Beauty · Health · Honest Product Reviews

My Honest Review Follow-up: Lumē Deodorant

Full disclosure: I DO NOT make any money or get any promotional kickbacks from Lumē for my review. I am reviewing this product only as a consumer/customer.

Well, here I am again. Back almost 8 months later to give you an update. I first tried Lumē deodorant back in January of this year (2019) and was pleasantly surprised by the results. But I knew, looking forward, that I wanted to conduct a little experiment to truly test the results. As I mentioned in my original Lumē review HERE, I’ve experienced sweating and odor since I hit puberty in middle school many, many moons ago. I’m not shy about it anymore, but you can be sure that I’ve put this product to the test.

Detox

I’ve read that when switching over to a more natural deodorant (without aluminum and some synthetic chemicals) your body tends to go through a bit of a detox period. Before trying Lumē, I had been using Dove deodorant for many years, believing that it was the gentlest non-natural deodorant I could find. That might have been true (it’s an unfounded theory), but I did experience clogged pores, ingrown hairs, and darkened skin under my arms consistently while using Dove deodorant. This leads me to believe that it wasn’t as gentle as I would have liked.

The first time I tried Lumē, I found that my detox period was surprisingly short, but I think that was due to the fact that it was still winter ,so my sweat levels really didn’t test the limits of Lumē’s capabilities. During my first trial run with Lumē, I did notice an improvement in the health of my underarm skin. After my detox period, my underarm skin was smoother, lighter in color, and less prone to ingrown hairs after shaving. 

Putting it to the Test

The weather this summer has been abnormally mild for us, but my armpits are still under a lot of stress, hormone level changes, and more temperature changes than they were the first time I used Lumē. We’ve shoveled literal tons of rocks in 90°+ weather this summer, plus I was finally able to finish my breastfeeding journey with my youngest, so my hormones have been up and down like a rollercoaster. It is possible that I’m still in the midst of my second detox period while using Lumē, but it’s been over a month since I started the new stick, so I’m hoping that’s not the case. To say I’ve been putting the product to the test is an understatement. I have noticed that I have been abnormally smelly…hooray. But I do feel like that has started to taper off.

This second time around, I don’t feel like I’m getting the same distance out of the Lumē formula that I was the first time. I’m definitely not getting more than 24 hours coverage out of the deodorant, plus I’m having to reapply occasionally, so I may be using up the stick faster. I’m hoping to be able to do a third review of the Lumē products later on this year, and I can update that review to reflect how fast I’m using the products based on the time of year or weather temperature.

What’s That Smell?

One thing I noted in my original Lumē review was that I didn’t like the smell of the original scent. In fact, I think that was the only thing I didn’t like aside from the cost. The original scent is called Lavender Sage. Usually I really like both of those scents, but for some reason I didn’t like the way Lumē had combined them. It smelled too much like chemicals to me (even though that’s not what I was smelling). 

This second time around I was planning to order the unscented stick deodorant, but when I went to order, I noticed that they had added several new scents. Aside from the Lavender Sage and Unscented, they added Juniper Berry, Jasmine Rose, and Silver Spruce. (These sound like names of kids you see trending on Instagram…) I chose to get two–one Juniper Berry and one Jasmine Rose–just in case I didn’t like one of them. Once I got the sticks, I noticed that neither smell really stood out to me as especially appealing, but I liked the Juniper Berry more, so that is what I’ve been wearing. I can imagine a lot of people will like the Jasmine Rose, but I’ve never really liked the smell of rose other than straight from the flower. I have a feeling that the scent might grow on me when I start using it. I’m also interested to try the Silver Spruce eventually. Initially, I didn’t order that scent because I was afraid it would be too masculine of a scent for me, but I think I’m now willing to give it a try.

Overall

After giving Lumē deodorant another try, I can say I do still enjoy the product. I’m using more than I had back when I initially tried it due to harsher conditions, but I think I get enough coverage that I don’t clear a room with my stench. I still don’t feel as fresh as I’d like, though. I’m not crazy about the scents that they offer either. Maybe it’s more that the base scent is something I’m not fond of, and the additional smells added to it are not agreeing with me. In reality, though, I don’t smell the scent often after I apply it, which is probably for the best. Ideally, you shouldn’t smell like anything unless you want to be distracting.

I think the most valuable thing I’ve gained from using the Lumē product is cleared and improved skin in my underarm region. Since puberty, my armpits have been a point of reservation for me. I’ve always struggled with excessive sweating, sweat marks, odor, and generally unappealing underarm skin. For years, I’ve tended to cover up and hide the problem, ashamed to show my armpits or wear anything other than black. After using Lumē, I’ve noticed an almost instant improvement of my skin. My underarm skin has been smooth, less bumpy and dark, and less prone to ingrown hairs. That said, I feel that the novelty of the product has worn off, and I’m a little disappointed that I’m constantly worrying if people around me can smell me. I do hope that it’s possible that I’m not fully through my detox period and that my freshness will improve with time and usage.

Based on the differences from my original experience, I think I might have to downgrade my rating to give this product: 3 out of 5 Bear Tracks. Hopefully my impression of this product will improve by my next update!

Health · Parenthood

How I Overcame Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

As the title suggests, this article contains some possibly triggering subjects including depression, anxiety, miscarriage, surgery, and infertility. Please read with caution.

I’ve been putting off writing about this for a long time now because it is an incredibly difficult subject to write about. It’s hard to revisit the feelings and events. It’s hard to describe my experience accurately enough for others to grasp. It’s hard not to turn this into a 500 page novel because I want so badly to share every aspect of my experience if it means that one person can find helpful information in it. So here it goes.

My Origin Story

I’ll start by giving you a synopsis of my history and reproductive health. Middle school is a time for change and growth…and crazy bonkers hormones. In my case, my hormones were less focused on chasing boys and more focused on causing me a lifetime of physical issues. I wasn’t diagnosed with PCOS until I was an adult and found a doctor who would commit to the diagnosis, but I had been living with the symptoms since I hit puberty. Irregular periods, debilitating cramps, facial hair and acne (which is extra humiliating when you’re a school age kid), low sex drive (which is rough as an adult), and unpredictable PMS. And on top of that, moments when I thought I would die from the pain of a burst cyst.

Me at a high school dance. Already dealing with PCOS symptoms.

After dealing with PCOS for years, I asked my doctor about treatments. There were none. “Try these pills,” they said. A few miserable days later, I quit them cold turkey. I couldn’t live like that. I asked my doctor if I would be able to have kids. She said she wasn’t sure, but she was optimistic. Other doctors were not. I knew I wanted kids, regardless of how helpful my body would be. Once I finally got serious about trying to conceive, I found out that I had a cyst the size of a grapefruit that needed to be removed. The good news was that the cyst was non-cancerous; the bad news was that it had wrapped itself around the ovary it was attached to, and there was no way to remove the cyst without also removing the ovary. Are you kidding me? Now I’ll never get pregnant, I thought.

To make a long post shorter, I WAS able to have kids. I miscarried once but was able to get healthy, find a product to help me balance my hormones, and have a healthy pregnancy and a very healthy baby. Sleep during pregnancy wasn’t too much of a problem for me, and neither were cravings, constipation or hemorrhoids, or mood swings. Sounds like an easy pregnancy, huh? It definitely could have been worse. I still had plenty of other symptoms, but I was thankful for a fairly boring ride. Most of my struggles came later.

A Tiny Human Just Came Out of Me

I didn’t sleep for 72 hours when my son was born. It was the first time in my life when I dealt with serious sleep deprivation. It turns out, 72 hours without sleep piled on top of pushing a baby out of your body results in what feels like the most wicked hangover you can imagine. And I’m supposed to take care of a tiny, fragile, new human at the same time? What fresh hell is this parenting gig?! That’s most likely where my PPD and PPA began creeping in.

My first born and me immediately after a fast and hard labor. No sleep 24+ hours before AND after.

At my six-week checkup, my doctor’s office handed me a one page “survey” about my current feelings situation. I passed with flying colors, but the reason for that was that six weeks postpartum was probably the high point for me. I had been parenting long enough that I didn’t feel like a total failure. I had a little sleep under my belt. I had lost all of the weight I had gained while pregnant plus some! I was feeling pretty awesome. So I hadn’t lied on my survey. I really did feel good. No feelings of wanting to harm myself or my baby. No crying. No out-of-the-ordinary outbursts. My doctor literally said the words “I see no signs of postpartum depression in you. You’re good to go!” She asked the wrong questions at the wrong time. 

Early on in our new parent experience, we had a bit of extra help. My parents were living a mile away from us, and my mom was able to help out with some things. Soon after my six-week checkup, my parents began discussing the possibility of moving away…3 hours away. That may not sound like a lot for some people, but losing my best babysitter and some of my moral support so soon after becoming a mom was just the first ingredient in my stress stew.

Stress Levels Rising

At the time, my parents were living in a townhouse that we owned. It was my husband’s first house, and we rented it out to my parents when they needed a place to live. In order for my parents to have a nice place to live once they moved out of our townhouse, we offered to help them buy a house that we all approved of. This meant that we would have to sell the townhouse to be able to afford buying a different home for them. In order to sell the townhouse, we had to move my parents into our house temporarily, pack up and hide most of their belongings in the townhouse to be able to stage the home, clean it from top to bottom to make the house sellable, and then hope that the market was in our favor for the sake of our sanity. This process took several months and began when my son was only six weeks old.

My stress levels were rising. My mom was still recovering from multiple hip surgeries, my dad and husband both had to work full work days, and my brother had recently moved out of town. I was the only “able bodied” person who could drive the process and do most of the heavy lifting, literally AND figuratively. Plus, I was still trying to figure out how to be a mom. While my parents lived with us, my stresses were building as I struggled to coexist with my family and run my own home. I’ll spare you the details, but I will add that ice cream and carbs had become my “therapy.” My weight got out of control. I gained every pound back that I had lost before my six week check up. As my cortisol levels (stress hormone) spiked, my body began to feel like a fat, disgusting prison.

Cry Me a River

My husband was just as green to new parent life as I was. He didn’t know what signs to look for to recognize depression or anxiety. And even if he did, I’m not sure he would have known that I spent hours alone, cradling my new baby, struggling to feed him and crying my eyes out. Crying harder than I had in years. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I had cried before I became a mother. I wish I could say I cried tears of love and joy when my son was born, but in reality, they were tears of relief. Relief that my son was healthy, relief that we had both survived, and relief that I was DONE being pregnant (at least for the time being).

My husband finally becoming Daddy. Also very low on the sleep levels. But I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.

Tears were something that came easy after my son was born. Tears of frustration. Tears of anger. Tears of fear. I became scared of everything. Having this new human in my care meant that I instantly became paranoid that everything harmful in the world could and WOULD hurt my precious package. How could I possibly pile on that amount of responsibility to my already toppling tower of fear and stress? Easy. I had no choice. My brain ran constant terror scenarios of the worst case you can imagine. Things you only see in movies or read about in the most click-baity articles ever written.

Shut Up, Brain

At night, my brain lay awake in the short opportunities I had for actual sleep, thinking up all the best ways to prepare myself to defend my family and protect my tiny baby from the evils lurking around every corner. Being unprepared was not just a fear at that point but my legitimate reasoning for not leaving the house with my baby unless absolutely necessary. I would see social media posts from friends happily leaving the house with their new bundles of joy for a day in the city, a family trip to the zoo, or even just a coffee date with other mom friends. Mom friends? What was that? At that point, I was so afraid to leave the house unprepared that my friendships were suffering.

In solidarity for all the parents suffering.

During the day, I was irritable. But not like just easily annoyed. Like full on rage at the drop of a baby bottle. I tried so hard not to take it out on my husband, but in reality, he took the brunt of my rage like a boxer takes hits to the face. I could see some times when his immense amounts of patience began to wear thin. I could see that he was as confused by my anger and outbursts as I was, but he didn’t know that my outbursts were really cries for help. He didn’t know that I was confused. I was so afraid for my baby to want or suffer for more than a few seconds that I truly believed, without a shadow of a doubt, that I was the only person capable of caring for my infant child. I was the only one who knew what he needed and how to interpret his cries. 

My anxiety came to a peak one day when I had ventured out of the house on a simple errand. Driving my sweet baby around in the car, in his perfectly safe car seat, in one of the safest cars on the market. But at that point I wasn’t able to trust any other person enough to drive my son around. I’ve never doubted my driving abilities. I’m a very cautious driver without being overly cautious. But that day, my anxiety was in full swing and I was anticipating disaster around every turn. I was driving through a neighborhood I had driven many times, with a speed limit of 25mph and I was doing 20…15…10. When it hit me. Nothing. No one was around. No one behind me. Yet, I was approaching every intersection with a level of caution that was insanely paranoid. Looking both ways more times that necessary. Stopping at stop signs for ridiculous amounts of time. Because my brain had left me terrified of the hypothetical dangers. And then the full blown panic attack set in. Heart racing, trouble breathing, tunnel vision. I pulled over. And for the first time through this emotional rollercoaster of parenting, I heard my brain ask me WHY I was reacting this way.

It’s painful to think back on how I didn’t get to enjoy my son’s first year of life while I had undiagnosed PPD & PPA.

That was abnormal for me because I tend to be very self-aware. I spend a lot of mental and emotional energy every day being aware of why I do what I do and how I interact with my surroundings. As I sat in my car, I reflected on what I was experiencing and why that could be. After dealing with similar situations and breakdowns, outbursts and paranoia, I came to the conclusion that I had been suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety for almost a year. And I KNEW that I had to do something about it. 

I Need Help

I was ready to pursue therapy and medication if necessary. I began researching therapists in my area. At the same time, a company I trusted released a new product that caught my attention. It was a natural ingredient probiotic that was specially formulated to lower cortisol levels and help reduce feelings of stress. I figured, if nothing else, trying this could help me with my every-day mom stress. I was really skeptical that I would even notice a difference, but I was willing to give it a try as a first line of defense against my PPD and PPA. I was ready to try almost anything to have a chance at finally enjoying my son’s first year of life, even if I had nearly missed it.

Do it for you BECAUSE you do it for them.

I do my best to stay as healthy as possible, trying natural remedies before turning to other options. I tried the probiotic; I was skeptical, but I tried it. To my surprise, IT WORKED. Not only did it do what it promised, but I felt my PPD and PPA symptoms (that I was clearly aware of by this point) melt away within the first week of trying this natural method. I was shocked. I thought for sure that it was temporary, but I’ve been taking it for two years now, and I can say that I am a believer. If you’re interested in the product, please follow the link at the end of the article.

But Seriously…

Every person is different. Every momma needs something different in those most vulnerable moments. I’m not here to prescribe anything or tell you that this is the end-all method of treating PPD or PPA. I’m ONLY sharing what worked for me. I can’t tell you exactly why this method worked so well for me, but I continued to take this probiotic through my second pregnancy/birth, and it was a night and day difference in terms of mental health. Situations were different. Stress levels were different. Inevitably, hormones were different. But what I do know for sure is that I was able to enjoy my daughter’s birth and newborn stage in a completely different way than I did with my son. Even in my highest stress moments with my daughter, I was able to look down at her sweet face, take a deep breath, clear my mind, and even enjoy those times. It breaks my heart to think back to the first year of my son’s life and how miserable I was. I was so deeply entrenched in fear and doubt that I couldn’t enjoy those newborn moments with him.

If only I had known better the signs of PPD and PPA. If only I could have seen how abnormal my behavior was, or if only someone could have seen it in me. The best I can do is share a list of the behaviors I experienced during my difficult year to raise awareness. If you or someone you love is experiencing ANY of these symptoms or any behavior or feelings out of the ordinary, PLEASE contact your doctor and make them aware of EVERYTHING. The more your doctor knows about your experience, the better they can help you. Please do not suffer alone. Do not think that others will not understand. Thousands of women have had completely different experiences with PPD and PPA. There is no cookie cutter way to diagnose it. 

List of my symptoms:

  • Anger towards loved ones.
  • Extremely quick to frustration.
  • Paranoia of unrealistic situations.
  • Fear of leaving the house.
  • Fear of being unprepared.
  • Neglecting relationships.
  • Emotional outbursts.
  • Extreme PMS-like symptoms.
  • Heart racing with no stimulant.
  • Feeling the need to be overly cautious.
  • Questioning life choices.
  • Feeling like your baby is purposely inconveniencing you.
  • Constantly feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
  • Brain fog stronger than regular “Mom brain”.
  • Irrational fears driving your actions.
  • Abnormal nightmares.
  • Waking nightmares (visions of irrational fears).
  • “Lost time” moments when you realize you’re unaware of how you got somewhere or accomplished a task.
  • Inability to trust anyone with your baby.
  • Inability to trust anyone to help you.
  • Inability to connect with baby
  • Inability to see baby as anything other than a very important task list

For the Dads

Please also be aware that dads can experience the same or similar symptoms. They experience the birth of their children through different eyes than we moms do but can hurt just the same. Please watch your loved ones for behavior out of the ordinary, and make sure to check in on their mental health. The only way we can protect ourselves is to protect each other and to raise awareness of these struggles. Parents need to know that they are not failing when they have these feelings. There is help and they are NOT alone.

And Finally…

As promised, here is the LINK * to the probiotic that helped me. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper recommendation without a proper disclaimer:

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Beauty · Honest Product Reviews

My Honest Review: Lash Boost by R&F

Full disclosure: This review DOES NOT make me any money. I am reviewing this product only as a consumer and do not stand to profit from any promotion of the product. I do NOT sell this product.

Any woman who has been pregnant before has noticed changes with her body. It wasn’t until I had given birth to my first child that I began to notice many things about my body that had changed and were still changing. Of course, carrying a baby inside your body will change your shape and the way some things function, but there are other changes, sometimes subtle, that you don’t notice right away.

Months after I had given birth to my son, I started to notice my hair changing. I was in denial for weeks that it was falling out. I had heard other moms talk about losing their hair, so I knew it was a possibility, but I didn’t believe it would happen to me. I thought having thick hair would save me from that. As I slowly started to lose my hair, I also noticed that my eyelashes had thinned out to a point that not even mascara could help. So, I started to look for options.

I had heard about eyelash extensions and other options similar to that, but I wasn’t willing to resort to that until I had exhausted all of the options I could do at home. I knew that eyelash extensions were only temporary and had to be done by a professional esthetician. This wasn’t a great option for me as a new mother. I didn’t have enough time in my days to leave the house for appointments like that. I wanted an option that I could do at home by myself.

“I wanted an option that I could do at home by myself.”

For months, I saw advertisements from a friend showing before and after pictures of women who had tried a product called Lash Boost from Rodan & Fields. This product was specially formulated to grow your lashes out as naturally as possible. Of course, I’m always skeptical of products coming from direct sales companies like Rodan & Fields. I, myself, have been a part of a couple MLM (multi-level marketing)/DS (direct sales) style companies in the past. Some companies sell really great, quality products and others do not. I had heard a lot of good things about R&F products, but I was still skeptical.

A friend of mine who is a consultant for R&F was running a deal on the Lash Boost so I figured it was a good time to try it. I had no idea how much it would cost, and when I found out the reality of the price tag, I almost backed out. It is expensive! That was my first impression. And because I had never purchased any other products from R&F, I had no basis for estimating the price to start with. But realistically, if growing my lashes out was important to me, Lash Boost still ended up being cheaper than going the route of eyelash extensions. The first tube I purchased was an experiment because I didn’t know if it would work or how long the tube of product would last me.

The Lash Boost product comes in a skinny, silver container, about the size of a mascara tube. When I first got it, I thought “this stuff better work for this price!” Initially, I felt kinda disappointed because I had paid so much for such a small tube. It turned out that that tube lasted me about 2 ½ months. So, once I did the math, it turned out that the value of the product wasn’t as bad as the initial sticker shock. Thankfully, R&F gives you control over when your next product shipment is purchased and shipped. This meant that I was able to push out the purchase of my next tube for a couple months. Not having to pay the full price every month was a bonus. You also save a bit on the product by signing up as a recurring customer. Of course, those types of “discounts” are always factored into the price of the product anyhow, but it was nice to have a discount as long as I could stay on top of the reorder date.

Now that I had my product, I was ready to try it. I had no idea how long I could expect to try it until I saw results. I also had no guarantee that it would work for me at all, but it was worth a try. I told myself that I would give it a month, and if I saw no results, I would stop using it.

“I told myself that I would give it a month, and if I saw no results, I would stop using it.”

After a month of trying Lash Boost, I did see results. I was surprised at how well it had already been working. Initially, the only issue I had with it was that it left the skin on my eyelids a little red where I placed the product at night. It looked like I was wearing a dark pink eyeliner. I was a little concerned at first, but after using the product for a month, the redness started to go away. This may sound concerning to some of you but there was no swelling, pain, or other signs of a bad reaction other than the skin redness, so I was willing to risk it.

Top image was before using Lash Boost. Bottom picture was after 3 months of daily use- mascara used to highlight lash length.

I continued using the product and continued to see results. My eyelashes grew in length and thickness. I finally started to feel less like a hot mess mom and more comfortable in my own skin. Lash Boost worked so well, in fact, that I rarely felt like I needed mascara to accentuate my eyes, but when I did use it, the mascara did a great job of highlighting my already long lashes. It was nice to finally feel like I didn’t need to wear false eyelashes when I wanted to dress up. It was nice to feel proud of my own lashes. It helped me feel pretty, and I’m not ashamed to admit that.

As I write this, I have been using this product for a little over a year now. I did notice that after about 6 months of using Lash Boost, my lashes had reached what I consider to be their max length and thickness. Anything after that has been just staying consistent with the product to keep the look intact. There was a period of time after I had given birth to my second baby when I was too tired to remember to apply the products during my bedtime routine like usual. I did begin to notice a decrease in length and thickness of my lashes during that time. Once I noticed that, I made sure to continue my evening applications, and it seemed that my lashes recovered quickly, and I was able to regain my max lash length and thickness.

My most current results. Mascara used to highlight lash length.

Overall, I have been happy with this product. I love my results and have had to exert minimal effort to attain them. Once I factored the cost into my beauty regimen budget, it wasn’t as shocking as it was at first. Thankfully, other things in my regimen became more affordable, so the tradeoff evened out in the long run. In a future post, I will review the skincare products I have been using from another company and how their value is the best I’ve come across in my many years of trying various products.

I give Lash Boost from Rodan & Fields 4 out of 5 Bear Tracks!

Beauty · Life Hacks

Super Thick Hair Hack

It seems to be common that if you were born with a certain type of hair, you end up wishing you could change it. I’ve heard this said for almost every hair type. If you have complaints about your hair, I can almost guarantee that there is someone out there in the world wishing their hair was exactly like yours.

Fine-haired people wish their hair was thicker or had more body. Thick-haired people wish they had fine, manageable hair. Straight-haired people wish for curls, and curly-haired people want to straighten their hair. I remember that when I was a kid, many girls were jealous of my long, thick braid. My mom kept my hair in a braid to protect it from getting tangled, since she had been letting it grow my entire life. I was blessed with thick hair, but let me assure you, this is as much a curse as it is a blessing.

“I was blessed with thick hair, but let me assure you, this is as much a curse as it is a blessing.”

I’ve met many hairdressers who express their envy of my thick hair but also curse it once they find out how long it takes just to blow-dry it. And changing the color or adding highlights? Fuhgettaboutit. All of this may sound like a big, stupid humble brag to many of you, but I assure you, there’s another point.

A couple years ago I found a solution to my thick hair curse. Every summer I spend several months feeling miserable from the heat. My hair has always acted like a scarf on my neck and a knit hat on my head all year round. That might be okay in winter, but during the summer it is pure torture. And keeping my hair in a ponytail or bun for months at a time gets really boring and doesn’t let my scalp breathe.

After dealing with this for years, I decided that I would shave off all of my hair from about the top of my ears down. This allowed me to get rid of half of my hair but also gave me the option to hide the undercut beneath my regular length hair.

Postpartum Hair Loss

On a side note, I was a bit concerned about postpartum hair loss with this haircut. I did not have my head shaved during my first pregnancy, but after I had my first baby I ended up losing a lot of hair. My hair started thinning out along my hairline, and I got bald spots near the sides of my forehead. I just did my best to ignore it or cover it up until it started to grow back. When I became pregnant the second time while having the undercut, I was afraid that I would have to deal with the same type of hair loss as with the first. Luckily, it seemed that my hormones were more forgiving after having my second child. Plus, my hair was lighter and easier to manage because of the undercut. And since I was pregnant in the summer, it was also very helpful in keeping me cooler than normal.

Here are the pros and cons I have discovered to getting an undercut.

UNDERCUT PROS:

  • Much cooler head temperature.
  • With my hair up, I can feel a breeze on my skin.
  • My hair dries a lot faster.
  • My hair sits straighter and flatter.
  • Getting my hair colored takes half the time that it used to, and it is usually cheaper!
  • Hats fit me better!
  • I have a very versatile style between up and down looks.
  • I can get my undercut shaved at a salon for cheap or do it myself for free.
  • Styling my hair takes a fraction of the time that it used to.

UNDERCUT CONS:

  • The breeze can be a little cold on my scalp in the winter.
  • If I ever want to grow it back out again, it will take a long time to catch up with the rest of my hair.
  • Keeping my undercut shaved regularly becomes a challenge with my fast growing hair.
  • If I dye my undercut, my hair will grow out with a very small section of color on it.
  • My long hair likes to velcro to my shaved undercut when I’m trying to separate the two.

Conclusion

I would recommend this type of hair cut for anyone looking to stay low maintenance while also being able to have fun with hair styles. I don’t do a lot with the styling because I rarely have the time since becoming a mom. But this cut allows me to hide the undercut for a softer and more feminine look while also giving me the flexibility of pulling it back or up to reveal the shaved parts for a more playful and edgy look. If you’re not willing to commit to cutting off half your hair and not being able to grow it back quickly then definitely avoid this type of cut. Below are picture examples of the simple ways I have worn my hair while having the undercut.

Beauty · Honest Product Reviews

My Honest Review: Lumē Deodorant

Full disclosure: I DO NOT make any money or get any promotional kickbacks from Lumē for my review. I am reviewing this product only as a consumer/customer. Click HERE for my current follow-up review of this product.

That being said, I feel there’s something else you should know. I’m stinky. Well, not right now but more often than I’d like to admit. I’m a mom, and unfortunately, I’m pretty low on my own priority list. So my showers usually happen at night before I go to bed and after the cubs are already sleeping. I’ll be real and admit that I don’t get the luxury of a daily shower. I sometimes have to go a few days without showering because sleep is more important to me than de-stinkifying myself. I’ve also been blessed with prodigious stink-making abilities, so deodorant has been my best friend since puberty.

All of this together means that my deodorant is usually working overtime to keep me socially acceptable. Years ago, when pit stains were the biggest of my insecurities, I depended on clinical-strength deodorants to keep me sweat and stink-free. Unfortunately, those are terrible for the endocrine system, affecting the body’s hormone production. In retrospect, it actually explains a lot about my hormone struggles through the years. In recent years, I’ve been using regular Dove deodorant because it has been the gentlest on my skin while also working well to keep me stink-free.

In the past, I’ve tried a couple different natural deodorant options, neither of which worked for me. I’ve heard some people say that natural deodorants work, but you have to be willing to let your body adjust to them. Sorry, I don’t have time for that. I don’t want to stink for what could be weeks or months just because I’m “working through a few things.” So I’ve been convinced for a while that I would never find a “natural” deodorant that works for stinky ol’ me.

Recently, an ad came through my Facebook feed (sometimes marketing works, people) that caught my eye. I’ll admit that it initially caught my eye because it was a video commercial with a lot of bright colors. But as I watched, I noticed their added humor about what is normally a fairly taboo topic. A silly ad for deodorant? I’m listening… The best part of the commercial, in my opinion, was that every time I came up with a question about the product, they answered it! By the end of it, I was sold. I jumped online and bought some. But I was still skeptical.

They claim that this deodorant, called Lumē, is an aluminum-free alternative to most others on the market. I have personal reasons for wanting to pursue an aluminum-free deodorant, but without getting preachy, HERE is a simple article giving some insight into aluminum-based deodorants and how they can affect our bodies.

The Lumē brand also claims it can be used anywhere externally on the body where odor occurs. It was developed by a gynecologist who wanted to find a better way to kill odor causing bacteria without using materials that could harm your body. They sell both a stick-style deodorant and a tube/cream-style to be applied with your hand. Both seem to be the same formula, just different applications.

The first thing I noticed when I tried this product was the smell. It was a little strong for me. It was citrus-y and almost chemical-y. (Yes, those are scientific adjectives.) I’m still not a huge fan of the scent, but I found out through further research that they also sell an unscented version, which I plan to try next. Yes, you read that right! I do plan to purchase this product again. Here’s why:

The Lumē brand claims that you can get 72 hours of protection out of their product. That is still up in the air for me. I chickened out after about 30 hours. Thankfully, the product did seem to continue working, but I could tell it had started to wear out its effectiveness around the 24 hour mark. It also could be that once my body adjusts to the bacteria balance, I may get longer use out of one application. But I’ll have to add an update at a later time when I’ve done some further testing.

The biggest positive I found in this product is that it worked. It kept me from getting stinky for at least 24 hours, even while chasing down toddler bear all day and juggling a breastfeeding baby bear. I actually felt like I sweated a little less than I normally would as well, but that could have been a fluke. Since I’ve been consistently taking my amazing multivitamin and probiotics for the last couple years, they have helped me balance my hormones, which, in turn, has helped regulate my body temperature and decrease my usual intense sweating. But I’ll go into that further in a future post.

The only negatives I found about the Lumē products are the price and the smell. It’s a pricey stick of deodorant at about $14 and $19 for the tube. Yikes! I know. But with the idea that it should last about three times as long as your daily-application, aluminum-filled deodorant, it evens out to be about the same cost over time. One great thing I noticed is that they offer free shipping, which probably means that the shipping cost is built into the price of the product. Something to keep in mind any time a product claims “free shipping.” But, hey, at least I didn’t have to see an additional cost in my checkout cart. As for the smell, I’m curious to see if their “unscented” scent is truly unscented and keeps me…unscented.

Overall, I would give Lumē deodorant a positive review. It is the first deodorant I’ve tried that has eliminated the need for aluminum but has worked immediately and for a realistic length of time. I normally expect to re-apply my deodorant daily. But with all other natural deodorants I have tried in the past, I had to re-apply them multiple times a day. That is wasteful and annoying. Lumē seems to have found a good recipe for healthy and effective. If it was just mediocre, I probably would not have wasted my time writing a review.

I give this product: 4 out of 5 Bear Tracks!

Health · Parenthood

How Video Games Saved Me as a New Mom

It’s been 2½ years since I became a mother. I’ve learned a lot in this time. I probably have an encyclopedia’s worth of material I could write in regards to that already. But when I look back to what my life was like shortly after having my son I make note of a few things. The first is that it’s easy to miss signs for postpartum depression and anxiety. I missed them for an entire year before I realized what was happening and got help. But that is a topic I will write on at length in another post because it deserves the acknowledgement.

The second thing I note is my coping methods for the stress of motherhood. Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Being a new mom was like climbing Everest in scuba flippers. I’m not entirely sure how I survived it, but I can give you at least one tip on what helped keep me sane.

Video games. Now, I know video games aren’t for everyone, but please hear me out. I’ve never been a big reader. It’s not a matter of ignorance but rather interest. I get distracted too easily when I read unless I’m surrounded by complete silence. So even if, as a new mother, I had had a stack of riveting novels to spend my time on, it wouldn’t have done much but frustrate me because I can’t really get into a book when I have a kiddo crying to be strapped to my breast every 45 minutes. Cluster feeding is no joke.

My dad introduced me to video games at a young age. I was probably close to 8 years old when he and I went to Toys ‘R Us (God, rest its soul) to buy a brand new Sega Genesis. It was life changing. My dad and I spent quality time together flying fighter jets, saving damsels in distress, and racing around as a little, blue hedgehog. That’s probably where I developed my love for video games.

Although I’ve been a gamer since then, there was a dry spell in my video gaming career after events in my life allowed for some personal rediscovery before I met my husband. Years later, when I finally had the opportunity to become a mom, I found that I had some downtime while experiencing pretty severe pelvic pain in my first pregnancy. My husband supported me and enabled me to stay at home to ensure a healthy pregnancy. But while I was couch-ridden through most of my third trimester, I got back into video games. At the time, I felt it was probably my last chance to enjoy some gaming before becoming a mom. Little did I know there would be more than enough time to enjoy games after having my son.

When we first brought our son home from the hospital, we had a lot to figure out. What would our new schedule look like with a creature that wanted to eat every 45 minutes? Turns out momma just becomes a milk factory at that point. When your life revolves around feeding an insatiable creature who depends on you for all movement and care, you start to get really good at multitasking. Breastfeed and eat? Check. Breastfeed and update social media? Can do! Breastfeed and Google breastfeeding questions? Of course.

But when I started feeling more like a milking heifer and less like myself I knew that I needed to find a way to distract my brain while breastfeeding. Since I had learned a few new ways to hold and balance my feeding baby, I found that I could free both of my hands. So I plugged in my game of choice and started my video game therapy. Most of the time I kept the sound very low or off. My newborn son didn’t need to know Mommy was fighting dragons while he ate peacefully.

“Most of the time I kept the sound very low or off. My newborn son didn’t need to know Mommy was fighting dragons while he ate peacefully.”

Video games can be a great stress reliever. They can also cause stress, so you have to be careful which ones you choose to play while momming. Personally, I chose three open world role playing games to focus on throughout my new-mom-journey. I started with a game I had owned for years and never had a chance to play, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Oblivion is a game from Bethesda Game Studios, released back in 2006. A first person style dungeon crawler. For some (or most) of you, that may not sound like much fun, especially since the graphics are outdated by today’s standards. But this game was nostalgic for me and just what I needed to get back into gaming. Back in 2002 I played the previous game in this series for hours a day. It was my temporary obsession. So, playing Oblivion was a fun way to experience some of my favorite gaming elements. I ended up playing all the way through Oblivion, twice, before I realized I needed another game. So, I moved on to Skyrim and then onto Fallout 4. I spent months in these worlds, relaxing and enjoying my in-game freedom. Killing monsters, looting EVERYTHING, and making gobs of gold coins. The worlds were relatively quiet and beautiful. I was alone (other than NPCs) and free to explore at my pace. I was in introvert heaven!

In the end, I learned that it’s healthy to have an outlet for stress and anxiety. Video games worked for me, but every mom and her experience are completely unique. Find what works for you and enjoy it unapologetically. Don’t let it come between you and your children or spouse, but treat it as a self-preservation, mental health break. You deserve it.