Saturday, July 1, 2017

Lumene Artic Berry Cocktail Brightening Oil Review

Due to living in sunny South Florida and a creeping age number, I have a few sunspots that have become more noticeable lately. I have random freckles all over my face, but I have two particular splotches on each cheekbone that I am trying to deal with. I've used quite a few Vitamin C serums, the last one being the famous Ost 20 Vitamin C, but I did not get lightening of my spots at all. The only vitamin C serum that produced noticeable yet faint effects was the Hylamide Vitamin C Booster. Being the fickle creature that I am, I couldn't resist trying something new, and the Lumene Artic Berry was on sale for $20, cheaper than its regular retail of $30.

Lumene Artic Berry Cocktail

It comes in a glass see through jar that feels substantial, but contains just 1 oz, and you can see that the product is a biphase oil, with a pink watery liquid at the bottom and a yellow oil on top. You have to shake it to mix it, and then you pump it into your hand. When you mix it it turns into an opaque pink salad dressing look-a-like. At first if would revert back to the two separate oils, but eventually it stayed more or less mixed. It smells very citrusy, not the yummy orange citrus smell of Ost Vit C, but rather a lemony pledgy scent that I really dislike. Is there anyone out there that actually likes this time of smell? Anyways, it has quite an oily feel to it, and if you have bangs beware because they will get a big greasy. Since I have combo skin I saved this for nighttime use, and it wasn't too bad in the sense that it did absorb pretty well after a while. The feel of it when apply it is reminiscent of salad dressing. It actually felt like I was putting a mixture of vinegar and oil on my face, so I did not particularly like that aspect of it.But the money was spent and I was going to use this bottle up and who knows, maybe it would deliver on results where it failed on feel.

Lumene advertises this as a brightening and hydrating oil. I didn't really feel like it was moisturizing so much as greasing up my face, but I have combo skin, so I'm sure that this would be a much better product for those with very dry skin. It did really keep the tretinoin flakies from appearing, so there's that. But mostly I was using this because I was hoping it would do some brightening, and by brightening I mean fading my sunspots. Unfortunately, my sunspots remained completely unchanged throughout my time using this.
for me, this is a clear dud. It doesn't smell good, it doesn't feel good, and it did not fade my spots or otherwise make my skin brighter or smoother. It's only saving grace is that it may work well for extremely dry mature skin. My verdict is PASS unless you can get this at an extreme discount and you have the appropiate skin type.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Esalon Pearl Mahogany Review

If you dye your hair red, you know what a royal pain in the ass it is to maintain the color. I've been dying my hair red for about three years now, and when I first started the fade wasn't too bad. But lately the fading has gotten out of hand, with my hair turning into a light orange about 2 weeks after dying. Because I'm a natural cheapskate, I wasn't willing to start going to the salon MORE often, but I knew I needed to dye my hair every 4 weeks, so I figured I could try Esalon out and combine it with my salon visits to save some money.
If you are not familiar with Esalon, they are a mail order hair color company. You fill out a survey, upload some photos, tell them what you want, and after a colorist reviews your file, they choose a color for you. It's $20 if you set up autoshipping or $25 for on demand or one time shipments. Initially you get one bottle of color and developer for your roots, and a separate one for your lengths. After that, you will get just the bottle for the roots, though every few shipments you are supposed to order the lengths bottle as well, but that's only $10. So, depending on how often you do your entire lengths, you will be spending $20-$30.
When I first tried the service about two months ago I uploaded pics and called customer service because I was unsure on what level to get. They were very helpful over the phone and I ended up getting a level 6 golden copper. This is where it is a bit confusing. Their level six is called a light brown, which according to the international color chart is actually a level 5, so keep that in mind. Always go lighter when in doubt. The first time I used it, my hair was very faded and my ends where a very light orange. The color applied beautifully, but it didn't last very long. I don't fault Esalon for this because even my salon color was fading this fast. At this point I now my ends are very damaged with a lot of split ends, so they are not going to hold on to color very well.  I just figured that I needed to go darker to keep from fading so much.
Here is a pic of the before and after. The color I applied was 6.43 Light Brown Copper Golden.

Esalon 6.43 Light Brown Copper Golden (Right Pic)

The next time I die my hair I went to my salon and requested to go darker, a level 4 with violet undertones. It was quite dark at first, but had lovely red violet tones that glistened in the sun. It did fade quite a bit, but to a much more manageable and still pretty medium red, with not ugly orange tones.

Salon level 4 violet brown and two weeks later
I knew I needed a darker color from Esalon so I called and we settled on 5.25 Medium Brown Pearl Mahogany. My shipment came and once again they had included to bottles of color since I was changing color. It was quite dark, right on par with my level 4 from the salon. However, true to it's mahogany, it was mostly a dark brown with some very faint mahogany highlights. The pearl which was supposed to give it a violet sheen was not very prominent. This wasn't a red or violet hair color with a dark base, it was just a plain brown. The color wasn't ugly, per se, it was just way more muted than what I wanted. At this point, I really did not want to live with this hair color for another four weeks. So off I went to Sally Beauty Supply. I came out with a few bottle of developers, Ion Color Brilliance Permanent Hair Color in 5.RV and a tiny tube of their Red Hot Instensifier. Because I was dying my hair the day after using Esalon, I bought Ion's Absolute Perfection Booster, which is supposed to be a copy of Olaplex. I was really worried that I was going to destroy my hair, but it's in pretty much the same condition as before. Thankfully, the color came out more vibrant and red, just what I was looking for. Here is a pic of Esalon's 5.25 Medium Brown Pearl Mahogany. It is a very nice color, just not as vibrant a red as I wanted.

Esalon 5.25 Medium Brown Pearl Mahogany

Even though I wasn't crazy about the color, I really like Esalon as a whole. So I called them after uploading pics of my results and explained that I wanted a more vibrant red. They changed my color to a Medium Intense Red, and that's what I will use next month when it is time to dye my hair again. Hopefully the third time will be the charm. Color issues aside, I am pretty satisfied which my experience so far. The first time I used them my grays around the hairline were not covered to my liking, but they adjusted my color and I had excellent gray coverage the second time around. If you have read other reviews of Esalon you know that a common complaint is that it smells very strongly of ammonia. I have used plenty of haircolors from the drugstore, and I can confirm that the smell is indeed intense. The root color is not as strong, but the color for the lengths will make your eyes water. Definitely do it in a well ventilated are, not a closed bathroom like I did. It was worse when I was rinsing the hair color in the shower, so much so that I tried to hold my breath as long as possible. If you are very sensitive to ammonia smell this is definitely something to consider. It is by far the strongest smelling dye I have ever used. That being said, I did not find my hair was damaged by it in any way, so there's that. All in all, I would rated them 4 stars, with one star deducted for smell. It's definitely worth it if you can find a color you like (and they are very much willing to work with you until you find it) and you are ok with the fumes. I look forward to trying next months color and will update you all. Happy coloring!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Confidence in a Cream Review

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          I've used this cream enough now that I can give an honest review. Back in December I had my 20% Sephora coupon, which was right around the time that It Cosmetics released their new "Confidence in a Cream" cream. I tried it on my hand and loved the texture and it was an impulse buy....oi vey. But, I was heartened when I checked out the reviews online and most were glowing. Currently, it has a 3.5 rating on MUA, though back in December it was much higher. So, was this a win or a bust for me?

That's a huge jar!!!!!

          Unfortunately, this cream has not lived up to expectations. It is chock full of wonderful skin loving ingredients, like ceramides, peptides, and antioxidants. It touts itself as regenerative, which sounds like something you'd want in a face cream. But it just did not deliver.  Let's start with what I did like about the cream. It's not too expensive, as far as non drugstore creams go. It's $48, but you do get two full ounces as opposed to the more common 1.7 (50ml). Another good thing is that you can get a deluxe size sample for $16, which I highly recommend. I wish I had known about that before I went and bought the bigger size. It does have fragrance, but I found it really pleasant, a sort of lemon meringue type of scent.
          As nice as the ingredient list is, I did not care for the heavy feeling of this cream. It applies nicely, but you are left with a sticky feeling and it never really fully absorbs. Even an hour after applying it at night I can still feel it on my skin. So this was strictly a night cream for me, and I cant imagine there would be many women who could wear this during the day. I might have been OK with the tackiness and the heaviness if there was a commensurate relief of my flaky skin do to all of the actives I use, but I still noticed foundation picking up on my flakes despite slathering a good amount of this cream at night. Basically, I saw not discernible change in my skin. Despite that, you might want to check this cream out, as there are plenty of great reviews and it might just work for you, but do get the smaller size in case it does not.

MY SKIN: combo skin, late 30s, using tret, mostly clear, some flakes.

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:


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

          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!