Sunday, July 15, 2018

Skin Care Products Review – Washes, Cleansers, and Moisturizers

With the amount of skin care products on the market, it can really be overwhelming trying to find the best one that works for you. It can be even more difficult because everyone's skin is different and what works for someone else, may not necessarily work for you. Not to mention, it can be hard to know which reviews online you can trust.

Over the years I have tried and reviewed many skin care products to treat conditions such as oily skin and acne. Some worked better than others but I was still not satisfied with the results. So recently I decided to do some more research and try out some new skin care products that I had not tried yet. Below I will review each of these products.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser – After years of using products marketed towards oily skin, I read that sometimes the face can actually produce more oil to compensate for being too dry. The solution recommended was to try a wash that is actually for dry skin. So I tried out this one by CeraVe which is for normal to dry skin.

With this cleanser, you can definitely tell it is more moisturizing and less oil stripping compared to some of the other products geared at oily skin. It has a mild scent and with a translucent white appearance. I found it did an ok job of cleaning the face and getting the oil off without overly drying it. Still, I feel like it does not really clean the pores quite deep enough. For winter months when the air is more dry, I will probably use this one more, but for the summer months when it is humid, I have only been using it sparingly when my skin gets too dry.

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser – This wash is marketed towards normal to oily skin. It is a light clear substance that is just a straight forward cleaner. It also has a mild scent like the CeraVe. This cleanser does do a pretty good job of cleaning away the oil but it can leave the skin a bit overly dry. I use this product every so often when my face is pretty clear in terms of acne, but still oily.

Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser / Mask – To help teat acne, I decided to try out this cleanser by Neutrogena. It contains benzoyl peroxide which I had not tried before but heard good things about it. It is a cream like substance that feels pretty refreshing on the face. It can be a little more harsh compared to some of the other cleansers, for example, they say to avoid the eyes when putting it on. I found it does a pretty good job at deep cleaning but it can dry out the skin so I only use this one once in a while when the acne is starting to act up. 

Up & Up Oil Free Acne Wash – I have reviewed this one in the past, but I wanted to make sure to include it on the list because it is another product I am still using and one that I tend to use frequently. It is a salicylic acid wash which is pretty much tried and true. It does a good job of cleaning the oil as well as helping to prevent acne. Like many of the other washes, it can be a little drying so I find it works well in combination moisturizers or sunscreen.

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen – In the past I had been using a general sunscreen for the face, but I decided to try out this product which is a facial moisturizer as well as a sunscreen. It is a bit expensive compared to what I am used to spending on skin care products but I figured it was worth a try. Overall is seems to do a pretty good job at moisturizing as well as protecting from the sun. It can be a little hard to blend into the skin if you use too much, so I find applying as little at a time works best. I would probably get it again, but I will also keep an eye out for other products like this that are less expensive.

I hope these reviews help narrow down the search for the best skin care products. If you have any tips or other products you have had success with, feel free to leave a comment about them below!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Amazon Returns at Kohls Retail Stores – Trying out this new feature

Recently I had made a purchase on Amazon that did not meet my expectations. It had the option to return within 30 days for a refund so I decided to make a return. Upon seeing the return options, I noticed they had an option to make the return at a local Kohls retail store.

I thought this was pretty interesting, especially since it said they will do the packaging and cover the shipping, so really all you have to do is bring the item to the store and they will take care of everything. Seems easy enough, so I decided to try it out.

They send you an email with a QR code that you will need to bring with you so they can scan in the item at the store. I brought in the item and they were able to scan the code from my phone. I got a receipt with a tracking number and it was good to go! I had elected to have the refund credited to my Amazon account and within a few hours the credit was already issued!

They even gave a coupon for 25% off at Kohls for making the return which was nice because I had planned on doing a little shopping in store that same day. I think this is part of the reason they partnered with Amazon returns, to help drive more traffic to the stores and apparently it is working.

Overall I have been pleased with the services provided by Amazon recently from the locker delivery option to the Kohls retail store returns option. It looks like the Kohls returns are only available in select markets, but if it is available in your area, I highly recommended it based on this experience.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Concept of Karma – Good Things Happen to Good People

If there is one thing I believe in, or at least hope is true, it is that good things happen to good people. This is similar to the concept of Karma where one's outcome is determined by what they do and the decisions they make. The idea being if you are a good person and do good things in your life, you will be rewarded or paid back in an equally positive way.

The same concept would apply the other way as well. For example if someone is bad and does bad things, bad things will happen to them and their life will be worse off in the future.

With Karma, the idea is that when you die, you are reincarnated in another form or another life and this is determined by who you were and what you did in your previous life. Now of course there is no concrete proof of this concept as we are not able to know what actually happens after death, but I think it is a good concept to keep in mind.

While the afterlife part of Karma may be theoretical, the real life effect of Karma is true and observable in every day life. When you do good things in your life by helping others, it makes you feel good and makes them feel good. This positivity can spread and come back to you in return. When you are good to others, it makes them want to be good towards you.

On the other hand, it is also very apparent when bad things happen to bad people in the form of justice and punishment. When people commit crimes and are caught by law enforcement, they are punished often by having to pay fines or do time in prison. People who do bad things also suffer the consequence of their actions in social settings as people may not want to associate with them anymore if they are doing things that are wrong.

Does this concept of Karma always work? Unfortunately not necessarily. Often times unexpected tragedy happens good people. The same things goes for the other side as well when bad people get away with doing things that are wrong or immoral. Real life Karma does not work 100% of the time as examples like these happen quite often.

Because of this, it would be nice if the concept of Karma in regards to afterlife were to turn out to be true. This way, everything would be evened out in the end and those who are good would be recognized while those who were bad and went unpunished would ultimately have to come to terms with their actions.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Method Bathroom Cleaner Review

Recently I had purchased a bleach-based all purpose cleaner, and while it was strong, the odor was very unpleasant enough that I did not want to use it anymore. So I decided to look for some alternative options. One that caught my eye was the Method Bathroom Cleaner, available at Amazon and Target. It is a natural cleaner without bleach so I decided to give it a try.

Upon trying it out, I found the scent to be quite good! It has a refreshing clean smell which I found to be much better than the bleach smell of some of the other cleaners. I have been using it mainly for cleaning the tub and toilet and occasionally the sink.

In terms of effectiveness, it seems to be just strong enough to get the job done. Whenever residue starts appearing around the toilet bowl, a few sprays of this cleaner and some brush action get it back to its original condition. So far the tub has remained pretty clean as well with a weekly cleaning using this spray and a sponge.

My only complaint would be that the design of the bottle is not the most ergonomic, meaning it does not really fit the hand very well, so it can sometimes take two hands to hold it in place and spray it.

I will probably purchase it again once this one runs out. Overall if you are looking for a natural bathroom cleaner with a fresh scent, I recommend trying out the Method Bathroom Cleaner.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

MPOW Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs Review

While my living environment is generally pretty quiet, sometimes there can be some unexpected loud noise. For example, someone might be doing construction, or playing loud music, or maybe the house or building is just making some weird noise.

As someone who tends to be sensitive to noise, situations like these can be bothersome especially if they are out of your control and go on for an extended period of time. I had tried ear plugs in the past but found they didn't really work too well and I didn't really like putting things in my ears.

So I did some research and found noise canceling ear muffs. They are like headphones but they just block out noise, don't play music. After comparing a bunch of different kinds, I decided to go with the MPOW Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs. They had many good reviews and were reasonably priced at about $16 so I decided to try them out.

Upon putting them on for the first time, I was surprised at how well they worked. For example I was next to the refrigerator at the time which was running and making the usual noise a refrigerator makes. With the ear muffs on, I could not hear it at all.

I went over to the tv and put it on at a normal volume to see how they would work against a medium volume. With the ear muffs on, I could not hear the sound from the tv, so I would say they work pretty well in this case.

A couple days later someone was doing some construction work upstairs and they were drilling into the floor which was very loud. I put on the ear muffs to see how they would handle it. This time, I could still hear the noise, but it was much quieter and less bothersome. So with very loud noises, you will still hear it, but they will be reduced quite a bit.

These have a noise reduction rating of 36dB which is about the highest I found. I also got a chance to test them out against low frequency bass such as what you may hear from a subwoofer and they did help reduce this kind of noise as well.

As for comfort, upon wearing them for a short period of time, they feel pretty comfortable and well cushioned. The cups have a deep depth inside so there is plenty of room for the ears. The length of the band is adjustable on each side so it will fit most people. While the size can be adjusted, I found you can't really adjust the tightness. They are not overly tight, but I would have liked the option to be able to make them less tight if desired.

Overall build constriction seems sturdy and good quality. They are also fairly light weight at 8.4oz. Visually they do stick out pretty far to the sides. I imagine they have to be pretty wide to get this level of noise reduction.

I have not tried them for long term wear yet, but from what I have tried so far, I think they are best for short term wear for example if you will be exposed to loud noise for a short period of time. These would be good for situations such as lawn mowing or a shooting range. They are also good for home use in case there is noise going on that you want to block out.

Overall I am pretty satisfied with the MPOW ear muffs and would recommend them to anyone who is looking for a good solution to help reduce or block out noise.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Why you should not use credit cards to pay for gas at the pump

The other day I got a text message asking me if I just made a large purchase using my credit card. I had not, so I was immediately concerned and suspicious. I ran to check my wallet thinking maybe I lost my credit card, but it was still there. I wasn't sure if the text was a scam or if it was actually from the credit card company, so I log into my account and sure enough there was a charge that I did not make.

Immediately, I call up the credit card company and let them know that someone is making fraudulent charges on my card. They reviewed the details with me and were able to cancel the card. They said they would send me out a new card and that I would not be responsible for the charge. That was a relief, but still I wanted to figure out how this happened.

Usually I am very careful with things like this so I found it odd that someone used my credit card considering it was still in my possession. The agent from the credit card company said it was swiped at a grocery store which means somehow someone got my credit card number and created a duplicate counterfeit card.

From doing research, it looks like this would have happened by something called skimming. This is when someone puts a card reading device on or in a place where credit cards are used such as at gas pumps, ATM's, car washes etc. Any place where cards are swiped in an unattended location have a possibility that someone my have put a skimmer there to steal people's credit card information.

I usually only use my card at grocery stores and gas pumps, so with process of elimination, I'm pretty sure this happened by a skimmer at one of the gas stations I went to recently. Unfortunately it is hard to know when it happened as it could have been skimmed a few days ago or a few weeks ago.

While consumers are usually not held responsible for fraudulent charges made on their card when reported right away, it still causes a big inconvenience for the person whose card was stolen. I had to contact the credit card company, put a fraud alert on my credit, file a report with the FTC, and file a report with the police. Not to mention, I am going to be without a credit card for about a week until the new one arrives.

So as far as I'm concerned, I will no longer be paying with credit card at gas pumps or any unattended credit card swiping machines. Until these things are updated to be more secure, it is not worth the risk of having your credit card information stolen.

You may think, “This won't happen to me because I am careful and I always check the gas pump to make sure it doesn't have a skimmer attached.” I was like this too, but it still happened. From doing more research, I learned these card readers can be installed inside the machines so there is no way to know from the outside if they are compromised.

I recommend avoiding paying for gas at the pump with credit card to help prevent this from happening to you. Try to pay with cash, or if you are going to pay by card, go inside to the attendant and pay. Yes, it may be a little more inconvenient, but not as inconvenient as getting your credit card information stolen.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Should neighbors in apartments and condos be able to play loud music?

There are many benefits to living in an apartment or condo or even a town home, for example it tends to be more affordable and less work to maintain. There are however some downsides to living in close quarters to other residents and one of those is the issue of noise.

Anyone who has lived in a building with neighbors either next door or above or below knows that it is common to be able to hear your neighbors sometimes. It might be footsteps from above, talking, or tv from next door. While some daily living noise is expected, it can become a problem if your neighbors start getting too loud for example playing loud music.

As someone who lives in a building with neighboring residents, there have been times where I have noticed loud music being played and it can be very bothersome, especially if there is a subwoofer with bass that tends to travel through walls and is hard to block out. So the question is, should people who live in an apartment type building be able to play loud music?

Out of consideration of fellow residents, I think people should not listen to loud music if it can be heard easily through the walls by other residents. This noise causes a disturbance and disrupts the peace of nearby neighbors. While listening to music or tv at a reasonable level is ok, people need to be respectful of others when it comes to making noise like this that may bother their neighbors.

There is however a contrasting point of view, one that may be had by those who like to listen to loud music. They may say that it is their right to listen to music at a level they want and that if someone wants complete silence, they should not choose to live in a place such as an apartment or a condo building.

So who is right? I think in this case, there has to be a bit of a compromise from both perspectives. Complete silence is unreasonable to expect when living in close quarters to other residents. At the same time, a neighbor should be able to listen to music at a reasonable level but it should be low enough so that it does not bother those around them. They should also be respectful of the time of day they are playing music and should not play it late at night when most people are trying to sleep.

Do you have noisy neighbors or are neighbors complaining about your noise? Feel free to post thoughts on this issue in the comments below.