Fashion & Beauty

Over the last 5 or 6 years, I’ve become very particular about my hair. This shift happened when I decided to start wearing my naturally curly texture, because the change necessitated a new hair care regimen that took my texture into account. Over the years, I’ve found products that work well, and I’ve stuck with them. So when Walmart offered me an opportunity to spend 6 weeks trying products from a brand I’d never heard of, I admit I was a bit skeptical. Still, I thought it was worth a shot.

Over the next month and a half, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on a variety of Schwarzkopf hair care products, from shampoo and conditioner to wax powder (I’m not sure how it works either yet. I’ll get back to you on that).

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This week, I tried Schwarzkopf’s Essence Ultime Omega Repair and Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner.

But first, a word about my regular routine: I typically use products made of organic and/or natural ingredients that are designed for naturally curly African American hair. These products are neither of those things. Also, I rarely use shampoo. Seriously. I generally just co-wash with a moisturizing conditioner. I only wash with shampoo when I have product buildup or I’ve had a sweaty week. So using shampoo at all is already a departure from what I’m used to.

First, what my hair looked like before I got started:

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Flattering pic, right? I won’t admit how long it had been since my previous wash, but let’s just say it had been a while.

The Essence Ultime shampoo surprised me. It lathered up really nicely and I was able to work it through my hair without creating too many tangles. The shampoo didn’t dry out my hair or make it feel like straw, which a lot of other shampoos do. This is important, because the next step in my wash process is detangling — also known as an hour in the shower.

I usually like a very slippery conditioner to aid in the detangling process. So I knew immediately when I put the Essence Ultime conditioner In my hands that it didn’t have enough “slip.” And I was right. I was thick and nice, but not super slippery. However, what it DID do was make my hair feel super soft almost immediately. Really. It’s as if the conditioning process activated the second it touched my hair. So though it didn’t have as much slip as I’m used to, the softness still aided the detangling process. I was pleasantly surprised.

This is my hair straight out of the shower after detangling and twisting.

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Again, not the most flattering image, but it’s hard to properly convey the result in a photo. My hair was soft and bouncy. Felt great, actually.

Overall, I really like both the shampoo and conditioner, but I know I’ll get a lot more use out of the latter. My biggest qualms? The fragrances. Maybe it’s just because I’m used to mild, natural fragrance, but the smell was a bit overpowering to me, and it lingers. My husband came home from work hours after I’d washed my hair, and the first thing he said to me was “you smell different.” A day later, I could still smell it. It’s not a bad fragrance — just too strong and “perfumey” for my liking.

Lastly, and more importantly, I’m not a huge fan of the ingredients. Generally, I prefer ingredients I can pronounce and recognize. And while these specific products are not listed in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, other Schwarzkopf products are, and the scores aren’t great.

Next week, I’ll share my thoughts on a product I didn’t expect to find in their line: a curl defining cream that I used to style my hair after my wash.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

One of the compliments I’ve gotten most often over the years is that I have great skin. But what those folks don’t know is that my secret is…wait for it…

Nothing!

That’s right. I am notoriously lazy with my skin care regimen. And I get away with being lazy because of good genes. Aside from the cursory wash while I’m in the shower, the only time I ever really deep clean my face is on the rare occasion that I wear makeup. So when Walmart offered me the opportunity to try the new Burt’s Bees Renewal skin care line, I thought it might finally be a chance to start taking care of my face.

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Of course, my face is a sensitive area, so if I’m going to put something on it, it has to be from a brand I trust. Thankfully, Burt’s Bees is right up there on the short list of widely available brands that I can buy without worrying about what’s in it.

The idea behind the renewal line that is our skin renews itself every 28 days, so the products are designed to work with that cycle to help make skin smoother and firmer, reducing the look of wrinkles. After 28 days of use, you should see the difference.

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I tried the Refining Facial Cleanser and Firming Day Lotion, the latter of which is rated SPF 30. I haven’t quite hit 28 days of use yet, but I want you to see how my skin is looking after two weeks of use:

Before Use

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Holy closeup, Batman! I hate this photo, but I wanted to get in really close so you could see how dry my skin looked.

7 Days of Use

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I took this photo immediately after applying the moisturizer. You can see how much better moisturized my skin looks already.

14 Days of Use

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I took this photo about an hour after applying the moisturizer in the morning. My skin looks and feels a lot fresher and brighter than on day 1. I think it looks pretty good!

The refining cleanser ($9.76), is an exfoliator with a bit of a gritty texture to remove dirt and oil and smooth the skin, and I actually really like it! This is saying a lot for a person who has never really stuck with any type of facial cleanser for very long. You apply it to a wet face and rub it with your fingers. I like to start in my t-zone and work around my eyes, cheeks and forehead. It rinses really easily and left my skin feeling genuinely refreshed — likely because of the exfoliating.

My face is prone to dryness, so the Firming Day Lotion ($18.76) has been a great way to restore moisture after cleaning. A little bit really goes a long way, and it applies smoothly and easily. I have to rub it in well to make sure I don’t have any white residue, but after application, my skin looks firmer and “brighter”, and more importantly, it feels a lot firmer and brighter.

The Renewal line just may have convinced me to keep up with a daily regimen, because I really do like the way my skin feels now compared to day 1. I’m definitely going to finish out the 28 days, but I’ll likely keep using it even after that.

Want to join the fun? You can pick up the Burt’s Bees Renewal line at your local Walmart, after you download a $1 coupon from the walmart.com coupon gallery. Once you try it, share your results on your social profiles using #28DayFaceCleanse .

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You can also sign up at burtsbees.com/28days and be entered for a chance to win a trip for 2 to celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder’s transformation retreat, along with other prizes. The first 5,000 entrants will get a free sample of the Renewal Serum.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Carter’s. I received a complimentary gift card to facilitate my review and thank me for my participation.

It finally feels like spring is here to stay. The afternoons are getting warmer and warmer, and we rarely need our winter coats when we leave the house. Light layers work just fine. Except, baby Juliza wasn’t really ready for the warmer weather. All the clothes that can fit her had long sleeves or heavy fabrics, or they’re too big to fit her just yet. So when I got an opportunity to check out Carter’s spring collection, I couldn’t wait to update her wardrobe.

Trust that I was not disappointed!

Of all the baby brands we’ve used, Carter’s is by far one of my favorites. The fabrics are soft and supple, with great quality that lasts through Juliza’s rigorous “testing” and washing. Plus, the styles are always cute. Case in point:

Outfit 1: Denim Moto Jacket & Jeans

How freaking cute is this?

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There was no way I was walking out of the store without this jacket. This is just too adorable for words. A baby in a motorcycle jacket? It’s just too much cute! She broke the cute-o-meter!

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Seriously though, the jacket is super soft and comfortable, and I can’t wait to find a million ways for her to wear it. The jeans have an elastic waist, which is my preference, because snap or button closures tend to fit Juliza too tightly. The striped shirt was the perfect complement to the jacket, though it skews a little nautical.

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Finally, we grabbed a pair of white mary jane style shoes with big flowers in front that can go with almost anything. Including…

Outfit 2: Easter Dress & Sweater

Easter Sunday is coming this weekend, and JuJu didn’t have a dress. Gasp! Problem solved though…

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There were a ton of bright, beautifully girly, frilly dresses to choose from. So many that I had a really hard time picking one. My older daughter actually chose this one because I couldn’t decide. I love the yellow and white stripes, and the blue ribbon waist is the perfect touch. To complement it, we picked up a cardigan, since there is still a bit of a chill in the air.

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I realized when we got home that I also should’ve grabbed some tights to keep her legs warm, so I’ll have to head back. Still, the look is gorgeous even without them. And just because my child knows how to melt my heart, right as we were finishing up these photos, she goes and does this…

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This is one of her favorite stuffed animals, and she grabbed it and hugged it because she knew how cute it would be. OK. Maybe she was just playing. Still, she officially killed the cute-o-meter.

Outfit 3: Swimsuit

Then she revived it and killed it again.

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Now it’s dead. That cute-o-meter didn’t stand a chance.

Last summer, Juliza had a couple of two-piece swimsuits, but this year, I knew I wanted a one-piece because she’s at the stage when she’s figuring out how to take her clothes off. I’ll miss the ease of changing her diaper in a tankini, but this sailboat-themed one-piece looks so great on her that I’ll get over it.

They didn’t have the coordinating sandals in her size, and I wanted to grab sunglasses and a hat, but I knew she wouldn’t keep them on longer than 2 seconds. Still, I’m glad to see there were lots of coordinating pieces — even towels.

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Now, I’m officially itching for a trip to the beach.

In addition to these great outfits, we picked up some spring color onesies and another two-piece outfit, but Juliza had had it with the photos, so I’ll just show you our entire haul.

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She’s definitely ready for spring now!

If you need to outfit your kids for the warmer weather too, you’re in luck! This coupon gets you 20% off any purchase of $40 or more, so be sure to print it out before you go shopping.

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Plus, through April 5, Carter’s is offering 50% off the entire store! That’s how we managed to get our entire haul for right at $100. It’s a great time to stock up without spending too much, plus there are tees and shorts doorbusters for $5-8.

I grew up watching the 1982 version of Annie, and like the rest of the world, I was captivated by the little redhead who had a way of making everyone smile. I loved the story of this little orphan who found a home in the most unexpected of places, and I loved the music. Fast forward more than 30 years later, and my daughter is getting a chance to fall in love with Annie too, courtesy of Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx.

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My husband and I took our girls to see the new Annie movie when it was still in theaters, and Ja’Naya loved it! I can’t lie — part of the charm for me was seeing a little girl who looked a lot like my little girl playing a role that I grew up loving. So when Walmart offered me the chance to have a movie night with my family and Annie, we were all excited. Not least of all Ja’Naya.

In this remake, Annie is a foster kid who is an a crappy situation with a horrible foster mom, but who still manages to keep an infectious spirit that affects everyone around her. The original Daddy Warbucks is replaced by Mr. Stacks, a ridiculously wealthy cell phone mogul who wants to use Annie to score him some votes in his run for mayor. He eventually falls in love with the precocious little girl, but of course, there’s always someone who will try to ruin a good thing. I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

Anyway, we received the exclusive Annie Blu-ray & DVD gift set, complete with Sandy plush dog, which is available in-stores now. Plus, much to my daughter’s delight, we received the soundtrack CD and lyrics sheets. I swear, she learned the words to all the songs exactly 2 days in.

But when we sat down to have movie night, I thought it would be awesome to style my daughter’s hair like Annie, in a big curly twistout.

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The process is simple for naturally curly hair.

1. Wash and detangle hair with a moisturizing conditioner. Shea Moisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner is one of my favorites.

2. While hair is still wet, neatly twist it into two-strand twists with a moisturizing styler, like Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie.

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3. Allow hair to dry in twists. This can mean keeping the twists intact for as little as a few hours, or as is the case with my daughter, a few days. I prefer to keep her hair twisted for school and gymnastics during the week, and let it loose on the weekends.

4. Carefully untwist hair, being careful not to pull and frizz. The curls should be clumped and well-defined.

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The final result is a gorgeous twistout of which I’m sure Annie would approve!

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Ja’Naya got into the spirit of the movie and donned her favorite red dress for movie night, mirroring Annie’s outfit for her big night with Mr. Stacks and the DVD cover.

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She’s already watched the movie 3 times, and I know the fourth is coming on a night when she doesn’t have homework. Suffice it to say that Annie is a hit around here, and I’m sure you and your family will love it too. The DVD box set is just $24.96. Now we just have to watch the 1982 version so she’ll have a point of comparison and see why this version is so special.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Outfit: Spring has Sprung

Georgia is a big tease. In between the crazy cold, windy days, we’ll get a 60-degree day here and a 70-degree day here, and I’ll think spring is here to stay. Of course, I’ll be wrong, and it’s back to 30 degrees the next day. And it leaves me bitter every time. Still, there are some places where spring is on, and thanks to Walmart, I brought a little of that into my closet.

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I was honestly really impressed by the spring fashion selection at Walmart. There’s lace, pastels and neons, big hats in stripes and solids, colorful statement necklaces, maxi dresses, jumpsuits, kimonos and more. I really had a lot to choose from. I was tempted to go for florals, but instead, I put together an outfit using two pieces that were missing from my closet: a midi dress and a great hat.

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I’m Wearing: No Boundaries Aztec lace dress ($14.88) | Floppy straw hat ($7.97) (aff)

I cannot overstate how much I love this dress. I used to be so afraid of form-fitting silhouettes, but I’ve learned to embrace my curves and wear what I like. And this dress right here? I absolutely love it!

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Lace can be tricky if not made well, because it usually has zero stretch or movement, so you have to be spot-on for sizing. In this case, the dress is more of a lazer-cut pattern than traditional lace, and both the dress and lining have great stretch. It is an incredibly comfortable wear, and I love the just-below-the-knee length. I can already tell this is going to be in heavy rotation for spring and summer. Plus, it’s available in 3 other colors (spearmint, coral and black) and at just $14.88, I really want to get a few more.

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The dress by itself was fabulous, but I knew I needed something else to punch it up. A big statement necklace felt too heavy, but when I saw these hats, I had to have one. This style is only available in Walmart stores. Still, it’s worth the trip, because there are a ton of options, and they’re only $7.97. I felt like a real Southern belle in this hat.

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Plus, I know it’s going to come in really handy when Memorial Day rolls around and I’m out in the sun all day for Atlanta’s Caribbean carnival. I’m going to get more than my money’s worth that weekend alone.

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The spring fashion season is here in full effect, and Walmart has really done a great job of meeting this year’s trends at great prices. Check out what they have to offer, and tell me what’s on your spring fashion wish list this year.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I admit it. I’m a bad mommy. OK, not really. But every year, I forget to get my child a green outfit — or shirt, or something — for St. Patrick’s Day. What can I say? Green isn’t a color that’s in heavy rotation in my daughter’s closet. So she winds up dodging the threat of pinches every year.

Not this year, though. This year, when Walmart challenged me to share a St. Patrick’s Day story, I finally acted in advance and got her a cute green outfit to rock.

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She’s Wearing: Faded Glory circle top | Faded Glory roll cuff chino capris (aff)

Here’s the thing: I realize the pants skew more “mint” than emerald green, but there wasn’t a lot of that to be found, save for one St. Patty’s Day themed shirt featuring Hello Kitty. Instead of buying a top she could wear only one time, I thought it made more sense to get her something she could wear again. Plus, these chinos were just too cute to pass up, and only $10.64.

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Paired with a flouncy top, I think it’s safe to say she’ll be avoiding pinches this year. And maybe — just maybe — she’ll attract a leprechaun to come bring us a little good luck and a lot of green.

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Wishful thinking? Her smile says “yes!”

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I’m Wearing: George ponte jacket | Jordache high rise super skinny jeans (aff)

I can’t lie to you…I’m a bit weary of winter. But this is the way it always happens, right? We wait for summer to turn into fall, then to winter so we can pull out our fancy boots and layers. Then a few months in, we’re longing for warm weather again. Thankfully, I live in Georgia, so I won’t have to wait but a few short months for spring.

And as I anticipate spring, there are a couple of pieces I really like to have in my closet for the transition: A great blazer that can warm up a chilly day and dress up any outfit, and a great pair of jeans that can take from me from cold months to warm and back again.

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This awesome George blazer went in my cart about 2 seconds after I spotted it on the rack at Walmart. It’s a soft jacket — not a structured one like I usually prefer — so I wasn’t sure if I’d like the fit, but it is super comfortable, and I love the rolled sleeves (though you can unroll them if you want). At just $19.94, it is one of those great items that I can wear with a skirt, over a dress, or with a long-sleeved tee and jeans when it’s still cold outside.

And speaking of jeans: I have three pairs of these in different colors my closet because I love them so much. These Jordache high rise super skinny jeans have the perfect amount of stretch — so much that they still wear well after a wash and will fit over leggings or tights when it’s really cold. Plus, I cannot stand low-rise jeans, and these hit the perfect spot on my waist so I don’t have to spend the whole day pulling up my pants.

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In addition to these two spring staples, I love to get tanks, leggings and other layering basics at Walmart, because I know they’ll be affordable and the quality will be good. Check out Walmart’s Closet Must-Haves page to see what else they have to offer. You’ll find everything from on-trend kimonos and joggers to everyday jeans and purses.

So what about you? What’s on your list of closet must-haves?

[wmt-disclosure]

I have spent a lot of time lamenting the lack of clothing options for women like me. Women who care for the Earth and care about how and where our clothes were made, but who also want to look fabulous and happen to be plus sized. Thankfully, that is beginning to change, and I love discovering new brands that cater to my desire for all these things. LNBF is the latest to catch my eye and let me tell you — I am in love.

Outfit 1

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I’m Wearing: Taylor dress c/o LNBF | Aerosoles Sarasota Boots

LNBF stands for “Leave Nothing but Footprints”, which comes from the saying:

“Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories.”

As their name might imply, LNBF is dedicated to making clothing that doesn’t leave a huge footprint on the Earth. As such, they use luxurious, eco-friendly fabrics like bamboo viscose, Tencel and organic cotton. Even better? Many of their pieces go up to XXL in sizing. Win for the big girls!

The Taylor dress, which is officially my new favorite little black dress, is made of bamboo with faux leather details. And those details? Just yes! The waist cinching silhouette and the faux leather shoulder details make this a perfect choice for so many occasions. Plus, the fabric is weighty enough to work if layered during the winter, but I can still envision wearing it in the summer.

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Outfit 2

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I’m Wearing: Lola belted dress c/o LNBF | Aerosoles Sarasota Boots

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This second dress is going to be added to heavy rotation in my closet. The Lola belted dress has a great tulip silhouette that is so figure-flattering, even without the belt. Still, the belt puts it over the top. The length is a little on the short side, so it could work as a tunic with leggings or tights, which is great for winter. However, I have no problem showing off my legs, so I know it’s going to become a summer staple because of that fabulous high neckline and the comfy fabric.

Outfit 3

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I’m Wearing: Annabelle leggings and Erika peplum top c/o LNBF | Zara heels (old)

I admit I saved the best for last here. I cannot possibly overstate how much I love these leggings. I’ve worn waaaay too many that have elastic waistbands and stretch out around the ankles. These slide on like butter, and the zippered back and tailored fit give them a much more sophisticated look than your average leggings. Also, the faux leather front panels just make me swoon. So there’s that :)

The Erika peplum top is a great twist on a classic. I thought I was over the peplum silhouette after wearing it so much for the past few years, but the asymmetric hem of this top makes it different, and the fabric is so soft that I spend a good minute rubbing it against my skin even before I put it on. Really. It feels like magic and clouds had a baby. Plus, it’s on sale right now for $29.99, so I am tempted to get one in every color. This only goes up to XL, but that fit my busty body just perfect.

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Honestly, I am so thrilled to have found LNBF. I come across a lot of eco-friendly fashion brands that leave something to be desired in the style department, or who just stick to basics that are nice, but not exciting. To be sure, they do offer essentials, but there’s just enough in their collection that is fashion-forward that I know I’ll keep going back every time they have new released.

It’s Giveaway Time!

I love when I can share the love with my readers, and LNBF wants to bless one of you with a $100 gift card so you can buy whatever you want! Enter via the Rafflecopter below!

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Bonus! Coupon Code

If you want to go right ahead and start shopping now, you can do it with 20% off! That’s right! LNBF is offering Green & Gorgeous readers 20% off with coupon code “GREEN20 through Feb 28!

Disclosure: I received clothing for review from LNBF. All opinions stated here are my own and completed accurate.