Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Consumer Reports Buying Strategies for Appliances

Are you in the market for a new dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, or refrigerator? Before you buy, check out Consumer Reports Buying Guide 2009 to make an informed decision.

Consumer Reports magazine specializes in brand name comparisons of automobiles and household products. The magazine also gives informed and impartial advice on a wide variety of topics like health, nutrition, personal finance and travel. Consumer reports buys all of the products that it tests and accepts no free samples. They do not allow any company to use their information or ratings for commercial purposes.

In addition to their product ratings and reviews, Consumer Reports has other noteworthy buying strategies for household appliances:

1. Time your cooking appliance purchase for September or October, when retailers put the previous year's model on sale.
2. Time your refrigerator purchase around May for this same reason.
3. Check for sales after the winter holidays.
4. Look for rebates, coupons, and related discounts in the store and online.
5. Prior to making your purchase, sign up on a store's web site to receive e-mails with coupons, rebates, free shipping, and VIP sales with discounts on selected products.
6. Combine special offers from the store and manufacturer whenever possible.

Based on the Consumer Reports Best Buy, I purchased my LG Bottom Freezer, Energy Star rated refrigerator from Sears in June. I contacted my electric company to inquire about a rebate for Energy Star Rated appliances. They offered a $50 rebate on the new refrigerator, as well as rebates on other household appliances. I did not know this! I filled out the forms, attached my receipt and within two weeks I had a check for $50. For Energy Star Rated Appliances, look for manufacturer's rebates and make sure to inquire with your electric company for additional rebate savings! Find the best products with CR and save money in the process.

Kristi is a Freelance Writer specializing in online marketing communications. She writes press releases, web articles, media kits, brochures, web content and more. Please visit for more information.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sunscreen Skincare - The Paula Begoun, “Cosmetic Cop” Reviews

Now that summer is here, it’s time to stock up on the sunscreen! But not all sunscreens are alike. With all the different brands, formulations and SPF’s ranging from 8 to over 100, what the heck do you choose? Check out what expert Paula Begoun recommends for sunscreen products!

If you’re not familiar with Paula Begoun, she is the creator of Paula’s Choice skin care and cosmetics products. She has more than 25 years of experience in the beauty industry, and has performed in-depth research and study of skin and cosmetic ingredients. She is the author and publisher of seven best-selling books on the beauty industry, including Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me 7th edition, Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal, The Beauty Bible 2nd Edition, and Don’t Go Shopping for Hair-Care Products Without Me. Paula’s books have sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide. She is a nationally-recognized consumer expert for the cosmetics industry. She has made appearances on Oprah, CNN, The Today Show, 20/20, Dateline NBC, The View, and Primetime.

Paula’s website,, isn’t just a sales tool for her product line. She has carefully and expertly evaluated products from cosmetic and skin care companies from Almay to Zapzyt. She has her own product rating system, ranging from a checkmark and smiley face, for those products she identifies as a “Paula’s Pick” (a product that exceeds expectations and goes beyond the criteria for a product in its category) to the frowning faces, which reflect a product that is truly bad for the skin from almost every angle, including price, dated formulations, performance, application and texture, as well as potential for irritation, skin reactions and breakouts.

Paula’s Criterion

Paula’s determination of each individual product’s rating is based on a specific benchmark established for each product category, in the case of sunscreen, it’s the importance of UVA-protecting ingredients in a formulation. In addition she asks these questions:
  • Given the ingredient list, can the product do what it promises?

  • How does the product differ from other products?

  • If a special ingredient is showcased, how much is actually in the product, and is there independent research verifying the claim?

  • How far fetched are the product’s claims?

  • Are there similar or identical formulations available that cost less?

    Paula’s Picks

    The following sunscreens are Paula’s Picks. These are the cream-of-the-crop, they exceed expectations and go beyond the criteria of other sunscreens.

    Avon – Moisture Therapy Mineral Sunscreen Cream with SPF 28, sold for $9.99/3.4 ounces. She rates this sunscreen’s mineral-based formula as an outstanding option for normal to slightly dry or slightly oily skin that is sensitive or struggling with rosacea. This sunscreen contains iron oxides, a type of pigment added to offset the potential white cast that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can have on your skin. This sunscreen earned the Paula’s pick rating, in part, because it is fragrance-free and tailored for sensitive skin.

    Neutrogena – Age Shield Sunblock SPF 30, sold for $9.99/4 ounces. According to Paula, this sunscreen is appropriately named and honestly describes what a well-formulated sunscreen does for your skin. This avobenzone sunscreen is fragrance-free and certainly has the UVA range covered. The formula also includes several antioxidants. Without greasiness, it’s a texture that someone with normal to very oily skin will love. It is suitable for use under makeup. Paula notes that Neutrogena is “touting this and their other sunscreens with Helioplex as a breakthrough, when, in fact, (according to her research) isn’t anything new under the sun.” What really counts is that this sunscreen is a well formulated, broad spectrum sunscreen that should make the list when shopping for a water-resistant SPF 30 sunscreen.

    Paula’s Other Recommendations

    These sunscreens are not her “picks”, however they are in the category of great products that are highly recommended because of their performance or impressive formulary characteristics.

    Coppertone – Oil Free Quick Cover Lotion Spray SPF 30, sold for $9.99/6 ounces. This sunscreen includes avobenzone for sufficient UVA protection. She calls it a good, spray-on sunscreen lotion for normal to oily skin. She notes that this sunscreen is water resistant, but not waterproof and requires reapplication after prolonged immersion in water or perspiring.

    Coppertone - Water Babies Lotion SPF 50, sold for $10.99/8 ounce. The Water Babies Lotion is a good, basic, in-part avobenzone sunscreen that is water-resistant, and not waterproof, as claimed. It must be reapplied after prolonged swimming or perspiring. Despite it being a recommended sunscreen, she notes that this formula is not a gentle, non-irritating formula as claimed. The active ingredients have the potential to sting or cause other types of sensitizing reaction’s to anyone’s skin, regardless of age.
    She indicates that a mineral based sunscreen whose only active ingredients are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are distinctly preferred for use on babies.

    Banana Boat – Sport Performance Dri-Blok Continuous Spray SPF 30, sold for $9.99/6 ounces. She calls this sunscreen formula “very good, and in-part avobenzone sunscreen for active people with normal to oily skin. The film forming agent ensures water- and sweat-resistance, however, as with all sunscreens, this needs to be reapplied after excessive perspiration or water immersion. This spray-on sunscreen does not contain alcohol, which is very drying to the skin.

    My Picks

    When its not raining in New England, I use the Neutrogena – Age Shield Sunblock SPF 30. This product is readily available online and in stores like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. I only use the product on my face, as its slightly more expensive and is suitable for application under make-up. I like the convenience of a spray, so for my family I opt for the Banana Boat – Sport Performance Dri-Blok Continuous Spray SPF 30. This sunscreen has a very good formula for active people and unlike other spray-on formulas, doesn’t contain alcohol. Have a happy, burn-free summer!

Kristi is a Freelance Writer specializing in online marketing communications. She writes press releases, web articles, media kits, brochures, web content and more. Please visit for more information.
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