Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

March 30, 2012

Five Great: (Very) Personal Care Products Under $12

Aside from Catherine Zit-a Jones, my monthly pimple pal, I’ve had relatively unearned luck when it comes to the body’s largest organ.

It seems along with her pointy chin and penchant for morning martinis, my grandmother –who subscribes to the Keith Richards school of nicotine and alcohol consumption and looks a full twenty years younger than she is (which is forty years younger than she has the right to)– bestowed upon me her preternaturally good skin.

Unfortunately, stress and a complete environmental change have let slip the dogs of clogged pores and your previously porcelain pal Plummy has found herself in need of some serious skin care.

So too has Hot Latin Boy, whose flawless smoldering face has gone all Vesuvius.

He insists he never had so much as a blemish before he met me.

I assured him it was probably a result of his hormones going into hyperdrive from all the sweet, sweet lovin’ he’s been getting and the best course of action would be to cut way back on the international relations. He backpaddled so hard he nearly tripped over my dog.

Despite evidence to the contrary –last night I plucked an unusual yellow fruit the size of a jumbo olive from a neighbor’s tree and blithely popped it in my mouth before realizing I had no idea what that particular morsel was or whether in fact it was edible– I’m not much of a risk-taker when it comes to my health so I opted to order from where I knew my potions would be approved under the boring-but-important FD&C and FPLA (Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, respectively).

For all I know, Mexico could be just as strict as the US when it comes to their equivalent of the FDA, but I don’t especially want to take that risk quite yet.

Nivea Creme Travel Tin

I think I’ve mentioned these pocket-sized wonders before, but they deserve all the praise my freshly moisturized hands can throw at them.

I buy them by the dozen and stash them everywhere.

There’s at least one in every handbag, in all of my coats, a few in the car and one by my bed. What makes them so brilliant is their portability. They’re slim enough to keep in your pocket or bag without taking up much room, and since it’s a tin and not a tube, it’s virtually leak proof.

Recently I’ve been using it when I go to the beach to protect my face against chapping in the wind and to replenish the moisture lost in my hands from all the salt air. They’re also dead handy to have around when I want to partake in street food and either have to use my own disinfectant wipes (harsh) or the combination powdered hand and dish soap (harsher) provided by the taco joint in question.

That way I can have clean hands and still enjoy my taco without my cuticles painfully turning into papyrus. Plus they’re dead cheap and seemingly last forever. What’s not to love?

Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Facial Cleansing Pads

I’m a little sensitive to both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, two of the most common active ingredients in OTC acne treatments. Nothing especially terrible happens, I don’t develop leprosy or break out in hives, just a little peeling, but I still try to avoid them when possible.

Tea tree oil has always been good to me as has witch hazel; these little astringent pads contain both.

They are outstanding.

What they’re not, however, are cleansing pads. I always think of cleansing pads as something to replace your face wash. These are more like Oxy pads for grown ups, and I’d use them in place of a toner or astringent.

I really like the pads themselves, which are just scratchy enough to feel like you’re getting a good rigorous bit of exfoliation, and although the witch hazel/denatured alcohol/tea tree oil does tingle, it feels reassuringly strident without making my skin peel or go red, even if I forget to moisturize after.

It’s pretty good bang for your buck too, 50 pads will set you back just over five smackeroos and they can be used as middle-of-the-day skin refreshers too.

Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Anti-Wrinkle Creme

Man this is great stuff.

I remember back in the day you could go to Walgreen’s for your middle-of-the-night PMS run (spice drops, Coca Cola and beef jerky) and get a nice-sized vat of Alpha Hydrox creme for like six bucks on sale.

I would slather it all over my body and then do a dry brush/salt scrub whenever I was feeling particularly crusty and gross.

It worked like gangbusters and I’d emerge from my bath looking just as fresh and pink as a pig in buttermilk.

They’ve either discontinued or reformulated that particular product, but this moisturizer with 10% pure Glycolic Acid –an alpha hydroxy acid naturally found in sugar cane– holds its own when it comes to gently reducing fine lines, spots and improving the tone and texture of your skin, even on delicate petals like me.

HLB has been using this in combination with the tea tree wipes for two weeks and his complexion has almost completely cleared, plus the dark spots blemishes leave behind for a month after a breakout have faded considerably.

I’ve mostly noticed an improvement of tone in my skin and the few fine lines that appear in my forehead whenever I’m particularly stressed or dehydrated have vanished.

I’ve put these last two products behind the jump because they’re a bit intimate in nature, but I get a surprising number of emails about products like these, so here we go.

Let the oversharing begin!

Swipes Lovin Wipes Towelettes, Unscented

Admittedly I bought these as a sort of all-purpose wipe for the for the car.

It takes me about three hours to cross the border and when I’m done I’ve got what feels like an entire continent’s worth of carbon monoxide-infused grime on my skin.

I figured if these wipes, being made out of all natural ingredients and free from pretty much every irritant or nasty you can imagine, were gentle enough to not irritate my Dowton Abbey, I could safely use them on my face.

Their intended use is for discreet tidy-ups before and after Special Naked Time and although generally I am a proponent of leaving your lady lounge alone when it comes to wipes and sprays and powders and things (they mess up the local flora and fauna and are vaguely anti-feminist in ways people who are much smarter than I am are probably able to discuss)  you can’t blame a girl for occasionally wanting to freshen up between showers without smelling like a meadow full of soft-focus blondes in prairie skirts.

I still mostly use it for the car and those long wait times, but I’ve given it a go that way too and am pleased to report it does what is says on the tin and freshens without leaving any sort of scent (or, TMI alert: taste).

Sliquid Sea Natural Intimate Lubricant

My best friend collects lube the way normal people collect Scotch and shrunken heads.

Over the past 15 years she’s heroically attempted to bring me over to the slippery side but I’ve always been the Goldilocks of intimate moisturizers.

I don’t like silicone-based ones because they’re goopy. Most water-based ones, like Astroglide, contain glycerin which gets sticky and smells funny to me.

Oil-based lubes are just generally a bad idea since petroleum breaks down the latex in condoms and although I’ll occasionally hear of alternative medicine practitioners recommending food-grade sweet almond or coconut oil, I’d rather not risk my hoo-ha’s health.

Plus I’d be worried about my sheets the whole time.

Sliquid Sea is a scentless, flavorless personal lubricant whose ingredients are most often found on a sushi menu. That’s right, it’s slippery because of seaweed. Kind of brilliant, huh?

The ingredient list is:

Purified Water, Plant Cellulose (from cotton), Carrageenan (Red Seaweed), Nori and Wakame (Seaweed extracts), Cyamopsis (Guar conditioners), Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid

It feels completely natural, is easy to clean, doesn’t do anything untoward to my sheets and is just about as gentle as little baby angel tears.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be a true lube enthusiast, but sometimes the call of booty comes with time constraints and for those occasions, Sliquid Sea is the only lube I’ll ever love.


  1. Oh, and the fruit was a loquat! Sabroso!

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — March 30, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  2. I’m going to use a different name than my normal one to give a plug for the all around awesome nature of coconut oil under intimate applications. We’ve tried a few of the lower end drugstore lubes and they have universally given me an itchy, unpleasant (almost UTI-ish) feeling in the afterglow. Our budget does not allow for a lovin’ supplies line, so we decided to try coconut oil. It has gotten on the sheets before, but it doesn’t appear to stain (at least not like the storebought stuff does) and it does not irritate my tender parts. And at the risk of TMI, as it is a foodstuff it is pleasant and safe to taste.

    I may have to look into those Tea Tree Oil pads, as my face has acting out for a while now.

    Comment by Incognito — March 30, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

  3. “My best friend collects lube the way normal people collect Scotch and shrunken heads” is without question one of the finest sentences you’ve ever written.

    Also: avocado oil is the shizznit.

    Comment by raincoaster — March 31, 2012 @ 5:24 am

  4. Plummie – if you’re living close to the border and want to cross it regularly you should consider getting a SENTRI pass from DHS. You have to fill out a ton of (electronic) paperwork but it gives you access to the dedicated lanes that cut down the crossing time drastically. I’m still waiting to get my pass approved but from what I hear it cuts the time down to 15 minutes in some places. :)

    Comment by cupcakediplomacy — March 31, 2012 @ 10:12 am

  5. Lady lounge . . . great name! I’m going to make myself an “open” and “closed” sign.

    Comment by katinmpls — April 3, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

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