Showing posts with label Estee Lauder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Estee Lauder. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In Rotation: Skin Toners

I think a good toner can make a world of difference in keeping the skin clear and refreshed. This time of year my skin typically goes crazy as the seasons change, however this year right now my skin has actually been getting better, clearer and feels smoother. I attribute this to a few things I've switched up in my skincare routine for day and night. I'll have a roundup of cleansers and moisturizers I've been using, but for now today's focus is on toner.

Today there are so many different types of facial toners on the market, each one has a different purpose. For me I have crazy sensitive skin that will react within seconds to many toners. Others will feel great upon application but then make my skin super oily within minutes. Five I have in rotation all have different purposes. You definitely don't need more than one toner at a time although I typically have 2-3 toners on hand to rotate depending on how my skin feels.

Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Toning Lotion ($25 for 6.7 fl oz) is my most-repurchased toner. I've gone through a few bottles of this one. For me it's the best everyday kind of toner if your skin is normal. It's gentle but effective in helping clean the skin after your regular cleanser and there is a very soft exfoliating factor built in. I like that it's good for my sensitive skin and doesn't dry the face out or leave a film residue. If your skin is normal/combo or dry there are other toner options from Estee Lauder that you might want to check out. (There's a gift with purchase online at Nordstrom right now in case you wanted to stock up on some items.)



The SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion ($70 for  5 fl oz) is my second most-repurchased toner. This one is on the pricey side but is another good everyday kind of toner. It contains a mix of AHA and Pitera™which is unique to the SK-II skincare products. These help clarify the skin and exfoliate dead skin cells to help prep your skin for moisturizers or serums. This one is very gentle on the face and really works to clear up the skin. I had tiny little bumps on the cheekbones and this helps keep them away. It's refreshing and it leaves the skin feeling soft. There is a slight moisture feel left on the skin after you apply it but it doesn't feel like residue. It's gentle enough that it doesn't sting the skin even on days when the face is a bit tender.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Saccharomycopsis Ferment Filtrate*, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Peg-150, Cellulose Gum, Disodium Edta, Citric Acid, Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben *Pitera.


Chanel recently reformulated their Le Blanc line. I was at the counter buying the new Hydra Beauty Micro Serum and my go-to sales rep said she highly recommended the new Le Blanc Brightening Moisturizing Lotion ($67.50 for fl oz) for my sensitive skin. I have never been able to use any of the Chanel toners in the past without getting tiny little red bumps within minutes, another rep commented she too could not use any of the toners from Chanel but this one was worth trying. I gave it a shot and have been really impressed. I've been needing extra help in the brightening area, especially with some acne scars. This one is extremely gentle. It has a texture that is thicker than most traditional toners but still absorbs nicely into the skin with a cotton pad. It helps soothe the face and really does work to help with my acne scars. After using this for a few weeks my skin feels rebalanced and clearer. There is some hydration with this which is perfect for right now as my skin needs moisture and clarifying at the same time.



Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment Toner ($26 for 5 fl oz) came highly recommended to me by a rep who doesn't work for the line. We were discussing face masks and treatments to help with my acne scars. By now my chin and jawline breakouts have almost completely disappeared (it's 97% there to clear skin) and what I have to fix next is the scars and dark marks. He said hands down the Kate Somerville toner is his favorite and that it's designed for post-acne scars. I typically don't like tones for acne-prone or oily skin because I find them too stripping and it ends up sending my skin into overdrive oiliness. This one is alcohol-free and has witch hazel to fight acne-causing bacteria, phytic acid to lighten skin for scars, and aloe to soothe and calm.

After testing this for several weeks I think the upsides are that it really works to calm down the skin, especially if you have redness from irritation. It helped soothe areas that were tender from dry patches and acne. I do think it's a bit drying on the forehead for me, but it worked really well on other areas of the face. I've seen a difference on my cheeks and chin area with this. For toners that brighten the skin and help reduce irriration, I would say it's a toss up between the Chanel Le Blanc and Kate Somerville Clarifying Toner. The Chanel is better suited for normal to dry skin while the Kate Somerville seems to be clearly for normal to oily skin.

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Caprylyl Glycol, Glycerin, Carbomer, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Oleanolic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Methyl Gluceth-10, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Phytic Acid, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Lactic Acid, Disodium EDTA-Copper, Panthenol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Chlorphenesin.

Last but not least is the By Terry Cellularose Hydra-Toner ($65 for 6.8 fl oz). I had used a few samples of this in the past and it comes highly recommended by a few friends. I don't consider myself a huge fan of rose scented products but I am a big fan of the Cellularose Brightening CC Lumi Serums (review here), Baume de Rose (for lips) and the Cellularose Nutri-Baume (for a face moisturizer on dry skin days). For me to fall in love with those items even with the rose scent says a lot about the products themselves. For me the rose scent in the By Terry line is a soft rose that is wearable and soothing (at least to me). The Cellularose Hydra-Toner is their Clarifying Comfort Toner and it's the best one to soothe skin over the entire face (not just spots). It's designed for all skin types and I would say formula-wise this is really truly good for all skin types. It leaves the skin feeling refreshed and glowing and also works to shrink pores and remove any signs of dryness. I do think the rose scent is stronger in this compared to other By Terry products. I cannot use this in the evening because the fragrance interferes with my sleep. This one leaves the skin looking the most dewy/glowy without feeling greasy or any residue.



Good toners have helped keep the skin clear and it's an extra step to help make sure the face is truly clean with subtle exfoliation. All except the By Terry are almost fragrance free, each has a soft clean scent that is very subtle even for my super sensitive nose. If you're in search of a new toner as we transition seasons, I hope this roundup is helpful. I think using a good toner can really help rebalance and readjust your skin as it reacts to weather changes. Sometimes my skin just gets used to something after using a product for an extended period of time and it becomes less effective so I like to switch things up every so often. For reference, I use all of these with a cotton pad (my favorites are Cle de Peau Beaute and Chanel). In summary:
  • My everyday go-to toners are Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean and SK-II, these are good for normal sensitive skin that needs daily balancing and clearing
  • For seasonal transition, brightening and hydration, the Chanel Le Blanc is amazing, I've been incorporating this one into my weekly routine and I've been really pleased with it, it seems to be suitable for dry skin days but also works to clarify and rebalance, the skin is brightened and looks softer
  • For acne scars and soothing, the Kate Somerville is really worth looking into, although if you have normal skin, you may not see as much of a difference with this one
  • For all skintypes, the By Terry Cellularose Hydra-Toner seems the best for oily, dry, and sensitive, it will leave your skin feeling truly refreshed and glowing

Do you have a favorite toner? I would love to hear about your favorites and skin type. Do you use the same one year round or do you switch things up as the seasons change, or even on a weekly basis?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hand Creams, Lotions and Treatments in Winter Rotation

This post has been several months in the works and with the winter weather I thought it the perfect time to share my favorite hand creams to battle dry skin. I've had my favorites in hand creams that I've tried, loved and been very loyal to which include L'Occitane, Tatcha and Caudalie. A few close friends have sworn by their personal favorites from different lines and insisted that I give them a test drive. Based on their recommendations I compiled a list of what to check out at stores near me and put several others to the test. Today I have a roundup of what I've tested, liked and my thoughts. Shown above from left to right:

Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream ($15 for 2.5 fl oz)
This one is purse friendly, absorbs quickly, lightweight texture, soft sweet grape scent. I'm really particular with scented hand treatments this one has a nice smell. If you're in need of quick and instant hydration I highly recommend this one. Moisturized feel lingers for a few minutes but the skin absorbs it fast and the hands are left feeling nicely hydrated and silky for hours.

Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve ($15 for 2.5 fl oz, $22 for 5 fl oz)
I never tried this until last month even though so many have raved about it. It is an intense treatment and I've found offers the most hydration out of all the ones I tested. There is a soft eucalyptus almost minty scent to it straight out of the tube, but the scent disappears almost instantly and leaves a very slight hint of fragrance. If you're sensitive to fragrance this is a good pick. It absorbs quickly and doesn't leave a greasy feel. I bought the smaller size which is purse-friendly.

Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Intensive Smoothing Hand Creme ($60 for 3.4 fl oz)
I got this as a gift with purchase over a year ago and it has lasted a long time (still going strong). I remember when I researched this after receiving it thinking the price tag was extremely high for a hand treatment. I put it to the test and have been thoroughly impressed with the way it smooths the look of the hands instantly and improves texture over time. It is on the thick side but doesn't leave any greasy residue on the hands because it also absorbs nicely. I wish it came in a smaller size option.

Formula X Hydrate Hand Crème with Kpangnan Butter ($16 for 3.4 fl oz)
Is a new hand cream from the Formula X line at Sephora. It smells absolutely delicious without being overpowering. It has a mix of shea butter with almond scent. It is very emollient and you can feel instant relief after applying. It is on the rich side so you can feel the moisture linger for about 15 to 20 minutes before it absorbs entirely. That being said it doesn't feel heavy even though the formula is rich. I do wish the scent lasted a bit longer, it fades after 15 minutes or so, but the formula is good. It comes in a medium sized tube (also wish it came in a smaller option).

Eve Lom Hand Cream with SPF 10 ($35 for 1.6 fl oz)
This has been on my radar for months and I finally put it to the test in December. It's the most lightweight hand cream I've tried with an airy texture and it absorbs into the skin instantly. There is no detectable scent so if you're super sensitive to fragrance this is an excellent choice. It offers instant relief for dryness and lasts a long time. Although it is moisturizing, I found it on the lighter side compared to other treatments.

Malin + Goetz Vitamin B5 Hand Treatment ($20 for 1.7 oz)
Is a rich hand treatment that's oil-free and made with a very soft almond-like scent. It claims to be quick absorbing which I agree with, but it has a super emollient texture which makes it feel a bit greasy even after 10 minutes. I found it a bit too heavy for my hands for day but do like it for night. That being said I did try this multiple times in stores before purchasing to give it more extensive testing. When my hands were super dry, testing this at the store gave my hands instant relief. The initial scent is really nice but after the dry down the scent disappears completely. 

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream ($38 for 60 ml / 2 fl oz)
This has been a long-time favorite. It comes in a travel size option which is nice to test it at a cheaper price point. If you have super dry or itchy hands, this is my ultimate pick for relief, hydration and also has the best lightweight scent. It has a blue tint but it disappears and absorbs into the skin (and doesn't stain). I usually prefer hand creams that are priced $20 and under, but this one is so so good, I'm willing to overlook the price.

Diptyque Eau Rose Hand Cream ($28 for 1.7 oz)
This was released last year with the limited-edition Rosa Mundi collection. The Eau Rose Hand Cream is still available and is the sweetest rose I've tried. I think rose fragrances can be hard to do right, Diptyque's Eau Rose has bergamot, blackcurrant, musk, cedar and honey mixed in making it more complex and less floral. The packaging is to die for.

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream ($12 to $28, 1 oz to 5.2 oz)
This was the first hand cream I used when I was in high school and in my college days. I love the small travel size tubes these come in and also love every single one of the different scents and formulas. The Shea Butter formula is the classic one with the thickest and richest texture. I can't count the times I've purchased this or tubes I've used up. L'Occitane is on my list every year to purchase as stocking stuffers. I'll purchase tubes throughout the year as mini gifts, combine a mini hand cream and small box of chocolates and it makes a nice affordable treat for any occasion.

L'Occitane Scented Hand Treatments, assorted
L'Occitane's scented hand creams are among the few that my sensitive nose can tolerate. They are subtle enough for me to wear without feeling self-conscious but strong enough that you can still smell them. I adore the sets L'Occitane offers, the holiday Arlésienne Velvet Hand Cream (.35 oz mini from the holiday L'Occibox shown, but available for purchase in the 1 oz size) is rose, sweet violet and saffron mix which is a pretty feminine scent (my husband approves of it on me). If you missed out on the holiday L'Occibox Elle x L'Occitane illustrated hand creams, the good news is that there is a cute 4-piece tin called the Irresistible Hand Collection which has the full sized 1 oz tubes. 

As you can tell, I'm a bit of a hand cream fanatic. Taking good care of my hands is a must, especially since I tend to wash them frequently and they are prone to dryness. In terms of picking my favorites, my criteria includes: has to absorb quickly, medium or lightweight fragrance, must be purse-friendly, cute packaging, and prefer something $20 and under. My recommendations to you will depend on what your skin is like, fragrance tolerance and also what your personal needs are. My quick take:

My personal top three picks for best formula for hydration:
Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream
L'Occitane Shea Butter
Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve

Best fragrance (for sensitive noses):
Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream
L'Occitane any, my favs are Arlésienne, Amande and Cherry Blossom
Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream

Fragrance free (or almost no fragrance):
Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve
Eve Lom Hand Cream

Most rich and moisturizing:
Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve
Malin + Goetz
Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv

What are your favorite hand creams? I've been looking for a good liquid hand soaps, if you have any favorites that are gentle on the hands I'm all ears for your recommendations.

The Tatcha Indigo Hand Cream and L'Occitane baby hand creams were part of press samples provided for review consideration. All others purchased by me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nordstrom + Estée Lauder Fall Gift With Purchase

Nordstrom has an awesome Estée Lauder Gift With Purchase going on right now. With any $45 Estée Lauder purchase, you get a sleek cosmetics bag filled with deluxe travel-size items and your choice of a lifting or repairing moisturizer duo. Be sure to use code LIFT or REPAIR at checkout to redeem the gift. The makeup bag is a two-toned zip pouch with a textured surface. It contains:
  • Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser/Purifying Mask (1 oz.)
  • Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II (0.3 oz.)
  • Full-Size Pure Color Lipstick in Rubellite
  • Pure Color Gloss in Orchard Passion (0.2 oz.) 
  • Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara in Black
For the skincare duo minis, you have two options:
  • Lift option (use code LIFT)
    • Resilience Lift Firming/Sculpting Face and Neck Creme (0.5 oz.)
    • Resilience Lift Night Firming/Sculpting Face and Neck Creme (0.5 oz.)
  • Repair option (use code REPAIR)
    • Advanced Time Zone Reversing Line/Wrinkle Creme (0.5 oz.)
    • Advanced Time Zone Night Reversing Line/Wrinkle Creme (0.5 oz.)

I replenished on some favorites including the Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser (for normal/combination skin) and the Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Toning Lotion which I find good for my sensitive skin (both are regular staples). I also picked up two new items from Aerin Beauty including the new Weekday Lip Gloss (a neutral mauve pink) and the Cool Gel Eyeliner Pencil in Essential Brown (a shimmering cool brown).

In case you need some ideas of what to try, some of my tried and true favorites below (each item is clickable). I find the Estee Lauder prices reasonable for a high-end line, two items will most likely be sufficient to qualify for the $45 min purchase.

The Estee Lauder Intensive Smoothing Hand Cream is one of my favorite hand treatments to smooth lines and hydrate dry hands. I also like the Aerin Bronzers for a natural bronze glow. If you need to replenish on skincare items, now is a good time to shop. I actually like the makeup bag this time, it's something I will actually use :)

What are your Estee Lauder favorites? I've discovered so many things because my mother is a huge Estee Lauder fan and passed along numerous recommendations to me over the years. The Fall Nordstrom Gift With Purchase is available online and in stores with ant $45 Estee Lauder purchase, while supplies last. If you order online, be sure to enter code LIFT or REPAIR to redeem the gift.

Thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post, all items purchased by me. For more information refer to my Disclosures page.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick | Insatiable Ivory and Intense Nude

Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipsticks ($30 each) launched several months ago and I just got around to checking them out at my local counters. Swatches and looks kept surfacing showing beautifully pigmented rich colors. There is a diverse range of color options with this new lipstick formula. I've avoided Estee Lauder lipsticks for a long time due to the super strong fig scent which I could not tolerate. I'm happy to report the new Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipsticks have no detectable scent and that they come in a sleek modern-looking navy and gold tube.

These are described as a high-intensity sculpting lipstick that comes in statement classic colors. I found the ones I tested to be very creamy and highly pigmented in color. They applied smoothly and the color did stay put quite long, however on my bare lips, the formula seemed to appear a bit thick and dry in texture emphasizing my lip lines (although right now I do have lips that are a bit more dry than they normally are). I added a bit of By Terry Baume de Rose underneath and this fixed all texture issues. Of course I picked out two natural shades. Insatiable Ivory is a peachy nude beige and Intense Nude is a medium rose brown with pinkish tones.

Swatches and close ups:

Insatiable Ivory pulls more peachy on my skin. It's a good nude shade that doesn't wash out the complexion. You get full coverage with two swipes:

Intense Nude isn't really nude (at least not to me). Some call shades like MAC Twig or Spirit nudes, but to me they're really rose colors with different variations of brown. I find Estee Lauder Intense Nude to be a more pinky rose brown rather than a true nude.

Some comparison swatches:

NARS Dolce Vita Lipgloss (swatches)

I like these lipsticks but feel they are on the steep side for Estee Lauder. For some reason I feel these should be more in the mid $20ish range, but that's just me. The quality is there but the colors, although classic statement colors, seem a bit basic for me. They do have a sculpting/defining quality which I attribute to the thicker (but smooth) texture. On me, I prefer something not quite as sculpting since I already have full lips, but I could see a difference with these as they made the lips more defined.

Bottom line, they are good basics and there are a lot of wearable colors. I like that the colors seemed to just work, no lipliner or gloss needed to tweak the colors, although it was a bit dry on its own for me. Since I haven't tried much from Estee Lauder lately, I thought I'd try something new from the line. It's like, but not love. I'll still be reaching for my Burberry, Tom Ford, Edward Bess, YSL lipsticks.

I purchased my Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipsticks ($30 each) from Nordstrom. There are currently 25 colors to choose from.

Did you try any of these lipsticks? What did you think?

Sneak Peek, Reviews Soon: NARS, Clé de Peau Beauté, Elizabeth and James, One Truffle, YSL, Chanel and more ...

A quick sneak peek at reviews to be posted soon, some things I've been testing now for a couple weeks, others I'm working my way through swatches as fast as I can:

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On My Radar / New in Beauty

Some new items on my radar this week, top left clockwise:

As fall collections and new skin/haircare items start trickling in, I'd love to hear what's on your beauty radar!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Estee Lauder Crystal Baby Collection | Nail Lacquer, Shimmer Lip Gloss and Illuminating Gelée Powder Blush

Estee Lauder has released a mini collection called Crystal Baby which I spotted at Nordstrom last week. I haven't been able to find any information about this on the web so I'm not sure if it's an exclusive to Nordstrom or will be released elsewhere. I picked up three items, but entire collection consists of:
I snapped a really quick photo with my iPhone at the counter:

The three items I purchased are the Nail Lacquer, Shimmer Lip Gloss and Illuminating Gelée Powder Blush. Swatches here and more details below:

The Crystal Baby Nail Lacquer is a soft shimmering nude pink that flashes a hint of blue, violet and pearl sparkles. On the nails it's very neutral on my skin. With my current skintone it's almost a nude because it matches my olive complexion. However I love how it gives a subtle polished look which I find office appropriate for conservative work places. I didn't have time to test this long since I took it off after two days to try other products. In my experience Estee Lauder polishes are average for lasting power 3-4 days max.

Some comparisons to Chanel Rose Cache, Chanel Frisson, Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle, Guerlain La Petite Robe Noir, OPI A Butterfly Moment (review here), Dior Incognito (gel) and Dior Frimas (review here, from holiday). I find OPI A Butterfly Moment to be pretty close in color. The difference is subtle but the Estee Lauder is a tad bit more pink.

Crystal Baby Lip Gloss is a warm frosted pink with lots of pearl. If you can tolerate the fig scent it's a really pretty color. It has enough color to wear alone although I like to wear this on top of other lipsticks for added shine. It's not sheer but not full coverage - I find it falls somewhere in between.

Crystal Baby Illuminating Gelée Powder Blush is a unique gel-powder. Similar in concept to prior limited-edition Gelées by Estee Lauder, this one has intense shimmer. On my skin it's not frosty but I do need to apply with a light and gentle hand. It applies well with a loose fluffy brush all over the cheeks as a highlight or on the eyes. You can use the sponge it comes with but it makes the shimmer more intense. I found it did not emphasize pores with a light swipe, although if you swipe one swipe too many it will emphasize imperfections. It's a lovely light opalescent pink. I recommend applying with a light hand.

Comparisons below to Armani Fluid Sheer #8 (reviewed here), MAC Fairly Precious (reviewed here), NARS Adelaide (review here, still available at NARS), Estee Lauder Tease (discontinued) and Bobbi Brown Pink Shimmer Brick (appears to have been discontinued).

I found this mini collection to be an unexpected surprise. I discovered it on route to the Chanel counter at my local Nordstrom. I'm glad the display caught my eye. All the items I picked out are lovely delicate feminine colors. Thumbs up on all items from me. According to the sales rep the entire collection is limited-edition. Available now at Nordstrom.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

On My Radar / New In Beauty

I hope everyone is having a good week so far. I'm still trying to get used to the fact that we are already into the month of June. For some mid-week beauty cravings, here are some highlights on items on my radar and a sneak peek of what's coming out soon. Details from top left, clockwise.

MAC Pedro Lourenço will be released in stores and counters this Thursday. Items have been posted online early though and are selling out quickly. I was able to order the Nude Eyeshadow Quad ($44). I have my eye on Gold Mirror Lipglass and Mirror Lipglass ($16.50 each). I'll be trying to track these down this Thursday.

NARS is coming out with 12 new shades and formula of eyeshadow called Dual-Intensity Eyeshadow ($29 each) which have a unique wet or dry application formula. The colors range from delicate peach pink to fierce black orchid. These will be available for sale beginning July 1 at NARS boutiques and on along with a new eyeshadow brush. In the meantime NARS has created two videos for a preview. (For full color listing, check out The Non-Blonde.)
Burberry Summer Showers has arrived online at Burberry with three new colors of Nail Polish in Orange Poppy 221, Pink Peony 222, Pink Azalea 223 ($21 each). There are corresponding Lip Glow Balms and Fresh Glow Blushes as well to match each shade. These look like beautiful brights perfect for summer weather.

Jo Malone has a new Cologne Intense in Tuberose Angelica ($145). Being a huge fan of the other Cologne Intense fragrances, I'm eager to try this one out. My Jo Malone rep said it has already arrived in store, perfect timing for Neiman Marcus's Camp Gorgeous Event (June 5 through 15 or while supplies last, gift with purchases online and in stores).

Estee Lauder has a new mini collection out called Crystal Baby. There is a new Crystal Baby Nail Lacquer ($21), Crystal Baby Illuminating Powder Gelee ($40), Crystal Baby Pure Color Gloss ($24) and four shades of Crystal Lipstick ($26 each) in Crystal Baby, Crystal Blush, Crystal Doll and Crystal Innocence. I have three items to show you soon.

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Balm in Sugar Rose is one of the classic pinks ($22.50 each). A new shade in Sugar Tulip has just been released. has an exclusive early release preview for purchase for those who are VIB Members. I ordered this last week and it just arrived. I can't wait to try it as it looks like a fresh pink.

What's on your radar this week? Did you order the MAC items when they went live online? Any other new or recent discoveries?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nail and Hand Care Essentials

The most frequently asked questions I've received have been focused around hand and nail care. I review lots of nail polishes and change colors frequently and taking care of my hands has always been a must. I'll go through my hand and nail care routine and answer some questions that I receive on a regular basis.

I'll share a bit of background on my nail/hand care routine and history. I played the violin when I was younger and kept playing through through college. This required me to keep my nails extremely short with only a sliver of the white tips showing. Out of habit and personal preference I've always kept my nails on the shorter end, although in recent years I've started growing them a bit longer. You can see the difference then in 2010 vs. now in 2014. For everyday hand activity I've had a diverse work history that has required a lot of typing from number crunching and market research. I tend to type with my hands at an angle (rather than having finger more at a 90 degree angle) so my nails don't tend to hit the keys as much as someone who holds their hands at a more perpendicular angle to the keyboards. Some frequently asked questions:
  • Are your nails always professionally manicured? Or do you maintain them yourself? My manicures are a mix of both professionally applied nail polish and DIY. For the longest time I couldn't properly do my own nail polish for a full manicure. Being able to paint one's nails doesn't always come naturally, it takes lots and lots of practice. I would say my manicures are 50/50 done myself versus at a professional salon.
  • How often do you get professional manicures? It varies depending on what I'm testing out, swatching, and also time constraints. I would say it ranges from every other week to once a month.
  • Your nail polish seems to have a long wear life without tip wear, I work at an office job that requires a lot of typing, how do you avoid tip wear? Tip wear will probably depend on how long your nails are, if they are on the long side there will be a lot of surface contact which can lend to more tip wear. I recommend keeping them on the shorter end to avoid breakage. Make sure you use a good base coat, brush the tips of the nails with a bit of color to cover the end of the nail, make sure your top coat covers not just the top of your nail but brush over the tip end as well.
  • What base and top coats do you use? I'll go into what I use below, I usually use Deborah Lippmann Rehydrating Base Coat and Chanel Top Coat but it varies depending on what brand of color I'm using.
  • My nail polish never lasts more than 3 days, it starts to peel and chip no matter what brand, help? Several things could contribute to short-lived manicures. For prep, your nail might not be entirely clean. Even with polish remover, if you've used oils or lotions, there could be remnants of product still lingering on the nail. Use a nail cleaner or polish remover that helps clean (more below). You could be loading on too much color too soon. While it may seem to be a time saver to load up more color for 1 coat, don't do it. Apply your polish in thin coats even if it looks uneven the first coat. The second or third (for sheerer colors) will smooth out the surface. You also might not be covering your entire nail tip with top coat - doing so will make sure you covered the entire nail.
  • What advice would you give to those who are a novice to DIY manicures? I would recommend getting your nails professionally manicured the first 3-4 manicures you have so you can observe their application technique in person. You really only need salon manicures every once in a while for a clean up. It's easy to maintain your nails yourself in between salon visits. You don't necessarily have to do it yourself, as some can vouch, manicuring your own nails can sometimes take longer and be more frustrating.
  • Do you need to stick with the same brand of polish and base/top coats? Or can you mix and match? I don't think you need to stick with the same brands, although using the same can often be best. Different brands have different formulas and don't always work well together for me. For example I'm super picky with top coats - I don't like any sign of shrinkage where the top coats dry and shrink over the nail polish leaving a visible line around the edges. (Seche and OPI do that with Chanel for me). I like to mix and match.
The items I use are going to broken down into the following categories: Removers, Treatments, Tools, Base Prep and Top Coats. Like most beauty routines, I believe nail care items should be built slowly over time with testing or by researching reviews online.

I used to use cheap nail polish removers from CVS and Target, but after I started changing my nail polish frequently, I found that they made my nails and fingers extremely sensitive and that my nails started to peel (the actual nail). Based on reviews and recommendations I've found several new removers that are gentle for sensitive fingers but still very effective in removing all traces of polish. Items shown above described left to right:
  • Zoya Remove + Big Flipper is a 3 in 1 product that removes color, preps the nail and conditions. I discovered this thanks to the recommendation of Café Makeup - we discussed nail care, I shared my finger woes, she said try the Zoya, it's "so good." She was right. Read the reviews on Zoya or Makeupalley and you'll see others agree. There are different size options, I like the Big Flipper because it has an easy push down dispenser.
  • Sephora Formula X Delete Nail Polish Remover is another love (reviewed here). This is another item I bought based on online reviews. It has a similar push down dispenser lid. I like this one because it's compact and the design is very sleek and simple. The easy to use pump action makes it super handy -  you don't have to flip over the bottle and risk ruining painted nails if you need to clean edges or mess-ups.
  • Dior Dissolvant Abricot is an ultra luxurious and pricey non-acetone remover, it has a rich abricot scent formulated with ingredients to nourish, hydrate and strengthen. I found it was extremely effective in removing Dior's Gel Top Coat and dark polish underneath. I'm not a fan of the price and those sensitive to fragrance may find this too heavy. I went through one bottle pretty quickly and repurchased a second. It's the only remover I've tried that has a slightly moisturizing/hydrating feel. If the bottle were about 3-4 times larger I think I could justify the price for more frequent use.
  • Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Remover is the only cuticle softener that I've tried but I was lucky to find a really good one on my first try. It comes in a milky white liquid with a dropper. Apply to the cuticle area for a minute and then push back with a cuticle tool and it removes excess cuticle skin easily. This is a definite must for anyone who does their own manicures. It's gentle but super effective.

I attribute good looking hands to good hand care. I'm almost always carrying one to two hand creams in my purse. I rely on L'Occitane because they come in travel sizes, a variety of scents and have fun packaging. Plus the formula is hard to beat. For extra care I've discovered layering oil into hand cream can help give an added boost of moisture. I prefer hand creams that absorb quickly into the skin and that aren't greasy feeling so it doesn't ruin paper, clothes or get everywhere you touch. My current loves, left to right:
  • Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil is as good as it gets (there's a mini version as well). A little goes a long way with the dropper, you only need a little bit. It's not greasy but can get sticky, I recommend applying this with precision to the cuticles and rub in quickly. It has Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Mineral Oil and smells amazing. I use this about once a week and it keeps the cuticles looking really good.
  • Caudalie Divine Oil is a must for me (review here), unfortunately they've changed the packaging of the mini size and it doesn't come with the spray pump dispenser. When I visited the Venice Boutique, they had hand massage treatments and they mixed the oil with their Hand and Nail Cream (review here) which is another staple of mine. I can't rave enough about these.
  • Tatcha Soothing Silk Indigo Hand Cream (review here) helps to soothe dry or irritated hands, it hydrates well and absorbs quickly into the skin, the packaging is compact enough to fit into the purse
  • L'Occitane Hand Creams have been a classic for me for years (check out the L'Occitane Hand Cream Bar), they can be on the pricey side for the side, but the formula is worth every penny, these come in a variety of scents and special formulas, my current favorites are the Shea Butter Honey (soothing and creamy) along with the new Vitória-Régia from the Viva Brazil collection (lush sweet floral). L'Occitane has monthly gift with purchase promotions in stores and online, it's one of the few brand newsletters I subscribe to that I don't mind receiving weekly (they have good deals). I've converted so many of my friends to L'Occitane as these hand creams make good small gifts or add-ons (just add a box of Godiva chocolate or small bouquet of flowers).
  • Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Hand Cream was a huge step-up gift with purchase from Neiman Marcus at one of the Estee Lauder events they had a year ago in store. I was a bit intimidated by the size and packaging as it looks like an intensive treatment. It is indeed an intense hand cream but still very gentle and is the best at smoothing lines. You can see the effects immediately and over time it does improve the overall look and appearance of your hands.

My tools are very basic, items were either found at local drugstores or Ulta. There are a wide number of tools out on the market, I'm sure there are more experienced nail experts who know more about tools, my picks were picked out without much research or planning.
  • Revlon Nail Clipper is an older version that I have, they've gone through a few revamps and upgrades in packaging design but the overall shape and size remains the same
  • Tweezerman Nail File I've picked up various nail files over the years, I find Tweezerman to be sturdy but with a rough enough surface to be effective on harder nails but not too harsh, the ones from Sephora that I've bought come with a plastic storage sleeve which is convenient for storage (and makes sure it doesn't scratch your other products)
  • Ulta Crystal Nail File if you're one who hates the feeling of filing nails, you need to check out Crystal Nail Files, a multitude of brands have these such as OPI and Sephora. These have a unique fine-grade glass surface that is good for sensitive or thinner nails, it gently smooths edges and also has a tapered precision tip to clean beneath the nail.
  • Tweezerman Pushy Cuticle Pusher is a smaller tool for cuticles, I prefer smaller shapes, although some prefer ones with larger curved tips to match the natural shape of the nails. I find the Tweezerman one to be small enough for my small fingers, it's sturdy and effective for me. For any kind of cuticle removal or care, I recommend you proceed with extra caution. Don't push too hard and be extra gentle with the cuticles - this is where I recommend you observe a professional several times before attempting on your own.
  • Revlon Cuticle Nippers are another basic drugstore purchase, I've had two from Revlon, both have lasted over 5 years, just make sure you clean them regularly with warm water and soap (I use antibacterial dish soap) or alcohol. I wouldn't recommend using cuticle clippers regularly, I use them to clip hang nails or only use if the cuticles have been softened and properly prepped.

For base coats, I look for something that helps protect bare nails. I look for items that won't turn the nails yellow, items that aren't drying and that also don't make the nails peel. I'll highlight the ones I use briefly, let me know if you need more information on any of these, I find they all work well with other brands such as Chanel, OPI, YSL, Dior, Tom Ford and NARS.
  • Sephora Formula X Nail Cleanser (reviewed here) is a relatively new discovery for me but I find that having a completely clean nail surface before using base coat or color really makes a difference in the wear of nail polish
  • Sephora Formula X Base Coat (reviewed here) is a sticky formula that helps polish adhere well, I like this best with the Formula X polishes but I've also tried (and love it) with Dior, Marc Jacobs and Chanel
  • CND Stickey Base Coat is a classic that I've repurchased multiple times, it's an affordable option that works well with all brands I've tried
  • Deborah Lippmann Rehydrating Base Coat is my most-frequently used base coat, I don't usually have nails that peel except when I do a lot of swatching and comparisons on the fingers, this helps immensely

  • Sephora Formula X Shine Top Coat (review here) is an awesome top coat but is on the thicker side, it works best with Formula X brand nail colors, when I used The System and their Nail Color, I had a manicure last over 7 days without any tip wear or chipping
  • Creative Nail Design Super Shiny Top Coat is another beauty staple, some of the nail salons I go to layer this with a Revlon top coat for an ultra cushy look (I haven't looked into the Revlon personally)
  • Chanel Laque Brilliance Extreme is my all time favorite top coat, it helps my polishes last long, doesn't crack or chip and give a lush shiny gloss
  • Rescue Beauty Lounge Top Coat is another item I've repurchased (I'm on my third bottle), it's just as good as Chanel, some say it's better, mine has a pinkish tinge because I didn't let my pink nail polish dry long enough and had some color transfer
  • Dior Gel Coat is a top coat I've found works best with Dior Polishes (Chanel v Dior post here), it works well over other brands for a gel-shine finish and lush look, but can be prone to cracking on certain brands
This sums up my hand and nail care favorites. I hope this give you a comprehensive overview on my personal hand and nail care routine. To recap, I definitely think you can maintain your hands and nails on your own but regular salon visits help keep hands looking better. You don't need an expensive salon to maintain your nails, there are a lot of good ones that are more affordable.

This post contains some items that were sent for review consideration. Most items were purchased by me. Press samples include Sephora The System, Tatcha Indigo, L'Occitane Vitória-Régia. For more information refer to my Disclosures.

design + development by fabulous k | COPYRIGHT © 2009-2014 THE BEAUTY LOOK BOOK