Benefit Dream Screen Review

It has never been a secret that continuous exposure to the sun without adequate protection can result in some serious skin damage, often irreversible. While the immediate effects of sun damage may not be apparent at first, they do manifest over time, often as aesthetic signs – from pronounced wrinkles to a dark spot here and there to accelerated ageing.

For a long time, I was amongst those individuals guilty of not using sunscreen – I just never liked the heavy feeling it left behind on my skin, not to mention that dreaded white cast either. Being a person of colour, with what I considered as a sufficient supply of melanin, I did not place much importance in the use of these products, even more so as I strictly reduced the amount of time I spent out in the sun (because South Africa is not known for its snow).

All the while, I failed to recognize that I was, in fact, committing a grave beauty sin; and this soon came to light when I first began to notice a few freckles developing on my nose. Initially, I thought they were cutest thing ever, but when one turned to two, and then two became a dozen, lets just say that I started to panic. It was then that I realized that I could no longer forego sunscreen in my skincare routine, and thus began my search into finding a good sunscreen product for my skin.

Terms like “SPF”, “PA+++”, “Broad-spectrum” had very little meaning to me at first, and I was daunted by the task of selecting the right sunscreen product. So, here are some general details about sunscreens that I have stumbled upon while searching for sunscreen products:

What is Sunscreen?
Sunscreens are essentially products containing ingredients that help to safeguard your skin against the harmful radiation emitted from the sun. Sunscreen protects against sun damage; as well as against the accumulation of free radicals*, which often leads to cell damage and sometimes, skin cancer.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted from the sun takes three forms i.e. UVA, UVB and UVC. Fortunately, UVC is of little consequence when it comes to protecting your skin against sun damage.

What are UVA and UVB?
The most noteworthy difference between these two forms of radiation is that the UVA refers to longer wave UV rays, whilst UVB are composed of short waves. UVA rays can cause significant skin damage (even more than UVB), ageing and skin cancer. UVB, on the other hand, is also responsible for the aforementioned, in addition to sunburn.

Interestingly, while normal glass can block UVB radiation, UVA rays are still able to penetrate through glass. So, while you may think that you are safe indoors and have little need to worry about sun protection, this may not necessarily be the case if you happen to sit in front of a window for extended periods of time during the day.

What is SPF?
Often, we see “SPF” on many sunscreen products, but many of us fail to understand what it actually means. First of all, SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and it is a measure of how well a certain sunscreen product performs in protecting your skin against sun damage, usually from UVB radiation.
SPF can range anywhere from 1 – 90, and this rating usually indicates the amount of time you can spend outside in the sun before your skin starts to burn.

So, for instance, if your skin starts to burn after 10 minutes of sun exposure (without any sunscreen at all), this would mean that a sunscreen product with SPF 45, for example, would offer 45 x 10 minutes (450 minutes) worth of protection from sunburn.

For additional information, check out this website.

What is PA+++?
This is sometimes seen on a few sunscreen products, but what does it actually mean? PA refers to a rating system (i.e. Protection Grade of UVA), commonly used in some Asian countries and it is a measure of UVA protection. Often, this is accompanied by a plus sign “+” , which indicates the amount of protection offered against UVA rays, i.e. PA+, PA++ and so on and so forth.

What is Broad-spectrum Sunscreen?
This sort of sunscreen, also known as sunblock, is capable of protecting against both types of UV radiation, i.e. UVA and UVB. Often, the consistency of this type of sunscreen is dense in nature and can contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Sunscreens containing these ingredients are referred to as “physical sunblocks”, because they are not absorbed by the skin and merely serve to reflect light. Often, sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are responsible for the white cast appearance on the skin with its use.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen…
With quite a number of sunscreen products on the market, the task of choosing the right one can be overwhelming. I think a main concern that many people have (myself included) when it comes to sunscreens is that some are known to clog pores, and the last thing anyone wants to experience are breakouts, at the expense of sun protection.

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All the sunscreen products that I have tried in the past. Not included in this image are the Dermologica Solar Defense Booster SPF 50 and the Cetaphil Daylong Liposomal Cream SPF 50, which I have since discarded.

Product Review
I admit that my aversion towards using sunscreens, in general, stems from the fact that many of them have a tendency of leaving behind an unflattering white cast, which on me looks grey, particularly as I suffer from hyperpigmentation.
So, when I came across the Benefit Dream Screen SPF 45 PA+++, my interest was piqued. I have been using this product for several months now, and I must admit that I quite like it. I dare not venture out in the sun without having it on.

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The Benefit Dream Screen SPF 45 PA+++. My Holy Grail Sunscreen Product.

Product Details:
This product claims to be a matte sunscreen that protects against sun damage and that is:

  • Oil-free
  • Lightweight
  • Absorbed instantly
  • Moisturizing on the skin
  • Fragrance free
  • Protects against both UVA (PA+++) and UVB (SPF 45) rays.

Texture, Coverage, & Finish:
The Dream Screen is fluid in consistency with a milky appearance. Its texture feels silky on the skin, as well as velvety to the touch. Upon application, this product goes on effortlessly, drying down to a matte finish on the skin.
It should be noted, however, that upon application, this product does leave a sheen on the skin initially, however this soon dissipates once the sunscreen has completely set (after 10-20 seconds). Obviously, this may be subject to your skin type and the climate in which you live in – my skin type, for instance, is dry/normal and living in Johannesburg, the climate tends to be a bit drier without any issues of high humidity.

How to Use:
As per the instructions on the packaging, it is necessary that the product is well-shaken prior to use, as it does tend to separate. For me personally, I use a little less than a teaspoon amount of product, which is sufficient to cover my entire face and neck.

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The Benefit Dream Screen SPF 45 PA+++. It is a milky, lightweight fluid. I use about less than a teaspoon worth of product when applying it to my face and neck.

Wear:
The sunscreen wears beautifully both under make-up, as well as on its own. This product can be worn over moisturizer; however, the product can be moisturizing by itself. In addition, the Dream Screen does not leave any white cast and having sensitive skin, I have not experienced any forms of breakouts or other skin reactions while using it.
This product is not waterproof or sweat-proof, so further applications may be required if you intend to be out in the sun for extended periods of time.
I also love that this sunscreen does not have a scent to it, being a bit finicky when it comes to overpowering fragrances.

Packaging:
This sunscreen comes in a mint-green plastic bottle, with a cork-like cap. Aside from the aesthetic appeal of the packaging, the bottle is rather sturdy and makes for easy traveling as well. The bottle also has a squeeze-like nozzle, making it hygienic and ensuring that you are able to control the amount of product dispensed at any given time.

Ingredients: (obtained from the official Benefit Cosmetics website)
Active Octinoxate 7.50%, Octisalate 5.00%, Avobenzone 3.00%. Inactive C1215 Alkyl Benzoate, Aqua (Water), Butylene Glycol, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Polyglyceryl6 Polyricinoleate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Chloride, Polyglyceryl2 Isostearate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tocopherol, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate

Price:
At the time upon purchase, I had paid R395.00 for this product. It now retails for R445.00 at selected Red Square and Edgars stores.

Overall thoughts:
The sunscreen is definitely very lightweight on the skin, and does not feel sticky at all nor is it heavy on the skin. I love its formula and that it can be worn with or without makeup. More importantly, I love the sun protection this product offers, i.e. that it is a broad spectrum sunscreen protecting against both UVA and UVB.
Have you tried this sunscreen? What are your thoughts on it? What is your holy grail sunscreen product? I would love to know.
The only fault that I can find with this product is its price – I just wish it was not on the expensive side.

Thank you for reading this post. It is very much appreciated.

Disclaimer:
I have purchased this product with my own money. All thoughts and opinions are that of my own. Please bear in mind that while this product may work for me, it may not necessarily work for you.

*  – Free radicals are unstable molecules that are very reactive, with a short life span. These often occur when the cells in your body are subjected to oxidative stress, i.e. when oxygen molecules are split into single atoms with unpaired electrons. Free radicals are often associated with the development of cancer(s), neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the visible signs of ageing – so, essentially they are bad, very very bad.

Bested by Peanut Butter

Well, in fact it was almond butter. And rightfully, this blog post should have be entitled “Banana Crème Smoothie” instead, but if it is all the same, what does it matter, really? I still hang my head in shame just thinking about it…

Four hours earlier…
Breakfast is the most important meal of my day, but not for reasons you may think. For me, it is a way of having a healthy meal that mimics a dessert, without feeling ridden with guilt afterwards.
So, for breakfast this morning, I had a clear idea as to what I wanted to have, i.e. a sort of banana crème smoothie, topped with dark chocolate and perhaps a little something extra – and I had just the thing in mind!

Scrolling through Instagram, we have all been inundated with images of food from time to time. For me personally, I could not help but be mesmerised by all those images containing that signature peanut butter drizzle. It made even the most mundane of dishes look enticing – I swear a plate of bland, boring broccoli could look appetising with some peanut butter drizzled over it!
And so, I set out to find exactly how this technique is achieved. I mean, how difficult could it actually be, right? Famous last words….

So, over the weekend, I had purchased a few samples sachets of nut butter to try out from a brand called ButtaNutt Tree Nut Spreads. Each squeeze pack is about 32 g, retailing for about R15.00 (South African Rands) or so, and to the best of my knowledge, these squeeze packs can be purchased at any Dischem or Wellness Warehouse store in South Africa, as well as off the official ButtaNutt website.

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Squeeze packs of ButtaNutt Tree Nut Spreads in the flavours: Roasted Almond, Cinnamon Macadamia and Honey Almond.

Not being a particular fan of peanut butter, almond butter seemed like a more palatable option for me. I also did not want to commit to purchasing an entire bottle of the stuff, if it meant that it would just lie at the back of my cupboard. And so, these squeeze packs were pretty convenient, allowing me the option of trying out different flavours, before having to settle on the one I most liked.

Take one
After perusing through a few tutorials and website articles on how to drizzle peanut butter, I felt fairly confident to give this a try. In order to achieve the desired consistency for drizzling, the nut butter would have to be microwaved for a short while, and so I did just that. I heated about a spoonful of almond butter, along with some dark chocolate (De Villiers Thins Chocolate) in the microwave for about 30 seconds on the highest power setting.

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ButtaNutt Honey Almond Butter with De Villiers Thins Dark Chocolate.

The end result was sort of strange – the mixture looked thin in some parts and thick in others. I could also see bits of almond in it (probably as the almond butter was a bit on the chunky side), but regardless of this, I was impatient to try it out.

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ButtaNutt Honey Almond Butter with De Villiers Thins Dark Chocolate, microwaved for 30-40 seconds

And, it did not work. Instead of the seductive drizzle I had envisioned in my mind, all I was able to achieve was something resembling blood spatter.

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Trial-run of drizzling the melted chocolate almond butter.

Take two
At this stage, I thought perhaps further heating was required and so, I reheated the almond butter mixture for a little longer, assuming it would improve the consistency somewhat. Big mistake! I ended up leaving it in the microwave for slightly longer than intended and it had turned into an unusable, clay-like paste.

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ButtaNutt Honey Almond Butter with De Villiers Thins Dark Chocolate, microwaved for a longer time.

Almond butter, 1; Me, 0.
At this point, I cannot lie, I felt a bit frustrated. How could something as simple as melting peanut butter (in my case, almond butter) be so difficult? What did I do wrong? Why was it not working? What is the meaning of life? These were some of the questions I began asking myself (well minus the latter).

So, I opted to give this one more try before throwing in the towel and, just as before, I was left with a gloopy mess that came no where near to what I wanted! Grudgingly, I conceded defeat!
I sadly grated some dark chocolate over the smoothie, aggressively toppling the chocolate almond butter to one side and just stared at what I had made. The almond butter just sat there like a pile of mud, and also as a reminder of my failure.

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Banana crème smoothie with large mud puddle.

Verdict
I would like nothing better than to say I hated this smoothie, but to add insult to injury, this smoothie tasted really good.
The smoothie itself had a subtle creaminess, thanks to using the Almond Breeze Barista Blend. Also, incorporating ground flaxseeds gave this smoothie a somewhat nutty flavour, irrespective of using almond butter. And finally, my nemesis, THE ALMOND BUTTER, actually did make this smoothie taste rather delicious, even though admitting this leaves a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth.

So, would I make this again? Yes.
My inability to achieve a peanut butter drizzle did, in no way, deter me from actually enjoying this smoothie. After much deliberation, I think I would have had better results with my drizzle had I used smooth nut butter instead of the chunky variety, but you live and learn.

In any case, I really hope that you give this one a try. And, if you have mastered the art of drizzling peanut butter, I do not wish to know (honestly, how did you do it?!).

This smoothie is:
•  Dairy-free
•  Gluten-free
•  Vegan (If you use almond butter without honey in it)
•  Eggless
•  Soy-free (If you use almond, rice, hemp or coconut milk)

Preparation time: 15 minutes (But for me, it was longer)
Total time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients: 

Banana Crème Smoothie
•   
¼ cup of Cape gooseberries
•   1 banana
•   3 tbsp gluten-free oats
•   1 tbsp chia seeds
•   1 tbsp maca powder
•   1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
•   ¼ tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
•   1 cup of Almond Breeze Barista Blend

Chocolate Almond Butter Puddle
•   
1 tbsp nut butter
•   1 tbsp vegan dark chocolate

Instructions:
1.  Combine all the smoothie ingredients together and blend until smooth.
2.  Taste and adjust accordingly.
3.  For the chocolate almond butter puddle, melt all ingredients in the microwave on a high power level setting for roughly 30-40 seconds. Ensure that you keep a watchful eye over this, as you do not want it to overheat
4.  Serve and enjoy.
5.  Clean up the whirlwind of a mess you left behind.

Getting my nails done for the first time…

So over the weekend, I had my nails professionally done for the first time ever (because I have been living under a rock for most of my life) and I just wanted to share my overall experience with you all.

There has never been a real need for me to have a manicure before. Being a full-time student who has worked in a lab for many years, it just did not seem practical to have long nails that would prove difficult to maintain. Plus, I am old school – why waste money on something that could easily be done at home, right?
If you had mentioned to me anything regarding acrylic nails or gel for that matter, I would probably have stared blankly at you for some time because I did not know the first thing about having my nails done at a salon. My limited nail knowledge only extended as far as buying a pretty nail polish colour from a store, painting my nails at home and trying in vain not to smudge them but smudging them anyway. A vicious circle! And not to mention that the nails of my dominant hand would always look better than my other! So I just resigned to having shorter, no-fuss nails and it worked for me.

So, I decided to finally take the plunge and have them done after seeing the beautiful Kayleigh Ross post a picture of her nails on her Instagram account. On a side note, if it was possible for Ruby Rose and Evangeline Lilly to have a love child, I swear she would be the result <3. Anyway, she had had her nails done at a Tammy Taylor Nails salon in Broadacres, and so I made an appointment.

My Experience
Not being familiar with Broadacres, it took me a while to locate the nail salon within the shopping complex. For first time visitors, it should be noted that the nail salon is located upstairs and is next to a paint store that is in no way shy of having a massive display stand out in front, which only serves to impede the salon’s sign.
Once inside, I was greeted by a lovely receptionist and was taken to my manicurist, Nadia. After being seated, I was immediately offered a menu with a selection of drinks to choose from. The first drink is free, provided that you like their Facebook page, which is not actually asking for much really.

For my first time, I chose not to be adventurous. I went for a sculptured set with a very basic, square shape. There were so many shades to choose from and selecting a nail colour proved quite challenging for me. I eventually settled on the shade “Fresh Pink”, which was most complimentary on my skin tone, though I also liked the shades: Love Potion, Buffed Pink and Cashmere.

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Sculptured set done by Nadia using Fresh Pink

My Manicurist
Nadia, my manicurist was very warm and friendly; and I thoroughly enjoyed her company. She was very knowledgeable and patiently answered all my questions – from the longevity of the sculptured nails to their durability to what I would need to have done on my next visit. It was quite a learning experience. Plus, she was such a perfectionist with her work, ensuring that I received exactly what I had asked for.

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Nadia, a manicurist at Tammy Taylor Nails salon in the Broadacres.

The Décor
I am not one for décor but honestly, this place looked incredible. At first glance, you can see that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the overall look and feel of the place. The theme is very modern and clean, with rose gold finishes, which I loved. And who doesn’t love rose gold? There is also an outside patio area, if you wish to sit outside, or if you, like me, have someone accompanying you, then they can wait outside also, away from the solvent fumes, which is actually minimal at best.

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The Tammy Taylor Nails salon at the Broadacres branch.

Make-up Designory
One thing that I could not help but notice while getting my nails done was a lovely display stand with a make-up brand that I had not heard of before, i.e. Make-up Designory (MUD). Shocking, I know! And after making some inquiries, I was told that MUD is a high end, make-up brand from the US that is also cruelty-free. What’s more, the Broadacres branch would be stocking more MUD products in the near future. So this is quite exciting because I always love discovering new brands and hopefully I can get my hands on some of these products to play around with.

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Make-up Designory Cosmetics display stand

The Owner
The owner, Gia Costa, I can only describe as a breath of fresh air. She has that sort of bubbly; almost infectious personality that makes you like her on the spot. Not only did she go out of her way to make me feel welcome, but she was very engaging, a quality which I really liked.
Far too often, we, as customers, experience poor service and downright rude behaviour, to the point where it becomes a norm. I cannot count the number of times I have been treated in an impolite and dismissive manner by some individuals, whom “specialize” in customer care and service delivery. And so, encountering such excellent service at this nail salon was quite a welcoming experience.

The Price
For the sculpture acrylic manicure, I paid a total of R360.00, instead of the full price of R600.00 because of their 40%-off special. This special is specific only to the Broadacres branch and is valid until the end of July.

Overall thoughts
Would I get a manicure again? Absolutely! I cannot vouch for the other Tammy Taylor Nails salons, but my visit to the Broadacres branch was a great experience. I also liked that they are cruelty free, which is a huge plus for me. As a first-time experience of having my nails done, I could not have asked for more. I honestly cannot wait to have my nails done again at this nail salon!

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Sculptured set done by Nadia using Fresh Pink

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts. It is much appreciated. For more information on the Tammy Taylor Nails in Broadacres, check out their Facebook page or their Instagram account.

Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are that of my own.

Winter Flu-fighter Smoothie

This smoothie is:
• Dairy-free
• Gluten-free
• Vegan (If you substitute honey for maple syrup)
• Eggless
• Soy-free (If you use almond, rice, hemp or coconut milk)
• Nut-free (If you use soy, rice, hemp or coconut milk)

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Since being back home, I have been feeling a bit under the weather and I think I may be coming down with the flu. This is somewhat annoying as I have not had the flu in over two years, so there goes my track record. At least, I have brought something back with me from my recent trip to Cape Town…

One trick that I have learnt over the years is that when I start to feel the onset of flu symptoms, it is best that I nip it at the bud immediately. Even more so when I start to feel that distinctive tickle at the back my throat, which is usually indicative of Strep throat, this is when I know I need to use salt water. I learnt about this method years ago while I was in high school and it is rather straightforward – simply gargle with salt water two to three times a day. For the most part, this helps to alleviate a sore throat, by creating an unfavourable environment for the Streptococci bacteria. But this trick alone is insufficient to combat these nasty buggers.

I am sure many of us are familiar with a number of home remedies for combating the common cold or flu, for that matter.
I remember one such remedy that my mother used quite often, and that was Ginger milk. She would make this by simply heating both milk and raw ginger together over a stovetop. Not only did this taste amazing, but it really helped with soothing my throat.

And so, this got me thinking… what if I combined all the flu remedies that I am familiar with into a single smoothie? And so, this flu-flighter concoction was derived.

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I combined a mixture of ginger root, cinnamon, honey and turmeric powder – all of which are known for their antibacterial properties. I also added oranges and Cape gooseberries for my boost of vitamin C, along with my staple smoothie ingredients, i.e. Maca powder, gluten-free oats, chia seeds and almond milk (can be substituted for any milk substitute).

This smoothie tasted quite interesting, but not in a bad way. The addition of the ginger and cinnamon made it spicy, whilst the orange juice added notes of citrus, which balanced everything nicely.
My one regret of this recipe were the raisins. While they did add some sweetness to the smoothie, my blender did not do a good job in blending them sufficiently.

Overall, I would really recommend that you give this a try, especially if you are feeling a bit under the weather or if you are recovering from the flu.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
• ¼ cup of Cape gooseberries
• ¼ cup of raisins (optional)
• 1 banana
• 1 orange (juiced)
• 1 tbsp of honey
• 3 tbsp gluten-free oats
• 1 tbsp chia seeds
• 1 tbsp maca powder
• ½ tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp cinnamon powder
• ~200 ml almond milk (according to your preference on consistency)

Instructions:
1. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
2. Taste and adjust, if needed.
3. Serve and enjoy.
4. Clean up the disaster that you left behind in the kitchen.