Lip Balm Addict

As a kid/teen I was obsessed with Lip Smackers lip balm. I had an impressive collection (and a collectable tin to keep them all in). Every day I was able to choose a different flavour/scent which went right into my pocket to keep me company for the day.

Fast forward quite a few years and little has changed. While my collection is no full of lip smackers products, I still have an dying love for lip balms. I do try to find lip balms they are more organic based and with fewer chemicals these days, but that’s not to say that a lip smackers doesn’t get thrown into the mix now and again. ;)

A few weeks back I wrote a post on reducing chemicals in your personal care routine , but only really talked about one of the lip balms I’m loving these days. Today I thought I’d invite you into my obsession and share a few more!

lip balms

It’s important to note that this isn’t my entire collection. I gathered up the lip balms in my purse, by my bed and at my desk and let all the others be. After editing the photos I realize that my Burt’s Bees lip balm didn’t make the (photo) cut, but I’m okay with that. While I like my Burt’s Bees lip balm, I find I use it less than these others (with the exception of the Aronia which I only got on Friday).

Moving along…

lush

I’ve already declared my love for LUSH Lip Service lip balm. My skin can get cranky over nothing, and anytime I feel my lips getting irritated by something I ate, or something I put on them I go back to this balm. It’s simple, I like the smell (and the taste), and it does it’s job really well. What I don’t like is that I have to apply it with my finger so then I have to either wash my hands or wipe my finger on my pants (not that I’d ever do such a thing…). You can see in this photo and the one above, that my own tin is very well loved. When I was having a really bad skin irritation last spring this was the only thing that kept me from losing my mind!

EOS

How can I not love EOS? They are largely organic based, come in the coolest little spherical containers and well, are just cool. I have a number of them littered throughout the house and my car. They are easy (and mess free) to apply, they come is great scents/flavours (I never know what to call them. I know you’re not suppose to eat them, but you do get a taste of them…). The only drawback to these is I find if I use them exclusively for a few days I do start to get a lip irritation. I don’t know what is in them that bothers my skin, but it seems like small quantities don’t irritate so I use these a bit more sparingly.

bare

My newest addiction. Bare English & Co is a small Canadian company that makes these freaking amazing tea infused lip balms that are organic, GMO, gluten and cruelty free. They sent me a number of their lip balm to check out and you guys I am honest to goodness obsessed with them. I’ve opened these two (the vanilla almond smells just like almond cookies!) and I love anything citrus scented so I went crazy for the pink grapefruit. I offered to give one to my friend Cathy, and then had the hardest time trying to decide which one to give her (mostly because I wanted them all for myself!). She ended up with cucumber melon, and she too is obsessed. Unlike the EOS these don’t irritate my lips at all (I should know, I’ve applied it about 334987324 times/day since they arrived!) and smell SOOO good! Did I mention how good they smell?

Here in Canada you can purchase them at Rexall, London Drugs and Shoppers Drug Mart, as well as a number of tea shops and natural health stores. I’ve checked our local Shopper’s Drug Mart and they carry the two scents (favours?) I show above, plus the cucumber melon. This November they are launching 5 more flavours including Lemon Meringue, Chai Tea Latte, Juicy Peach, Mango Acai and Sweet Peppermint (and a line of tinted balm, hand cream, body lotion and sugar scrub in the next few months). Needless to say I am 100% sure I need all of them. If you trust nothing else I say trust this – if you live in Canada and like lip balm, you need to go get some of these. I’m sure everyone knows about EOS and LUSH, but you might not know about these and they are amazing! Aside from the times I need the super power of the LUSH balm these have quickly become my go-to product. For real. #totallyobsessed

badger

The Badger lip balm is a newer addition to my collection as well. I’d been wanting to try one for a while so Cathy picked one up for me a few weeks ago (which is what lead me to give her one of my Bare English lip balms). I really like the flavour (I’ve decided it is flavour not scent, but now am too lazy to go back and change anything), and the balm is good but I would put it in the same category as my Burt’s Bees. Good or borderline great, but falling short of amazing. Sorry Badger, I like ya, I just don’t love you.

aronia

Aronia is a new product for me, I’ve actually only tried it a couple times but wanted to include it because there is just something about it I quite like. It’s the flavour. When I looked it up it is infused with berry extracts, but for some reason it gives me a cream soda-vibe which I really like. Cream Soda was my favourite kind of pop growing up so I’m really drawn to it. What I have is a sample size, the full size lip butter comes in a different packaging and is available to purchase online or at select Ontario stores. I can’t attest to how hydrating it is long term, but the few times I tried it so far I did enjoy it, especially that flavouring!!

addict

Are you a lip balm addict? I know a few of my friends are, if you are too I’d love to hear what your all time fav lip balm is! Right now I’m going to say it’s a toss up between my LUSH Lip Service and my new BFF Bare English & Co. I just can’t forget how much the Lip Service saved me when my lips were so irritated and swollen, but I really am obsessed with Bare & English Co!

A Sneaky Giveaway!

When I told the people at Bare English & Co just how obsessed, I mean in love, I am with their lip balms they offered to give two of my Canadian readers a set of their 5 new flavours (Juicy Peach, Lemon Meringue, Sweet Peppermint, Chai Tea Latte and Mango Acai)! I can’t lie, I’m desperately envious of whomever wins! To enter please visit their website and then come back here and leave a comment telling me which of their flavours you would most like to try!

Giveaway will end at 11:59pm EST on Monday, November 24, 2014. Winners will be selected using random.org

Disclosure: I did received the Bare English & Co lip balms free of charge, but was not required to write a review for them, I am sharing only because I’m insanely obsessed and I want everyone to join me in my obsession! I also did receive the Aroina lip butter of free but in a sample box, not from Aronia. They have no idea who I am or that I have a blog. 

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Polar M400 {A Review}

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been wearing a new friend on my arm for the past couple weeks

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The Polar M400! Polar sent it to me for review a few weeks ago and I’ve been happily wearing it ever since. I’m a long time Polar user. I started of with the Polar FT4 about 6 years ago, and then more recently upgraded to the Polar RCX3 when the FT4 finally bit the biscuit.

The upgrade from the FT4 to the RCX3 was pretty epic, because it took me from a straight up heart rate monitor, to a heart rate monitor with GPS tracking capabilities. I absolutely love being able to track both my speed and heart rate with one tool, and any of you who follow my race re-caps have probably seen my read-outs this past year from the RCX3.

But let’s get back to the snazzy M400…

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The training computer itself comes in the box alongs with a chest strap. a Bluetooth smart heart rate sensor (though you can also purchase just the watch computer unit on it’s own) and a USB cable. Setting it up really easy, in fact they have a couple “getting started” videos right on the website to get you up and running in no time at all. You do have to charge the M400 via the USB cable when you first receive it, and from there as needed. In the two weeks I’ve been wearing it I haven’t had to re-charge it at all, however I have only used the GPS and heart rate functions a couple times, and I expect those draw more power so I would expect to have to recharge it more often when using those options. Personally I like that you charge it versus it going on battery power. That means there is one less watch battery I would have to deal with in the future!

One thing that really sets the M400 apart from other similar products is that it doubles as an activity tracker! So even when you’re not using the heart rate monitor or built in GPS to track your workouts your activity is still being recorded which I thought was really cool. I wear a FitBit so was eager to see how they compared when it came to daily activity tracking.

I wore the heart rate sensor to teach Zumba the first night I had it. I normally don’t like wearing heart rate monitors while teaching because I find that I get too concerned with it but I found both the chest strap and the training computer comfortable to wear and almost forgot it was even on. It has to be said that the chest straps are soo much more comfortable now that they were back when I got my FT4. No wonder it made me cranky to wear when I taught.

As a self proclaimed nerd, getting stats like this about my workouts makes me giddy. Here is the computer read-out for that Zumba class:

Zumba

500 calories in just under an hour seems pretty good to me!

Then that weekend I wore the M400 during the Lucky 7 Relay. I had planned to wear the heart rate sensor as well but because it was so cold, I would have had to taken off about 5 layers of clothes to get to my bare skin, and at the time that didn’t sound very appealing to me! I did however, use the GPS and thank goodness I did. The really consisted of us running laps around Citadel Hill and if it wasn’t for the M400 I would have ran one more lap than I needed to. Thank goodness for GPS! Here I am stopping to talk with my teammates while we figure out if I am on my last lap or if I have one more to go!

lucky 7

The real issue was the race was in km, and I typically deal in miles when I run so we had to do some quick math conversions to figure it out. I was a hot mess that day which you can clearly see from the run stats. I walked a good part of the race, but I was in the middle of a fibromyalgia flair-up so I was happy just to finish!

Run

And I have to say, it is such a nice luxury not to have to carry around a separate GPS sensor (which I have to do when using my RCX3). That’s one last thing I have to worry about being charged and losing! Another point for the M400!

Now let’s talk a bit about the 24/7 activity tracker. As I mentioned, I wear a FitBit so I was interested to see how they would compare. I will start off by saying that I wear my FitBit on my right hand, and the M400 on my left. I’m left handed and they encourage you to wear it on your non-dominant hand but I always wear my watch on my left arm, and I didn’t like the idea of wearing both the M400 and my FitBit on the same arm. Because of that I expected the M400 to record a slightly higher step count because it is on my dominant hand and might record a few more “false” steps. On the other hand, there have been times when training that I would run 10+ kilometres and my FitBit would think I’d only travelled about 7 so I knew it was sometimes a little bit crazy too.

With all that said, I personally think the Polar is slightly more accurate than my FitBit. I think that my step counts on the M400 are probably a bit higher than they should be because it’s on my left wrist, but I get the feeling that it’s giving me a better reading. Maybe that’s psychosomatic and I think that because I like the higher number and because I know my FitBit has been quite wrong different times when I ran, who knows. Certainly I have no science to back up that theory. None the less, here is a readout of my activity level on my Fitbit from last Thursday, as well as the read out from the M400:

Fitbit2

Fitbit

You can see that my FitBit registered me with 8 hours and 44 minutes of sleep, while the M400 said 8 hours and 56 minutes. A difference of 12 minutes which is pretty good I think. My FitBit estimated a calorie burn of 2927 versus the M400’s 3482 (I teach 5 exercise classes on Thursdays), and my FitBit counted my steps at 21,306 versus the M400’s 29960.

Obviously the biggest discrepancies are in the steps counted (part of which is due to the two counters being on opposite wrists) and total calories burned, but as I only ever look at these metrics for fun and don’t take them as 100% truth so the difference doesn’t concern me.

Something I really like in the M400 over FitBit is that it tracks you when you are laying, sitting, standing, walking and moving and shows you the breakdown of each.

ActivityThis wasn’t a particularly active day for me as you can see, and those black and grey shaded areas are the time I wasn’t wearing the training computer at all. This is actually from Halloween night, and that time from around 5:30-6:45 was when I was working on my pumpkin grinner! Looks like that wasn’t a very restful night either, since I seem to have been thrashing around quite a bit! hahaha

Another feature of the M400 (one that I’m happy to report I’ve only experienced a couple times) is a built-in inactivity alert which goes off if you’ve been inactive for a certain length of time

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We went to see Interstellar on the weekend and it is so long that I had two alerts during the movie!

And when you sync the M400 your alerts get recorded right on your calendar so there is no hiding them :o

Calendar

This is getting to be a pretty lengthy post, so let’s wrap it up with my pros and cons

Pros

– I love that it is an all-in-one it with GPS, activity tracking and heart rate monitoring capabilities

– The inactivity alert is great for people who are working at a desk all day and need a reminder to get up and get the blood flowing now and again

– It’s easy to use and it’s Bluetooth capabilities allow you to use it with your smartphone so you can sync and get data on the go

– The detailed activity breakdowns are really awesome, and unlike my FItBit I don’t have to tell the M400 I’m going to sleep, it just knows!

– No watch battery to worry about replacing. Just plug it in and it charges on it’s own

Cons

– I have small wrists so at first it was hard to get use to wearing it as it’s a fairly large unit. However, after about a week I was use to it and don’t mind it at all now

– My phone is an iPhone 4 (it’s like being in the stone age I tell ya!), so I don’t have Bluetooth capabilities which means I have to plug the M400 into my computer anytime I want to sync. This isn’t really a con of the product because I don’t mind doing that, I just wish my phone wasn’t so old so I could use the app because it looks super snazzy!

In case you can’t tell I’m pretty darn smitten with the M400 and I’m going to be pretty glum on Monday since my review is now over I have to send it back. Sniff, sniff. But it’s definitely going on my wish list!!

Disclosure: Polar Global sent me the Polar M400 in order to complete this review, and once completed I am sending it back to them. As always all thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.

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