Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sunday Riley Good Genes Review or Coulda Woulda Shoulda

          Up until now, the majority of my reviews have been positive. That's not necessarily because I'm a gullible twit who thinks everything she slathers on her face is the bee's knees. It's just not very exciting to write a post about something that doesn't inspire you. Especially if I didn't spend, er, I mean, waste that much money on it. But when you part with a good deal of money and a product falls completely flat, I do feel compelled to share that with the world. I think this will be an ongoing segment that I will call Coulda Woulda Shoulda.
            Today's beauty flop award goes to Sunday Riley Good Genes, which retails for a whopping $105 for a mere 1 oz. Alrighty then. Keep in mind, I wasn't dumb enough to actually buy this product. Which is not to say that I'm not dumb enough to spend too much on other beauty failures (Biologique Recherche P50 and Estee Lauder ANR I'm looking at you). I just happened to get a good sized sample in one of my beauty boxes. I think it was Sephora, but who knows. Apparently, I get way too many because I can't keep track of who's sending what anymore.

The perpetrator.

          I used this for about two weeks, which is how long the deluxe sample lasted me, and I can honestly say it did jack shit. Sorry for the flowery language, but when a product says it will:

BRIGHTEN
EXFOLIATE
PLUMP LINES
EVEN HYPERPIGMENTATION
INCREASE CIRCULATION AND INSTANT RADIANCE.......

Well, when it says it's gonna do all that and ends up doing nada, you feel like talking like a sailor all of a sudden. The product itself is a medium weight lotion, not to heavy, not too light. It feels slightly oily and smells like cinnamon, and may sting if you have any broken skin from picking at your face or if you have overall sensitive skin. I admit that trying to decide if a beauty product worked is not an exact science. Oftentimes I'll use something and think it did not work and then when I stop using it I realize just how well it was working. That was not the case here. It just flat out did nothing for me. I can't say that I'm mad at Sunday Riley, because I suppose it's a good thing when a $100 product is bad enough that you decide not to ever buy it. So, in that vein, thank you Sunday Riley, for saving me some moolah.
          What beauty product has been your biggest disappointment? Please share in the comments!
         

         

Friday, August 12, 2016

Best Sunscreens of 2016 Nuance Salma Hayek Sheer Liquid Veil And Coola Classic Cucumber

          Finding the right sunscreen is about as easy as finding a needle in a haystack. There are sooooo many choices and honestly, it can be a bit daunting. Because I am on the lighter end of the spectrum (NC15) and I live in South Florida, using sunscreen on a daily basis is extremely important. I've tried my good share of different types, with the exception of Asian sunscreen, which get a lot of traction online. Here I will share two awesome choices that have worked very well for me. As you read the reviews, keep in mind that I have two issues to deal with. Practically all year round is a sweat and oil fest in Miami, so I look for sunscreens that are not overly heavy or oily. That being said, I hate anything that's overly matte, so if that it your thing, neither of these sunscreens are going to work for you. I'm in my late 30s, and my skin has normalized quite a bit in the last few years, though I still have oiliness in the t-zone, but I also deal with occasional dryness from actives.


Best Sunscreens of 2016


          The first sunscreen I want to talk about is one from Salma Hayek's Nuance line. Honestly, I love almost everything I have tried from Nuance, which is available at your local CVS. But this sunscreen is truly a great find. It comes in sleek black and white packaging and has a whopping SPF 50, which I find more than sufficient for everyday incidental sun exposure. The texture is almost like a milk, and it spreads easily without tugging or giving a white cast. On initial application it is a bit greasy, but after a few minutes it dries down to a natural glow. If you have normal skin this is a great option, and if you are a bit oily like me, this is still great if you favor a natural as opposed to matte finish. It does have a scent that I am neutral about. I don't particularly like it, but it's not overpowering and fades rather quickly. It's quite cheap as you get 50 ml for $10.
          The other sunscreen I like is Coola's Classic Cucumber SPF 30 Sunscreen. If natural and organic ingredients is your thing, this fits the bill. It's not as runny as Nuance but it feels lighter and more refreshing. It has a very light cucumber scent that I really like. Again, this is not a matte sunscreen. It applies like a light moisturizer and leaves a natural look on the face. I would say it's a bit less glowy than the Nuance sunscreen. Not quite as affordable as Nuance, this also has 50 ml but retails at $32.00. I get mine at Birchbox and use my points to bring the price down.
          Neither of this sunscreens contain oxybenzone, a sunscreen ingredient that I aboid like the plague because it never ceases to make my eyes and face burn. Keep in mind that neither are waterproof, so these are strictly for everyday use, not for going to the beach or pool.
          So there you have it. Do you use sunscreen everyday? Please let me know if you have any sunscreens that you love.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Penny Pinching Beauty: Microdermabrasion Dr. Brandt vs. Derma E Review

          I'll be the first to admit that it is too often that I fall for the trap of liking a product simply because it's higher end. There is an allure to going into a nice department store or beauty shop and buying something that just doesn't compare to going to your local Walgreens or CVS. But the good thing is that I have admitted my mental shortcoming to myself and so I can battle against it! Because dropping an extra $30 for basically the same product is just not worth that tiny thrill. And so I would like to introduce a new series in this blog, called penny pinching beauty, where I will compare two or more products of varying wallet emptying power, and hopefully you will be able to save a few
dollars.




          The first two products we will be comparing are Dr. Brandt's Microdermabrasion and Derma E's Microdermabrasion. Both products are sold in 2oz containers and both have Alumina as their main scrubbing ingredient. With Dr. Brandt it is the second ingredient, whereas Derma E lists it as the 5th. Both are great at exfoliating but there are a few differences. Dr. Brandt's grit feels finer, but harsher at the same time. The first time I used it my first thought was that it felt like glass. That's not to say that it was harsh, it's just that the grit didn't disappear after rubbing like it does with a lot of scrubs where it feels like the moment it hits your skin it melts away into nothingness. It rinsed away completely clean and left my skin feeling soft and smooth. I didn't experience any irritation. Dr. Brandt's retails for $79.00 and comes in a hygienic squeeze bottle.




          Derma E also contains alumina but the texture was a bit thicker. It felt more emollient too, probably do to the several essential oils included in it. It didn't rinse quite as clean as Dr. Brandt's but it never caused me any problems with breakouts. The one downer is that it comes in a tub, but honestly I've never had an issue with tub packaging for scrubs. It's not as travel friendly as Dr. Brandt's but not a deal breaker. Performance wise, while the feel of the product was slightly different, the end results were exactly the same: smooth and softened skin with no irritation or breakouts. Derma E Microdermabrasion is available for $32.50, and if you combine it with the many sales at Walgreens and CVS you can get it for even cheaper. So if you want to save at least $44, definitely get the Derma E. This is one of those cases where saving money does not mean you are skimping on quality. And who doesn't like that?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Best Asian and Western Night Creams of 2015

          Over the past year I've honed in on my skincare routine, adding to a basic routine that I started over two years ago. I now utilize about 8 or 9 steps in my nighttime routine. Because it would be cost prohibitive (at least for me) to buy a product for every single step I would like to do, I've been adding a little here and a little there. For example, in the beginning I was using one cream for night and day, but eventually I started buying creams that I use only at night. Not all of these are actually marketed as night creams by their manufacturers. Sometimes it is better to ignore labels and look at the product itself and what you want it do for you. I have combination skin with an oily t-zone and drier (but not too dry) cheeks and some light flaking due to retinoid use. So at night I like to use a heavier cream that will calm down any dryness from my actives. Today I'll be reviewing 4 of the creams I've used over the past year, and tell you which one is my favorite.
Who will win the night time battle?

          The first night cream I used last year was Origins' High-Potency Night-A-Mins, which I received as a points perk from Sephora. Of all the creams this has the waxiest feel to it, and hence it is not my favorite. This is just a personal thing, and you might actually like that. I find that waxy creams tend to have a drier finish, even if they feel heavier.  It has a strong citrusy fragrance that fades and doesn't feel greasy. While it doesn't feel silky going on and doesn't have as much slip as the other creams, it does absorb rather quickly. This is a good option if you don't like greasy creams and are normal to oily. $43/1.7 oz
          Next we have Vichy's Aqualia Thermal Rich. I originally got this as a deluxe sample in Glossybox and recently purchased it for nightly use. Unlike the Origins cream, this feels softer/wetter, which I prefer. It spreads easily and does take a while to absorb, which is one of the reasons I use this at night. For my combo skin it would be too greasy for daytime use, but it's perfect for my flaky skin at night. Of all the creams it has the strongest fragrance. It wasn't obnoxious at first, but the more I use it the more it's starting to annoy me. But that's fragrance for you, what smells divine to me can smell overpowering to someone else and vice versa. It's also the only one that has alcohol. Interestingly enough, I find this one to be the heaviest in terms of moisturizing ability. $31/1.7 oz
L-R: Origins, Vichy, Belif, Laneige

          The last two creams are Asian (Korean to be exact) and it should be noted that Asian creams tend to be lighter than their Western counterparts because the norm in Asia is to moisturize in layers. Their toners are moisturizing to begin with, then they add an emulsion (light lotion), and finally a cream. That being said, I really like the two options I'll be discussing shortly, even when used on their own without additional moisturizers. Belif The True Cream-Moisturizing Bomb is a lightweight white cream that borders on being a bit gelish. It feels refreshing and light and yet really pack a punch. Not as greasy as Vichy, it's still able to bring moisture and relief but with less heaviness. It has a very light herbal scent. $38/1.68 oz
          Finally we have Laneige's Water Bank Moisture Cream. In the pot this looks waxy and clumpy, but when you apply it it glides on and melts into your skin in such a way that the feel is very different from the Origins cream. It feels a bit greasier than Belif but less so then Vichy. It also take a bit to absorb and feels tackier than Belif. The smell is a light clean scent. $32/1.7 oz
         It should be clear that my favorite of all is Belif True Cream Moisturizing Bomb. It feels great, smells light, moisturizes enough but doesn't feel greasy. But all of the creams are great options if you are in your 30s or 40s and are dealing with dry skin or flaky patches, especially from retinoid or other actives. Do you have any creams, Asian or Western, that you love to use at night? Or do you just use the same cream for day and night? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Clarins Lotus Treatment Oil Review

          There are very few makeup or skincare brands that I go back to again and again on a consistent basis. Actually, there is only one: Clarins. It started out more than 10 years ago, when I went in to Alberto Cortes in Downtown Miami and got a facial at the Clarins counter. I came away with a few products, but the one I remember the most was the Gentian Milk Cleanser. I've tried many different brands of skincare since then, but I always go back to Clarins. Today I'm going to review my latest acquisition from the French beauty brand, and that is the much loved but new to me Lotus Face Treatment Oil. This product had been on my wishlist for over two years probably, but every time I had money to spend on skincare I would take one look at the price and end up buying something completely different. But since I'm in my late 30s and my combo skin shows no signs of letting up on the oil production in my t-zone, I figured now was as good a time as any. It didn't hurt that I had a $15/off coupon from Sephora.
          Clarins offers three different facial treatment oils: Bue Orchid, Santal, and Lotus. They are called rebalancing oil because the purpose is to target specific skin problems and bring the skin to a more normal and balanced state. Blue Orchid is for dehydrated skin, Santal is for dry and stressed skin, and Lotus is for combination/oily skin. They retail at $54.00 for 1 oz. That may seem like a lot, but there are several things that make the price less of an issue for me. First and foremost, after having used the Lotus oil for around a month (every night) I can attest that these oils will last you a loooong time. I figure I won't have to repurchase this for at least a year. This is in contrast to Clarins' Double Serum, which was almost double the price, and barely lasted me 3 months. Secondly, the packaging on this is really luxe. The oil comes in a heavy glass jar with a dropper applicator, and it just looks lovely sitting on my bathroom vanity.

Isn't it pretty????

          Even so, I wouldn't buy a product just because it looked nice or lasted a long time if it didn't actually work. This is even more of an issue for me now that I am spending a greater amount on makeup and skincare. When you have spent $500 on beauty products, you want to make sure that that next purchase is really worth it. And this one definitely was. There are very few products that I can say have made a measurable difference in my skin, and Clarins Lotus Oil is one of them. I apply it at night after toner. Just a few drops in your palm will suffice, and then I pat it over my face, concentrating first on my t-zone. It does have a strong herbal fragrance, but I rather like it, and it does go away after a while. My skin is much less oily when I wake up the next day. After a while you stop noticing the effect, until you miss a day and then you realize why you can't live without this product.
          Have you tried anything from Clarins? Or do you have a brand that you love and keep coming back to? Let me know in the comment section!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Laneige Hydration Trial Kit Review Asian Skincare

          Well, it seems that Asian skincare is here to stay. I briefly reviewed two Korean skincare items in this post, but today I will look at a kit offered by Laneige, readily available at your neighborhood Target. Korean skincare is famous for its many steps that would shame Clinique's paltry three step system into oblivion. You can read more about the many steps (there's no one number, it all depends on what you need) here and here. Laneige, a Korean skin care line which became available at Target last year, has a LITE 6 step skin care routine, for those of us that are just wetting our toes. I had already tried the Balancing Emulsion for combo skin and liked it a lot, so I was curious to try out an entire routine. This particular kit is $29.00 and includes 6 deluxe sized samples of the following:


  • Multi Cleanser
  • Power Essential Skin Toner
  • Water Bank Serum
  • Balancing Emulsion
  • Water Bank Moisture Cream
  • Water Sleeping Mask
         
With the exception of the cleanser and the sleeping mask, which are meant for all types of skin, the other four items are for dry skin. Unfortunately, there is no kit for combo or oily skin, but I found that the products worked really well on my combo skin, especially since I use tretinoin and could always use the extra moisture. It did not exacerbate my oily areas at all, but when used together they work really well to hydrate my dry areas and keep the flakes at bay. WITH ONE EXCEPTION...the Multi Cleanser.


Laneige Hydration Trial Kit

          According to a lot of the Asian beauty blogosphere, the PH of your cleanser is very important. I wont get into the nitty gritty of it, because so many bloggers have done it so well already, but the PH of this cleanser is at around 8.5, on the higher end. Most people that subscribe to the PH is very important philosophy prefer cleansers in the 5.5 range. Personally, I try not to get to obsessive about it, and I'm ok with things around 7, which is the PH of water. I figure that if I'm going to be using water to rinse and what not, it's not worth the hassle to get much lower than that.
          The first few times I used the cleanser I did get that squeaky clean feeling, which is actually not good for your skin at all, but my skin didn't feel dry or tight. I wasn't using it every day, so I wasn't too worried about it and through be told, I liked the clean smooth feeling and was hoping it wouldn't be bad for my skin. But I used it last night and lo and behold, my skin felt tight afterwards, and sure enough, when I looked in the mirror, I was shiny. Those are surefire signs that you have stripped your skin. So while I really like the rest of the kit, I can not recommend the Multi Cleanser as anything other than a once in a while exfoliating treatment. Don't even think about using it every day, much less morning and night. If my combo skin felt dry and tight, I can't imagine what havoc this would wreak on actually dry skin.
          I did really like the rest of the products though. They work very well in unison to create layers of moisture. I especially liked the Power Essential Skin Toner. It's thicker than your average western toner, and even though it has Alcohol, it never felt drying. Actually, it was very hydrating and I will probably repurchase this once the sample runs out. I also really like the Water Sleeping Mask. It's great for adding extra moisture to skin that's using lots of actives, like mine.

BOTTOM LINE: If you want to try the Korean multi step skin care routine, this little kit from Laneige is pretty good, the stripping cleanser notwithstanding.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pocketderm Curology Review

         As a woman nearing her 40s, I've been using drugstore retinols for a few years. I always wanted to try the stronger prescription stuff, but I lack insurance so it always remained on the backburner. Sometime last year I kept on reading about Pocketderm (they have now changed their name to Curology), an online dermatology service that would diagnose your acne and send you medication, and thought, wow, I wish they would do that with anti-aging. Lo and behold, eventually they did! Someone gave me a link for a free first month and I filled out a questionaire online that including taking photos of your face for analysis by a doctor or nurse practicioner. About a week later I received my first shipment.

Curology Anti-Aging Treatment

         My particular formulation includes tretinoin, vitamin C, and niacinamide. The last two work to target texture and even out skin tone. I had previously had some mild flaking when using Neutrogena's retinol lotion, so I expected to have some of that in the beginning, but there was actually a lot let flaking with the Curology lotion. I did experience some slight burning/stinging if I dried my face to vigorously with a towel after washing or showering, but that went away after about two weeks. I've only been using it for about two months and since I have almost no wrinkles, I can't really speak for that aspect, but my skin is a lot smoother and more radiant. Retinols is one of those things that is great for preventing aging, so I hope that with continued use my skin will remain wrinkle free for as long as possible. At $20 a month, I couldn't ask for a better deal. BOTTOM LINE: If you are looking to up your anti-aging routine and want to start on retinol, definitely give Curology a shot. As I mentioned before, I was given a link for a free first month, which I found great because I really like trying things out before I commit to buying it. If you are interested, you may use my referral link. You will receive a free first month and I will receive $10, but rest assured that I have given you my honest opinion.