Last week I went to the salon and got my hair changed. Its not the most drastic change in the world, but I just wanted something different. And it will be changing a bit more over the next couple of months. Here is what I did:
On the left is the before, and the right is after. I went from my natural color (a dark chocolate brown) to black with purple tips. Right now the purple tips are very subtle, but over the next couple of months it will be getting much more vivid. And while you can not see it in this picture, it currently looks like a dip dye but will be transforming into a ombre.
My end goal is for it to look more like this:
Have you tried ombre or dip dyed hair? Would you? I would love to see pictures of all you beautiful ladies and your colorful hair.
In my last post where I talked about my Allergic Contact Dermatitis that you can read here, I promised that if I had a reaction at any point I would share a picture so that you can see what it looks like on me. While testing out some new products I want to talk about during this month I had a mild reaction to one of them. And as promised I cam back to share the pictures. Now the lighting is super great, but if you look close you will be able to see what I am talking about. If you look closely at my cheeks and my chin you will see some mild redness, and bit of a scaly look. And here are two pictures for a closer look at those areas.
This was a very mild reaction compared to what normally happens. I have had bad reactions where redness and scales covered my face. Thankfully I managed to get this mostly calmed down within a couple of days.
Look for upcoming posts on:
What my daily skincare routine looks like/what’s safe to use with my allergy
My love of makeup and favorite brands as well as some makeup looks
Outfit post for my costume that I wore to the Steampunk Con
Since I wanted to do this month of beauty posts, I thought I would starts things off by talking about something that is deeply personal to me, and actually effects every decision I make when it comes to beauty products. For as long as I can remember I have had issues with having reactions to lots of different products and foods. I honestly thought when I was a teenager that I was allergic to everything. I avoided what I could, but I didn’t always know what was causing these reactions.
While I never had a lot of acne, my skin constantly stayed red, irritated, inflamed, scaly, itchy, etc… This was on top of the migraines I got from exposure to many items as well as blisters, itching, and a swollen tongue. However my parents were extremely poor, they didn’t have health insurance, and they rarely had the money to take me to the doctor when I was extremely ill, let alone for something like this. So I did the best I could with what I had.
I want to share some of the things that have happened where I had allergic reactions that were confusing. In elementary school I had to stop using wood pencils that you sharpen and go exclusively to mechanical pencils. After using traditional pencils for a few days I would develop what looked like a third degree burn with small bumps and blisters in the are the pencil continually touched. As a preteen I was in the grocery store with my mother and they were handing out samples of Farmer’s Cheese. One bite and my mouth started feeling odd. Within a minute I had three large blisters on my mouth. Anytime I am walking through a store, or enclosed public place really, it is a real possibility I am going to have a reaction. All it takes is walking by a man or woman wearing a heavy dose of the wrong perfume or cologne and I will within minutes have a migraine and red blotchy spots all over my face. Sometimes it will feel like my face is on fire, sometimes it will only feel itchy. And this is just a small sample of things that happen.
Fast forward to my mid twenties and it has done nothing but gotten more severe. I finally had health insurance and I decided that it was time to visit a dermatologist for my skin, as that seemed like the most logical place to start. They diagnose me with seborrhea dermatitis, which is not an allergic reaction at all, and honestly at this point I was still willing to believe the allergies were a separate issue. They give me a prescription cream, told me to use a heavy duty dandruff shampoo and sent me on my way. I use the cream as it was directed for almost a year with no real results. The most I ever got was some relief from the burning. Then one day I had a reaction so bad, I think if I could I would have ripped my own skin off. I know that sounds really graphic and disturbing, but the level of pain I was in was indescribable. That is the point where I decided to go to an allergist and see if I could find out anything different.
I had planned on taking some photos of my enflamed skin so you all could see what it actually looks like, however I started a new product to test out for this month that actually helped clear my skin up. If I do have a reaction sometime this month I promise to take a picture and share it. But before moving on with my story I did manage to find pictures on a dermatology websites of people who have the same allergy and seems to have a very similar looking reaction to help give you an idea of what I deal with. And if you image search what a Balsam of Peru Contact Allergy looks like, you might be both horrified and realize I am one of the lucky ones. But I digress, back to the allergist. When I got there they ran a standard panel for allergies where I came up allergic to dust, dust mites, and lobster. Knowing none of these are the culprit for my issues they suggested I also take a patch test. Patch tests are different from skin prick tests. While the skin prick tests are used to find food and seasonal allergies, the patch test looks for contact allergies. While the patch test is optional, I highly recommend everyone take it, especially if you suspect an allergy to something like a fragrance. Also unlike the skin prick test, with the patch test you wear it overnight or longer and then come back for an analysis.
As you have probably guessed at this point my patch test came back positive for something called Balsam of Peru. The thing is that is the only thing I tested positive for. This left me very confused since, as I mentioned earlier I thought I was allergic to so many things including foods, cosmetics, fragrances, and so many other things. So if I only tested for one thing, how am I reacting to all of those things? And what does the Allergist tell you? “Take this paper, go home, do some research, and use this cream.” Ironically, I am given the exact same prescription cream the Dermatologist gave me.
I made my way home and read all the info the Allergist gave me, which is now available to view here. It soon becomes apparent why I am having reactions to so many things, and that I am going to need to do a lot of my own research since the info given is very basic and there is so much to remember. For instance the plant alone can go by so many other names as well as 20+ chemical ingredients they make from it, and dozens of genetically similar items like essential oils you can have reactions to. Between all of the items I can have reactions to, they are used in foods, medication, cleaning products, cosmetics, skin care products, etc.. And they tell you that this plant is rarely used anymore, which is a bit deceptive. Its true, you rarely see Balsam of Peru or any of its other names listed as an ingredient. However, the many types of alcohols and other chemical ingredients made from the plant are common ingredients. Also, since this is also sometimes used as a fragrance or flavoring, that is all that is required to be listed in an ingredient list. And there is a loophole often used:
Because of allergic reactions, since 1982 crude Balsam of Peru has been banned by the International Fragrance Association from use as a fragrance compound, but extracts and distillates are used up to a maximum level of 0.4% in products, and are not covered by mandatory labeling.[30 –
So many people may use a product thinking there is no Balsam of Peru or any of its derivatives in it, and yet still have a reaction. Over the years it has been a process of trial and error, but those with stronger reactions do not have the luxury of the trial and error process. It would be so much easier to find things to use if western culture wasn’t addicted to artificial flavoring and everything smelling like roses.
If you would like additional information on Balsam of Peru contact allergy, I have found the following sites helpful:
If you have been diagnosed with a Balsam of Peru contact allergy already and have been looking for help, don’t be afraid to reach out by leaving a comment below or messaging me on my Facebook page.
For my readers, I know this isn’t my usual topic, but it is relevant as we move into the month of beauty. The next few posts will be about my routine, and new products I am trying. I also will be covering some favorite cosmetic brands, new and old that I am able to use. And feel free to ask any questions. There are articles out there that make this seem rare, but there are other things that say this is one of the top fragrance allergies. I think there might be a lot of people out there that are silently suffering like I use to, that just never got tested. I hope there are people out there I can help in some way. And isn’t your skin as import as any dress you can put on when it comes to beauty? Do any of you have rare unheard of allergies?
I have always been the type of person that was not only willing to, but wanted to try new things. However, when it comes to shopping online, it can sometimes be overwhelming for even the savviest of shoppers. Its not the trying on of close, at least not for me, its the process of sending back and exchanging that can be tedious or impossible depending on the company. So when I started this blog I made a concerted effort to try various brands I had never tried. I wanted to be able to step out of my comfort zone and come back and share my experiences with all of you.
So today I am going to talk about all the companies I tried over the last year. I will try and cover both the good and the bad points of each place, as well as what I thought about how their clothing fit compared to the old trusty standards (a.k.a. Lane Bryant and Torrid) since I feel a good majority of us have at this point tried at least one of those brands and know how they fit us. I will even share a picture or two of things I purchased from each place. And make sure you read through to the end as I will be sharing some things that are going to be coming over the next month for the blog. Now lets get started:
However I hesitated from ordering for the longest time since I had to order online and was unfamiliar with the company. So when I did order from City Chic, this dress was of course one the first things I got.
I looked at their size charts before I ordered and felt confused, so much so that I actually ended up calling their customer support. If you look at their charts you will notice they have a list of measurements, but they also have a list of other stores and what size you wear there compared to what you would wear at their store. One of the stores they list is Torrid. Now at Torrid, like most plus size stores (not junior plus) I wear a 20. And according to City Chic’s measurement chart I wear a 20 at their place as well. But at Torrid a 20 is also part of a size 2 which I also wear in most of their stuff, but occasionally have to size up. And so City Chic’s store comparison chart said if I wear a 2 at Torrid I should wear a 18 at their store. But after talking to their customer support, we decided I should stick with a 20 or L. So I would urge anyone that is going to order to go by their measurements when choosing a size.
After trying many of their items, I definitely have learned to stick with a 20 or L. They do have an occasional piece, like any store does that runs a little small or a little big. But the great news is, when something like that happens, they have one of the best customer support experiences you could ask for. If you are in the US, that pretty much means its only one person you will talk to (unless that has changed since the last time I had an issue) and her name is Stephanie. Since its just her, it may take a little bit for her to get back to you, so please be nice ladies. I would go so far to say that Stephanie is so good at what she does, that she is a big part of why City Chic has gained a loyal new customer in me.
Eloquii is one of those brands that while it hadn’t been on my radar long I was quite anxious to try it because I had heard so much about it from when they had been around before. Looking at their site, they have a lot of items that are fashion forward, and even some that border high fashion.
After examining their size charts I decided that the best size to order form them would be a 22, but I had read previously read that you should size down for this brand so I ordered a 20. I decided to order a dress, a top, and a belt. When my order came in I rushed to open the box and try everything on. Unfortunately, with great disappointment, noting fit except the belt. Now you might be thinking it was too small because I sized down, and I was a little worried that might happen too. But no, it was too big, by a size or possibly two.
Their website says they offer return and exchanges, but that section of their site is not written out super clearly. I decided to call customer service to see what to do to exchange for a smaller size, and also hoped they could help decide what size I should actually order. What I found out, that they do not say on their website, is that because I used Paypal to pay this option was not open to me. They also suggested that since I should buy multiple sizes in the future, and the return the ones that don’t fit. But I don’t like that since they charge a item return fee. After going back and forth for 20 minutes the call ended with me on the verge of tears and having decided to just send the clothes back without trying to replace them. Overall I found their customer service rude and unhelpful. After that experience I doubt I would ever buy from them again.
Eshakti has been around for a few years and I glanced at their site off and on. I don’t think they every really caught my interest till this last year or so. It seems they continue to grow and offer a better selection of fabrics and designs. I made an order last spring of several items including their Red Lips Tulle Full Skirt, which you can see the full review of here.
eShakti Tulle Skirt Free Kisses T-Shirt
I find that when ordering by eShakti’s size chart I fall in-between two sizes. Its not an issue with the skirts at all, but for dresses what happens is the size I need becomes dependent on the type of fabric used. So if its is a fabric with stretch, then I am more comfortable in the smaller size. If there is no stretch then I need to size up. But do make sure you actually go by your measurements and not just the same as what you would at another store. They have their own sizing.
I can not tell you how the customer service is with this company as the need has not arisen to contact them. However the one thing they do that makes me really happy is they occasionally send out surveys of a type about products they either currently have or are thinking of carrying. They ask you to answer a number of questions about each item shown to you. I personally try to fill this out each time I get one. And over time, I honestly feel like they listened. One of the big things I kept requesting was more fabric options with stretch. Happily I can say this spring they had way more options, and I did order quite a few, so there will be more outfit post coming with looks from eShakti.
Also while they do accept returns, I have found that eShakti has become popular enough that anything that I decide doesn’t work for me that its easy enough to get your money back by selling it either on eBay or one of the many Facebook groups for selling clothing. Now if you don’t want to even consider having to get rid of something or sending it back, they do offer the custom sizing option for a small fee. Be prepared to have a tape measure and some one help you if you go this route.
I have no doubt I will be buying many more items from eShakti in the future, and I recommend that everyone give them a shot. With every piece offered in sizes up to 36W or custom made for anyone, what more could you ask for?
Curvy Girl Lingerie
A bit different than the rest of the companies. Curvy Girl Lingerie is actually a Plus Size Lingerie store located in California, and I believe it is one location only. However, they do have a website and they will also take phone orders. Over the last year or so I had seen them mentioned a time or two, but I somehow failed to ever really notice them I suppose. That was a mistake. But what happened is I was on Living Social and they had a deal on there for their shop. I shared, as I often do. There was a restriction thought that the deals could only be used in store. So Curvy Girl replied that if anyone who didn’t live in California wanted to try the deal they could do an order over the phone. I decided to personally give them a try.
Chrystal was so helpful. She is very knowledgeable about what she carries in her store and the sizing of the different brands. When my item arrived it fit perfect, and I have no doubt I will be ordering again from Curvy Girl Lingerie.
Outside of my actual shopping experience, I would like to say that I really appreciate the passion and obvious hard work Chrystal puts into what she does. It is people like her that have done so much for both the Plus Size Industry and the Body Positivity Movement. If you get a chance to talk to her or just to even look at her her website you can see what some of the things she is working for in the near future. I hope she succeeds in her endeavors.
At the beginning of this year I ordered from ASOS for the first time. I ordered several selections out of both the Curve Collection and the Plus Size Collection. Including their Pink Clove Bell Sleeve Off Shoulder Top.
After looking at the size charts I decided the best size for me in both collections was an 18. So I placed my order, and was surprised when it arrived rather quickly. And much to my delight every piece fit as it should. Since this has been my only order so far I have not had any experience with their customer service. One thing they have going for them is they ship for free, and free returns. I will definitely be ordering again soon, and you most likely will be seeing some outfit posts involving them soon.
ModCloth for me is one of those companies that I heard people talking about for a little while, but because those people’s styles are so drastically different than mine I never bothered to even look at their website because I didn’t think they had anything for me. Then one day another blogger I follow, who has a similar style to me, posted a picture of her in a dress I really loved. That was the first time I ever thought to look at ModCloth. Then it took me a while to even order just because there were so many choices. But last fall I took the plunge and order several dresses including the Musical Maestro Dress.
It is now sold out, but ModCloth has tons of other dresses to chooses from. As with all the other companies I examined their size carefully and decided I must order everything in a 3X. The only thing I had ever heard about ModCloth was their clothes ran small, so this made sense to me. I now laugh at that since I now know how ModCloth works. But I ordered several things all in 3X except one the one pictured I ordered as a 24W, and when they arrived every single item was too big. Actually the 24W was two sizes too big. I was so confused, it didn’t seem right.
So this is where I call customer service. I was really upset to, I was sure they were not going to help me because every item I bought came off the final sale rack, and Modcloth’s policy is no returns on final sale items. But I have to say they have some amazing customer service people. After I explained what happened and why I ordered what size I did, they first explained to me that their size chart is not the real size chart its just a general one and they carry many brands that size differently. Then they said because I was knew and didn’t understand they would make an exception on the exchange. So they changed things out for sizes I need. Which with some items like the one pictured that fixed the issue. But with others it did not.
I have since ordered several times from ModCloth, and what I have since learned is that some brands I am in-between their sizes. If I go with the 2X its a little too tight to be comfortable, but if I go to a 3X its too loose. So I have found it best to go bigger and get it tailored. A lot of companies I wouldn’t think it worth the extra cost, but most of what ModCloth carries are unique pieces in quality fabrics.
I will continue to buy from ModCloth. I love that they value their customers, and support body positivity and freedom of expression no matter who you are. I hope that they continue to grow their plus size line. There are many times I see dresses pop up as suggestions and I am clicking on them only to see they are only offered in straight sizes. Please ModCloth, please continue to ask your designers to offer plus sizes. We are ready to buy, but we can’t till they are willing to sell.
So that was a look back at my year of trying new brands for the blog. And there will be more of the same to come over this next year. If you follow me on Facebook you might have noticed its official, the blog is one now.
Over this next month (I say month but lets not really harness it into a number it might be more like 40 or 50 days) I plan on talking about skin care and makeup. I am also working on a giveaway that is related. I will still do a outfit post or two during that time, but I wanted to mix things up a bit and share some things that are important to me and explain why. So look for the first post on that soon.
In the mean time, is there a plus size brand you think I should try? Who is your favorite? Let me know. I want to hear from you.
I love tutus. Let me say that again in case you didn’t catch it the first time. I LOVE TUTUS! I think every girl should have at least one tutu, and you shouldn’t be afraid to rock it. People are going to stare. Yes they are, of course they are. Tutus are so pretty who wouldn’t stare. And most likely someone is going to ask you where you got it.
So when my girlfriend announced that she was planning a pre-Easter, Easter party, I knew what I was wearing. My newest tutu of course.
This is by far my favorite tutu skirt I have ever owned. There are a lot of them out there that show this nice full skirt in the picture, and when you get them they end up being the lining and one or maybe two layers of tulle on top. But this one from Cool Gal Blue is not like that. You are genuinely getting layers and layers of soft fluffy tool. Oh so pretty! It is their Icy Tool Skirt. It says that its available in sizes 1X to 6X, but if you email them they will custom make the size for you and also the length, which is what I had done. The one I am wearing is a 42″ waist and 28″ length.
It can be paired with a lot of different things, but I decided to go more with the dark feminine look. Here I am wearing it with Torrid’s Lace Back Surplice Top as well as bow stretch belt that I got there last year. My bag is from Betsy Johnson, and while you can’t get the exact one I have you can get a similar one here.
And all of my jewelry is from Wantable. If you are not familiar with them they customize a monthly collection of either makeup, jewelry, intimates, or workout items to your liking in a monthly subscription box. I personally have tried quite a few subscription boxes in the makeup and jewelry categories, and Wantable is the only one I can fully say I think is worth the money and I have stuck with for a long time. I don’t take one every month, as they let you pause your subscription anytime you like. But I take at least six a year.