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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Kate Somerville Clinic on Melrose Place

I'm excited to share one of my latest discoveries in skincare today which is the Kate Somerville Clinic in Los Angeles. It's a hidden gem in Los Angeles and if you are ever in Southern California, I highly recommend you book a visit there. I was invited to the clinic for a facial treatment in early fall and had an incredible experience back in September. I've had about 5 facials in my lifetime usually tagging along with girl friends who know a lot more about skincare and treatments than I do. I've found facials in general to be a luxurious splurge, but not life-changing. My experience at Kate Somerville was what I will call life-changing though, it was hands down the best facial I've ever had with visible results immediately following the treatment. Right after the treatment your skin glows. For me, my skin maintained its glow for a week after the treatments.

The week before my facial, my skin had a freak-out. I had breakouts and a lot of red areas from irritation and flare-ups. The following day after my facial, my husband commented how much better my skin looked - all signs of redness were gone, my skin was glowing, swelling of a few pimples was dramatically reduced (and they magically disappeared within 2 days when it usually takes weeks to disappear and heal). My husband told me whatever they did it worked and he suggested I go back for regular visits since he knows how sensitive my skin is. I went back for a second visit about six weeks after my first visit (they recommend facials every 4-6 weeks depending on your needs and skin type). My skin has never looked or felt better.

I'll go through the steps that were done for my treatment, thoughts on products used, skincare I've incorporated since the facials and also take you on a tour of the beautiful Kate Sommerville space.

On both occasions, I had the Kate Somerville Signature Facial which is their basic facial treatment. It runs about 50 minutes long and on your first visit they have a detailed skincare form for you to fill out so the therapists can customize the treatment to your specific needs. Pricing on all treatments are listed here. My main skin concerns were issues with texture, flare ups, break outs, and anti-aging. They do perform extractions which I usually find irritate my skin and often make my face worse. On both occasions at the KS clinic, extractions were very gentle and there were no issues afterwards. Here is what I experiences in Q and A format, I hope you find this helpful! Throughout most of the facial a steaming device was above my face to help open pores.
  • What kind of facial did I receive? Was it a mix of treatments?
    • You received the Signature Facial, which is customized to your needs and skin concerns. This treatment begins with enzymatic exfoliation and extractions, and a customized treatment mask follows along with an acupressure massage. This is truly the best facial to receive when first dipping into the life-changing world of facials!
  • Can you highlight what treatments were performed? 
  • There were a couple of interesting tools used, one was a tiny needle and the other was a small vibrating tool used over the skin - can you tell me what those were?
    • Ashley used an Ultrasound machine for exfoliations, permeation and circulation. This helps with lymphatic drainage and exfoliation. Later in the treatment the High Frequency device was used, this helps bring oxygen to the surface of the skin, it kills bacteria and improves overall texture of the skin.
  • There were 2 products that felt active on the skin, can you tell me what those were?
    • A custom blend of exfoliation products were used which included ExfoliKate Intensive to eliminate dead skin cells and contribute towards a brighter complexion. This truly reveals glowing skin due to the Fruit Enzymes and Lactic Acid to renew the complexion. Ashley also used the DermalQuench Liquid Lift™ post extractions to oxygenate and hydrate the skin. This also helps neutralize any redness in skin, and instantly plumps fine lines and wrinkles.
  • At one point a Clarisonic was used, what was product was used with it? 
  • My skin had a lot of redness but after the facial, everything seems to have calmed down significantly, what was used to help decrease inflammation/redness? 
    • A customized combination along with Clinical strength professional products from the Kate Somerville line. The skilled massage followed by the Nourish Daily Moisturizer helps increase blood circulation and oxygen to the surface to the skin, which is extremely healing and calming. The EradiKate Sulfur Mask was used which helps tighten and tone the skin. It also reduces redness and inflammation.
  • My skin seems a lot smoother, what products during the treatment helped with this? 
    • Enzymes and acids to exfoliate are the key to a smooth complexion. Ridding the skin of dull skin turning over cells and nourishing the skin.
  • I know this probably depends on the skin type, age and treatments performed, but how often do you recommend facial treatments? 
    • Monthly facials are ideal for all skin types, 28 days to be exact. If a client has highly congested skin, I might suggest coming in every 2-3 weeks until the congestion is under control. If the skin type is normal, coming in every 4-6 weeks will do the trick. There are certain skin conditions that may require more frequent visits. Skin is like a road map - there are several routes you can take to end with optimal skin health. I like to customize the path for each client, to ensure that glowing healthy skin is the end result. 
A few of my favorite products from Kate Somerville along with some new discoveries I've incorporated into my skincare routine over the past few months:

  • Clarifying Treatment Toner is something I've had in rotation for a long time, it helps with post-acne scars and keeps the skin feeling clean and hydrated
  • Daily Detox Cleanser* is one of the few cleansers I've tried that really cleans out the pores but doesn't dry out the skin, I've used up the tube entirely ordered a replacement tube this past weekend
  • Age Arrest Anti-Wrinkle Serum* helps with fine lines, plumps the skin and feels ultra smooth, it helps me with oil control throughout the day and works well alone under foundation or moisturizer
  • LumiWhite Two Tone Perfector* was recommended for me to use as a spot treatment to help with dark spots, I've tried this on spots and all over the face, it's helped with brightening and spots have started to fade, although the fading is happening gradually (I've since purchased the D-Scar Serum to see if this works better/faster, I'll review once I've tested it)
  • DermalQuench Liquid Lift* is a something that was recommended I use instead of toner (after cleansing the face), it's an anti-wrinkle treatment that helps with wrinkles, improves skin texture, and uneven skintone, my skin has looked and felt a lot better after using this, it's worked wonders with redness and helped keep skin texture smooth
  • DermalQuench Liquid Lift With Retinol* (for night) is something I just started testing a couple weeks ago, I've used it as an alternative to other night time treatments to start since I wasn't sure how my skin would react, more detailed review to follow, but I wake up with smoother skin that is noticeably smoother to the touch
  • RetASphere 2-in-1 Retinol Night Cream* is one of the most gentle Retinol treatments I've tried, although so many of my readers have recommended I incorporate skincare with this ingredient, I have been hesitant to do so since past experiences with Retinol and Retin-A left my skin extremely red with lots of peeling and pain, this treatment from Kate Somerville is ultra gentle and has improved skin texture
Many thanks to the Kate Somerville team for allowing photos of the clinic. Here's a mini tour of the facility. The entryway is so beautiful:

Spacious and bright waiting room where you can browse the products by line:

Products on display with a tester unit:

Beautiful feminine interiors:

 A look at one of the treatment rooms:

Inside the room I had my facial:

I'm overall thrilled with my experience at the Kate Somerville Clinic. It's a 2-3 hour drive for me to get to Los Angeles, but well worth the drive for me, especially for a fun day trip. If you haven't checked out the clinic, I think it's a must. There are a number of different facials and treatment options, I'm still relatively new to most of them but if you've tried any, I'd love to hear about your experiences, feedback or recommendations on what else I should try.

If you're like me and are often overwhelmed by all the skincare options, hands on evaluation of your skin by a facial treatment expert with recommendations based on your specific needs is priceless. I often like to pick out skincare based on what I think I need, but it's always helpful to hear what the experts say. Out of all the items they've recommended, all have worked. I've purchased a few more items they marked on a recommendations list that I have yet to test out, but am really excited to.

Do you have any Kate Somerville favorites? Please share!

Facial provided compliments of the Kate Somerville team. Press samples indicated with a * beside the items listed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

NuFACE Mini Facial Toning Device

As I age I've become more aware of the effects of aging on the skin especially when it comes to wrinkles. This year I turned 34 and although I still have pretty good skin, I've started to notice wrinkles and creases form on my forehead develop, mainly from me making weird facial expressions that have caused creases over time. The good news is that the wrinkles aren't too bad yet. As I transitioned from my late 20's to 30's I noticed many of my friends the same age explore and try various treatments and procedures such as Botox, fillers, lip injections etc. I've seen some great results in my fellow girl friends but for me I get super scared with anything invasive so I've been more of an observer from afar.

I've been introduced to a few facial devices this year, one I've been trying over the past month is the NuFACE Mini Facial Toning Device ($199). This is a microcurrent device that is FDA-approved designed to give the face lift and contour and takes 5 minutes to use. I did a lot of research online before I testing it on my own face. I read dozens of reviews and watched several videos to learn more about the NuFACE brand and micro-current technology.

The NuFACE Mini Facial Toning Device is a smaller petite version of the NuFACE Trinity Device. I really like the size of the mini. It fits easily into the hand and works well for my face size. There device comes with a charger and a 2 oz tube of the Gel Primer which helps conduct microcurrents from the device to your face. The initial charging for the mini is 16 hours so you can't use it right away straight out of the box.

So first up are the basics: what is NuFACE and what do microcurrents do? I will say up front that I have no scientific expertise or background on microcurrents. Everything in this review is based on what I've read and watched. If you have any information to add, please do so in the comments. The NuFACE devices are described as follows:

"The NuFACE mini is a natural, noninvasive, anti-aging solution perfect for travel and for those looking for that first step into microcurrent treatments. This petite, portable microcurrent facial toning device is FDA-cleared for facial stimulation and gently works to stimulate the larger surface areas of the face to provide a five-minute facial lift. As we age, our body's natural current begins to slow down (just like our metabolism), leading to sagging skin, loss of contour and wrinkles. Microcurrent mimics this natural current and goes beyond skin deep to tone facial muscles while improving contour and skin tone, and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles."

In watching a number of videos and reading a few articles about this, microcurrents in the NuFACE device are low level currents that help stimulate muscles under the skin and help lift, tone and contour the facial tissues. It's described as a mini workout for your facial muscles, many of which aren't used a lot over time like other muscles which causes sagging. It works from the bottom of the skin layers up to lift up tissue in a gentle non-invasive way.

In addition clinical studies and research from NuFACE have shown microcurrent help stimulate ATP production, which is supposed to help stimulate structural proteins, such as collagen and elastin. More on microcurrent technology here.

The NuFACE mini is super easy to use. Simply press the power button in the middle and the device will light up. You can control the intensity of microcurrents to light, medium or intense. I have super sensitive skin and found the lightest setting sufficient. The medium setting felt a little zappy.

Close ups of the device below:

To use the device, it's recommended you use it on your face in sections. I've done mine in three sections, right half, left half, then forehead area, although my main focus has been on my forehead. It's recommended you use once a day although to start I've been using it 2-3x per week. You first clean the face with an oil-free cleanser to allow microcurrents to penetrate the skin. Oils can block the microcurrents. Then apply the Gel Primer over the section of the face you want to lift. I found that a thick and generous layer is needed. It helps the device glide over the skin, if you don't have enough on, it will stick to your skin.

A closeup of the Priming Gel applied on my hand so you can see what the consistency looks like:

Turn the device on until you hear a beep then apply in an upwards motion. On the sides of the face it's recommended you start at the bottom of your jaw and work upwards. For the forehead, start at the brow bone near the center of the face then work up and out. The demonstration video really is better than any written explanation.

In testing it over the past 30+ days I found it really does work. My first use took around 10 minutes because of my personal learning curve, but you can complete the treatment over the entire face in 5 minutes. After the first couple uses with the lowest setting the face feels noticeably firmer along the cheeks and especially on the forehead. I have been using this mostly on my forehead because I thought I would see the most results there. The forehead area is lifted and I can feel it especially along the brow areas. Skin is firmer and smoother. Wrinkles and fine lines are less visible. The effects are temporary but skin is supposed to improve over time with regular use.

A couple things to note, the device is not recommended for use on the neck (use it on the face only). It's also recommended you don't over-use it, limit to 1x per day. For quick reference, two other resources I found really helpful. YouTuber uppiesbeads59 has a good NuFace Demonstration. There is also a great in depth review with lots of helpful reader comments and insights on Lola's Secret Beauty Blog. Do note they tested different versions (mine is the mini) but both offer really good information about NuFACE and the effects of the device.

Overall I give this a thumbs up. It's one of my first steps towards anti-aging devices and treatments aside from regular skincare, serums and masks. I don't know that I will ever be brave enough to try Botox or other treatments - I suspect it might be a matter of time. If you would like to share any stories about your experiences I'm all ears. For now I'm thrilled I found something to help give my face some help with lift and contour without having something invasive or pokey. I am going to continue using it on my forehead on a regular basis. I use it 2-3 times per week in the mornings. Let me know if you want a 2-3 month update!

The NuFACE team has been kind enough to offer one mini to giveaway. It's open to all US readers 18 years or older. Simply enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you tried anything from NuFACE before? If so, what have you tried and what were your thoughts? If not, do you own any other facial tech devices that you use on a regular basis?

You can find the NuFACE mini Facial Toning Device for $199 in stores and online at Nordstrom, Sephora, Space NK, Neiman Marcus, and Standard color is the white and silver/gray. There is a Chic Black version (limited edition) available for the holidays in celebration of the brand’s 10th anniversary.

The NuFACE mini was sent as a press sample for review consideration. Device for giveaway also provided by the PR team. This post was not sponsored. As always, all opinions my own.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

L'Occitane Shea Melting Honey Collection Launches

Earlier this fall L'Occitane launched their Shea Honey Body Collection which combines the rich smoothness of Shea butter and the soft gentle scent of Provençal honey. The collection is exclusive to L'Occitane stores and online. I was a huge fan of some of the older honey items that they discontinued and was sad when it was pulled, but the items in the new collection are just as divine. There are six pieces in this collection covering bath, body, lip and hand care. I have four pieces to share a review of today.

The Shea Honey items smell like a soft sweet soothing honey. It's a warm and well-rounded kind of scent that is amazing. There is a very slight hint of floral to the scent, it's not overpowering like some honey scents can be. If you have an ultra sensitive nose and don't want any fragrance in your body products, I highly recommend the Shea Butter line. The Extra Gentle Lotion for Body and Hands has been a staple for years. I've repurchased so many times I've lost count. It's lightweight but super hydrating and good for sensitive skin.

There are two bath items in this collection. The Shea Melting Honey Soft Shower Gel ($20 for 8.4 fl oz) is a gentle body cleanser that lathers up nicely in the bath or shower. It has a thick consistency but foams up well to leave the skin feeling super smooth and well hydrated. I've had some dry patches on my legs this past week and this has really helped hydrate my skin. A little goes a long way.

There is also a Melting Honey Solidarity Soap ($3 for 1.7 oz, sold out online, but I did spot this available in stores still). I'm not a bar soap kind of girl, but L'Occitane is the one of the few lines I actually like and use for bar soaps. They have the best lather and are moisturizing but don't leave any film on the skin.

My favorite item in the collection is the Melting Honey Ultra Soft Cream ($36 for 3.4 fl oz). This is a super lush and soft cream that melts into the skin. It's like a body cream or body butter but with a much softer texture. It feels super emollient without any greasy feel. I'm completely obsessed with the formula. I hope L'Occitane expands this formula into other lines like the Almond and Shea Butter (they currently have it in the Rose Heart, Vanilla Bouquet and Zesty Lime). The Melting Honey Ultra Soft Cream has 10% shea butter.

Last but not is the Shea Melting Honey Whipped Hand Cream ($12 for .59 fl oz). I'm a sucker for hand creams that come in cute packaging and L'Occitane launches are always among my favorite. (Have you seen the packaging for the new Pierre Herme x L'Occitane launch? The hand cream trio to die for!!) The whipped hand creams come in an airy whipped formula that feels lightweight but is still super hydrating and creamy. The texture has just the right consistency where you feel moisturized but not greasy. It absorbs nicely into the hand and smells really good. The Melting Honey Whipped Hand Cream is made with 25% shea butter. The honey is very softening on the skin.

I'm thrilled with each item in the new collection. Everything is super hydrating which is perfect for this time of year but lightweight enough so it doesn't have any heavy feel. The best part about L'Occitane is that they have a wide range of body products to suit everyone's tastes. I buy the gift sets every holiday as Christmas gifts because they are beautifully packaged and never fail to make friends and family happy (even for the super picky ones that are so hard to shop for). I'm looking forward to seeing this year's holiday collection and sets in person. The Advent Calendar is the cutest set I've ever seen.

Have you checked out anything from the Shea Melting Honey Collection yet? If not, what are your L'occitane favorites? All the Shea Melting Honey items are exclusive to L'Occitane Boutiques and online. Also all pieces are limited-edition.

The Shea Melting Honey items were sent courtesy of L'Occitane for review consideration. All opinions my own.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Korean Beauty + Sephora

Korean Skincare is something that I've been interested in for a long time but found very complex and somewhat challenging for me to understand with the numerous steps and options. My friends have been raving about skincare items such as essences, pore packs, watery creams, overnight masks and sheer coverage balms and creams for a long time. Right now, Korean Skincare is trending now at Sephora and thanks to articles and shopping guides, they've now made the 10-step Korean Beauty routine easier to understand. As a beauty blogger I find it easy to navigate through cosmetic options, but for skincare, understanding the uses and benefits of creams, solid oils and masks are foreign to me. Sephora has an easy-to-follow Korean Beauty Guide with recommendations that I've found incredibly helpful. It's helped me figure out when and how to incorporate new items into my skincare routine. I've teamed up with them to share my thoughts on 10 Korean skincare items I've been testing.

I've split the items I've tested into category type. As always I would love to hear about your recommendations and loves. I purchased the Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Oil Free Essentials Set based on your recs and have been really loving it so far (review to follow once I've used it up).

Double Cleansing is a something standard in Korean beauty rituals. I usually double cleanse with a wide variety of cleansing oils, makeup removers or cleansing waters as the first step before using a traditional gel, liquid or cream cleanser because it is really the best way to remove all traces of makeup from my skin. I tried the Erborian Solid Cleansing Oil ($39) which is a solid balm cleanser that transforms into a oil when it comes in contact with your face. It comes with a small spatula to remove product. You massage it all over the face and then rinse with water and it turns into a milky lotion. It has a fresh almost green tea spa scent but isn't too strong. It does a pretty good job at removing makeup but I still think a follow up with regular cleanser is necessary. This leaves the skin feeling moisturized and clean. There's no film residue.

Another cleanser I tested was the Too Cool For School Egg Mousse Soap Facial Cleanser ($20). This is a whipped egg white mousse cleaner with egg yolk extract. It's a super gentle cleaner and the way it foams up makes it super fun to clean the face. The egg yolk combines milk proteins and amino acids to cleanse skin. It's supposed to dissolve oil while leaving the skin smooth and moisturized. I found it to be a really good gentle cleaner suitable for my sensitive skin. I like using it in the morning - it leaves the skin clean without stripping the skin and it also makes the face glow without looking greasy. I've found the way it cleanses my skin is really nice - skin feels more balanced throughout the day.

Next up is the May Coop Raw Sauce ($14-$43) which is an essence. This is similar in concept to the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. You use this on the skin applied with fingers or a cotton pad after cleansing and toning. I always feel this is an unnecessary step in the skincare routine but I am really impressed every time I am disciplined enough to use an essence. It adds moisture and glow to the skin and is supposed to prep the face better for skincare serum and moisturizer absorption. This is made of maple tree sap and cruelty-free. After testing this for a few weeks I have to say I am impressed. This far exceeded my expectations in terms of how it has transformed my skin. I don't use it everyday but it's made the skin feel more hydrated. Dry patches have disappeared. Skin does indeed absorb moisturizer better. A little goes a long way. I think it will be a staple for winter.

Another line I just started testing is belif. The True Cream Aqua Bomb ($22 - $38)is a lightweight gel cream moisturizer that is oil-free. It has a bounce to it. In general I really do not like gel moisturizers (I have made a few exceptions) because I feel they end up feeling sticky and too dewy. The belif True Cream Aqua Bomb has made it into the exception category. It's supposed to be designed for all skin types. For my normal, sensitive combo skin, this is a really nice lightweight moisturizer. I like that it really feels weightless. Skin feels smooth and there is no stinging sensation (I get that with a lot of gels).

Masks are a big deal with Korean Skincare. I tested three. First is the Dr. Jart+  Water-Max Sleeping Mask ($48). I prefer night creams to night masks because I usually don't like the feel of product on my face when I sleep. The Dr. Jart+ however is a super lightweight mask. It is a gel formula but doesn't feel sticky or leave any residue. It feels more like a lightweight lotion. I tested this on 1/2 of my face for a week to see if I could notice a difference between use and non-use. I can. You apply it at night and leave it on then rinse in the morning. The side I used it on looks more refreshed, smoother, plumper and more glowing.

The Erborian Waterlock Mask ($43) is another hydrating mask treatment. This also is a gel formula that feels like a thick jelly. There are a few ways you can use this. I used it as a 10-minute mask then rinsed off. This is one of the most gentle feeling face masks I've used that gives instant hydration. The moisturized feeling lasts after it washes off but there is no residue. It has bamboo sap and fibers designed to lock in hydration. There is a slight cooling feel that is very relaxing and soothing. It's a refreshing moisture mask that I have fallen head over heels in love with.

The third mask I tried was the belif First Aid Transforming Peel Off Mask ($34). This is the first peel off mask I've tried that peels off with water. I really like peel off masks but often time they are messy and don't peel off completely so I end up having to scrub residue off. This one you leave on for 15 minutes. When you rinse with warm water the dry mask turns into a peel off gel that easily peels off. It has lemon balm and white willow bark, which is a natural salicylic acid, which helps to clarify and soothe skin. After using this my pores disappear, skin feels ultra firm and smooth. I'm obsessed.

Pore Packs are new to me but I think if you try one new thing out of this roundup, pore packs should be one of them. Tony Moly Egg Pore Blackhead Steam Balm ($18) comes in an egg-shaped container. The bottom portion of the egg is filled with product. It's a self-heating balm designed to target blackheads by opening pores with the heat and then remove dirt and oil. I think it's a really good gentle treatment that makes a huge difference in cleaning out pores around the nose and mouth. It's not a dramatic kind of facial treatment. I like to use this sometimes in conjunction with a clarifying mask or regular cleanser after this. The Egg Pore Balm helps open up pores. When I follow with a mask it draws out impurities even more. The heating element is noticeable but super gentle.

The Caolion Pore Pack ($30) is a stronger treatment. If you have sensitive skin you might want to try it on spots first. I used it all over the face and while it was perfectly fine and left my skin looking so much better, it does feel extra tingly. Some might find the tingle too strong. The top half is a dark mask that is the hot portion called Premium Blackhead Steam Pore Pack. This is a stronger version of the Tony Moly and cleans out pores and exfoliates dead skin. It made my nose pores disappear almost 100%. Pores along the cheeks and sides of the nose were noticeably smaller.

Step two is the cool portion which is the Premium Pore Original Pack. It has a menthol element that tightens pores even further and soothes the skin. I have extremely sensitive eyes and the first time I used it, I applied the menthol too close to my eyes which made them tear. It didn't sting but the menthol is pretty strong. You can really feel it working on your skin and I was worried my face would be red and blotchy after I washed it off, but it left the face looking super smooth with all redness gone. If you have extra sensitive skin I would recommend using this more as a spot treatment on troubled areas.

Last but not least are two items called lightweight finishers. I've reviewed the AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact ($60) before and still love it. It has SPF 50 and protects against UVA and UVB. This is a very natural glowy product that melds into the skin unlike any other foundation I've tried. A huge bonus is that each pack comes with a refill so the price point to me is really reasonable. It's a your-skin-but-better kind of product. I do think you need to set with a powder.

I also tried the Dr. Jart+ BB Beauty Balm ($39) which comes in two colors, 01 Medium Light and 02 Medium Deep. This is a one-step beauty balm that gives natural coverage and evens out the skin. It's more pigmented than a lot of other beauty balms I've tried. I am a match to 02 Medium Deep which is on the greyish side but adjusts to my skintone right now. I think the downside to this product is the two colors make it hard to find a color match. If you can find a match, it's a nice smoothing product. It makes my face and skin look more youthful without being overly dewy.

I hope you found this roundup helpful! There's a lot I've tested and covered so I hope the categories helped break down the options by product type. My top three favorite items I tested in this round include the Dr. Jart+ Water-Max Sleeping Mask, Tony Moly Egg Pore Blackhead Steamer Balm and Erborian Bamboo Waterlock Mask although I did discover a lot of new things to love.

The Sephora Korean Beauty Guide and Posts on their blog The Glossy have helped me understand all the options better. Once I started to look at each product individually and incorporate them one at a time into my skincare routine it's all started to make more sense. The process of using Korean skincare still contains a number of steps, some of which are more complex than my basic routine right now, but I can see a difference in clarity, texture and overall glow.

Sephora has been kind enough to give me extras of some items to giveaway. You can enter via the widget below. Due to liquid restrictions, this is open to US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. Items in the giveaway to 1 lucky winner will include the following:

Eborian Solid Cleansing Oil, Eborian Bamboo Waterlock Mask, Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Water-Max Sleeping Mask, Dr. Jart+ BB Beauty Balm, Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+, May Coop Raw Sauce, Too Cool For School Egg Mousse Soap Cleanser, Tony Moly Egg Pore, Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb, Caolion Premium Hot & Cool Pore Pack Duo, Shiseido Facial Cotton (selected winner will be able to select the colors for the foundation and bb beauty balm)

Enter via the widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find a wide selection of Korean beauty products online and in stores at Sephora. I'm really thrilled with the selection and hope they continue to expand the brand offerings. Right now for a limited time you can get 1 of 4 K-Beauty Minis at checkout with code KBEAUTY with orders of $25 or more. In case you're hesitant to splurge on the full size, there are a number of value sets available with trial sizes you might want to look into.

If you have any Korean Beauty favorites, please let me know!

Many thanks to Sephora for teaming up to sponsor this post. As always, all opinions my own.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Monthly Beauty Favorites: Skincare

Happy October everyone! I hope you had a great September. It's officially fall but we're still having really warm sunny days in the high 70s and it feels like fall weather will never arrive. September brought about a number of new beauty discoveries, in particular new lipsticks. I think I fell in love with every single new lipstick formula I tried from Charlotte Tilbury (hands down one of the best mattes ever), Louboutin (oh so luxurious), Buxom Cosmetics (so many good colors with an amazing formula) and Tom Ford (how can you not love TF lipsticks?).

I decided to do a different favorites roundup this month and focus on skincare loves. Smooth clear skin has been a focus lately and I've been trying new things over the past few months. It takes time to see visible results - so here are some things I've been putting to the test and absolutely love. My skin has improved a lot - even my husband has commented on it. As always if you have any skincare recommendations I'm all ears! I just picked up this AmorePacific Moisture Bound Set because so many of you raved about the Enzyme Peel in the comments.

Here's what I've been loving this month (the bag above is one of the pouches from the MAC Clearly MAC Trio):

My go-to moisturizer all throughout the summer has been the Eve Lom Brightening Cream ($110 for 1.7 fl oz). It's described as a hydra-cream designed to "correct pigmentation and boost luminosity to reveal beautifully radiant and even-toned skin." It has a brightening ingredient called Dermapep™ that corrects hyperpigmentation - after using this I've noticed my skin is visibly more bright, complexion is smooth and dark spots become less noticeable. I would say it's better as a daily lightweight moisturizer rather than a spot corrector - but it has kept my skin smooth, lightly hydrated and works well with all the foundations I use. Even with daily use for months I still have a good portion of the jar left - so I'm thrilled it's lasted a long time.

Last month I had the opportunity to receive a complimentary facial at the Kate Somerville Clinic on Melrose (more on this soon). It was hands down the best facial I've ever had and I highly recommend the clinic. Since then I've been slowly incorporating some Kate Somerville items in my routine. On your first visit they provide a detailed questionnaire for you to fill out on your skin type, preferences and goals. Mine included dark spot correction, texture improvement, anti-aging prevention, help with wrinkles on my forehead, brightening. The facial and products are used in various treatment processes in concentrated formulas based on your needs. Three things I've been loving:
  • The Daily Detox Cleanser ($34 for 4 fl oz) is a really good deep-cleaning cleanser for everyday. I use it with my Clarisonic. It helps fight acne and removes impurities from the skin. It's helped to rebalance my skin and even with the heat we've been having my skin is less oily. It contains phytic acid which helps fade post-acne scars and reduce inflammation. I can't rave about this enough.
  • Dermal Quench Liquid Lift Advanced Wrinkle Treatment ($95 for 2.5 oz) was recommended as a replacement for my regular toner. It's a product that helps combat all my skin issues: aging, wrinkles, uneven skintone. It also helps with dryness - and I've seen a big improvement in my skin. Forehead lines have started to soften and using this helps prep the skin for serums or moisturizers.
  • RetAsphere 2-in-1 Retinol Night Cream ($85 for 1 fl oz) is something I've been experimenting with as well. It's been recommended by many that I incorporate some kind of retinol treatments into my routine. I have super sensitive skin and things I've tried in the past have been too strong for me. This one is ultra gentle and as a night time treatment, I've noticed it's helped smooth the skin while increasing firmness. My skin looks more glowing and soft. I've tried this every other night for several weeks and I've had no irritation.
The Aesop Parsley Seed Mask ($39 for 60 ml) still remains a tried and true favorite. It's my go-to cleansing and clarifying mask that really draws out all the yuck from your skin. It's recommended use for 2x per week, but I've found it gentle enough for me to use 4x per week on trouble spots. I love how effective it is while still being suitable for sensitive skin.

I've tested a number of cleansing oils and have several favorites. These days I've been loving the SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil ($70 for 8.4 oz). It has a lightweight pleasantly refreshing scent to it. It has a good medium thickness to it - it's fluid but not too fluid. I love how it blends into the skin easily and seamlessly. It emulsifies well with warm water and removes all trace of makeup (I still remove my waterproof mascara/eyeliner with a cotton pad first though). Leaves the skin feeling completely clean, soft and hydrated with no greasy residue.

Tatcha is always a favorite in my regular skincare routine. The Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 ($68 for 2 fl oz) is my holy grail face sunscreen. It has a smooth texture that disappears completely into the skin (no white cast). It helps control oil on me and doubles as an amazing primer for foundation. The Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream ($38 for 2 fl oz) is a staple for sensitive or dry skin. I've bought many tubes and given them as gifts to friends. The entire Indigo line is phenomenal. If you're new to the line, there is a mini set that I also recommend.

I've featured the MAC Prep + Prime Blemish Control Gel ($22 for 05 fl oz) before and it's still a staple. It's one of the few acne spot treatments I can use during the day without it making the skin look weird and goopy (others leave a weird clear film that is noticeable). It's also one of the few that really works to help acne spots disappear without making the skin super red by the next day. I think I'm on my third tube - I also recommended my husband try it and it's strong enough for his skin.

Last but not least for lips, I've been loving the Glossier Coconut Balmdotcom ($12) and Dior Crème de Rose ($28). Both are super hydrating and make the lips feel smooth without that greasy feel. My lips are super sensitive and I've gotten reaction to several lip balms (they go numb and then tingle and swell up). These are perfect for my sensitive lips and keep the dry flakes away.

I hope everyone has a great Friday and will have some time to enjoy the weekend! As always I'd love to hear about your current beauty favorites. It's a great way for me to learn about new things :)

Press samples featured in this post include items from Kate Somerville, Eve Lom, Tatcha and Glossier. All other items purchased by me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sunscreen Rotation

I've been testing a number of sunscreens all summer long to see which ones hold up to heat, humidity and also are suitable for my ultra sensitive skin. I know a sunscreen roundup would have been more appropriate earlier in the summer - but it's recommended you wear sunscreen all year round, not just in warm sunny weather. Here in Southern California we have sunny weather 90% of the year. I used to think sunscreen wasn't necessary for everyday - especially for those who work indoors for the vast majority of the day. However, in a good portion of work places there are windows where your skin can still be exposed to sunlight. These days I've put extra effort on applying sunscreen regularly. I am not the most disciplined at re-applying but am trying to be better. I've split my testing into three categories: Face, Body and Men's.


Face Sunscreens - Many of my moisturizers or foundations already have SPF in them so I used to not pay much attention to applying sunscreen as an additional step. These days I prefer moisturizers and foundations that don't have SPF - it's not something I actively look for, it's just a coincidence that most of the foundations I really like do not have any SPF. The highest SPF foundation I own is the Chanel CC Cream (all shades swatched here) which comes with an SPF 50. For days where I don't wear this I do layer on sunscreen over moisturizer.

Four I've tested over the summer:
  • Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution Multi-Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen ($42 for 50 ml/1.7 fl oz) is a new formula that replaced the original UV Plus HP. I prefer the original version because it had a thinner formula and even though the liquid was white, it didn't leave a noticeable white cast on the skin. The new one has a higher SPF of 50 versus 40. It's also slightly thicker and more creamy - it does the job at covering the face and protecting it - I found it too heavy for my skin. It does have a lightweight feel but the formula covered so much of my skin it felt like it couldn't breathe underneath. If you have dry skin this one will probably be ok for your skin type.
  • Tatcha Pore Perfecting Sunscreen ($68 for 60 ml/2 fl oz) was launched in August. I had been waiting for this one for months ever since a reader e-mailed me with news that she saw a preview of this. This one comes with SPF 35 and is the one facial sunscreen to rule them all (at least all the ones I've tried). It's a pore perfecting formula which really does smooth and blur out imperfections without making the face look matte or white. Many blurring products have a white or pink cast which makes my olive skin look ashy, powdery or flat. The Tatcha sunscreen is white but it blends out to an invisible finish. It makes the perfect primer for foundation too. It is on the pricey side, they have a Travel Size option for $13 to try. It helps control oil, it doesn't break out my face, it covers the skin completely but allows the skin to breathe. It doesn't clog pores and it doesn't feel greasy. (PS, there is a promo with code CLEAN20 to receive a complimentary travel-size Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil ($12 value) on any order over $20, offer expires 9/30/2015.)
  • Chanel UV Essentiel Anti-Pollution Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($55 for 1 fl oz/30 ml) has been a go-to for years. It used to come in a more rectangular bottle with a different formula. I loved the original and love the new one. It's an ultra lightweight formula that is a white liquid but disappears on the skin. What I love about this one is that it doesn't break me out and also layers beautifully over moisturizer and under foundation (I've tried it with Chanel, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, By Terry, NARS, Laura Mercier to name a few). Many sunscreens have a heavy greasy feel and don't work well with foundations, this is the one I've repurchased a number of times. My husband likes to use it for day. For working out or running though it's not sweat proof. It runs into both of our eyes and stings. This one works for my sensitive skin but one of my friends found it created tiny little bumps on her cheeks.
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 40 ($30 for 2 oz) is one of the few moisturizer + sunscreen products that I like. It has a creamy texture and white color but doesn't leave a white cast on the skin. This one is free of skin-irritating chemicals and has a soothing feel. It dries to a semi-matte finish and works really well alone or under makeup. For my ultra sensitive skin this is one of the most gentle sunscreens I've tried. I gave one tube to a friend (same one who broke out from Chanel) and she is completely obsessed with the First Aid Beauty sunscreen. It's lightweight and has a silky finish.

Body Sunscreens are something I test with dread. I get irritation and red blotches from so many it's really quite ridiculous. My husband can use any body sunscreen without any issues. His main concern is about texture. If it feels greasy or oily and doesn't dry down then he doesn't like it. Four we've tested over the summer below that passed my sensitivity test.

  • Supergoop! Sun Defying Sunscreen Oil with Meadowfoam SPF 50 ($34 for 5 oz) is something I've been obsessed with all summer long. I bought in the mini size and brought with me to Europe in June. It's an oil that absorbs quickly into the skin and makes the body glow but doesn't feel greasy. If you're not a fan of thick cream sunscreens this is a great alternative. It does a good job at preventing burns and when I use this I don't get much of a tan. This is for face and body but I wasn't brave enough to try it on my face.
  • Supergoop! Everyday SPF 50 with Cellular Response Technology is something I received from Birchbox ($32 for 7.5 oz). I didn't think I would like it because it has a white cream lotion texture. This one is even better than the oil and even though I have sensitive skin and both work for me, I think this has a more gentle feel. I tried this on the face and it stayed put, didn't sting my eyes with sweat and didn't get oily. This is hands down one of the best body sunscreens I've tried. It's easy to apply and absorbs quickly into the skin. It has a lightweight non-sunscreen scent that fades after a few minutes. One of my biggest gripes about body sunscreen is the sunscreen smell. This one doesn't smell like the usual.
  • Coola Sport Continuous Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 in Tropical Coconut ($30 for the small 3 oz size) smells so amazing. I couldn't find this one instores (my local stores had the unscented versions). It does have alcohol in it and you can smell it when you spray it on the skin, but the scent disappears and you're left with the coconut scent. It's lightweight and gives an even spritz of mist in a continuous spray. I like this one because it's easy to apply all over - you can sunscreen your back easily and reapply quickly. It's non-drying and non-irritating. I love that it's not messy like creams or oils can be.
  • Korres Sunscreen Face and Body with SPF 50 is made with Greek Yogurt. You can't find this one in the US unfortunately - we bought this in Athens and loved it. It's a liquid spray but applies like a lotion. It's creamy and soothing and completely covered the skin. There were a couple times we saw a dramatic difference on our skin on spots we missed. Areas covered with this sunscreen didn't get dark or tan.

Last but not least, three men's sunscreens my husband has liked enough to repurchase. He's been a long-time Jack Black user. The one facial moisturizer he uses regularly is the Double Duty Face Moisturizer with SPF 20. He uses this almost daily - if he's going to be indoors at his office most of the day he will use this alone. He likes the lightweight texture and it keeps his skin soft and prevents it from getting oily. On days he think he will be on the road or outdoors, he will layer on the Jack Black Sun Guard Very Water Resistant SPF 45 on top. This one is light enough that it doesn't feel heavy. With sweat or water it doesn't sting his eyes. He likes this for the body as well - it prevents burns when he's been at the beach. Another one he likes is the Kiehl's Facial Fuel UV Guard Sunscreen with SPF 50. This is his preference for high SPF - it's lightweight and doesn't leave a white cast on the skin. It's similar to the Chanel UV Essentiel in terms of texture, but this one works better for his skin. It doesn't bead up when he sweats.

I hope you found this roundup helpful. My top picks: Tatcha and First Aid Beauty for the face, Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen (white tube) and Korres for the body. What are your favorite sunscreens? I'm always open to recommendations - I often learn about awesome skincare items from my readers.

Press samples include items from Clarins, Tatcha, First Aid Beauty and Supergoop! Everyday SPF50. All others purchased by me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Clarisonic Mia 3/Aria + Alpha Fit (Plus Sale Alert)

I thought it was time to do a Clarisonic update on my Aria (now called Mia 3) plus a review on the Alpha Fit device for men since all devices are on sale for two days online at They are having a special offer where you can save 20% on all devices and get free shipping from 9/15 - 9/16/15, while supplies last, by using code FLASH20 at checkout. These tools are on the expensive side so it's best to buy one when there's a sale or if your store has some special points promotion.

I bought my Clarisonic Aria which is now called the Mia 3 over a year ago (original reviews here and here). There are a number of different Clarisonic devices, I picked the Aria because it came with a stand, came with three different speeds and was the sleekest looking option at the time. I still am really happy with my purchase over a year later although I'm not as disciplined in using it every other day as I used to be. These days I use it 1-2x per week. I've tried it with a number of different cleansers and like how versatile it is - it works with gel, cream and liquid face cleansers. My favorites include the Kate Somerville Daily Detox Cleanser, First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser and SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser. Using the device does improve the texture, clarity and feel of the skin. It's somewhere in between using a scrub or washcloth to exfoliate your face. No matter how gentle face scrubs are, they are usually too harsh for me. Washcloths work ok but I change them out every use to avoid bacteria growth from dirty towels - so the frequent changing and washing is a lot more extra work.

As a quick refresher from one of my previous updates, I tried four different brush heads: Normal, Sensitive, Delicate and Cashmere. When I bought my device, Clarisonic didn't have a dedicated device designed for men (they simply had different colors). My husband wanted to try it but his skin is a lot tougher - we ordered the Normal Brush for his skin which he liked. We alternated use by switching out brush heads. My personal favorite is the Cashmere Cleanse brush head. It's ultra soft and cleans the skin nicely with a gentle massaging motion. My husband says he has no idea how that does anything at all for my skin because it's so soft he doesn't see how it exfoliates at all. I've heard the same from other women who have tried it. Most devices come with the Sensitive Brush which is gentle enough for the skin but strong so you can feel it working. I think it's a good starting point to see if you need something softer or more dense. It's not a bad one - I can still use it and it doesn't feel harsh, I simply prefer the Cashmere version.
Last month Clarisonic finally released a device for men called the Alpha Fit Men's Cleansing Device. It is on the pricey side at $189 (I ordered mine when Sephora had their bonus point event) but it is a really good device. I haven't tested it on myself since I bought it for my husband. It comes with a completely different design. It stands up on its own, comes with a cap so you can throw it in your gym bag or travel with it, and it has a shorter handle. He's been using it daily for a solid month now. 

The Alpha Fit is designed for men's skin which is thicker and more oily compared to women's. It comes with a different brush called Alpha Fit made specifically for men. In the month Andrew has been using it he's noticed a significant improvement in his skin. It cleans out his pores and he's found it essential in preparing his skin for shaving. It helps exfoliate and smooth the skin. In addition the motion of the sonic cleansing device helps move the facial and neck hairs by pulling them out slightly which makes for a better easier shave. It also makes his facial hair feel softer as well. I highly recommend watching the demonstration video (it's near the bottom of the product page) - it's what sold me on the device in seeing how versatile it is and how it's really designed specifically for men. My husband says he's 100% happy with it. The design of the Alpha Fit is more masculine and has a sleek look to it (he says he hates the bulky look of the other devices made for women). He likes that it stands up on its own so he can put it on the counter or have it in the shower. It fits easily into his hand and the way it's designed makes it easy to use.

On cleansers, he used up the Alpha Cleanse Men's Facial Cleanser that came with the device. I asked if he wanted me to buy a replacement - for now he said he's set on staying with his usual go-to cleanser which is the Kiehl's Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash.

Overall, I think the Clarisonic Aria has been a game changer for me. It does take time to see results but over time it improves the texture and clarity of the skin. Does it really get a better clean compared to hands or a washcloth? I think absolutely yes. I didn't experience any purging when I started to use it. If you look at online reviews you might see some others experienced break outs - I suspect it might have been a reaction to the Clarisonic cleansers rather than the device itself. I have tested a few mini tubes of the cleansers but prefer other brands.

For my husband, the Clarisonic Alpha Fit has been a huge help in cleaning his pores and helping clean/prep the skin for shaving. For most of his life he has been an electric-shaver kind of guy because using regular razors has always resulted in razor burn or cuts. In the past month he's been doing a lot more research and experimenting with shave creams, oils, blades and finally has managed to get a technique down where he has zero razor burn, cuts or ingrown hairs from using a traditional razor. The Clarisonic has been life changing for him in helping prepare the skin for a better shave.

I hope you found this review helpful if you're in the market for a Clarisonic whether you're looking to splurge on your first device, looking to upgrade an older one or if you're shopping for something for the man in your life. I've seriously considered buying one for my brother and brother-in-law for Christmas (even though it's months away). These are definitely splurges but I think worth every penny.

You can find Clarisonic at Nordstrom, Sephora, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Ulta and For two days only, September 15-16th, you can save 20% on all devices on with code FLASH20 at checkout.

Have you tried or do you own a Clarisonic? If yes, which one?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sara Happ Lip Scrubs, The Lip Slip One Luxe Balm and One Luxe Glosses

I first tried Sara Happ's line a couple of months ago when I ordered the Sparkling Pink Lip Set from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (it's still available online). One of my BFFs raves about and swears by The Lip Slip One Luxe Clear Shine Lip Gloss - she wears it over her lipstick or alone for a soft glossy shine. I usually don't wear clear gloss so I opted for the Pink Lip gloss along with the Grapefruit Lip Scrub since it came in a set - both are really fun to use. I've since been able to play with a few more of the items from Sara Happ's line. Today I have a review on some of The Lip Scrubs, The Lip Slip One Luxe Balm and her One Luxe Gloss in The Pink Slip and The Nude Slip (they all retail at $24 each).

The Sara Happ Lip Scrubs have been on my radar for a long time but the concept of a scrub on the lips sounded a bit harsh for my super sensitive skin. The packaging can't be beat with these though - they come packaged in a small square box with a white little bow. These make the cutest little gifts and you don't have to do any wrapping to make them look special. These are gritty and have texture but have an emollient feel so they glide easily on the lips. They do get a bit messy, as you can expect with a scrub. The instructions say to apply on the lips and massage in a circular motion, then wipe off with a tissue. I tried each of these several time and each time I think I applied too much (although maybe it's because they taste amazing). Using a tissue wasn't enough to remove it from my lips. I had to wipe it off with a slightly damp towel as well. These leave the lips feeling super soft - it does help remove dry patches and flakes. These are paraben free and made with natural ingredients. Ingredients vary slightly per flavor. I've been playing with several flavors for a few weeks now:
  • Peony is a limited-edition flavor, it resembles the floral scent that the lip glosses and lip balm have, it's not my favorite but if you like soft florals this one is really good, it's not bad tasting - it's just the sweeter ones are amazing by comparison
  • Vanilla Bean is a brown-colored scrub, it smells and tastes like vanilla bean without being too sweet or sugary
  • Confetti Cake is another limited-edition one, it tastes and smells similar to Vanilla Bean, but softer and more like a sugar cookie or white cake
  • Sparkling Pink Grapefruit (not shown) smells exactly like grapefruit, if you like citrusy fruity scents this one is really fun

Ingredients of The Luxe Lip Balm (above) and Vanilla Bean Lip Scrub (bottom):

The Lip Slip One Luxe Balm is a floral scented milky pink balm that has tiny bits of silver shimmer mixed in. On my lips it's pretty clear in color although the milky pink tint does make my lips look a bit pale. It's on the thick side for a lip balm - a little goes a very long way. This is the closest thing I've ever tried that compares to the By Terry Baume de Rose in terms of look and feel. Of course the two aren't identical, but the Sara Happ Luxe Balm has a similar milky light pink tint and a thick texture with a floral scent. My preference is still for the By Terry, but the Sara Happ does a really good job at hydrating the lips - my only hesitation in keeping this one in my purse for daily use is that it's very thick in texture and a bit too heavy for day. I suspect once fall/winter rolls around I will be loving the texture more, right now for summer in high 80-100 degree weather, it's too much.

The One Luxe Glosses come in four colors. Below are two of them in The Pink Slip and The Nude Slip. Both come in a tube with a large sponge applicator. The glosses are fairly thick in texture and have a sticky tacky feel to them. They feel really nourishing on the lips. The Nude Slip is lighter than my natural lip color and took some blending to apply smoothly - it's a nude color but doesn't wash out the complexion. I'm a huge lover of nude lips but this one was a bit too pale for my skintone. The Pink Slip on the other hand is a lovely baby pink that has enough color to give the face a glow. It's on the cool-toned side on my skin but looking at the tube I would call it more in the neutral territory (not too warm and not too cool). It makes the lips look very healthy. Lasting power is pretty good with these since they have that thick tacky feel. If you're not a fan of thick sticky formulas though you may want to skip.

Swatches of all three:

Bottom line, fun lip products to play with for grown ups. The packaging makes these really special even though you will probably end up throwing away the boxes. It gives them a unique feel that you don't see with other brands. I'm obsessed with The Pink Slip Lip Gloss as it gives the lips a healthy glow. The Nude Slip is a good nude but too light for me. I like the way the Lip Slip Luxe Balm performs - it hydrates the lips really well, but the texture is thick and a bit too heavy for the hot weather we have right now.

In terms of the Lip Scrubs, I think Vanilla Bean and Confetti Cake are musts. I'm super picky when it comes to sweet scents in lip products - these have just the right amount of sweetness without being over the top. I was skeptical about how useful these would be but after trying them, I really don't know what took me so long to try one.

Have you tried anything from Sara Happ before? What are your favorites? Occasionally you can see some sets available for sale that give a slight price break. You can find Sara Happ at Nordstrom, Beautyhabit, Blue Mercury, and Selfridges.

Confetti Cake, Vanilla Bean, Peony and The Nude Slip were provided as press samples for review consideration. Other items purchased by me.


design + development by fabulous k | COPYRIGHT © 2009-2014 THE BEAUTY LOOK BOOK