Showing posts with label LOccitane. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LOccitane. Show all posts

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best in Skincare and Grooming 2015



I discovered a lot of new favorites in 2015 for skincare. I've compiled a list of items I consider game changers that have made a significant difference for my skin over the past year improving texture, clarity, and smoothness. I struggled over 2014 with lots of stress with some life changes and didn't take the best care of myself health-wise. It impacted my skin and took months to recover. In 2015 my husband also went outside of his comfort zone to try more in skincare and grooming. We've rounded up our favorites for the past year. First up, best skincare picks for me:

Shown above featured from left to right:
  • Le Mieux 4-in-1 Ultrasonic Anti-Aging Skin Perfecter* (review here) best cleaning device tool discovered this year, helps to clean pores and with gentle extractions that won't break the skin
  • Glamglow Supercleanse Daily Clearing Cleanser (review here) best daily cleanser to help clarify skin, clean pores and help prevent breakouts
  • Tatcha Indigo Triple Recovery Cream* the entire Tatcha Indigo Line actually should be on the list as I've found every item I've tried to be a game changer for my sensitive skin. It's great for those who have eczema, for me it helped moisturize and soothe irritated and inflamed skin on flare up days, you can try the entire line in the Soothing Indigo Mini Set
  • Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream (review here) one of my top day creams
  • Eve Lom Brightening Cream* (review here and here) also in the top day creams which really helped with brightening the complexion and lightening dark spots and acne scars
  • Kate Somerville Dermal Quench and Dermal Quench with Retinol * (review here and here) experiencing the Kate Somerville line in person this year at the clinic in Los Angeles changed my life, I had always been interested in the line but didn't know where to start, having an in person assessment and facial helped me pick out what would be best for my skin, the Dermal Quench items have been game changers to improve skin texture for day and night, helps give the skin a lift and also reduce redness
  • Hourglass Equilibrium Biomimetic Skin Active Serum* (review here) I wrote about this back in February after giving it a thorough 50+ day test (or night that is), it comes with a hefty price tag but I found it to be the biggest game changer for my skin, at the beginning of the year I had horrible skin texture, lots of dark spots from acne scars, breakouts on the chin area - nothing I tried seemed to restore my skin and at that point I was too scared to use anything with retinol. This completely restored my skin in a gentle non-irritating way. It's a night treatment that helped with resurfacing and rebalancing. I continued using it weekly throughout the year as needed and I'm almost finished with the bottle. Whenever I feel my skin starting to act up this has hands down been the best treatment to help improve texture.
  • Tatcha Pore Perfecting Sunscreen* (reviewed here and here) best sunscreen I've ever tried that doubles as a matte primer, helps smooth skin, doesn't look white on the face, keeps oil controlled
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream* back in November, my skin suffered a serious allergic reaction to Neosporin. I put it on a couple scabs that I had picked from acne to help with the healing process, instead my face literally blew up into a serious rash with tons of deep red bumps and swelling. It took around five weeks for my face to recover (it wasn't bad enough for any prescription treatment, I was told the only thing to do was wait for it all to heal). The First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream was one of the few creams I could use for my irritated inflamed skin. My friends swear by it. I really love it.
  • L'Occitane Divine Youth Oil* best facial oil that I like to use at night or weekends on no makeup days, helps restore the skin's glow and moisturize without being too greasy, bottle lasts forever as a little goes a long way
  • Chanel Sublimage Eye Cream after all the eye creams I've tested this is still my favorite

For my husband, best in men's grooming:

Men's grooming favorites shown from left to right:

What were your skincare favorites? Any new discoveries that you found to be game changers?

Press samples featured with a * indicator next to the product names.
 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best in Beauty 2015: The Beauty Look Book Favorites for Hands and Nails


Hands and nails get their own favorites category this year. There were a lot of really good colors launched this year - unfortunately quite a few were limited-edition. My top picks for hand creams, treatments, polishes and other basics. Previous reviews linked for reference:
  1. Marc Jacobs Hi-Shine Enamored Nail Lacquer in Daisy - this is one I've owned for a couple years but everytime I wear it I always get asked "what's on your nails?" it's the prettiest soft pearly color that makes the hands look polished
  2. Chanel Le Vernis in Beige Rose - best baby pink cream nail color
  3. Dior Vernis in Lady - so sad this was limited-edition, the prettiest powder pink, I wish I bought a backup bottle
  4. Dior Vernis in Sunkissed - also limited-edition but still available at Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue, the best nude peach cream
  5. Tom Ford Sugar Dune - this was a limited-edition color from spring 2014 but made a comeback this year and was added to the permanent lineup, it's the closest one to Dior Lady and such a polished beauty
  6. Louboutin Scarabée Nail Polish Collection - the three had to be the prettiest nail colors launched this past year, I was happy to get them before they sold out, looking forward to what they will release this upcoming year
  7. Rescue Beauty Lounge everything, in particular the R29 Collection - RIP RBL, you were one of my favorite nail polish lines, I was very sad to see the line go, but their polishes will always have a very special place in my heart
  8. L'Occitane x Pierre Hermé Hand Creams - L'Occitane launched such an amazing with their holiday collection this year, I fell in love with everything in the Pierre Hermé line and am embarrassed to admit how many shower gels and hand creams I stocked up on because they are limited-edition, right now you can still find Miel Mandarine and Pamplemousse Rhubarbe online but I don't suspect they will be available for long
  9. Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Remover and Cuticle Oil - both of these remain at the top of my list for DIY nail essentials, I use them weekly and had to replace both because I use them so often
  10. Molton Brown Hand Cream in Pink Pepperpod - the most unique refreshing scent I've tried
  11. Tweezerman Pushy Cuticle Pusher - still the best one I've tried, although if you have any good ones to recommend I'm all ears
  12. Chanel Chataigne - from the fall collection earlier this year, initially I thought it was so similar to other vamps but it grew on me, best vampy shade launched this year
  13. Chanel Top Coat Lamé Rouge Noir - prettiest gold glitter top coat launched this year, I hope you were able to get one! It's limited-edition
  14. Marc Jacobs Hi Shine Enamored Nail Lacquer in Wine Not - best metallic wine color released this year, it sold out almost instantly but was restocked online at Marc Jacobs Beauty, if you haven't tried it you need to
  15. Nails Inc. 45 Second Top Coat - I don't think I reviewed this in detail although I did mention it in this post here, one of the best top coats I tried this year and doesn't cause shrinkage with other nail polish brands
  16. Formula X Nail Cleaner and Base Coat - I've found the Nail Cleaner to be a game changer, having a completely clean nail surface makes all the difference in helping polish adhere to the nails, the Base Coat has been a staple all year long, it's what I've used the most and I can't recommend it enough
Nail polish and hand cream fanatics - what were your favorites this year?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Lip Balm Testing and Recommendations for Winter Weather

Winter Lip Treatments Balms

Above: Tray from J.Crew (similar here and here), Clare V Wallet Clutch, Celine Knot Bracelet, Gorjana Crossover Cuff

I've been testing a number of new-to-me lip treatments, balms and oils since late fall. I did a roundup of rosy red tinted lip treatments for holiday last month, but it's been a year since I rounded up what I've been testing and loving in the non-tinted version. Today after weeks and weeks of testing, I have thoughts on 16 different lip balms in multiple formulas to share today. I've split the lip balms into three categories: the pots, the tubes, and the squeeze tubes.

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Potted Lip Treatments

Fresh Dior Chanel Tatcha Nuxe Lip Balms

Some of my favorite lip balms formulas are in pot format even though I prefer the tube or stick version so I don't have to stick my finger in. I've raved about the By Terry Baume de Rose so many times I thought I'd round up some others I've been testing.
  • Fresh Sugar Nourishing Lip Balm Advanced Therapy ($30) - I had high hopes for this one as I really like the stick sugar lip balms but find they can get soft and be prone to breakage. One in pot format seemed more ideal for a soft formula, but this one is actually harder in texture. I had to take a lip brush to break the surface and get enough product for my lips. With just fingers I could barely get anything on and the result was a barely-there veil of moisture. If you dip into the surface and dig out enough of the product to layer on the lips, it makes the lips feel moisturized, smooth, slightly minty and cool but without the tingle. Unfortunately it doesn't give the lips a long-lasting moisturized feel. I would say the effects are immediate and temporary for fall to winter weather. It would be better suited for warm weather.
  • Nuxe Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm Rêve de Miel ($19) - This is one I bought in the limited-edition packaging, but the formula is the same as the regular pots with the white caps. This is an ultra creamy highly concentrated rich balm that smells like honey and grapefruit. I find it on the thick side of creamy so it really coats the lips with a cushion of moisture. It stays put and doesn't slide around. It comes in a hefty glass jar. The scent is very natural and barely has any taste. I like this one for an ultra rich and creamy treatment.
  • Chanel Hydra Beauty Nourishing Lip Care ($50) This is one I used up and repurchased. I go back and forth with this one, mainly because it comes with a very high price tag. It's smooth and lightweight in feel but does moisturize the lips. If you read my post from last year I said I would probably use it to the end but not repurchase (well I ended up repurchasing). It's a good basic lip balm that works for me, but I think others like the Nuxe or the Clarins Lip Oils have a deeper more moisturizing treatment and more affordable.
  • Dior Crème de Rose ($28) - This has been on my radar for years and I finally bought it and tried it this year. It's super smooth and creamy without the greasy feel. It has the most lush rose scent, similar to By Terry but slightly less floral/sharp which makes it easier for those with sensitive noses. It's very hydrating and the effects truly make a difference in the moisture of the lips.
  • Tatcha Camellia Nourishing Lip Balm ($36, also in the Travel Kit and several other holiday sets) This is an extra special lip balm. It's such a unique formula. The base is a clear jelly-like balm that smells refreshingly sweet. It's dewy and adds the perfect amount of moisture to the lips and feels lightweight. It's topped with a thin layer of 24-karat gold leaf that gives it an ultra luxe look. It's a winner and I really can't imagine life without it.
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Lip Balms in Squeeze Tubes

Amore Pacific Laura Mercier Lip Balm L'Occitane First Aid Beauty Bite Beauty Malin+Goetz

Squeeze tubes are the best format for lip balms in my opinion. They're compact, easy to use and don't require fingers. Many come with angled applicators which makes it easier to apply these days. A few new ones along with tried-and-true favs:
  • Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment ($35) This is something I tried because so many of my readers raved about AmorePacific. This is a tiny tube of balm but the formula is excellent. It offers instant relief to super dry lips. There were a few days my lips were painfully dry and this helped restore them to their natural state. I would say that it's almost entirely scent and taste-free. I can't detect any scent but it's possible there's a slight natural scent to it. Out of all the tubes, this is in my top 3.
  • Laura Mercier Infusion de Rose Lip Balm ($24 or in the Rose Infusion Set* for $110) This is a new launch from Laura Mercier. It was first exclusive to the Rose Infusion Set, but you can purchase it separately now at Laura Mercier. It's a nourishing lip balm that smells like soft roses. It has Rosehip Seed, Kukui, and Macadamia Seed Oils helps soothe and comfort lips - I really like the way this feels on the lips. There is a slight floral taste to it - it's not bad or too strong, but definitely noticeable. I really like the way it hydrates the lips.
  • L'Occitane Shea Butter Lip Balm * ($25, from the Hugs and Kisses Set) is one of the most gentle lip treatments for super sensitive skin that's still hydrating. Since it's lightweight the lasting power isn't as long as some other treatments, but it still does the job at adding moisture and soothing the lips. Many lip treatments make my lips go numb (like Kiehl's and almost all the drugstore brands), whenever I'm in doubt I go with L'Occitane.
  • L'Occitane x Pierre Hermé Pamplemousse Rhubarb Lip Balm ($25 from the Voyage Trio Set) is part of the Pierre Hermé Collaboration. It has the most delicious grapefruit scent to it and adds a tiny bit of moisture. As a quick fix it's good, but the formula is pretty light in terms of moisture and texture. If you don't mind reapplying the scent is heavenly, but if you're looking for a deep treatment, you may want to pass.
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy* ($12, or in the FAB to the Rescue Sampler Set $32 and Freshen Up Duo $15) This is a life-saver for dry lips. It's got a minty scent which I'm not the biggest fan of, but it's a pleasant mint. It's super smooth and emollient and has just the right texture of creaminess to it. It gives the lips instant relief and really helps with dry lips.
  • Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in Champagne ($26, swatched here, Smashed swatched here) is a tinted treatment, but it's pretty much clear. This is one of the best lip treatments I've tried. It's super plush and hydrating. I use it on no-makeup days and it fixes dry lips like magic.
  • Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm ($12) is a long-time favorite. There are two formulas of lip balm, both are equally good. I think the Mojito one is fun because it's scented in a fun mojito flavor. It has a clear almost gel-like consistency. I like the way this feels on the lips the best out of all the lip balms. It's moisturizing and you can feel it, but it's not heavy or greasy.
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Twist Up Sticks and Oils

lip oil clarins hourglass nuxe lip balm caudalie lip balm

Last but not least, a few others in oil and stick format:
  • Clarins Instant Light Lip Confort Oil in Honey* ($24) Lip Oils were really popular this time last year. I tried a few different brands and found I didn't really like the concept of oils because many just felt too runny and thin. The Clarins is phenomenal though. It does offer instant comfort and a natural shine. Honey is pretty much clear on the lips but it has a thickness to it which prevents it from feeling like it will slip off your lips. Cafe Makeup did a review on the pink version. I think her thoughts and review are excellent.
  • Hourglass No. 28 Tinted Lip Treatment Oil in Icon* ($42, review here) is also tinted. I've tried both the original clear and tinted version. Both have a really good nourishing formula I find unique and extremely hydrating. The red one is fun for holiday and pretty sheer/natural so if you're a neutral lip lover like me, it's definitely wearable. It's one of the deeper treatments I've tried for lips - it has a press pump to dispense product. I think it's definitely worth the splurge.
  • Nuxe Lip Moisturizing Stick Rêve de Miel ($9) is something I've loved and used up. The stick for right now is probably too light in the sense that it doesn't give me enough moisture. If you're a Reve de Miel fan, go for the pot instead.
  • Caudalie Lip Conditioner ($12, also in this Winter Favorites Set or Winter Duo) this is my favorite twist up tube balm. It has a really nice fruity fresh scent and taste to it. It glides on the lips easily. It hydrates my lips nicely. I used up the tube from last year's post and repurchased it in one of the duos.
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If you're looking for a new lip treatment I hope this roundup helps give you some ideas of what to try. My bottom line:

Top Formula Picks for Fall/Winter Weather

Most hydrating formulas:

AmorePacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment
Bite Agave Lip Mask (any of the colors)
Dior Creme de Rose
Nuxe Rêve de Miel (pot)
Clarins Lip Oil

Best for everyday, lightweight but still moisturizing:

Caudalie Lip Conditioner
Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm
Tatcha Camellia Lip Balm

Best in luxury:

Hourglass Lip Oils

Ones I'd pass on if I could do it over:

L'Occitane Pierre Herme Pamplemousse Rhubarb - nice but not hydrating enough
Fresh Sugar Nourshing Lip Care - just not what I expected

As always, I'd love to hear about your favorites! If you have any tried and true - please share in the comments. 



Some press samples included in this post indicated with a * from L'Occitane, Tatcha, First Aid Beauty, Hourglass, Clarins.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

L'Occitane x Pierre Hermé Jasmin-Immortelle Neroli and Pamplemousse Rhubarbe for Holiday 2015


This holiday L'Occitane and Pierre Hermé teamed up to launch an exquisite collection of the most delicious smelling products for lips, hands and body. Both brands have a special place in my heart. I've been a long-time L'Occitane fan and this past summer I was able to try Pierre Hermé macarons for the first time when I visited Paris (they are truly out of this world). A partnership between the two brands is heaven sent and I have fallen head over heels in love with both fragrances launched for holiday in Jasmin-Immortelle Neroli and Pamplemousse Rhubarbe. Today I have a review on both fragrances along with a few of the gift set options. Do note some of the online sets are online exclusives, also different countries have slight variations in the options and packaging.


Out of the two it's hard to pick a favorite. I initially thought I would favor the Pamplemousse Rhubarbe because I love grapefruit scents. The Pamplemousse Rhubarbe is a sweet grapefruit but there's some cedar mixed in to balance it and round it out so it's not quite as sharp as a regular citrus. The rhubarb adds more warmth to it. Everything is so beautifully packaged and colorful.


According to L'Occitane: "When Pierre Hermé places Grapefruit at the heart of a creation, he means to celebrate all its facets. And that includes the slightly bitter, white inner skin – its character underlined by the green and crisp aromas of Rhubarb. This beautifully balanced note is soon ruffled at its heart by sensual, piquant spices. In this original composition, woody notes of Cedar conjure up the sensation of mischievous Grapefruit cutting through the tartness of Rhubarb stalks."

The items in the Pamplemousse Rhubarbe collection include:
The perfume is really pretty. It's sweet but not too sweet.  Lasting power is pretty good on me. With three spritzes I find it lasts from early morning until around 3:00 pm before it's completely faded. Layering the lotion helps extend the scent. The lotions are lightweight and absorb quickly into the skin and hydrate the skin nicely. The shower gel lathers up well in the bath or shower although I find the shower gels aren't quite as strong in scent as the lotion/perfume. All the body and hand items are identical in scent. The Pamplemousse Rhubarbe Lip Balm is clear and lightweight. It hydrates the lips nicely. Online it's only available in a couple of sets. I haven't checked to see if it's available alone in stores (if you've spotted it please share in the comments). The hand creams of course are incredible and not to be missed.

The Jasmin-Immortelle Neroli is actually my favorite of the two options which surprised me because Jasmin is one of those scents I like for the home but don't usually like to wear. The mix of jasmin, immortelle flower, citrus of neroli make for me the most interesting combination. The scent is very soothing and feminine. According to L'occitane this one is described as "luminous, angelic, sensual..." and I couldn't agree more. It's so beautiful I am doing something I have only done once before, I am backing up the perfume.


Per L'Occitane, "Floral and absolutely feminine, the jasmine scented fragrance of pastry chef Pierre Hermé balances the white notes of gardens at dawn with the gold of a flower that still flourishes throughout the Corsican maquis. Sparkling head notes bring an unexpected sensation. In one deep breath, Lemon and Petit grain tantalize the palate as they come into contact with Pink Pepper and offer up a breeze of fresh air. The exhilarating heart of this bouquet blends the floral note of Jasmine and the softness of Orange Blossom with the wild, honeyed and aromatic scents of an armful of Immortelle from Corsica. This is a floral fragrance that captures the scent of the Island of Beauty, swept up in woody and musky notes." 

Options in the Jasmin-Immortelle Neroli are the same as for the other fragrance with one slight variation for the lips:
The lip product for this collection is a tinted lip gloss. It is scented just like the other items in the line and goes on a sheer glossy pink (almost clear). It tastes surprisingly good - surprising to me because the scent doesn't seem like something that would taste good, but it does. At the same time it should be expected that Pierre Hermé and L'Occitane would take extra care to make sure the lip products taste just as good as they look and smell.

Swatches of the lip balm and lip gloss that we received in the US:



A quick look at a few of the other sets that launched this holiday. There was a Pierre Hermé hand cream trio available online but appears to be sold out right now. I didn't see it in stores a month ago but you may want to check to see if it popped up. It has the Mandarin Miel (warm citrus honey) as well which is still available for purchase separately online and in stores. The set offered a slight price break compared to purchasing the hand creams separately. Since everything is limited-edition I don't think this one will be coming back online.


Also available are these cute Hugs and Kisses Duos that have a lip product with a hand cream packaged together. The sets are $20 each ($24 value) and come in a variety of options. I didn't see these in store either - but if you've spotted them please share in the comments. I ordered the Pierre Hermé ones online.

Above: the Hugs and Kisses Hand and Lip Duos ($20 each) in Pamplemousse Rhubarbe, Jasmin-Immortelle Neroli, Shea Butter*, Delightful Rose*, also available in Zesty Lime.

There are lots of different gift sets at L'Occitane. My favorites are the Pierre Hermé ones. One more item I wanted to highlight because it's so cute are the Holiday Baubles. These are only $14 each and make the perfect stocking stuffer. The Shea Butter Holiday Bauble comes with minis of the Shea Butter Hand Cream, Extra Gentle Milk Soap, Ultra Rich Body Lotion, Ultra Rich Shower Cream all packed into a cute ornament. There's also a Shea Verbena Holiday Bauble option (also $14), or both in a Duo Pack Set for $28.


Bottom line: so much to love. The only downside is that a lot of the holiday items are limited-edition and some sets have already sold out online, my hope is that they restock, but I don't suspect the popular items like the sets. If you have anything on your wishlist I suggest you visit your store sooner than later.

Out of all the items in the Pierre Hermé collection, I think the stand outs are the Eau de Toilettes and Hand Creams. The Jasmin-Immortelle Neroli Lip Gloss is special because it's a surprisingly pretty pink shimmer even though it goes on pretty clear on my lips, it smells amazing and makes the lips feel smooth and glossy without any tacky feel.

This is perhaps my favorite holiday launch this year (or at least in my top three). You can find the collection online at L'Occitane and most items in stores as well. Some sets are online exclusives.



Did you check out anything from L'Occitane this holiday? My husband has some of the men's skincare sets on his wishlist for Christmas and I just ordered a few today.

Some items featured include press samples indicated with a *. Press samples include the Body Lotions, Shower Gels, Eau de Toilettes, Shea and Rose Hugs and Kisses. All other items and sets featured purchased by me.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hand Creams and Treatment Rotation, Favorites and Recommendations for Him and Her


I'm a bit of a hand cream addict. There's not a week that I don't have at least 2 hand creams in my purse not to mention all the drawers in my home that I have little hand cream tubes stashed. The weather has turned in the past few weeks, the air is extremely dry and my skin has really felt it. Extra help with moisture has been essential for me on all fronts. Last year I put together a list of my favorite hand creams that I had in rotation. Today I have a roundup of some new ones that I've been putting to the test including three designed more for men (thanks to my husband for testing some too).

When it comes to hand creams, there are three things I look for: good packaging, quick absorption, noticeable hydration. While I don't mind feeling the moisture, I like treatments don't have a greasy feel or silicone-like slip in the finish. On scented hand creams, I'm all for a good one with fragrance because it lifts the mood but sometimes I want something fragrance-free so it doesn't interfere with my perfume. For my husband, he doesn't like any of the ones I have that have girly scents. He has used and likes the one from Kiehl's, but it's pretty emollient and he's been asking me to find him something that has a quick dry time.

Up first is my favorite hand cream formula ever, L'Occitane. I've been hooked on L'Occitane since a family friend gifted me a tube of the regular Shea Butter version to help me with my peeling cuticles and dry hands. The regular Shea Butter is extra gentle and perfect for those with sensitive skin and noses. It's also thick and ultra hydrating. This one is L'Occitane's best-seller and comes in a few different size options. There are some value sets which give you a price break, so before you buy, definitely check out the sets like this Hugs & Kisses Duo or this Hand Cream Trio (there are larger value sets too).

I'm super picky when it comes to scented body products so it's somewhat of a miracle that I've loved every single L'Occitane scented hand cream. The options vary in thickness and texture depending on formula, but all are pretty much the same in terms of hydration. There are two whipped formulas in the Shea Butter Whipped* and Melting Honey Whipped* (review here) both have 25% shea butter and have a lighter texture but are very moisturizing.

Amande (Almond) is one of the few that doesn't have shea butter. It's made with almond oil and has an emollient and thinner texture. It's a favorite of mine but the scent is pretty strong. The Collection de Grasse scents (reviewed here) are also stronger in fragrance, many of which are very floral.

By far, my favorite is the Pierre Hermé x L'Occitane collaboration. I've stocked up on the Pierre Hermé Hand Cream Trios because you save $7 by purchasing the set, and it also comes packaged in a cute limited-edition tin which makes it perfect for gifting. Pamplemousse Rhubarbe is a warm well rounded grapefruit. You can smell the citrus but the rhubarb makes it softer, warmer and not as sharp as a true grapefruit. Jamine-Immortelle Neroli is a very soft gentle jasmin and citrus mix. I normally don't like wearing jasmin scents, but this one is very soothing and I adore it. Miel Mandarine is soft orange scented hand cream. It's got a creamy roundness to the scent because of the honey in it. All three are hydrating but have a quick drydown and leave the hands feeling silky smooth. There's no greasy feel and it absorbs super quick (quick as in less than 30 seconds).

L'Occitane wins for most fun packaging designs, best formula for sensitive but dry skin, and widest variety of scents and ingredients to suit your preferences and needs.


Next up are the Molton Brown Hand Creams*. I've been a fan of the line for a long time (long before most everything was reformulated or scents renamed). Their current line up of their hand creams are just as good as L'Occitane but the Molton Brown has different scents and packaging. There are currently seven scented options, some are called Replenishing Hand Creams and others simply Hand Creams. I tested all the scents and formulas and they perform the same. They have a fast absorbing texture that is not too thin but not too thick. Hands feel moisturized and smooth. With scented body products there's often a hit or miss, but in this case there's not a bad one in the entire lineup. Scents are noticeable and last a decent amount of time. My top three favorites are Gingerlily, Pink Pepperpod (also available in this cute holiday cracker) and Ylang-Ylang.

The latest launch is the Alba White Truffle line which consists of a Hand Treatment and Hand Exfoliator. You can buy them individually or in a boxed duo gift set (prices are the same whether you buy separate or together). These are scented with nutmeg, olibanum and vanilla and they smell absolutely delicious without being overpowering or too sweet. The formula of the hand cream is a lot richer than the other ones in the Molton Brown line. It's very very moisturizing and you can definitely feel the strength of it. It does absorb fast and doesn't leave a greasy feel although you can feel the moisture. It's a pampering kind of treatment that I really like. The best part of this line is the Hand Exfoliator. I've had scrubs with pedicures before but never on the hands. This is new to me but I'm hooked. The scrub gets rid of all the dead skin and build up and leaves the hands feeling refreshed, moisturized, ultra smooth and just so much better. I would love to use it everyday but that would be overdoing it. I've used this 1x per week and my hands feel like dead weight has been lifted off that I didn't know was there. If you're looking for a hand duo for someone who already has almost everything this is a good option as it just launched in mid-October and is relatively new.



Next up are some other brands that have one formula or scent of hand cream. Many are either skincare or fragrance lines.
  • Eve Lom Hand Cream with SPF 10 is one of the most gentle hand creams I've tried that's unscented. If you're super sensitive to any fragrance or simply don't like it, this is a good option. The formula is on the thick side so a little goes a long way. It absorbs quickly.
  • Nuxe Rêve de Miel is the most lightweight in texture that I've tried. I'm a fan of all things Nuxe, I bought mine in a duo set from Paris, but you can buy the individual tubes online (currently there's a sale online at Nuxe). It has a soothing but very soft and gentle honey scent.
  • Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black and Nirvana White Hand Creams restocked at Sephora.com, both are limited-edition and come in sleek slim tubes perfect to slip into a clutch or small bag. I bought a couple tubes of both since I love the fragrance. The formula is nicely moisturizing and scent is pretty strong.
  • Ole Henriksen Empower Hydrating Hand Cream* is a new formula from Ole Henriksen. It's a lightweight super absorbent hand cream that strengthens and protects the skin. It also has Willowbark which is a natural exfoliant (salicylic acid) to sheds dead skin cells and stimulate new cell formation. I like that it absorbs fast and the moisture lasts a long time. Even though it has a natural exfoliant I was relieved to find it didn't make the skin peel or pill. It has a super lightweight clean scent. It makes the hands look smoother instantly. (Also available at Sephora.)
  • Leif Kakadu Plum and Macadamia Nut Hand Balm* is a super hydrating emollient hand treatment. It smells really good like macadamia and it's so good I almost want to eat it. This one is larger than most of the tubes I have but still works to fit inside my purse. I would say it's as moisturizing as the Kiehl's but has a thinner texture. I really like the Leif as a cuticle treatment too.
  • Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream* is hands down my favorite treatment hand cream. The Indigo line is really good for sensitive, dry or itchy skin. It has a lightweight refreshing sakura-like scent to it. I would recommend it to anyone for any skin type. If you don't want to buy the full size without trying it, Tatcha has it in a smaller Travel Size. It's also available in a mini in the Soothing Indigo Mini Set. If you want the full size there's a Aiiro Soothing Duo set that has the hand and body cream.



For men, I've been on the hunt for a good basic hand cream designed more for men versus something that is unisex. When it comes to skincare, packaging is key for my husband. It has to look good and have easy to use packaging. He won't use anything pink or girly-looking. The Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve comes in a small size in the Men's Starter Set and my husband likes it and uses it daily. It is very hydrating and when it comes to waiting for something to absorb into the skin, my husband (Andrew) wants it to be fast (he doesn't like waiting). With the Kiehl's, he will apply it to his hands or feet. Any excess is rubbed off onto his arms or on a towel. I also like it because it's very good for super dry skin is unscented and even though it's emollient I find it dries within a few minutes. It's available in a number of holiday sets and bundles where you can save like this trio.

Andrew's been a fan of Baxter and Jack Black, so I ordered both for him to try. He's a fan of the Jack Black Cool Body Moisturizer because it has a nice clean scent and feels refreshing. He says it applies well and absorbs into the skin quickly without feeling greasy. The Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer comes with a lot of high ratings on online reviews. It's also been recommended by many of my female readers. I had high hopes that my husband would like this one because he's a fan of the line. After trying this - he felt it too emollient, too thick and he kept wanting to wipe off the excess from his hands. I thought he was in one of his impatient moods and tried it myself. He was right. I also found it very thick in texture and a bit sticky. The benefits of the Jack Black are that it's very very hydrating. It soothes dry spots instantly. There is a slight menthol scent to it but it fades. I let it sit for as long as I could to see if it would dry down. It never did but I found I could tolerate the texture as an overnight treatment. It makes the hands look visibly smoother and in the morning they look and feel a lot better.

Baxter of California is a men's grooming line my husband discovered at the Birchbox Roadtrip event earlier this year. He's been a fan of everything he's tried so far and has some of the value sets on his holiday wishlist. A couple reviewed in this monthly favorites post here. I ordered the Hydro Salve Hand Cream which is a white cream in a squeeze tube. This one is his favorite because it adds noticeable hydration but dries quickly. It leaves the hands feeling moisturized, fixes dry cracks and soothes the skin without any greasy residue. I tried it as well. On one of the days I had some issues with cuticle dryness (some were starting to crack). Within minutes my hands felt instant relief and by the afternoon, my cuticles were almost healed. The description of this one is "Packed with aloe, shea butter and avocado oil, this unscented moisturizing cream hydrates and helps repair very dry skin. Infused with vitamins E, C and B5, the extra thick cream delivers nutrients to rough and chapped areas." It's exactly as described.


Above: Collar Stays from Nordstrom, Travel Case by Tumi (current style here)

There are several I did test in store that had very high ratings online in customer reviews but that I didn't like enough to purchase. I'll mention three briefly. Ahava Mineral Hand Cream came highly recommended to me by several readers. I bought this during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and had very high hopes. I couldn't tolerate the smell and the while formula dried quickly it had an almost silicone-slip to my hands that I couldn't wait to wash off. Deborah Lippmann Rich Girl Hand Cream also came highly recommended to me. I liked the formula but found the scent overpoweringly sweet. La Mer The Hand Treatment is a cult classic. I actually splurged on a tube many years ago and used it up. I considered repurchasing recently but found the formula overpowering in fragrance. I also found it felt very emollient, almost greasy. I do think it will be good for super dry hands or an overnight treatment.

That wraps up my roundup of hand cream testing for fall to winter. If you're in the market for a new hand treatment especially in this dry weather, my top picks include:

Most variety and best formula:
L'Occitane and Molton Brown

Best unscented options:
L'Occitane Shea Butter, Eve Lom and Baxter of California

Most intense for super dry skin:
Kiehl's, Jack Black, Molton Brown Alba White Truffle and Leif

Most lightweight texture: 
Nuxe Rêve de Miel

Best for sensitive skin/instant relief:
Tatcha

Personal favorites for scented hand creams:
L'Occitane x Pierre Hermé (all three)
Molton Brown Gingerlily
Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black
Leif 

Husband's favorite for men:
Baxter of California

There are a number of really good gift sets this holiday. I can't get over how good they are this year. You can find the brands above at a number of different retailers but some products and sets are exclusive to the brands own retail website. All the products are linked above in the reviews to where you can buy them so you don't have to click around to find things. Many times it's easier to shop at larger retailers but if you're looking for good deals or savings, I'd recommend researching ones that sound interesting to you, make a list and bookmark websites. A lot of the individual brands will have savings and gift with purchase offers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday - so while it might be a bit of extra work to shop, I do believe it will be worth the effort. I'll have a roundup of promotions, codes and deals on Friday and Monday so stay tuned. 

I think skincare or scented products are often tricky to gift to people, especially if you don't know them extremely well. I think hand creams fall into the more neutral category. I've gifted L'Occitane for years and it's always well received. There's been confirmation in this conclusion since those I've gifted the hand creams have always repurchased what I've bought them, they often buy as gifts for their friends as well.

As usual, I've love for you to share what your favorites are. Please let me know in the comments!  

Press samples included in the feature indicated by a *. All others purchased by me.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Festive Beauty Ornaments, Charms and Crackers


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This holiday season there are so many cute beauty gifts and sets. In case you're looking for a festive beauty gift that comes in cute packaging to save time on wrapping, I've rounded up some cute ideas that I call quick and easy gifts. You can pick up multiples without breaking the bank and have some on hand for last minute gifting. They can also make cute stocking stuffers or add-ons to something like a chic book, a bouquet of flowers or baked goods.

I'm smitten with the Molton Brown Re-Charge Black Pepper Cracker. The Rhubarb and Rose Cracker has a full-size hand cream in it.

This Christmas, Charlotte Tilbury brought back her Mini Lipstick Charm Set again this year which is good because even though they are uber tiny, they are so so cute. Swatches of Bitch Perfect and Penelope Pink in this post here.

L'Occitane never disappoints for gifting any time of year really. Year over year I buy most of my gifts from them because it never fails to make friends and family happy. There are so many good Hugs & Kisses Hand and Lip Duos this year. My favorite is the Pierre Hermé Jasmin-Immortelle Neroli which surprised me because I love Jasmin scents for the home, but rarely like to wear them. The Pamplemousse-Rhubarbe duo is perfect for any grapefruit/citrus scent lover. Other classics include the Shea Butter and Delightful Rose.



Hope you have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Loving Right Now


Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope your week is going well so far. A few things I'm loving right now, especially since the weather seems to have shifted overnight here in Southern California. It's still relatively warm compared to most parts of the US, but we've had some rain, lots of wind and dry weather. My skin has definitely felt the impact and my lips and skin have felt dry so I've needed to switch things up.

For lips I've been loving the Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment that I picked up from Sephora. It comes in a sleek little squeeze tube and has an angled applicator so you can apply it without using fingers. It's hydrating and feels lush on the lips. I'll give an update later as I'm testing a few new lip treatments. Also great for dry skin is the Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Oil-Free Essentials Set (not shown). I bought this a couple months ago and loved the items but found them too hydrating when we had super warm and humid weather in the high 80s (I thought fall weather would never arrive here). For right now, the cleanser and toner are just what I need to mix into my routine on days I feel extra dry.

These days I feel like I can't live without the Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist*, the travel size is perfect to keep in my purse and I love that the mini packaging is just as good as the full size. Be sure to check out their gift sets this year. Their packages are beautifully wrapped so you really don't need to do any extra work if you gift something.

For under eye concealer, I'm still loving the Charlotte Tilbury Retoucher Concealer as the best under-eye and spot cover up (I use Shade 3). Pigment and coverage is impressive but it blends out to a completely natural looking finish. Swatches of all the shades in this post here. Because many of you have been asking about the newer Mini Miracle Eye Wand Dynamic Duo Lift and Light Reflector, I picked up one in Shade 3. I'll report once I've given it a thorough test drive.

Another staple in my daily makeup rotation is the Edward Bess Illuminating Eye Base. Many of you have repeatedly asked what my favorite eye base is, and it's the one from Edward Bess. It evens out the lids and primes it for eyeshadow. It extends eyeshadow wear and doesn't crease. Many skin-tone colored primers dry out my lids or make them look wrinkly, the Edward Bess smooths out the skin and makes it glow naturally (even though there is no shimmer).

For color, I'm obsessed with Dior Addict Fluid Stick in Versatile (swatched here), Wander Beauty Exquisite Eye Liquid Eyeshadow* in Bronze (swatched here), and Chanel Rouge No. 19 Le Vernis (released last year, but still available at Chanel.com, swatch here).

I've been testing a number of different hand creams. I did a roundup of my staples back in January. I'll have another update soon. The Molton Brown Alba White Truffle Hand Treatment* and Hand Exfoliator* are really quite amazing. I've never done a hand scrub but the exfoliating treatment is incredibly helpful in scrubbing off dead skin and also offers hydration leaving hand silky smooth and feeling really good. (Not to mention is smells delicious.) The Alba White Truffle Hand Cream is ultra hydrating. 

Also not to be missed is the L'Occitane x Pierre Hermé Collaboration. Both brands have a special place in my heart and I couldn't be more thrilled that they partnered for a holiday launch. The packaging on the Hand Cream Trio is to die for. As soon as I saw it online I immediately went to my local store to pick it up. Unfortunately it appears to be an online exclusive in the US. If you're one to shop in store, there is a lot to choose from - but don't forget to check online for exclusive sets. The gift sets this year are so beautiful (more on these soon). There are some cute Lip/Hand Duos and other items that are only available online. (I ordered multiples of the trio and duos.)

Last three things I've been loving are the Gourmand Eau De Parfums from Urban Outfitters. I have Thé Matcha which is a super clean fresh scent. I have several others on my wishlist. Truffle pouches are always on my love-list. The Rose Gold Privacy Clutch is always fun around the holiday season. New for holiday is the Ivory Pearl Cranberry Pouch in Small* and Large. Right now Truffle has a 20% off sale on this color through 11/25 with code CRANBERRY at checkout.

Stay tuned for a hand cream and lip treatment roundup along with more holiday reviews and gift guides. What are you loving this week? Do you have any go-to's for dry skin during the colder fall/winter months?

P.S. The Garance Doré Book is so incredibly fun and chic!

Press samples included indicated by a * next to the items featured. All others purchased by me.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Splurge vs. Save


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A few holiday treat ideas whether you're looking for a splurge or something more affordable.

There are so many good sets this year, I'll have holiday gift guide roundups of the best gifts I've found by price point and recipient coming soon. I love a good lip and hand duo - who doesn't need an extra boost of moisture during the holiday season? La Mer's The Replenishing Collection Duo ($75) is quite the splurge with a 1.7 oz of The Hand Treatment and 0.32 oz. of The Lip Balm. A more affordable option is the L'Occitane Shea Butter Hugs and Kisses Duo ($20 each) which is perfect for sensitive noses and skin. The Hugs and Kisses Duos come in a variety of other scented options (this one for example is to die for!!).

For the lips, matte full coverage lip colors are often in. They have bold color, rich pigment and matte formulas tend to last longer. Hands down the one of the best matte lipstick formula is the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipsticks ($32 each) because it's a luminous long-wearing and hydrating matte. Very Victoria (swatched here) is an amazing nude. 1975 Red is a limited-edition color that's a vibrant bright warm red (swatched here). Buxom Bold Gel Lipstick ($22) is a more affordable option. The Matte formula is pretty darn good and priced right (plus if you're a Sephora VIB you can get 20% off until November 16th with code VIB20). Swatches of all the Buxom Bold Gel Lipsticks here. I found Buxom Sinful Cinnamon to be an almost exact dupe for Charlotte Tilbury Very Victoria. Also Buxom Wildfire is identical in color to Charlotte Tilbury 1975 Red. I will say though that the Charlotte Tilbury formula really can't be beat (or matched).

For the holiday season, quick and easy gifts are candles. I'm a huge fan of Jo Malone and Diptyque candles for pine scents. Jo Malone Pine and Eucalyptus ($65) has the perfect Christmas-y vibe to it. A couple cheaper alternatives for holiday home scents are the Nest Birchwood Pine ($35) and Henri Bendel White Spruce ($35).

For the nails, I love a good sparkly gold, bright red or deep vamp, but for those who like a good neutral nude pink that will give your hands a polished look without making them look dead, Tom Ford Sugar Dune ($35, swatched here) is my holy grail nude pink cream. Dior Lady (review here) also reached holy grail status but was limited-edition and I'm so sad you can't find it anymore. The closest dupe I've found is Essie Topless and Barefoot (swatched here). It's a really good neutral that isn't sheer and gives the hands a polished feel.

Last but not least for those who love flat zip pouches, the Tory Burch York Duo Leather Pouches ($195 for set of 2) is quite the splurge. Both are made of textured Saffiano leather and are very thick and sturdy. I own the Black and Light Oak duo, I really like both, but it was a big ouch to the wallet. A less expensive alternative but something still high quality is the Truffle Privacy Clutch ($54). It's made of textured leather and is quite sturdy. With these two, you can't compare them exactly since one is a duo and one is a single, but the function is similar. I use the Truffle Privacy Clutches more often - the shape, size and simple sleek design is versatile as a makeup bag, pouch for your purse or a clutch. For those who like smaller pouches Truffle launched the Privacy Wristlet ($48 in three colors).

Have a great Monday!




 

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