Clarisonic Mia Product Review

Woman Traveling

By Kumiko Matter

Woman TravelingI’ll be totally honest: I have problem skin and have been put on all of the strongest medications that the dermatologists can give out. I can normally keep my bad skin under control, but after a few months of living abroad, the stress from learning a new language and living a totally different lifestyle started showing on my skin. Skin products in Germany aren’t as strongly medicated as they are in America, so they didn’t work on my skin as I had hoped. I became apprehensive about going out and making new friends because of how my skin looked.

This is where I wish I had a Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System with me. I’ve been trying out the Clarisonic Mia for about four months now and I’m fairly content with the results. It is an electronic cleansing system that uses a high frequency vibration to exfoliate and cleanse away impurities more thoroughly than using a washcloth or other exfoliating product. I normally use it once a day when I wake up, but lately I’ve been using it in the evening as well. The first time I used the Mia, I couldn’t help but feel my skin afterwards because it felt incredibly soft! It exfoliates better than most exfoliating products that I’ve tried, but didn’t irritate my skin. I also noticed that it does a good job at deep cleaning and minimizing the pores, which helped reduce the overall oil production.

Before I started using the Mia, I asked some of my other Clarisonic-using friends about their opinions on the product. The majority of them noticed an improvement, although there were a few that noticed that their skin got worse. For myself, I prefer Clarisonic’s skin cleansing because it is more efficient at cleansing away the dirt and oil buildup in my pores than other skin cleansing options, thus preventing future breakouts. The results you get really depend on your skin type. There isn’t a trial system for the Mia, but if you are interested in buying one and aren’t sure if it will work for you then visit your local beauty store, like Sephora or Nordstrom’s beauty department, to discuss with their Clarisonic specialists about which skin cleansing system and face wash would be best for you.

Face ScrubberOver Thanksgiving break, I took the Mia along with me on a trip to Vancouver, Canada. It didn’t take up much space and packs well in an average-sized makeup bag. I was able to go the whole weekend without having to charge it, though the charger would work in Canada since they have the same electrical outlet as we do in America. However, if you plan on traveling worldwide, consider using Clarisonic’s latest skin cleansing system, the Aria. It comes with a USB-enabled charger, as well as a wall adapter, allowing you to charge it from your computer while writing to your friends about your awesome vacation in Fiji or South Africa! The Aria comes with some extra perks compared to the Mia, like a drying stand, changeable speeds, an adjustable timer, and a battery charge indicator.

Pros:
•    Waterproof handle – able to use the Mia in the shower.
•    The exfoliation made my face feel incredibly soft.
•    The long-lasting battery allows me to use the Mia for multiple days without having to charge it constantly.
•    Easy to clean.
•    Small enough to pack in tight spaces.
•    Many options for brush heads, depending on skin type.

Cons:
•    Charger disconnects easily
•    Clarisonic recommends that makeup should be removed prior to using the Mia. Having to use makeup remover and the Mia tends to dry out my skin.
•    All of the Clarisonic products are expensive. Having to constantly buy new Clarisonic brush heads every three months and face wash is a bit out of my budget.
•    Mia requires a converter for international travel.

You can buy the Mia Skin Cleansing System for $199 on Clarisonic’s website or on Sephora, and also the Mia2 at $149 and the Aria at $199.

*****

Photo credits:
Woman Traveling: jingkay2008
Face Scrubber: merri

Best Travel Gifts for the Holidays

Christmas Presents

By Kumiko Matter

Christmas PresentsIt’s the season of giving, and as excited as I am for the celebrations (mainly the gifts!), just thinking about all the presents I have to buy for my loved ones is stressing me out. Even though I think it’s hard to buy gifts for others, I confess – I’m just as hard to shop for. As a gal on the go, I prefer things that are small and easy to pack. If you’ve got a frequent flyer on your family or friends list, here’s a list of awesome gifts that they are sure to love.

Stocking Stuffers

Candy is the usual stocking stuffer, so why not kick the candy up a notch this year? Visit your local ethnic shops and try to find delicious sweets from your traveler’s favorite country to help bring back nostalgic memories! Pocky anyone?

Stockings full of travel-size toiletries are fantastic gifts for those travelers who prefer to pack light. If you want to buy fancier products than what is offered at drugstores, Sephora has a long list of travel-sized products ranging from makeup to perfume to face cleansers.

Many seasoned travelers own many travel accessories already. But with constant use, travel products, like passport cases and locks, wear out and need to be replaced. For those who carry many bags, or who are a little paranoid about being robbed, TSA locks are a frugal investment that can stand the wear-and-tear of daily travel and potential thieves. REI’s Cable Lock is my favorite at $14.50.

Steripod’s Clip-On Toothbruth Sanitizer is a genius product that any traveler would love! For $5.99 you can get a pack of two, so you can give one to another traveler in your family… or keep one for yourself!

Ray Ban WayfarerRay-Ban’s Folding Wayfarer Sunglasses are definitely not a budget option like the other stocking stuffers mentioned, but they are sure to please, and look stunning on whomever you give them to. The Foldable Wayfarers look the exact same as the Original Wayfarers, but the folding option helps save a little more space in a traveler’s bag. Aside from the Wayfarers, Ray-Ban also makes their signature Aviators in the foldable option.

Gifts that Keep Giving

Everybody loves receiving gifts, but receiving a donation made in one’s name can be just as fulfilling, if not more. I get a great feeling inside knowing that somebody else in the world is being given something they need, and it helps me take fewer things for granted in my life. If you’d like to give a donation in someone’s honor during the holidays, consider Kiva or Vittana. Kiva gives microloans to impoverished women around the world to help them start their own businesses. The best part about Kiva is when the woman is able to pay back their loans, you can choose to keep the money or give it to another woman! Vittana has a similar concept, except the loans are used to help put someone through school to help them learn a necessary trade or skill to be used in their community. Both organizations have gift card options too, so that your loved ones can choose who they want to give to.

PunjammiesAnother gift that keeps giving is a bit humorous, but with a heartwarming underlying message. Punjammies (a play on words of the word Punjabi) are fun Indian-inspired pajamas, ranging from $19-35, made by Indian women who were rescued from human trafficking. The International Princess Project that runs Punjammies helps to rehabilitate all facets of their lives. I personally love these pajamas for traveling because they are made from lightweight cotton, and are worthy of being worn and seen outside of bed. I own two pairs, and have given some to my friends too, because I knew they would love Punjammies as well!

Giving to Passports with Purpose may not include a physical gift to hand to your loved one, but it’s the fact that it is helping someone in another country acquire an everyday item that we tend to overlook that makes it special. The Passports with Purpose fundraising event brings together travel bloggers and the travel industry together to accomplish projects with big impact, like this year’s project of building five water wells in Haiti. It only runs during the end of November through mid-December, but the prizes gathered for the lucky winners are worth marking your calendar! So donate a few Hamiltons in somebody’s honor, and cross your fingers that you’ll win one of the prizes to make their holiday season even more special!

Wrap-able Presents

For adventurers who like to camp on the beaches of Costa Rica, or in the woods of Yosemite National Park, the Kammok ($128) is perfect. The Kammok is an easily portable hammock that is made of lightweight, durable, and breathable fabric.

Multi-use clothing is a must to keep the traveler’s luggage light, and wardrobe diverse. An infinity scarf is probably the most useful accessory, as it can be used as a scarf, obviously, but also as a head cover in the rain, or as a shrug on chilly nights. My favorite is the Oversized Knit Infinity Scarf ($28) by Shop Mamie, and comes in a versatile and comfy black knit. The multi-way dress ($69.50) from Victoria’s Secret is another fantastic option for the traveler who enjoys fancy nights on the town but also lazy Sunday brunches the next day. This wrinkle-free and machine washable dress can be work in 10 different ways.

Metro CuffsFor the traveler who loves art, give them a piece of art that they can wear or hang up this holiday season. Design Hype’s Metro Cuffs ($37) are tastefully designed wrist cuffs that have the metro systems of NYC, Paris, Milan, Chicago, and Berlin embossed on metal. So if you know someone who gets easily lost, this would be a funny reminder to help them get around the different rail systems of the world. And purchasing the Scratch Map ($24) will add to their collection of global trinkets. I know I’m not the only one out there who has a world map stuck with pins to show where I’ve been. This map is the creative version of the traveler’s map, where you can scratch off where you’ve been.

Have a wonderful and memorable holiday season! Cheers!

*****

Photo credits:
Christmas Presents: Robyn Jay
Ray Ban’s Folding Wayfarer: Ray-Ban
Punjammies: Punjammies by International Princess Project
NYC Metro Cuff: Design Hype

TravelKool Gear for Tweens

trendykids-new-travelkool-luggage

Now your tweens can be trendy while traveling!

Moms and their tweens love the newly launched TravelKool, a tween-inspired travel gear collection that speaks to the most fashion-conscious traveler there is – the tween – in fun and fresh Chat and Danger Zone designs. The collection is designed by TrendyKid to fill a niche in the tween travel gear market.

Featuring a hardshell case and a bonus media bag, the set fills a void in the marketplace that has previously seen few choices for functional and stylish luggage targeted to this particular age range. In fact, 90 percent of tween-age girls in a recent focus group voted Chat as their No. 1 choice, citing its use of bright colors and familiar icons.

The 17” piece has a polyester lining with dividing pocket and zip compartment, internal garment straps and easy-roll wheels that are color coordinated with the case exterior. An adjustable, multi-length handle makes for easy maneuverability.

The media bag is geared up for this tech-savvy generation with an outside pocket to store iPods, video games and other electronics and an iPod port for ear phones. A gym-style drawstring backpack, it keeps travel essentials at hand and easily accessible.

Retailing for $69.99, TravelKool was designed with input from a tween, Imogen Stephens, the nine-year-old daughter of TrendyKid founders Mark and Rachel Stephens, who have learned to rely on their children and their children’s friends in gaining an understanding of what appeals to kids.

“Our children are very much a part of the process, from concept to finished product, “ says Rachel Stephens, sales and marketing manager at TrendyKid. “Our kids are the end users and target market.”

TrendyKid’s TravelKool Travel Gear Collection was launched at the 2012 Travel Goods Show in Las Vegas on March 6 to 8. The collection is available through Amazon.com, eBags.com, Colorado Bag and Baggage (in stores and via website) and in select luggage and leather stores nationwide. Additionally, in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. area, the luggage is available at Luggage Plus; in the Midwest, it may be found at Dillard’s Department Stores. Visit the Trendy Kid website to see all products available.

*****

Photo credit:
Traveling Kids: Ian Jones

Briggs & Riley Introduces Shrink-to-fit Luggage

Briggs & Riley Luggage

Women will love the practicality of the newly redesigned Baseline Collection for 2012 of Briggs & Riley Luggage!

It’s like magic! Briggs & Riley, who is already acclaimed for beautifully engineered, durable suitcases, is now empowering travelers with the next generation of lightweight luggage- whose size they can customize. Compressing down or expanding up based on exactly what is packed; this innovation is Briggs & Riley’s version of the new normal – or as they call it, the New Baseline. No more zippered expansion! Meet the luggage collection that once it’s packed and zipped closed, compresses to fit around your belongings; adjusting to how much or how little expansion you actually need. Briggs & Riley’s flagship Baseline Collection is packing perfected, changing the game for women travelers in the know.

Integrated into the bags’ expandable frame is some inconspicuously brilliant engineering: a mechanism which allows the frame of the case to expand and then shrink back down to conform to your belongings. While packing, simply release the latch, expand bag to its fullest size and load up. When you’re done, zip shut the bag as you have always done and then push down – no more sitting on your suitcase – and watch it mold to the size of your clothes.

In the era of baggage check fees and overhead-compartment turf-wars, the practical benefits to this shrink-to-fit brilliance are clear. Save money on the way to your destination by packing in the fewest amount of bags, and have the extra space you’ll need for the souvenirs for the trip back home. The needs of us women travelers change, so our bags change with them. After all, we now have smart cars and smart phones, why not smart luggage?

Naturally, because it’s a Briggs & Riley, all bags are covered with an unconditional lifetime performance warranty. Among other new features in the Baseline Collection for 2012 are: an extra wide gusseted front zippered pocket so travelers can easily access items inside, a lighter, stronger Outsider® handle for wrinkle-free flat packing inside, beefed up corner guards to protect the bag, and a newly tethered add-a-bag strap, eliminating loss or misplacement of this small yet important tool. It’s exactly the kind of innovation you can expect from Briggs & Riley. Briggs & Riley’s re-engineered Baseline Collection will be available in stores and on its website in August 2012.

*****

Photo credit:
Briggs Riley Luggage:  Briggs & Riley

Boutiika – Easy Shopping for the Fashionista Traveler

Boutiika

BoutiikaIf you love discovering off the beaten path shops and are eager for alternative options to the usual high street mayhem, then Boutiika.com is for you.

Women love Boutiika as it’s a unique search engine that allows users to find independent fashion boutiques while exploring the neighborhoods of their favorite cities at the same time. You may finally find that elusive travel outfit you have always wanted but could not get in the run of the mill shops as Boutiika makes it easy and fun for shoppers to discover stores with products that best match their personal style.

You can keep track of the cool places for that rare travel gear with Boutiika as it simplifies the boutique search process with neighborhood maps, and curated results and recommendations. You can also interact with linked social media, and tap into the latest trends on travel gear, news and events via Boutiika’s blog.

Boutiika supports local businesses who understand the desire for something different by giving them a rich communication channel to share their offerings with new and existing customers, ultimately leading to increased footfall at their stores. In turn, independent designers can use Boutiika to find such stores to showcase their collections in.

The growing site currently offers an online independent boutique guide to New York City, and recently expanded to San Francisco.