Showing posts with label Shu Uemura. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shu Uemura. Show all posts

Monday, August 1, 2016

Summer Hair Care Rotation - Shampoo and Conditioners


Many of you have asked for an update on my current hair care routine along with favorites. I have a two part post planned. Part 1 goes live today with a roundup of shampoo and conditioners. Part 2 will go live next week with a list of what I use for styling and treatments. I did an hair care loves roundup earlier this year and have done a few review posts but some of you prefer routine types of posts. For hair care, I wash my hair daily most of the time. There are occasions where I skip 1 day in between washes but those are rare, especially in the summer. On days I work out, I wash my hair twice in the same day. I have thick hair prone to frizz, I heat treat with a blow dryer or flat iron frequently, it's never been dyed. When it comes to shampoos and conditioners, I love trying new formulas and brands - smell is probably the most important factor for me. If it doesn't pass the smell test then I won't even try it (no matter how many raves it has).

For shampoos and conditioners, I like to rotate frequently and often times I have more than 2 sets in the shower which drives my husband nuts because of the space it takes up. He has his 1 go to, often times it's a 2 in 1 kind of product for hair and body (his favorite is Jack Black Turbo Wash). I on the other hand find that I do need different kinds. There's the everyday kind of wash, the weekly cleansing or clarifying wash and then the wash for days you need extra moisture. Not to mention the masks or leave in products. (Please tell me I am not the only one who is high maintenance with their hair.)

Today I have a roundup of 7 brands of shampoo and conditioner I've put to the test with thoughts on each one. I will say up front that when it comes to shampoo I'm the type who will keep one around even if it's not mind blowing or amazing. As long as it smells ok, cleans the hair well and doesn't make it fall out or dry, I just can't bring myself to throw out a partially used bottle.

My all time favorite that I can use daily is the Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo and Conditioner. I stock up on this during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale because they either have larger sizes or value sets. (This year's set shown in this haul post.) This formula lathers well, moisturizes, strengthens, cleans the scalp well and leaves the hair shiny and healthy. Full ingredients list of the shampoo here and conditioner here. A huge part of me wants to try out all the shampoos from the brand but as some say, when you find something you love, you stick with it. In this case I've stuck with this formula.


Next best everyday is the Kerastase Cristalliste line which is designed for those with long hair. There have been a few formulas for fine or thick hair, I've tried the one for fine hair and it worked perfectly for my thick hair. It's a great everyday option and I use both the shampoo and conditioner together. It cleanses the hair and and gets the roots clean too. It's got a lightweight feel that leaves the hair feeling clean and bouncy with a super soft feel. I gave a few partially used bottles to a friend with long fine hair because she was curious about it but didn't want to splurge without trying. She loved it too.


One line I had high hopes for is Ouai created by Jen Atkin. I started out testing a few styling products from Birchbox which included the Ouai Dry Shampoo and Wave Spray. I adore both and think they are worth trying out. More on both of these in my upcoming styling post. Since I had such a great experience with a couple of the styling products, I bought the Treatment Masque (pack of 8), Volume Shampoo and Volume Conditioner from Space NK. The Treatment Mask is great but the packaging isn't the easiest to use. Both the Volume Shampoo and Conditioner were just ok for me - perhaps my expectations were just too high. They are both described as containing "Smart technology" to replenish moisture and lift strands. I found neither added volume. That being said I have yet to find a volumizing shampoo that will actually add volume to my thick hair (I've tried formulas from Living Proof, Phyto, Drybar - all lines I like, but the volumizing shampoos just don't work for me). I've read a lot of reviews that this does work for those with fine hair. For me the Volume formula does a good job at cleansing daily - I do need to use both the shampoo + conditioner because the shampoo alone can be a bit drying on my hair type. I won't be repurchasing but it's one I can't bring myself to throw out. (If you have any Ouai on your list there are still a few more days of the SpaceNK Explore Online Promotion, enter code BEAUTYNOW at checkout to save $20 off orders $100 or more until Aug 2nd.)


Bumble and Bumble is a line I'm always keen on trying out. Some of the shampoos and conditioners are heavily fragranced though and too strong so I've often tried minis or sets, used them up, but never repurchase. Two that I started using are the Surf Foam Wash Shampoo and Creme Rinse Conditioner and WOW these get a huge thumbs up from me. Based on what I've read from other reviews it seemed to be best suited for those with thicker hair. I have thick hair and love this. It doesn't necessarily add volume but it gives my hair that smooth fluffy beachy look. The scent is mild enough that I don't notice it after rinsing. I can air dry my hair after using this duo and it gives a natural slightly beachy look.


Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo in the Gentle Radiance formula for Normal Hair and Scalp. I previously reviewed the Shampoo and tried it by itself. The shampoo by itself is good once in a while as a clarifying shampoo, but for everyday I found it a bit drying. I used up a few bottles entirely and since I didn't use it daily, they lasted a long time. I was just sent a sample of the Cleansing Oil Conditioner which is another rinse out product and was completely blown away with the combination of the two. The Shampoo by itself was good but not great. Add the Conditioner to the mix and my hair and scalp are left super smooth, tangle free, naturally shiny and also gives it the ability to air dry without any frizz. Most of the time I have to blow dry or add some kind of oil or cream to tame the frizz. I don't use conditioners everyday even if I do wash the hair daily - I find most of the time I just don't feel like I need it. This Cleansing Oil Conditioner is really a good one. I will definitely be repurchasing it once it's used up.


Oribe Cleansing Creme for Moisture and Control is a favorite I've repurchased multiple times. Unfortunately it's sold out online at Space NK so you can't buy it to take advantage of the promo going on right now, but you can find it at places like Birchbox or Neiman Marcus. It could almost go into the treatment category for me, I don't use it daily because I just don't need that much added moisture, but it helps rebalance and rehydrate the hair and scalp. It tames frizz, adds shine and leaves hair feeling super soft.


New to me is Gloss Moderne which I've seen at Space NK quite a few times. In terms of shine shampoos, I find a lot are great as a 1 to 2x per week use kind of product otherwise they get heavy-feeling and weigh down my hair. The R+Co Moonshine Shampoo and Conditioner were both at the top of my list in terms of scent, shine and performance. I've used up a few bottles of both but haven't repurchased for a while. The Gloss Moderne High-Gloss Shampoo and High-Gloss Conditioner have a similar effect but they both have a lush vanilla scent. I have to say that I had low expectations on this one before trying because the reviews are so mixed. I was beyond impressed with how this performed on my long thick hair - it restored shine and left the hair looking healthy and super glossy. Even though my hair is not color treated, the summer sun and heat has turned it into a reddish color about 2-3 shades lighter than it normally is. The heat from the sun also leaves the ends of my hair looking dry so they need a little something extra to get it back to it's normal state. I really liked how the High-Gloss Shampoo and Conditioner added shine without weighing it down. I was able to use it three days in a row without it feeling heavy or without giving the hair the weighed down look. I will use these up to the end and I do really like these. Although for the shine and gloss effect, I think a styling product could provide the same result.


A few of you have asked for a full list of every shampoo and conditioner I've ever tried - to recall all the ones I've bought and used up would be a monumental task as I've tried a lot. There are very few that stand out to me as ones I loved and repurchased multiple times, so I can list those: Drybar Happy Hour Shampoo, Drybar Happy Hour Conditioner, Phyto Phytojoba Intense Hydrating Shampoo. In addition to those, other favorites include the Moroccanoil Moisture Repair, Kerastase Cristalliste and Oribe Cleansing Creme.

In terms of new discoveries for me, I'm beyond impressed with the Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Conditioner and Bumble Surf Collection - both work extremely well for my thick hair.

If you're looking for a good shine/gloss finish shampoo, I don't think you'll be disappointed with the Gloss Moderne Shampoo and Conditioners - some may feel they are overpriced but I do think they are solid performers. I've totally been in that place where I really like a product but don't repurchase because of the price. It doesn't mean something is bad - just that there are other alternatives I'd rather spend my money on. I hope this won't deter you though - the Gloss Moderne line is really quite good.

If you're looking for good travel-sized or trial-sized sets, I find that some brands will occasionally have a good travel set to try items out. Birchbox has sets of minis by product type with a mix of brands for you to test out multiple formulas which is nice. They're $18-$28 each, some options include the Frizz Fighters Kit, Wavy Curly Hair Kit, Coily Curly Hair Kit and Beachy Keen Hair Kit.

In terms of finding a good volumizing shampoo and conditioner for my thick hair, I'm still looking for one that has that wow factor. I think many work well for fine hair but hair type does make a huge difference in performance. Some may feel that if you have thick hair you don't really need a volume boost, I sometimes do need it and that's where styling products come into play.

Don't forget there are still a few more days for the Space NK Explore Promotion (US online only). Details in this post here but you can enter code BEAUTYNOW at checkout to save $20 off orders $100 or more. A few of you mentioned the code did not work for you - the issues have been fixed and it should work as long as you have non-sale items in your cart. The Space NK team did tell me if it still does not work you should be able to call their customer service and they will be able to help you. Brands they carry featured in this post include Oribe, Ouai, Bumble and Bumble, Gloss Moderne.

What are your favorite shampoos and conditioners for the summer? Do you change things up when the seasons change or do you stick to your go-tos year round?

Press samples featured include items from the Ouai (styling products only), Shu Uemura Art of Hair, and Gloss Moderne.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Loving Right Now + Gift Card Giveaway


Happy Friday everyone! It's been one of those weeks I thought would never end and I am relieved that it's almost the weekend. Thank you to everyone who shared what you wanted to see on The Beauty Look Book blog in my last giveaway post. It's always great to hear feedback on what you've liked and also what you would like to read more about. There were a lot of requests for features on a wide range of topics and I am beyond flattered so many of you want to know what I think about well basically anything! Most popular requests were for higher end skincare (I did not realize you guys liked the skincare posts!), budget-friendly cosmetics, full skincare routine, current hair care routine, more hauls, favorites roundups, inside my purse posts, shoe features, tutorials, makeup storage, more travel (so happy many of you loved this), time management, exclusive promo events and videos!

Since reading your requests, I've started to pull items for a full summer skincare routine and hair care routine post. I do tend to test a lot of products on myself to review for you so my routine changes frequently - but I will pull my favorites and include items I've used up. A few notes:
  • Nordstrom Anniversary Sale hauls posted on the blog, makeup picks here and fashion and skincare items hauled here
  • Exclusive promo savings for readers via Space NK US here - my apologies for those who were not able to use the code on Oribe, after several e-mails to the team, they've fixed the code and it works on all Oribe items (full size and travel sizes)
  • Antica Farmacista is doing a special online promo code, enter code ANTICABLB at checkout for a mini body butter with any online order!
  • Summer bronzer edit posted here (many of you have been asking for this for weeks!)
  • On videos I am hoping to do some in the future!
  • Loving right now/favorites in this post here today!


Right now for skincare, hair care and the home, I'm loving the following:
  1. Chanel Fresh Body Cream is a summer go-to for body lotions. It smells lightweight and fresh and even though a tub is pricey. I use it sparingly but it has lasted a long time. It hydrates without feeling sticky and won't interfere with perfume. My wallet is crying at the thought of having to buy again but I think it is 100% worth the splurge.
  2. Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover is what I use right now to remove mascara and eye makeup, its gentle but effective and doesn't feel greasy. You can find it in two sets for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in the Chubby Lash Set and Take the Day Off Set
  3. Antica Farmacista is a line I just discovered and I really don't know how this has passed my radar for so long, I received a few samples and the line is exquisite! My favorite item is the Cucumber and Lotus Flower Candle which is the perfect cooling relaxing scent for the home, I am going to need this one in all formats, detailed review next week - if you have any favorites from the line let me know! If you order online they're offering a free mini body butter with any order, use code ANTICABLB
  4. Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ample Angora Volumizing Mousse is something new to me, I will say up front I typically hate mousse products because they're usually sticky and make my hair hard to comb/brush, this one is really good though. I have naturally thick hair and find most volumizing products don't really add that much volume to my already thick hair (I have tried dozens of sprays, creams, lotions, shampoos etc.) This one combined with heat styling of the T3 PROi Dryer (best dryer ever, thanks RaeView for recommending to me!!) gives serious volume all the way through from roots to ends.
  5. La Mer The Tonic is a toner I alternate with the SK-II Clear Treatment Lotion, I like both but reach for the La Mer more these days to help remove impurities after cleansing and rebalance the skin. The formula has been a go-to for years and often times I try others in attempts to find a more affordable option, but this one never fails me.
  6. Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash is a favorite for every day multiple times a day. It's one of the few I can use frequently without it stripping my skin. I've tried and repurchased all her cleansers and this is the only one that won't irritate my skin on tender skin days. My brother has acne-prone skin that is even more sensitive than mine. I bought him this one to try and it's one of the few he says is gentle enough for his skin (he's in his early 20s). Also available in a larger 16 oz size with a pump and her Clinic Solutions Kit (I bought this for travel).

For makeup and fragrance:
  1. Hourglass Ambient Luminous Light Palette is nothing but pure love, it's a Nordstrom Beauty Exclusive for this year's Anniversary Sale and I think it is perfect. If you already own the palette from last holiday or the individual colors you can skip this one. Also there's a new marble palette that's coming out for holiday that you might want to wait for as previewed on @gossmakeupartist's Instagram (it looks dreamy but I think the colors are different!). My review + swatches in this post here.
  2. Chanel Aqua Glossimers for summer are sheered out glossimers new for summer. Review on all the shades in this post here. These are nice for an effortless wash of shine and a hint of color.
  3. Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche in Sugarcane is a perfect baby pink that covers the lip entirely, I also like Honeycomb which is a perfect nude, swatches + review of the neutrals in this formula can be found in this post here
  4. MAC Sunblessed Cremesheen (in the Nordstrom Sunblessed Kit) is a great pinky nude on me even though it looks more peachy in the tube. Swatched on my lips here.
  5. Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips are almost too hot to handle. I adore her Matte Revolution formula and was thrilled to see more neutrals and brights launched in her Hot Lips Collection. All the shades purchased by me and swatched in this post.
  6. NARS Long Hot Summer Eyeshadow Palette (review soon) is an exclusive to NARS online and boutiques. This has great neutrals deep enough for medium to tan skintones. I'll review and swatch this soon.
  7. Tom Ford Soleil Blanc is the perfect white floral summer fragrance. I love it. Review here.
  8. YSL Glossy Stain 07 is a ripe juicy peach that has enough color to be more than a neutral but isn't too bright so it will suit neutral makeup lovers (also in the Nordstrom Rebel Nudes Set)
I'm hosting one more Nordstrom eGift Card Giveaway! I'm giving away 3 $100 USD eGift Cards to Nordstrom. Details as follows:
  • Open internationally
  • You must be 18 years old or older
  • Enter through widget
  • Entries will be collected through Sunday 7/24/2016 11:30 AM PST
  • Winners will be selected at random via the widget, emailed Sunday evening
a Rafflecopter giveaway
What are you loving right now? Did you haul anything good from the Nordstrom sale or any other places recently?

Press samples featured include Shu Uemura, Antica Farmacista, Bite Amuse Bouche.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Hair Care Loves in Rotation


I love testing new things in hair care and playing with different kinds of shampoos, oils and tools. Since the summer, my go-to daily shampoo and conditioner has been the Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo and Conditioner, but I've been experimenting with some new items and discovered some new favorites. For a bit My hair is thick and has a slight natural wave to it and extremely prone to frizz without any product or heat treatment. My hair color is natural - it's never been colored or highlighted (at least not yet). I like to switch shampoos up and alternate frequently - I wash my hair daily, so sometimes I feel like it needs more moisture, other times it needs a clarifying rinse. The two lines of shampoos/conditioners I used up recently are the Moroccanoil and R+Co Moon Shine. If you have any favorites/recommendations please let me know what you think I should try next!

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First up is the T3 PROi Professional Hair Dryer ($350, c/o). In terms of hair dryers, I've been a long time fan of Solano tools. In my experience they have been the best for my hair - they dry quickly, leave the hair shiny, smooth, glossy and frizz-free. I decided to give several other brands a try and nothing has given me the same results until I tried the T3 PROi. My beauty friend Rae raved about it and her hair always looks amazing everytime I see her - so I was thrilled to be able to try this. The PROi Hair Dryer comes with a mega hefty price tag but it does not disappoint. It far exceeded my expectations and allowed me to create a salon-quality results unlike anything I've tried before. My heart still belongs to Solano but this new one from T3 just might replace it's spot as my new favorite. (For reference, the last one I bought was the Super Solano 3600 Ion.) The T3 PROicomes with 2 detachable nozzles, three different heat settings, a cool-shot option and two different intensities/speeds. It's fairly lightweight for a full power full size dryer and easy to maneuver. The description says it's supposed to cut the dry time - if you blow dry with completely wet hair, it will not (but you'll still get amazing results). If you towel dry and then spend a couple minutes doing a rough dry first, the overall time to completely dry the hair is shortened compared to other dryers.

There are several different brushes that T3 launched. I decided to order the Freeflow Vent Brush ($17) first to try - it's a good medium size brush and allows air to flow through the hair allowing for faster dry time. I like the design - it's simple but aesthetically pleasing and seems very sturdy and well made. I've ordered a few more to try - I'll do a more detailed review once I receive them. Good hair brushes are something I feel like I'm always searching for. I have good basic tools, but most of them look meh.

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Next are three shampoos/cleansers. I'm a traditional liquid shampoo and conditioner kind of girl, but there are some really interesting products on the market that I would have never thought to use that surprised me. Maybe I'm late to the party, but I would have never thought to use scrubs or oils to clean the hair.


Above from left to right:
  • Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt ($52 for 250 ml, c/o) is something that is relatively new to the US. Christophe Robin is a colorist from France and launched his own salon and line of products. Net-A-Porter sent his new Cleansing Purifying Scrub for me to try a few months ago and so when I had the opportunity to meet him in person while he was in LA, I jumped at the chance. I will have a dedicated feature on more of his products soon, but in the meantime you can read about his story here. It was so great to learn about his story and the background behind the creation of his line. The Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt is an amazing clarifying product. It is a grained-paste product that you rub into your scalp. It rebalances the hair and rinses out completely without any residue left behind. It removes impurities and leaves the hair feeling squeaky clean. If you have normal to dry hair, you may need to follow with a moisture mask. For me this is a game changer. You can find his line at Net-A-Porter, Sephora and Saks Fifth Avenue.
  • Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo Gentle Radiance Cleanser x Maison Kitsune ($57 for 400 ml, c/o) has been on my radar for a while but the concept of using an oil to wash my hair just didn't seem appealing to me. Still the Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo has cult-status and rightfully so. There are several formulas of the Cleansing Oil, the one I tried is the Limited-Edition Maison Kitsune in the Gentle Radiance Formula. It foams up into a really nice lather and cleans the hair really well. For me this is best used as once a week a clarifying treatment (alternating with the Christophe Robin) - at most 2x per week or on days after I work out. I do think it's absolutely necessary to follow with some kind of rinse out conditioner if you use this one as it can be stripping if you skip. Some shampoos I don't feel the need to use conditioner after, but this one you do.
  • Oribe Cleansing Crème for Moisture and Control ($44 for 8.5 oz/250 ml) is the most amazing cleansing creme I've tried. My local salon always uses some kind of cleansing creme to wash my hair before a cut but I'm particularly sensitive to scented hair products so I never end up purchasing what they use even though the results are amazing. I love all things Oribe although the line is fairly spendy so I feel like I have to keep this brand at arm's length or it can get very expensive at the rate that I go through hair products. This one moisturizes perfectly and leaves the scalp feeling well nourished but clean. Hair is perfect afterwards - tangle free, smooth and left light and bouncy with a bit of natural shine. I don't need to search for any other cleansing cremes as I have found THE ONE with the Oribe.
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Last but not least are some hair treatments and finishing products. I'm always trying minis of hair oils, sprays, creams and what not. It takes me forever to use up anything because I have so much in rotation. Scent is a big deal to me. If a hair product smells too floral, too vanilla, too perfumey or strong, I simply won't use it - no matter how good it is.


Above from left to right:
  • Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil ($49 for 100 ml, also in this travel set) is one of my favorite hair finishing oils. The full size is very expensive but you only need a little bit to coat the ends of the hair so it lasts a long time. It adds the perfect amount of shine to the hair, especially when the ends start to look or feel dry. It is fairly strongly scented but I love the way everything from Oribe smells.
  • Drybar The Chaser Shine Cream ($29 for 100 ml) this has made an appearance on my blog many times. I like it because it adds shine and also helps as a pre-heat treatment. It maintains and controls frizz and leaves the hair feeling ultra soft. My husband likes to use this one too.
  • Shu Uemura x Maison Kitsune Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil ($69 for 150 ml, c/o) smells amazing and has notes of camellia, grapefruit, white essence, musk and heliotrope. This is a multi-purpose oil. The directions say you can apply it on the hair pre-shampoo or afterwards as a leave-in product. I prefer to use it after shampoo either on slightly damp hair before I blow dry or just simply as a leave in product as my hair air dries. It's nourishing but very lightweight and won't weigh down the hair or make it look greasy. Hair absorbs it quickly so there's no residue left afterwards if you touch your hair. One pump is more than enough to cover my hair (it's a little past the shoulder length). I will definitely be repurchasing this once it is used up.
  • Kiehl's Heat-Protective Silk Straightening Cream ($17 for 150 ml) this is something I bought in store a while ago. I needed something as an add on to qualify for an in store promo so I decided to try this. I had used the Creme with Silk Groom when I was in college and liked it but it can be very heavy and easy to overdo. The girl at the store recommended I try this since I heat treat my hair regularly. I really like it to help straighten the hair and keep it smooth looking. I found it makes a noticeable difference in the way the hair looks in terms of helping give a more straightened look.
  • Edward Bess Black Sea Hair Hero ($44 for c/o) is my favorite texturizing hair product. It helps add volume, smooths hair, adds texture. Full review in this post here. The bottle is huge and even with regular use it's lasted me for like forever.
  • Original and Mineral Know Knott Detangling Spray ($26 for 250 ml) is the best detangling product I've tried. Some days my hair just feels extra tangled and there are knots in my hair even after shampoo + conditioner. A few sprays of this one makes any comb or brush glide through the hair easily without any tugging or pulling. I tried this at my salon in a mini first and loved it so much I bought the full size.

That wraps it up for new hair discoveries along with favorites I consider staples. Have you tried anything from any of these lines before? If yes please let me know what you recommend. If not, I'm open to other suggestions on what you've tried and love :) Do you have any hair products you consider game changers? I'm in the market for a new liquid shampoo and conditioner - what should I try next?



Some items featured indicated with a "c/o" beside the product name were sent free of charge for review consideration. Other items purchased by me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cleansing Oil Testing | Tatcha, MAC, Shu Uemura, Josie Maran, Chanel and Dior


I've used cleansing oils for years but just recently started using them on a regular basis. I have been really impressed with the long-wear formulas brands have been releasing in foundation, powder, blush and concealer. Who doesn't want their makeup to last all day without touching up or fading? For me, the long-wear factor has had one downside: it doesn't come all the way off with a regular cleanser and leads to clogged pores and breakouts. Using stronger cleansers tend to irritate my skin.

I have my local Chanel artists to thank for recommending that I add a cleansing oil to my daily skincare routine. I did quite a bit of research, pulled out some samples, looked for online promo codes for minis with purchases and bought a few small trial/travel sized oils to do some extensive testing.

This year I've explored more in skincare than I have previous years and have found it's all a slow learning process for me. I am not an expert with skincare ingredients - I know many of you are passionate about skincare and know much more than I do about specific ingredients, formulas and what to avoid. I rely on the product specialists I talk to with various brands, online reviews and personal testing to determine what works for me. As always, I share what I've experienced personally - due to different skin types, your mileage may vary.


You might be wondering if you really need a cleansing oil. If you wear long-wear makeup like me and find yourself with small areas of clogged pores, I will say yes. To see how effective your current cleanser is, take a cotton pad soaked with cleansing water or a wipe and swipe your face after your normal process. You might be shocked to see remnants of product transfer to the cotton after you wipe your face down which means you didn't clean it enough. I've found Cleansing Oils and Cleansing Waters help break down long-wearing makeup for cleaner skin. I've found the best way to use these is to apply them to a dry face with dry hands and massage all over. Rinse with warm water to activate the foaming quality and emulsify to cleanse the skin. Some are designed to cleanse the skin fully and claim to have no film leftover so you don't need to double cleanse. I still prefer to use the two step method of a Cleansing Oil + Foaming Cleanser.

I've put 9 different cleansing oils to the test with various minis, samples and travel-sized options. I wish more brands would offer sampler/trial sets for skincare. I would be more likely to try new products and brands if sampler sizes were offered.

I've tested each oil for a minimum of 6 uses each over the past few months. With all of these, the best way to use them is to apply to a dry face with dry hands right on top of the makeup and massage it in circular motions all over the face.
  • Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil ($12 for 1.9 oz) I purchased the small travel size online based on the 4.2 out of 5 star rating on Sephora. I found this one to be my least favorite of all the oils even though I had high hopes. It has a very thick texture that feels goopy on the skin. It does a very effective job at cleaning and removing makeup, but I couldn't get past the texture. The scent is also too sweet for my taste and the flip open cap of the mini leaked product all over the place. It also made my skin feel a bit too tight after application.
  • Tatcha One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil ($12 for .08 fl oz or $48 for 5.1 fl oz) I was really pleased to find out large the trial size was after ordering it online from the Travel Sized beauty category. I was also happy to see the small version come with a good pump and also with good packaging. Sometimes minis are cased in cheap containers but the Tatcha is very well designed. This turned out to be one of my favorites. It has a medium-thin texture which applies well to the face. Massaging the product emulsifies on the skin. It cleanses well with water and gave the skin a moisturizing feel without any residue feeling. It has the signature Tatcha Camellia scent which is soothing and gentle.
  • MAC Cleanse Off Oil ($10 for 1 fl oz) has been a long-time favorite of mine. I like to keep the mini bottle and refill it for travel although it comes in the mini size. The $10 price seemed very affordable for a trial (when I first tried it many years ago). This is the best one for removing all trace of waterproof eye makeup without stinging the eyes.
  • MAC Tranquil Cleanse Off Oil ($10 for 1 fl oz) was a purchase I made after reading so many rave reviews, I liked the texture and soft scent, but found it less effective compared to the regular version. If you have super sensitive skin or want something more gentle this is a good option for you.
  • Chanel Le Blanc Immediate Brightening Oil-Gel Makeup Remover (mini sample shown, $60 for 5 oz) is something that has been used on my at several Chanel events. It's a clear gel that turns into an oil as you work it into the skin. It's lightly scented which might bother some of you, but it is extremely effective. It's the only one that will remove all traces of mascara and eyeliner. The upside of the gel texture is that it's slightly thick so it doesn't run into the eyes if you work it on the eye area. Even though it's thicker, it's not goopy and is very emollient once massaged but not greasy. This is the most unique formula I've tried.
  • Shu Uemura Anti/Oxi Skin Refining Oil (green sample gwp shown, $37-$77 for full size) has had so many raves online. It cleansed well and I found it emulsified nicely too. I couldn't get over the scent. It smells like green tea with an emphasis on the herbal side. I liked that it left no residue on the skin but it left my skin feeling a bit tight.
  • Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Cleansing Oil (brown sample gwp shown, $42-$90 for full size) is most like a traditional cleansing oil. It reminds me of the older versions Shu Uemura used to have. It's gentle yet very efficient leaving skin feeling clean.
  • Shu Uemura Whitefficient Clear Brightening Cleansing Oil (blue sample gwp shown, $38-$81 for full size) is a brightening oil, this one has the best scent out of all the ones I've tried, it's a refreshing clean scent, kinda like dryer sheets, but not quite as sharp. This one emulsified really well and is more gentle compared to the Ultime8.
  • Dior Instant Gentle Cleansing Oil (mini gwp shown, $36 for 6.7 fl oz) is one I had high hopes for. So many have raved about this one too. I did not like this one. It has a slightly sticky feel making it a bit hard to massage over the face. It didn't tug or pull, but didn't emulsify quite as well as the other more fluid options. After cleansing with water the skin felt sticky.
Here are how the minis size up next to each other and compare in packaging design, some of these were samples, some purchased. The packaging of the full size versions are usually better in quality and typically come with a pump.

Samples I purchased below: Tatcha, Josie Maran, MAC. Online samples with codes: Shu Uemura. Samples at the counter: Dior and Chanel.


To summarize my thoughts:
Best at removing all traces of makeup 
Tatcha One-Step, Chanel Le Blanc Oil Gel and MAC Cleanse Off Oil

Most gentle 
 Shu Uemura Whitefficient and MAC Tranquil Cleanse Off
Most moisturizing 
Tatcha and Ultime8
Best scent 
Tatcha and Shu Uemura Whitefficient

Top picks
1) MAC Cleanse-Off Oil
2) Tatcha One-Step Camellia Cleansing Oil
3) Shu Uemura Whitefficient

I hope you found this roundup helpful. I've found that adding a cleansing oil to my routine has helped clean my skin better and has significantly decreased the amount of clogged pores and tiny bumps on the face. Do note that your mileage may vary depending on your skin type. I have normal but sensitive skin. If you are oily or dry you might find different oils work better for you.

What are your experiences with cleansing oils? Do you have any favorites or stories you'd like to share on what worked for you or what didn't work out so well? 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On My Radar | New in Beauty and Deals of the Week


New items on my radar in the beauty world:
  • Dior Beauty has launched some new fall products for eyes, lips and nails:
    • 5 Couleurs Eyeshadow Palette ($60) comes in five new shades in Bar 56, Carre Bleu 276, Pied De Poule 96, Trafalgar 876, Tutu 846
    • Rouge Dior Lipstick ($35) is available in five new colors with Carre D'Or 135, Bar 317, Rose Tutu 354, Rouge Massai 869 and Pied-de-Poule 977
    • Vernis Gel-Shine Nail Lacquer ($25) comes in four new cream finish shades in Pied de Poule 206, Rose Tutu 254, Bar 902 and Carre Bleu 769
  • Hourglass 1.5mm Mechanical Gel Eyeliner ($16 for single, $45 for set of 3) is the latest innovation from Hourglass with the thinnest waterproof gel liner that offers precision accuracy with a single stroke, available now at Hourglasscosmetics.com, at Sephora July 29, all other counters August 15
  • L'Occitane Frisson Verbena Collection ($12 to $55) has a range of fresh green and citrus body products perfect for summer, I'm in love with the Frisson Verbena Fresh Shower Gel and Hand Cream (thoughts on these soon)
  • Net-A-Porter Beautified Natural Nomad Pouch ($50) with Tata Harper Fortifying Body Oil and Lotion, Illia Sway Multistick, RGB Nail Polish, Remover Pad and Cuticle Oil, Rahua Volume Spray, Joya's Composition No. 1 Perfume, LAFCO Hand Lotion
  • YSL Volupté Sheer Candy ($34) has launched in four new shades in Belle Cannelle #14, Rose Candy #15, Cherise Desir #16 and Fraise Ganache #17

Some deals and codes that have come through my inbox recently:
  • Benefit Cosmetics - Free US Standard Shipping on any order with code SUNSHIP
  • Bloomingdales - bRejuvinated Beauty Event Gift with Purchase offers (over 60 offers) through July 28 or while supplies last, plus 4 free beauty samples with any online order
  • Clinique - Three free summer saver minis Moisture Surge Face Spray, 7 Day Scrub Rinse-Off, Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel with any online Clinique purchase, 7/23 – 7/24 or while supplies last
  • L'Occitane - 12 Hour Beauty Break sale, you have 12 hours to shop for select products up to 50% off, online only July 23rd 10:00 AM EST to 10:00 PM EST
    • L'Occitane code offerings while supplies last:
      • Receive 3 Hand Creams + Adorable Pouch with any $25 Purchase with code SHEAHANDS, valid through 7/29
      • Free 50ml Shea Cleansing Milk with any $30 Purchase with code REFRESH, valid through 7/29
      • Free Angelica skincare duo of hydrating Toner and Cleansing gel with $45 purchase, code ANGELICA, valid through 7/29
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty - Free shipping on orders $50+, free mini Highliner in Blacquer with any $75+ order with code MINI, while supplies last
  • Macy's - Over 150 online only gift with purchase deals from Clinique, Origins, Elizabeth Arden, Laura Mercier
  • Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Gift With Purchase over 70 gifts with purchases available for the sale from Caudalie, YSL, Jo Malone, Jouer, Guerlain, Cle de Peau, Lancome, Estee Lauder, Chantecaille and more
  • Sephora - Online Limited Beauty Insider Offers with $25+ orders (one code per order) while supplies last:
    • Ole Henriksen's 3 Little Wonders 7-Day Sampler with code WONDERS
    • Choose 1 of 3 Lip Minis from Too Faced, NARS or Sephora Collection with code LIPMINI
    • Fresh Soy Conditioning Eye Makeup Remover with code FRESHSOY
    • Deluxe sample of Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel with code EYELIFT
    • Benefit Cosmetics They're Real Push-Up Liner 30-day Sample with code PUSHUP
    • Choose 1 of 3 Deluxe Sized Self-Tanners from Vita Liberata, St. Tropez, bareMinerals with code BRONZED
    • Early Access sample of Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara Deluxe Sample for VIBs/Rouge, use code VIBJOSIE
  • Shu Uemura USA - A Midsummer's Night Sample Set with any $50+ order, includes Tsuya Radiance Essense, Classic Cleansing Oil (20 ml), Anti-Oxi Deluxe Cleansing Oil (20 ml), Stage Performer Instant Glow (10 ml), Mini PK70C Gloss, use code UNWIND
If you have any good deals or codes, please share in the comments :)

P.S. Don't forget to enter my Fresh Sugar Tulip Giveaway! There are up to four ways to enter and the entry period is almost up. I'll be selecting the winner over the weekend and announce who won next week.

Friday, July 18, 2014

In Rotation | Beauty Look Book Mascara and Lash Primer Picks


I typically limit myself to a couple of mascaras I use at any given time since I keep them for 3 months max before tossing but I've been testing new ones and I've discovered some new favorites. I have half a dozen I'm using right now and I've picked out my favorites to share.

When it comes to my lashes, I'm really picky with mascaras or lash primers. I have really straight ones that often don't hold the curl with most mascaras even with a lash curler (my essentials here). I also find a lot of black mascaras turn grayish looking after they dry on my lashes, smudge or end up feeling crunchy and flake during the day. When it comes to mascara I look for something that will last all day without clumping, flaking, smudging and something that stays a true lush black color and holds the curl.

I'm hesitant to try lash primers and lash serums because I don't like having an extra layer of product on my sensitive eyes. I'm a novice in this area so if you have any recommendations I am all ears.
The mascara and lash products I have in rotation right now:

  • Shu Uemura Lash Builder ($33) is a lash builder serum to help create a longer lusher lash look, I've been testing this for a few weeks and am still undecided on what I think but it's been in my lash rotation, it darkens and defines the lashes when you apply it but I haven't seen a visible difference after I apply colored mascara, reviews seem to indicate you will see results over time
  • Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum ($28.50) is something I've used for several years, I don't use it everyday but it's a favorite base that helps mascara adhere better to the lashes and makes it catch the lashes resulting in a fuller look, I like that it doesn't impact the curl after using a lash curler
  • Guerlain Maxi Lash Waterproof ($30) is something I discovered thanks to RaeView, it's the first waterproof mascara I've tried that doesn't make my lashes feel crunchy, this one needs 2-3 uses to break it in, it gives lush rich black lashes, volumizes, doesn't clump/flake/smudge and defines the lashes nicely, I haven't tested it at the beach or pool but it seems to be sweat proof and lasts all day
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch ($32) is a staple in my beauty arsenal, I've repurchased this numerous times (probably a dozen tubes by now), it's my favorite mascara of all time because it does everything I want - lengthens, defines, thickens, darkens the color and stays put, it's easy to apply and gets the little corners easily because of the tapered brush tip, the bristles are well designed to grab on to the lashes and glides on easily
  • Chanel Le Volume de Chanel ($30) is the only Chanel mascara I like, it's a lightweight mascara that glides on easily and doesn't clump, it stays put and doesn't dry to a grayish finish like other Chanel mascaras do (at least for me), I like the Black and Bleu (navy) for fun, but mostly use the black
  • NARS Larger than Life Volumizing Mascara ($25) is another favorite that I've repurchased numerous times, it is one of my favorite volumizing mascaras that doesn't flake or smudge, this one has a big fluffy brush so it can be prone to clumping after a while due to buildup, I wipe down the brush with a small piece of paper wrapped around the tip (tissue or paper towels will get caught in the bristles, so paper actually is best to clean the brush) and then it's back to perfection
If I were pressed to pick just one mascara to live with the rest of my life, it would be the Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch. If you're looking for something more wallet-friendly, a few other  less expensive favorites I've tested and purchased numerous times include Clinique High Impact Mascara ($16), Topshop 3d Curve Mascara ($20, or in this Eyeliner/Mascara Set for $24) and MAC Plushlash Mascara ($16) has been a long-time favorite. I've tried dozens of drugstore mascaras (literally) and for some reason they've all turned grayish in color on my lashes and I've never found one that holds the curl.



What are your holy grail lash primers, serums and mascaras? I've been researching lash serums and would love your thoughts on any you've tried.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On My Radar


Here are a few things on my radar this week. Fall collections are starting to arrive and I'm excited about the upcoming releases. From the top left, clockwise:
  • NARS Fall 2014 launches this week online at narscosmetics.com, I have my eye on Dolomites Eyeshadow Duo, Unlawful Blush and the two new Satin Lip Pencils in Bansar and Mandore
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty has launched some new Lust for Lacquer lip glosses, there are three new Lip Vinyl Sheers in Shiny, Magic and Superstar and two new Lip Vinyl Full shades in Shooting Stars and Satisfaction
  • I've been on the hunt for new sunglasses and after hours of searching, I think I'm finally narrowed it down to either these Marc by Marc Jacobs aviators or some Kate Spade classic shades that are on sale
  • Chanel Les 4 Ombres have hit counters, I'm in love with Poésie and Tissé Rivoli but have my eye on Tissé Vénitien (greens), Tissé Grabrielle (smokey) and Tissé Vendome because the formula is just so amazing with rich smooth pigment
  • For the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, I picked up the MAC Coral Look in a Box, the eyeshadow trio has really pretty pigmented colors and the lips options are stunning peachy corals, I'll review this soon but I give this a huge thumbs up
  • In the past few months I've been testing out some cleansing oils from Chanel, Tatcha and Shu Uemura, I'll have a report soon on the ones I've tested but in the meantime I'd love to hear what your favorites are

What's on your radar this week? Were you able to pick up anything from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale yet? With fall beauty collections starting to trickle in stores, what do you have your eye on?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inside My Makeup Bag


My makeup bag started this week with only 4 items (EB Daydream, Lancome Juicy Tube, mini blush brush, Chanel Boy Rouge Coco Shine), but since Monday it's accumulated quite a few more things this long work-week. Today, what is inside my Laura Mercier zebra print makeup bag:
  1. NARS Tzarine Eyeshadow Duo
  2. MAC Blonde MSF (limited edition from January 2009)
  3. Burberry Misty Blush (new for spring, review to come soon)
  4. Chanel Boy Rouge Coco Shine
  5. Laura Mercier Mini Double Sided Brush
  6. MAC Wolf Pearlglide (limited edition from 2008ish)
  7. Lancôme Yayoi Kusama Edition Juicy Tube in Dot Apricot (now at Nordstrom)
  8. Edward Bess Daydream Bronzer (my holy grail bronzer, reviewed numerous times here)
  9. Le Métier de Beauté Sheer Brilliance Lip Gloss Ibiza
  10. Le Métier de Beauté Sheer Brilliance Lip Gloss Captiva
  11. Shu Uemura ME Black 990
  12. Bobbi Brown Mini Blush Brush
Close Ups Labeled:


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Guide To My Bronzer Favorites

Perhaps it is the California girl in me that is obsessed with bronzers, but I've always been one who prefers to be tan rather than fair. Right now I am a Chanel Teint Innocence Shell (equivalent to what's in between MAC NC30 and NC35, neither is an exact match for me), hardly "tan" but luckily I have bronzers to help me feel not-so-pale since I have little patience for tanning in the sun.


There are so many different effects one can achieve with bronzers. One's skintone and skintype will also affect one's preference for formula and finish. A bit of information about my skin & personal bronzer preferences: I have normal skin with olive tones. I get a bit oily in the T-zone only when it's really humid. I prefer something that gives noticeable tanned look. My top 3 requirements for bronzer:
  1. Don't turn orangey as my skin
  2. Don't make me look dirty/muddy
  3. Too much shimmer = copper bronze statue

Powder Bronzers:



Edward Bess Ultra Luminous Bronzer - Daydream $48 This is my favorite bronzer ever! Not being able to see this in person, I purchased it based on the recommendations of Leslie (see her guest review on the EB line here). Her description was right on. It's neither shimmery nor matte but somewhere in between. It's a goof-proof bronzer that I can never go wrong with and makes the skin glow. I like it alone or layered over a luminizer like NARS Multiples or Edward Bess's All Over Seduction. I recently bought the other bronzer shade shade from EB, Desert Sun, and will be reviewing it soon.



Bobbi Brown Illuminating Bronzing Powder - Bali Brown $33 Part of her Illuminating Bronzer formula, I don't find this one all that "illuminating" even though there are sparkles in this one. For some reason it applies more matte and I find the sparkle/shimmers don't show up on my skin. This one is more pigmented so I have to apply it with a light hand in layers or else I get an intense brown streak across my face. I would say this gives a more earthy-brown look rather than illuminating glow.



NARS Bronzing Powder - Laguna & Irresistiblement $32 NARS Laguna has achieved cult status as the most well-known and popular bronzer. It was one of my first bronzers and I used it every single day while I was in college because I found it so versatile. It worked well alone and when layered with other blushes. Irresistiblement is the newest powder bronzer from NARS. It looks rather orange in the compact and when I saw it I immediately wrote it off. However, I saw it featured on Em from Too Much Blush and it looked so good on her pale skin I had to try it. See her review here. See it on her lovely face here. She's done a few looks with it and her review is extremely helpful. I highly recommend searching through her archives for inspiration on how to use this. I tried this at Nordstrom and fell in love.



MAC Bronzing Powder - Golden & Bronze $22 I find these to be the most natural and sheer bronzing powders. Golden is very subtle on me because it's close to my natural skintone (when applied) so I like to use it as a contouring powder or over powder blushes to add a bit of warmth. I've hit pan on this one twice. Bronze is similar just a few shades darker and warmer. These give a soft bronzed glow. I like the simple mirrored compact. If you find these too sheer, try MAC's Refined Golden instead.



Armani Sheer Bronzer #1 & #5 $49 #1 is the most brown-based bronzer I have. Looks like it would be too brown in the compact but goes on a nice tanned bronze. I would call #5 my most glowy bronzer. It on the shimmery side but doesn't apply frosty. It's a warm golden bronze that makes the skin glow. Darker skinned girls will find this less dramatic and more glowy than bronzey.


Cream Bronzers:



Chanel Soleil de Tan Bronzing Makeup Base $48 This replaced the Bronze Universel de Chanel Sun Illuminator. Comes in the same tub and compact. Looks virtually identical to the original. I believe it was simply reformulated and given a new name. My favorite cream bronzer for a natural contour. The tub is huge and lasts forever. This is my second tub. Looks brown but blends out naturally.



Armani Fluid Sheer #11 $59 This is more of a peachy bronze shade. I like Fluid Sheer #3 as well but find it extremely sheer. The Fluid Sheer #11 is one of the shades that shows up better. It has enough color on me to wear alone as a blush. I apply this over powder and foundation with a foundation brush and it doesn't cake or get greasy.



NARS Multiple - South Beach $38 Another pretty peachy-bronze shimmer. More shimmery than the Armani. I like this with a powder bronzer (like MAC Golden or Bronze) layered on top. Love how this can be used on eyes, lips and cheeks. The challenge for me with this is making it last. It's so emollient I find it hard to make last throughout the day. Still, the color is so pretty, the non-existent lasting power won't stop me from wearing it.



MAC To the Beach Cream Bronzer - Weekend $25 I didn't think I would like this because it looked so reddish in the container, but it works well as a subtle bronzer with warmth. Fair skinned girls will probably find this too red. If I were slightly paler this would turn orangey on me.



Discontinued Loves:


  • Chanel Irreelle Soleil Silky Bronzing Powder in Sierra 22 This was the best bronzer Chanel made. Then they discontinued the formula and came out with something I feel is chalky which just sits on the skin instead of blending in with it.
  • MAC Mineralize Skinfinish - So Ceylon, Sunny by Nature, Global Glow I find these can be a bit intense so I like these with a skunk brush.
  • Shu Uemura Loose Powder in Luster Bronze I don't remember which year this came out, I think back in the summer of 2005? I got this at Bergdorf Goodman when I was in New York summers ago. I use it only for special occasions because I love the color so much I'm afraid to use this up.

Tools:

I like brushes that are more on the fluffy side for bronzer to get a sheerer application. These are my most frequently used brushes. For the creams, most of the time I use my fingers but my staple is the Prescriptives Foundation brush which is no longer available. Listed left to right:
  • Prescriptives Foundation Brush
  • MAC 129 Powder/Blush Brush $34
  • MAC 187 Duo Fibre Brush $42
  • MAC 138 Tapered $52
  • Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush $50


My Top Bronzer Picks:
  • Best Bronzer Hands Down - Edward Bess Daydream
  • Best Bronzer For the Price - MAC Golden or Bronze
  • Most Natural Bronzer - MAC Golden & Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base
  • Best Bronzer Brush - MAC 129 (because it's the most versatile)

A Side Note: I do have a number of other bronzers from the same brands listed above and other brands like Guerlain, Laura Mercier, Le Metier de Beaute, Dolce & Gabbana, Becca and Dior. The ones listed above are just my favorites for the formula and price. Also, I just got a new computer which I am trying to get used to. You may see a slight difference in the photos from my normal posting. Please bear with me as I am trying to figure out all the new settings with a new version of photoshop as well.

A Note About These Swatches: Please take these with a grain of salt. These were swatched on a bare arm without primer or moisturizer. Bronzers apply better over foundation + powder for me, so these swatches aren't really true to life. I put as many as I could fit on my arm. There might be a few missing. Please don't be alarmed by the furry thing at the bottom, he's my kitty.

 

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