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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Winter Skin Savers: Face Masks for Every Need

Today I'm chatting with you about the face masks I have in rotation right now. Winter weather usually means my skin starts to feels dry or lacking in luster and the best way to help improve my skin's texture, clarity and the way it feels in general is by using weekly mask treatments. I've teamed up with Nordstrom to share a roundup of 12 masks which include a mix of tried and true treatments along with a few new discoveries. I'm obsessed with masks in general - I often use them 2x per week, sometimes I mix it up depending on how my skin feels at a specific time.

First, a bit of background. When it comes to masks, or with any skincare in general, I would say recommendations depend on your skin type and what kind of treatment you're looking for. I've split up my recommendations into four main categories: 1) lift and firm, 2) moisturize, 3) clarify/purify and 4) boost radiance. I've put 12 to the test to see how they hold up for my sensitive skin and super sensitive nose. In terms of types, I love a good sheet mask, but for today I've rounded up the kind you apply, leave on for 5-15 minutes and rinse off. The traditional apply-then-rinse-off kind is what I prefer, they are easy and fun to apply and I like the whole process of rinsing with water for that squeaky clean feeling.

Up first are two lifting and firming face masks. I'll start with the best face mask I have ever tried which is the the La Mer Lifting and Firming Mask ($245 for 1.7 oz/50 ml). I was lucky to find a mini sample of this one during a gift with purchase event and it was pure love the first time I tried it. This is the most I've ever splurged on a mask, but it's one of those skincare products I tested and immediately thought, "oh my god this is amazing." It comes in a large tub with a brush applicator. I'm relatively new to using brushes to apply masks but after testing a few, I think I kinda like it. With this mask, skin feels ultra soft after using it. It's formulated to tighten, firm and refine the face and neck although I've only tested this on the face so far. Skin does indeed look and feel noticeably firmer after using this. Fine lines are minimized. After using this you can feel the moisture without any greasy feel and the skin glows. I would call this one life changing and at the high price I think it should be. It's a luxurious splurge but worth every penny. I don't think I've ever been so in love with a skincare product in my life.

Another good firming mask is the Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask ($70 for 75 ml/2.5 fl oz). This one is formulated to lift, smooth, brighten and tighten pores. It sounds like an all-in-one kind of mask and I think it works wonders to lift and plump the skin. This one needs a very thin layer, if you apply too much it won't dry properly and will be difficult to wash off. This one is heavily fragranced so it won't be everyone's cup of tea. I don't mind the scent (I find it pleasant and unique). After using it skin feels smooth and lifted. The skin glows and looks noticeably brighter after using it. I noticed redness was reduced drastically. It does shrink pores around the nose area too. If you want a sampler of her skincare (trial or travel size) you can still find the mask in her Red Carpet Skin Set ($85) or the Gift of Goddess Skin Trio ($59) and the sizes seem large enough to get several uses out of the tubes.

Next are masks for an added moisture boost. My favorite gentle moisturizing mask is the Caudalie Moisturizing Mask ($39 for 75 ml/2.5 fl oz). This one is a game changer for me, most moisturizing masks are too heavy or leave the skin feeling too glowy so for moisture I prefer sheet masks. For a more traditional mask, this one adds enough moisture to soothe dry skin and makes it glow without the heavy feel. It has the most wonderful refreshing clean scent making it feel extra nice. It also works really well to help calm irritated skin and reduce redness. I really like Caudalie for the gentle but effective skincare.

Bobbi Brown just launched new face masks. I bought the Mini Mask Trio ($20 for 3 minis each .24 fl oz/7 ml) which comes with super tiny tubes. For these I was able to get 2 uses out of each one which is enough to get a sense of how it will feel on the skin, but not quite enough to get a true sense of how it will perform. The moisturizing option is the Skin Nourish Mask ($47 for the full size). It has an ultra smooth almost gel-like texture. It has coral grass and green algae to help boost collagen production and smooth the skin. I felt it did smooth and sooth the skin. Given the fact that I already have some other favorites for moisture masks, I'm not sure I will purchase the full size.

My second most favorite moisture mask is the Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment ($69 for 1.7 oz/50 g). This one smells delicious (I almost want to eat it). It adds the most moisture to my skin out of all the masks I've tried. It helps reduce any flaky areas or patches. It can tingle a little but it's not too strong. If you're super sensitive to tingle or scent, you might want to skip this one and opt for the Bobbi Brown instead which is more gentle but still adds moisture.

Next up are some clarifying and purifying options. This type is my favorite kind of mask to use but many purifying/detox masks can be really strong and end up drying out my skin. Some dry my skin so much it leaves my face red afterwards and flaky by the next day. My newest discovery is the Kate Somerville EradiKate Mask ($54 for 60 ml/2 fl oz). This was used on me during a facial, my aesthetician mentioned that a lot of her clients had been raving about it. I saw really good results from my facial so I bought this the very next week. It's part of the anti-acne line and normally these kinds of products are too strong for my skin, but this one is pretty gentle. It's foam activated so you apply it to your skin and leave it on for 10 minutes. It starts to foam as it works and removes impurities. It tingles slightly as it foams up but does not sting (and I'm a huge wimp when it comes to skincare that tingles). It contains colloidal sulfur which helps reduce redness (it really works wonders in this area) and reduce acne. I highly recommend it.

Caudalie of course is on the list for favorites. The Purifying Mask ($39 for 75 ml/2.5 oz) targets spots to reduce blemishes. It clarifies the skin by drawing out impurities but it's super gentle. Out of all the purifying masks, I would say this is the most gentle purifying mask I've ever tried. If you need something stronger the Instant Detox Mask ($39 for 75 ml/2.5 oz) is really good at drawing out the gunk that builds up in your pores. It's a super deep cleansing mask - I prefer this on the T-zone or on spots (with Caudalie they recommend you mix masks at one time to target different needs on different areas of the face). It's on the strong side so I would recommend on the nose or on trouble spots, I would not recommend using it all over the face.

My most-used clarifying mask is the Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment ($69 for 1.2 oz/34 g). I've lost count of how many I've used up and repurchased. Anytime my skin starts to break out from buildup or hormonal acne, I use this and it clears up within the week. It cleans out the skin like nothing else I've tried. Regular use has also helped tremendously with acne scars. It's good for oily skin and helps rebalance the face. It's a more gentle version of the Youthmud Tinglexfoliate Mask. If you still find the Supermud too strong, try the Caudalie or Kate Somerville ones instead.

Bobbi Brown has a mask called the Instant Detox Mask ($47 for the full size). This is a like a gentler version of the Caudalie Detox Mask. I liked that it acted like a clarifying mud mask without being too strong. It cleared up my skin and helped to rebalance oily and dry areas without being too strong or too drying. I will be purchasing the full size of this one once I use up my Glamglow and Kate Somerville Masks. Pores were significantly reduced.

The last category is radiance boosting or complexion savers. Bobbi Brown has one called Radiance Boost ($47). This one felt like it had exfoliating properties with tiny grains inside. For radiance, I tend to prefer sheet masks, but decided to give this one a try from the mini trio set. It has superfine walnut grain to exfoliate dead skin cells and orange oil extract to rebalance the oils in your skin. I didn't notice as much of a glow as I did with the La Mer or Charlotte Tilbury masks, but I did notice a subtle glow and my skin did feel smoother with the exfoliating properties. This one has a gentle citrus scent. For now I will be sticking to my sheet masks for radiance.

Last but not least is the Caudalie Glycolic Peel ($39 for 75 ml/2.5 fl oz). This one is the most gentle peel mask I've tried. I do an occasional peel treatment with other brands but my skin is so sensitive that I can't tolerate the tingling sensation (some make my eyes water). The Caudalie has no tingle and is non-irritating. For this one you will see results over time. It's a super gentle treatment that helps with exfoliation that improves the skin texture and radiance over the course of a few weeks. It's the most gentle kind of peeling mask I've tried.

If you're in search for a new mask, I hope you found this roundup helpful. There are so many different kinds of masks and brands. Nordstrom has over 200 options to choose from and you can filter options by benefit, price point and brand to find the one that suits your specific needs. I have tested quite a few, but for me testing has happened over the span of several months before I usually decide if something really works. My rotation changes as the season shifts to warmer weather. My top picks for right now are:
  1. La Mer Lifting and Firming Mask - for the most impressive results in terms of skin texture, appearance and feel (gives you baby soft skin)
  2. Caudalie Moisture Mask - best moisturizing mask
  3. Kate Somerville EradiKate Mask - best anti-acne redness reducing mask
  4. Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment - best clarifying and brightening mask for me

Do you have any favorite winter skincare masks? What's in your rotation right now? I always get the best recommendations from my readers, if you have any tried and true or new discoveries please share!

Many thanks to Nordstrom for partnering with me to sponsor this post. As always, all opinions my own.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best in Skincare and Grooming 2015

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

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

For my husband, best in men's grooming:

Men's grooming favorites shown from left to right:

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

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Skin Trilogy

I've been a huge fan of Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Cream for everyday and I'm thrilled that she has expanded her skincare line with two new additions for spring. Her Magic Cream is a great everyday moisturizer that works well with my super sensitive finicky skin type. It hydrates, plumps and smooths the skin and I really like how it works well under a wide range of foundations. The pot is huge and I've had it for a little over a year and still haven't finished it (although I had used up 2 of the mini travel size ones). I was lucky to receive an early preview of the Magic Night Cream and Magic Eye Rescue and have been putting them to the test for 12 days now and have some first thoughts and impressions to share with you today.

There are now three skincare products in her Magic Line which she calls her Magic Skin Trilogy. You can buy all three in her Magic Skin Trilogy Set for $285 or the items individually:
  • Magic Cream $100 (50 ml/1.7 fl oz) is a white cream moisturizer for day. It has ingredients to stimulate collagen and protect skin from environmental toxins. I also contains Vitamin E to heal skin and reduce inflammation. I found that it smooths the overall complexion and creates a glowing base to prepare skin for makeup. I do find it soothing and it absorbs nicely. The texture is creamy enough to feel moisturizer but as a cream it's not heavy. It does have a sunscreen smell which takes some getting used to.
  • Magic Night Cream $145 (50 ml/1.7 fl oz) is a super concentrated rich night cream. It contains Red Algea Marigel to smooth and protect skin, Winter Daphne Stem Cell Extract that comes from the Winter Daphne Plants to moisturize the skin and give it a youthful firm look, Olus Oil for the texture and Caster Seed Oil to add moisture.
  • Magic Eye Rescue $60 (15 ml/.05 fl oz) is a moisturizer designed to brighten dark circles, reduce puffiness and improve the texture of the skin. It contains what Charlotte Tilbury calls Time Released Retinol molecules that help boost the rejuvenation process of skin cells to give the skin a more radiant look.

A closer look at all three and some thoughts on my experience with each skincare item:

The Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream is one of my favorite day creams. I acquired a couple deluxe sized travel sample at a couple events (gift with purchases). I ended up using up two of them although in hindsight I should have stuck with using the full size and kept the minis for actual travel trips. A little goes a long way. This has been one of my top four most-used face creams I tested this year which also include the Eve Lom Brightening Cream, Tatcha Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream and First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream. It smooths and hydrates the skin. I like that it's heavy enough for dry skin days but light enough that I don't feel it once it sets on the skin. It works well with every foundation I've tested. It really does give the skin a more youthful appearance.

If you're unsure about spending $100 on the full size, she has it available in a few trial sets this holiday. You can find it in a mini in her Gift of Goddess Travel Trio Kit ($59 for three minis of Magic Cream, Wonderglow and Clay Mask) or her Gift of Red Carpet Travel Kit ($85 for give deluxe-sized skincare minis of Magic Cream, Wonderglow, Glay Mask, Multi Miracle Glow, Supermodel Body and Take it All Off). I ordered this cream over a year ago when it launched and can say that it will last you a long time.


When I heard there would be a Magic Night Cream launching I had very high hopes. Sometimes with skincare I think I set my expectations too high and am let down when my skin shows no signs of improvement. I am relieved to say that after testing this for over a week, this is something I will use up to the end. The Magic Night Cream is a super rich night treatment. It has an almost gel-cream hybrid texture. It is scented which I find hard to describe but it's extremely unique and almost spa-like. If she made this in a body lotion I would totally wear it.

The first night I used the cream I used too much and my face felt like I was literally wearing a thick sticky face mask to sleep. A little goes a very very long way - I found that two dabs on the tips of two fingers is really all I need to cover the entire face. I take two fingers dab it lightly into the cream and then apply it to the palm of my other hand. I rub my hands together and then apply. If your skin feels sticky or goopy you've applied too much.

After figuring out the right amount to use, I find that it gives the skin a veil of moisture. It is slightly heavy but it does absorb well into the skin. In the mornings when I wake up, the skin is noticeably soft, very smooth, feels plump and looks well rested. I'm the worst when it comes to applying night treatments on a regular basis because I don't like the feeling of product on my face when I sleep. The dry and cold weather has made my skin itchy and in need of extra moisture. This does just the trick. I highly recommend you watch Goss Makeup Artist's Video on this one. It shows how glowing his skin is.


The Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Rescue Cream is another winner. For me it's on par with the Chanel Sublimage Eye Cream and Tatcha Under Eye Cream in terms of moisturizing effects. I would say the Charlotte Tilbury is somewhere in the middle of those two with the Chanel being more hydrating for day and excellent for night and the Tatcha being more lightweight and better for day. I'm super picky with eye treatments - so many sting my eyes if it creeps the slightest bit into the corners. The Charlotte Tilbury Eye Cream is very good and doesn't interfere with eye makeup or concealer. There are a lot of eye creams I can use alone on no-makeup days but cannot use under makeup because it either makes eye color slide off or foundation look cakey if I apply it on top (examples include ones from Fresh, Philosophy, Clinique to name a few). The Charlotte Tilbury one true to the quality and style of her Magic Cream works well for day under makeup to give a glowing lit from within look under the eyes.

I will need to test it more to see if it really does brighten the skin over the long term. But just with a week + of use I can see the texture has improved and it does lift and firm under the eye area and adds the perfect amount of moisture + glow. I give it a thumbs up. On this one there is a soft skincare scent but it's not fragranced.


Overall both the Magic Night Cream and Magic Eye Rescue have exceeded my expectations. I do think both of them are items I will use to the very end. Out of the two I have to say I am most impressed with the Eye Cream - especially with the way it wears under makeup and has enough moisture without feeling greasy. The Night Cream does such an amazing job at moisturizing the skin over night and improving texture - but I suspect the texture or scent won't be everyone's cup of tea. I think it's perfect for this time of year - especially when I feel like my skin is lacking in luster and glow because the weather seems to suck the life of my face. Both have performed really well with my super sensitive skin and I highly recommend both.

Let me know if you're interested in another update on these next month. I'm testing a few other items in skincare and testing takes time, so I try to split up my testing into segments so I can see the effects of items separately. If you haven't tried her Magic Cream I highly recommend you do. 

You can find the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Night Cream and Magic Eye Rescue exclusively online at Charlotte Tilbury and Nordstrom right now. They will launch at other retailers next month.

Have you tried any of the skincare from Charlotte Tilbury yet? What did you think?

Press samples reviewed include the Magic Night Cream and Magic Eye Rescue.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Few New Discoveries from Laura Mercier

Several of you have asked for swatches and more thoughts on the Laura Mercier In The Glow Trio ($38, featured here). Unfortunately by this time it has sold out everywhere but I thought I'd share swatches anyways along with a review of other recent discoveries from the line. I've had the Lip Glacé ($25) in Rose Gold Accent on my radar for months. I was hesitant about the sparkle but decided to cave and buy it and I'm glad I did. The Lip Parfait Creamy Colorbalms ($25) launched earlier this year. I fell in love with the creamy formula and wanted so badly for Amaretto Swirl to work for me - alas I found it too pale for my pigmented lips and decided to opt for Cinn-ful instead. Last but not least, I've been playing around with some skincare. I'm one who likes the soothing calming effects of skincare with rose, but my super sensitive nose makes it hard for me to wear rose-scented products sometimes. The Laura Mercier Infusion de Rose ($24-$68, or $110 for the trio set) items are really good for dry winter skin but are super gentle on the fragrance.

Up first is the sold-out In the Glow Trio Set. It had mini sizes of the Matte Radiance Baked Powder in Highlight 01 (0.06 oz.), Bonne Mine Stick Face Colour in Peach Glow (0.12 oz.) and a Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Rosegold (0.03 oz.). You can buy all the items in the full-size version. I had been wanting to try both of the face products and thought this would be a good starter set to test out the items without splurging on the full size. For my medium-olive toned skin, I found both the cheek products very natural on me. 

Bonne Mine Stick Face Colour in Peach Glow gives a very natural peachy glow. Because it's a close match to my skintone, it gives a barely there glow. It's a lovely natural cream blush but I suspect it would be more visible on fairer skintones.

The Matte Radiance Powder seems like a contradiction with the both of the words matte and radiant in the same name. On my arm it swatches like a shimmery pale champagne. On my face it translates into more of a matte finishing glow. Long-time readers know I am beyond obsessed with Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Luminous Light (it's my holy grail powder highlighter). The Laura Mercier Highlight 01 Powder by comparison swatches paler on the arms, but applies on the face sheerer and less glowy. I'm probably not fair enough to be able to use it to set my entire face, but it does act more like a soft finishing powder on me.

Rosegold Caviar Eye Color Stick is a no-fuss easy to wear kind of lid color. I use it regularly (at least 2 times every week) as a base or a quick swipe-and-go kind of color. Here's an eye look with three of the colors including Rosegold in this post here.

I'm glad I was able to test the 2 face products, I will use them to the end. However I prefer the darker Matte Radiance Powders as they show up better on my skin and add life and a very natural contour. The Bonne Mine Cheek Stick is lovely, but also too light for my medium-olive skin to show up other than having a natural glow. That being said it makes for a good base under powder blushes or bronzers.

Up next are the two lip products I picked up: Lip Parfait Creamy Colorbalm in Cinn-ful and Lip Glacé in Rose Gold Accent.

The Lip Parfait Creamy Colorbalm in Cinn-ful is a super creamy lush brown cinnamon color. On me it's a darker/warmer your lips but better kind of shade. Amaretto Swirl looks like the most wonderful nude and it is - just on me it was too pale. I suspect I could make it work with liner, but I picked up Cinn-ful to test out the formula. It's one of the creamiest lip balms I've tried and even though it's a balm, pigment and color payoff is quite impressive. Most tinted balms are sheer to medium in color. This one acts more like a lipstick in terms of finish.

The Lip Glacé in Rose Gold Accent is part of the Candleglow Collection. I had my eye on the Candleglow Palette but after seeing it in stores I decided to pass. The colors, shimmer and pigment are all excellent - it still very tempting, but I found the pans of the top four colors too small to justify the splurge. Rose Gold Accent is a sparkling gloss with a baby pink base. It's basically clear with loads of shimmer on the lips but I like that it makes the lips look full and healthy without being too glitzy. It's been a while since I backed-up a lip gloss, I may back up this one.

Last but not least is the Infusion de Rose Nourishing Skincare Line. There are three items in the collection which are available in a limited-edition Infusion de Rose Nourishing Collection set for $110 (it's a $44 savings). I am smitten with all three items, I think they are particularly good for winter weather right now. The rose soothes and hydrates the skin and makes it feel super smooth. I can't emphasize enough how thrilled I am that the rose scent is very soft and barely there. Some rose-scented creams are so strong I can't wear them at night because it prevents me from falling asleep. The ones from Laura Mercier are soft enough that it doesn't bother me.

You can buy all the items separately which includes:
  • Flawless Skin Infusion de Rose Nourishing Oil (1 oz.) is a super lightweight nourishing oil. It conditions the skin and leaves it glowing. I normally wear beauty face oils on weekends (no makeup days) or at night as I find many interfere with the lasting power of foundation. This one worked really well for me under foundation.
  • Infusion de Rose Nourishing Creme (1 oz.) is a smooth feeling cream. It's emollient and super hydrating. I will say that it is on the emollient side but it doesn't feel super heavy and absorbs nicely into the skin. A little goes a long way, I really like that it has a smooth lightweight texture.
  • Infusion de Rose Nourishing Lip Balm (0.4 oz.) is a new lip balm. It's super hydrating and makes the lips feel soft and moisturized. Review in my lip balm roundup here. Right now it's exclusive to Laura Mercier's website (if you want to buy it separately). I suspect it will launch at other retailers soon.
I think it's a winning skincare set. I've been testing the items for a full month now and can say they have been really good for dry winter weather but still gentle enough for my normal/combination skin.

I hope you found this mini review helpful. I think the Rose Gold Accent Lip Glace is a winner, even though I usually don't like super sparkly lip glosses, it's really pretty on. The Infusion de Rose Skincare collection was a pleasant surprise because I ended up liking the entire collection. I was really lucky to receive the In the Glow Trio as a press sample, but after testing it - I can't say that I've discovered any new must-haves. The only must-have in the set for me is the Rosegold Caviar Eye Stick (and I already own the full size). Still sets are a nice way to test something at a cheaper price before committing to the full size.

Do you have any new Laura Mercier favorites? I just saw the Candleglow Foundation popped up online at Sephora. This upcoming month is going to be the season of new foundations and I can't wait to test them!

You can find Laura Mercier at a number of different retailers. Online at Laura Mercier, Sephora, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Bloomingdales.

Note if you're shopping for last minute gifts, many are offering expedited shipping upgrades with qualifying purchases. The best one I've seen is Nordstrom is offering expedited free shipping until noon EST by December 23rd on qualifying items, each item has an indicator, no min-purchase needed.

Press samples featured include the In the Glow Trio and Infusion de Rose Set.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Skincare Sets

Out of all the beauty sets this year, the skincare sets this year give you the biggest bang for your buck. I think shopping for skincare for others can be tricky because we all have different skin types, needs and texture but three lines that come to mind that I think you can't go wrong with include First Aid Beauty, Tatcha and Kate Somerville. All three have a good selection of excellent products suitable for all skin types, especially sensitive skin. Sets also have a sampling of products for you to try so it's a nice way to try a lot of products at a value price.

I've been recovering from a bad allergic reaction to Neosporin for 3 weeks It was bad enough that I felt like I couldn't go out in public, but not bad enough that a prescription was needed. All I could do was wait for it to go away. I stopped using most of my skincare with the exception of items from the three lines listed above. The First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask in the FAB to the Rescue Kit* was a lifesaver in calming down skin once I could put product on my face. The Tatcha Indigo line* was instrumental in helping my skin stay moisturized and heal. Kate Somerville's Dermal Quench Retinol* helped my skin at night in the regeneration process. If you can find sets with any of these I recommend trying them.

Onto the sets - I've tried items from all these lines and think there is something for everyone to love. If you treat yourself this holiday, skincare is a great area to splurge on. If you've been eyeing a Clarisonic - there are lots of skincare sets and values with other brands of cleansers to choose from. I really like mine and wish I had bought one of the sets during the holidays. This Mia3 + K-Beauty Set ($199) comes with two sheet masks, cleansing oil, enzyme peel and moisturizer. The Smart Profile Face and Body Set ($265) comes with two brush heads and two skincare products.

6. Jack Black All About Face Set $75 (my husband loves the Beard Lube)

Here's another giveaway as a thank you and my way of giving back. One lucky winner will receive a $50 gift card to Sephora. It's open internationally but you must be 18 years or older to qualify. If you're a non-US selected winner you can opt to receive $50 via Paypal. Please refer to terms and conditions listed via the widget for all the details. Selected will be selected and announced via the Rafflecopter widget below and will be contacted via e-mail by me directly. Entries will be collected through 12/16/2015 11:45 PM PST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
What's your current favorite skincare line? Have you found any really good sets this holiday season?

A few more ideas to shop from:

Have a great weekend!

Some items mentioned were sent as press samples indicated with a *.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Skincare Cleaning Devices: Foreo Luna Mini and Le Mieux 4-in-1 Ultrasonic Anti-Aging Skin Perfecter

I've been testing a few skincare devices since last summer. I've been a huge fan of my Clarisonic Aria (now called Mia 3) and use the Cashmere Brush head (both reviewed here). It's a skincare cleaning tool that I've been using for over a year and after and found that it's been really good in keeping my skin clearer. It's also been instrumental at improving skin texture. Out of the brushes I've tested, the Cashmere is my favorite for sensitive skin. After using it for a few months I switched back to the Normal Brush for a day and felt like it was extremely abrasive and rough - so I immediately ordered a replacement for my Cashmere brush head. If you like the concept of using a facial cleaning device that uses sonic technology but don't like the concept of using a brush, I have two alternatives to share thoughts on today. I was fortunate to receive samples of a few devices to test, one is the Foreo Luna Mini ($139) and the other is the Le Mieux 4-in-1 Ultrasonic Anti-Aging Skin Perfecter ($189).


First up is the Foreo Luna Mini ($139) in Cool Grey. This is an ultra compact cleaning device that gives the skin a deep cleanse with something called T-Sonic technology. These are pulses that are delivered through the silicone brushes to your face which helps loosen dirt, oil, dead skin cells and makeup residue in the skin.

The Luna Mini device channels 8,000 T-Sonic (transdermal sonic) pulsations every minute. For those who feel that brushes are too harsh for the skin, the quick-drying, non-porous silicone cleansing brushes offer a more gentle alternative. When testing this, I preferred to use a two-step double cleanse for evenings. I first removed all my makeup with cleansing water or cleansing oil (right now loving the Bioderma Sensibio for the dry weather and my sensitive skin). Then I followed with a regular cleanser and this device. I tested this with the cleansers I already owned, I found the ones with a creamy finish worked better than gel cleansers. The thicker ones just lathered up better for a deeper clean when using the Luna Mini.

There are two speeds with this device, I found both gentle enough for my skin and didn't really have a preference for either one. I have small hands but long fingers so with this one I did find there was a slight learning curve to learn how to hold this without feeling like it would slip through my fingers. I like that it's super compact and completely waterproof. A huge bonus is that a full charge is supposed to last up to 300 uses (they say about 5 months) which I think is really impressive. I haven't used this that long (only a month now), but will report back after testing it.

Three of my favorite cleansers I used this with: First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser With Red Clay, First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser, and Amore Pacific Treatment Cleansing Foam (mini from the Moisture Bound Oil-Free Set).

The device is designed for all skintypes. There are different kinds of brushes on the device, the front has thinner touch-points gently cleanse sensitive or dry skin. The description says the backside has broad touch-points to refresh oilier skin on the back. I tried both and prefer the front - it's more flexible and more gentle on the skin.

After testing this for a month 2-3x per week instead of the Clarisonic, I've found it to be a really good alternative to the Clarisonic. The silicone is very gentle on the face but still really effective. I like that it seems more sanitary compared to the brushes although I've never had issues with the Clarisonic brushes (I spray them regularly with alcohol). It does make the skin feel cleaner and less oily around the nose. If your skin is prone to irritation from brushes this is an excellent alternative. I really like the compact design. I think it will be really easy to carry while traveling. Right now Foreo is having their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale, all devices are 25% off (no code needed). If you've been eyeing this, now is a great time to save.

Next up is the Le Mieux 4-in-1 Ultrasonic Anti-Aging Skin Perfecter ($189 at QVC). I was really hesitant to try this tool because it looks like a skin scraper. I watched several demonstration videos before braving this and am really glad I did. This is a device that gives the face a micro-massage through 28,000 ultrasonic vibrations per second. It cleanses, tones and stimulates the skin to allow for a deep clean.

This is a 4 in 1 tool because it's a cleanser, exfoliator, extractor and infuser. This chart from Le Mieux explains everything better than I can so I've added a screen shot. I've tested this since September using it 1x per week to really put it to the test and see if it worked as described. I have used this as a second or third cleanse step as well. You only need to add water to your face and then use the device, but I prefer to clean the skin entirely and remove all traces of makeup. This is gentle enough for my skin - it glides along the face easily, no tugging at all. I think it's been really good for my skin in terms of exfoliating the sides of my face and along the chin. It really does help clean out the pores - especially along the sides of the nose and chin (my problem areas).

Here's a close up of the device. There are three settings, Lo, Pulse and Hi. I like to use the Lo setting. Hi was ok too, just too intense for my skin on super sensitive days. If you read the user guide there are lot of different ways to use the device. My preference is to keep things simple, I used it with the lo setting and as a cleaner/extractor starting from the center of the face moving outwards.

If you watch the demonstration videos on it will make sense to see how this works. For now I have a few photos demonstrated on my hand. Wet the skin with water, turn on the device and the move it along the skin.

Moving it will result in a super fine mist that comes from the device. It's the sonic pulses moving along the skin and water to help clean out the oil and dirt from your pores. I found it really cleaned out the pores along the nose. It's helped keep skin clearer and works as a super gentle extractor. For areas I've had some dry patches and flakes, it's gently removed the layer of dead skin without ripping or breaking the skin.

Both are really good skincare discoveries for me. If you're one who prefers at-home treatments rather than regular facials, these are good DIY kind of devices that you can use in between treatments. Both are on the expensive side but have made a significant noticeable difference in my skin. I like that they are both compact and don't take up a lot of bathroom or shower space. They both seem to be travel-friendly as well.

I had my husband try both and he still prefers his Clarisonic Alphafit by far (review here, also Clarisonic is also having a sale this weekend, 20% off all devices with code CYBERWKND, ends 11/29). He says hands down if you're looking for a good gift for the men in your life, the Clarisonic Alphafit is something he highly recommends. It's something he doesn't think guys would normally get for themselves, but it's something they will definitely use and like if gifted. (I bought it for him and he uses it every day.)

For me, I still haven't decided whether I prefer the Foreo or Clarisonic. My husband has expressed multiple times that he doesn't like my Clarisonic Mia 3 because he finds it big and bulky. After testing the Foreo, I do feel the Clarisonic is a lot bigger, but it's a different concept and design so I don't know how it could be designed to be more compact. I do think for Clarisonic there is a big gap between the texture of brushes - I like the Cashmere brush but many have said it doesn't do anything for their skin. The Foreo is a good one because I do think it's more universal to fit more skin types and sensitivities.

Foreo devices can be found at a number of different retailers like Nordstrom and Sephora, but right now there is a 25% off sale at until 11/30 (no code needed). The Le Mieux 4-in-1 Ultrasonic Anti-Aging Skin Perfecter can be found at

Have you tried either Foreo or Le Mieux? If yes, what do you use and what are your thoughts? Would love to hear input on the Foreo cleansers or if you've tried any of the other devices.

Both the Foreo and Le Mieux devices were provided as press samples for review consideration. As always, all opinions my own.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Tatcha Holiday Gifting / Friends and Family Sale 11/27 to 12/6

Tatcha has some of the most beautiful gift sets and the ones for this holiday are even more stunning than ever. If you're looking for something extra special, you can't go wrong with anything in their holiday lineup. Right now Tatcha's Annual Friends and Family Event is happening where you can save 20% off everything through 12/6 with code FF2015 at checkout. Last year the sets sold out very quickly - if you have your eye on any I suggest you order soon.  Today I have three gift sets to share.

First a bit of some background on my Tatcha loves. I have very sensitive skin that is prone to flaring up and react to a number of skincare products or foundations. Tatcha has been a regular go-to for me to help keep my skin clear and glowing. It's also a great line to help calm my skin with flare ups. When my skin goes crazy, Tatcha is one of the few lines I can use while my skin is recovering because everything is gentle but still very effective. If you have extremely sensitive skin, I can't rave enough about how much I love this line.

The packaging this year is simple but exquisite. Each one comes beautifully wrapped - the paper and gold ties are gorgeous!

If you're new to Tatcha or have a friend who is looking for new skincare, the Hakken Special Introduction Set ($95) is the best trial set because it has a little bit of everything. This is a 6-piece set with travel sized skincare items customized to suit your skintype. There four options in Combination, Dry, Sensitive and Oily. Each set has a slightly different variation of products. The one I have featured is the one for combination skin it includes travel sizes of:
  • Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil (25 ml) - one of the best cleansing oils I've tried that removes all face makeup, but leaves the skin soft without any film
  • Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder (10 g) - the gentlest of exfoliators, it's a water-activated powder that thickens into a cleanser
  • Radiant Deep Brightening Serum (10 ml) - a super gentle serum
  • Supple Moisture Rich Silk Cream (10 ml) - great for the days I'm extra dry
  • Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen SPF 35 (10 ml) - my holy grail sunscreen
  • Ageless Revitalizing Eye Cream (3 ml) - the perfect eye cream for everyday (I've been relying on stock-piled minis that come as a promos with online GWPs)
You can buy all the travel sized items individually which is nice for travel or to test something out before committing to the full size. If you were to buy all the items individually the retail price would be $141, so you are getting a good value when you purchase this as a set. Each gift set comes with a beautiful description sheet.

Quick snapshot of the items in the Combination Set. Do note you can select different options online for this exact same style/format. The items will vary slightly depending on whether you pick Combination, Dry, Sensitive or Oily. Do note all items come in their individual boxes with product ingredients, directions - everything is well packed and protected to make sure the items arrive in perfect condition.


Next up is the Hitomi Bright Eyes Set ($149) which has 4 Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Masks and one 15 ml size of the Ageless Revitalizing Eye Cream. The retail value of the kit is $183 so as you can see, the set does give you a price break. The eye masks are one of my favorites to soothe, hydrate and depuff eyes. When I bloat, have allergies or get headaches, my eyes are always the first area to get swollen (my skin is kinda high maintenance). I swear by these eye masks to remove signs of puffiness. Full ingredient list and description here.

The Ageless Revitalizing Eye Cream is something I was skeptical about since I'm super picky about eye creams in general. I don't like any greasy feel but at the same time many gels just don't do the trick to give enough hydration. I put the Ageless one to the test for night time first. It does take a little bit of time to see results, but with regular use I think it really does improve the texture and brightness of the eyes. A little goes a long way so you only need a tiny bit. I love that it's non-irritating and doesn't sting the eyes.


Last but not least, one of the most impressive gift sets is the Complete Travel-Size Kiri Set ($375). This is an 18 piece set that includes Tatcha's entire lineup of travel-sized products (16 items) plus a roll of the Original Aburatorigami Beauty Papers and the Gold Camellia Nourishing Lip Balm. I broke down the price of all the contents which total $392. The savings isn't quite as much as some of the other sets, but it comes in a beautiful large box tied in a beautiful purple wrap. I almost didn't want to show you what it looks like inside because I feel like I'm ruining a surprise, but wow, it's quite a sight to behold. Below shows a mix of the product with the boxes. Everything in the set comes boxed and padded with beautiful tissue paper. I think this set is absolutely perfect. You can see the full content list online but to recap, it contains:
  • Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil (25 ml)
  • Polished Rice Enzyme Powders in Classic, Gentle, Deep and Indigo (10 g each, review here and also here)
  • Radiant Deep Brightening Serum (10 ml)
  • Supple Moisture Rich Silk Cream (10 ml)
  • Ageless Enriching Renewal Cream (10 ml)
  • Ageless Revitalizing Eye Cream (3 ml)
  • Luminous Deep Hydrating Firming Serum (10 ml)
  • Luminous Dewy Skin Mist (12 ml)
  • Gold Camellia Beauty Oil (10 ml)
  • Gold Camellia Nourising Lip Balm (8 ml)
  • Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter (30 ml), Hand Cream (10 ml), Triple Recovery Cream (10 ml) (all three currently favorites in rotation as my skin is recovering from a bad allergic reaction right now)
  • Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen (10 ml, review here, I love this one)
  • Petal Fresh Clutch Ready Aburatorigami Beauty Papers (review here)


Shop all their gift sets here. If you're the kind who wants to pick out your own items separately, Tatcha has a cute option to create your own Custom Travel Gift Set. You pick three items and they will package it in a zip pouch for you. There are a number of helpful customer reviews on their website, many have helped me order items. I haven't tested everything from the line but am looking forward to trying a lot of the face creams from the travel set. Of the items I have tried though, my top five picks include:
  • Original Aburatorigami Beauty Papers - the best blotting papers to absorb shine, they won't disintegrate when they blot nor will they leave any powder residue on your face
  • Pore Perfecting Sunscreen - the best sunscreen that's super gentle and really does make your pores disappear like magic (I like this as a foundation primer too)
  • Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream - best instant soothing hand cream for irritated skin
  • Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter - same for the body
  • Rice Enzyme Powders either in Classic or Indigo - the most gentle face exfoliating products I've tried to clean the skin and gently remove dead skin
If you want to go all out Tatcha has the Complete Kiri Collection, similar to the Hakken set above in the sense that it's also customizable by skin type. This one has has full-sized items. The sets are priced at $650. The most luxurious splurge of all is the Tabi Ultimate Journey Set which has a selection of full sized items packed into a hand-finihsed calfskin suitcase line with genuine kimono fabric. This one is priced at $1,800.

Bottom line lots to love with a wide variety of options at different price points. All the gift sets for holiday are limited-edition and exclusive to Whether you're looking to treat yourself, stock up on staples, or find a beautiful gift - there's lots to choose from and the Friends and Family Sale is a great time to save. You can take advantage of the 20% off savings now until 12/6 with code FF2015 at checkout.

Do you have any Tatcha favorites? I actually discovered the line because readers recommended it to me! I've been thrilled ever since I tried the Camellia Lip Balm.

Many thanks to Tatcha for sending the gift sets for review.


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