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

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Winter Skin and Hair Savers

It's that time of the year where my skin and hair is in desperate need of that extra boost of moisture to fight dry patches. Finding lightweight moisturizing products can be a bit of a challenge for my sensitive skin. My nose is particularly sensitive so light-fragranced items are a must. My go-to fixes and staples this season right now:
  • Aerin Rose Hand and Body Cream $40 is a lovely light-scented hand treatment, it's a bit pricey for me to justify using on the body, but it's a nice moisturizing cream for the hands. It smells like candied roses which is really nice (coming from a person who doesn't really like strong rose florals).
  • Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Intensive Smoothing Hand Cream $55 is probably the priciest hand cream I own, I was lucky to get this as a gift with purchase one year. It smells like a spa treatment. It's a bit heavier than most hand creams I use but it dries down to a soft silky finish. It helps diminish those dry lines in the hands upon application. Read the reviews on and you'll see this is well worth the price.
  • L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Lotion for Hands and Body $20 is the perfect body lotion for me. I've gone through five bottles already and keep one at work and one at home. I'm a huge fan of L'occitane's Shea Butter line. They have several different options of moisturizing intensity depending on your skin needs. I like this one because it melts into the skin and makes any itchy dryness disappear without being too greasy. I love the lightweight scent - it's very soothing and comforting. It's neutral enough to be unisex. My husband and male co-workers always borrow mine.
  • Caudalie Divine Oil $49 is relatively new to me. I've written about the mini size that I've tried which is perfect for the purse. I loved it so much I bought the full size in the trio set. I spray it on the legs and elbows. It smells fresh and light and feels nice on the skin. It's also designed for the face and hair - I've only tried it on the ends of my hair to add a bit of shine (although I prefer other hair treatments).
  • Jo Malone Vitamin E Lip Conditioner $25 is one of my favorite lip treatments. Review here. It's soft, moisturizing and you can feel the results instantly.
  • Jo Malone Vitamin E Vitamin E' Body Treatment Scrub $90 is the ultimate luxury body scrub. It's a spa in a tub and smells like a luscious honey dessert. It's strongly scented and extremely moisturizing - if you visit your local Jo Malone store or counter they should be able to make a small sample for you to try. It's really REALLY amazing.
  • Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil $20 is one of the first cuticle oils I've tried. In the past I've tried substituting baby oil but found it hasn't really helped my dry cuticles. This one is made of pure white jojoba oil, vitamin E and coconut oil (it smells like coconuts). It works well on my cuticles and a little goes a long way. Be careful to keep application to the cuticles as it can feel a bit sticky on the finger tips. The texture is perfect to actually stay on the cuticles (versus some oils that are so liquid/fluid they roll off quickly).
  • By Terry Baume de Rose $60 review here. My holy grail lip treatment, but still a three way tie with the Jo Malone and Hourglass.
  • Drybar The Chaser Shine Pomade $28 is the hair cream of all hair creams. It adds shine without being too heavy or greasy looking on the hair. I find it lasts all day long. I've used it a couple of ways. One is right after I shower on towel-dried damp hair. This is the only thing I've tried that lets my hair air dry perfectly without any frizz. It makes the perfect pre-heat treatment as well (whether it's blow drying or straightening). I also find it makes a great finishing product to add a bit of texture and shine. Bonus is that my husband likes it on his hair as a pomade (even though it's really a cream). The smell is incredible too.
What are you winter skin and hair savers? I'm all ears to hear what your favorites are!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Le Métier de Beauté Ultra Hydration Eye Mask Duo

Press Sample        

Le Métier de Beauté's latest in skincare is their Ultra Hydration Eye Mask Duo ($150 for a set of 8 duos). They kindly sent one duo to test. The Ultra Hydration Eye Mask Duos come in individually sealed packets. Inside are two seaweed-based discs cased in a thin tray. The discs are shaped to fit the under-eye area and are designed to be placed under the eye area for 15 minutes. Le Métier de Beauté says that these eye masks will hydrate, re-energize, restore, diminish redness, sooth lines and reduce under-eye puffiness. How did the masks hold up for me? This is what I experienced:

I applied these Sunday morning after cleansing my face. The packets have a convenient peel-back corner making them easy to open, however the design of the discs in the tray seemed to be on the delicate side so I recommend opening on a solid flat surface. The discs themselves were flexible and easy to apply and felt like second skin. Upon application my eyes felt an instant soothing cooling sensation. I liked that they adhered well to the skin without feeling tight. I don't think I've ever felt anything this good on my eyes - 15 minutes later I didn't want to take the discs off (but I did). I'm at the stage in my life where I don't have under-eye wrinkles or lines (yet) but in the mornings I do have extra under-eye puffiness so I am religious with my morning coffee or espresso to help me wake up and reduce puffiness slightly.

The main difference for before/after was in the overall feel of the under-eye area. My eyes felt well-hydrated and significantly less puffier than they normally are in the mornings. I suspect that the eye mask performance is similar to other skincare items in the sense that you can only really measure the impact to one's skin after extended use. Still, the way the mask felt on my eye blew me away. While the price is a bit steep at $150 per set of 8 (breaks down to $18.75 per duo) I am ready to splurge on a full set. These are packaged conveniently to easily slip into one's purse or gym bag. The way these de-puff make these a must-have for me for beauty emergency or work/stress meltdown situations. (I could have used one of these about six months ago at work.)

As far as I know, these have hit stores now. They are expected to be released online soon (will update when I find out more information). Are these must-haves? For me yes - I will be ordering soon (I'm waiting for a counter to have a really good gift-with-purchase promotion). The ingredient listing below:

A few other things from Le Métier de Beauté that might interest you:
  • There's an 18-pan eye shadow palette coming out for spring, retailing for $95. It has a mixture of previously released shades and new colors. I have yet to see it in person but Scott Reyes from Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills kindly sent me a few photos from his counter.
  • In addition, Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills released two exclusive lip crèmes last year called Bloom (flesh-cream nude) and Catherine (pale champagne frost), $36 each. I called them a few days ago and they still has some left in stock. I haven't reviewed them, but I will include a few photos below. From my testing - these are VERY nude and pale. For me they work best when mixed with other shades. For more detailed info and excellent reviews, I highly recommend you check out Beauty Professor and Cogitation Project.
Palette photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills. Gloss photos my own.
All items are limited. (Click for larger viewing.)

Neiman's Beauty Week is coming up on the 23rd of February. If you're interested I recommend calling soon for a pre-sale. I'd recommend Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills (310) 550-5900 Ext. 2087/2027 (especially if you're interested in their exclusive glosses) and ask for Scott Reyes. Tell them I sent you!

Have you tried Le Métier de Beauté Ultra Hydration Eye Mask Duo? Or other Le Métier de Beauté skincare items? What were your thoughts?

This post contains a press sample sent free of charge for review. For additional information please refer to the About/FAQ section.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Current Skincare Routine

Many have asked me to share my skincare routine. I had plans to write about it earlier in the summer, however just when I was ready to publish the post, my skin decided to act up (about 3 months ago) and certain problem areas would not clear up. I thought it could be attributed to stress or weather changes. I tried a number of different things: I drank more water, changed my eating habits, washed my brushes and pillow cases more frequently etc. After several months of no improvements, I decided it was time for a skincare change. My prior routine consisted of: Clé de Peau Beauté's Gentle Cleansing Foam or Clinique's Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser, La Mer's The Tonic, Clé de Peau Beauté Eye Cream, Le Métier de Beauté Peau Vierge Day Cream, and Koh Gen Do's Cleansing Water (plus the occasional mask treatment). I suppose my skin became so used to holy-grails that the items became less effective (if that makes sense).
Thanks to the help of my trusted sales associates from various brands, I was given some recommendations and mini sample packets to try. In just a short time, my skin has cleared up and is almost back to it's normal blemish-free state. I also changed my foundation routine. My holy grail loves started to seem a bit heavy (but still amazing).

My current skincare routine is split up into two categories, The Basics and The Extras. I'm not a skincare expert and unfortunately can't elaborate on the benefits of each product, nor do I have the ingredients listing on the items. This is a list of what works for me. I'm hoping others who have tried the same can chime in the comments below. Also check out Makeupalley Product Reviews - this is an excellent resource.

The Basics:
  • Morning Cleanser - Clé de Peau Beauté Gentle Cleansing Foam ($63) is one of my holy grail cleansers, it's a gentle foaming cleanser, a little goes a long way leaving the skin feeling clean but not dry. I've repurchased this numerous times.
  • Night Cleanser - Dior Purifying Foaming Cleanser ($33) was recommended to me by my local Dior artist. The Cle de Peau became less effective for me, so she recommended that I try this one from Dior. I found it to be amazing in terms of really purifying and cleansing the skin. Given the weather changes, I found it to be a bit too stripping for both morning and night, I like to use this one in the afternoon/night because it removes the makeup better.
  • Toner - Giorgio Armani 'Regenessence 3.R' Pre-Regenerative & Retexturizing Lotion ($48) is a gentle toner that works to refresh the skin and noticeably improved my skin texture. I have not purchased this item yet, I received a generously sized sample in one of the Neimans Armani Gift With Purchase sets (they have generously sized skincare samples). So far it's lasted me 3 weeks and counting. I intend on purchasing once it's used up.
  • Moisturizer/Serum - Giorgio Armani 'Luminessence' Bright Regenerator Concentrate ($150) is a brightening concentrated serum. I actually really liked some of the creams by Armani but my Armani artist felt that they would be too heavy for my skin and age (31). He personally said he loved the Luminessence Concentrate and used it under makeup alone (no other moisturizer or creams, other than eye cream). He made a small sample for me which I've been testing. So far I love it. I'm waiting for a gift with purchase event before I buy since it's pricey.
  • Eye Cream - Clé de Peau Beauté Intensive Eye Contour Cream ($250) was gifted to me by Cle de Peau and Neiman Marcus a year ago. I had my doubts about it's effectiveness, but it's everything it says it is. I've tried a number of eye creams (Clinique, NARS, Shiseido, Chanel, Lancome, Dior) but am still at the stage in my life where eye cream isn't a necessity yet. I don't have under-eye wrinkles or creasing (yet). All women told me to start using eye cream in my early 20's so I did occasionally. I never saw any changes, nor did I feel anything different. The Cle de Peau is the first that I've actually seen and felt results. It fully hydrates the eye area and gives a smoothing finish with the moisture. It doesn't dry out and it isn't too greasy. It's the perfect prep for a bit of concealer under the eye because it primes the skin for a more natural look (sometimes concealer can look a bit cakey under the eyes, the CdP helps prevent that). My husband uses this too.
  • Essential Cotton - Shiseido Facial Cotton ($9.50 for 165 squares) is by far the best facial cotton out there. I've tried many other brands and nothing compares for me. The Shiseido is perfectly sized, very soft and gentle and sold at a decent price. They are more expensive than drugstore cotton but well worth every penny.

The Extras:
  • Cleansing Water - Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water ($39) reviewed here is my go-to for removing makeup from the face in the afternoon (before cleansing), it's also perfect for cleaning up eyeshadow-fallout around the eyes.
  • Mask - Koh Gen Do Brightening Moisture Mask ($75) is pricey but lasts a long time. I did a brief feature here before. To recap, this is a great purifying yet moisturizing mask. The Macro Vintage Face Masks are equally amazing, but the Brightening one helps purify while the Macro Vintage moisturizes and hydrates more.
  • Eye Makeup Remover - Chanel Gentle Bi-Phase Eye Makeup Remover ($32) is one of the few eyemakeup removers that really removes all traces of mascara without burning my eyes, Neutrogena's is also awesome but has a slightly more emollient feel.

I hope this helps give you ideas on what works for me. Everyone's skin is different so I can't say these will work for everyone. My skin is normal but sensitive. I try to keep skincare items I use minimal. Most of the testing has to be done over long period to see if it really works. I also usually test only one new thing at a time while keeping the rest of the routine the same to test the effectiveness of that one product (even though sometimes it's a combination of products that may make something work better). Also due to the pricey nature of skincare, I try to spread out my purchases. Most of the items are long-lasting with a little product going a long way.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weekend Pampering - The Extras

I've been to spas on a few occasions in the past and each occasion was beyond amazing (four visits to be exact, La Costa Resort and a few Four Seasons locations). However they can be extremely pricey and take up an entire day, so they are a luxury I cannot justify splurging for on a regular basis ($ or time wise). While nothing at home can replicate a resort spa, there are a few simple things I consider to be pampering extras. Bubble baths, luxurious face masks, beautiful candles and moisturizing lotions. It's my simplified version of a DIY spa treatment. Do note I have sensitive skin so I'm careful when it comes to trying shower gels, bath soaks and facial treatments. While I'd like to do this every day, I usually have a pampering night once every other week to once a month. I do try to use the face masks more frequently. My favorites:
  • Moisturizing Face Masks - Koh Gen Do is becoming one of my top picks for skincare. Their Macro Vintage Face Mask ($110 for 6 sheets) is the best I've ever tried. Most face masks did not do anything for my skin. This one by Koh Gen Do (reviewed here) left my skin feeling hydrated and soft like baby's skin. I split my pack of 6 with 3 friends to try, all confirmed that it was beyond amazing.
  • Clarifying Face Masks - Koh Gen Do's Brightening Moisture Mask ($75 for 3.53 oz. / 100g) is equally amazing. It's called a moisturizing mask, but to me it feels more like a clarifying mask. It is a clay mask that contains "6 botanical extracts in the mask will heal your tired skin, helping your skin to calm and reduce inflammation and redness." MAC's Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask was one of my favorite masks for clarifying and removing impurities. I was so sad that it was limited edition. Koh Gen Do's Brightening Face Mask is the closest thing I've found in terms of effect/benefits on my skin (minus the heating element on the skin). I highly recommend you visit their website to learn more. They have helpful diagrams and often have promotions/specials on their website.
  • Bubble Baths - L'Occitane makes some of my favorite bath and body products that are suitable for sensitive skin. I am currently loving the L'Occitane Shea Foaming Cream Bath ($32 for 16.8 fl.oz). The scent is very subtle and soothing. It bubbles up in a way that is very relaxing. It doesn't dry out the skin or leave any residue. There are reviews on their website which I found useful.
  • Shower Oils - I'm new to bath oils and shower oils. I've tried Jo Malone in the past and love them. L'Occitane had a gift with purchase promotion recently (for those who sign up on their mailing list) to launch their new Amande Almond Line. One of the gifts was a mini Shower Oil (see the details on the full size Almond Shower Oil here). It's a softening oil that foams up when combined with water and leaves the skin feeling smooth and moisturized without having that oily feeling. The scent is soft and subtle (but still noticeable). The effect is amazing. I'm not sure I'm 100% in love with the scent although it is extremely soothing and pleasant.
  • Hand Care - Thanks to a few of my readers who recommended I try Lush's Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter ($14.95 for 1.5 oz). I love it. The scent is a highly citrus lemon (smells a bit horrid to me) but it does fade a bit after a while. I use this more as a once a week treatment rather than everyday and it has improved the cuticle area for my hands. (For everyday I rely on L'Occitane Hand Creams they smell great and feel nice). I'm again going to refer you to the company website - I love it when brands and stores have sections with useful customer reviews. Also check out Daly Beauty's recent review (she sums it up perfectly!).
  • Candles - I love almost any scented candle Jo Malone, Diptyque, Henri Bendel, Tommy Bahama make my favorites. Occasionally you can get a free mini candle in gift with purchase events. A simple candle can add that extra oomph to the home or bath to make it feel more soothing.
What are your pampering extras?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Koh Gen Do Skincare

This review has been long overdue. I've been using a number of things from Koh Gen Do, Le Métier de Beauté and Clé de Peau and my skin has never looked better in my adult life. I first discovered Koh Gen Do at Barneys in Beverly Hills this past April. Upon researching the brand at home I learned more about their skincare and foundation via Into The Gloss. Since April I have fallen in love with their Macro Vintage Essence Mask (makes your skin feel like a baby's), their lipsticks, foundation and Cleansing Water (which I have also neglected to review). When I tried their foundation back in September, the artist at Barney's prepped my skin with the Macro Vintage Royal Massage Milk. I was impressed by how it made my skin feel renewed, moisturized, and seemed to help the foundation & powder last all day. Being a bit skeptical of skincare in general I wanted to test it out more before buying. I received a tiny sample that lasted a week and fell in love with the full intention of buying it on my next trip to LA. Before I had a chance to go back, Koh Gen Do kindly sent me a sample to review along with the Gommage Spa Gel. I'll be reviewing three items today: the Cleansing Water, the Macro Vintage Essence Mask and Macro Vintage Royal Massage Milk. Note that ingredients are listed on Koh Gen Do's website.

The Cleansing Water comes in two sizes: 300 ml for $39 and 480 ml for $52. At the counter I was also told the Cleansing Water Cloths are the same as the liquid just soaked into an organic cotton cloth. I purchased the 300 ml size and use it on a regular basis. It is rich in minerals, Yumura Hot Springs water and contains 6 extract herbs (Rosemary Leaf Extract, Sage Leaf Extract, Lavender Extract, Artemisia Princeps Leaf Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Ginger Root Extract) all of which help freshen the skin while cleansing. It's gentle yet effective. I use it in a number of ways. In the mornings when I am pressed for time, I will use this in lieu of washing my face with soap and water (very rarely though). At night, I will sometimes I will use it to remove my makeup before taking a shower. Other times I will use it after a bath or shower to remove any excess makeup that might not have been fully removed. It's designed to remove waterproof makeup, but for mascara and waterproof liners, I prefer to use something stronger, even though the Koh Gen Do water does the trick. In the few months that I've been using this I've been very impressed. I'm not sure I can tell the difference between the Koh Gen Do and Lancome Eau Fraîche Douceur in terms of performance. I do prefer the Koh Gen Do for the feel on the skin, but I like Lancome's packaging more.

The Soft Gommage Gel is one of the most intriguing products I've ever tried. It retails for $45 for 2.12 oz/60 g. For those who don't know what gommage is, it usually comes in a cream, gel or paste formula. It's applied in a thin layer to the skin and then is removed gently by rubbing. The gommage rolls (almost beads up) off the skin as you rub gently to exfoliate. I'm not one who has ever found a scrub I really love because I find using a washcloth to scrub is more effective while still being gentle. The Soft Gommage Gel is gentle enough for my sensitive skin and left the face feeling significantly smoother. The recommended use is to wash the face and dry with your regular cleanser. Then use a small amount and apply to a dry face and massage in a light circular motion (key note, be gentle when rubbing). After you rub, the product starts to feel like it rolls off with a slightly scrubby texture. Rinse with warm water. Recommended use is once to twice per week. I've been using this once every other week. I highly recommend.

The Macro Vintage Royal Massage Milk is a miracle in a bottle. I was sent the sample size for review which is currently not available for sale. The product in-store and online is $180 for 4.06 fl oz / 120 ml and it is worth every penny. This is a milky cream moisturizer with anti-aging micro-collagens that help plump and smooth the skin. At Barneys, the artist used 2 pumps to moisturize the skin. At first I thought it odd that he used this as a base moisturizer. I normally associate the word "milk" in skincare as a cleanser. After reading more about this on Koh Gen Do, I found there are a number of uses:
  • 10 Pumps As a massage cream (evening)
    • Give skin softness with the “Macro Beauty Massage,” Argireline which increases tone and improves texture with results similar to professional skin care treatments.
  • 5 Pumps Remove dead skin cells with milk (morning / evening)
    • After washing your face, use the Royal Massage Milk with cotton pads. Ingredients like lactic and malic acid gently clean off accumulated layers of dead skin cells and melanin.
  • 2-3 Pumps As a Moisturizer (morning / evening)
    • Use after Skin Lotion, massaging it lightly into the skin for moisture and protection.
I've only been using this as a day-time moisturizer alternating with Le Metier's Peau Vierge Day Cream. My skin feels more refreshed, less tight, and mid-day I don't get as oily in the T-zone (meaning less touch ups).

Overall I've been thoroughly impressed. I can't emphasize enough how much my skin has improved in texture, feel and general radiance. The cleansing water helps me in the mornings when I'm rushed and at night helps make sure that every trace of foundation and concealer has been removed. The soft gommage gel is a great exfoliator for the woman who hates most facial scrubs. The macro vintage royal massage milk helps hydrate the skin in the most luxurious-feeling way without feeling too heavy. None of the products have a detectable scent to me (a huge plus for me as I typically find Chanel and Shiseido skincare items too strong in scent).

Where to buy? I've purchased my items instore from Barneys in Beverly Hills. The brand is also available on, and I would of course recommend that you see if your local Barneys has this line. If you cannot try in person, I highly recommend you order directly from Koh Gen Do. If you browsing through their website you will find they offer samples, gift with purchases and sometimes promotional discounts (their masks were 30% off earlier this year for a short period of time). They have some great trial sets.

The Royal Massage Milk and Soft Gommage Gel were provided for review without charge.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Le Métier de Beauté Peau Vierge Skincare: Revitalizing Anti-Aging Day Crème, Revive Eye Concentrate & Daily Renew Cleanser

I've been carefully testing a few new skincare items from Le Métier de Beauté, Koh Gen Do and Clé de Peau over the past few months. I'm not one who is adventurous when it comes to trying new things for my skin due to sensitivity. I think it's a miracle that I've finally found some items that have dramatically improved my skin. I've been particularly impressed by Le Métier de Beauté Peau Vierge Skincare, a surprise to me since my skin did not mesh well with their Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Complexe Tinted Treatment (even though it's worked like magic on most everyone else).

A bit of background on my skin: My skin is overall normal but sensitive, slightly oily in T-zone, small pores. I just turned 30 this year and I haven't noticed any significant changes in my skin as I transitioned out of my 20's except that my usual Clinique Foaming Cleanser/La Mer Toner daily ritual just wasn't cutting it to keep my skin clear. I decided to try new things and this year I discovered Cleansing Waters from Lancome and Koh Gen Do and fell in love with the Koh Gen Do Macro Vintage Face Mask. Le Métier's Peau Vierge items have been incorporated into my daily routine now and has revitalized my skin. When it comes to skincare ingredients I'm at a complete loss. Anyone can give me a detailed lecture on various patented formulas, different ingredients and their benefits etc. but I get that glazed look after 4 words (literally). I highly recommend you read the review and commentary posted on Best Things in Beauty, her review is highly detailed and very informative. My attention is limited to three things: 1) is it safe? 2) does it really work? and 3) is this under $100. I don't like to spend a lot on skincare items that work the same as something much cheaper. I have had some experience with expensive brands like Revive, La Prairie and La Mer, but unfortunately, most of the pricey creams don't make a noticeable difference to justify the high price tag. Since I'm not well versed in ingredients, I'll refer you to Neiman Marcus's website for product information (linked below) and focus more on my experience and what these did for my skin. Now, for my experience with Le Métier Peau Vierge.

I was introduced to Le Métier de Beauté Revive Eye Concentrate ($175 for 0.5 oz/15 ml) by Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills back in August and was told it was "the best on the market" in terms of eye creams. I've never been a regular user of eye cream even though everyone (grandmother, aunts, mother, friends etc.) tell me it's an essential. I don't use eye creams because I cannot see a visible difference when I use them. Still I decided to try it with an open mind. The Revive Eye Concentrate comes in a pale pink cream formula that is smooth and creamy but not too thick. It feels noticeably moisturizing and once it sets it feels weightless. I did not notice any fragrance. The Eye Concentrate works well to smooth the eye area and does improve the overall texture under the eye. I don't have any wrinkles yet, except when I smile, under the eye shows some creasing. This cream has helped with dryness under the eye area to help the elasticity of the under eye area. At this time I can't say this is a life-changer, but then most eye creams haven't demonstrated a noticeable difference for me. This does help minimize the look of fine lines though.

During Beauty Week Le Métier counters handed out sample packets of the Revitalizing Anti-Aging Day Crème. I decided to give it a try and found the sample packets useful to take with me while traveling (one packet lasted me an entire week with some still left over). I loved it so much I purchased the full size ($285 for 1.0 oz/30 ml) during beauty week. This is a lightweight cream that goes on a moisturizing lotion. There is a slight scent that is hard to describe, but it's very faint and smells clean. A little goes a long way. The first few days of use resulted in a visible skin purge. Break outs surfaced and there was redness and I had peeling as it was working its way under the layers of skin to purge. Still there was no stinging or irritation, I decided to give it a few days since I was told this would renew the skin. After the first few days of ugliness, my skin was then transformed in an amazing way to be noticeably clearer and smoother and felt like it was glowing. Those tiny bumps on the cheeks from buildup are gone and the overall appearance is a 100x better. I don't use this everyday because I think everyday use would be too strong for me but this cream has worked like nothing else I've tried. (It's amazing!) I currently alternate with Koh Gen Do's Royal Massage Milk (review to come soon) for daytime only (I don't use anything at night). It's worked wonders for my skin. If you can get a sample packet I highly recommend you try it out. (Update: Just to clarify, the surfacing breakouts was a good thing for me with this cream because it renewed my skin by drawing out all the buildup and then my skin started to peel a little bit for a short time period of 1-2 days as it almost rejuvenated my skin, this didn't cause breakouts per se, but rather helped renew/revitalize/clarify my skin condition, hope I didn't confuse anyone!)

My local counter kindly made me a small sample cup of the Daily Renew Cleanser (which lasted 3 uses) and I was hooked. It comes in a squeeze bottle ($50 for 4.0 oz). It's a yellow-orange gel with orange and white beads. Gentle and effective, it's almost a scrub-cleanser hybrid. I do not use this everyday but alternate with Cle de Peau's Gentle Foaming cleanser but it works well to smooth the skin and exfoliate gently. It has a soft citrus-orange scent and lathers well to deep clean the skin. I find that it does renew radiance after use. I like this better than traditional scrubs which I find too harsh for my skin.

Overall, I really love what the Le Métier de Beauté Peau Vierge has done for my skin from using the day cream and cleanser. The eye cream feels pleasant but I haven't noticed a visible difference from use yet. I did try the toner during a recent makeover but passed because it made my skin tingle (not in a good way). My local Le Metier artists did not recommend the night cream for me (said it would be too strong). The day cream has reached life-changing status for me but the hefty price tag has me wondering what I will do once I've used up one tub.

Have you tried the Peau Vierge line yet? What's your skintype and what were your thoughts?

The Revive Eye Concentrate was provided courtesy of Neiman Marcus/Le Métier de Beauté free of charge for review. All other items were purchased by me.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fresh Sugar Honey Lip Treatment

I've been a huge fan of Fresh body care products and especially love their shower gels. They are the ultimate luxury and epitome of feel-good beauty. I've never ventured much into their makeup but the last time I was at South Coast Plaza, my friend said I just had to check out the Sugar Honey Lip Treatment. "It's so you!" she said. After one swipe I was impressed by the pigmentation but the price of $22.50 combined with the fact that my tinted lip balms tend to gather dust in the drawer made me pass. Recently I was lucky to receive this as a gift. It is aptly described as "nourishment in the nude." The color is a wonderful warm natural nude. The lip treatment has SPF15 and contains ingredients designed to hydrate and defend the lips against wrinkles.

Here it is swatched on my hand and on the lips.

The store displays at the Fresh Boutique at South Coast Plaza are always beautiful, although I typically buy my Fresh products from Neiman Marcus (it's more convenient for me and they often have samples).

  • The pros: The pigment of this lipbalm is wonderfully rich. It covers the lip fully for a luscious nude glow. It has a great hydrating quality and smells absolutely delicious - like the name implies a sweet honey-sugary type of smell. An upside is the taste is fairly pleasant. Lasting power is average for a lip balm - the upside is that it fades evenly and naturally. (See Fresh's website here for ingredient listing.)
  • The cons: Unfortunately the texture of this product is so soft, after the first swipe, the product gets smashed against the side. It's simply too soft for a tube and after swiping it on the lips, the base broke (and I had only twisted it up a little). This was slightly heartbreaking. I think if it had a stiffer texture to prevent breakage or if this was packaged in a tub or squeeze tube it would have been an excellent purchase well worth the high price. For me, packaging is extremely important and lipstick breakage is a deal breaker for me. Yes, the product is still usable, but each time I twist the tube up, a mess is made on the side. I'm not sure if this is typical of all the Fresh Lip Treatments since I haven't tried the other shades.
Overall, I will have to give this a thumbs down just because of the packaging/product design flaws. If you've tried this - what are your thoughts? Have you tried other colors? What have been your experiences?

Disclosure - this product was provided as a gift to me

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chanel Ultra Correction Lift Travel Essentials Set - Update

I purchased Chanel's Ultra Correction Lift Travel Set back in April and many of you have been patiently waiting for an update. To recap, this set contains three miniature travel-sized versions of the Lifting Firming Day Cream SPF 15, Ultra Firming Night Cream, Sculpting Firming Concentrate retails for $175.

Before I review each item in further detail,  first a few things:

1) My skintype: I have normal but sensitive skin. During the summer months (like right now) it can get a bit oily mid-day in the T-zone but otherwise it stays fairly normal throughout the day into the early evenings. I don't have any wrinkles except for the forehead when I raise my eyes or make a funny expression.

2) Why I decided on this line from Chanel: There has been some debate about what line I should use. Different artists at different Chanel events usually suggest something different. All I've spoken too have agreed Sublimage is too strong. However, 1/2 of the artists recommend the Ultra Correction Line Repair to prevent wrinkles. The other 1/2 have commented that since my mother doesn't have any wrinkles I should use the Ultra Correction Lift. I've tried both at events and but could not see any difference from a one-time application. I tried the Ultra Correction Lift because this was the only option in the travel set.

To date, I've used up the Concentrate, I'm working my way through the Day Cream, and for the Night Cream, I've only used once. My thoughts on each:

Sculpting Firming Concentrate - This is the winner for me in this set. After daily use for several months this has substantially improved the clarity of my skin. Most days this is the only thing I've been using under my foundation and powder. This has a lightweight gel consistency with a subtle scent. The texture is lightweight but makes the skin feel softly moisturized (even though it's not a moisturizer). According to Chanel this is supposed to make the skin look "lifted from within." Does my skin look more lifted? I'm not sure I can say for sure. I personally love and use the Lift Lumiere Foundation even though I don't see much of a "lift."

Lifting Firming Day Cream SPF 15 - When I first tried this I found it too heavy. About 2 weeks ago I decided to give it another try. When this cream is applied over the concentrate, I found that my skin felt well prepped for a flawless foundation application. The concentrate + cream + Chanel's foundation = flawless smooth even skin. However there are two downsides. One, given the warm weather this is still too rich for my skin for right now. After a few hours, I find that my skin becomes too dewy for my taste and I need a touch up sooner than usual. Two, after a few weeks of using this, I find that my pores have become clogged and I have a few breakouts on the cheeks and nose area. Big thumbs down for me.

Ultra Firming Night Cream - I haven't used this enough to know if I like this or not. I really prefer to not wear anything on my face at night to let the skin breathe. I know a good number of women who use creams regularly their night-time skincare routine. For me right now, less is more. Given the fact that the day cream is too heavy, I am assuming this too will be too much for me.

Overall thoughts - This set was pricey at $175 but it was definitely more affordable than buying all three in the full sized options separately. I've used up the Concentrate and am currently relying on my mini-samples of this to get me through until I can bring myself to shell out the $165 for this. I like what it's done for my skin, but it hasn't done something so miraculous that I can justify the high price tag. As for the creams, I will not be purchasing and will most likely not continue use.

My never-ending quest for the perfect skincare regimen continues ...

Have you used Chanel skincare? What have your experiences been like?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lancome Eau Fraîche Douceur (Micellar Cleansing Water Face, Eyes, Lips)

I've tried a number of cleansing waters in the past from lines like Shiseido Pureness, Shu Uemura and Dior. Unfortunately the ones I fell in love with have been discontinued or reformulated and have been looking for another love for quite some time. I tried Lancome Eau Fraîche Douceur, a cleanser-toner, somewhat by accident. It was one of those weeks when I ran out of all my basics for skincare all at the same time. Not having time to shop and replenish that week, I dug into my sample drawer of unused minis from gifts-with-purchases. Lancome's Cleansing Water seemed to fit the bill for a quick-fix to tone and cleanse in one step. It was a last-resort kind of thing and I'm glad I tried it. It's done wonders for my skin and has reached the status of one of those life-changer beauty products for me.

Product Description: "Pamper and purify your skin with this refreshing cleansing water that instantly removes face, lip and eye makeup in one easy step. This magic formula with gentle Micellar Technology cleansing agents and soothing Rose de France, lifts and removes makeup and impurities, even waterproof and long-wear formulas, with no need to rinse."

This Lancome Cleansing Water currently retails for $35 for 6.8 fl oz (see more details on It's a gentle makeup remover for the entire face and comes in a sleek clear bottle with a well-designed pump.  The packaging is sturdy and easy to use. The pump dispenses just the right amount so nothing is wasted by over-pouring. Although it's designed as a makeup remover, I use this more as a purifying toner/cleanser.

Two pumps spritzed onto the cotton square is enough to cover the entire face. At $35 I find it fairly expensive for a makeup remover, but for a toner it seems to be decent priced. It will remove mascara and eyeliner, but not 100% for those long-wear formulas. For makeup removal in the evenings, I typically soak a cotton pad with a dual-formula makeup remover (something inexpensive like Neutrogena) to remove the eyeliner and mascara. I then cleanse the face completely with soap and water and dry. Next I tone. This is the point where I will sometimes use Lancome's Eau Fraîche Douceur instead of toner just to make sure any remnants of makeup left on the skin are completely removed.

For those who haven't read my skincare posts before, I have relatively normal but extremely sensitive skin.  I get red bumps or irritation from quite a few products. With this Lancome Cleansing Water, there was no irritation or drying from daily use of this product. There is a very faint scent which I would describe as "clean." I was amazed at how much extra makeup was removed from my face even after cleansing the skin with my regular Clinique Foaming Facial Cleanser. It clarifies the skin to make it feel clean but not dry. Some cleansing waters are too rich for my taste leaving a slightly sticky feel leaving a thin film on the surface of the skin. The Lancome leaves no film.

I've been using this since around March/April. I do not use it everyday, but alternate with my La Mer and Paul & Joe Toners. Since using this, combined with Chanel's Ultra Lift Concentrate (previously reviewed here, update to come soon), my skin has improved tremendously. It feels cleaner, there are fewer breakouts and it overall just looks and feels clearer. The mini 1.7 fl oz lasted quite a long time for me. Since using it up, I've kept the little bottle and refilled it for travel.

Overall: Highly recommend.

Side note, my current skincare routine includes:
  • Cleanse with La Mer Cleansing Gel
  • Tone with La Mer The Tonic, Paul & Joe Refreshing Skin Toner or Lancome's Eau Fraîche Douceur
  • Moisturize at day only with Chanel Ultra Correction Lift Sculpting Firming Concentrate or La Mer The Moisturizing Lotion

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Koh Gen Do Macro Vintage Essence Mask

I recently discovered Koh Gen Do at Barneys last month (see my review on the Maifanshi Lipsticks here) and was amazed how many raves and recommendations I received via comments and e-mails about this brand. I have taken note of all your recommendations so I know what to look for on my next trip to Barneys. I was fortunate enough to receive samples of Koh Gen Do's Macro Vintage Series. This line of skincare products have been designed to keep your skin healthy by increasing "elasticity, vitality & moisturization" that one's skin already possesses naturally. Although I am a minimalist when it comes to skincare, given the glowing reviews I've read, I was anxious to investigate further.

I received a sample of the Macro Vintage Essence Mask. This comes packaged in a metallic box with 6 individually packaged face sheets and retail for $110 for the set. Each sheet contains 0.81 fl. oz. / 24ml of product. Those interested in this brand, note that there is a 20% promotion on the Macro Vintage Series on which expires on May 31st. See their website for more details.

Product Description: The face mask comes in a sealed pouch soaked into a thick sheet which you apply directly to the face. The ingredients work to hydrate going deep into the layers of your skin. According to Koh Gen Do, these masks contain plant essence gels:

"The unique ‘Moisturizing Skin Ingredients’ increase immunity, boost regenerating and anti-oxidizing powers by calming the skin and preventing moisture from being lost ...Micronetting created by nano-technology in the gel perfectly resembles the structures of the skin, allowing the moisture molecules to attach and hydrate deeper into the skin."

Product Ingredients:

Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Methyl Gluceth-10, Delinoleate, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Acrylated/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Potassium Hydroxide, Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Polianthes Tuberosa Polysaccharide, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Angelica Acutiloba Root Extract, Lecithin, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Glucosyl Hesperidin, PinusPinaster Bark Extract, PVP, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Beta-Glucan, Algae Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Algae Extract, Fullerenes

The mask with cut outs on the sides for easy adjustment to your face size and shape:

Product Application: Recommended usage is 1-2 times per week, but I see myself using this maybe once a month.

  • Fit mask over dry face
  • Leave on for about 10 minutes
  • Remove mask and blend unabsorbed emollient into the skin
  • Apply remaining emollients in packet onto eyelids, neck or décolleté

My Product Thoughts:
I am a huge skeptic when it comes to face-sheet masks. I've tried a few in the past which I found irritated my skin resulting in red splotches or left my skin overly-moisturized. Most I've found did nothing to improve the texture or feeling of my face. Yet, I received so many raves via e-mail about the one from Koh Gen Do I was hopeful for better results.

I applied this after I had cleansed and dried my face with Clinique's Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser. The mask seemed a bit large for my face but there were cut sections on the side which allowed for adjustment. The upside is your face is covered entirely, no spot is missed. The sheet was soaked with a heavy gel making the mask feel like it would fall off but it stayed put the entire 10 minutes I had it on my face. The scent is hard to describe, but I would call it a very light and clean refreshing scent. It covered my entire face and lids.

After ten minutes, I took the sheet off and rinsed my face with water to remove the excess and then gently dried with a towel. The results were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I have normal but sensitive skin that has recently started to look tired due to stress and neglect. (Yes, I'm not the best with my skin.) This mask gave me baby soft skin and left me feeling refreshed and moisturized yet perfectly clean. The gel left no heavy residue or sticky feeling. I've only had 2 spa facials before. This mask made my skin feel just as good as the Four Seasons facials. I see this as being useful for all skintypes. There was still quite a bit of excess product in the package - Koh Gen Do's recommendation is to use this for other parts of the face and neck. I discarded the excess both times I've used this, but I will have to keep that in mind the next time so I don't waste any good product.

This definitely makes the list of beauty-life-changers for me. The recommended usage is once per week. I only intended on using this once per month, but I've already used this mask twice since I received it. Once last week and once this evening. I can see that this might become an expensive habit.

I highly recommend you explore - there is a wealth of information on the brand history, product lines, how-to's for skincare, links to reviews and features from various editors and bloggers - all the goodies one would want to see about a brand, right on the brand website. I have not yet ordered online yet, my experience was at Barneys NY in Beverly Hills, but there seem to be quite a few promotions that are tempting me right now.

Have you tried Koh Gen Do's skincare before? I'd love to hear more thoughts on your experiences with this brand as I am anxious to make another run to Beverly Hills soon, maybe in the next couple months.

This product was provided to The Beauty Look Book without charge for review.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chanel Ultra Correction Lift: Travel Essentials Set

My skin recently had a mini freak-out session due to weather changes and work stress. My usual go-to items weren't doing anything to speed up the recovery and given the weather/seasonal changes I felt that my skin needed a change. (This happens around the same time every year and most of the time my skin clears up on its own.)

I spotted this cute set at Nordstrom a little over a week ago - perfect timing for me. New and limited edition, Chanel has released a mini travel skincare set in the Ultra Correction Lift formula. It retails for $175 with smaller trial sized items encased in a black zip pouch. As much as I love Chanel, my experience trying their skincare line hasn't been wildly successful since they discontinued my favorite Age Delay line. I have tried the Ultra Correction Lift and Ultra Correction Line Repair range during makeovers (Chanel will often give you a wonderful mini facial to prep the skin) but was never quite sold. I decided to give this line a second try.

The ingredients, description and benefits according to Chanel:
  • Sculpting Firming Concentrate (0.5 fl. oz. airless pump) "ELEMI PFA* Derived from a pure botanical found in Indonesia, the Elemi tree, for traditional use in healing, and purified to its most potent essence. The unique ingredient helps boost the production of tensin — providing benefits beyond those of elastin and collagen — to help rebuild and strengthen the supportive dermal network. Skin appears lifted from within.
  • Lifting Firming Day Cream SPF 15 (0.5 oz. jar) An anti-aging treatment with high-performing star ingredient elemi PFA* stimulates the production of tensin, improving the quality of skin's collagen and elastin fibers, and helping to improve their bonds within the skin to create a firm supportive network. Lush cream, luxuriously textured and delicately scented, delivers a very soft, matte finish, with ultimate comfort, for a visible lifting effect.
  • Ultra Firming Night Cream (0.5 oz. jar) High-performing star ingredient elemi PFA* stimulates the production of tensin, improving the quality of skin's collagen and elastin fibers, and helping to improve their bonds within the skin to create a firm supportive network. Velvety cream, luxuriously textured and delicately scented, intensely nourishes for a plumping and firming effect, specifically formulated for skin’s night function.
  • Comes with two mini black spatulas for the creams
I asked my sales associate how much of a "deal" this was so pulled out her calculator for the breakdown. We did it in a hurry but found the set was approximately the same price proportionally. Concentrate retails for $165, Day Cream retails for $150, Night Cream retails for $165. To buy all 3 items in the full size would have cost me around $500.

While $175 is pricey for skincare that might not work, it certainly was a lot more affordable than buying three full-sized items for $400+. I thought this was the perfect set for me to try out and test everything given a few raves from my friends.

Thoughts to date: I have been using these items since the 26th of March (so approximately 11 days). I've been using the concentrate and day cream everyday under foundation. With the night cream - I haven't been as disciplined and have only used it 3 times. I think I will need at least a full 3 weeks to make a concrete decision on how I truly feel about these. Skincare can take time to really take effect.

The first two days my skin became a bit red on the cheek areas, but I thought this could have just been to my own personal stress. I kept using it to see if my skin would improve. In addition, I got a sample of the new Express Lifting Firming Mask at the counter and tried that as well. After 11 days of testing my skin I have smoother softer skin. My disaster spots are almost gone. I don't know that I will see any lift as I don't really have any sagging areas yet on my face.

The Concentrate is a gel-like texture that applies smooth and non-sticky. My SA recommends patting it into the skin rather than rubbing, but I'm still more of a slathering-type of person when it comes to skincare. There is no detectable scent.

The Day Cream is on the thicker side with a slightly tacky feeling. It does dry down a little to be non-sticky. There is a noticeable scent which I cannot describe. It's not overpowering and fades within a few seconds. I have a highly sensitive nose and cannot stand strong fragrances in skincare.

The Night Cream is thick but smoother than the day cream with the same scent. I haven't been using the Concentrate with the Night Cream even though it is recommended. I personally would rather save it for the daytime.

I need a few more weeks to see if this is something that I like or if my skin is just simply getting better on its own. I will update in about a month with further thoughts. The packaging however is beautiful. The pouch is a decent size for travel and the black holder inside is easily removable so you can fit more items inside. The only downside is that is made of a nylon material which I think can get dirty easily if not careful.

Have you tried Chanel Skincare? If so - what have been your experiences? Any favorites? I've received countless samples of their Sublimage over the years - most of which I have gifted away. Every now and then I'll try one of my samples and I find it too rich for my skin. Still, they are nice to try and I can't tell you how many of my friends are always eager to take my unwanted samples off my hands.

FYI - a number of you have asked about my update on Vitalumiere Aqua foundation. It was reviewed in more detail a month ago, re-linked here for your convenience. Hope this helps!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Current Loves For June . . .

Paul & Joe Creamy Facial Foam
NARS Beverly Hills Multiple Tint
NARS Sertao Blush
NARS Cordura Eyeshadow Duo
Urban Decay YDK Eyeshadow
Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush
Bobbi Brown Shore Cream Eyeshadow
Chanel Nail Polishes
MAC Blonde's Gold Pigment
MAC Fleur Power
J.Crew Skinny Belts

* Sorry for the misspelling on the NARS blush, it's Sertao, not Serato

  • Paul & Joe Creamy Facial Foam - I tried this from a sample and finally purchased the full size. It's thick and creamy and cleanses the skin really well. Leaves the skin feeling clean and refreshed.

  • NARS Beverly Hills Multiple Tint - See more swatches and the review here, a nice swipe & go type of product, easy to use and blend, gives a pop of color, can't rave enough about these

  • NARS Sertao Blush - A pretty shimmery light golden tan

  • NARS Cordura Eyeshadow Duo - Great for a smokey bronzed eye look

  • Urban Decay YDK Eyeshadow - This is from the old packaging, a nice nude-taupey-bronze sparkle

  • Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush - This is from the Black Plum set, but is available in the regular brush handle, the most luxurious soft bronzer brush you'll ever find. Definitely worth the price even though it is pricier.

  • Bobbi Brown Shore Cream Eyeshadow - My perfect lids-but-better base, review here

  • Chanel Nail Polishes - Especially love Riviera (check out dupes here) and Orange Blossom (see the manicure here)

  • MAC Fleur Power - The perfect healthy warm pink blush

  • MAC Blonde's Gold Pigment - The prettiest wash of soft gold-champagne

  • J.Crew Skinny Belts - Simple, classic and makes a nice accent to the waist, now I just need to go back and find a black one

What are you loving right now? I always love reading your favorites.

*Update* I wasn't happy with the swatches for this post - I think they were a bit misleading because the lighting was off so I removed them so I don't confuse my readers. Sorry for any confusion!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Current Skincare Routine

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

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

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

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

This is what I'm using right now:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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