7.10.2016

Beauty Product Spotlight: Nourishing Cleansing Balm by Beautycounter

I have a big confession. I had never ever used a cleansing balm before two months ago. It's important to note that contrary to what we might think, oil on the skin is a beautiful thing.  Honestly, I really didn't know that fact until three years ago when I visited a luxury spa and the esthetician said I need an oil. She then put a $189 oil on the counter for me to buy.  I admit, I've probably gone without a lot of clothes, shoes, purses (things most women splurge on) due to my hair and beauty expenses over the years.  It's just the one place I would never cut in a budget. Beauty products have been my "thing". We all have a thing. Some of you, it's shoes. My love affair with the cosmetic industry goes back to my childhood when all I wanted for Christmas when I was 13 was Lancôme's beauty gift basket. 

But, I do have my limits when it comes to money and that face oil product cost from the spa would probably end my marriage. However, I did exactly as she suggested. I started using oils on my skin and thus began my journey of learning more about oils.

I tried less expensive oil concoctions (Tarte brand and I even tried to make my own unsuccessfully) since that eye-opening spa visit. A couple of months ago, I started consistently using the Soothing Beautycounter oil on my skin along with two Young Living essential oils that I add. (I will talk about that in the future). Many of my friends make their own oils from scratch, which they love. They have the talent for DIY and know just the right ingredients and mixes to use. I've let Beautycounter do the work for me instead. I use my soothing oil alone after a day in the sun or I add one drop to my moisturizer when needed. The Hydrating oil is a little too much for my skin in the summer. The Balancing oil is great for combination skin and for redness. All are wonderful oils, but I prefer the Soothing for me. 

I thought I had the perfect routine until I learned more about the Nourishing Cleansing Balm. 



Thanks to my girlfriend who purchased the Beautycounter Cleansing Balm from my website, and texting me after one application, "O.M.G. the Nourishing Balm is amazing. I'm going to order another one for my Mom," I ordered it the next week.  

There are a lot of cleansing balms out there, at various price points. Shape magazine highlighted its favorites in this article, and Beautycounter made the list.  However, not all balms are good for your health.  If you check the EWG database, many products on the market contain natural ingredients, but also synthetic products with man-made fragrances, and other ingredients that Beautycounter puts on its "Never-List" of 1500 products it bans for health risks. After a lot of debate and concern, a lot of other beauty companies are doing better with safer products,  but there still are a lot of trade secrets where ingredients do not have to be revealed. Beautycounter, a transparent Corporation B company, lobbies often in Washington for the #BetterBeauty movement that calls for stricter personal care regulations.   In order to get safer hands in the products of everyone, Beautycounter has partnered with Target for a limited pop-up shop this fall. After that pop-up shop, the products will only be available through consultant websites or through a consultant directly.

Personal Care Safety Regulation Laws have not been changed since 1938. The U.S bans 11 ingredients known to cause health risks from personal care products while Europe bans 1400. 



At 47, I've put a lot of toxic stuff on my skin. That' done. I can only move forward. Studies show that removing toxic products can reverse endocrine and hormone charges. It's never too late to change so I'm not looking back at the past and am moving forward with safer ingredients. 



I still use a cleanser in the shower, but I'm finding myself using my cleansing balm more and more. It provides an outstanding hydration and feels so luxurious after a day at the pool with the kids. 



A little bit goes a very long way. A jar will last at least six months and could last even longer. As soon as you take it in your hands, it begins to soften. 



It has Vitamin C so I leave it for a few minutes and do other things like brushing my teeth so that it has time to penetrate my skin. I then remove it with the 100 % muslin cleansing cloth included with the balm in upward circular motions. I use the cleansing cloth with warm water. 

That's it. Any trace of makeup is entirely gone. I then follow up with my normal skincare routine.

This is a Beautycounter  Best-seller and I've sold many to clients. I really love this product and I think I've loved it even more during the hot summer. 





Shop my Beautycounter website. Your purchases help the #BetterBeauty movement and the costs of  running this blog.

Disclosure: My opinion on Beautycounter cannot be bought through a commission. I was a client for many months before choosing to partner with this company. As a partner with Beautycounter, I receive discounts on the products I use and I actively am part of the company's sales compensation plan. If you are passionate about health safety and no health risks for using beauty products, join us. I would love to be your mentor and supporter in educating others that all women can have beauty without health risks. 

The Small Victories Sunday Linkup

 Small Victories Sunday Linkup reflects on the small victories of the week that passed and look forward to the week ahead. We invite bloggers to our community to share their best posts to inspire our readers to read, eat, create, live and blog well. The linkup is open all week long so bloggers can celebrate the best of their blogs anytime!   A friendly reminder that our goal is to inspire others through positive posts, posts that are rude or

Add your link here: http://momssmallvictories.com/small-victories-sunday-linkup-110/

7.03.2016

Spa Secrets from Forbes 4-Star-The Spa at Ballantyne in Charlotte

Charlotte, N.C has a jewel in the heart of the city. It's close to everywhere. Think Carowinds, the Discovery Place, and the Whitewater Rafting Center, but yet when you go to this luxury resort, you escape the hustle and bustle of tourism. It's peaceful here. There is a resort pool, a championship golf course, and a luxury spa. It has everything you could ask for and more. 


The Ballantyne Hotel and Spa in Charlotte, N.C.



Starwood's Luxury Collection, The Ballantyne Hotel and Spa, is a destination in Charlotte all of its own and it's ok to come here and never leave the property if you want. That's a play from my own playbook.  I did that this Spring with a girlfriend and guess what folks....we never left the grounds. Not once. And we loved every minute of it. 


Ballantyne Selfie 


A Girl's Spa Getaway-The Carolina Lavender Treatment 


The Spa at Ballantyne Features the Carolina Lavender Treatment


The Ballantyne is about a two and half hour drive from Raleigh. A relaxing spa weekend away from kids was the goal. My friend chose a facial. I chose a treatment from the Carolina Lavender Collection. This spa series is exclusive the to the Ballantyne, and the spa uses fresh grown lavender grown in York, S.C. 

In aromatherapy, Lavender has many healing effects on the body. When compounded down to essential oil, it's one of the most versatile oils sold on the market. Some call it the "Swiss Army Knife of the Essential Oil World." 


All About Lavender


In this exclusive treatment series, I chose The Carolina Lavender Body Wrap where the body is exfoliated with a lavender body scrub, followed by a lavender shea butter body mask. While wrapped in warm linens, you enjoy an invigorating foot and scalp massage. You end your treatment with the softest skin ever, more relaxed and with a cup of lavender tea and lavender infused dark chocolate, all made and created by La Bastide des Lavandes. 

Luxury Spa Secrets to Use at Home


Relaxing Spa Tips for Use at Home by the Ballantyne Hotel and Spa

When I go to these spas, I do relax, but I am typically on assignment, too. That means I'm finding news that you can use in your daily lives. The number one spa tip I learned on this trip is the importance of body exfoliation. We all should be doing this weekly at home.

Yes, that's right. I said weekly.  

Unless you are Bill Gates, and can afford a $135 treatment weekly at a spa like the Ballantyne, most people need to exfoliate at home with a sugar scrub. Pick a day and do it. 

You can buy a sugar scrub, but make sure it is all-natural. Many products on the market have artificial fragrances and other chemicals that will absorb right into your skin. The label may say natural, but that is not entirely true. The Beautycounter line that I endorse has a citrus and brown sugar scrub that is luxurious and moisturizing and has an EWG rating of a safe green.  Do your homework. Look at the EWG database for product safety. 

For example, this popular spa product didn't score well based on its ingredients nor did this one by Tree Hut, both of these products are sold at big beauty stores. 

But again, don't be fooled on what you think is natural even  brands like the popular Burt's Bees, well-known for being natural sometimes don't always score well because of a few ingredients, mainly artificial fragrances. It's the biggie no-no that gets most personal care products and because the U.S. personal care laws have not changed since 1938, beauty companies are protected by chemist trade secrets and they do not have to be revealed to the consumer. 

Save Money: Make Your Own Sugar Scrubs


DIY Spa Beauty


And you can also save money by making your own sugar scrubs. It's really simple. They can be tailored to your own preferences, and typically take about 5 to 8 drops of a good essential oil to get the health benefits from it. 

An easy recipe: 
1 1/2 cups of Sugar (you can use brown, organic, or white) 
1/4 cup of Oil ( you can use olive, coconut, grape seed and even almond) 
5-8 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (Lavender is one of the versatile in a Young Living Starter Kit, an essential oil brand I use. ) 
Store in an airtight container. Make your own label and you are set for your sugar scrub routine. 

Initial cost: Less than $15 for your first sugar scrub, but many of you already have sugar and olive oil in your pantry. A 5ml bottle of Lavender from Young Living contains 85 drops. A 15ml bottle has 250 drops. Learn more about this company's Seed to Seal process. 

The Ballantyne uses lavender and grapefruit mostly in its scrubs. Both are great for the skin and even grapefruit essential oil has been to know to help tone and tackle cellulite. 

Exfoliate Correctly


It's best if you do not wet your skin before exfoliating


But, when you exfoliate, you need to do it correctly and according to the Ballantyne, this is key to the product working correctly. 

The product does not work as well when your skin is wet. It does not have the same impact as it does on the body dry. 

It's best to get in the shower, use the product all over your skin when it is dry and then scrub off. 

Also, do not use soap except on key parts of your body when needed. Let the oils penetrate and do their job. 

Follow up with a good hydrating Lavender lotion, hydrating butter type cream or your own DIY lotion/oil blend. (note: The recipe I linked calls for an overwhelming amount of Essential Oil. Based on my experience using Young Living Oils, and it's potent quality I suggest using less than 20 drops if using this particular recipe.)

Best Hotel Bets for Pampering Yourself at the Ballantyne Spa in Charlotte, N.C. 




The Ballantyne offers several day spa and overnight packages for the spa. The Girl's Getaway Package is a great bet with a $200 spa credit per night, a cocktail flight for tasting in the Gallery Bar. 

The Ballantyne also offers a great spa lunch just for spa guests. And if you are traveling with your family, you can purchase Carowinds tickets at the hotel plus take advantage of the Summer Getaway package.  (Sunday-Thursday stays). This includes a $50 resort credit and rates begin at $229. 

In addition, my blog affiliate partners Hotels.com and Expedia.com have  room rate specials under $250 per night for a room.

Disclosure: Some links in this post will result in a direct commission if purchased from my site. Thank you for your business and supporting my writing. Some experiences at the Ballantyne were done through #OutaboutNC Travel Marketing and were complimentary and reduced as part of media.  As with all of my stories, I carefully research my stories and any direct retail commission does not influence my written words and opinions. 

Small Victories Sunday Linkup

Here at Small Victories Sunday Linkup, we like to reflect on the small victories of the week that passed and look forward to the week ahead. We invite bloggers to our community to share their best posts to inspire our readers to read, eat, create, live and blog well. The linkup is open all week long so bloggers can celebrate the best of their blogs anytime!

Ways You Can Follow Your Hosts:

Your Small Victories Sunday Linkup Hosts: Mom's Small Victories, Sunshine and Sippy Cups, The Mad Mommy, Frugal & Coupon Crazy, Keystrokes by Kimberly, Tidbits of Experience, Hines-Sight Blog, Daily Momtivity, Oh My Heartsie Girl, O Taste and See, and One Hoolie Mama

Echo from The Mad Mommy (family/parenting, humor)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google + Gail from Frugal & Coupon Crazy (saving money) | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Google + Tanya from Mom's Small Victories (books, food, chronic illness)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google + Kimberly from Keystrokes by Kimberly (lifestyle, travel, entertainment) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter Crystal from Sharing Life's Moments (marriage, homeschooling, blogging tips | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter Leigh from Hines-Sight Blog (lifestyle, food, travel) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google + Shannon from Daily Momtivity (parenting/kid-friendly fun/DIY) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google+ Meagan from Sunshine and Sippy Cups (lifestyle) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google + Karren from Oh My Heartsie Girl (food, crafts/DIY, blogging tips)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter Danita from O Taste and See Blog (food) |Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Google + Michelle from Divas with a Purpose (inspiration, lifestyle and entrepreneurship) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter Suzanna from One Hoolie Mama (family, recipes, fitness)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Featured Bloggers 

    Congratulations to this week's Featured Bloggers as chosen by our readers. Here are the top 9 most read posts from last week:   Moving Day - (Sort of) Tiny House from Simply Save Olive-Oregano Breadsticks from Homegrown and Healthy How to Move from To-Do Lists to Priority Based Goals from Setting My Intention 7 Tips for Traveling Cross Country by Train from Momma DJane 6 New Blogger Mistakes I Regret Making from Morgan Manages Mommyhood Whole Wheat Currant Berry Muffins from From Kayla My First Year as a Full Time Entrepreneur from Divas with a Purpose Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe from The Crafty Blog Stalker Summer Party Glasses from The Country Chic Cottage

Add your link here: http://momssmallvictories.com/small-victories-sunday-linkup-109/

6.24.2016

First Resort in the Yosemite Region in more than 25 years is Ready for Guests

El Capitan-Kim Carroll Photography 

Rush Creek Lodge officially opened to guests, welcoming guests to the first resort in the Yosemite region in more than 25 years.

Conveniently located less than a mile from the park’s west entrance, the 143-room rustic modern resort is nestled on 20 wooded acres and offers an abundant array of activities for families and couples alike.

Rush Creek Resort Hillside Villa-Kim Carroll Photography 


  • Ideal for creating unforgettable getaways inspired by nature, the resort’s Lodge Rooms, Suites, and Hillside Villas ($215-$495) all feature decks overlooking the wilderness, the majority with sunset views.
  • Everyone can fuel up for the day at the resort’s restaurant or tavern offering fresh, hearty California cuisine.  The restaurant’s open display kitchen showcases a wood-fired oven and cozy hearth and features indoor/outdoor seating options. 
  • Kids can enjoy the striking mountain scenery from high above the ground during a zip-line adventure and cannonball into the 2,400 square foot, salt water pool.
  • Adult guests can head to the hills for a crowd-free, guided hike offered by the resort’s full-service recreation department  featuring over 30 guided excursions and wellness programs, or steal away for a soak in the hot tub just for grown-ups.


Architect Rendering





The resort is just a 3-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area along scenic Highway 120, the most direct route to Yosemite from the Bay Area, and with year-round access to the Park.

Resorts like this usually reserve years in advance so get in on the ground floor now with reservations. 

Reservations can be made directly with the hotel, Hotels.com is offering 10 percent off, and reservations can be made on Expedia

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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