Showing posts with label Koh Gen Do. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Koh Gen Do. Show all posts

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Favorite Setting Powders: Pressed and Loose


I've discussed foundations, primers and tinted moisturizers on this blog but haven't done a roundup on my favorite beauty powders. One of the keys to making my foundation or tinted moisturizer last is to use a good setting powder to make everything stay put. I've rounded up my favorites for my sensitive medium-toned skin.

Finding a good powder can take time and a lot of testing. Just like foundation, some colored powders look good once you apply it but can end up darkening after a few hours. Others might be too matte and make your face look completely flat. Then there are powders that are too heavy and can end up looking cakey on your skin or feel like it just sits on your skin.

When it comes to setting powders, I like both translucent kinds and ones with medium to medium-full coverage. If a powder is tinted but too sheer, I find it can look too powdery on the skin and I'd rather just stick with something that is translucent.



Translucent Loose Powders

I have two favorites for translucent loose powder that I've repurchased several times over. First is the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder which is an oil-free loose powder. It has a silky texture and colorless finish. The powder itself looks white but it doesn't make you look pale or turn the skin white. At my darkest, I am a Chanel B40 and this works when I have a tan. It's lightweight but you can definitely see a soft transformation on your face once you apply it. This one sets foundation really well without looking too powdery or cakey. It's also good for my sensitive skin, doesn't irritate my face or emphasize pores.

My next favorite is the NARS Light Reflecting Loose Powder. This is another colorless powder that has contains what NARS calls a Light Reflecting Complex which optimizes light-reflection on the skin. It doesn't add any visible shimmer or glow but it sets the makeup really well and once applied it melts into the skin and photographs really well. It does help to blur any lines or pores but won't make them disappear completely. This gives a slightly more matte finish to the face compared to the Laura Mercier but it doesn't make the skin look flat.

Loose Powders - Tinted

I've tried and used up a number of loose powders including Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Laura Mercier (Mineral), Becca and Clinique. Loose powder is one of those things where I use up entirely even if I don't 100% love it as long as it doesn't irritate or break out my skin. For me it's challenging to find a tinted loose powder that has enough color or coverage. So many darken or look so powdery on the skin. Laura Mercier made several Loose Powders in Ivory and Beige but it appears they have been discontinued. I am hoping it makes a comeback or is simply being repackaged because Beige was one of the best loose powders I've used. The Laura Mercier Mineral Loose Powder is another alternative I've used before, it has a pearl finish similar to other mineral powders. In terms of loose mineral powders, the Laura Mercier is the best one I've tried, but it's a bit heavy for my personal preference.

My all time favorite loose powder is Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Natural Lighting Powder. It comes in one shade that will suit fair to medium skin tones. I do hope they add more colors in the future because this one is really good. It's made of an ultra-fine pearl powder formula that works to set foundation and add a bit of coverage to even out the skin. The soft pearls particles cover pores and balance skin surfaces for a natural glow. The shimmer in this one is visible but it's not over the top and it won't make your face look shimmery.

Powder Foundation

I typically prefer powder foundation to set my liquid foundation. I know you might think it sounds too heavy, but I've really loved the way dusting powder foundation with a brush over liquids gives a flawless canvas to work with. Those who have seen me in person usually can't tell I'm wearing foundation (which is always a good thing because you don't want it to look super obvious). My all time favorite used to be Chanel Double Perfection Powder but they've reformulated it several times and I've found that I am sometimes in between colors. Right now I'm in between Beige 20 and 30. If you can find a good color match this is a really good silky smooth powder that adds the perfect amount of medium coverage. Using a sponge will add more coverage but I prefer applying this one with a brush. It's a good touch up powder too for mid-day. It won't cake if you touch up your nose or forehead.

My current favorite is the Dolce & Gabbana Powder Foundation in Warm 100. I have alternated between Warm and Tan depending on how dark my skin is, but 100 has been my exact match for a long time. This one covers perfectly and flawlessly. It won't irritate or break out my super sensitive skin (MAC and Bobbi Brown always break me out). It has a soft velvety finish that doesn't cake, darken or look overdone while still giving you a decent amount of coverage to even out the skin.

Pressed Powder

I've avoided regular pressed powders for a long time because so many just don't look good on my skin. They look like they sit on the face or alter the color of my foundation. I've found three that are phenomenal. The Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Powders are among my favorite. (Review + swatches here). #20 is my match for an all over dusting powder. #30 and #40 are good for subtle contouring or adding color for warmth. These are ultra smooth powders that have a sheer to medium finish that just melts into the skin. I dust with a powder brush to set powder and it gives a sheer smooth finish.

The Charlotte Tilbury Air Brush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Micro-Powder is as good as pressed powders get. I saw this one applied on my friend at the Nordstrom Charlotte Tilbury counter at the grove. My friend already had some tinted moisturizer on, she just needed a touch up. I watched her skin transform into this amazing airbrushed finish that looked amazingly natural. It evens out the skin but won't alter the color of your foundation (as long as you get a good match). The only downside is the color selection is pretty limited and there's a big jump in between the three colors. I use #2 Medium and am a Chanel B30 in foundation. My friend is a Chanel B10 in foundation and was matched to #1 Fair.

Tom Ford Translucent Finishing Powder is another really good pressed powder. I've had this one applied on my face numbers times at the Tom Ford counter and it took me a long time before I was willing to splurge on this one (it's $77, yes ouch!). My match is Ivory Fawn which looks light in the compact but it has a sheer enough finish to be quite forgiving (I use the Traceless Perfecting in Bisque 4). The only downside (other than the ridiculous price tag) is the color selection is limited. There is a huge gap between Ivory Fawn and Sahara Dusk which is the next shade up. If you are either fair or tan you will have better luck finding a match compared to those of us with medium skin. Once I get tan in the summer, I will be in that gap.

For translucent pressed powders, I've found most end up looking and feeling too powdery on my skin. The only one I've tried and loved is the NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Powder which performs the same way on me as the loose version. It sets the foundation with a sheer finish and gives the skin a slightly matte looking finish. I prefer the loose version because I find it lasts longer on my skin compared to the pressed.





I hope you found this roundup of setting powders helpful! As always I'd love to hear from you what your favorites are. Do you have any tried and true powders? Do you prefer loose or pressed?


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Inside My Bag


This week I've been playing with the Charlotte Tilbury Beach Sticks, new Burberry Eye Shadow formulation, the Dior Eye Reviver Palette, Marc Jacobs Contouring Duos, Chanel Rouge Cocos and much more. Thank you for your patience while you wait for reviews - I know some of you have e-mailed me and been asking when the reviews will be posted. I'm working as fast as I can. It's only Wednesday and I'm already exhausted. I've been trying to go easy on caffeine so I've been coffee-free for a few days which has impacted my energy levels. Here's a quick peek at what's in my bag this week. Why I carry this much stuff is beyond me, although I have been traveling on a few mini road trips this week.

Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm (reviewed)
Chanel Glossimer in Fleur D'Eau (review)
Charlotte Tilbury Beach Stick in Ibiza (review tomorrow)
L'Artisan La Chasse aux Papillon
Tom Ford Lips & Boys in Peter and Ian (review)

Marc by Marc Jacobs Aviator Sunglasses
Louis Vuitton Wallet, Goyard Tote, Sony NEX-6
Compartes Chocolate Bar

What do you have in your bag this week? I hope your week has been going well! P.S. Kelly Clarkson's new album Piece by Piece is awesome.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Skincare Treats and Splurges


Following this month's theme of "treat yourself," today I'm sharing some of my favorite skincare treats and splurges. I'll highlight some items I view as game-changers based on what I've tested focusing on things I believe are worth the splurge to pamper the skin. For a bit of background on my skin, I have normal but sensitive skin. This winter it leans on the slightly dry side, but still is relatively normal. I'm in my early 30's right now and a year ago, my skin went through some changes with major break outs causing some scars and texture issues. I spent the last year working to streamline my skincare routine and am really thankful that it's returned to it's normal state over the past few months. I'll be sharing more about my skincare routine later, but for today I want to highlight items I feel are good for pampering. 


Up first is sunscreen. I've always hated wearing sunscreen on the face because of the strong sunscreen scent or greasy feel. I don't like wearing layers of product under my foundation and powder and since I've always spent the majority of my day indoors I thought it was pointless to wear extra sunscreen. So many have emphasized the importance of protecting your skin and wearing sunscreen has become a priority. Unfortunately, I since I can't tolerate the sunscreen smell, I have had to splurge on sunscreen for the face. Three that I really like that won't turn the face white and that don't have that traditional sunscreen smell include:

1 / Clarins UV Plus HP Multi-Protection Day Screen SPF 40  ($41 for 1.7 oz) is my latest sunscreen discovery. It's a lightweight white fluid that has a semi-matte feel. I picked this up because of recommendations from friends and also wanted to take advantage of the Nordstrom gift with purchase going on right now (details here). I like that it doesn't feel runny or have that greasy fluid feel. It stays put and doesn't feel like you have anything on the skin. Straight out of the bottle there is a very faint fresh linen-like scent but once on the face, there is no detectable scent. I love that it doesn't turn the face white.

2 / Chanel UV Essentiel Complete Sunscreen UV Protection SPF 50 ($55 for 1 fl oz) is something I've used for years. Chanel has three different sunscreens with SPF 20, 30 and 50. This is a lightweight product that is very fluid. The color is also white but it's transparent on the skin. I've used and repurchased this numerous times because it layers well over moisturizer and under foundation. My husband and I have shared this for years. This one is heavily fragranced though, so if you have a super sensitive nose and can't wear fragranced skincare products, you may want to skip this one.

3 / Shiseido Urban Environment Tinted UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 43 ($32 for 1 fl oz) is something I discovered a couple months ago. I adore Shiseido as a skincare line, but was really disappointed to find almost all their facial sunscreens left a white cast on my skin. Since I wear medium to full coverage foundation daily, it didn't really matter in the end, however, I prefer sunscreens and skincare that doesn't leave a white residue on the skin. This one comes in three colors which makes it the perfect tint + sunscreen in one. The color selection is pretty limited but the color is sheer enough to be quite forgiving on the face. I found Shade No. 2 to be the best match although for an exact match I'm really in between No. 2 and 3. It's a lightweight sheer coverage tint that can be worn as a base for your regular makeup. 


Next up includes facial cotton and cleansing water. Both of which aren't really necessities but these three have been life-changing for me.

4 / Cle de Peau Beaute Cotton ($20 for 120 pads) is hands down the best facial cotton I've tried. It comes in a box which keeps the cotton's shape in tact. I used to use Shiseido's facial cotton for years, but a friend insisted I try the ones by Cle de Peau and the difference is really noticeable. The Cle de Peau is sturdier and larger in size compared to other cotton. It's soft, silky, doesn't separate and glides on the skin without leaving any cotton remnants or fibers on the face. It's the ultimate luxurious splurge for the skin and I can't recommend it enough.

5 / Caudalie Cleansing Water ($14 for 3.38 fl oz) is a classic favorite for me. This refreshes the skin and cleanses it gently. I wouldn't recommend using it in place of a cleanser on a regular basis, but I like to use this to remove all my makeup at the end of the day and then follow up with a regular cleanser if I have long-wear foundation or powder on. It doesn't irritate the skin and does a good job at removing makeup (not eye makeup/mascara though). 

6 / Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water ($39 for 10.15 fl oz) is the best cleansing water I've tried. I've tried lots of different cleansing waters from NARS, Dior, Lancome etc. and the Koh Gen Do is my most repurchased cleansing water. I've found it's the most effective but is still very gentle on the skin. It's definitely worth the splurge.


Testing out masks can be very expensive. For me it's hard to splurge on a $50+ box of sheet masks or any mask in general unless I can test a small sample first, so I've relied on online reviews and blog reviews heavily before splurging. Four skin pampers I adore:

7 / Kiehl's Clearly Corrective™ Clarifying & Hydrating Intensive Treatment Masque ($58 for 6 sheets, 0.85 oz each) is a surprisingly good sheet mask that I think is highly under-rated. I don't know why it's a limited-edition product or exclusive to Nordstrom because it's amazing. I've tried a number of sheet masks and this one is very gentle but makes a visible difference in the texture, appearance and clarity of the skin. After use your face is left hydrated and super soft.

8 / SK-II Facial Treatment Mask ($17 for 1 sheet, or $135 for a 10 pack) is something that has reached cult-status but is an extremely expensive splurge. I resisted buying the box for a long time because I couldn't justify spending that much on a mask without having tested it. I took the plunge a year ago and have no regrets. Due to the price tag, I do try to limit use to one per month. If you've been interested in this but didn't want to splurge without testing, the good news is that they now offer this mask in a 1 sheet option for $17. There are a number of good sheet masks on the market, the SK-II is my favorite in terms of how it leaves the skin glowing.

9 / Glamglow Super-Mud Clearing Treatment ($69 for 1.2 oz) is something I discovered last August. It's one of my top picks for clarifying masks that is super effective at drawing out impurities from the pores. I like that you can feel it work on the face but it's still gentle enough for my super sensitive skin. I've repurchased this four times since my initial purchase - it's that good. Use for this one varies for me from 1 to 3 times per week. I like that it's non-irritating.

10 / Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment ($69 for 1.7 oz) is something I discovered thanks to my readers. I had a couple mini sample packets from gift with purchase events but was a bit nervous about testing this one. A number of readers recommended that I use the Supermud first and then follow with the Thirstymud right after for the ultimate at-home facial treatment. I tried this and it's pure genius. It seemed a bit odd to apply something to dry out the skin and then apply something right after to put the moisture back in the skin, but the combination is really quite amazing. To those who recommended this tip to me, THANK YOU!!


For face mists, I've used the MAC Fix+ for years but it is extremely lightweight. It's a good basic refresher for mid-day or even to prep the skin for foundation but there are others I've tried that are better in terms of how they impact the skin.

11 / Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($18 for 1 oz) is the ultimate spa-like facial mist. Spraying it on the face instantly lifts the mood and makes you feel like your skin has gone through a mini facial. It is heavily fragranced with a minty touch so I know it won't appeal to all. I personally really like it. It cools and refreshes the skin and pores will tighten with this spray. I like that it doesn't interfere with your makeup. My mom really likes this one too.

12 / La Mer "The Mist" ($65 for 3.4 oz) is an amazing facial spray. It dispenses a fine mist that is fragrance free. It's really good at calming any redness or irritation and suitable for super sensitive skin. The packaging makes this well worth the splurge - the spritzer dispenses a perfect spritz of mist evenly over the face. If you're in the market for an unfragranced face mist that refreshes the face, this is a good one to look at.

13 / Chanel Hydra Beauty Essence Mist ($90 for 1.7 oz) is something that has been on my radar for a long long time. It's used on me at almost every Chanel makeover I've had. I couldn't bring myself to splurge on it. For me it's the best thing you can splurge on for a face mist - but it's still quite a splurge. If this were priced at the $60-$65 price point I would say hands down "you need this." At the $90 price point it's a stretch and for me it was hard for me to part with that much money for something this size. This is one of those products I really adore but I do believe it's overpriced. Am I happy I bought this? Absolutely yes. Will I repurchase? I don't know.

I hope you found this roundup of skincare treats and splurges helpful. As always I'd love to hear about your skincare favorites. What do you like to use to pamper or protect your skin to give it that extra love and care?



This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. All items purchased by me. For more information refer to my disclosures.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator in Beige IL01


Koh Gen Do released two new liquid highlighters called Aqua Foundation Illuminator ($39 for 0.61 fl oz/18 ml, made in Japan). I tested both at Barneys in Beverly Hills - the White IL00 is very white and pigmented while Beige IL01 is a sheerer luminous beige shimmer. I picked the Beige shade - it's a stunning complex mix of beige and champagne colored micro-sparkles. On my arm and hand it appeared extremely sparkly, however on my face it blended out to be a very natural luminous sheen. The shade matches my skintone closely and almost disappears upon application but it enhances the skin in a unique way.

I've used this a couple of ways. One method is to mix in one pump with a liquid foundation and apply all over the face. I've found my skin seems to lack luster and look a bit dull during the past couple of months. This method adds just the right amount of glow to give a radiant natural look to your foundation. Another way is to dab and blend over foundation and powder over the temples or cheeks. This gives a very natural sheen. The Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator is one of the best liquid illuminators I've tried to give that candlelight glow.




Here are swatches shown a few different ways to show how the color blends out. It looks frosty on the hands and arms but it melts into the skin beautifully.


In natural light:


With a flash, lighting highlights the shimmers:


I pulled Giorgio Armani's Fluid Sheer #2 ($62 for 1 oz) to compare for packaging and size. Koh Gen Do's is smaller but also less in expensive in price. The concept of both products is similar. You can use liquid highlighters a number of different ways: alone over foundation to highlight the cheeks, temples or eyes, mixed in with foundation or applied all over as a luminous base. I would say the Koh Gen Do Beige is slightly more luminous while Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheers tend to be very sheer.



Comparisons below to a few other pale highlighters. I like the Koh Gen Do Beige because it's the darkest and matches my skin the best. Koh Gen Do White Illuminator, Armani Fluid Sheer 10, Armani Fluid Sheer 2, NARS Copacabana Illuminator, MAC Strobe Liquid, MAC Golden Elixir Strobe (discontinued).

Blurry but allows you to see the undertone and level of sparkle that reflects with light:


Sharper set:


Overall very impressed. The Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator has no detectable scent, blends out very smoothly and stays put well through the afternoon. I still found I needed to touchup my makeup mid-day as I usually do, but the highlighter stayed put with minimal fading.

You can find the Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator at Barneys and Sephora. I bought mine at the counter in Barneys Beverly Hills.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Current Skincare Routine


Many have asked me to share my skincare routine. I had plans to write about it earlier in the summer, however just when I was ready to publish the post, my skin decided to act up (about 3 months ago) and certain problem areas would not clear up. I thought it could be attributed to stress or weather changes. I tried a number of different things: I drank more water, changed my eating habits, washed my brushes and pillow cases more frequently etc. After several months of no improvements, I decided it was time for a skincare change. My prior routine consisted of: Clé de Peau Beauté's Gentle Cleansing Foam or Clinique's Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser, La Mer's The Tonic, Clé de Peau Beauté Eye Cream, Le Métier de Beauté Peau Vierge Day Cream, and Koh Gen Do's Cleansing Water (plus the occasional mask treatment). I suppose my skin became so used to holy-grails that the items became less effective (if that makes sense).
Thanks to the help of my trusted sales associates from various brands, I was given some recommendations and mini sample packets to try. In just a short time, my skin has cleared up and is almost back to it's normal blemish-free state. I also changed my foundation routine. My holy grail loves started to seem a bit heavy (but still amazing).

My current skincare routine is split up into two categories, The Basics and The Extras. I'm not a skincare expert and unfortunately can't elaborate on the benefits of each product, nor do I have the ingredients listing on the items. This is a list of what works for me. I'm hoping others who have tried the same can chime in the comments below. Also check out Makeupalley Product Reviews - this is an excellent resource.

The Basics:
  • Morning Cleanser - Clé de Peau Beauté Gentle Cleansing Foam ($63) is one of my holy grail cleansers, it's a gentle foaming cleanser, a little goes a long way leaving the skin feeling clean but not dry. I've repurchased this numerous times.
  • Night Cleanser - Dior Purifying Foaming Cleanser ($33) was recommended to me by my local Dior artist. The Cle de Peau became less effective for me, so she recommended that I try this one from Dior. I found it to be amazing in terms of really purifying and cleansing the skin. Given the weather changes, I found it to be a bit too stripping for both morning and night, I like to use this one in the afternoon/night because it removes the makeup better.
  • Toner - Giorgio Armani 'Regenessence 3.R' Pre-Regenerative & Retexturizing Lotion ($48) is a gentle toner that works to refresh the skin and noticeably improved my skin texture. I have not purchased this item yet, I received a generously sized sample in one of the Neimans Armani Gift With Purchase sets (they have generously sized skincare samples). So far it's lasted me 3 weeks and counting. I intend on purchasing once it's used up.
  • Moisturizer/Serum - Giorgio Armani 'Luminessence' Bright Regenerator Concentrate ($150) is a brightening concentrated serum. I actually really liked some of the creams by Armani but my Armani artist felt that they would be too heavy for my skin and age (31). He personally said he loved the Luminessence Concentrate and used it under makeup alone (no other moisturizer or creams, other than eye cream). He made a small sample for me which I've been testing. So far I love it. I'm waiting for a gift with purchase event before I buy since it's pricey.
  • Eye Cream - Clé de Peau Beauté Intensive Eye Contour Cream ($250) was gifted to me by Cle de Peau and Neiman Marcus a year ago. I had my doubts about it's effectiveness, but it's everything it says it is. I've tried a number of eye creams (Clinique, NARS, Shiseido, Chanel, Lancome, Dior) but am still at the stage in my life where eye cream isn't a necessity yet. I don't have under-eye wrinkles or creasing (yet). All women told me to start using eye cream in my early 20's so I did occasionally. I never saw any changes, nor did I feel anything different. The Cle de Peau is the first that I've actually seen and felt results. It fully hydrates the eye area and gives a smoothing finish with the moisture. It doesn't dry out and it isn't too greasy. It's the perfect prep for a bit of concealer under the eye because it primes the skin for a more natural look (sometimes concealer can look a bit cakey under the eyes, the CdP helps prevent that). My husband uses this too.
  • Essential Cotton - Shiseido Facial Cotton ($9.50 for 165 squares) is by far the best facial cotton out there. I've tried many other brands and nothing compares for me. The Shiseido is perfectly sized, very soft and gentle and sold at a decent price. They are more expensive than drugstore cotton but well worth every penny.

The Extras:
  • Cleansing Water - Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water ($39) reviewed here is my go-to for removing makeup from the face in the afternoon (before cleansing), it's also perfect for cleaning up eyeshadow-fallout around the eyes.
  • Mask - Koh Gen Do Brightening Moisture Mask ($75) is pricey but lasts a long time. I did a brief feature here before. To recap, this is a great purifying yet moisturizing mask. The Macro Vintage Face Masks are equally amazing, but the Brightening one helps purify while the Macro Vintage moisturizes and hydrates more.
  • Eye Makeup Remover - Chanel Gentle Bi-Phase Eye Makeup Remover ($32) is one of the few eyemakeup removers that really removes all traces of mascara without burning my eyes, Neutrogena's is also awesome but has a slightly more emollient feel.

I hope this helps give you ideas on what works for me. Everyone's skin is different so I can't say these will work for everyone. My skin is normal but sensitive. I try to keep skincare items I use minimal. Most of the testing has to be done over long period to see if it really works. I also usually test only one new thing at a time while keeping the rest of the routine the same to test the effectiveness of that one product (even though sometimes it's a combination of products that may make something work better). Also due to the pricey nature of skincare, I try to spread out my purchases. Most of the items are long-lasting with a little product going a long way.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weekend Pampering - The Extras


I've been to spas on a few occasions in the past and each occasion was beyond amazing (four visits to be exact, La Costa Resort and a few Four Seasons locations). However they can be extremely pricey and take up an entire day, so they are a luxury I cannot justify splurging for on a regular basis ($ or time wise). While nothing at home can replicate a resort spa, there are a few simple things I consider to be pampering extras. Bubble baths, luxurious face masks, beautiful candles and moisturizing lotions. It's my simplified version of a DIY spa treatment. Do note I have sensitive skin so I'm careful when it comes to trying shower gels, bath soaks and facial treatments. While I'd like to do this every day, I usually have a pampering night once every other week to once a month. I do try to use the face masks more frequently. My favorites:
  • Moisturizing Face Masks - Koh Gen Do is becoming one of my top picks for skincare. Their Macro Vintage Face Mask ($110 for 6 sheets) is the best I've ever tried. Most face masks did not do anything for my skin. This one by Koh Gen Do (reviewed here) left my skin feeling hydrated and soft like baby's skin. I split my pack of 6 with 3 friends to try, all confirmed that it was beyond amazing.
  • Clarifying Face Masks - Koh Gen Do's Brightening Moisture Mask ($75 for 3.53 oz. / 100g) is equally amazing. It's called a moisturizing mask, but to me it feels more like a clarifying mask. It is a clay mask that contains "6 botanical extracts in the mask will heal your tired skin, helping your skin to calm and reduce inflammation and redness." MAC's Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask was one of my favorite masks for clarifying and removing impurities. I was so sad that it was limited edition. Koh Gen Do's Brightening Face Mask is the closest thing I've found in terms of effect/benefits on my skin (minus the heating element on the skin). I highly recommend you visit their website to learn more. They have helpful diagrams and often have promotions/specials on their website.
  • Bubble Baths - L'Occitane makes some of my favorite bath and body products that are suitable for sensitive skin. I am currently loving the L'Occitane Shea Foaming Cream Bath ($32 for 16.8 fl.oz). The scent is very subtle and soothing. It bubbles up in a way that is very relaxing. It doesn't dry out the skin or leave any residue. There are reviews on their website which I found useful.
  • Shower Oils - I'm new to bath oils and shower oils. I've tried Jo Malone in the past and love them. L'Occitane had a gift with purchase promotion recently (for those who sign up on their mailing list) to launch their new Amande Almond Line. One of the gifts was a mini Shower Oil (see the details on the full size Almond Shower Oil here). It's a softening oil that foams up when combined with water and leaves the skin feeling smooth and moisturized without having that oily feeling. The scent is soft and subtle (but still noticeable). The effect is amazing. I'm not sure I'm 100% in love with the scent although it is extremely soothing and pleasant.
  • Hand Care - Thanks to a few of my readers who recommended I try Lush's Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter ($14.95 for 1.5 oz). I love it. The scent is a highly citrus lemon (smells a bit horrid to me) but it does fade a bit after a while. I use this more as a once a week treatment rather than everyday and it has improved the cuticle area for my hands. (For everyday I rely on L'Occitane Hand Creams they smell great and feel nice). I'm again going to refer you to the company website - I love it when brands and stores have sections with useful customer reviews. Also check out Daly Beauty's recent review (she sums it up perfectly!).
  • Candles - I love almost any scented candle Jo Malone, Diptyque, Henri Bendel, Tommy Bahama make my favorites. Occasionally you can get a free mini candle in gift with purchase events. A simple candle can add that extra oomph to the home or bath to make it feel more soothing.
What are your pampering extras?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Koh Gen Do Skincare


This review has been long overdue. I've been using a number of things from Koh Gen Do, Le Métier de Beauté and Clé de Peau and my skin has never looked better in my adult life. I first discovered Koh Gen Do at Barneys in Beverly Hills this past April. Upon researching the brand at home I learned more about their skincare and foundation via Into The Gloss. Since April I have fallen in love with their Macro Vintage Essence Mask (makes your skin feel like a baby's), their lipsticks, foundation and Cleansing Water (which I have also neglected to review). When I tried their foundation back in September, the artist at Barney's prepped my skin with the Macro Vintage Royal Massage Milk. I was impressed by how it made my skin feel renewed, moisturized, and seemed to help the foundation & powder last all day. Being a bit skeptical of skincare in general I wanted to test it out more before buying. I received a tiny sample that lasted a week and fell in love with the full intention of buying it on my next trip to LA. Before I had a chance to go back, Koh Gen Do kindly sent me a sample to review along with the Gommage Spa Gel. I'll be reviewing three items today: the Cleansing Water, the Macro Vintage Essence Mask and Macro Vintage Royal Massage Milk. Note that ingredients are listed on Koh Gen Do's website.

The Cleansing Water comes in two sizes: 300 ml for $39 and 480 ml for $52. At the counter I was also told the Cleansing Water Cloths are the same as the liquid just soaked into an organic cotton cloth. I purchased the 300 ml size and use it on a regular basis. It is rich in minerals, Yumura Hot Springs water and contains 6 extract herbs (Rosemary Leaf Extract, Sage Leaf Extract, Lavender Extract, Artemisia Princeps Leaf Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Ginger Root Extract) all of which help freshen the skin while cleansing. It's gentle yet effective. I use it in a number of ways. In the mornings when I am pressed for time, I will use this in lieu of washing my face with soap and water (very rarely though). At night, I will sometimes I will use it to remove my makeup before taking a shower. Other times I will use it after a bath or shower to remove any excess makeup that might not have been fully removed. It's designed to remove waterproof makeup, but for mascara and waterproof liners, I prefer to use something stronger, even though the Koh Gen Do water does the trick. In the few months that I've been using this I've been very impressed. I'm not sure I can tell the difference between the Koh Gen Do and Lancome Eau Fraîche Douceur in terms of performance. I do prefer the Koh Gen Do for the feel on the skin, but I like Lancome's packaging more.

The Soft Gommage Gel is one of the most intriguing products I've ever tried. It retails for $45 for 2.12 oz/60 g. For those who don't know what gommage is, it usually comes in a cream, gel or paste formula. It's applied in a thin layer to the skin and then is removed gently by rubbing. The gommage rolls (almost beads up) off the skin as you rub gently to exfoliate. I'm not one who has ever found a scrub I really love because I find using a washcloth to scrub is more effective while still being gentle. The Soft Gommage Gel is gentle enough for my sensitive skin and left the face feeling significantly smoother. The recommended use is to wash the face and dry with your regular cleanser. Then use a small amount and apply to a dry face and massage in a light circular motion (key note, be gentle when rubbing). After you rub, the product starts to feel like it rolls off with a slightly scrubby texture. Rinse with warm water. Recommended use is once to twice per week. I've been using this once every other week. I highly recommend.

The Macro Vintage Royal Massage Milk is a miracle in a bottle. I was sent the sample size for review which is currently not available for sale. The product in-store and online is $180 for 4.06 fl oz / 120 ml and it is worth every penny. This is a milky cream moisturizer with anti-aging micro-collagens that help plump and smooth the skin. At Barneys, the artist used 2 pumps to moisturize the skin. At first I thought it odd that he used this as a base moisturizer. I normally associate the word "milk" in skincare as a cleanser. After reading more about this on Koh Gen Do, I found there are a number of uses:
  • 10 Pumps As a massage cream (evening)
    • Give skin softness with the “Macro Beauty Massage,” Argireline which increases tone and improves texture with results similar to professional skin care treatments.
  • 5 Pumps Remove dead skin cells with milk (morning / evening)
    • After washing your face, use the Royal Massage Milk with cotton pads. Ingredients like lactic and malic acid gently clean off accumulated layers of dead skin cells and melanin.
  • 2-3 Pumps As a Moisturizer (morning / evening)
    • Use after Skin Lotion, massaging it lightly into the skin for moisture and protection.
I've only been using this as a day-time moisturizer alternating with Le Metier's Peau Vierge Day Cream. My skin feels more refreshed, less tight, and mid-day I don't get as oily in the T-zone (meaning less touch ups).

Overall I've been thoroughly impressed. I can't emphasize enough how much my skin has improved in texture, feel and general radiance. The cleansing water helps me in the mornings when I'm rushed and at night helps make sure that every trace of foundation and concealer has been removed. The soft gommage gel is a great exfoliator for the woman who hates most facial scrubs. The macro vintage royal massage milk helps hydrate the skin in the most luxurious-feeling way without feeling too heavy. None of the products have a detectable scent to me (a huge plus for me as I typically find Chanel and Shiseido skincare items too strong in scent).

Where to buy? I've purchased my items instore from Barneys in Beverly Hills. The brand is also available on Barneys.com, KohGenDoCosmetics.com and Sephora.com. I would of course recommend that you see if your local Barneys has this line. If you cannot try in person, I highly recommend you order directly from Koh Gen Do. If you browsing through their website you will find they offer samples, gift with purchases and sometimes promotional discounts (their masks were 30% off earlier this year for a short period of time). They have some great trial sets.

The Royal Massage Milk and Soft Gommage Gel were provided for review without charge.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Natural Lighting Powder


Koh Gen Do's Maifanshi Natural Lighting Powder ($42 for 0.42 oz/12 g) comes in one shade: a light beige with a finely milled pearl finish. It's not exactly a translucent powder but the finish is sheer and the color disappears once applied very much like a translucent powder. The pearl particles give a soft glowy look to the skin and while the shimmer is visible, it's not over the top. The finish is not quite as glowy as Chanel's Poudre Douce - Soft Pressed Powder, but the concept is similar. I would say this powder is most similar to Armani's Microfil Loose Powder with the shimmer particles being the same size. This is a beautiful setting powder but the sheerness means that it won't necessarily even out the skin, but rather set your foundation and add a subtle glow.


The Koh Gen Go powder comes with a puff but I prefer to apply with a loose fluffy brush over a creamy foundation. In the past few months, I've tried this with a number of foundations and tinted moisturizers and it works with  other brands including Chanel, Guerlain, Laura Mercier. I like that it doesn't alter the color of your foundation but rather sets it. I've used Laura Mercier's Translucent Powder for years and while I love it, I find sometimes it can look a bit chalky on my skin when I am very tanned.

Here is the Aqua foundation and Powder photographed together for a size comparison. I like that the container is large enough to easily fit a large fluffy powder brush in the top.


I've compared the Koh Gen Do powder to a few others. The color is different from others that I own but still sheer enough to work on a wide range of skintones due to the sheerness. Below is Laura Mercier's Translucent, Armani Micro-fil #2, Chanel's Naturel 30 Translucent 2.


Here it's heavily swatched on my arm although they disappear when applied with a brush or puff on the face.


Overall the Koh Gen Do is a lovely loose powder. I personally prefer something with a bit more coverage when it comes to powders and I tend to prefer the pressed kind. I will even set my liquid foundations with powder foundations even though most might find it to be a bit of an overkill. I like my liquid foundations sheer to medium and my powders to be a bit heavier. To date, I think the Chanel and Armani are my two favorite loose powders still, but the limited shade selection make them difficult for many. I think the Koh Gen Do is more universally flattering for a wider range of skintones and adds a pretty glow. Will I ever repurchase? At this time I'm not sure, the tub is so large it seems like it will take quite a while for me to use up. I go through compact powders and powder foundations at least 5 times faster than I do for loose powders.

Have you tried Koh Gen Do's powders? What are your thoughts? Any favorites?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation in OC-2


In the past few months I've been testing out new skincare, powders and foundations from Koh Gen Do, Le Metier de Beaute, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana. Even though I've been getting regular use out of Guerlain's Lingerie de Peau, Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua and Chanel's discontinued Teint Innocence, I've still been on the hunt for new foundations to try. I'll be writing a review on each item in the upcoming weeks. First up is my experience with Koh Gen Do's Aqua Foundation in OC-2 ($62) from Barneys New York.
 
I first read about Koh Gen Do's Aqua Foundation ($62 for 1.01 fl oz.30 ml) on Into The Gloss earlier this year and noticed it was featured again on her Top Shelf series this past July. When she described it as "foundation heaven" I knew I had to try it. I've heard nothing but raves about Koh Gen Do and having fallen in love with their face masks, cleansing water and natural light loose powder, I had the Koh Gen Do foundation on my list of things to check out.

Back in August, I was in LA and stopped by Barneys Beverly Hills. The Koh Gen Do artists recommended that I try the Aqua Foundation for my skin type (normal, fairly clear, slightly oily in the T-zone in warm weather, but overall normal). They swatched OC-1 and OC-2 on my jawline and after seeing them side-by-side I was shocked at the difference. There's quite a big jump in between shades. OC-1 was definitely too pale, OC-2 looked like it would be too dark but on the skin blended well with my skin. Ideally I would have liked something right in between the two colors and at $62 a bottle I wasn't really keen on buying both to custom mix my own shade. OC-2 was a pretty good match and with the combination of the Moisture Milk, Aqua Foundation and Natural Finish Powder, my skin never looked so naturally flawless I was sold.



The Koh Gen Do Aqua foundation is a liquid formula and comes with a pump. It's rather pricey at $62 but the finish is naturally beautiful. It evens out the skin and has a slightly dewy finish but it's not too dewy like some tinted moisturizers. If you read the details on Koh Gen Do you will learn that they designed this with something they call "the golden ratio" which consists of 45% water, 35% emollients, and 20% powder to balance perfectly with one's skin. The finish is sheer to medium and slightly transparent so the skin shows through. It's not a pearly finish foundation but not completely matte either. I would say it's somewhere in between the texture and finish of Chanel's Teint Innocence Liquid foundation and Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer.

Here is OC-2 pumped next to Edward Bess Beige, Guerlain Lingerie de Peau 03 and Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B20 and B30. I was initially matched to Chanel B20 but is now clearly too light for me (will have to save for winter). I did not blend these out because I could not photograph them fast enough before the liquids dried and then darkened on my arm. Two things to take into consideration: 1) the inside of my arm is lighter than my face and 2) my skin is weird because so many different colors of foundation work on my skin (as long as it doesn't have a pinkish base).


Here on the back of my hand (which is closer in color to my face) you can see it blends out to disappear but give a dewy finish. This was the sharpest photograph I could get while still showing the slight sheen. Clearer photos make the hand look like it's nothing but bare skin.


I've been using this foundation for a month and a half now and have overall been pleased with the results.  No irritation, no break outs, no streaking or darkening. It lasts all day but I found that it works best when layered of the Macro Vintage Royal Massage Milk (see more on Kohgendocosmetics.com). I received a small sample that lasted me about 1 week of daily morning use. It's an amazing product and made my skin look and feel like baby's skin. I haven't caved to purchase this since I just bought a cream from Le Metier but it is definitely on my watch list for the future.

For use right now I apply over Le Metier's day cream and then use Cle de Peau's concealer in Beige on areas that need more coverage. Sometimes I will finish with Koh Gen Do's powder, other days I will finish with Chanel or D&G's powder foundations.

My only wish is that the foundation came in more shades. Since it is a sheer formula, the colors are slightly more forgiving if you can't find an exact match. Since I am a bit more tanned right now OC-2 works well for me, but just barely. If I become even 1/2 a shade lighter I know this will be too dark, yet OC-1 will definitely be too pale. For more information, a list of ingredients and list of shades, I highly recommend you check out Koh Gen Do's Website. They have detailed diagrams and descriptions of each product (all of which I find extremely informative, useful and non-gimmicky).

Have you tried Koh Gen Do's foundations? Which formula did you try and what were your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fresh Pinks from Koh Gen Do, Burberry Beauty and Paul & Joe


Three fresh pink lip colors from a few harder-to-find brands I think everyone should check out:
  • Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Lipstick in Fresh Pink PK04 - a sheer fresh light pink with a soft frost ($38 can be found at Barneys.com and KohGenDoCosmetics.com)
  • Burberry Lip Mist in Fresh Pink No. 09 - a healthy semi-bright cool-pink ($30, can be found at Nordstrom.com)
  • Paul & Joe Lip Lacquer in Can-Can 06 - a cool-toned healthy pink with slight shimmer and high sheen ($20 check Paul & Joe for locations)



Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Lipsticks have a sheer moisturizing formula. While the color is sheer, it is visible on the lips and gives healthy glowing lips like no other lipstick formula. I've reviewed two others Pink Beige and Pink Rose here. Fresh Pink PK04 was provided to me for review. It's a sheer light pink. Looking at the tube, one might worry that the color would be too sheer. The color does show up on my lips, but just barely. I think those with darker skin or darker lips might find this color too pale.


Burberry Lip Mists are natural lightweight lipsticks with a unique creamy-gelled texture that makes it feel in between a lip balm and natural lipstick. I've reviewed a different Lip Mist, Copper, here. Feather Pink is a fresh neutral-cool pink. It goes on smoothly and doesn't require any tweaking. There is no detectable scent. Lasting power is medium. The texture is smooth and applies evenly.



Paul & Joe's Lip Lacquers are among my favorites for lipglosses. I've raved about the formula in the past, but I don't think I've done very many lip swatches. These are high pigmented high shine glosses that last on the lips a long time. Unfortunately they don't photograph well because of the shine. It looks brighter in real life than it does on the lips below. Can-Can 06 is one of my most-used lip lacquers.


For more pink loves, you can see my Spring Pinks from April here. What are your favorite pink lip items for right-now?

Koh Gen Do Fresh Pink was provided to The Beauty Look Book without charge for review.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Koh Gen Do Macro Vintage Essence Mask


I recently discovered Koh Gen Do at Barneys last month (see my review on the Maifanshi Lipsticks here) and was amazed how many raves and recommendations I received via comments and e-mails about this brand. I have taken note of all your recommendations so I know what to look for on my next trip to Barneys. I was fortunate enough to receive samples of Koh Gen Do's Macro Vintage Series. This line of skincare products have been designed to keep your skin healthy by increasing "elasticity, vitality & moisturization" that one's skin already possesses naturally. Although I am a minimalist when it comes to skincare, given the glowing reviews I've read, I was anxious to investigate further.


I received a sample of the Macro Vintage Essence Mask. This comes packaged in a metallic box with 6 individually packaged face sheets and retail for $110 for the set. Each sheet contains 0.81 fl. oz. / 24ml of product. Those interested in this brand, note that there is a 20% promotion on the Macro Vintage Series on Kohgendocosmetics.com which expires on May 31st. See their website for more details.


Product Description: The face mask comes in a sealed pouch soaked into a thick sheet which you apply directly to the face. The ingredients work to hydrate going deep into the layers of your skin. According to Koh Gen Do, these masks contain plant essence gels:

"The unique ‘Moisturizing Skin Ingredients’ increase immunity, boost regenerating and anti-oxidizing powers by calming the skin and preventing moisture from being lost ...Micronetting created by nano-technology in the gel perfectly resembles the structures of the skin, allowing the moisture molecules to attach and hydrate deeper into the skin."


Product Ingredients:

Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Methyl Gluceth-10, Delinoleate, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Acrylated/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Potassium Hydroxide, Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Polianthes Tuberosa Polysaccharide, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Angelica Acutiloba Root Extract, Lecithin, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Glucosyl Hesperidin, PinusPinaster Bark Extract, PVP, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Beta-Glucan, Algae Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Algae Extract, Fullerenes



The mask with cut outs on the sides for easy adjustment to your face size and shape:


Product Application: Recommended usage is 1-2 times per week, but I see myself using this maybe once a month.

  • Fit mask over dry face
  • Leave on for about 10 minutes
  • Remove mask and blend unabsorbed emollient into the skin
  • Apply remaining emollients in packet onto eyelids, neck or décolleté

My Product Thoughts:
I am a huge skeptic when it comes to face-sheet masks. I've tried a few in the past which I found irritated my skin resulting in red splotches or left my skin overly-moisturized. Most I've found did nothing to improve the texture or feeling of my face. Yet, I received so many raves via e-mail about the one from Koh Gen Do I was hopeful for better results.

I applied this after I had cleansed and dried my face with Clinique's Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser. The mask seemed a bit large for my face but there were cut sections on the side which allowed for adjustment. The upside is your face is covered entirely, no spot is missed. The sheet was soaked with a heavy gel making the mask feel like it would fall off but it stayed put the entire 10 minutes I had it on my face. The scent is hard to describe, but I would call it a very light and clean refreshing scent. It covered my entire face and lids.

After ten minutes, I took the sheet off and rinsed my face with water to remove the excess and then gently dried with a towel. The results were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I have normal but sensitive skin that has recently started to look tired due to stress and neglect. (Yes, I'm not the best with my skin.) This mask gave me baby soft skin and left me feeling refreshed and moisturized yet perfectly clean. The gel left no heavy residue or sticky feeling. I've only had 2 spa facials before. This mask made my skin feel just as good as the Four Seasons facials. I see this as being useful for all skintypes. There was still quite a bit of excess product in the package - Koh Gen Do's recommendation is to use this for other parts of the face and neck. I discarded the excess both times I've used this, but I will have to keep that in mind the next time so I don't waste any good product.


This definitely makes the list of beauty-life-changers for me. The recommended usage is once per week. I only intended on using this once per month, but I've already used this mask twice since I received it. Once last week and once this evening. I can see that this might become an expensive habit.

I highly recommend you explore Kohgendocosmetics.com - there is a wealth of information on the brand history, product lines, how-to's for skincare, links to reviews and features from various editors and bloggers - all the goodies one would want to see about a brand, right on the brand website. I have not yet ordered online yet, my experience was at Barneys NY in Beverly Hills, but there seem to be quite a few promotions that are tempting me right now.

Have you tried Koh Gen Do's skincare before? I'd love to hear more thoughts on your experiences with this brand as I am anxious to make another run to Beverly Hills soon, maybe in the next couple months.


This product was provided to The Beauty Look Book without charge for review.
 

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