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Thursday, April 17, 2014

March 2014 Birchbox

March 2014 Birchbox Overview:

  • Retails $36 for 1.7oz. 
  • About the product: This lightly tinted, mineral matte sunscreen with a SPF 30 is made with 70% certified organic ingredients, ideal for normal to oily skin, gluten free, and water resistant up to 40 minutes.  Best for light to medium complexions, after applied you should notice an immediate line smoothing, matte finish.  It's antioxidant infused and contains ingredients such as Vitamin C, organic rose hip oil, shea butter, and evening primrose to help calm, smooth and hydrate your skin.  Apply evenly over face in upward strokes.
  • What I thought: Its silky texture reminded me of a face primer though its consistency was more whipped and mousse like so I was surprised at how lightweight this felt being SPF 30.  A little goes a long way and it was very hydrating without having my skin feeling weighed down!  It applied very smoothly, blended well into my skin, and I didn't notice any scent to it.  Though there was something about it where it didn't want to blend well with my concealer or foundation.  When used together, my concealer and foundation didn't settle well so it left my skin looking streaky.  I was also a bit disappointed as I received so little of it.  I don't think even 1/3 of the sample bottle was full so I didn't even have enough to last me 1 week, let alone a few days.
  • I'd be open to buying this. 

  • Retails for $9.95 for 15 pouches. 
  • About the product: Mighty Leaf Tea was founded in 1996 by husband and wife team Gary Shinner and Jill Portman in San Fransisco.  They blend whole leaf teas with high quality herbs, fruits, blossoms, and spices to produce their signature tastes.  Their tea pouches are stitched with unbleached cotton, contain no glue or staples, and are crafted of 100% polyactic, corn based, compostable material.  They have won awards not only for their teas but also their packaging.
  • What I thought: I love how you can see the ingredients so well through the silken pouches and I was able to get 2 cups of great tasting tea from each.  My favorite of the 3 was the chamomile citrus, pictured above.  I'm not a big fan of chamomile tea but the blend with a light citrus hint to it was great!  Of the 3, the Green Tea Tropical was my least favorite as I felt the tea was a bit too heavy and dark for my tastes.  Regardless, they were all full of great flavor and I'd love to try some more!  They have a lot to offer on their website including a rewards program and 2 free tea pouch samples with every order.
  • I would buy this.

  • Retails $21.95 for 8oz.
  • About the product: This product is vegan, 100% paraben and sulfate free.  This leave in mist says it will seals your hair's cuticles, smooth, moisturize, and minimize frizz.  It will provide protection from UV rays and heat, safeguard your colored hair, and add shine.  Apply this weightless, non-greasy product after shampooing and conditioning your hair.  After towel drying your hair, hold the bottle 4-6 inches away from your hair, spray a few times, then comb through. 
  • What I thought: I really wish Birchbox would have included this sample when I got their shampoo & conditioner samples to see how they all worked together.  It also had that same, great scent their other products have. The spray came out very wet over a small area so I found it hard to control where it was being applied.  I ended up spraying 3 spritzes into my hand and then worked that through my short hair.  Like their other products, this one left just a faint scent to my hair, a nice shine, and no frizz.  I felt it did do a good job protecting my hair from my flat iron as after use, my hair didn't seem so brittle and even looked healthier.  Unfortunately, I use another product that just seems to moisturize and protect my hair much better.  So if that one ever became discontinued, I'd seek out this one. 
  • I'd be open to buying this.

  • Retails $12.00 for 0.9oz.
  • About the product: 100% natural without parabens, petroleum, or mineral oil, this product is made to be used anywhere you have trouble spots, including your cuticles, lips, and face, to help heal and soothe your skin.  This product is packed with ingredients you can identify such as beeswax, vitamin E, and oils of sweet almond, lavender, sunflower, shea, geranium, and castor.  Perfect for both warm and cold climates, its ingredients help relieve environmental stresses by locking in moisture.
  • What I thought: I tried this before looking at the ingredients and the first things I noticed were how it smelled strongly of lavender and the texture of it seemed like petroleum, so I was surprised to see there was no petroleum in it at all!  Using it on my lips & cuticles I didn't get the long lasting moisturizing I was hoping for and so I felt like I was applying it way too much throughout the day on those areas.  I had a better experience applying it to rough, winter skin patches!  It helped soften and heal these areas.  My most favorite place to apply it?  You'd never guess but it was my nipples!  I did e-mail the company to ask if they knew if it was safe to use on them if you were a breastfeeding mother.  All they really advised was it was all natural but to consult with your doctor 1st before using it on them if you are.     
  • I'd be open to buying this.

Body Repair Balm by Skinfix. 
  • Retails $30.00 for 4oz.
  • About the product: Skinfix believes in "Nature's Pharmacy" by keeping their products 100% steroid, paraben, phthalates, fragrance, and hydro-cortisone free.  This balm helps treats eczema, dermatitis, dry and itchy skin by providing immediate relief from redness and irritation with its medicinal, all-natural formula.  Packed with ingredients your skin will love such as aloe, beeswax, shea butter, and paraffin, it also contains key active ingredients such as zinc oxide, 2% colloidal oatmeal, allantoin, sweet almond & jojoba oils to help heal, calm, soothe, and relieve your skin.  Apply directly to affected areas, especially after bathing, or throughout the day for stubborn flare ups.
  • What I thought: Not only do I battle with dry skin because of my hypothyroidism, but the winters here can be harsh on it.  Also, thanks to genetics and allergies, I've been dealing with eczema, adult acne, and keratosis pilaris.  I like to read through the other reviews and I noticed a lot of people didn't like the scent of this.  I actually did.  To me it wasn't medicinal at all and had a lightly sweet smell because of the oats, almond, and jojoba oils. Since there was only a little of it I decided to only use it on my trouble spots.  My shins, heels, elbows, and the tops of my lower arms.  I also used a teeny tiny bit on my face.  It seeps in right away but it  will feel like you have a light, powdery film on you.  If you use too much you will actually notice a white or cream colored film on your skin so take the time to rub it in enough and that will go away.  After a few days of use my skin was softer and less irritated.  After a few weeks of use my keratosis pilaris seemed to diminish.  The only thing it didn't do was heal the really rough spots like my elbows & heels.  This is still by far one of the best products I have used to help calm my dry & irritated skin!  A MUST for those with eczema! 
  • I'd buy this.

I also got a small piece of Ghiradelli chocolate in my box this month in Intense Dark Cherry Tango.  I'm not going to do a whole write up about it though.  You can find their chocolate everywhere!  Though I will say their dark chocolate with cherry and almonds was pretty tasty and made me immediately wish I had more.  :)

Since I have been very happy with my Birchboxes I finally decided to sign up for the annual subscription.  Soon I'll have enough points to take a good chunk of change off of a bottle of Arielle BERRIMATRIX Intense Repair Complex.  That stuff was fantastic!


I swear I finished this a few weeks ago but I have just been so exhausted & didn't post it.  Thought I had something specific I wanted to write about, but with my brain fog lately, I'll never remember.  I seriously have to write things down as soon as I think of them these days or they will be lost, possibly, forever.  Plus I got my Ipsy bag yesterday & my April Birchbox today so that kind of reminded me to finish this up. 

Last Thursday was the 1st time I had to take time off of work since my return because of my autoimmune disease.  Since I had awoke in the morning I felt awful.  Sometimes I can't even describe it.  It was almost like it just felt like my body was shutting down.  My head hurt, my body ached, I was exhausted, nauseous, too hot then too cold, couldn't concentrate.  After 1/2 of day of being in the bathroom 3 times already, barely able to scarf down lunch and I couldn't even finish it, then realizing I was probably going to have to go to the bathroom again another 3 times during the remainder of the day because I just felt so ill, I decided to go home.  I wasn't going to be productive or be able to concentrate on anything at that point anyway.  My cat, Milton, was happy I came home early and got all up in my face for a bit then curled up next to me.

I am happy to say I felt better on Friday, though not perfect, I made it through the day at work.  This week I've made it through every day fine but I have been insanely exhausted.  I'm really curious where my levels are at currently though my next blood tests are not scheduled for another month.

Well I better post this before I fall asleep, or my mind gets sidetracked again.

Today's bath consisted of:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

For those of you who just don't get it...

The last time my friend was in town staying at her mother's, I went there before we went to do some shopping & shenanigans.  Her mom's like a 2nd mom to me, always making me eat and making sure I'm doing well.  She knows about my thyroidectomy and my struggle to get better.  This was right after I learned my TSH had shot up to 9, and though I'm still way better than I was in the past, immediately after being asked how I was doing, I responded, "Not too well," explaining how my level just spiked and how I have no clue why.

The conversation then took an argumentative turn.  She told me I was relying too much on my doctors & how I needed to stop all my medication and then she kept trying to push a progesterone cream on me because it was "all natural" and she "knew what I was going through."  Mind you she thinks I'm going through early menopause (thyroid disease vs. menopause) and has never been treated for a thyroid condition.  I explained how yes, my sex hormone levels could have something to do with my condition, but the hot flashes I was having after my surgery had since gone away, many months ago, and my periods are back on track.  I also explained how I made my new doctor check those hormone levels and they came back normal.  The last thing I need to do is take a supplement and throw the normal levels off causing more problems for me.  I told her how, due to my TSH being at 9, that made me understand why I was currently feeling like crap, and how I upped my dose of thyroid medication and we're also now looking into my adrenal gland function.  I tried to tell her how I cannot just stop taking my thyroid medication, how it could kill me if I did, and she just wouldn't accept it.

I broke down in tears.

I've had a few people ask me about stopping my medication to see if that would help, or tell me that maybe once I feel better I should stop taking them and I always try and explain to them how I can't.  Some, I think, get it.  Some, I think, act like they get it and then just drop the subject because they probably think I will just not listen to what they are trying to say anyway.  Then there are those that try and argue with me.  Not even to stop taking the medication permanently, but they cannot understand why I will not even try temporarily.  I started taking Armour back in October 2013 and, though I stated before how I am feeling better overall, my levels went from low, to normal, to low, to high! I still haven't even found a good dosing to keep me level yet!

So, the other day, Mary Shomon had posted on her Facebook page something that I feel EVERYONE needs to read.  If you just don't get it, maybe this will help.

"Type 1 Diabetics (an autoimmune disease) REQUIRE insulin to survive. Lack of insulin - a crucial hormone - will kill them. So far, there's no "natural" non-prescription source of insulin, no herbs, no vitamins, or supplements that can provide them with the insulin their bodies requires to survive. They require prescription insulin to live.

Human beings MUST HAVE THYROID HORMONE TO SURVIVE. Over time, a lack of thyroid hormone will eventually be fatal. There is no trusted "natural" non-prescription source of thyroid hormone, and no herbs, no vitamins, or supplements that provide the actual thyroid hormone our bodies require to survive.

While in a subset of cases, borderline thyroid problems can be caused by iodine deficiency/excess, goitrogenic foods, gluten intolerance, inflammatory diet, etc. -- most people who are hypothyroid are already looking at damage to the gland, which means the gland is unlikely to produce enough thyroid hormone, and may not be "fixable" or able to improve its hormone output. And for those whose gland is surgically removed or radiated (RAI) - they have little to no thyroid function at all, meaning no way to produce thyroid hormone.

I'm sharing this, because I'm concerned when I see people say that most of us shouldn't take thyroid meds, or "I don't need them, no big deal" etc.

If you read a success story -- or see marketing pitches -- about "I'm not taking any thyroid meds and I'm doing fine by doing x, y, z" or taking this or that supplement, that's wonderful for those folks, and there's no doubt that for a subset of people, food/diet/supplements may be able to put their thyroid into a normal range and/or resolve their symptoms.

But if you have had thyroidectomy/surgery to remove the gland, if you have long-standing hashimoto's with atrophy or destruction of the thyroid gland, if you have congenital hypothyroidism, if your gland has shrunk, etc. then all the diet/nutrition/supplements in the world are not going to make a missing or entirely dead organ to grow back or start working again. Those things can help with residual symptoms, definitely, and be the difference between feeling so-so and feeling great.

There is a profound difference between someone with mild borderline hypothyroidism and a TSH of 6 deciding not to take meds, and someone who has no thyroid going off meds, which can be fatal. I also want to caution you that in 20 years, I have heard from dozens of thyroid patients who said they went off their prescribed meds because they didn't want to take them, or they wanted to do it "naturally" and thought they were doing well, until they started to notice that they had gained weight, cholesterol shot through the roof, they didn't realize that miscarriages were connected, etc.

In one case, a woman who had no thyroid decided she didn't want to take her meds -- and it ended up where she couldn't drive, couldn't work, slept 20 hours a day, was so puffy she could barely move, her heart rate had dropped to about 40 beats per minute, and she was so addled she didn't even realize that she headed into a myxedema coma, and was slowly dying...she just laid in bed sleeping most of the time. Thankfully a friend recognized what was going on -- she hadn't taken her meds in a year at that point -- and if the friend didn't haul her deliberately into the ER as an emergency, where they found she had a TSH over 400, they said she was about 2 weeks away from death from organ shutdown.

Taking thyroid hormone is NOT like taking a Tylenol.... it is replacing a crucial hormone that we require to live. I just want to make sure that folks understand that this isn't a do-it-yourself casual health issue that's no biggie -- it can have some serious repercussions, it can cause loss of pregnancies, people have been wrongly institutionalized at mental hospitals, and it can even be fatal if we don't get the right treatment."

If you know someone with an auto-immune disease, unless we ask you, please do not give us advice.  We will be more than happy to answer any questions you have to the best of our ability.  We may not always know the answers as many of us still have many of our own unanswered questions and we are still learning ourselves.  The best thing you can do is listen, educate yourselves, try to understand, and support us!


You can follow Mary through the links below!