I was just thinking this morning about all the great new stuff I discovered (and subsequently fell in love with) in 2009 and couldn't resist gushing all about it.
So, here goes my Top 10 Faves List, circa 2009 (in no particular order):
1. L'Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Shampoo & Conditioner. Seriously. It's amazing AND cheap. Like $6.99 a bottle cheap at the grocery store. I've tried both the moisture (pink) line and the volume (green) line and love them both for different reasons. The cold weather and dry furnace heat saps the moisture right out of my hair. Every couple of washes, I use the moisturizing shampoo & conditioner and it makes my hair unbelievably soft. The rest of the time, I'm using the volumizing S&C and it makes my hair light, bouncy and shiny. As a hairstylist, Sissy is my go-to hair advice maven. I literally called her from the grocery store to ask if I should try this sulfate-free stuff (because who of us would know the difference, really?) She told me that sulfate-free products are some of the best out there and are normally very pricey and found at salons. She told me to try it, given the price. I'm so glad I did! Find the EverPure formula best for you and give it a try. You won't be disappointed. (FYI: I have long, color-treated hair that gets oily after 2 days and stays drier at the ends. EverPure seems to balance out my hair better than any salon brand I've ever tried...and I've tried a LOT.) OOH..and I nearly forgot to mention how fantastic they smell. Both the shampoo & conditioner use slightly different blends of rosemary (one being rosemary & juniper and the other rosemary & mint.) They're very...Aveda-smelling, very earthy and clean.
2. Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser (for normal to oily skin.) Again, this product is affordable and everywhere. I know I've mentioned Cetaphil before, but the results I get from using Cetaphil every day keep me from needing microdermabrasion, glycolic peels or expensive acne treatments. I use it every day...Cetaphil + warm water + gentle washcloth = freaking awesome skin. Up until last year, my face would break out like I was going through puberty all over again. I tried everything from fancy cleansers from the dermatologist to Proactiv to organic to every drugstore brand out there. Nothing helped clear up my skin. Granted, I knew I had combination/oily skin, but everything either over-dried or over-moisturized, thus resulting in more pimples. I read in some fashion mag that some celebrity (maybe Drew Barrymore?) used Cetaphil so I spent $8 or so and bought some while I was at the drugstore. After a week, my skin had never looked better and people were noticing. For the first time in, oh, EVER, people were complimenting me on how good my skin looked. My mom and aunt now swear by it, too, and they've gone the dermatologist route for their skin, too. It's especially fantastic if your skin's more combo or oily. Though they make a "sensitive skin" formula, I stick to the Daily Facial Cleanser, even though I have very sensitive skin. It just seems to work better for me.
3. DivaCup. This might be a little too-much-info for a few folks, but I cannot keep quiet about it anymore. If a woman's menstruation freaks you out, either stop reading or get over it, cuz I have to talk about something that I wish I had known about years ago...enter, The DivaCup. This just isn't a tampon alternative...it's a life-changing product. Last year, a huge part of me hated how much disposable waste I was creating through all the tampons and pads I went through in an average month. I recalled awhile before that on one of my favorite message boards, the ladies were discussing the DivaCup and singing it's many praises. I knew that I was ready to give it a try and become part of the waste-reduction solution and not part of the problem. Let me explain. The DivaCup is a menstruation cup, leaving nothing behind to throw away. Now, menstruation cups aren't revolutionary (they've been around since the '30s.) The DivaCup, however, is made of silicone and has an innovative design. Basically, you put it in, it collects, you empty it at least once every 12 hours, you clean it with mild soap and warm water, you put it back in. At the end of your cycle, you boil it for 20 minutes. The end. No more odors, waste or stinky trash. It's amazingly clean and freeing. I have a pretty heavy flow for a couple days and, even then, I can do whatever I want -- swim, exercise, sleep, whatever -- all without having to worry about accidents or leaking. (Truth be told, when it's really heavy, a ultra-thin liner helps in those "just in case" moments.) After one cycle, I called my mom to tell her and cried about how happy I was to have found the DivaCup, it's THAT amazing. Sissy swears by it. I'm going to tell my cousins and nieces, when it's their time, too. After all, why should girls and women be tied to old technology? The modern tampon has been around since the 1930s and is virtually unchanged in design and function. Great marketing has led us to believe our only options are pads or tampons. Pads aren't always the right solution (read: sports, swimming, formal nights) and tampons can leak, are extremely wasteful, unhealthy (you put yourself at risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome), and quite often, are unsanitary (hello? tampon strings absorb urine. So gross.) Just do yourself a favor and try it. Worst-case, you go back to tampons. Best-case? You never use anything but the DivaCup again and you'll tell everyone you know about it, like me.
(P.S. Hey Central Ohio ladies...I got mine at Whole Foods in Dublin.)
4. Mean Bean Java Monster. For those days when coffee isn't enough, Mean Bean Monster Java is a coffee-meets-energy-drink that tastes like a vanilla iced coffee. Even though drinking window cleaner is probably more healthy, given it's chock full 'o weird stuff, and a total indulgence at sometimes $3 for 15 fl. oz., it is completely and utterly delicious.
5. MAC Cosmetics. Not only were MAC Cosmetics the saving face grace products for my wedding, I've enjoyed their benefits since the wedding. The entire product line is amazing, really, but I have a few favos, so indulge me:
- Prep + Prime Skin: Oh silky smooth finish, how I love thee? I have oily skin in my T-zone especially, but a little P+P on a clean face pre-foundation works wonders for keeping my concealer and/or foundation where it's supposed to be and not slicking off my face by the end of the day.
- Fluidline Gel Eyeliner (in Blacktrack): This little pot of black gel paired with a soft angle brush (I like Sephora's Double-Ended Smokey Eye Brush) allows you to create everything from a soft, feminine eye to a dramatic glam-worthy diva eye. All it takes is different pressure, blending techniques and eye shadows. I never thought I'd ever wear black eyeliner on the daily, but Fluidline changed my mind. Go light with a soft, short application and your eyes will just about pop out of your head, in a good way.
- Viva Glam IV Lipstick: Not too light, not too dark, not too pink...just not too anything. This is dangerously close to the perfect shade of lipstick for me. If you're not going big with red lips, have light-to-medium skin and want a pretty, classic, clean-looking daily lippy, Viva Glam IV is one of those shades you can wear with everything. It was the color I wore for my wedding and now I wear it with jeans. It's versatility justifies spending $14 on lipstick.
6. Coffee-mate Fat-free Hazelnut Creamer: This stuff helped me stop spending $4 a coffee at Starbuck's. When your budget requires cutting out of the overpriced boutique coffees, but you're still craving them, give these fat-free creamers a try. There's a bazillion flavors, but hazelnut is the one I seem to gravitate towards. If you're like me and prefer your coffee iced, this stuff really does the trick. Just brew up a pot, pour into a pitcher with a handful of ice and stick it in the fridge. When you are ready, pour over ice and add some of this hazelnut creamer and you'll forget all about that $4 Venti Non-Fat Caramel Frappucchino, trust me.
7. Paper Source. OK, this isn't one product. It's the entire company and website that I love. We integrated Paper Source card stock and envelopes into our wedding invitation suite and, as professional designers, Bubs and I couldn't believe the quality! Honestly, it is the best card stock I've ever purchased. Quality stuff, good price, quick shipping, variety of colors. Can't recommend the Paper Source enough for anyone who uses paper in DIY invitations, cards, crafts or scrapbooking.
8. Ancestry.com. So maybe this isn't exactly a product, but more of a service, but it was one of my favorite things I got into in 2009. I know I've mentioned in passing over the last year about losing my dad...it sucked so I don't like to talk about it too much, but one thing I embraced this past year, rather than brooding and bellowing about my loss, is organizing my personal family history. I signed up for the free 1-week trial on Ancestry.com, entered a handful of known names and dates and now have over 900 family members entered, some as far back as the 1600s. Now that, my friends, is eye-opening. How about discovering and connecting with other people, strangers, who you just happen to be related to? It's a trip and sort of freaked me out at first, but it helped me to remember a couple things. 1. That someone's memory is much more lasting if you nurture it. 2. You're never really alone in the world, but rather you're tethered with invisible strings to more people than you can imagine. and 3.The internet is the coolest place ever.
9. Pier 1 Reed Diffusers. Anyone who experiments with different brands of reed diffusers knows that some are better than others (note: avoid Bed Bath & Beyond's Fresh Linen reed diffuser like the plague. It's horrific.) If you gambled and lost with your latest reed diffuser, pop over to Pier 1 and stock up. Theirs have the best fragrances and seem to last longer than any other brand I've tried. One of my favorite smells is the Ginger Peach, but I'd like to try Fresh Fig, Spring Gardenia, Citrus Cilantro and Ember this year, too. (P.S. Reed diffusers are a great way to infuse delicious scents into your workspace, too. If you're stuck in a cubicle, it doesn't mean you can't make it as pleasant an environment as possible! Just use fewer reeds to keep the smell from overpowering a small area.)
10. Whole Foods Market Italian Soda. My favorite has to be Pink Grapefruit, but Tangerine and Green Apple are just as delicious. I like that the packaging is responsible glass and not plastic, what's even better is that the labels come off easily with a soak in soapy water and you're left with a perfect, label-free clear glass bottle! Though they aren't as cheap as non-Whole-Foods sodas, they are a delicious and healthier fizzy alternative. If you're looking to cut your daily soda consumption, ween yourself from caramel coloring and Aspartame with these delicious little bevvies. Oh -- and they are really pretty additions to any party or tablescape, too, if you're into that sort of thing.
That's it! My list for 2009. How about you? Did you try and love any new (or new-to-you) goods this past year that you'd like to share with the world? Leave a comment and share the product love. xo