Showing posts with label Skincare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Skincare. Show all posts

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Night Time Treatments: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Overnight Mask and La Nuit de Chanel


I'm usually very picky when it comes to night time skincare treatments whether it's for the face, eyes or body. I don't like the heavy feel of product while I sleep. Scent also plays a big part in what I can tolerate for night time treatments as well, if it's too strong I find it interferes with my sleep. I've tested a number of minis and samples and due to the sensitivity of my skin and nose, I stopped using most of them after two uses. Two night time facial treatments I've fallen in love with that work wonders for my sensitive skin include First Aid Beauty's Facial Radiance Overnight Mask and Chanel's Le Nuit de Chanel.


First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Overnight Mask ($38 for 1.7 fl oz) is a super hydrating facial treatment that brightens and nourishes the skin overnight. It has a white gel-like texture that feels on the thick side but blends into the skin smoothly. If you feel it being goopy or sticky on the face you've applied too much. It took a few tries for me to get the right amount without overdoing it. It has a wonderful fresh clean skincare-like scent. After using this I wake up with amazing skin like I just had a facial. The morning after my skin glows, looks brighter and feels smoother and looks well hydrated. It's good for my super-sensitive skin. It's gentle enough to use nightly but I've used this 1 to 2x per week for the past month. It's the only thing I've tried that gives me that perfect skin look when I wake up.



Ingredients:


Chanel La Nuit de Chanel ($85 for1.7 fl oz) is something I've been using for over a year now. Even after regular use I still haven't used up a full bottle. For those new to this, the La Nuit de Chanel is part of their Resynchronizing Trio. It's a night time treatment designed to recharge the skin. It has frankincense extract to calm the skin and hyaluronic acid and shea butter to moisturize the skin. It works wonders on my face to calm flare ups, fix any dry spots, and helps clear up the skin. It has a white cream texture that blends in well with the skin. This one is scented (it's hard for me to describe) but it smells good and doesn't interfere with my sleep. I use this one almost every night. I like the pump it comes with which makes it super easy to dispense and mess-free.



Ingredients:


Do you use any night time facial treatments? Or masks? What are your favorites? I'll be sharing some other hydrating and clarifying mask favorites in the upcoming weeks. You can find First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Overnight Mask in stores and online at Sephora and also at Firstaidbeauty.com. Chanel's La Nuit de Chanel can be found at all Chanel retailers, I purchased mine from Nordstrom.
 photo FirstAidBeautyFacialOvernightRadianceMask_zpsa894b91c.jpg photo LaNuitdeChanel_zpsb232dc40.jpg

First Aid Beauty provided press samples for review consideration. For more information, refer to my Disclosures.

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

Clarisonic Aria - The Beauty Look Book 6 Week Update


I've been using the Clarisonic Aria for about 6 weeks now (first thoughts at 3 week mark here) and I am happy to report that it really works. In six weeks time with regular use my skin has visibly improved. I've been using it every other day one time per day in the evenings although these are designed with brushes gentle enough for 2x per day usage. Improvements I've seen:
  • Deep recurring pimples along the temple area and chin have disappeared
  • Acne scars have started to fade (they are still visible but I'm hopeful with the results so far)
  • Overall skin texture has improved, with smoother skin
  • Tiny bumps along the face that aren't acne, red or pimples, but those small bumps that are clogged pores have started to disappear
I've tested with a variety of different cleansers. The Clarisonic cleanser minis I've tested proved to be too strong for my skin. After several days of consecutive use I started to develop tiny allergic bumps all over the face. I immediately stopped use and switched back to my go-to's SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser and Dior Purifying Foam Cleanser (the Dior is the only one my husband likes).


After evaluating all the different Clarisonic options (comparison chart) and using the Aria for several weeks I'm really happy with my decision. There are three speeds with the Aria. I started with the slowest speed but have been alternating between the default speed 2 and slower speed 1 (you can control the speed with the arrow buttons). I alternate depending on how sensitive my skin feels. There is a battery indicator that changes color to let you know when you need to recharge. I just recharged at the end of the 5 week mark (the light was red).

I like that it's super easy to use, just wet the brush with warm water, apply cleanser straight to the brush and then start using it on the face.




I'm really thrilled with the way this has cleared up my skin. Last week though I made the big mistake of working out a couple times without taking my makeup off before hand so I have several break outs on spots that are healing. The skin isn't broken so I can still use my Clarisonic without having it tear the skin or aggravate sensitive/tender areas. I've still been using the Sensitive Brush that this comes with and find it gentle enough for my sensitive skin. You can definitely feel the bristles though and while they are soft, they aren't super soft. I suspect those with super sensitive skin will need a softer brush. My husband has tested the Clarisonic and really likes it. In a couple weeks I'm going to try a different brush. Based on recommendations from my original post, I want to try either the Deep Pore Brush Heads or Luxury Brush Heads.


Some overall thoughts based on my experience:
  • Even though this is a cleansing tool, you do need to start with makeup-free skin, if you use this with makeup on, you'll get the brush dirty and it will be spreading your makeup around, start your routine by either removing makeup with a Cleansing Water (I like Caudalie or Koh Gen Do) or Cleansing Oil (I like MAC or Tatcha)
  • As with any skincare routine, if you have sensitive skin you shouldn't do anything drastic, for this tool I was super nervous about how it would work with my skin, I eased into it by using it only a few times first and then increased usage according to my comfort level, I also started using it with my go-to cleansers
  • It will take time to see a difference, for the first 2 weeks I felt an improvement in texture but didn't see any visible results, by Week 3 and now Week 6, I've seen a visible improvement, but depending on your skin conditions, it might take longer
  • Don't use this on broken, raw or tender skin areas, I like that you can spot clean if you have specific areas you want to avoid
I purchased mine from Nordstrom for $199 (now in a new Radiance Brightening Solutions Set for $249). Also at Sephora, Macy's, Bloomingdales, Net-a-Porter and Selfridges.

I'll mark my calendar for a 3 month update. Have you tried Clarisonic? Which ones? Do you have any favorite brush heads or cleansers?
 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Skincare Cleansing With the Clarisonic Aria


I've been experimenting more with skincare this year and wanted to share some of my favorite items along with a few new discoveries. I have sensitive acne prone skin that is mostly normal. Most of my life I've maintained a clear complexion with a simple gentle foaming cleanser + toner and weekly mask. The past couple of months my skin has been going through a mess with seasonal weather changes, a change in my workout routine along with some added stress. My holy grail go-to foaming cleansers from SK-II and Dior simply were not enough to cleanse my face completely at the end of the day causing clogged pores and break outs. Over the past few months I've added a few more steps to my skincare cleansing routine and my skin has finally started to clear up and improve in texture and clarity.

Added Step 1 came from a recommendation from one of my favorite Nordstrom Chanel artists. I've added a step to remove long-wear makeup by using a gentle but effective cleansing oil or cleansing water to break down every trace of makeup on the face. Cosmetic companies have developed amazing innovations in makeup to make it long wearing and last all day through the night. Some of these long-wear formulas don't come off completely with a regular cleanser and remnants will clog pores. They need extra work to remove where a cleansing oil or water will help break down makeup. My current favorites are MAC Cleanse Off Oil and Caudalie Cleansing Water. I alternate depending on what kind of makeup I'm wearing. On full makeup days, cleansing oil is needed. On tinted moisturizer days I use the cleansing waters.

Step 2 has been the addition of the Clarisonic Aria Sonic Skin Cleansing System from Nordstrom which has made a huge difference in clearing up my skin and getting it back to normal. My friends and family have been telling me for years that I should invest in a Clarisonic device because according to them "it really works." I've always been intrigued by the concept but was overwhelmed by all the options. Also since I have had pretty good skin I didn't see the need to spend money fixing something that was perfectly fine. Given my recent skin flare ups, I needed a change and this has been a really good solution to return my skin to it's normal state by using it 2 to 3 times per week.


If you're new to Clarisonic, here's a quick rundown of each device they have for facial cleansers. You can read more about Clarisonic Technology here. These Clarisonic tools are designed with a patented oscillating sonic technology creating more than 300 movements per second to help loosen oil and dirt in your pores with the motion the outer and inner brushes create. It's designed to exfoliate the skin and clear and tighten the pores.

There are currently four different devices for the face, each device comes in a wide variety of color options ranging from white, to colorful pink, lavender blues and classic black. All the options come with the Sensitive Brush but have different brush head replacement options depending on your needs. The kits also come with a sample size of one of their cleansers. You may want to consult a product specialist to find out which one will suit your specific skin needs. I like using the Live Chat with Beauty Stylists on Nordstrom. They've been super helpful in the past (they've even helped me locate discontinued items in stores).




  • Mia $99 is a one-speed tool, this is designed as a starter brush, comes in a small portable size
  • Mia 2 $149 - $169 comes in several different kit options, this took is sized similar to the Mia, it has two speeds and comes with a protective travel case for storage, the Mia2 has the most color options available to choose from
  • Aria $199 is slightly longer and sleeker in design compared to the Mia/Mia2, the Aria has three speeds, this one comes with a USB-Enabled Universal Voltage pLink Charger and regular plug so you have more charging options (if you're on the go), it also comes with a charging/drying stand
  • Plus $225 is the deluxe version of the Clarisonic for face and body, it comes with two different brushes and a Universal Voltage Charging Cradle

After hours of online researching, it was a tie between the Mia2 and Aria. I liked the compact size of the Mia 2 and the fact that it came with a super cute protective case and so many color options,. I also found the price point reasonable. However I also liked the sleek look of the Aria along with the drying stand and charger options. I ended up purchasing the Aria since it had more options for brush speed and the convenient stand.

All Clarisonics come with some kind of sample-size cleanser. I've tested three (two have been from Nordstrom GWPs). My favorite is the Deep Pore Daily Cleanser and I've been working my way through 2 mini tubes. A little goes a long way and it's gentle enough for my sensitive skin but really deep cleans without drying out the skin. After using this your skin won't feel tight, nor will it feel like there is a film left over. I've also used the Clarisonic with my go-to foaming cleansers SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser and Dior Purifying Foam Cleanser. Both are thicker in texture than most Clarisonic options, but they are still flexible enough to use with the device.


Close up of the Aria hand held, it has a sleek slender design so it fits nicely into my small hands, it's easy to hold and although it has some weight, it's not too heavy.


The Sensitive Brush that the Clarisonics come with shown below. I find it gentle and soft, on the face it almost tickles because it's so soft. On the nails currently is Chanel Tutti Frutti Le Vernis.


I'm still a newbie with the Clarisonic Aria. I'm nearing the end of Week Three of testing it out. I've been using the Sensitive Brush it came with and find it very gentle on the skin, my preference is for the Delicate Speed (the softest one) and after reading some rather scary reviews, I decided to ease into it. My first week I used it twice, the second week I upped usage to three times. Even though I find the Aria to be very gentle I've read one needs to be careful not to overdo the exfoliating. The first two weeks I didn't see much of a difference in the skin although I found it made the skin feel really soft and clean. At the end of the second week and into the third my skin has started to make its way back to normal. (Let me know if you want updates in the future at the 2 month or 3 month mark.) The drying stand is super convenient for storage. Overall I'm really happy with my purchase and am already looking into the other brush options now.


Have you used a Clarisonic or any of the different brush heads or cleansers? I have read so many different reviews, I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. The Pedi Sonic Foot looks incredible, but I usually prefer to have my toes manicured at a salon.

Many thanks to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Travel / Trial Sized Beauty - Skincare for Face and Body


Since my last trip in April I've been on the hunt for more mini-sized beauty items for travel and testing. One area I always neglect in packing is skincare for face and body. I almost never check in luggage so I'm limited to one carry-on and therefore subject to the one quart-size bag rule for liquids. Squeezing in all the items into one bag is a challenge for me but I've learned that skipping out on good skincare usually results in ruined skin that takes weeks to recover (at least for me). This time I took extra care to plan in advance and did quite a bit of research in the weeks leading up to the trip looking for good travel-sized minis. This is what I brought with me, all of which fit perfectly into one quart sized bag. I love minis for skincare anyways as a way to test out new items without having to splurge on the full size.



  • SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser ($70 for full size) was part of a mini gift with purchase from Saks, I frequently check the Special Offers page before stocking up on the full size, this is one of my favorite face cleansers, when I don't have minis of my regular face cleansers, I squeeze some into a little disposable container
  • Caudalie Cleansing Water (50 ml/1.69 fl oz) the mini size is part of The Favorites Set ($32) which I've been a huge fan of, this is a gentle makeup remover that makes the skin feel clean and moisturized (FYI there is a Caudalie GWP online for a Deluxe Size Divine Oil with $50+ purchases using code DIVINE through July 2nd)
  • MAC Cleanse Off Oil / Tranquil ($10 for 30 ml/1.0 fl oz) is one of the mini to-go sizes for MAC skincare, I bought this to test out since I've been a huge fan of the regular Cleanse Off Oil, I find the Tranquil version to be more gentle with a moisturizing feel, I prefer the Regular version to remove makeup before cleansing (with long-wear makeup, I've found I need a few extra steps to remove every trace of primer, concealer, foundation, powder and blush)
  • Chanel Gentle Biphase Eye Makeup Remover ($34 for the full size) is a mini I stock up on with gift with purchases during Chanel events, it's the best I've tried (I favor it over Lancome) that removes waterproof mascara and long-wear eyeliners without stinging the eyes
  • Giorgio Armani Regenessence 3.R Pre-Regenerative and Retexturizing Lotion ($53 for the full size) is my current toner of choice, it makes the skin feel really and soft and helps to smooth out the surface before serums or moisturizers, I got the mini size with a Neiman Marcus gift with purchase event and saved the bottle, I refill it with the full size when I go on trips or weekend getaways



  • Caudalie Divine Oil ($9 for 15 ml/.05 fl oz) is a must-have for me, I use it almost daily for the legs and arms, I love how this one smells refreshing and especially how it absorbs into the skin quickly, it's often available in value sets like this Sephora Summer Crushes set and I've seen it in seasonal duos, I bought my first Divine Oil because my friend said, "at $9 you won't be crushed if you don't like it, but you will, you need to try it, it's amazing" - she was right, I'm rarely without this one (it's often in my purse)
  • Caudalie Divine Legs (25 ml/0.84 fl oz) in the mini size is usually part of yet more value deal sets, there's one for $32 that comes with a 50 ml Divine Oil + 25 ml Divine Legs, I have super sensitive skin that often reacts to tanning and bronzing products, although this one from Caudalie doesn't tan, it does give a nice bronzed leg effect that I found very natural, since there were mixed reviews on Sephora, I thought getting the set with the mini was good to try, I tested the Divine Legs this past weekend rubbing quickly into the legs after moisturizing with a light layer of the Divine Oil, it dried quickly but I was able to work it in quickly before it set, I wore a black dress and skirt over the past few days so I didn't notice any transfer to clothing, I'll have to test this one out a few more times but I liked it and didn't experience any irritation
  • Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream (30 ml/1 fl oz) is another lovely item from The Favorites Set, I have a number of tried and true favorite hand creams, I picked this one because of the refreshing lightweight scent and compact size
  • Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter (30 ml) is a new addition to Tatcha's Travel Sized beauty, if you're on their mailing list you might recognize this as one of the past gift with purchases they offered (they have special promo codes), this one will this one will be available for purchase mid to late July, you can read my full review here, some might wonder if I brought a body oil with me, did I really need to bring a body lotion as well? I could have gotten away with bringing just one, but I like the Tatcha for it's soothing qualities, sometimes my skin acts up and gets itchy from being dry, the Tatcha Indigo line works wonders for hydration and soothing



  • Chanel Sublimage La Creme Texture Fine ($390 for the full size 1.7 oz) is one of the most amazing face moisturizers I've tried and also one of my biggest splurges, it hydrates the skin and keeps it looking smooth and clear, there are often minis available with gift with purchases, sometimes counters have samples to give out (they are more friendly with samples if you make a decent sized purchase) 
  • Ole Henriksen Truth Serum ($15 for 0.5 fl oz/15 ml) is one of my favorite serums, I love the small travel/trial size which is available at a good price, it's often part of deal sets as well such as The Works, the best part is the mini packaging comes with a super convenient pump dispenser making it easy to use
  • Tatcha Camellia Beauty Oil ($33 for 10 ml) is the cutest mini-sized beauty oil, it's the perfect size to test out in case you're hesitant about oils in general (I am), when I travel, my skin tends to dry out a bit, I used this at night before bed to smooth the skin and give it an extra boost of hydration over night, on regular days, I use the oil for day 1-2x per week alternating with my regular serum/moisturizer routine, it gives the skin a super hydrated refreshed feel without feeling heavy (more thoughts on this one here)
  • Tatcha Ageless Revitalizing Eye Cream ($29 for 3 ml) came with a Barneys gift bag event offer, I love testing out mini eye creams and this one is super tiny which was good to fit into the corners of my quart sized bag, I found this one to be a bit heavy for my needs, it's a rich creamy eye treatment I found good for overnight hydration (applied in small doses) but for everyday it will probably be too heavy for my skin type, this is the beauty of minis, you can test items to see how they work for you before committing to the full size



  • Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray ($14 for 30 ml/1.0 fl oz) has had so many raves on Sephora so I made a quick stop to one of the stores during my trip and picked one up. It's described as a weightless spray that keeps your makeup looking fresh for up to 16 hours. I attended a wedding over the weekend in semi-humid weather and thought this would be the perfect time to test something like this. Most of the wedding was indoors and it didn't last 16 hours so I couldn't really test this to see if it lived up to its claims. I did like the lightweight feeling, it spritzes a super fine layer of mist over the face evenly (huge plus for me) and it kept my makeup looking fresh and melt-free for around 7 hours.
  • Clinique Color Correcting Superprimer ($27 for 1 fl oz, review here) was my primer of choice for the weekend for its smoothing properties, you can see the difference in the texture of the skin once applied, it works well under liquid foundations as well
  • Origins Clear Improvement Mask Pods ($8 for 4 one-time use pods) is another item I picked up during my trip, I loved the concept of the one-time use pods and am usually skeptical about pore-cleansing masks since most usually are either too strong and sting the skin or so gentle it feels like nothing (my favorite from MAC was discontinued). I used one pod during my trip and was really impressed with how well this cleansed and tightened the skin, after one use pores were visibly smaller, there is a slight tingly feeling but it did not irritate or sting the skin, based on the reviews I've read and my experience with one pod, this one shows a lot of promise
All the liquid/gel items in my zip-loc quart size bag - yes, they all fit including a mini perfume and bottle of Chanel foundation :)


Overall this trip I felt like I packed all the essentials (and then some) for skin care face and body. I did skip bringing shampoo, conditioner and shower gels and relied on what was at the hotel (I was really happy that they had Neutrogena). I ended up using everything I brought with me along with the two items I purchased on the trip at Sephora. I don't travel often so it's taken a few tries for me to get the right mix of products while I'm away from home. I think this time I've finally found my perfect mix of items for skincare. (If you want to know what makeup I brought with me let me know in the comments below, otherwise you can see what I carried with me on previous trips by clicking on the Travel tag.)

Do you have any favorite travel sized beauty items? What items did you end up loving from mini-testing that made you buy the full size? Any new discoveries lately? Also if you ended up hating something from testing out a mini, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Some items in this post were provided for review consideration and some minis were acquired from various gift with purchase events. Most items were purchased by me. For more information please refer to my Disclosures.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Serums In Rotation: Chanel Le Jour de Chanel and Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum


I've started to explore more in skincare the past couple of years. Through my 20's I had pretty good skin that didn't need much treatment other than a basic cleanser or moisturizer. As I transition into my early 30's I've found my skin in need of more. So many have told me about the benefits of using a serum under moisturizer, but I have sensitive skin. Several serums I've tried at the counter or at make over events have ended up being too rich and heavy-feeling so I avoided them for a long time. In the past I've tested mini samples of several serums, I've found many feel nice but didn't didn't really seem to make a difference in my overall skin appearance.

Three serums have changed my outlook on serums in general. Ole Henriksen Truth Serum is amazing in terms of maintaining a good glow for the skin. I find it's good if you have minor imperfections and need an extra boost of moisture (more details in my review here). Two other serums I have in rotation that I wanted to share with you are Chanel Le Jour de Chanel and Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum


Both serums come in a convenient pump dispenser bottle. The serum textures are on the thin side with a slight gel-like finish but blend easily onto clean skin. Chanel Le Jour de Chanel is clear while Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum has a subtle pearly finish that contains 24k gold.



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First up is the Chanel Le Jour de Chanel ($85 for 50 ml/1.7 fl oz). I've been using this for a year since it was first released as a Nordstrom exclusive. This one has Salicylic Acid which helps exfoliate the skin gently and clears up any clogged pores and small blemishes over time (but doesn't make the skin peel). It claims to tighten pores and reduce the size. I have small pores but I found it does improve the look of the skin and make pores smaller. It layers well under moisturizer to make the skin feel hydrated, smooth and slightly more radiant. I wouldn't recommend using this if your skin is irritated or has any open or healing blemishes. This one is best for unbroken skin and if you're not extremely sensitive.

I made the mistake of using this alone as a moisturizer when I first received a mini sample in the mail. The artists at the Chanel counter explained to me that I was using it incorrectly and it was not sufficient to be used alone. Adding this under your moisturizer helps improve the T-zone area and extends the wear of your foundation throughout the day as it helps to draw in your moisturizer to the skin. 

A quick tip on application - if you feel that it stings the skin, make sure your skin is completely dry after you cleanse and tone before you apply this. I've found that applying items to a wet face can sometimes make moisturizers or serums sting. I've used this in conjunction with a number of moisturizers, my current favorites to use this with are the Chanel Le Blanc Moisturizing Cream, Chanel Sublimage La Creme Texture Fine and Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Cream.

Chanel Le Jour de Chanel ingredient list here

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If you've shopped online with Tatcha you know that their orders come with generous samples and often have good promotion codes to try new items. My first order with them came with their Deep Hydration Firming Mask which is amazing. They've recently expanded their Water Collection with the Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum ($95 for 30 ml/1.0 fl oz). They kindly sent me a sample to try and I've been thrilled with it. Several readers have already raved to me about this one before I had the chance to try it. Many have said it's worked wonders on their dry skin so I was worried this might be too strong for my skin but I found the Deep Hydration Firming Mask to be amazing on my skin so I had high hopes. I am really happy to find that even though it's super hydrating that it isn't too strong.

This serum has a hydrating blend of Okinawa red algae and hyaluronic acid to soothe and firm skin - and the it does just that. The 24k gold shimmer isn't overpowering but gives that glow from within kind of luminosity. I've been using this for a week and already have noticed a difference in the overall look of the skin. It appears more radiant and it has soothed my skin which has been acting up for the past month. I've been using this during the day under regular moisturizers but I've read many like to also use this at night (which I haven't tried yet).

If you're unsure about purchasing the full size, Tatcha now has a selection of mini travel sized skin care items. The Deep Hydration Firming Serum comes in a $33 mini travel size option nicely priced proportionally to the full size.

Full ingredient list here
 

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I like to alternate serums weekly depending on what my skin feels like. On normal skin days I find the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum to be a good everyday kind of serum suitable for all skin types (even sensitive ones). When my skin is in need of some texture improvement the Chanel Le Jour de Chanel works wonders to clear up the skin. I wouldn't recommend this for super sensitive skin but it is gentle enough for me. For extra hydration and soothing of irritated skin I like to use Tatcha Deep Hydration Firming Serum.

What do you currently use for a serum? Or do you skip it entirely? I'd love to hear what you've tried, what you loved or what didn't work for you.

This post contains a press sample sent by Tatcha for review consideration. For more information refer to my disclosures.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel + Giveaway


Currently in my rotation for eye care is the new reformulated Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel ($42 for 1 fl oz/30 ml) for night. It's a clear aqua blue gel designed for night time treatment. This is Ole Henriksen's new version that just launched this month. The beauty team at Ole Henriksen kindly sent me a sample to try and I've been extremely pleased with the results.

For some background on my current eye situation: I'm in my early thirties and I don't have eye wrinkles yet, nor do I have discoloration or creases around the edges. My under eye area has slight texture issues and is extremely prone to puffiness. I have increased sensitivity eyes around the outer corners and the eyes get irritated every once in a while subject to weather changes. My main concerns for eyes are de-puffing treatments and prevention.


I've been testing a few eye creams and gels (more on the others soon) and so far have been really pleased with this new formulation of the Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel. It's a night eye treatment designed to improve firmness and give the eyes a lifted look. This version has 30% more peptides and 600% more botanicals. It has cucumber for a de-puffing and cooling effect. The texture is a slightly thick gel. It has a slightly sticky and tacky feel once applied so once you have it on, I don't recommend touching or rubbing the eye area.

It took me a while to get used to the sticky texture since it's not something I'm typically used to, but I found that I actually prefer this for night. It adheres well to the skin which means it stays put. Many eye treatments have a super emollient texture which is good for the hydration and feel, but for me I find it often feels like it's sliding off as soon as my head hits the pillow. The tacky texture of the gel helps this stick to the skin well. I've been testing the new gel versus the old version for over a month now. I definitely like the feel of the new one better, it has a nicer feel on the skin noticed improvement in my eye area with significantly reduced puffiness.

The application is pretty straight forward. Apply under the eye in an upwards motion extending towards the temples. A little goes a long way but I like to apply generously.


In the mornings right after I wake up (before I cleanse the skin) the area under and around the eyes absorb the product completely and eyes look more hydrated. I've applied this as instructed on the actual product, under the eye and upward extending slightly past the temples. Doing this has hydrated the skin making the skin less tight in the mornings. I haven't noticed any lifting but there isn't really anything under my eye area that needs lifting. I really like this for the help it gives me with de-puffing.


Application and ingredients:



The new reformulated Ultimate Lift Eye Gel comes in several different sizes and options right now at Ole Henriksen. They have the Full-Sized 1 oz jar ($42), Roll-On .5 oz ($28) and an Ultimate Eye Lift Kit with both ($35).

The Ole Henriksen team was kind enough to send me one extra of the full-size for me to giveaway to one lucky US reader. The giveaway is eligible for US residents only, ages 18+. Entries will be collected through June 22, 2014. There are up to four ways you can enter to win. One winner will be selected at random via the Rafflecopter widget the week following June 22nd and contacted by me via e-mail. Please refer to terms and conditions within the widget to see how to enter.

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This product was provided courtesy of Ole Henriksen for review along with an extra for a giveaway to US readers of The Beauty Look Book. For more information refer to my disclosures.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ole Henriksen - The Works


Back in January of this year I was lucky to meet the Ole Henriksen team and discovered their products for the first time. I received some samples and fell in love with items from The Works Set ($48 boxed set) which includes five of their best selling items in mini trial-sized versions. I usually proceed with extreme caution before trying new skincare items. I have very sensitive skin that reacts easily to many skincare products. Reactions usually happen within minutes and take at least a week for my skin to calm down and return to its normal state. This set proved to be the perfect size and mix to sample five staple items to see if they really worked for me. I also found it priced at a reasonable range given the size of each item. More brands should follow with these trial/value/introductory sets - skincare can be costly and it takes time to try items to see if you really like them. I really like that it comes with easy to follow instructions and that the steps to use these items are very simple.

The Works Set contains: 
  • 1 African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser 1.5oz/45ml
  • 1 Truth Serum Collagen Booster 0.5oz/15ml
  • 1 Pure Truth Youth Activating Oil 0.5oz/15ml
  • 1 Sheer Transformation 0.5oz/15ml
  • 1 Lemon Strip Flash Peel .5oz/15ml


Easy to follow 5-step regimen:



My thoughts on each item below, individual products linked to Ole Henriksen for more information and ingredient references. For quick reference - I've been using these items and alternating with other skincare items, but all of these have lasted several months. I've already used up the Foaming Cleanser and Truth Serum from the set and repurchased.

African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser is creamy foaming face wash that is designed to melt away dirt and makeup without stripping skin. It has African Red Tea and essential fatty acids to nourish and soothe. I found this to be an effective cleanser without stripping the skin. It's designed for both morning and evening use, I found that I liked to use this most in the evening (I like to use other creamy cleansers such as Dior or SK-II in the morning). It has a soft citrus scent and has a dispenser that foams the cleanser. My husband and I share skincare cleansers, he did not like this one, he felt it left a residue on his face even after rinsing. I on the other hand liked it enough to buy the full size for the home and another small trial sized version for travel.


Truth Serum Collagen Booster is one of the most-raved about products from Ole Henriksen. The reps mentioned it's their number one seller and the most-returned to product that their customers keep repurchasing. I've always been very skeptical of serums and usually don't like using them in conjunction with moisturizers because I feel like it results in too many layers of product on my face. The Truth Serum has completely changed my outlook on serums. It's extremely lightweight and a lottle goes a very long way. I've been using one small pump and applying all over the face (after cleansing and toning). It has a thin clearish orange formula like a thin gel. You can feel it on the skin after application but layering moisturizer over it results in a weightless feel. What I liked about this the most was that it really brightened my skin and also helped my foundation last longer. It's not really an oil control product but using this with the Sheer Transformation moisturizer worked wonders for me.

Pure Truth Youth Activating Oil is a Rose Hips Seed Oil that repairs and replenishes with essential fatty acids, vitamin A, and C for youthful radiance. It's recommended for evening use to be layered over the Truth Serum to maximize brightening. This is the one product from the set that I have mixed feelings about. In trying a number of face oils, I've found there are only a couple that I have been able to stand the smell of. The Ole Henriksen oil is not one of them. It has a sharp citrus herbal cleansing smell which I'm not a fan of. It does fade a bit after application but I'm not a fan. The formula on the other hand is very hydrating and does calm the skin. I found it a bit heavy to use every night but in general I feel most face oils are too heavy for my preference. It does absorb into the skin after 15 minutes or so and I can't feel it on my face unless I touch it. When used at night I find I wake up with refreshed hydrated skin with a more brightened complexion. I really just need to get over the scent because it makes the skin feel extremely soft and supple.


Sheer Transformation is one of my new favorite moisturizers. It's a lightweight cream moisturizer infused with Actiwhite™, licorice and botanical AHA’s to help fade dark spots and soften skin. Vitamin C Stimulates collagen production, fruit acids retexturizes and soothes lines and sandalwood, geranium, licorice and chamomile soothes, replenishes, balances and purifies the skin. My skin has gone through several freak-outs this year after two really bad colds (the first one lasted a couple months). I've had some break outs on the face that resulted in some acne scars. This cream combined with some other items has really helped bring my skin back to its normal state. There's no detectable scent and I like the way it moisturizes the skin without feeling heavy. Huge thumbs up.


Lemon Strip Flash Peel is a powerful peel with a 20% AHA complex of glycolic, lactic & fruit acids to accelerate cell turnover and resurface for luminous, smooth skin in a flash. This one made me a bit nervous to try since I was told it is a resurfacing product. Any skincare product with the word "peel" makes me nervous in general especially with my super sensitive skin. I gave this a try and found that it was gentle enough to not cause a huge reaction for my skin. It helped to improve the surface of my skin tremendously. If you have a lot of healing acne, raw peeling skin or any open wounds I would proceed with caution on using this (it will sting if you use it on any picked-at skin areas), but you don't have to apply it all over the face. I found that it tingled a little but did not sting.


After months of testing these items I've been very pleased. My top two picks are the Truth Serum and Sheer Transformation cream. You can find The Works Set at Ole Henriksen for $48 or find each item individually. I really like that they have a wide range of small-sized items available for travel or to try out. For more on the brand be sure to follow Ole Henriksen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and their Blog.

What are your favorite Ole Henriksen products? If you have anything you've been using for a while or just discovered I'd love to hear your recommendations for what to try next.

I've fallen in love with this set so much that I'm going to giveaway two of them (many thanks to Ole Henriksen for providing two giveaway sets for The Beauty Look Book). Two individuals will be selected to win one set each.

To qualify you must use the Rafflecopter widget below, be a US resident (due to shipping restrictions on liquids), 18 years or older and like The Beauty Look Book on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Giveaway entries begin today on May 12, 2014 and ends May 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM PST. Winners will be contacted by e-mail or Twitter by The Beauty Look Book within three days after the giveaway entries end. See terms in conditions in the widget.

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This post contains items received in a sample from Ole Henriksen along with items repurchased by The Beauty Look Book. All opinions are my own. Two sets were also provided by Ole Henriksen for The Beauty Look Book giveaway for US residents.

 

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