Showing posts with label La Mer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label La Mer. Show all posts

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!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fall Foundations

It's time for a foundation update now that we are transitioning to fall weather. I've been testing some new base formulas over the past few months. I have an assortment of foundations to share today by coverage type which I've found suitable for my normal combination skin. These days my skin is slightly oily in the T-zone with a few dry patches around the chin area as I'm working to clear up my skin. I still have super sensitive skin that reacts to a lot of foundations so if you're like me, I this roundup helps you find something new to try.

In case you have completely different skin type and foundation preferences, I highly recommend you give Nordstrom's online foundation search tool to help you find the right foundation for you. There is a quick and easy form for you to fill out where you select skin type, coverage and finish preference. This filters brands and formulas for you to check out. I highly recommend you give it a try.

I've split my fall foundation edit into three categories: Natural Coverage, Medium-to-Full Coverage and Powder Foundations. My personal foundation preference is for something that is natural looking and lightweight but also has decent coverage to even out the skin and create a flawless base. Many have asked me if it's necessary for add-ons like primers and powder. I don't think all foundations need a primer, but I'm a firm believer in setting with powder. Many times I set with a powder foundation by dusting the face with a brush. Some think it's too much to layer powder foundation on top of liquid foundation but if you layer it right, it's not too much. (More on primers and powders in a separate post.)

Up first are three new powder foundations I've been testing. If you've read The Beauty Look Book for a long time you will know that my holy grail powder foundation is the Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte Powder Foundation. My color is usually Warm 100 and has worked for me even though I've gotten darker over the summer. I decided to try a few new formulas.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Powder Foundation is indeed a high-def kind of product. It's a super pigmented and super velvety kind of powder foundation that has medium to full coverage. You can use this one wet or dry, I prefer dry with a sponge or dusted with a brush. For me trying powder foundation is tricky - as the skin warms up, powders often darken or oxidize in color. The Urban Decay Naked Skin Powder Foundation does warm up to the skin but doesn't darken. It holds up really well with minor touch ups needed on the nose for me. I use Medium Light Warm. There are a number of shade options with different undertones.

The Tom Ford Flawless Powder Foundation launched a few months ago. This is extremely pricey at $80 but the formula is amazing. With a simple base of moisturizer the sponge applies this on the skin and makes all your pores disappear. Skin appears smooth and truly flawless. It's easy to build - the texture in the compact looks and feels powdery but there is no fall out on the face and it doesn't cake. The downside (aside from the steep price tag) is the limited color selection. I'm in between Fawn and Sable. It was suggested I opt for Fawn as the closest match. I'm about 1.5 shades darker now compared to what I am most of the year. For right now I can get by with Fawn but it's a tad bit too pale. It will be perfect for winter. That being said I do hope they expand the color selection to match the liquids because this formula is incredible.

Giorgio Armani also launched a new foundation called the Luminous Silk Compact. Color selection jumps around in this one as well. I am normally anywhere from a 6, 6.5 to 7 in the Luminous Silk and Lasting Silk. The powders I saw seemed to run on the dark side. I was matched to 4 and I was super skeptical about the counter rep's matching skills because I expected to be 5.5 or 6.5. She was right. It warms up on the skin. I would say this is one of the sheerer powder foundations I've tried. If you like a super natural look this is a good one. It is very smooth and finely milled. I prefer more coverage but it's great as a setting powder or layered over a sheer foundation.

Swatches next to Chanel Double Perfection Lumiere Powder Foundation (right now I use 40 Beige) and Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte in Warm 100


Next up are some natural medium coverage foundations. Some of these are more on the sheer side but each of these will offer enough coverage to even the skin and cover minor imperfections. I have a few tried and true mixed in with a new to me formula.

Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact was featured a few weeks ago. This is the first cushion compact I've tried and my color match is Tan Gold 204. Several of you mentioned you hoped shade 102 would launch in the US and the good news is that I just noticed that it's now online at Nordstrom! The Amore Pacific Cushion Compact is the most natural looking foundation I've tried that still gives medium coverage. It melts into your face to look like skin but as you press it into your face you will see it transform into what I call your skin but better. Color selection is limited so I'm thrilled that Tan Gold is my perfect match (it warms up and adjusts within the first 2-5 minutes but doesn't darken further after it sets).

The NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer is one of my holy grail base products because it's really not like a traditional tinted moisturizer. When my friends ask me for a recommendation on a foundation that's natural this is the one I recommend first. It's usually followed by a response along the lines of, "oh but I don't like tinted moisturizers, they're too sheer and greasy." I agree that most are, but this one is very different. It's more like a natural foundation with a super lightweight texture that makes the skin glow naturally. I'm usually Groenland year round but after getting a tan I've found the next shade up St. Moritz to be a better match. If you haven't tried this formula I highly recommend you do. It has the perfect natural coverage and glows without feeling too glowy and doesn't get greasy or too emollient throughout the day.

La Mer Reparative Skin Tint is something I featured over the summer. This is one of the few skincare + foundation in one kind of products that I actually like. The formula melds into the skin beautifully and offers natural medium coverage. Over time it improves the texture of the skin adding moisture without feeling heavy. The only downside is the color selection is limited and it's also very expensive but if you can find a color match it's well worth the splurge. It helps rebalance the skin and lasts all day long. If you have normal to dry skin this one is really good.

The Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream was a pleasant surprise for me. I received a few press sample recently and gave it a try. I have to say it far exceeded my expectations - the concept of a gel cream didn't sound appealing to me since most gel-like foundations feel sticky and often look too dewy on my skin. This formula has thoroughly impressed me, I like it just as much as the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer and the added bonus is the color selection seems better than most lines. This is a BB Cream, CC Cream and Tinted Moisturizer in one. I'm usually not a fan of BB or CC creams because I don't like the way they feel on my face. The Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue feels weightless and blends into the skin beautifully.


The final category for my fall foundation roundup is medium to full coverage formulas. This is my formula of choice since I prefer bases that cover my skin more to create an even base. All of these have been featured before on the blog, they are my tried and true.

Tom Ford makes excellent foundation. The Traceless Foundation Stick is hands down the best foundation stick I've ever tried. It's super creamy and easy to blend on the skin. It covers imperfections without looking cakey. Since it's super pigmented I recommend layering this on areas you need extra coverage instead of applying it all over the face. I love the formula but the pigment is too rich for the entire face everyday (at least for me). The Traceless Perfecting Foundation is something I use regularly. I am normally a match to Bisque 4 but right now Natural 5 is my perfect summer match.

The NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation is another holy grail for full coverage foundations. This one gets mixed reviews - some love it, others hate it. It's super concentrated and a little goes a long way. It lasts all day on my normal combination skin and covers the face really really well. If I were to compare this to a lipstick, I would say this is similar to Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution. Both are more matte in finish but have this luminous quality that makes it look natural and not flat. I do think you need to prep the skin properly with a good moisturizer and primer if you have any dryness or uneven texture on the skin (I like the Dolce & Gabbana Primer or any of the ones from NARS). My shades are Santa Fe and Punjab, both of which are too light for me now. Since a little goes a long way I still have a lot of both shades and didn't want to purchase a third since I'll be losing my tan soon.

Last but not least, Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet is a classic staple for me. I've repurchased it several times. I alternate between Beige 30 and Beige 40 depending on my skintone. It offers medium buildable coverage and feels lightweight. Even though the name "velvet" implies a matte finish, I find it's a natural luminous matte. It doesn't look or feel heavy. In terms of foundation recommendations this one usually is #2 on my list. Many often ask, "but what about the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua? it sounds better and lighter." Both are good formulas, the Perfection Lumiere Velvet is my favorite because it covers better and has a slightly matte finish. It also lasts all day and feels weightless. The Vitalumiere Aqua is also natural looking and I know many love it. On me it feels a bit too dewy, I would say it's better suited for you if you like glowy makeup or have normal to dry skin.


If you're looking for a new foundation to try, I hope you found this roundup helpful. Finding the right foundation can take time. There are so many factors to consider from color matching, formula, finish and lasting power. As usual, I'd love to hear about your foundation favorites or new discoveries. Do you have anything that's a go-to for fall?

Many thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions my own. Press samples include the items from Bare Minerals and Amore Pacific. All others purchased by me. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

August Favorites

I have a monthly favorites roundup today featuring both beauty and grooming products for him and her. My husband had so much fun pulling his favorite things last month he wanted to participate again. We've both been experimenting with new products - for me it's a regular thing since I'm a beauty blogger and constantly trying new things. For him, he's found out trying new products takes quite a bit of time to figure out how they really perform. There are some things he wanted to toss after one use, but in the interest of giving things a thorough test drive he's opened up to giving items more than 1-2 uses before writing things off. Our August beauty and grooming favorites this month:
  1. Tom Ford Skin Illuminating Duo in Moodlight (reviewed here) is the must-have highlighter duo this season. It gives the skin the most stunning glow. There seems to be mixed information about whether or not it's limited-edition. I received an e-mail from the team at Tom Ford confirming that it's limited-edition. Others report it is permanent. To be safe I bought 2 backups. It's that good.
  2. R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo Spray (Travel Size) is something I picked up a month ago. I'm the type of person who washes her hair daily so I don't use dry shampoos a lot. There are days though where it's so hot my hair needs a quick refresh. Many are white in color and leave my black-brown hair looking dusty and grey (even if I brush it out). This one is colorless and smells amazing. A few spritzes absorbs oil and gives the hair texture. I give it a huge thumbs up.
  3. First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay has been a long time favorite. I've used this on and off for a year now (I like to switch up my cleansers). I think I've gone through 4 tubes. It's amazing in this hot humid weather at cleaning the skin, unclogs pores and is gentle but really effective.
  4. YSL Pop Water Glossy Stains have been in regular rotation (previously swatched/reviewed here). The colors are summer-perfect. It's so easy to swipe on the lips and the stain makes the color last long. My two favorites for the last month have been Pink Rain and Wet Nude.
  5. Surratt Beauty Lip Lustre in Soigne is one of the prettiest shimmering rose pinks. It looks very metallic in the tube and when swatched on the hands but on the lips it's not as frosty. It's the perfect soft rosy pink shimmer. See it on my lips here.
  6. I acquired a few minis of the La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream and it's heavenly. I have been rationing three tiny bottles for months now (since around May) and I've fallen head over heels. I don't want to splurge on the full size but there are some deal/value sets. I need to buy soon. It will be one of my biggest skincare splurges but it's amazing on my skin. It hydrates, feels smooth, doesn't get greasy and makes my face glow.
  7. Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow in Medium to Dark is my go-to bronzer this month. You can see the full review + swatches here. I'm completely obsessed.
  8. Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow is something I've been mixing in with foundation to add a subtle glow. I like that it has a yellowish golden undertone which I find rare in liquid illuminators which are often pinkish/opal.
  9. La Mer Illuminating Eye Gel is something I've been using since the spring. It's a good lightweight product for day and in this hot summer weather it's just what I need. For a real deep treatment my go-to is still Chanel Sublimage but it's a bit heavy for day in this super hot weather.
  10. This hakuho-do x Sephora Kusuriyubi Angled Concealer Brush is amazing. I did a full review earlier in the month which you can see here, but this is my favorite concealer brush of all time now.
  11. For the longest time my husband has been a loyal Jack Black user, but he opened up to trying some items I brought home from Kiehl's. He really likes the Facial Fuel Energizing Facewash for Men. It lathers up well and really cleans the skin making it feel refreshed without leaving any film or stripping the face. The entire Facial Fuel line has a good masculine look to the packaging which he finds appealing. I tried this one and have to say it's pretty darn good. For him, it helps prepare his skin for shaving by making it feel smooth.
  12. Kiehl's Facial Fuel Heavy Lifting Eye Repair is what he uses under his eyes to try and treat wrinkles and dry skin. This year he's been keen on researching products and changing his lifestyle to prevent aging (or at least try to delay it). He's on his second jar of this. He likes it because it hydrates and really helps with his wrinkles.
  13. Kiehl's Facial Fuel Energizing Moisture Treatment for Men has been in regular rotation for skincare. He likes this because it softens the skin without feeling greasy. It absorbs quickly and makes the skin feel invigorated. He actually got this one in Men's Starter Kit because he likes bottles with smaller packaging.
  14. Clarisonic Alpha Fit Cleansing System for Men is a new device designed specifically for men. My husband had tried my Aria with his own brush heads. He liked the concept but didn't like the design (he said it looked too girly and felt bulky). I bought this one for him - the video sold it for me. It has a good masculine look and fits in the hands easily. He uses his in the shower daily and finds it gives his skin a deep clean and has made a noticeable difference in texture and preventing blackheads/clogged pores. He has super thick facial hair and this Clarisonic has softened the ends of his hair so when he shaves it feels softer. It's on the pricey side but he's really happy with it. It fits on the shelf in our shower without taking up a lot of space.
  15. Nuxe Men Multi-Use Shower Gel is his favorite right now. He likes the way it smells and how it lathers (for him the lather is important). It leaves the skin feeling clean and moisturized. I'm a fan of the way it smells on him too. Review here.
  16. Penhaligon's Blenheim Bouquet Deodorant is something he bought because he was researching Penhaligon's shaving products. He decided to give this one a try based on online reviews he read. He likes it because it has a good fresh manly scent and doesn't make his skin peel.
That wraps it up for our beauty and grooming favorites for the month!
What were your favorites for August?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Current Base Testing Rotation

I have a love-hate relationship with foundation these days. The summer sun is impossible to avoid here in Southern California and I've gotten a bit of color even with sunscreen. On our three weeks trip to Europe we spent a lot of time outdoors and on beaches - I got 2-3 shades darker. I've been trying to stay indoors more since I've been home so my tan is fading and I'm in that in-between stage of foundation colors. Some I have to mix to get the right match. These days I've been loving sheerer coverage formulas that are more forgiving. They have enough coverage to even the skintone but are sheer enough that you don't need a 100% exact match.

Another tricky thing about foundation is color matching at the counter. In the past several trips I've made to the beauty counters and asked about foundation, the reps have looked at my skin and asked, "do you want to be darker or lighter?" Foundation is supposed to be a close match and I understand it can't always be exact, but I can't count the times I've been mis-matched at the counter. My solution is to ask to try 2-3 shades on the jawline, side by side and decide for myself. Or just go to Sephora where I know I can shop on my own and swatch at my own leisure.

I have a roundup of some new formulas I've been trying out along with a few tried-and-true. Some formulas I've found the next shade up is too big of a jump for me to purchase. Here are swatches of all the colors shown above. More detail below by coverage type.

Sheer Coverage

Sheer coverage foundations are something I haven't been able to wear for a long time, but my skin has cleared up over the past 6 months thanks to skin resurfacing treatments like the Hourglass Equilibrium Biomimetic Night Serum and regular use of clarifying masks from Aesop, Caudalie and Glamglow.
  • I recently received a sample of the Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint ($26 for 1 fl oz) in Medium. There is a skin chart online to help determine what color will be your match. I wasn't sure what to expect - this looks like the kind of product that looks so sheer it might designed for those with near-perfect skin. I've tested this for the past month and am really pleased with it. It is truly a skin tint. It's very sheer so it's forgiving but it gives the skin that natural healthy glow. It evens out the skin and brightens. I do need to set with powder or powder foundation but it's really good. It's lightweight and lasts all day without getting greasy. No breakouts or reaction to the formula either.
  • Armani Luninessence CC Color Control Bright Moisturizer ($52 for 1 fl oz) has been raved about by so many. I know Armani foundations are really well-loved, I like a couple of the formulas but find the color selection very limited in the ones I like (Luminous Silk has the most options and it's one I cannot wear more than 1 hour without getting greasy-looking). When this product launched I was in between shades. Since I got a bit darker I thought it was the perfect time to try Shade 5. It's pink-based but very sheer so it adjusts to my skin without looking too pink. I do wish it was a tad bit more olive, or that they released yellow versions of this formula. It gives the skin a natural glow with sheer coverage. It's on the hydrating side so I think it's better suited for normal to dry skin. If it had a wider color selection I'd give this a rating of 8.5 out of 10 stars.
  • By Terry Cellularose Moisturizing CC Cream ($86 for 1.41 fl oz) is extremely expensive but in terms of formula for CC creams, it's the best I've tried. It's very lightweight, very hydrating and sheer but buildable. It gives the skin a well-rested glow look like you just had a facial. I like that it has enough yellow in it for my skintone. Right now it's a bit light but since it's sheer I can make it work by dusting a bit of darker powder like Chanel Les Beiges 30 on top. If the next shade up was a good match I would get it, but my rep said there's a huge jump and that it would be too dark. If you have oily skin I don't think this is the product for you. For normal to dry skin it's a great one.
  • Chanel Les Beiges All-In-One Healthy Glow Fluid ($45 for 1 fl oz) is a sheer glow product. The colors pull pink but the formula is very sheer so applying this all over gives the skin a warm glow. I like to use this as a base and then layer a heavier coverage foundation on areas that need more coverage. It gives the skin a natural healthy look.

Medium Coverage

Three medium coverage base products I've had in rotation are from La Mer, Charlotte Tilbury and NARS. This is my foundation coverage of choice. I like medium coverage to cover the entire face but something that still has a bit of transparency so if it's not an exact match it will adjust.
  • La Mer The Reparative Skin Tint ($95 for 1.4 fl oz) is the most I think I've ever spent on foundation. Color selection is limited but it's sheer to medium in coverage and adjusts to the skin after it sets. My closest match is Light Medium 3. It looks pinkish in the swatch but it blends out really nicely. The warmth gives a glow to the skin and makes it glow. When I went to the counter to try this I really appreciated the honesty of the rep who helped me. His initial thought was that I would be in between shades but was really nice and swatched two colors, one on each side. We were both surprised #3 matched. I had one of my friends with me to give a second opinion. She gave it the thumbs up so I bought it. It gives a similar glow to that of the By Terry but it has more pink undertone and it has more coverage. It has SPF 30. I hate to say it but I really love this one.
  • Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder ($45 for 1.4 fl oz) is an amazing foundation. It gives the appearance of a youthful glow with perfect medium coverage. It's thin-to-medium in texture so it feels weightless. It blends into the skin flawlessly and lasts all day long. The downside is the color selection and until now I've been in between colors. I swatched #6 and #7 above to show you the jump. If you're at the counter and look at the shades in consecutive order you may find them confusing. There's a huge jump in colors and undertones. Right now I'm a perfect match to #7 but I can tell any day I'll have to mix in a light color to adjust it. If you can find a good color match this one is amazing in formula.
  • NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer ($43 for 1.9 fl oz) has been my holy grail medium coverage tinted moisturizer for a long time. My go-to shade has been Groenland but over our trip I found St. Moritz to be a better match. I got even darker than St. Moritz however the next shade up is too dark. I still love this formula - it's the best tinted moisturizer I've tried but it doesn't have that tinted moisturizer feel. It has medium coverage and feels super lightweight. It evens out the skin and looks very natural.

Medium to Full Coverage

I have a few favorites for medium to full coverage but I can't wear all of them now with hot humid weather. There are only two that truly hold up to the heat.
  • Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet ($47 for 1 fl oz) has never let me down. In my lightest I wear 20, I'm normally a 30, right now I'm a perfect match to 40. It's been a long-time go-to for me. It has a perfect velvet finish without looking too matte. It holds up really well in the heat and for the coverage and pigment I'm really happy it doesn't oxidize or darken.
  • Marc Jacobs Genius Gel Super-Charged Oil-Free Foundation ($48 for 1 fl oz) is my new favorite (tied with the Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet). It's an oil-free foundation that comes in a wide selection of color undertones. I matched myself at Sephora to Golden Medium which is really yellow (I swatched 4 different colors on my face at the store). It's concentrated but fluid so you only need 1-2 pumps to cover the entire face. It's lightweight but gives medium to full coverage. It blends out nicely and is easy to layer. I don't know what took me so long to try it but it lasts all day.
  • Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation ($80 for 1 fl oz) is something I repurchased recently. I'm usually Bisque 4 but it pulls light so I went up to Natural 5. I really adore this for the coverage, color selection and finish. In hot humid weather this time of year it just feels too heavy. It holds up pretty well to the heat but on the skin if I'm outdoors I can feel it.
  • Chanel CC Cream Complete Correction Sunscreen ($55 for 1 fl oz) is another Chanel love of mine. It has a high SPF of 50 and covers the skin really well. I wore this all through spring and have been using it on and off in the summer. In 83+ degree weather it feels thick on the skin although it holds up well and looks good. I'll be saving this for cooler days. It still works on warm days I just prefer something that feels more lightweight.

Overall my top three picks for right now include the Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet, Marc Jacobs Genius Gel and Glossier Skintint. The La Mer follows close behind but due to the price and limited color selection I don't know how likely it is I will repurchase once I finish it up. NARS is almost always at the top of my list but I don't have a color match. Do you have a summer favorite right now? If yes, please share!

The Glossier Skintint was provided as a courtesy sample for review consideration. All others purchased by me.

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.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Current Skincare Routine

Another request I received from my February survey was to write an article on what I use in my current skincare routine. This is a tough issue for me to write about because my skin is so finicky that I often change up products as soon as I finish using something up. Also, I haven't found many holy grails which means I rarely repurchase a skincare item. Quite a few of my favorites have been discontinued (such as the Chanel Age Delay line, Shiseido's original Pureness line before it was revamped and reformulated and Prescriptives Super Line Smoothing Cleanser).

Also, I know this is a no-no, but I don't really take good care of my skin. Yes, I wash every morning and evening and tone afterwards. But I don't always scrub, moisturize, mask or use sunscreen. So do please note, I am probably not the best resource for your skincare questions or advice. But at least 4 of you asked for skincare posts, so here it is!

My skin-type is overall normal, but super sensitive. I get breakouts occasionally, maybe once every other month and it typically takes a week for my skin to clear up. Considering that I'm pretty low maintenance with my skincare routine, I suppose I have decent skin. It's by no means perfect - but this is something due to my own neglect.

I've used a variety of brands from Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena, Clinique, La Mer, La Prairie, Shiseido, Awake, NARS, Chanel, Estee Lauder, Paul & Joe, MAC, Prescriptives, Laura Mercier etc. So the range is from the drugstore product to the luxury lines. Skincare always intrigues me, but I am the biggest skeptic when it comes to those product descriptions and marketing campaigns claiming "best product." I'm not am expert with ingredients, so if something claims to have some protein complex from an exotic plant that comes from the rain forest, I really have no idea how to process that information much less interpret how it will benefit me as a consumer.

This is what I'm using right now:

Cleanser - I typically like gel cleansers but my current ones are foaming/creamy:

  • Clinique Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser ($18.50 for 5 fl oz)- Foaming cream-mousse cleanser which is effective in cleansing but not too strong. My husband loves this stuff too.
  • NARS Balancing Foam Cleanser ($35.00 for 4.4 oz/125 ml) - Another foaming cleanser which is nice, I wouldn't recommend it for dry skin, it's not too strong for me, but it does strip away quite a bit in the cleansing process, I use this in the evenings. One thing I love about this is a little goes a long way. You only need a pea-sized amount.

Toner - I like that fresh clean feeling, so I tend to stay away from Shiseido toners or ones that have a gel-like texture or ones that are too strong which sting the skin:

  • La Mer The Tonic ($60.00 for 6.7 fl oz) - This is pricey, but I've repurchased this at least 6 times. It's soothing and leaves your skin feeling refreshed and clean.
  • Paul & Joe Refreshing Skin Toner ($33.00 for 200 ml) - I've written about this before, but I tried this from a mini sized sample I received in a GWP. I took it with me on a trip to DC and fell in love. I think this is a good one for normal to dry skin. It's not too rich, but just rich enough to help rebalance your skin. Whenever I get that over-washed tight feeling in my skin, this helps make your face feel more normal. I hope they never discontinue or reformulate this. I am on my second full sized bottle right now.
Scrub - I don't scrub a lot. I actually like to use a washcloth to scrub my face with soap and water because I feel like it's less harsh feeling on my skin. I have purchased a few from Laura Mercier, Clinique, Shiseido in the past, but right now I'm not using any. I've contemplated getting a Clarisonic but again, the ultimate skin-care skeptic that I am, I don't know that I believe all the rave reviews are from actual consumers like you and me. If anyone has a recommendation, I'm all ears!

Mask - Again, I don't use face masks very often. As you will read below, I don't really use these masks for their intended purpose.

  • NARS Mud Mask ($45.00 for 3.6 oz/100 ml) - I've gone through 2 of these since NARS first released his skincare line. I have to admit I like this the most for the fun-factor. Yes, I'm weird, but there's something I find fun about slathering your face with this thick black greyish mud. I can't tell the visible difference it makes for my skin, but it does leave my face feeling clean and refined after 10-15 minutes. Scares the bejesus out of my dogs when I put it on though.
  • MAC Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask ($20 for 100 ml/3.4 fl oz) - This is my favorite mask ever and one I can definitely see results with. It's so great I have to hide it from my husband who loves the fact that it heats up. Dear MAC, if you read this at all - please release this again in the exact same formula!
  • Paul & Joe Treatment Peel-Off Mask ($45 for 120 ml) - This tightens and firms the skin by clarifying. Similar to the NARS Mud Mask, I like this for the peel-off factor which I find fun. I had an obsession with peeling off dried glue from my fingers when I was in art class during grade school. Clearly I was not the brightest crayon in the box when it came to school. I would say this product is definitely not for dry skin.

Miscellaneous - I don't have a current moisturizer favorite. I'm actually testing out a few sample minis but have yet to find one that doesn't cause an allergic reaction and one that's not too heavy. I've used La Mer's Lotion, Shiseido White Lucent, Estee Lauder's Ultimate Youth Cream, Dior Capture Totale, Px, Armani Crema Nera to name a few. Right now I'm trying to find one that doesn't break the bank. I just cannot justify spending over $100 on a face lotion! My eye cream and sunscreen picks:

  • NARS Nourishing Eye Cream ($76 for .5 oz/15 ml) - Yes this is super pricey for the amount you get but a little seriously goes a REALLY long way. It's a lightweight gel that I like to use on my lids which actually helps my shadow stay on longer throughout the day if I use this as a base. I don't have eye wrinkles, so I can't say whether or not it helps with fine lines or not.
  • Chanel UV Essential ($52 for 1 oz) - Again pricey, but this goes a long way too. It has a very fluid texture which helps it apply really easily. I've been using this over my moisturizer samples and it seems to help make the foundation apply better on the skin and last longer. Bonus is that it has SPF 50 which is something I definitely should start using. I've used this for about a month daily and no irritations, breakouts or problems. I definitely see myself repurchasing this in the future.

If any of you would like to share your holy grails for skincare, I'd love to hear your recommendations! I've been told (by the brand reps of course) that the 2-week skincare systems from Shiseido and Chanel are amazing and will give me perfect glowing skin, but I don't want to spend the $200+ and wait 2+ weeks to see if there are any results.

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