On My Television

I have been watching a lot of documentaries and television documentaries recently, so instead of doing full reviews I’m just going for a simple yay or nay.

4246215The Devil’s Bible (TV, 2008)
From Netflix: Learn about the Codex Gigas, an alleged cursed text that sprang from a doomed monk’s pact with the Devil.

Would I recommend it? Yes. But be aware, this is about the inspection and study of the book by scholars and archivists; fanciful satanic stuff is mixed in only to keep the television audience from changing the channel.

11181534_800Bridgend (2013)
From IMDB: Since 2007, dozens of teens and young people have been found hanged in Bridgend, South Wales. Most of them knew each other-they were friends, neighbors, even cousins. It’s a mystery that has baffled authorities and town residents. The connections between the victims have led Bridgend residents and the local authorities to believe that something sinister has taken hold in the town. Some believe it’s a suicide pact, others say it’s an Internet cult among friends, others have blamed it on chemical imbalances caused by local cell phone towers. Through incredible, exclusive interviews with family members, friends and local authorities, ‘Bridgend’ explores these deaths and relationships, attempting to put rumors to rest while getting to the cause of these tragic hangings.

Would I recommend it? Yes. Heartbreaking.

1397451800_dfgfdgRussia’s Toughest Prisons (TV, 2011)
From Netflix: Three Russian prisons unlock their doors to an international film crew and reveal what life inside is like for the nation’s most brutal criminals.

Would I recommend it? Yes. I’m always up for a good prison documentary.

livenudeLive Nude Girls Unite! (2000)
From IMDB: Documentary look at the 1996-97 effort of the dancers and support staff at a San Francisco peep show, The Lusty Lady, to unionize. Angered by arbitrary and race-based wage policies, customers’ surreptitious video cameras, and no paid sick days or holidays, the dancers get help from the Service Employees International local and enter protracted bargaining with the union-busting law firm that management hires. We see the women work, sort out their demands, and go through the difficulties of bargaining. The narrator is Julia Query, a dancer and stand-up comedian who is reluctant to tell her mother, a physician who works with prostitutes, that she strips.

Would I recommend it? No. Despite the subject matter, the narrator oozed privilege and was off-putting.

MV5BNDExNzI5NDcxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzg1NTYyMTE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_The Final Member (2012)
From IMDB: Thirty miles from the Arctic Circle, in the northern Icelandic town of Husavik, stands the Icelandic Phallological Museum – the world’s only Penis museum. Over 40 years, the founder and curator has collected every specimen from every mammal except for one elusive penis needed to complete his collection: The Human Specimen. The film follows the curator’s incredible, sublimely comic, often shocking quest to complete his eccentric collection, and the two intrepid men who have raised their hands to be the first human donor.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It was quite enjoyable and, as an archivist, I could really understand his complications in dealing with over-zealous would-be donors.

519RnvFftKL._SY300_NOVA: Secrets of the Viking Sword (TV)
From Netflix: The most formidable Viking weapon was an Ulfberht sword. But details of their creation and their maker remained secret for more than 1,000 years.

Would I recommend it? Yes. In addition to the history, a modern craftsman replicates the sword.

superheroes-a-never-ending-battleSuperheros: A Never-Ending Battle (TV mini-series, 2013)
From PBS via IMDB: Examines the dawn of the comic book genre and its powerful legacy, as well as the evolution of the characters who leapt from the pages over the last 75 years and their ongoing worldwide cultural impact. It chronicles how these disposable diversions were subject to intense government scrutiny for their influence on American children and how they were created in large part by the children of immigrants whose fierce loyalty to a new homeland laid the foundation for a multi-billion-dollar industry that is an influential part of our national identity.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Betty-Page-Reveals-All-posterBettie Page Reveals All (2012)
From IMDB: The world’s greatest pinup model and cult icon, Bettie Page, recounts the true story of how her free expression overcame government witch-hunts to help launch America’s sexual revolution.

Would I recommend it? Yes. I liked that Bettie herself was narrator most of the time (from an oral history interview, by the sounds of it).

-A_Brony_Tale-_Official_PosterA Brony Tale (2014)
From IMDB: Vancouver-based voice artist Ashleigh Ball has been the voice of numerous characters in classic cartoons such as Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Cinderella and more. When Ashleigh was hired to voice Apple Jack and Rainbow Dash for Hasbro’s fourth series to use the My Little Pony name – My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic – she had no idea she would become an Internet phenomenon and major celebrity to a worldwide fan-base of grownups. Bronies are united by their belief in the show’s philosophy. This documentary gives an inside view of the Pony fan-world, and an intimate look at the courage it takes to just be yourself…even when that means liking a little girls’ cartoon.

Would I recommend it? No. There was too much “should we be scared of these grown men.” I suggest Bronies (2013) instead; it is excellent.

posterskcultureSerial Killer Culture (2014)
From IMDB: Serial Killer Culture examines the reasons why artists and collectors are fascinated by serial killers.

Would I recommend it: Eh, it was okay. I’m a firm maybe.

Important Announcement

VintageMegaphoneOkay, not really.

No Saturday review this week or the rest of January.

I’m getting tired of doing them weekly, so I’ll be switching to every other week in February. This will work out better anyway, as I’m in a bit of a no-buy pledge and won’t be bringing new things into the house unless they are necessities. Instead, I’m strictly working through my stash.

I might have the husband contribute some more technology-related reviews too. Everyone seems to like those.

Adventures in the System

A little background for new readers since I haven’t written about this in a while: Our five-year-old son is disabled; he has cerebral palsy. We deal with “the system” a lot to get him all the services he qualifies for. Also, as part of our adoption agreement, he has been allowed to stay on Medicaid regardless of our income. That brings another layer of red-tape challenges. I’m not thrilled with the system, but also recognize the many hurdles its employees must deal with. I try to be understanding; sometimes it is hard.

So, now on to today’s gripe session.

Last Thursday, we got a notice in our mail box informing us of a certified letter from our local DHS waiting at the post office. Due to work schedules, the holiday, and a flu-like sickness invading the household, we weren’t able to retrieve the special letter until Tuesday.

It turns out the letter was sent to notify us that DHS, unable to reach us by phone, would be declaring our account inactive if we did not respond by 8/8/14. Yes, 8/8/14; they couldn’t even take the time to update the form letter. Having not received a call from DHS is many months [typical], we were fairly perplexed and got in touch asap.

The assistant we spoke to assured us that the caseworker likely just had some incorrect contact information and we could easily get it straightened out. I would totally believe this. Except – we have not moved since adopting the little man, they have three separate phone numbers for us (home and two mobile, maybe work too), and they clearly knew our address. Would it have killed them to send a letter prior to threatening to deactivate our case? Seriously. Take one extra minute to try and help the people you are supposed to be helping.

Here are a few things I think are far more likely – 1) they never called at all; 2) they only called once, but didn’t leave a message; 3) the caseworker called an incorrect phone number, but never bothered to check our paperwork to see if it was correct or other ways to reach us.

Number 3 really stands out as the winner considering everything I have learned during our five years in the system. We have Vonage, so phone calls to our home actually show up on my husband’s cell. We haven’t seen anything recently from DHS, but I suppose it is possible they don’t show up in caller id as a government agency. Or they show up as something strange, like Hewlett Packard.*

This all reminds me very much of the time we had a home study scheduled and the lady coming to do it didn’t realize we were in another county until 15 minutes prior. Like, she didn’t even pay attention to the address until she had to get directions. Even if we had lived in her same town, she would have been late to the meeting. Instead, we were on our way home early for something that wasn’t even going to happen. Then we had to start all over because our paperwork had been in the wrong county the entire time.

Look, I’ve seen the inside of the system. I know that so many of our government workers are underpaid and overworked. I know that many of them started out as hopeful people only to become jaded over the years at a system they can’t change and families they can’t help. Or even worse, families that don’t want to be helped. I know they have watched children suffer because of government inaction while other suffer because of government overreach. I get it. But it is hard to remain understanding when parents on my end have to struggle so much just to get anything done.

*Somewhere along the line our state DHS acquired a ton of old Hewlett Packard envelopes. More power to them; I’m happy to see a state agency trying to save money. They don’t even bother to put a sticker over the HP information though. Every so often, I get a letter that appears to be from HP reminding me of the well child visits my son is eligible for. Now, the stuff that comes in these envelopes isn’t usually important – more informational stuff trying to remind parents who might not otherwise be inclined to take advantage of their services – but once it was something important that I needed to follow-up on. Who knows how many I tossed before realizing it wasn’t HP junk mail.

Things You Should Know About Ambiverts

One of the first things you should know about ambiverts is that I am not one. I’ve written extensively about my introvert nature and that all still stands; I absolutely fall firmly on that side. I am going to go ahead and humorously venture into unknown territory though.

caa222755c6a04fa7d99086e7e4485e91. Ambiverts have both introvert and extrovert traits working in sweet harmony with each other. Where an introvert likes to recharge alone and an extrovert is energized in the presence of others, an ambivert can thrive in both situations. So basically, you are smack dab in the middle without any of the crazy that either extreme brings. [Yes, I just called both introverts and extroverts crazy. Aren’t we all just a little bit? Well, except for ambiverts because I just said they weren’t. Geez, this argument is falling apart.]

2. Ambiverts probably aren’t walking around talking to anyone they see on the street, but they are pleased to join into the conversation when invited or necessary. [This can also be called “southern,” but that is a different “things you should know about” altogether.] An ambivert can happily run around all extroverted during the day, but need some alone time to recharge in the evening. They are typically social, but not aggressive. Quiet, but not reclusive. This is different than an introvert or extrovert who can “try on” the other personality when necessary.

3. We are all a little bit ambivert. Most of us don’t fall on the extreme introvert or extreme extrovert side of the scale. Just like in politics, most of us are somewhere in the middle. I’ve seen several mentions online about the “ambiverted introvert” or “ambiverted extrovert” and I think those are probably more realistic descriptors. You have to remember, none of these labels are absolute; they are just terms we made up to help us understand particular personality traits.

4. You rarely hear about ambiverts until people get tired of talking about introvert/extrovert. Or, more likely, run out of interesting gifs to illustrate their humorous points [guilty!]. That is because ambivert is much less fun and leaves little to argue about. Ambivert is kind of the “well, people are people” label in the personality world. And that just doesn’t fly on the internet these days.

5. People like ambiverts. In general, being an ambivert means different people can appreciate the traits they like best. An extreme extrovert or extreme introvert sharing an ambivert friend might argue (fight to the death?) over where that friend fits on the spectrum. Only if they are completely ninnies though; dump those friends, dear ambivert.

So, survey time. Where do you fall on the scale? If we are talking 1-10, 1 = full introvert and 10 = full extrovert, I’m probably a firm 3. Or 6 if I’ve been drinking.

Other posts in the “Things You Should Know” series:

On My Bookshelf

I finished these in December, so they don’t count towards my 75 in 2015 total. Yes, more non-fiction. . .

tumblr_inline_n0y45wl9NR1qd0l1gI Work At A Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan (2014)

From Amazon.com: Straight from the library–the strange and bizarre, ready to be checked out! From a patron’s missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan’s circulation desk. Throughout these pages, she catalogs her encounters with local eccentrics as well as the questions that plague her, such as, “What is the standard length of eyebrow hairs?” Whether she’s helping someone scan his face onto an online dating site or explaining why the library doesn’t have any dragon autobiographies, Sheridan’s bizarre tales prove that she’s truly seen it all.

My thoughts: I work in the public library too and – like my cohorts worldwide – could easily fill a book with my own interesting, heartwarming, and down-right weird stories. This book was great fun. It is written as little tidbits/conversation snip-its and only took be around an hour to read. Great for an afternoon when you have just enough free time.

818Nt-CU4eLHand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado (2014)

From Amazon.com: We in America have certain ideas of what it means to be poor. Linda Tirado, in her signature brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits. She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America (yes, you can be poor and live in a house and have a job, even two), but what poverty is truly like—on all levels. Frankly and boldly, Tirado discusses openly how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between, and in doing so reveals why “poor people don’t always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should.”

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book for the first few chapters; after that I felt like Tirado was repeating herself – same story, different words. It is a great look at poverty in American though. I would recommend it.

41O3512AR4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness by Jack El-Hai (2007)

From Amazon.com: The Lobotomist explores one of the darkest chapters of American medicine: the desperate attempt to treat the hundreds of thousands of psychiatric patients in need of help during the middle decades of the twentieth century. Into this crisis stepped Walter Freeman, M.D., who saw a solution in lobotomy, a brain operation intended to reduce the severity of psychotic symptoms. Drawing on Freeman’s documents and interviews with Freeman’s family, Jack El-Hai takes a penetrating look at the life and work of this complex scientific genius.

My thoughts: I have a soft spot for books about mental illness, medical history, and insane asylums, so this seemed right up my alley. My biggest takeaway from the book? Well, I actually understood – for the first time – why the lobotomy took the mental health world by storm. It is very easy to look back now and scoff, but reading through the state of medical care and facilities at the time really makes you understand why people would grab ahold of anything that restored some hope of getting people out of lifetimes in asylums. That being said, I found the book a bit longwinded. The author kept going off on tangents – giving the backstory of other involved physicians, history of other techniques, etc. – that just seemed to be too much. And this is coming from a historian who enjoys medical history.

51Lg+VLc8-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Ten Days In a Mad-House by Nellie Bly (1887)

From Amazon.com: Nellie Bly took an undercover journalist assignment to pretend to be insane to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at mental asylums. After a night of practicing deranged expressions in front of a mirror, she checked into a working-class boarding-house where she feigned insanity so well that everyone was convinced. She was then examined by several doctors, who all declared her to be insane, too. Committed to an asylum, Bly experienced its dire conditions firsthand: horrible spoiled food; the patients mistreated and abused; unclean and unsanitary conditions. Furthermore, speaking with her fellow patients, Bly was convinced that some were as sane as she was. After ten days, Bly was released from the asylum with her editor’s help and she published her experience in book form as Ten Days in a Mad-House. It caused a sensation and brought her lasting fame. More importantly, thanks to this book, living conditions for the insane were improved and funds for their care were increased.

My thoughts: First off, if you have never heard of Nellie Bly, know that she is fairly awesome, an investigative reporter well ahead of her time. Her report of life in an asylum compliments the lobotomy book actually. It is a shocking story, of course, and says as much about women’s history as it does about the history of mental illness. The particular version I read also included two short reports on young women working in the newly industrialized world. Don’t be turned off by the 1887 publication date, Bly has a casual writing style that bridges her time with ours. It was not daunting to read.

Bonus: You can read it online at the University of Pennsylvania.

Saturday Review: Serum Round-Up, Part 2

PicMonkey CollageSerums, I love ‘em. See the first round-up here.

Lancome Rénergie Lift Multi-Action Reviva-Concentrate
I received a sample of this in a gift with purchase. This stuff is regular $122 for 1.7 ounces, but damn it, it is all kinds of awesome. My sample only lasted a week (although I think I was a little heavy handed. After only a couple of days though I noticed an unexpected difference in my skin. I mean, more than my regular serum skin improvement; I just looked brighter. If you can get your hands on a sample of this I highly recommend trying it out. I’ve started calling it youth in a bottle.
Would I use it again? Yes, Yes, Yes. I need more samples.
Would I buy it? Sadly, no. I can’t afford it.

Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30
I like the thought of having sunscreen in the very first thing that touches my face. This is a bit thicker than a typical serum and smells slightly of sunscreen if you put it right up to your nose. The smell dissipates almost instantly though. Unfortunately, this product broke me out and I stopped using it after three days.
Would I use it again? No.
Would I buy it? No.

Boots No7 Lift & Luminate Day Serum
This smelled gross. The smell dissipated on my face fairly fast, but it took soap to get it off my hands. It was off-putting; I only used my sample once and never tried the corresponding night serum.
Would I use it again? No.
Would I buy it? No.

Murad T-Zone Pore Refining Serum
This one was a little watery when it came out of the bottle, but not too unruly. It didn’t have the best smell – more of a this-isn’t-scented-kind-of-chemically smell than anything too bad. It went on smooth, but felt a little drying and stayed a bit tacky for longer than I would have liked.
Would I use it again? Yes.
Would I buy it? No, it is just okay.

Birchbox is in the House!

You know I love my Birchbox. Let’s jump right into this and take a lot at what I got this month.
Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary Body Lotion ($3.80)
I do not need anymore lotion. This one is going in the stash, I have so many lotion samples that I’m going to have to start traveling more just to use them all up. A lot of my samples like this end up going to my daughter’s friends during sleepovers. They love this kind of stuff.

Sweet Science Invisible Daily Tint SPF 35 ($4.50)
This is a tiny sample, but the product gets good reviews so I’m not going to complain too much until I try it. Still, I can’t promise I won’t just completely lose this little disc in my sample collection.

Katherine Cosmetics Everyday Eyeliner ($26)
Brown, full-size. I was very happy to see this in the box even if it just a regular old beauty project. I was especially thrilled to see it in brown – I rarely get anything other than black in these kinds of sample services. It’s also one of the roll-up, non-sharpening deals; those are my favorite liners. I haven’t tired it yet however, so I can’t comment on quality.

Key West Aloe Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser ($2.75)
Always good to add a cleanser to my stash. I just opened a new bottle though, so it will be a while before I try this one out. Good sample size.

REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask ($11)
I tried this and I’m not quite sold. It was fine, but I didn’t get the refreshing feeling I get some some of my favorite masks (like the inexpensive cult favorite Queen Helene) or the clean and renewed feeling I get from some of my other favorites. I’ll use the rest of the sample, but that is about it.

TOCCA Crema da Mano – Hand Cream in Cleopatra ($5)
This is the sample I picked from the January choice. Interestingly, it wasn’t actually included in my box and isn’t available to review for points (actually, my birchbox came in a larger box this month with the Tocca wrapped separately. Was this sample choice always an add-on or did this happen because I’ve already received this sample. I got it in one of my early boxes and love it so much I eventually bought a full-size bottle. I don’t carry that one around with me though and when this popped up in the sample choice, I gladly selected it. So, I received six products, but can only review five. Anyone else end up with something like this happening?

Total Cost: $10
Total Value: $53.05

Awesome value this month, even though the products are sort of run-of-the-mill.

As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link. Use coupon code bbstore100 to get 100 points when you subscribe. (That is worth $10 in the shop. Expires 1/31.)

Home, Sweet, Home

Occasionally, I like to scroll through MLS listings in my area. I suppose it is a bit of a hobby. I’m not looking for a new place though; oh no, I’m looking for weird stuff. Whether it is just outdated or truly an odd design choice, I just love it. I especially like it when it is surprising. I once scrolled through a listing for a perfectly normal home only to come across what I’m assuming was some kind of “man cave” covered in animal heads. I don’t mean just a few (this is the south, after all), I mean floor to ceiling heads on every wall.

I find most of my gems in houses priced $700,000 and above (although the $500,000-$700,000 sometimes surprises me). I live in an area with a low cost of living, so we are talking about pricey homes. I’ve found that this price range seems to be the sweet spot for not quite being locked in to maintaining an “image,” but still having enough money to afford something crazy. Once you start getting higher, and especially over a million (and again, remember, low cost of living), the houses are typically over-designed down to each individual knick-knack. Sometimes this works, other time the house ends up all fake opulence with oversize furniture. A style I just despise, but one that is very popular in this area.

[I was going to be an example photograph here. That seems mean though; just use your imagination.]

I’d like to take this morning to apologize to everyone who likes that style. I know there are many of you out there and I’m sure it looks nice in your house. Promise. You do you. I have no taste – this blog is called PlayfullyTacky.com remember. I secretly like it when the bedding matches the curtains matches the wallpaper.

Some of my favorite discoveries include a great room full of a two-story artificial tree, a bathroom straight out of Miami Vice, a dreamcatcher at least three feet in diameter, more ugly hand-painted murals than you can count, and a bomb shelter. Another favorite comes not from a listing, but from my in-law’s current home. When they moved in a loft in their bedroom looked down on an open bathroom covered with some kind of tent thing. A tent, really.

I’m not sure why I do this. And I’m a bit ashamed of it, actually, Make no mistake; I’m totally judging the people who live in these homes. I usually try to avoid being Judgy McJudgerson, but I’m always back trolling the listings once a month or so. It is always just homes in my state too, usually in my metro area. I get a little high thinking I might looking into the home of someone I pass on the street (this is also the main reason I like driving around to look at “Christmas lights,” aka in open windows).

There isn’t really a point to this post. I’m just talking.

Anxiety, Again

I shared a little about my anxiety in 2013 – My Best Frenemy, Anxiety – and today I would like to revisit that topic. You see, last week I had to take a sick day off from work because my out-of-check anxiety made me physically ill (overwhelmingly nauseated, if you are curious). I could tell it was a mental health issue and not something viral as soon as I woke up. Didn’t stop me from having to take the day off though.

It is my own fault. I know better than to let my anxiety build, but with the busyness of the holidays it was easy to keep blowing it off. Anxiety, that powerful and irrational master.* For me, this is always a mistake. If I try to write my anxiety off as the irrational thinking it is, it will only grow deep down before popping up to ruin my day. Regardless of how irrational it is – and, yes, I know it is irrational – I have to deal with it head on. Simply saying, “Go away, silly” doesn’t solve a thing; it won’t go away.

I’m going to plagiarize myself here and pull something from the post I linked to in the first sentence: Here is the big problem with anxiety (it is similar to my problem with food) – you need it. Anxiety is a normal, healthy human response to stress. Unfortunately, when it gets out of hand anxiety is also a cold, heartless bitch that eats your last oreo without asking. If anxiety liked cookies, I mean. Let me give an example: On a good day, my anxiety causes me to concentrate on preparing for a lecture so I’m more comfortable speaking in public. On a bad day, my anxiety causes me to drive around a location a few times to work up the nerve to park and go inside. I’m not really sure what I am worried will happen when I go inside; I’m not always privy to that information and just have to trust the anxiety is rationally motivated [spoiler alert: it isn’t].

When I took the day off, I stopped at Starbucks for some hot cocoa on the way home from dropping my daughter off at school. After drinking it on my couch while browsing the internet, I slept for hours with my little dog Marv cuddled up on my stomach (the bigger dog, Leela, didn’t leave the cozy bedroom). I still wasn’t feeling “normal” when I woke up, so after picking my daughter back up from school I took a Xanax from my emergency supply. I also took an anti-acid pill, just in case. The two seem to feed into each other: anxiety = acid = anxiety = acid = explode. I was starting to feel better, but completely stupid for letting my mental state deteriorate to the point of needing medication (I very much dislike taking medication of any type). I know better; I know the signs and I ignored them. I felt a bit like a kid who has a stomach ache after eating too much candy – he knew he should stop, but couldn’t help but unwrap one more piece.

But life goes on. I apologized for being a bitch to my husband the night before I woke up ill (oh boy, was I ever a bitch), did some laundry, started the dishwasher, then gave myself permission to sit on the couch and finish the book I was reading (Child 44, if you are curious).

What else can you do? I am an incredibly rational person almost every moment of the day; rational to a fault, I might argue. Maybe that is why the anxiety catches me by surprise sometimes? It is so out of my ordinary.

I write about my anxiety because I know other people experience the same thing and feel alone. Other people have loved ones ask them why they “worry” so much and just tell them to stop. It feels silly to write about something so irrational, especially after the fact. There have been times in my life where I left the anxiety envelop me completely. I accepted it as my new normal and succumbed to the depression that accompanied it. I know better now. I found my way of coping and hope others can find their way too.

From Chainsawsuit.com

There, fixed! Wasn’t that easy?

“Even if she be not harmed, her heart may fail her in so much and so many horrors; and hereafter she may suffer –both in waking, from her nerves, and in sleep, from her dreams.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula

*Rocky Horror Picture Show reference for those of you in the know.

Saturday Review: Serum Round-Up

serumI regularly sing the praises of serums. Adding this one little step to my skincare routine drastically improved the condition of my skin. I’ve realized that – for my skin, at least – it doesn’t seem to matter as much what kind of serum, as long as I’m using one. This works out well because beauty boxes just love to send you samples of these types of products. Today I’m going to tell you about a few samples I’ve worked my way through in recent months. I won’t be commenting on the effectiveness of the serums (I’ve already explained that my skin seems to have two settings – serum or no serum), but will concentrate on smell, feel, etc.

Vichy Liftactiv Serum 10
I’m a fan of Vichy products, but don’t buy them often because of the price. A full size bottle costs $53. I used a small sample of this serum for approximately two weeks. It smelled nice – Vichy seems to favor warmer scents that can be a turn-off if you prefer unscented products. The smell dissipated quickly though, leaving only smooth skin. The serum had a good texture and spread easily.
Would I use it again? Yes.
Would I buy it? If I had coupons/reward points, probably.

Murad Advanced Active Radiance Serum
I’m a fan of Murad products too and use one of their night creams, but their price-point is even more discouraging. A full size bottle of this serum will set you back $78. Yikes! This serum had an inoffensive, mild-to-nonexistent scent and spread nicely over the skin. I didn’t have to wait for it to dry or soak in before I applied my moisturizer.
Would I use it again? Yes.
Would I buy it? No, I can’t justify that price.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Powered by Ceramide Caplet Serum
I received a sample bottle of this in a box from Influenster. Yikes on the regular price again – this one is $60. The capsules in the bottle are pretty; I don’t consider that important in a serum, but it is a nice bonus. It smells nice and easily spreads on the skin. In the light, the serum looks glittery in your hands (don’t worry! That goes away immediately upon rubbing it in.). In dim light however, this serum looks like semen. I mean, really like semen.
Would I use it again? Sure.
Would I buy it? No.

AHAVA Dead Sea Osmoter Concentrate
$60 again. Why are serums so pricey? I had a small sample of this serum that lasted me approximately 1 1/2 weeks. Honestly, I did not like it. I didn’t like the smell. I didn’t like the brown-tinged color. I didn’t like how it felt thick and coated my skin. I didn’t like the slick residue it left on my fingers. This one is a total miss for me overall.
Would I use it again? No.
Would I buy it? No.


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