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Review: Dr. Althea Herb Therapy Velvet Mask

“Just as those closest to you would comfort you during your hardest times, let this mask give a boost to your skin! This mask will keep your complexion luminous for days.”

Facetory description

I recently gave Facetory’s Lux subscription a try (the first subscription is $10 for 7 luxury masks, after that $20 a month) and the Dr. Althea Herb therapy Velvet Mask was the first mask I applied. The mask itself smells heavenly and has a rich, creamy, fabric-like feeling. Putting it on was a simple effort, the mask staying snug around my features, and after waiting for its recommended 20-30 minutes, I took it off feeling more refreshed, the serum drying within minutes. Though how effective it was is debatable (as the effect of sheet masks are most evident after consistent use), below, I’ve provided the ingredient pros and cons for a more scientific inspection.

Ingredient Pros and Cons

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, Methylpropanediol, Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Polysorbate 60, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Hexylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxyacetophenone, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Trehalose, Carbomer, Arginine, Allantoin, PEG-20 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sorbitan Isostearate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Squalane, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Coptis Japonica Root Extract, Schizandra Chinensis Fruit Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) Extract, Citrus Grandis (grapefruit) Seed Extract, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Water, Calendula Officinalis Flower Water, Acorus Calamus Root Extract, Fragrance, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Citric Acid, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Cholesterol, Ceramide 3

Significant Pros

  • Glycerin (hydrating)
  • Allantoin (calming)
  • Squalane (hydrating)
  • Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (calming)
  • Panthenol (humectant, attracts moisture for hydrating effect)
  • Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract (calming)
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) Extract (addresses hyper pigmentation)
  • Calendula Officinalis Flower Water (calming)
  • Ceramide 3 (moisturizing, skin barrier protector)

Significant Cons

  • PEG-20 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (at least, for oily skin)
  • Fragrance (unnecessary, skin irritant)
  • Citrus Grandis (grapefruit) Seed Extract (skin irritant)
  • Citric Acid (skin irritant for sensitive skin)

The Takeaway

Looking at the ingredients, there are some pretty powerful relaxing elements to the mask (allantoin, squalane, camellia, licorice extract), but conversely a variety of deeply irritating ingredients (i.e. citric acid and grapefruit extract) for those with sensitive skin. Though my skin does tend to be sensitive, I didn’t directly feel anything when applying the mask, but repeated use may reveal otherwise. Additionally, while the smell was delightful, the prioritizing of fragrance over some the more calming ingredients was worrisome. Though I definitely don’t regret using this mask, I won’t be purchasing it in the future.

Review: Chloe + Chad Unscented Face Serum

Created with a mix of vitamin-rich oils, the Chloe + Chad Face Serum from absorbs seamlessly into the skin. The botanical blend of organic ingredients and nourishing oils is perfect for sensitive skin types in this unscented formula.

BLK + GRN, Chloe + Chad

I was really excited to try out Chloe + Chad’s Unscented face serum – especially considering all the positive reviews, and now, after trying it for a few weeks, I’m glad to say it’s a soothing, rich serum, in which a little goes a long way. I apply this in the morning, right before my moisturizer. It’s a thick product, so it’s best utilized towards the end of your routine otherwise it will pill other products you’ve applied prior. It takes a bit of time to soak in, but overall, it’s a pleasurable experience.

Ingredient Pros and Cons

Ingredients: Camellia Sinensis Leaf Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Argania spinosa (Argan) Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Daucus Carotas (carrot seed oil), Tocopherol, Rosamarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract (Rosemary), Canada Odorata Flower Oil (Ylang Ylang)

Significant Pros

  • Camellia Sinensis Leaf Oil (calming, antioxidant)
  • Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil (moisturizing)
  • Argania spinosa (Argan) Oil (moisturizing)
  • Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil (skin polishing, anti-acne)
  • Daucus Carotas (carrot seed oil) (skin repairing, moisturizing, addresses hyper pigmentation)

Significant Cons

  • Canada Odorata Flower Oil (skin irritant)

The Takeaway

There’s a lot to love about this serum and it’s many wonderful ingredients. My sensitive skin wasn’t irritated, my oily, acne-prone self left unbothered, and I definitely felt more moisturized after application. My one concern though is how all of the ingredients aren’t listed on the BLK + GRN website – it leaves the Ylang Ylang out, so I was surprised to see it listed on my bottle after purchasing. Ylang Ylang is not a good ingredient for the skin and even if you aren’t immediately sensitive to it, it’s best not to apply it daily due to its deep skin irritation properties. Since it’s listed last on the ingredients’ list, I’m not so conflicted as to stop usage of the product, but I don’t see myself repurchasing it as a result. A shame – should the chemists’ remove this element, I would happily repurchase. With this in mind (as well as the steep price – $32), I can’t, in good faith, recommend this serum.

July Reads

During the month of July I’ve read quite a bit – romance, poetry, historical fiction, contemporary literature, nonfiction, and others! In this list you’ll find my picks for Disability Awareness Month as well as the controversial ReadingRush Readathon (which I won’t be continuing next year). Overall, I’m pleased with the diverse reads I’ve engaged with this month and look forward to Women in Translation month this August!

All Photos Courtesy of Goodreads

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

The world wasn’t split into unhappy endings and happily ever afters. There were blessings everywhere and a thousand shades of joy all around him.

Short Description: A shy security guard asks his crush, a PHD studying feminist to fake date him for his charity – she agrees, so long as there’s some no-strings-attached benefits as well – but things don’t turn out the way she expects.

Critic Quote: “Funny, deep, and romantic as hell. Will leave you smiling for days.” –Kirkus Reviews

My Verdict: Sweet, cute, funny, and spicy — an absolute must for fans of romance!

Notes of A Native Son by James Baldwin

Most people are not naturally reflective any more than they are naturally malicious, and the white man prefers to keep the black man at a certain human remove because it is easier for him thus to preserve his simplicity and avoid being called to account for crimes committed by his forefathers, or his neighbors

Short Description: A collection of essays focused on literary criticism and traveling from the perspective of James Baldwin.

Critic Quote: “The expression of so many insights enriches rather than clarifies, and behind every page stalks a man, an everyman, seeking his identity…and ours. Exceptional writing.” –Kirkus Reviews

My Verdict: Though some of the literary criticism went over my head, I enjoyed this short collection and would recommend for the travel essays alone.

Eye Level by Jenny Xie

If only the journey between two people didn’t take a lifetime.

Short Description: A collection of poetry that works off sound, place, and memory from Vietnam to NYC.

Critic Quote: “The poems dazzle in their local details, even as they pine for global reach and scale.” –The New Yorker

My Verdict: Unfortunately this poetry collection simply didn’t resonate with me.

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

Nothing can grow in the shade of secrets, she would say, love needs light and space to flourish.

Short Description: An expansive, epic tale of a couple forced together, through tragedy, who escape the Spanish Civil War for Chile, and their turbulent story of endurance, love, and hope.

Critic Quote: “In that vein, Allende allows her writing to breathe. It’s light and fast. . . her work moves with the economy of a fairy tale, as she collapses the long lives of her characters into a quick 13 chapters. Her language is direct and compressed. There is no ornament to her description of Spain and Chile, but rather than feeling brutalist or cold it comes across as melancholic.” –LA Review of Books

My Verdict: Though this book was a bit difficult to get into at first, once again, I’m astounded by Allende’s ability to tell stories across vast stretches of time and all the various Spanish/Chilean/World’s political struggles therein, all while keeping her characters sharp and in focus. Definitely recommend!

Read full review HERE

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

I am doing my best to not become a museum of myself.

I am doing my best to breathe in and out.

I am begging: Let me be lonely but not invisible.

But in an American room of one hundred people, I am Native American—less than one, less than whole—I am less than myself.

Only a fraction of a body, let’s say, I am only a hand— and when I slip it beneath the shirt of my lover I disappear completely.

Short Description: A collection of poetry focusing on indigenous rights and struggles.

Critic Quote: “Here, Diaz revels in one of the greatest marks of her poetic genius: her move from realism to the fantastic made real, bound and anchored by theme, language, metaphor and allusion.” –NPR

My Verdict: Masterfully constructed, memorable, and visually rich, this is a poetry collection you must pick up!

The Great Passage by Shion Miura

They had made a ship. A ship bearing the souls of people traveling from ancient times toward the future, across the ocean rich with words.

Short Description: A brief tale of a small publishing houses’ venture to create a new dictionary, with romance brewing beneath the surface.

Critic Quote: “ ‘The Great Passage’ is stylistically adept, with the shift in narratives smoothly connecting as characters’ stories overlap through time and space. The novel leaves readers with plenty of thoughtful insights on life, words and the importance of finding your greatness.” –Japan Times

My Verdict: This was such a cute, light, romantic tale. Though not particularly memorable, this is quick, enjoyable, and easy to breeze through!

Voices of Cherokee Women collected by Carolyn Ross Johnston

Since Cherokee Women had more freedom and power than their counterparts in Europe, Europeans viewed this reversal of patriarchal values as deviant, uncivilized, sinful, and deeply threatening.

Short Description: A collection of essays, letters, songs, and diary entries of Cherokee women during the European invasion of the US.

Critic Quote: “ The book also reveals how the rather warped European attitudes about topics like sex, power and responsibility changed the Cherokee people, deeply diminishing the power of women under challenges from a white, patriarchal society.” – Kirkus Reviews

My Verdict: A welcome addition to indigenous texts – read for the history, the heartbreak, and the endurance these women reveal.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

People don’t find it very sympathetic or endearing, a woman who puts herself first. 

Short Description: The riveting history of a mysterious Hollywood star is examined through the eyes of a young reporter, who must discover the brilliant and brutal truths of the dynamic trailblazer.

Critic Quote: “This book has a way of making you feel. I’m not ashamed to say I cried at some parts. It is written in a way that you connect with the characters, particularly with Evelyn.” –The Nerd Daily

My Verdict: Just as good as everyone says. Read for the hollywood drama, thrilling love story, and a bold protagonist who refuses to give up.

Care Work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha

Disability Justice allowed me to understand that me writing from my sickbed wasn’t me being weak or uncool or not a real writer but a time-honoured crip creative practice. And that understanding allowed me to finally write from a disabled space, for and about sick and disabled people, including myself, without feeling like I was writing about boring, private things that no one would understand.

Short Description: A rich text that dissects a variety of aspects surrounding disability justice and experiences as well as how disability intersects with race, gender, sexuality, and class.

Critic Quote: “Written very accessibly, these essays cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on the ways that disabled people, particularly those also marginalised due to race, gender, sexuality and class, work to help each other survive through ‘care webs’, when the state and non-disabled people will not provide care, or when the existing systems do more to harm than help. This book is full of both eloquent personal reflection on what it’s like to live as a chronically ill person of colour, and hard-won practical experience and wisdom about community organising.” –Spoonie Hacker

My Verdict: An essential text on disability justice – dense with knowledge and empathy and a book I’ll be reading again and again and again and again.

Read full review HERE

Sula by Toni Morrison

I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.

Short Description: Two best friends drift apart only to reunite through betrayal.

Critic Quote: “. In “Sula,” Morrison rewrites the very act of writing — making it seem like a new phenomenon, a secret blasted open and gifted to you in sentences that breathe like human beings.” –LA Times

My Verdict: A short, but well-written and beautiful read.

Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

She was a successful Black woman in online nerd culture, which took stamina and thick skin to say the least. She didn’t let anything get in her way — she knocked social media trolls off their bridges like she was the biggest billy goat gruff. When she navigated her wheelchair through crowded conventions, people parted before her like the Red Sea or got the backs of their ankles fucked up.

Short Description: A leader in nerd culture teams up with a game developer to create the perfect project . . . and end up falling in love.

Critic Quote: “There are a whole lot of small details of disability representation that make it clear that Cole really did her research for this.” –Sense Disability

My Verdict: Super cute and well-written. My only gripe was how rushed the ending was – a longer book would have done this story justice. Still, I’m always glad to see a fluffy story with diverse representation.

Disfured:On Fairytales,Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc

Give me a story about a disabled man or woman who learns to navigate the world and teaches the world, in turn, to navigates its own way around the disabled body. Give me power and also weakness, struggle but also reams of joy. Our lives are made of this fabric–our stories deserve nothing less.

Short Description: An analysis of how disability is represented (or more accurately, misrepresented) in various European fairytales, interlaced with the author’s childhood.

Critic Quote: “Read this smart, tenacious book.” –The Washington Post

My Verdict: A bit circuitous at times, but an overall insightful and well-written exploration of ableism in European fairytales. I especially enjoyed how the author wove her own adolescence with her analysis and found her dissection of The Little Mermaid, The Maiden with No Hands, and Beaty and the Beast expertly done

Read full review HERE

Frida in America by Celia Stahr

Duality was ultimately at the root of Frida’s sense of self—not a divided self, but one that was at peace with the search for a unification of opposites, as the Aztecs and alchemists espoused. It related to her bisexuality, her androgyny, her ethnicity, her marriage, and her art.

Short Description: A historical overview of Frida Kahlo’s three years in the USA and how her professional career blossomed during this time.

Critic Quote: “Featuring meticulous research and elegant turns of phrase, Stahr’s engrossing account provides scholarly though accessible analysis for both feminists and art lovers.” –Publisher’s Weekly

My Verdict: A wonderful intro for those interested in learning about Frida Kahlo. I enjoyed many of the details Stahr provided, offering a very full view of Kahlo’s years in the USA and her complex personality, art style, and political views —though, perhaps the descriptions were a bit too full. The book felt a somewhat overwritten at times, especially in its second half and would have greatly benefitted from having Kahlo’s works interwoven throughout the text to accompany the art analyses. All in all, I would still definitely recommend this book!

Dietland by Sarai Walker

We can’t hide it or fake it. We’ll never fit society’s idea for how women should look and behave, but why is that a tragedy? We’re free to live how we want. It’s liberating, if you choose to see it that way.

Short Description: The electric tale of how a plus-size advice columnist’s pursuit of weight loss intersects with a radical feminist terrorist organization that seeks to take revenge on rapists, abusers, etc.

Critic Quote: “Disguised as a light chick-lit novel about body image, Sarai Walker’s debut is scathing about the images to which women have tied their value and worth.” –The Guardian

My Verdict: I was expecting a bit more from the ending, but overall this is a fantastic, electric read.

Felon by Reginald Dwayne Betts

If I told her how often I thought

Of prison she would walk out

Of the door that’s led just as much

To madness as any home we

Desired, she would walk our & never

Return; my employers would call

Me a liar & fire me. My dreams are

Not all nightmares, but this history

Has turned my mind’s landscape into

A gadroon. I do not sing…

Short Description: A sharp collection of poetry that examines the before, after, and lived experiences of prison abuse and injustice.

Critic Quote: “The book shows how poems can be enlisted to radically disrupt narrative: stanzas interrupt the flow and sequence of time by constantly hitting refresh . . .” –The New Yorker

My Verdict: A visceral, stunning collection of poetry. Though not all poems have equal power, this is such a unique book, I have to recommend it.

Disability Visibility collected by Alice Wong

I shared my stories. I received others in return. We were compelled, I think, to make this exchange. There were stories about injuries, about illness, about operations, about depression and mourning and love. We’d pause when we finished sharing. We’d sit comfortably in the silence. We didn’t have to explain how we felt.

Short Description: A series of essays by various disabled writers on disability justice, perspectives, and experiences.

Critic Quote: “In a way, many of the pieces in this collection call for a similarly necessary and well overdue consideration: for the lives of disabled people to be acknowledged for their irreducible humanity, brought in from the sidelines, and included within the frame of human society, as part of its tissue.” –Columbia Journal

My Verdict: Powerful and a breeze to read though (which is not to say that the material is particularly light), this is a great entry for those eager to learn more about disability justice.

The Red Moon by Kuwana Haulsey

It has taken me a very long time to begin to understand that freedom needs no validation.

Short Description: A young Kenyan girl pursues her dream of education and becoming a great writer all while carrying on her back the pain of her parents and the racial/gendered barriers she faces in the present.

Critic Quote: “Despite the clearly evident sincerity, disappointingly unaffecting.” –Kirkus Reviews

My Verdict: Full of beautiful imagery, but also a confusing plot. Consider your own tastes before picking it up.

Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee

Because I had been unfair to my body, I had been unfair to myself. I began to value my own resilience and strength.

Short Description: A young woman endures a life-altering stroke which breaks her life apart — and now it’s up to her to rebuild it again.

Critic Quote: “ ‘Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember‘ seems unfinished, as if pieces have yet to be written to complete its translation from blog to book. Lee writes primarily in short, idiomatic sentences and paragraphs whose plainness appears to be designed to emphasize the drama of events. This reads cleanly on the internet (the book grew out of a BuzzFeed essay that went viral), but it doesn’t lend stamina to a 250-page narrative.” –The New York Times

My Verdict: Mixed feelings with this one. The actual story, the content, is quite good and I especially loved the author’s honesty and her depiction of her childhood. Still, the chronology was somewhat confusing, the medical detail a bit too in depth for someone who hasn’t studied the impact of strokes on one’s body, the metaphors a bit drawn out, and overall, the message being circuitous. Though I’m happy to have read this book, it took me a while to get through because of the above points. Consider your own tastes before picking it up!

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

“ ‘We all have a void,’ Del said a moment later. ‘Something that’s missing in us. Something we need but don’t want to admit or don’t even know we’re missing until we find it in that other person. If you want to fix this thing with Thea, figure out what she’s missing inside. Stroke that broken part of her until it doesn’t hurt anymore. That’s how to say I love you to Thea.’”

Short Description: Baseball superstar Gavin Scott must save his crumbling marriage through the help of The Bromance Book Club – a group of men who read romance novels to forge stronger relationships with their spouses.

Critic Quote: The Bromance Book lived up to every bit of last year’s buzz. It’s a terrific romance AND a marvelous story about relationships at the same time. So if you’re looking for a book to really pick you up and make you smile, The Bromance Book Club is a winner.” –Reading Reality

My Verdict: It was alright! I think the main reason I didn’t enjoy this as much was because of the way children/pregnancy was a major focus of the book, and those themes/elements don’t resonate with me , especially in romance.

Review: Adagio Tiger’s Eye

Our tiger eye blend will do the same for your palate with rich notes of chocolate and caramel. Enjoy it in lieu of or with your favorite indulgence.

Adagio

Ehhh. It’s okay. The Tiger’s Eye blend is a bitter blend of indistinct flavors – perhaps tasting similar to black coffee and honey – flavors not listed within the ingredients. After being let down with Adagio’s Caramel and Almond blends, I can’t help but wonder if my less severe review of this tea is based off of my low expectations – regardless, I wouldn’t recommend this blend. Dull and weighted by a strange aftertaste, there’s nothing of notable praise to be found here.

Ingredients

Black Tea, Natural Caramel Flavor, Cocoa Nibs, Natural Vanilla Flavor & Natural Chocolate Flavor

Review: Thank You Farmer Clay to Foam Rice Cleanser

Please forgive me inability to write the detailed Korean characters in such a small font . . . I knew I would butcher it.

Clay Mask and Foam Cleanaser 2 in 1

Pore care, Deep cleansing, Sebum & Waste removal

Korean local Rice extracts 100,000ppm contained

Rice from 100% Clean pollution-free area ‘Ganghwa Gyodong’

Non-irritation formula tested

Thank You Farmer

A unique mask to foam cleanser, the Thank You Farmer Rice cleanser is an affordable ($18), inventive answer to acne-prone sensitive skin and a great addition to an oily summer skincare routine. The bottle itself is quite large, making a full mask application conceivable for everyday use, the product itself being a thick but soft substance to be gently spread along the face. To use the product, first spread the product all over the mask (avoiding eyes and mouth) like one would do for a clay mask. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes (I’d personally recommend starting off with 1 minute, as I found daily usage of a 2 minute wait too drying for my skin) and the gently rub off with warm water. Afterwards the skin is glowing without any irritation.

Ingredient Pros and Cons

Ingredients: WATER, KAOLIN, SODIUM COCOYL GLYCINATE, ORYZA SATIVA (RICE) EXTRACT, GLYCERIN, BENTONITE, MYRISTIC ACID, POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE, 1,2-HEXANEDIOL, LAURIC ACID, GLYCOL DISTEARATE, TITANIUM DIOXIDE, CENTELLA ASIATICA EXTRACT, FICUS CARICA (FIG) FRUIT EXTRACT, AVENA SATIVA (OAT) KERNEL EXTRACT, ACMELLA OLERACEA EXTRACT, COIX LACRYMA-JOBI MA-YUEN SEED EXTRACT, COIX LACRYMA-JOBI MA-YUEN SHELL EXTRACT, ULMUS DAVIDIANA ROOT EXTRACT, AMARANTHUS CAUDATUS SEED EXTRACT, CHENOPODIUM QUINOA SEED EXTRACT, OLEA EUROPAEA (OLIVE) FRUIT OIL, COIX LACRYMA-JOBI MA-YUEN SEED WATER, CITRUS AURANTIUM DULCIS (ORANGE) FLOWER OIL, HYDROGENATED LECITHIN, MAGNESIUM ALUMINUM SILICATE, PALMITIC ACID, STEARIC ACID, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, DISODIUM EDTA, DECYLENE GLYCOL, TORREYA NUCIFERA SEED OIL, CERAMIDE NP, HYDROXYACETOPHENONE, ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN

Significant Pros

  • Kaolin (calming, pore clearing)
  • Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract (gentle skin polisher/exfoliant addresses hyper pigmentation)
  • Glycerin (hydrating)
  • Lauric Acid (gentle exfoliant)
  • Centella Asiatica Extract (calming, antioxidant)
  • Ficus Carica (Fig) Fruit Extract (hydrating, antioxidant)
  • Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract (calming)

Significant Cons

  • Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower oil (skin irritant)
  • Possibly some fungal acne triggers, but considering this mask’s ingredient list is based on polishing and clearing the skin (and the fact that this is a cleanser), I wouldn’t worry about it

The Takeaway

What a wonderful cleanser! These ingredients are bomb – rice is one of my favorite skincare ingredients (as I often suffer form hyper pigmentation) and seeing it as one of the first ingredients in their list is so heartening. Affordable and effective, I would definitely recommend others with similar skin issues/types to give this cleanser a try. Personally, I see myself returning to this product in the future, though I may take a break for more nourishing cleansers come the fall (as well as ones that require less involvement in its application because I’m too lazy lol).

Review: Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc

Why, in all of these stories about someone who wants to be something or someone else, was it always the individual who needed to change, and never the world?

Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space

Summary and Thoughts

In fairy tales, happy endings are the norm—as long as you’re beautiful and walk on two legs. After all, the ogre never gets the princess. And since fairy tales are the foundational myths of our culture, how can a girl with a disability ever think she’ll have a happy ending?

By examining the ways that fairy tales have shaped our expectations of disability, Disfigured will point the way toward a new world where disability is no longer a punishment or impediment but operates, instead, as a way of centering a protagonist and helping them to cement their own place in a story, and from there, the world. Through the book, Leduc ruminates on the connections we make between fairy tale archetypes—the beautiful princess, the glass slipper, the maiden with long hair lost in the tower—and tries to make sense of them through a twenty-first-century disablist lens. From examinations of disability in tales from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen through to modern interpretations ranging from Disney to Angela Carter, and the fight for disabled representation in today’s media, Leduc connects the fight for disability justice to the growth of modern, magical stories, and argues for increased awareness and acceptance of that which is other—helping us to see and celebrate the magic inherent in different bodies. 

Goodreads

Leduc does some stunning research and analysis in this short but effective exploration on disability and disfigurement in western fairytales. Weaving in her own experiences, Leduc provides a unique combination of memoir, journalism, and historical observation on how disability has often been used as a metaphor in fairytales to instill lessons on morality, with gender, class, religion, and race impacting the narratives each character is seen fit to serve. Leduc brings up examples with Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, The Maiden with No Hands, Rapunzel, and of course, The Little Mermaid and examines them all with stunning clarity. The erasure of disabled personhood, glorification of “charity” treatment, and the happy ending narrative is dissected and criticized with her insightful notes, revealing how people within that era viewed disability within their communities and how this impacts the way these stories evolve for our modern times (surprise: we aren’t doing great at representation at all). Though I sometimes found Leduc’s personal questions a bit redundant and her chapter on Marvel heroes / superheroes a bit lacking, overall, this is such a welcomed addition to disability research and I highly recommend this to others.

Photo Courtesy of Goodreads

Notable Reviews

For Those Who Enjoyed:

Star Rating

4/5

The Summer Bundle

One summer morning at sunrise a long time ago

I met a little girl with a book under her arm.

I asked her why she was out so early and

she answered that there were too many books and

far too little time. And there she was absolutely right.

Tove Jansson

It’s been a tumultuous summer, and with its chaos it’s brought pain, activism, fatigue, and strength in all its varieties. We still have quite a bit of time in the summer left before we head into autumn, so until then, I’ve provided some recommendations on different books, teas, and skincare products to check out depending on your mood.

Alive with Activism

  • Book: When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
    • A fantastic memoir by one of the BLM movement’s co-founders, this book is a must read for anyone interested in learning more about the movement as well as how racism (and its intersections w/ race and sexuality) functions in the USA.
  • Tea: Make Mine A Builders
    • A simple but powerful tea to start your day off strong.
  • Skincare: Hyper Skin Vitamin C Serum
    • A complex Vitamin C serum with an impressive ingredient list – a multitasking product for those who just want to put something on and go!

Quarantine Fatigue

  • Book: Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
    • A resplendent epic tale of a mysterious opera singer and the various identities she’s carried on her path to fame. An engaging, long read for those looking for adventure, but still want to snuggle in bed while doing so.
  • Tea: Adagio Green Chai
    • A deep, satisfying chai that calms the senses.
  • Skincare: Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Exfoliant
    • A simple, acne-fighting exfoliant beloved by many of its reviewers.

Decisive Self-Care

  • Book: Disability Visibility by Alice Wong
    • A wonderful collection of essays focused on augmenting the voices of disabled people and the exclusionary nature of ableism.
  • Tea: Adagio Jade Oolong
    • A unique blend for those interested in engaging their senses into something fresh and thought-provoking.
  • Skincare: SkinVibe Clean Brush
    • An affordable dupe for the PMD skin cleansing device, the skin vibe is perfect for those who want to indulge in daily deep cleansing.

Review: Facetheory Collodial-C Anti-Redness Toner T3

A soothing toner formulated with actives that reduce skin redness.

Facetheory

Facetheory’s Collofial-C Anti-Redness Toner looked like a pretty unique product when I first perused the company’s website. At about $20 (and even less during a sale/discount), this toner contains an impressive amount of effective ingredients alongside a bevy of positive reviews. Curious to try this product, but aware of my current decision to use up my previous toner first (Krave Beauty’s Kale-lalu-yAHAh), I implemented this toner like a serum, patting the liquid into my face. Within a week or so I found my redness drastically disappearing, all without any irritation.

Ingredient Pros and Cons

Ingredients: Aqua, propanediol (humectant derived from corn syrup), glycerin (derived from rapeseed), sodium ascorbyl phosphate (stabilised vitamin c), lactic acid (aha), sodium lactate (natural moisturising factor), polyglyceryl-3 cocoate (vegetable-derived emulsifier), polyglyceryl-4 caprate (vegetable-derived emulsifier), polyglyceryl-6 ricinoleate (vegetable-derived emulsifier), panthenol (vitamin b5), glycyrrhiza glabra (liquorice) root extract, sodium anisate (preservative derived from star anise), sodium levulinate (preservative derived from sugar cane), tocopherol (natural vitamin e), avena sativa (oat) kernel flour, glyceryl caprylate (emollient), aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice, amorphophallus konjac root powder (stabiliser), xanthan gum (stabiliser).

Significant Pros

  • Propanediol (moisturizing)
  • Glycerin (moisturizing)
  • Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (anti-acne, vitamin C)
  • Lactic acid (gentle exfoliant)
  • Panthenol (soothing, moisturizing)
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra (liquorice) root extract (addresses hyper pigmentation)
  • Tocopherol (soothing, antioxidant)
  • Avena sativa (oat) kernel flour (soothing, antioxidant)
  • Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice (soothing, moisturizing)

Significant Cons

  • Nothing bad here folks

The Takeaway

I am extremely happy with the pricing, ingredients, and results of this product! This is a perfect toner/essence for those who have acne-prone, but still sensitive skin, looking for something to calm down an angry face or complement a skincare routine focusing on addressing hyper pigmentation. I’ll definitely be repurchasing this in the future and will keep an eye out for future products from this brand.

Review: Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

People’s fear of accessing care didn’t come out of nowhere. It came out of generations and centuries where needed care meant being locked up, losing your human and civil rights, and being subject to abuse.

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice

Summary and Thoughts

In this collection of essays, Lambda Literary Award-winning writer and longtime activist and performance artist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha explores the politics and realities of disability justice, a movement that centers the lives and leadership of sick and disabled queer, trans, Black, and brown people, with knowledge and gifts for all.

Care Work is a mapping of access as radical love, a celebration of the work that sick and disabled queer/people of color are doing to find each other and to build power and community, and a tool kit for everyone who wants to build radically resilient, sustainable communities of liberation where no one is left behind. Powerful and passionate, Care Work is a crucial and necessary call to arms.

Goodreads

This is a dense read – the kind of book you buy because you’ll be returning to it time and time again. Though I was able to devour this collection of essays on disability activism within a few days, I knew that some of the knowledge Piepzna-Samarasinha offered would require multiple rereads for it to fully absorb into my brain, haha. In any case, this was a fantastic introduction to disability justice and how it’s visible in contemporary settings while also putting LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people in front and centered. The language is intensive as are the theories, activist strategies, and histories explored, so perhaps this may not be a great introduction if you’re unfamiliar with ANY activism writing, but I’d still keep this on your radar regardless. For me, this is a memorable, well-written text full of great analyses on the intersections of disability in self-care, care webs, performance/art, and survivorship. I’m so glad to add this to my bookshelf!

Photo Courtesy of Goodreads

Notable Reviews

For Those Who Enjoyed

Star Rating

5/5

Review Adagio Caramel

. . . Our bright, tangy Ceylon black tea accented with rich notes of caramel flavoring (sugar-free, by the way!) is sure to have you saying, ‘wow! that’s good!’ Rich, dark caramel aroma, molasses notes. Dense and decadent cup, with a sweet, brown sugar aftertaste. 

Adagio

Ughh. This is essentially the almond flavor with a hint of caramel. Its mixture with the black tea is so stark and unbalanced, the taste is jarring in a deeply disappointing way. Though I always drink my tea without any additives, for this, I had to add some honey to combat the strange collaboration of flavors. Though the honey helped in dulling the bitter flavor somewhat, in general, I’m not seeing myself drinking more of this in the future. Please skip this blend. Finishing a single cup was a chore.

Ingredients

Blended With Black Tea & Natural Caramel Flavor

Review: Paula’s Choice BHA 2% Exfoliant Liquid

Our #1 product worldwide + cult favorite, this gentle leave-on exfoliant with salicylic acid quickly unclogs pores, smooths wrinkles, brightens and evens out skin tone. 

Paula’s Choice

A skincare cult favorite – Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is meant to address acne-prone skin by preventing blemishes without irritating skin. Considering that Paula’s Choice almost always has a sale going on, I was able to purchase this product for $20 as oppose to its usual $30. After using the whole bottle over the course of say, a month and a half (applying the liquid via cotton strip three-four times a week), I saw my skin maintain a clear, non-irritated complexion, one that started to wither away once I stopped using this product habitually.

Ingredient Pros and Cons

Ingredients: Water, Methylpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium EDTA.

Significant Pros

  • Methylpropanediol (hydrating)
  • Butylene Glycol (hydrating)
  • Salicylic Acid (acne-fighting, exfoliant)
  • Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract (calming, antioxidant)

Significant Cons

  • Nothing to complain about

The Takeaway

I really enjoyed this product! Effective, affordable, and simple, this liquid exfoliant addressed my acne issues without irritating or drying my skin. Though the bottle says that the liquid can be used twice a day, I would definitely recommend using this, at most, every other evening (1x) or you really will be overdoing it, haha. I definitely see myself repurchasing this again in the future, and would encourage others who have acne-prone, sensitive, oily skin to give this a shot (when it’s on sale, of course).