February 2020 - Pretty In Bronze

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Shea Noir Natural Ivory Shea Butter Review
February 20, 20200 Comments

Several weeks ago I received a package from Shea Noir, a family owned local brand (a mother and her sons) that sells completely natural shea butter. I love being able to promote local brands because they're normally very good, but are underestimated because we're used to buying products from out of country here in Canada. I often find that the products are more natural and work way better and it's great being able to support local businesses, especially as a woman who is also an immigrant here in Canada!

I've never tried pure shea butter before this product and have always heard positive things since there are so many benefits to using it, so when Shea Noir reached out to me on Instagram, I was interested in giving it a go!

The package was very well protected and is much larger than I imagined. Because it's natural, the shea butter is kind of like a soft brick that crumbles, but if you warm it up with your hands it melts. Some of the claims on the packaging and on the brand's Instagram and Facebook page include that the product can help with acne and blemishes (mainly for lowering redness), reduce the look of wrinkles and other signs of aging as well as reduce itchy/peeling skin. I'm not surprised since shea butter is very moisturizing, so it makes perfect sense to me that those would all be true. This particular brand of shea butter is also very natural so it is chemical, preservative, paraben, phthalate and sulfate free, which makes it even better for sensitive skin! The brand is also cruelty free, so that's always nice.

The picture below shows what the shea butter looks like when I rip a small chunk off before I melt it with my hands.

This can be used in SO many different ways. At first I was just using it all over my face. The day after I received this, we were working on cars all day out in the cold, which meant it was also very dry. Because of this, I wasn't going to spend time making myself look pretty, so I decided to slather it all over my face to see if it would keep my skin nourished. It did! I feel like it also helped calm my acne down a bit since it didn't get irritated from the dryness. I don't know that it really made it go away faster, but it definitely didn't allow it to become aggravated.

I also sometimes put a bunch in my hair 30–60 minutes before washing it. I only put it on my ends since I only wash my hair once a week so the roots don't really need help. This definitely made my ends feel less dead and I'm interested in using this in conjunction with a few other hair products to make a DIY treatment to wear in my hair prior to washing it.

I can see myself using this a lot so I was very pleased when I saw that the price is only $15.99 CAD! There's A LOT of product so you're definitely getting your money's worth. This is something I definitely see myself purchasing in the future, particularly for when I get pregnant so I can keep my bump super moisturized to attempt preventing stretch marks and the uncomfortable itchy feeling that comes along with the stretching.

Go check out the Shea Noir website as they have so much more information there, and even fun recipes you can make with your shea butter!

See you soon!

Friday, February 07, 2020

Saalt Soft Cup Review
February 07, 20200 Comments

This is a bit different for me in terms of reviews, but one of my 2020 internet goals is to transition this blog to include more lifestyle posts, rather than focusing on makeup and skincare since I haven't been purchasing as much as I used to. Lifestyle makes more sense for me because it's... my life. I really appreciate when the influencers I watch talk about real life, so when Samantha Ravndahl and Raw Beauty Kristi reviewed period cups, I was very intrigued after hearing about them for years. Both specifically raved about the Saalt Soft Menstrual Cup.

It seemed like the Saalt Soft cup was the most comfortable period cup and had the highest reviews, so I finally caved and ordered it. I hate pads and tampons for many reasons. First and foremost, they make it a lot easier for me to get a UTI because I'm SUPER prone to them and every UTI I've ever gotten that wasn't condom related has conveniently been right after finishing my period. Pads are super annoying for that reason and because I have to wear bulkier underwear to feel comfortable in them. Tampons are just very uncomfortable for me. I don't have a heavy flow, so they're really annoying to put in and take out. I'm talking the full eight hours of wear and then it's still dry and let me tell you... taking out a dry tampon is NOT a nice feeling. They're also not good for your body in general and on top of that, disposable period products are very expensive! Only a few years ago we still had to pay tax on them in Canada. Another thing that finally pushed me towards buying a period cup is how wasteful pads and tampons can be.

I've always been a reuse type of person (I save all the gift bags and wrapping I can for when I'm giving presents to others). I never really thought about the environment and how bad period products were for it until people started mentioning it online. I have had a period since I was only eleven years old. I'm 24 now. That's 169 periods so far. My period is normally the full seven days, so at minimum I've used 1183 pads and tampons. Realistically, I've used about 1300 since it's not only one a day when it comes to tampons. That's a lot of waste for one person who is still pretty young. Period cups are reusable and the Saalt one says it can be used for up to ten years with proper care, so that's a lot less waste and for me the amount of money I spend on period products in one to two years (about $50 because I have a light flow) can potentially cover ten years with one period cup.

Saalt Soft Menstrual Cup Claims & Features

- Reusable up to ten years if you take good care of it and store it properly
- Comes with a pretty storage bag
- You only need to change it twice a day
- The soft version is more flexible
- No toxins, hypoallergenic and it's chemical free unlike many period products out there
- It's made with medical-grade silicone
- Made in the USA
- Vegan!
- They donate money from every purchase to HER International.

The cup comes with a lot of instructions (and their website is super helpful as well) to make it easy to understand how to use the cup and how to take care of it. They have a lot of information on their website so I recommend doing some research into the sizing because everyone's vagina is unique, but I personally went for the small size because according to their size guide it would work best. I'm under thirty years old and I've never given birth. The small size fits three tampons worth of blood while the regular fits four. Given the fact that when I did wear tampons I went for the tiny ones due to comfort and such a light flow, I knew the small would be the best fit for me. Their cervix positioning explanation made me feel even more confident because I have a tilted cervix, and they include that in their information.

I know there are now a ton of video reviews of the cup, but I wanted to to a day-by-day review of using this cup for the first time. Perhaps in a few months I'll do a video to update you on it, but the following is my first week using the Saalt cup!

Day 1: Light flow (Medium for me)

I did the C fold method when I woke up and it was almost too easy to the point where I was convinced I must have inserted the cup wrong. I followed the instructions to check that it had suctioned properly by using my finger to check and it was definitely secure! I didn't push it in deep enough so I did feel it a little bit when walking. but when I went to the washroom at work, I pushed it slightly and then I couldn't feel it at all anymore. I did wear a panty liner just to be safe.

Going to the washroom (both #1 and #2) didn't make the cup fall out at all. I was definitely aware of it, but didn't feel like it was coming out or losing suction at all. I was also happy that there was no leakage so I knew I'd be safe without a panty liner.

When I got home I emptied the cup and was surprised at how little blood there actually was in comparison to what a pad or tampon looked like. I was a little scared at first when going to take it out because the cup sucked in further, but I used my muscles to push it out (very easy) and pinched the cup to make it lose suction before easily pulling it out. It wasn't messy on the outside so it was easy to spill out and go to the sink. I washed the cup out and made sure the little air holes were clear and cleaned the area to make sure no blood would get out and put the cup back in using the other folding method, the punch-down fold.

I then went to the gym, couldn't feel it at all when working out (mainly cardio, but also squats) so I was pretty stoked. I kept it in for my shower since I had cleaned the area beforehand and changed the cup right before going to bed.

Overnight was perfect as well. I couldn't feel it and slept comfortably and confidently that there wouldn't be any leaks and there weren't the next morning!

Day 2: Medium Flow (Heavy for me)

DISASTER. The cup went in fine to my knowledge, but when I went to the washroom much later in the day (six hours in) my underwear was completely stained with blood. I don't know what I did wrong, but I suspect I forgot to twist the cup to create a strong suction. I did the finger trick to make sure the cup wasn't still folded anywhere, but I guess that isn't enough. I'm annoyed that this happened on the second day after the first day was so perfect, but I guess I was too confident.

I showered as soon as I got home with the cup out, cleared all of the blood out and put the cup in again, making sure I twisted it after checking that it wasn't folded. This time I put a pantyliner back in my underwear just to be safe. I think I'll keep doing that until I can go at least two days without any leaks. I'm not concerned because there was no leaking at all on day one, so I know it's not the cups fault, but just user error.

Day 3: Medium Flow

I ended up putting the cup in correctly the night before so I woke up without any leaks, walked the dog  and then worked out all before 6 in the morning. I took it out to shower, washed it out and put it back in and to be safe I put a panty-liner in my underwear. Before leaving for work I needed to use the washroom and it turns out I didn't put it in far enough. I had no leaking, but it did pop out a little bit so I had to put it back in and do the twist method to try and re-secure it. After several hours and a few washroom visits, I wasn't leaking. After getting home and taking the dogs on a walk, I emptied the cup and all was good. There was a bit of blood on the outside rim, but I think that got there while removing the cup. It was pretty difficult for me to get it to suction properly when putting it back in, despite trying to get all of the air out though. It's very strange that some times it's really easy and sometimes I struggle, but I'm just happy I didn't have any leaks today and I have hope that I'll get to the point where I always get it right and no longer have to use liners.

Day 4: Light Flow

No leaks in the morning! As long as you get the suction right at the start, leaks won't happen. I have realized that I've been waking up with more urgency to pee, so I think the cup is making my bladder a bit more sensitive. Several hours later and we were at the mall where I was trying on pants. I had one tiny dot of blood in my pantyliner so that wasn't from leaking, but likely blood that was leftover on the sides.

Days 5–7: Basically non-existent

Some months I have a very light flow on the last few days on my periods, and others, like this month, I basically have nothing except for discharge. I never know if I'll randomly have blood again after a day of nothing, so I wore the cup for the last three days regardless. I had no issues at all with it and figured out a schedule that worked well for me to only change the cup once every 12 hours. It collected the discharge without a problem and continued to be easy to wash out so I was really pleased! At the end, I washed the cup out well and left it to air dry in my ventilated bathroom before putting it back in the cloth pouch that came with the Saalt cup, having it ready for my next period.

Final Thoughts

I'm very impressed with this! I definitely recommend trying to make the switch to a cup for all the reasons at the beginning of this blog post and more.

I thought for sure I'd have more than one day of leaking on my first ever week of using a period cup, but I'm pleasantly surprised that I adjusted quickly. The FAQ section of the Saalt website and video instructions makes it really easy to learn. I felt a million times more comfortable using the cup than I do when I've used tampons in the past. It's also way more comfortable than wearing a pad and I didn't at any point feel like I'd be getting a UTI, which is even nicer. Working out is much easier with the cup and I can wear nicer underwear that doesn't give me intense panty lines, which just helps me dress and feel a bit better during my period.

The only downsides I felt was that I definitely had to pee more often with the cup in, and I felt slightly more cramping than usual. I know most people haven't experienced the cramping with the cup, but I'm just sensitive in general so I wanted to mention it. For reference, tampons made me cramp pretty badly on the rare occasions that I would wear one, and pads would just give me a weird dull throbbing down there that wasn't pleasant at all and thankfully the cup doesn't do that to me.

I hope this review was helpful to anyone considering trying a period cup! I'll see you soon with some beauty/bodycare content!

Sunday, February 02, 2020

We Got A Puppy - My Experience With the Puppy Blues and Anxiety
February 02, 20200 Comments

This is just a regular life post I've been wanting to make ever since getting Sophie, the newest edition to our little family. I feel like this can be helpful for people who are looking into getting a puppy, as well as those that are struggling with a puppy, or have the puppy blues. I have a video at the end of when I got Sophie, but this post is mainly to focus on my pre-existing anxiety, puppy blues and how I'm doing much better and hope you will too! I also included the puppy vlog at the end of this blog post that we filmed before and when we first got Sophie!


Here's a bit of backstory: I LOVE dogs with my whole entire heart. I have Chewy, my 11-year-old Griffonshire Terrier (half Yorkshire Terrier and Brussels Griffon), who I adopted when he was almost a year old. He was (and still can be) a problematic dog because he came from an abusive situation. Over the years he's become so much better and can get along with a lot of people and dogs, but he still barks his head off. He also wasn't exposed to many people, so he hates anyone that looks different (I'm talking different skin tones, accents, hats, hair, etc.), but thankfully it's minor in comparison to when I first got him. I thought Chewy was difficult to deal with because he was already an adult. Sure, he only had a few accidents inside and occasionally would revenge pee (I'm serious), but he was also twelve pounds so it wasn't too bad to deal with.

Chewy, 11 years old.

Skip forward ten years. I've dreamt for over a decade of getting a puppy. I know it's selfish since there are so many dogs out there like Chewy, who need a second chance, but I always wanted to have at least one puppy that I could fully bond with from start to end. Specifically, I wanted a Chocolate Newfoundland puppy.

Years ago when Steven (my soon-to-be husband) and I first started dating, his neighbour adopted a chocolate Newfie. I'd never heard of the breed before, but instantly fell in love with her personality. I immediately started researching the breed and knew that it was the dog for us. They're amazing family dogs and are great with children, which is very important to us because we want to have babies in a few years and don't want to worry about having a dog breed that isn't good with them. Newfies are also a giant breed, meaning they get to the weight of a human, and sometimes more. Chocolate Newfoundlands are on the small end of the scale in comparison to Landseer, Silver and Black Newfoundlands. These dogs are fairly low to moderate energy when fully grown, which was great for me because I'm not a fan of exercise and the maximum of forty minutes a day that is recommended by professionals sounded great as well. The final deciding factor was the fact that Newfies aren't bad as apartment dogs. For the first several months of their life, Newfoundlands aren't supposed to use stairs, which makes living in a condo much easier.

In late 2018, we finally started our search. We discovered that Chocolate Newfoundland puppies are very difficult to come across in Canada, and when you do, they're normally over $3500 and have to be flown into Ontario. While we can certainly afford a dog, that's a lot of money that we weren't willing to spend solely on the purchase price. A lot of events led us to finding a Canadian breeder (I can tell the story on YouTube at some point) and we were set to get a puppy right before Christmas of 2019! Sophie—the name of the mother dog—didn't end up having puppies. We're still not 100% sure if she had a miscarriage or if she simply never got pregnant, but we're leaning towards miscarriage since the breeder told us she was 90% certain two weeks before the expected due date. We were heartbroken, but I refused waiting another six months to potentially still not have another puppy right around the wedding time in 2020. I started broadening my search and decided to look at American breeders. That's when I found the breeder we went with.

Getting our puppy!

We were finally going to have a puppy and were set to pick her up on November 30th, 2019 from Pennsylvania. In honour of the puppy we didn't get a chance to have, we decided to name our puppy Sophie. We bought the giant Costco bed, ordered a crate over a month in advance and everything we would need for Sophie and counted down the days. I was super excited and couldn't stop talking about it. My dreams of having a puppy were finally coming true and I didn't feel any anxiety over it. I was excited the entire six-hour road trip down, when I met the puppy, and crossing the border back into Canada. When we were about twenty minutes away from Steven's parents' house the feeling of dread set in.

Sophie at 5 weeks old.

I came to learn that this feeling of dread wasn't going to go away after one night. Things were difficult, but I figured I'd get used to it after a few days. I never really considered how often puppies need to relieve themselves. With Chewy, he was fully grown so I never had to wake up at night to bring him outside or worry about leaving him alone for a few hours. My anxiety gets worse if I don't get a good night of sleep, so that started building. Sophie was (and still is) teething and would try to eat the floor, walls, doors, hands, blankets and pretty much anything she could get her mouth on. I had to be hyper aware at all times and it was exhausting me.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and it got really bad to the point of a few panic attacks and what felt like complete mental breakdowns. I had almost two weeks of working from home alone with Sophie while Steven was working, and it drove me crazy. I felt like I hated Sophie and regretted getting a puppy. I couldn't remember why I even liked dogs in the first place. I became afraid of having children in the future. Not only was I struggling with the regular puppy problems, but our crate never arrived (that's a whole other story) so I couldn't even go to the washroom without having Sophie with me. It was awful. I lost seven pounds in the span of one week from not having time to eat because Sophie never seemed to sleep long enough.

A few days before I was completely off of work for the next three weeks, I got sick. I hadn't been taking my vitamins, eating properly or taking showers. I got a really bad UTI the night before my holiday company party (I still went). After a few really bad days of non-stop crying I knew something had to be done. I can do a post on my personal mental health if anyone is interested, but in this one I'll stick to the puppy related stuff.

Sophie, 9 weeks old
When the holidays were finally over and we were back at the Condo, Sophie had trouble adjusting for a few days. A crate had finally arrived (over a month late) so we at least had that. We were very lucky that she was able to sleep through the night and not have an accident when we first woke her up to bring her outside in the morning. She would excited pee when Steven came home at lunch to let her out and when I got home from work, but that stopped after a few days. By the next week, there were no more excited urination accidents at lunch or after work. Sophie stopped having frequent accidents in general. In mid-January, we started leaving Sophie unattended when we were at home with her without many accidents. Puppy school was/is amazing (she was doing well above the level and she was the youngest in the class by over a month). Now, we still have the odd accident if we take too long or let her have too much water, but I'm finally at the point where I love Sophie and wouldn't go back in time to not get her. My puppy blues are finally gone, and only my anxiety remains, but that's permanent for me anyway.

I'm an author, so I'm not the best at writing short posts. To sum it up: Yes, the puppy blues is a real thing and it's terrible. It'll make you resent your puppy and hate your life. What I'm telling you is that they will go away, so don't give up on your puppy after only a month. It took me nearly two months to finally love my dog and look forward to seeing her when I'm away. While she's not perfect yet, Sophie's actually a really impressive four-month-old puppy according to everyone who meets her. She knows a lot of tricks, comes to comfort me when I'm crying (very frequent) and is going to make an amazing service dog for me when she's fully grown. She still tries to chew on my hand and my pants when I run by (she's killed one of my Roots sweat pants and put a small hole in another pair, and put a few holes in one of my favourite winter hats), but that's normal behaviour for a puppy that will go away as long as you train them. It'll always be two or three steps forward and one step back until they're grown up, but you will start feeling a bond with your puppy and it feels amazing when they finally become more independent.

Sophie's first visit to my office. 16 weeks/4 months old.

Thanks for reading this super long blog post about my struggles as a puppy owner. If you want to follow Sophie, here's an Instagram photo of hers.

You can also follow Chewy on Instagram!

Here's the puppy vlog we filmed when we first got Sophie!

And here's Sophie's First year video!

See you soon!