slim Jim's 
Um. Yeah. What is exactly the purpose of outlining that chicken is mechanically separated? 
Soy protein concentrate? 
No wonder why my mom never let me take these things in my lunch boxes!

Clearly, Chomps uses better ingredients. 

So show me the money!
After this side by side, we know that Chomps is better, but then we know usually more natural means much more expensive. 
A Slim Jim from my locale ShopRite retails at $1.49.
Chomps sell via their own website, and offers several package options, and I've calculated to see what are the price points. 

You can buy a 5 count pack for $11.25. 
Ouch. This means that each stick is $2.25. 

A box or 24 count pack goes for $49, 
which breaks down to $2.04.

A case or 144 count pack goes for $259
and you get free shipping with this one. 
This option breaks down each stick to $1.80.

The most cost effective option would then become the 144 count, and yes you can get a mixture of the brands three flavors. No matter which option, you will pay between 40-76 cents more per snack stick. 
For orders over $75 the shipping is free, and for under it is a flat rate of $4. 

Final Thoughts:
I really hope this brand expands into supermarkets near me. 
Or at least into my more natural markets such as Whole Foods, Fairway or Trader Joes. 
 While this doesn't beat out my trusty Polish butcher shop, this is much better than any Slim Jim. 
If you are looking to have natural, 100 calorie snacks, this is a good option. 

Interested in Purchasing?

*I was sent the products complimentarily for review.  This does not affect my honest opinions within this post*

Billion Dollar Brows Kit Face Off

So I'm the type of person who HAS to draw in her brows, because I have SUCH
light natural brows.  I have about half an inch of darker brows, and then light hairs. 
So filling in my brows is pretty important, needless to say. 

I was contacted by the company Billion Dollar Brows 
to be able to test out two available kits, at two price points. 
I figured, hey, let's do a face off and see if either is better than the other 
and do I feel like either is truly worth the money. 

The first kit up is the cheaper of the two:

60 Seconds to Beautiful Brows ($24)
There are two parts to this kit:
1. The Brow Powder in Taupe:
I got the color taupe which is the lightest shade, and when you first open the container, it seems rather dark.  If you have very fair blonde hair this would not be the product for you, I have dark blonde and need to go in with a careful hand. 
I found the powder to go very nicely, with no clumps or changes in tone ,
 that said, I still felt like it needed a wax or a gel to just set the powder. 
I have dry brow area (don't ask how but I do get a few flakes *ew* there), 
so if I'm not careful I find that any brow powder gets worn down faster. 

2. Dual Ended Brow Brush
The brush is slim and stiff enough to stand up to sculpting a brow, and the spoolie.. well really what can you say about a brow spoolie? It worked fine but this comes from the girl who snags them for free at Sephora. I may actually switch out this brush for my other brow brush because it is THAT good. 

That is the biggest fault I find with the kit, the fact that the brow powders do not go lighter. 
Also, I feel like I'd have preferred a brow gel, just to keep the powder in my brows, as my skin is most dry in that area and can wear away easily. 

Similar Products:
When I saw this kit, I first thought of Anastasia brow powders. 
I could have sworn that they had a brush and powder set, but the closest one I can find is in ULTA
at $36 and comes with a gel, powder and brush. 
Otherwise to purchase separately to build a similar kit you would spend $23 on a powder and then $18 on a similar brush. 
Even though Anastasia has more tones, it becomes much more expensive. 

the next kit is:
The Best Sellers Kit ($42)

The kit comes with four products
1. Universal Brow Pencil:
I'm going to give it straight, I don't like using pencils for my brows. I dislike the concept of the "universal" tone even more. The kit claims to work on blondes and brunettes, but you have to be even more careful with blonde hair as you have to press super light.  I'd rather have a specific "blonde" pencil, if I had to. It is creamy, but maybe my skill or comfort level just isn't up there.
2. Brow Duo Pencil
This was kind of the hidden gem of the kit.  At first I had a "psssssh" thought to the pencil, knowing that most concealers in this form are dry or they are the wrong color. 
This may become an issue for girls with different tones as there is only one color of concealer.
This has a creamy highlight on one end and the concealer on the other. 
Neither have shimmer or sparkle, but I hate to say that they are matte as they are not dry!
I did find that they work best when patted into the skin instead of smudged. 
3. Smudge Brush
This was a product that I just felt was an afterthought.  Something that was a "fluff" product.  
It's like those sponge tip applicators or blush brushes and are kinda useless.  At first I thought I could try to use this IN my brows, but the brush is too wide. The packaging says this is supposed to be used to blend the Brow Duo Pencil.  I'd rather had gotten a good pencil brush to blend in the products. This was actually my least favorite product, even beating out the pencil. 
4. Brow Gel
This clear brow gel doesn't leave my brows crispy or the old school super shellac-ed look.  It holds the brows in place.  I used this with the brow powder from the other kit as well, and it held the powder quite nicely.  I just feel that if you have a waxy pencil, your brows can usually stick in the right place, thus not needing a brow gel.  But then again, I don't have difficult brows. 

Anything labeled universal already gets on my nerves, as it just never works 100 percent. 
The "smudge brush" was also a product I just felt that could have been done without and let's be honest, it's probably better known to be a flat liner brush. 
I'd rather a kit of 3 good products, than 3 and 1 mediocre product. 
$42 is a fair amount to spend on brow products, especially when you want to invest in a kit, and I'd want each product to be a star, not "just okay". 

Final Thoughts:
Due to my own preferences in brow products, I'd have to say that I would better recommend the 60 Seconds to Beautiful Brows Kit.  The kit uses a powder, which I find better matches my tone than a "universal" pencil (even though there is a limited color range) plus the brush makes application so much better. 
The brush in the Best Sellers Kit seem to be just an after thought, something I could very easily purchase from ELF at a buck. If I could, I wish the 60 Second Kit came with the brow gel from the Best Sellers Kit.  That would make the 60 Second Kit spot on. 

Both kits are available on the Billion Dollar Brows website. 

Both kits were sent to be reviewed from Billion Dollar Brows, but does
 not affect the honest opinions presented in this post. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Derma E ICANTWHEAT Gluten Free Skincare & Giveaway

As a person who has absolutely no allergies, 
I have never had to worry about what I eat, drink, lay on, touch or put on my face. 
But becoming a teacher, I've have a WHOLE eye opener.  
Most recently is a wave of gluten allergies. 

For a person like me, I think gluten...okay, that's in breads and pastas etc. 
There are now whole sections devoted to gluten free lifestyles. 
One thing I hadn't been aware of, is that gluten can be present in makeup and skincare. 
But Derma E apparently has not only gone gluten free, but is Vegan and Cruelty Free. 
With the current movement of a LOT of beauty bloggers and vloggers to cruelty free lifestyles, 
here is a brand that would cater to you too!
They are also paraben free, GMO free, Mineral Oil Free and the list goes on. 
If you would like to read up more on that aspect check out their website here
I remember seeing Derma E only in my hour away Whole Foods, but has recently expanded into 
Ulta, CVS and many online stores. 
I've tried Derma E products before, and have wanted to purchase one product in particular
(...Microdermabrasion Scrub I'm looking at you...) 

But recently, Derma E contacted me to be a part of their ICANTWHEAT campaign, and sent me a few products to try out based on the new evaluation system on their website.  
At first, I was a skeptic about the evaluation, I thought that it would be a gimmick to sell the most expensive products. But I tried it. 
Overall, the evaluation is painless and fast, and more or less highlighted what I already knew about my skincare routine. I need something for acne specifically and for dry skin. 
The price range on the products was about around the $15 mark, which is still rather comparable to many drugstore lines. 
There were 8 suggested products for my concerns, ranging from a Toner Mist to Night Cream to Face Scrubs. 

What was also interesting is that these products were not put together from just one brand or line of their skincare.  It was completely mix and match, showing that we really don't need to follow only oily-combo skincare because there are other products for our concerns available.
So let's actually find out what I got, and if they actually worked for me. 

From my evaluation I picked out four products that were most interesting to me:

1. Purifying Toner Mist:

Claims: A pH balanced formula that instantly refreshes, rebalances and fortifies skin against environmental pollutants.

Reality: Well, it does lightly moisturize the skin. This product works in the similar manner to that of a setting spray, except this is a super light moisturizer.  This is great for my days when my skin is normal, and doesn't require protection from wind, snow etc (ie winter). My skin didn't show dry spots, didn't feel itchy or tight.  I used this in the mornings, and this product has a light, refreshing citrus-ish scent to it. I rather like it. I had no breakouts from this, and my makeup didn't run around my face either! You could probably use this throughout the day or if you travel on a plane and need that little extra moisture.

Will I repurchase: Yes, but only for the summer months. This isn't enough for my typically combo skin during the dead of NYC/ Chicago winters.

2. Purifying Gel Cleanser:

Claims: This fragrance-free, sulfate-free, pH balanced formula lathers away sweat, oil and toxin buildup for a refreshed, glowing complexion.

Reality: We all hope that a cleanser will get rid of sweat and oil (and for us makeup loving gals...anything else we left on our faces from makeup). I can't vouch for toxin buildup as how can I measure that? It is fragrance-free (like REALLY no fragrance). It starts out like most typical charcoal Then with a little rubbin' and water, turns milky white and washes away. I was a little more surprised with the fact that this REALLY smells like nothing. nada. goose egg. My skin type typically needs a cleanser that has salicylic acid for my acne, but this cleanser didn't do anything bad for my skin. It didn't make me feel necessarily glowing either. But it cleaned my face, and didn't leave it tight, so it did its job.

Will I repurchase: Probably not. I just wasn't really wowed by this particular cleanser. Yes, it works, but I don't feel like I LOVE it.

3. Very Clear Moisturizer:

Claims: A skin-balancing formula that provides essential nutrients to help clear and prevent breakouts, reducing redness and irritation.

Reality: The product was a heavier moisturizer (ie. probably going to be a good winter product) which did not clog my pores.  I always have very rose-y cheeks, so I can't vouch for the redness reduction. But then I look at the product on the irritation claim and I just have to mention that this product is VERY, scratch that, EXTREMELY heavily scent.
It smells like Lysol floor cleaner (the yellow bottle), and is so potent that it makes my eyes water.
The scent does not go away either, I keep getting whiffs of it, and have a headache.
Out of all the products, this one is the one I would say stay away from.
I can't recommend this product for the fact of the fragrance of it, and when I read the package, it states that it is "formulated with a specialized herbal anti-blemish complex of tea tree, willow bark, salicylic acid, rosewood, lavender and chamomile."  You'd think this would smell more like an herb garden, but no, it is that chemical cleaner scent.

Will I repurchase: Sorry guys, I can't do it. I can't recommend a product that causes such a reaction.  It could be a miracle product but the scent deters me, I just can't deal with the headache it produces.

4. Glycolic Facial Cleanser:

Claims: This gentle, fragrance-free, pH balanced formula deeply cleanses and rejuvenates without stripping skin of its natural oils.

Reality: Okay, so a little background story. Once upon a time, about 4 years ago, I tried a product that had glycolic acid as a main ingredient in it (it was a peel). I haven't touched anything since that experience because I ended up with such a bad reaction, with skin that was essentially burned. (a la minor sunburn with tightness and peeling). Maybe it was supposed to do that, but it was so scary and painful I never tried anything with glycol in it. BUT, silly me though, hey... maybe for review sake I'll try this thing out. Guys. This stuff is good.
It is actually gentle.
It doesn't burn. It doesn't sting.
It's actually fragrance free. (really truly!)
My skin felt clean, not tight, but refreshed.
I think I like this better than the Purifying Gel Cleanser.

Will I repurchase: Yeah, I think so. It's a good sized bottle for a good price. You don't need a lot of the product, and it left my skin feeling really nice. It did what it would claim to do.

So 2 out of 4 products I'd repurchase for sure, not bad.
Skincare is a difficult thing, because while we may get something for the skin type, it might not work due to natural chemistry, or we just don't like the product.
I plan to do follow up posts for each product,
as I feel that with skincare, it does take a much longer time to see results.

Derma e is a great brand, and if you are transitioning to a more natural, cruelty-free, gluten-free lifestyle, this is a brand you should check out.  Actually, even if you don't care about those things, you should still check out the various lines.  Just try out the evaluation, even if you know what skin type and needs you have, you might get introduced to a new product that you will eventually like.
(Also this evaluation doesn't make your email clogged up with newsletters from the brand, it just sends you the one time suggestions)

Additionally Derma e is running a giveaway! 
The prizes!
1 person will receive a $150 gift certificate to Derma e
1,000 people will win a Gluten Free Sampler Kit (3 foil packs) plus a special coupon code.

If you are like me, and never win anything...
and just feel like you want to browse what is available Derma e is also providing a coupon code for me to share with you guys!
Use ICANTWHEAT for 25% off your order
(expires 11/20/2015)
I'm totally using this for the Microdermabrasion Scrub fyi.

FTC: This is a sponsored post and products were sent to me for HONEST reviews. I write honest reviews on the products.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Identity Crisis

Hi All,
So this blog has seen a lot of identity crisis over the years, and for that I haven't written within this blog for a long while.  Over the next week, I plan to take on an overhaul, and make this channel more of a reflection of myself, for my beauty lovers, there will still be beauty products, but just other aspects, along with a name change.

I wanted my blog to be something I could fall back onto, to reflect, to enjoy writing about any whim.  It's like my old high school sn *remember those!?*, life changed and I couldn't change that to go with it.  It wasn't adaptable, and I want my blog to adapt with me.

I hope with this new re-vamp, I'll be more active over here, and just enjoy the act of writing, not just for scholarly purposes but also for my own relaxation.  So please bear with me! Please leave suggestions or any topics you'd want me to bring up! What do you want to know about me?