My Favorite Essential Oil: Tea Tree Oil

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Since I first discovered it in the organic aisle of my grocery store, I have been proselytizing the benefits of tea tree oil to anyone who’d listen. It’s an essential oil that is surprisingly unknown. With all the hype going down about expensive exotic oils like maracuja and argon  it’s worth exploring the benefits of the still lesser known oils.

Tea tree oil is produced from the Austrailian melaleuca tree. It has long been favored for it’s health benefits, reported to work as an antiseptic and an anti-fungal agent, but fell to the wayside with the rise of modern antibiotics and pharmaceuticals. Applied topically as it is toxic to ingest, it can aid in healing athlete’s food and even head lice. Many of the companies selling this product describe much like aloe vera, suggest it be used to sooth burns and skin irritations. So, can it be of any use as a beauty product?

There is some evidence to suggest that tea tree oil can be an effective treatment of acne (1), but more studies need to be done before science will give a seal of approval. It seems that it has a similar effect to the old acne standby benzoyl peroxide but with a lot less side effects, like dry, flaking skin.

Some people do have allergies to this oil, so I recommend testing a small amount on a concealed area of skin before slathering yourself up. Tea tree oil is sold (here) in a less concentrated gel form, which I prefer for facial use. I squeeze a pea sized amount on my hand and spread it all over my face, avoiding the eyes of course, in the morning and at night before bed. When I wake up the next morning, pimples seem less red and smaller, and any eczema patches are few and far between.

If you want to buy tea tree oil products (like shampoos, gels, masks) you will likely find it in the organic section of your local market, or much more easily online. It isn’t available commercially in many cosmetics just yet, but many Etsy sellers are selling handmade tea tree oil cosmetics.

Here are some helpful videos on this subject:

“All About Tea Tree Oil”

Using tea tree oil for acne, spots and blemishes (natural cures!)

Sources:

1. Bassett, IB; Pannowitz, DL; Barnetson, RS (1990). “A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne”. The Medical journal of Australia 153 (8): 455–8.

 

 

Review of The Best and Worst Glues for Making Jewelry: E6000, Amazing Goop, etc

Jewelry making has become one of my passions. I spend a lot of my evenings hunched over my work-desk twisting wires, beading, gluing, and mod-podging the night away. I am toying with the idea of putting together a self published book of thrifty jewelry how-tos. (Let me know what you think about that idea.)

For the purposes of jewelry, you need to use something that will stand up to wear and tear. When I first started making jewelry, I know nothing. I had to teach myself how to do it all, and in the process, I’ve tried a ton of different glues, always questing for that one glue that would bond anything to anything. And so, I present to you the best and the worst of my trials and errors.

 

1. “Super Glue” Fix-All Adhesive

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This was the first glue I tried after failing miserably with normal superglue. I like that it is more of a gel than normal super glue or crazy glue, but it does NOT fix “all,” as the packaging promises. It will not bond metal or plastic, glass, or stone. It may adhere at first, but within hours of wear, the stone or whatever you glued onto the metal will fall off. It only works on very porous surfaces — not good for jewelry making.  But, at $1, I got what I paid for.

2. Aleene’s Jewelry & Metal Glue

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I bought this one at Michael’s. I’ll be blunt – it sucks. Just as #1, it doesn’t work on smooth, non-porous surfaces. It breaks off very cleanly. This one was a waste of money. Everything I tried to glue onto ring blanks or brooch pins eventually fell off. Not cool for paying $5.

3. Amazing GOOP Craft

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This glue isn’t the best, but it does work. You do have to rough up plastic before glue it, to ensure the optimal bond, but if used right, this glue works. It dries clear, and has a rubbery, flexible texture. However, with more vinyl like plastics, the bond stills break on occasion. However, at $3 it’s not so bad.

4. Shoe Goo

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I love this stuff. I actually bought it to repair a shoe that’s sole literally ripped off. It is intended to bond rubber, vinyl, and canvas. I don’t use it to bond those materials to metal, but when I want to bond them to each other, this is a good choice. You have to allow ample drying and curing time, but it will be worth it. It also did the trick for my shoes!

5. E6000

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This is the absolute best glue I have ever used. The label is very plain, but it is amazing. It is industrial strength, which means super smelling and not good for you, so I advise cracking a window when using it. It is a gel and dries clear. It dries relatively fast for a gel, but I recommend allowing at least a day for the glue to fully cure. It truly bonds anything to anything. I haven’t experienced any breakage to date. It works on smooth non-porous surfaces as well as porous ones like fabric and maintains just enough flexibility.

Normal super glue/crazy glue is not viable option for making jewelry. It is too runny, does not dry clear, and dries with a rough unattractive finish. Elmer’s Glue will also not work. It is not waterproof and just not meant to last. As for hot glue, I don’t really bother with it, because it doesn’t last and can be messy.

If you’re interested in what I have made, check out my etsy store, The Betwixt Boutique!

 

 

Review of online shoe / accessory store JustFab.com

Tempted by those commercials of women admiring shoes on the internet at work, I decided to take a look at JustFab.com for myself. I wasn’t really planning on buying anything, but when I saw a one day only deal for 50% off my first purchase of shoes I frantically searched for an acceptable pair.

So, I thought I’d pass my experience on to those curious about this store.

Pros:

1. You will always get a discount (of some kind) on your first order — at least 20% but I was lucky enough to get 50% off.

2. Shipping (except expedited) is always free.

3. Exchanges are free. They pay the shipping for exchanging.

3. Nothing on the site is over $39.95.

4. They predict what types of shoes and other accessories you might like.

5. With every purchase you make you earn points which can eventually be redeemed for free shoes.

Cons:

1. Nothing is under $39.95. Every single thing is the same price, like Dollar Tree. Some things — like the jewelry are not worth the price. Now, to be fair, sometimes they do have deals going on, like select styles being two for the price of one.

2. When you sign up, you take a style personality quiz, but it isn’t really in-depth enough to capture your personal taste. It just forces you to pick your favorite out of a number of lukewarm items and celebrities. In my case, almost every question’s choices were all unappealing to me, so the “stylist hand-picked” shoes in my personal boutique weren’t really things I liked.

3. When you make your first purchase, you become a “VIP” member, which basically means that unless you opt out each month by the 5th day, they will charge you $39.95 and send you more shoes. You cannot opt out of this “VIP” thing unless you cancel your account altogether. However, you can decline each month by clicking “SKIP THIS MONTH” on the homepage, but again, this be done by the 5th of each month.

4. Browsing their items is tiresome. You cannot simply type in a keyword and search for what you want unless you know the specific name of the shoe or accessory. You can’t see all of their shoes at any given time. I am not sure why this is. What the “stylists” chose for me was pretty limited, and didn’t really reflect my style.

Here’s what I settled on:

They send them in sturdy packaging, and they ship quickly. I ordered on a Tuesday night and had my shoes by Saturday. They come in their own shoe box just like shoes from a real store. My pair has creases around the ankles as if someone wore them already. Maybe they were returned? It’s not a huge problem, but it makes me think that they were made very, very cheaply. They feel kind of cheap. I will definitely need to put insoles in them as there is no padding for the balls of my feet, which is the part that you put a lot of your weight on when wearing heels.

All in all, the shopping experience wasn’t ideal for me. A lot of the shoes I really loved were out of stock. I would rather not see them at all if I can’t actually buy them. I like to search directly with keywords to find what I am looking for, not hunt and click through pages and pages looking for something to pique my interest. I really dislike that you have to remember to log on every month and opt out unless you want to buy shoes. The site would be better if you could just buy what you wanted, when you wanted, without all that hassle. Seems to me that they just want you to forget so they can charge you another $39.95.

Shortly after getting my shoes, I joined ShoeDazzle.com out of curiosity. They have a more stylish selection of shoes, but other than that, it’s basically the same store. I will try them next. They have Jeffrey Campbell “Lita” lookalikes, but you have to get on a waiting list because they’ve already sold out!