Disney’s Twelve Days Of Sockmas: Let’s Open ‘Em Up

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

WE’ HAVE A 2319!!!!!!!

We have a 2319

Twelve of them, actually.

Okay, so, one of the items I picked up at Cast Connection was a sort of sock advent calendar, which offered twelve pairs of socks behind little cardboard doors. I figured it’d be fun to open a door each day after I got home from my trip.

Normally advent calendars have 24 doors for December 1 – 24, so I suppose you’d start this one on December 12? I guess nobody needs 24 pairs of socks, even if they are half crew socks and half low cut.

The box doesn’t make any promises, but based on the illustrations we might be led to believe the following socks live behind those doors:

  1. Big Thunder Mountain
  2. Space Mountain
  3. Fantasmic
  4. Dumbo
  5. Star Wars TIE Fighters
  6. Mickey with Dole Whip
  7. Pirates of the Caribbean
  8. DAK’s Tree of Life
  9. Splash Mountain
  10. Minnie with Cotton Candy
  11. The Haunted Mansion
  12. Goofy as a detective or something…?

The perforations on the doors weren’t very good; initially I scored over them with scissors, but wound up just pulling them from whatever hole was closest. There was also some shifting, both before I opened the box and as other socks were removed. In fact, I wound up opening 12 on the second day because I could already see it when I opened 1 and didn’t want to end on a spoiler. After that I just made sure to squint as I opened each door, just in case I needed to shove somebody back in their proper spot.

Twelve Days of Socks

All right, so, we know what was advertised. What did I actually get?

Twelve Days of SocksTwelve Days of Socks

Twelve Days of SocksTwelve Days of Socks

Twelve Days of SocksTwelve Days of Socks

Twelve Days of SocksTwelve Days of Socks

Twelve Days of SocksTwelve Days of Socks
Twelve Days of SocksTwelve Days of Socks

In numbered door order (click for an enlarged view):

  1. Sleeping Beauty Castle (low cut)
  2. Cinderella Castle (low cut)
  3. TIE Fighters (low cut)
  4. Space Mountain (low cut)
  5. Goofy in Epcot (crew cut)
  6. Mickey & Minnie at the Mad Tea Party (low cut)
  7. Generic Pirate Imagery (crew cut)
  8. Chip & Dale with the Tree of Life (crew cut)
  9. Mickey’s Fun Wheel (crew cut)
  10. Mickey & Minnie Heads (crew cut) (these match the Dole Whip/Cotton Candy graphics)
  11. The Haunted Mansion (crew cut)
  12. it’s a small world (low cut)

Honestly the way the socks fit in with the packaging seems almost randomized. Some of them were exactly behind the door you would expect them to be. Some were pictured on the box but didn’t show up behind the corresponding door. Some designs weren’t on the box at all, and a handful (most disappointingly Splash Mountain) were on the box but there were no matching socks. I almost wonder if each box had a different assortment?

All the same, it was awesome to wind up with so many socks based on attractions, and bicoastal ones at that. While I’m a low cut sock girl in normal life, I find myself wishing they were all crew socks – many of these deserve to be seen!

The box claims the socks fit adult feet size four to ten, but it doesn’t specify gender. I wear a size 7 to 7.5 street shoe, or an 8 to 8.5 running shoe. Both sock types fit me well enough, erring on the side of a skosh too big with minimal fabric stretch required. Since there’s plenty of spandex I think larger feet would be accommodated very easily, but if your feet are more than a half size smaller than mine these might be too big for you.

Ultimately I thought the sock advent calendar was a fun souvenir, a decent value at the $35 full price and a steal at the $14.99 outlet price I bought it for. The socks are fun and a great way to inject a little Disney into an otherwise humdrum day. Some of the crew socks are even detailed enough to build an entire park outfit around – which I will definitely be doing in a subsequent blog post!

I also loved having a cheerful WDW moment every day for those not-quite-two-weeks post-trip. Even if Disney isn’t accommodating your calendar-packaged gift needs when you’re there, I think it would be fun to pick up some mystery souvenirs to open after you get back. If you’re there with a buddy, you could each pick up something(s) for each other, but in a pinch I bet a store Cast Member would get a kick out of selecting a surprise gift or two for you. Or some of those collectibles with blind packaging would work – anything to keep the Disney magic going a little longer, y’know?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Reviews Sights & Smells From The Haunted Mansion

I’ve never performed the lengthy soul-searching required to select my favorite Magic Kingdom attraction, but if I had to make a quick call based on gut feelings alone I would probably say the Haunted Mansion. Sure, it’s not the most thrilling experience in the park, but in terms of theme, aesthetics, and storytelling, I think you’d be hard pressed to top it.

So it should come as no surprise that much like the hitchhiking ghosts, some Haunted Mansion items have followed me home! And since they’re – shh – third party items readily procured via the internet, I thought I’d throw out some reviews on them. 

You may be assured of my candor; neither of the companies discussed gave me anything or even contacted me. Oh, and don’t mind Minxie; she refused to get off my blanket backdrop, and as a black cat is arguably thematically appropriate I decided to just incorporate her into my shoot.

Haunted candle

The first item is from the Magic Candle Company, a business that makes candles (and other stuff, like soap) formulated to smell exactly like theme park attractions without once mentioning the actual names of said attractions anywhere in the label or description. It’s like an off-brand Halloween costume catalogue over there. What do you think they mean by “Pirate Life?” “Rome Burning” must be for the intellectuals. And if a “Pineapple Whip” doesn’t mention Dole, does it violate copyright?

I kid, I kid – I would duck and cover from Disney’s litigators too if I were in their shoes. Anyway, the candle I have, as you might have guessed, is called “Haunted.” Is the purple color scheme and the sort of hat you might store in a hatbox an allusion to anything, would you say? Hmmm.

Haunted candle

All right, I’m done taking the piss from this poor company, because I gotta say that smell-wise, they nailed it. It’s described as cedar wood and vanilla (“beloved by all happy haunts”), and while I can’t say I’ve ever thought too hard about what the Haunted Mansion smells like, it must be like this. The fragrance somehow manages to be both musty and pleasant, evoking age and cobwebs but making you LIKE IT. Bonus: the paper wick is supposed to crackle when lit, which ought to add to the ambiance.

In short, the Magic Candle Company’s “Haunted” gets my stamp of approval. I huff this thing on the regular. I want more! 

Haunted Mansion laptop

Next up: I picked up a laptop sleeve off Etsy from The Cobbler’s Daughter, whose Haunted Mansion wallpaper pattern I couldn’t resist. I like how it manages to be both subtle and instantly recognizable if you’re a fan.

Haunted Mansion laptop sleeve

The sleeve itself is very basic – just fabric over some thin foam-like material, and then a fuzzy inside. It wouldn’t do a ton to protect a computer that’s been dropped, but it’ll work fine to prevent scratches and provide a layer of protection in side a bag or backpack. It doesn’t have any additional pockets or compartments, so if you’re looking for something with bells and whistles, this sleeve ain’t it. But as a basic with a nod to the fandom, I think it performs very well.

Haunted Mansion laptop sleeve

I also grabbed a Haunted Mansion pin from the same store, for no greater purpose than to make the free shipping minimum. It’s cute but not ultimately worth the cost, if you ask me. I wouldn’t discourage you from adding one to an existing order, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. 

Haunted Mansion pin

I always enjoy when I can insert little Disney parks touches into my everyday life. Let me know if you know any more good ones!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Finds A Cheaper KT Tape Alternative

The KT Tape adventures continue!

I’ve been a pretty loyal KT Tape user over the years. I found Rock Tape to be pretty much the same but harder to get, and the CVS off-brand version, while not unusable, didn’t have enough stretch. I’ve been sticking to KT Tape only for a couple years now.

And for the last year or so, I’ve needed to use rather a lot of it – I’ve been plagued by very minor injuries that KT Tape can absolutely handle, and even render runs pain-free. But it does mean going through rolls at an uncomfortably fast clip, and as you’ve no doubt noticed, that stuff ain’t cheap.

Sometimes, if you’re not picky about color, you can find rolls cheaper on Amazon. I was picking through my options the other day when I saw in the comparisons something called OK Tape, and despite the somewhat eyebrow-raising name, the reviews were pretty good. They offered regular and “pro” versions a la KT Tape, with the key difference being a roll of OK Tape Pro runs about $7(!). That’s less than half the usual cost of KT Tape Pro, so I figured, what the heck, let’s give it a try!

My new tape actually arrived two days earlier than the initial predicted delivery date, and first impressions were good – the box looked legit, and while the tape inside lacked KT Tape Pro’s plastic casing, it did have a protective wrapper.

OK Tape

OK Tape

One odd thing is that as far as I can tell, OK Tape Pro only comes in one continuous uncut roll. Luckily it has guide marks on the paper backing, and I compared those against a strip of KT Tape to determine what would be a comparable amount. Then I just rounded the corners with scissors and I was good to go.

OK Tape backing

The only thing left to do then was take it for a test run! Application felt no different than KT Tape, from the amount of stretch to the texture of the non-adhesive side. In fact, it almost felt a little more secure.

Unfortunately, during my first trial I accidentally pulled off too much backing while applying my last strip of tape and it rolled in on itself and stuck. Boo. I was able to smooth it down but I knew that would negatively affect the adhesive and render the experiment void. 

Curiously enough, despite this setback, the precise same amount of tape peeled at the same time KT Tape does during my 5K (see my previous KT Tape Extreme review). That boded well for at least being comparable, but I wanted to give it another shot.

Round two, before shot:

OK Tape

And after:

OK Tape

OK Tape

As you can see, it actually worked really well! I was surprised. The tape is starting to come up a little bit on one side, but under normal circumstances all but the bottom layer would’ve come off fully around the second mile of the run. Again, see my last tape review for reference. For a low-budget option, I’m impressed!

The funny thing is, OK Tape reminds me of Rock Tape. I tried Rock Tape at least five years ago, so it’s been awhile, but I remember the roll I got wasn’t precut and I even vaguely recall at the time the pattern was similar? I don’t know. But I can’t shake the feeling that this is almost like those cases where it turns out the brand name and the generic version are made in the same factory…

Whatever the case, for the price, OK Tape performs very well! It’s not a total game-changer but I think it’s a great dupe, maybe even for KT Tape Extreme over Pro. I might keep a roll or two of KT Tape around just in case, but when I can get two rolls of OK Tape for the price of one KT for similar performance I think the choice going forward will be clear.

Of course, there’s always the question of product consistency over time, so I’ll update you if I feel like OK Tape’s quality diminishes, but in the meantime, you can’t beat $7!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Gets A New GPS Watch Band

A month or two ago I noticed that my GPS watch band was starting to crack. Now, I’m an adult, so I did the adult thing: I slapped some masking tape over the affected area and carried on with my life. Problem solved!

Unfortunately, a few weeks later, the band legit just fell right off my wrist, so a new plan was needed. Now, this watch is almost four years old and has a mysterious crack in the face, but otherwise works great and has plenty of battery life. I didn’t think it was time for a new watch just yet, so I set about fixing it.

First I needed a stopgap measure. Enter: an old shoelace! Why did I have this shoelace? Um… I think it was for a pair of running shoes that came with multiple laces? Or something? I don’t know. But I found it in my box o’ extraneous running stuff. I cut off some of the broken brand, wove the shoelace through the holes in the remainder, and bam – I had a fashion masterpiece.

Shoelace watch band

Shoelace watch band

Kinda cute, no? But I had to admit it wasn’t a permanent solution, what with the shoelace’s proclivity for soaking up liquids (sweat, rain), the difficulty of getting the watch face portion to stay on the right bit of my wrist when running, and the minor annoyance of untying and retying it every time I showered.

Amazon to the rescue – Amazon has tons of replacement Garmin watch bands under $10, in standard colors and also cute prints. I went with this one, which offers lots of colors and patterns, but there are plenty of additional options to explore if you’re so inclined.

Garmin watch band kit

My new watch band arrived without any installation instructions, but it was a fairly simple process. The only problem I ran into was unscrewing the screws on the current band. Turns out, the reason the kit comes with two mini-screwdrivers is so that you can jam one into the opposite side to prevent both from rotating together in perpetuity and never loosening. Once I got that bit from the video below, the rest was intuitive.

Anyway, dig my new watch band!

Garmin watch band

Garmin watch band

The only remnant of its original purple splendor is in the start button, but I’m quite into the tie-dye. File this mission in the success pile.

P.S. Suggestion: I saved the hardware from the original band. I just popped it back into the bag with the screwdrivers and put it in my aforementioned box o’ extraneous running stuff. You never know when something might loosen and go missing!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Reviews The Under Armour Sportsmask

The first step in reviewing any product is to remember to bring it with you for its intended activity. I was out of the building and halfway to the gate before I realized I had forgotten to don my new Under Armour athletic face mask for my morning run. Therefore this review comes at the expense of approximately 6 minutes’ lost time. Please read it!

(Also, for the record, I bought it with my own money in anticipation of potentially needing it for a race. Despite my average running performance, unpopular blog, and minuscule Instagram following, UA mysteriously has yet to offer me a sponsorship.)

Don’t forget to cut the tag out before you use it.

The Under Armour Sportsmask
will set you back $30, which is a bit steep for a mask, but in exchange it promises enhanced comfort and breathability using high-quality, antimicrobial materials. It’s also allegedly water-resistant. It’s recommended that you hand-wash it but machine-washing is supposedly okay too.

This is my good eyebrow side.

First impressions: it was indeed a comfortable material, and seemed to fit reasonably well. There’s a wire bit at the top so you can mold it across your nose. I liked that there was enough space at the middle and bottom that I didn’t feel like I was playing Suck and Blow with the fabric. (Is that a real thing or did Clueless just make it up?) 

I did not, however, feel cool – my hot breath was definitely winning that game.

This is my bad eyebrow side.

Then I took it for a quick 5k. Let’s compare my experience against the selling points one by one:

  • “Made with high-performance UA materials, designed to be worn all day & when playing sports” – It was comfortable enough. I was able to zone out and forget I was wearing it now and again. I did occasionally feel like it was sliding off my nose but every time I reached to check it was still fine. I have a S/M and I don’t think this was a function of needing a smaller size.
  • “Structured design sits up off the face & lips for added comfort & breathability” – As the run progressed and my breathing got a little more labored, I found that the fabric did hit my lips during some inhales, but it wasn’t too bad. 
  • “Water-resistant outer shell features smooth, breathable spacer fabric” – It didn’t rain during my run so I’m not sure how that would work out. I definitely sweat, though, and the mask retained its shape.
  • “Anti-microbial treatment on the inside layer to help keep mask fresh” – I noticed no funky smells. It’ll definitely need a wash every time, though.
  • “Polyurethane open-cell foam lets air through but makes it hard for moisture & sweat to pass” – I never felt like I was struggling for air, nor did any sweat drip out of the bottom of the mask.
  • “UA Iso-Chill fabric on interior lining & ear loops feels cool to the touch for as long as you wear it” – I guess. Look, I’m running in Puerto Rico in September, so we’ve already set the dial to 11 in terms of heat and humidity. The fabric never felt super hot, but it didn’t feel expressly cool either, even when I first put it on. And I definitely sweat underneath of it. 
  • “Fabric is soft & smooth for next to face comfort & moves moisture from your mouth to the insert layer” – The fabric next to my mouth never felt soggy, so that seems to work, yeah.
  • “Built-in UPF 50+ sun protection” – I can’t wait to add weird facial tan lines to my weird runner’s tan!

Obviously the ideal mask situation while running is no mask at all in a world where there’s no pandemic. But as long as we have to wear one to keep everyone safe and race (fingers crossed it actually happens), I think the UA mask is perfectly serviceable. I wasn’t blown away, but I don’t dread potentially running 13 miles in it. 

Pro tip: if you want to potentially take it off to drink water or wipe away sweat for brief periods during your run, make sure you put your headphones on BEFORE the mask. Otherwise you’re taking both off every time and it’s annoying.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Tries Out Those New Mickey Mouse Sheet Masks

Target’s always had a smattering of Disney items available, but the launch that dropped a couple week ago is big – just check out all this loot:

Mugs! Cosmetic bags! Makeup! Skincare! Hand creams and bubble bath and, yeah, some t-shirts and stuff too, but the latter is pretty average, if you ask me. Standard Mickey Mouse prints.

I was immediately drawn to the skincare and makeup, with this romantic notion: how adorably apropos would it be to come back to your WDW resort hotel after a long day in the parks, slap on a Mickey sheet mask, and chill?

With that happy vision dancing before me, I snapped up one of each of the offered masks at $3 a pop (which is to say I purchased these myself for review). Should you do the same? LET’S FIND OUT.

The sheet masks are manufactured in Korea, where skincare is king, so that’s a good sign. The options are hydrating with hyaluronic acid, calming with green tea, and detoxifying with charcoal. Each mask can be left on for 20-30 minutes, with strict instructions to not go over that time.

Let’s start with the most disappointing item: these masks do not make you look like Mickey Mouse. No hilariously weird, Insta-worthy prints here. Just a standard sheet mask. Not gonna lie; I was a little disappointed.

I started with the green tea mask, which I left on for just shy of 30 minutes. The mask comes straight out of the package folded up. There are multiple notches on the edges for a more custom fit. (Theoretically; I’m not great at it.)

Once on, the mask offers a very standard experience, with no tingling or irritation. Upon removal, I noticed no particular redness. My face had the slick sheen of moisture on it, but I don’t know if my skin was particularly calmed. My Cheek Zit(tm) wasn’t noticeably less red – but then I guess it wasn’t any worse either. Overall an underwhelming but perfectly serviceable experience.

What up, last week’s cheek zit? #fbf

A couple days later I took a shot at the charcoal mask. I will not be featuring a picture of this because the mask is black, and, well, it’s darned hard to take a picture of without looking like you’re trying to channel an unflattering caricature, ya feel me? It looked exactly the same as the green tea one, only black.

And this one I did NOT like. It wasn’t as saturated as the green tea version, and edges kept peeling off, especially around my forehead. I ripped it off as soon as the 20 minute mark hit because constantly smoothing it back was driving me nuts. The ultimate result was no different than with the green tea mask, only less moisturizing. Do not recommend.

I haven’t tried the hyaluronic acid version but I’d imagine the experience is extremely similar to that of the green tea. If, when I use it, I find I have strong opinions after all, I’ll definitely keep you updated!

Ultimately I still think it’s fun to have a few of the green tea masks on hand for Disney trips. But if you already have a go-to mask and aren’t charmed by the Mickey packaging, you can probably skip these. Either way, find ’em here.

Come back next week for a review of one of the Mickey eyeshadow palettes! (I did say it was the FAIREST Run of All.)

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Reviews Cruelty-Free Products

I alluded to this in my last round of random product reviews, but to make it official: a couple years ago I went strictly cruelty-free when it comes to makeup. Medical testing, in my opinion, is a separate ethical debate, but I see absolutely no reason why we should make animals suffer purely for the purposes making select portions of my face a different color. I just don’t need it.

Mind you, I do sometimes want it, and luckily there are plenty of cruelty-free companies out there who can help me out. My personal code is that if a company is cruelty-free but its parent company isn’t, I will still consider it cruelty-free since I’m still voting with my dollar. I’m also not as concerned with veganism in my products, just that no one is mean to them during any part of the process. Your own standards may be more strict or more lax than mine. It’s up to you!

If you are interested in making some part of your cosmetics consumption cruelty-free, here’s an important thing to know: companies can be pretty tricky about it. Even if the company itself never tests its products on animals, that can be rendered moot in two ways: they can get components of their products from companies that aren’t cruelty-free, or they can sell in China.

That’s right, ANY cosmetics brand that sells in China is NOT cruelty-free. China has a post-market animal testing policy, wherein any product on a shelf in a store in China can be pulled and tested on animals. Yes, even though it’s already been approved for sale. No, I don’t get it either.

There are a couple loopholes as I understand it – I think maybe airports don’t have the same requirements? – but generally speaking, if a brand sells in China it’s not cruelty-free and that’s all.

Why am I telling you all this? Because cruelty-free beauty is the theme of this round of random product reviews! Every one of the below items is kind to animals and it makes me happy. So let’s start off with

Maple Holistics Argan Oil Shampoo. DISCLAIMER! I received a bottle of this shampoo for free, but with no obligation to give a good review. I can assure you I strive to be fair and balanced when I review anything, regardless of how I got it.

Now, on to the argan oil shampoo! Despite being sulfate-free, this shampoo lathers easily, with a pleasantly robust texture and no scent worth noticing. It made my hair soft soft sooooft – I’d consider a great dupe of the classic Morrocanoil shampoo, only Moroccanoil isn’t cruelty-free so eff ’em.

Here’s the thing, though: my hair is fine, and by consequence already pretty soft. Softening it further kinda sucks the life out of it, and certainly deflates my naturally wavy texture. If you have something similar going on, I’d recommend the tea tree oil shampoo instead (I like how it gets rid of scalp buildup that can weigh down hair). If you have a coarser texture that could use some softening up, or if you like to add your volume products post-shower, go for it.

Not sure? No worries! Maple Holistics offers an impressive sampling program that’ll let you try just about anything as far as I can tell. Have at it.

**All other products listed below were NOT sponsored or gifted in any capacity and I have no relationship with any of their parent companies. I bought this stuff of my own accord, kids.**

Not Your Mother’s Dry Shampoo. Hooray! A cheap, easily accessible cruelty-free dry shampoo! NYM’s version comes both unscented and in a “warm sugar” smell that makes me think of vanilla with a hint of chalk. You need a pretty thorough spray down to get the full effect and your hair is gonna have a white cast to start. Don’t panic! By the time you brush it all through it’ll be invisible. Trust me; I dye my hair as close to black as brown can reasonably get and I’ve had no troubles after a good brush-out.

Sheet masks. Who doesn’t love a good sheet mask? They’re extra great for when you’re traveling solo and want to schedule a brief relaxation period. I believe these originated in Korea, and many would argue that the Koreans have perfected the genre. Thing is, a LOT of Korean brands sell in China. One that doesn’t? Creme Shop! I recently found this brand in CVS, tried their egg white sheet mask, and loved it. I need to try more!

More readily accessible: the Miss Spa face masks I see at Target seem to be cruelty-free. I wasn’t impressed with the bee venom one but the hydrate version is always good. A little research suggests the whimsical Animalz face masks are cruelty-free too, but I haven’t tried any yet. Maybe for next time?

Foundation with SPF. I’ve been playing around with some drugstore SPF foundation options, because I find them extremely useful when touring Walt Disney World (or any outdoor activity, for that matter). No one wants their vacation ruined by a painfully sunburnt face!

This has been a somewhat more challenging adventure, as a lot of the BB creams with SPF I’ve used in the pass are owned by companies that test on animals. (Looking at you, Maybelline Dream BB Cream. D:)

I found the e.l.f. BB cream with SPF 15 to be entirely too dark for my complexion, and Sonia Kashuk’s version felt too thick. I briefly landed upon a Physician’s Formula cushion compact with SPF 50 (!!!!), and while I like it for its high protection powers it’s so sheer it’s barely worth wearing. Also, it seems to be on clearance everywhere so we may never be able to buy it again.

Right now what’s working for me is e.l.f.’s Beautifully Bare Foundation Serum with SPF 25. The fair shade works on my skin, and although it’s sheer it’s also buildable up to a low-medium coverage as needed. I love how it sinks into my skin weightlessly and makes my skin soft with vitamin E and goji berry among other things. It’s a little price-y for e.l.f. but at $8 it’s still not an investment.

All that being said – I’m open to more SPF foundation suggestions? Cheap, cruelty-free suggestions, naturally. I see Wet ‘n Wild has a cushion compact with SPF too…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if Ruffian becomes aware of
anything ever she will assume it’s for her.

As always, if you’d like me to expand any of these reviews or product topics into a full post, let me know! I’m thinking I might do cheap running gear next…

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has Lots Of Opinions

I have two modes: I don’t know you that well so I’m not gonna talk much and HERE ARE MY OPINIONS ABOUT EVERYTHING. Since you’re reading this, my blog, presumably of your own free will and with at least a passing interest in my inner workings, allow me to present: a bunch of opinions.

A couple notes. First, the below items are included because I feel that a mini-review might be of some assistance to like-minded folk. I am not going into any great depth, but if you’d like a more exhaustive report, leave a comment and I’ll either expand the topic into a full blog post or respond with additional information.

Second, no one is paying me to mention any of these products. All opinions are 100% my own. I only got one thing free, so for simplicity’s sake let’s start with

HAIR CAREMaple Holistics Tea Tree Shampoo. LEGALESE!!! I was sent a bottle free to try, but with no pressure to give a good review.

Maple Holistics Tea Tree Shampoo is a natural, sulfate-free, cruelty-free formulation. These are all good things! Natural for avoiding weird chemicals, sulfate-free for not stripping your hair of good oils, and cruelty-free for being nice to animals.

Here I am pretending Oswald threw it to me.
Thanks, Oz!

I detected little to no smell, and it didn’t really cause any tingling or similar when used.

This shampoo promises to improve scalp clarity and banish blemishes. I don’t suffer from a ton of scalp issues myself, but I was coincidentally suffering from a few small – zits? Ingrown hairs? Something like that – on the side of my neck next to my hairline. After a few uses those bumps disappeared! Nice! I seem to have less dead skin on my scalp, too.

As for what it did to my hair – it successfully kept it clean. My hair is very difficult – fine but long and wavy – and I didn’t notice anything extraordinary about its condition while using the tea tree shampoo. But it didn’t get worse either, so, score.

I would recommend this shampoo to anyone suffering from scalp problems or hairline acne. The great news is you can try it yourself risk-free, because Maple Organics offers a sample program. As far as I can tell you can try just about anything that tickles your fancy. Check it out!

Now, with that out of the way, I am in no way affiliated with any of the below:

Differin. The only physical change I have noticed so far in my 30s is a fresh new fight with acne. Rock on. After going through the usual frenzy of trying and rejecting anti-acne products, I tried the flavor of the month: Differin. And, as the ads promise, it pretty much worked. But the claim that you may see improvement in 2 weeks? HA. It took three months to get through the purge period, with my skin throwing up flare after flare. If you suffer from moderate adult acne and no regular solution has worked, you should still try it – but be prepared.

Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil. My savior in this trying Differin times, this soothing cleansing oil improved texture and dryness enormously. I’ve tried some other brands but this is my favorite.

Vaseline. Top notch eye cream. Look, just try it, okay?

My parks makeup philosophy. I’ve kinda already covered it here, but I personally find I’m much more likely to enjoy looking at my park photos if I’m wearing makeup. Vanity, thy name is me, but there it is. I’m constantly curating a park makeup strategy that’s cheap and long-wearing, with the added stipulation that everything should be cruelty-free. We can debate the merits of medical testing on animals some other time, but I don’t see any argument for why a bunny should suffer so that I might enjoy the privilege of changing the colors on my face.

Anyway, here are some recommended products:

Milani Prime Shield. Matte primer with a nice texture. Nyx Shine Killer is good too but I like the slip on this one just a touch more.

ELF Gel Eyeliner Pot. Surprisingly long-wearing! Don’t forget primer.

Wet ‘n Wild Balm Stain. These lip crayons have staying power, but when they do fade, they do so very naturally. No pressure to reapply until you’re ready.

Quest Bars. These are not the holy grail many claim from a taste perspective. But from a ratio of calories to protein perspective, they’re pretty great. I detect a hint of fake sugar in every flavor, but not as bad as some protein bars I’ve tried. The S’mores flavor is probably my favorite.

Halo Top Ice Cream. As Ted Danson so wisely says on The Good Place

And that, I think, is a perfect descriptor for Halo Top. It’s no Ben & Jerry’s but if you’re looking to eat a pint of ice cream at once without feeling terrible afterward it’s surprisingly tasty and satisfying. I recommend Mint Chip, Oatmeal Cookie, S’mores, and Pumpkin Pie (while you can get it).

PB2. You’re never gonna mistake it for real peanut butter, but it’ll successfully scratch your PB itch without risking eating half a jar at once. Also a good mix-in for smoothies.

Sparkling water. I have always been obsessed with seltzer water, so believe me when I tell you that Target’s Simply Balanced cans are the BEST. They have awesome flavors like cucumber mint and tropical cherry and the price is good. Dasani is also enjoyable, but Aquafina gets a pass; it’s not bubbly enough.

Running fuel. They may laugh, but I swear by Watermelon Sour Patch Kids. Get ’em in one of those single-serve theater boxes. I like to eat them both before and during a race. Simple sugars and carbs and easy on the digestive system. And much cheaper than the fancy stuff that never did much for me anyway!

Kinesio Tape. People rave about Rock Tape but I didn’t find it to be anything special. Plain ol’ KT Tape has been fine for me for years. BUT. When on a KT Tape run at CVS the other day I discovered CVS makes their own knockoff kinesio tape for like half the price. I’ve been trying it out and so far it seems to work fine!

Running clothes. C9 by Champion has always been fine for me, but I’ve been really into Under Armour lately. Down for recommendations!

Hit me with your opinions in the comments!

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Reviews Another Influenster Vox Box

Hey, remember that time I got an Influenster Vox Box? I guess they value truthiness after all – I got another for review.

More unbridled honesty ahead!

Orgain Organic Protein Powder in Vanilla Bean
Despite the surprising popularity of this tropical smoothie recipe post, I haven’t been smoothie-ing it up much lately. For a long time smoothies were a backbone of my diet, but I’ve been concentrating on eating more varied meals. That being said, I broke out a peanut butter-banana smoothie recipe courtesy of the interwebs, replaced the recommended Greek yogurt with Orgain protein powder, and slurped away. Verdict: not bad. Not nearly as cloyingly sweet as some other vanilla protein powders I’ve tried. Still a little too sweet, though. I’d be inclined to go for the Greek yogurt instead. But if you like your proteins powdered and are looking for something organic, this could easily work for you.

Ecos Laundry Detergent
This is laundry detergent. It worked very well as laundry detergent. It did not, however, distinguish itself for me personally as the laundry detergent to end all other laundry detergents. It’s green, whiuch is good. Otherwise, by all means, grab it if it’s on sale, but it’s a solid whatevs.

Hair Food Moisture Collection
First off, this product is produced by Clairol, which tests on animals. I’m trying to move away from giving companies that do animal testing my money. I did try it, though, since a) it was free so Clairol did not in fact get said money and b) if it’s awesome, those without such hangups (after all, it’s a personal choice) might want to hear a review. Well, I was only sent one wash’s worth of product, and the conditioner portion could barely cover my looooong hair. It was okay, but nothing that makes me sad I can’t purchase it in full. A larger sample might’ve produced a different result, but what can ya do. I’d stick with Soapbox Soaps if I were you (50% off this week in Target’s Cartwheel app!).

Eatsmart Three Bean Tortilla Chips
I enjoyed these very much. These chips have 14 grams of whole grains per serving and have a pleasantly spicy kick. My only critique is that they could use more salt, but then me and sodium are perhaps a bit too fond of each other. Would buy again if I saw them in the store and had tortilla chips on my list.

Curate Dark and Tempting Snack Bar
The Dark and Tempting flavor was composed primarily of dried fruit, yet miraculously did not cause me any intestinal distress. Score! Tasty, but didn’t keep me full overlong. I wouldn’t go out of my way for it but I’d definitely eat one if I needed a snack and it was lying around.

Vichy LiftActiv Serum 10 Supreme &
Vichy LiftActiv Supreme Face Moisturizer
Okay, so, here’s the thing: I’m not a good tester for anti-aging products. At the ripe old age of 30 I sport nary a forehead line. People regularly guess my age to be as much as a decade less than it is. Now, before you accuse me of bragging, please note: I’m 99% sure this is the combined product of my distressingly oily T-zone and a complete lack of cheekbones. Nothing in life comes free.

Anyway, I tried both products. I only received one packet of the serum and it was perhaps a bit slick for my oily skin but otherwise it was fine, I guess? How exactly are serums supposed to make you feel? As for the moisturizer, I received a small pot and have been using it with regularity. I like it. It’s not too thick and makes my skin feels soft enough. I haven’t broken out to any unusual degree, and I don’t look any older than I did when I started, so victory…? They’re both pretty expensive, though, so I doubt I’d repurchase either unless it was deeply discounted. YMMV.

Also: Casablanca and French Nazis.

Have you tried any of these products? Do you have a sword of truthiness?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Reviews A Cheap Sports Bra

Influenster recently sent me a 40% discount code off a C9 by Champion sports bra from Target. I was kinda on the fence about the whole thing – 40% off is good, but I have a fair array of sports bras already – until my Target run on Tuesday. Sports bras were on sale! I can’t resist stacked discounts, so I picked one up for review.

The discount code covered two lines of C9 bras: power core and power shape. The main difference seems to be in the cups; namely, are they molded (shape) or no? Some are racer backs, some not. All models I saw have adjustable straps.

I have in-between boobs; that is to say, not so small that I can throw on a tank top and wander about braless (you guys are lucky!), but then again not so big that I naturally get a ton of cleavage with little to no effort (you guys are lucky!). I liked the look of the molded bras, but most of them seemed to have back clasps, which I am less a fan of in sports bras – I hate standing around grappling for hooks with my arms twisted behind my back when I have a workout to get to, geez.

I was also having trouble finding my size, as some are sized like standard bras (ie, 34C) and some are S, M, L. I eventually picked out a medium support power core bra in size medium.

My selection.

Cute, right? Putting it on initially, I was struck by how much more support it offered than I expected. I got a little bit of boob-squish, but not to the extent that high support bras tend to provide. The boobs are definitely strapped down but not suffocated. Otherwise, while just hanging around, it’s pretty comfortable.

The real test is of course in the run. I have some sports bras that require a bit of lubrication if I’m going for a long run, under the band and sometimes on the upper boobs. To find out if this one has any hot spots, I went Vaseline-free for the inaugural run (you’re welcome). Chafe report: nada. Nary a mark on me. Now, I was running on a beautiful morning – low 60s, light breeze – so sweat wasn’t much of a factor; I’d need to try again on a hardcore sweaty day to get a sense of how chafe-y it gets then. But for starters: not bad!

In short, for my medium boobs, medium support was just fine. It’s not super flattering for small-to-medium boobs in that it squishes you down and flattens you out, but then again, it IS a sports bra. It keeps the bounce out. If you want something with a bit more shape, I’d suggest trying a model with molded cups (or this VSX bra, which I have and like). Otherwise this is a perfectly serviceable sports bra at a pretty great price.

Standard cost for the various models seems to run between $16.99 and $22.99, Target is running a bunch of sales both in store and online right now! I got mine in store for $10 ($6 after my discount code) and saw others marked at $15, so if you’re interested in a new sports bra now’s the time to jump on it.

Have you used C9 sports bras? How do you like ’em?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!