Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream

Up for review today is the Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream. This is the first Mario Badescu product I've ever tried. I've never been really aware of this brand, save for their drying lotion, which is supposed to work miracles on pimples. I'll have some other Mario Badescu reviews in the coming months, so let me know if you're interested!

This eye cream is suitable for all skin types, and comes in a small half ounce plastic container which costs $18.00. At first glance, that doesn't seem like much product for a fairly steep price, but this eye cream will last you forever...I'm estimating, maybe a year, depending on how dry your eye area is.

This white cream is super emollient and rich. The first thing I noticed was how thick and sticky the cream is. I immediately suspected it contained oil to produce that kind of texture. Well, after looking up the ingredients, it doesn't contain mineral oil, but it contains vegetable oil and carnation oil, which I thought was pretty interesting--I've never noticed carnation oil in any of my skincare products. Apparently, it is an anti-inflammatory and restorative agent which can help reduce wrinkles, eczema and rosacea, relax muscles, and aid with hair loss. In addition, this eye cream contains hyaluronic acid, which has the ability to retain up to a thousand times its own weight in moisture. As if that weren't enough, this product also contains aloe vera. Here is a list of its ingredients, courtesy of

Ingredients: Deionized Water, Polyglycerylmethacrylate (and) Propylene Glycol, Carnation Oil, Propylene Glycol (and) Water (and) Euphrasia Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20, Vegetable Oil, Aloe, Polyquaternium-24 (and) Hyaluronic Acid

Though the website says this cream is "medium weight" and can be used "day or night," I do not suggest this eye cream for day time wear unless you plan on staying at home and not wearing much makeup. I like to apply eye cream generously since the skin on my eyelids is pretty thin, and I find this eye cream to be a bit greasy. It sits on your skin for a very long time, and I'm not sure if it actually absorbs into your skin to hydrate it. I say this because when I wake up in the mornings, my eyelids are still coated with a film of this eye cream, no matter how little I use. As a result, I've taken to using this eye cream as a "sealant." When I apply a serum or emulsion after cleansing and toning my face, I'll put this cream on after to ensure that the serum underneath absorbs completely into my skin. I could not imagine using this eye cream during the day, unless I wanted to go for a glossy eye look or something. My eyelids are naturally oily, so using this during the day would turn me into a hot mess.

However, if your eyelids/under eyes are extremely dry, this is probably the ideal eye cream for you. Your concealer and foundation will probably glide on very nicely on top of it. I'm not sure how long you'll have to wait for the cream to absorb, but it's best to apply as little as possible and work your way up (i.e., tap the cream once gently with your ring finger, pat your eyelid, repeat). Though Mario Badescu claims that this cream "helps lock in the skin’s own natural moisture without the use of heavy, greasy oils," I believe their description is rather misleading.

As it's still winter and my skin has been super dehydrated lately, I'm perfectly content to have this in my nighttime regimen. But as the season changes, I will probably look into something else.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Clinique Derma White Super City Block SPF 40++

I've been using this Clinique Super City Block SPF 40++ from their Derma White line for nearly a month now. This sunscreen is formulated especially for Asian skin, and is available exclusively in Asia. It comes in an ounce tube which retails for about 400 RMB, or roughly $40.00 USD. Unfortunately, I don't think you can purchase this from the Clinique website anymore in the states. I got it off their website over a year ago during one of their bonus times, and it was probably a clearance item since I only paid about $28.00. This product has been marked way up from that price at other online stores like was selling this for $22.50 around Christmas, but now the price has bounced back up, sadly. If price is a deterrent, you'll probably want to skip on this one. Personally, I am willing to spend a lot of money on skincare, especially sunscreen--as long as I find something that really works. And since I'm beginning to look into skin whitening products, this product seemed like a good place to start.

I'm terrified of tanning, so I've always been very vigilant about applying sunscreen, but until just last year I never ventured beyond using Oil of Olay All Day Moisture Lotion Complete SPF 15. I have always wanted a higher protection sunscreen in a similar formula and consistency...BUT, we all know that the higher the SPF is, the more greasy it becomes. So I was pleasantly surprised to find out this sunscreen is completely oil-free and greaseless. I could really tell that it was oil-free because though I had it in storage for several months, the product didn't separate (in some sunscreens, the cream settles and the oil floats to the top). When smoothing it onto the skin, it feels like any regular lotion. Though this sunscreen contains silicone (dimethicone), I can't feel it in the texture at all, unlike in my prior experience with MAC Prep + Prime SPF 50. It goes on very smoothly, yet still quickly dries to a matte finish. The finish allows this sunscreen to be easily worn under your makeup. It's actually formulated to also act as a makeup primer. I like that this sunscreen dries quickly, but I think it dries a little too quickly. I like my lotion and creams to remain moist so I can smooth it over as much of my face as possible before it dries, but because this sunscreen dries quickly, it doesn't spread very well, though this product is quite watery. I end up applying more product on my face than I would normally with other sunscreen. So though I have combination skin, I prefer a sunscreen that feels more moisturizing and less matte. I suppose in the summer I'll appreciate this product more, haha.

The Derma White Super City Block also looks like a tinted sunscreen, or a pale bb cream or tinted moisturizer. However, this sunscreen isn't meant to provide any coverage, so it shouldn't be a substitute for foundation. At the same time, this sunscreen contains silica, which seems to have been milled so that after applying the sunscreen onto your skin it reflects light. I actually don't particularly like this aspect of the sunscreen. Somehow my skin looks really artificial; though I can't see any discernable flecks of silica, I oddly look more tan, almost as if I'm already wearing a poor quality foundation. I cannot wear my normal Skinfood bb cream over this foundation, and I have to dust on Make Up For Ever HD Finishing Powder to offset this bizarre artificial effect. Fortunately, my skin only requires a tiny bit concealing here and there, so I'm able to pull off this sunscreen without looking funny. I can imagine gals with a lot of blemishes not liking this sunscreen very much. I've never experienced anything quite like this before...should I call it a "matte disco ball" effect? Maybe the lighting is the culprit...but I find myself missing the subtle glow of MAC's Prep + Prime SPF 50 over this one.

The following is a list of ingredients I've typed up off the side of the box.

Active Ingredients:
Zinc Oxide 8.8%, Octinoxate 7.5%, Titanium Dioxide 6.6%, Octisalate 2%
Water/Aqua/Eautrioctyldodecyl Citrate, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Steareth-2, Silica, Aluminum Stearate, Angelica Acutiloba (Japanese Angelica) root extract, Porphyra Yezoensis (Algae) extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) extract/Extrait d'orge, Zizyphus Jujuba fruit extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa (peony) root extract, cucumis Sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, Helianthus Annuus (sunflower) seedcake, Saccharomyces Lysate extract, Carthamus Tinctorius (safflower) flower extract, Rosa Roxburghii fruit extract, Paeonia Albiflora (peony) root extract, Gardenia Florida extract, lecithin, Poria Cocos Sclerotium extract, Propylene Glycol dicaprate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), yeast extract/faex/extrait de levure, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (licorice) root extract, citric acid, peg-100 stearate, Betula Alba (birch) bark extract, acetyl glucosamine, tocopheryl acetate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) extract, caffeine, magnesium ascorbyl, phosphate, squalane, glycyrrhetinic acid, Gentiana Lutea (Gentian) root extract, Oryza Sativa (rice) bran extract, Ceteth-2, peg-40 stearate, sorbitan tristearate, magnesium aluminum silicate, polyglyceryl-6 polyricinoleate, tricaprylin, sucrose, stereath-20, sodium rna, sodium stearate, isopropyl titanium triisostearate, stearic acid, pantethine, Rosmarinus Officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycine Soja (soybean) seed extract, glycerin, barium sulfate, glucose, caprylyl glycol, hexylene glycol, polyethylene, peg/ppg-18/18 dimethicone, Citrus Unshiu peel extract, xanthan gum, disodium edta, bht, chlorphenesin, phenoxyethanol, mica, iron oxides (Ci-77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), titanium dioxide (Ci 77891) [ILN29176]

Though I'm turned off by the silica, I was so impressed with how many fruit and plant extracts Clinique stuffed into this sunscreen. Also, notice how there are NO parabens. Amazing! All you natural gals will probably like this sunscreen, since it's very hard to find a quality, non-greasy, high SPF product. (But if any of you spy any other harmful preservatives in the ingredients, please let me know, and I will immediately retract my recommendation!)

Honestly, this review is probably still somewhat premature, since I started using this product way before any of the other Derma White products I've recently acquired. I tried the Moisture Milk and Brightening Essence for the first time a couple days ago, and was struck by the revelation that this sunscreen is probably one of those products that should only be used with other products from the same line : ). So, I will review the other 2 Derma White products shortly and then do a product update on the sunscreen. Let's see if Clinique Derma White's "whitening" properties really work!

You can check out the rest of the complete Derma White line here, but remember that it's not available in the US, so everything is in Chinese text.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Recent Purchases

I went to the mall this afternoon to pick up my free cosmetic sample and boy, the lines were AWFUL. The line outside Macy's wrapped around the entire building in several loops. The line at Nordstrom wasn't short either, but it moved much faster. I ran into a friend who said she lined up 3 times to pick up makeup! I don't know if I would have had the time or patience to do that. Should've probably gone in the morning, but I didn't think that many people would be there. I ended up getting the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair in a 0.5 oz bottle, since I really like Estee Lauder.
My mom and I are always surprised to see how many people pack into the mall in our area. The economy is supposedly in recession, but people don't seem to be cutting back on spending. Meanwhile taxpayers are the ones bailing out corporations because of the greedy, complacent, and powerful few. I really hope our new President ensures there is more government oversight when it comes to cowboy capitalism. Everyone seems to be in love with him already, but I want to stay impartial until the man actually achieves results.

Anyway, my winter break is drawing to a close. As a college student who has no idea if she'll have a job come graduation, I spent more than I should on cosmetics and clothing. I am now declaring a purchase boycott starting today, haha. Well, here's just a summary on what I've picked up since December 2008:

- Kose Sekkisei Powder Facewash, Lotion, Emulsion, and Cream
- Clinique Derma White Advanced Brightening Essence, Moisture Cream, and City Block SPF 40++
- Majolica Majorca Lash Bone Base, Lash Gorgeous Wing Mascara in black
- MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Petticoat
- Free People purple camisole
- H&M lace lilac slip
- Marc by Marc Jacobs barrette, key pouch
- LaRok chained jacket, fringe tank
- basic black hoodie

Though a lot of the stuff I got was on sale, my bank account still feels hard hit. Well, the one flip side of going back to school soon is that I'll have a job again, thus, some extra money.

DHC Olive Essentials Set

I have a long review today which I'm so excited to share with you about the DHC Olive Essentials Set. This 4 piece set costs $79.00. The set is comprised of items which, if individually purchased, cost $104.00.

Some or many of you might have heard of this brand before. I was first introduced to DHC when I was in seventh grade. Back then, I had relatively perfect skin, with the occasional pimple. But even as a youngster, I liked to indulge myself in some serious skin pampering. DHC used to send me catalogs, and they'd always include samples. Looking back, I probably applied everything entirely incorrectly, and since my skin was already problem free to begin with, I didn't see any results. My wee self also used to wonder, gosh, why is this olive stuff all so freaking expensive?! Of course, now as a young adult, I find DHC to be decently priced. Even better, it really works. I've been using this set a couple times a week since my terrible acne/comedone outbreak, and my skin is regaining its health.

DHC is a Japanese skincare line which has been around for over two decades. Most of their products are derivatives of olive oil, which is extremely rich in antioxidants and vitamins. What makes their olive oil special as opposed to a bottle you'd find at your grocery store is the painstaking extraction process their olives undergo to deliver oil at its uncompromised purest and richest. At any rate, it goes unsaid that Japanese skincare means quality. DHC also doesn't test on animals!

I personally classify this set as a "4 step skincare system," or the "Asian skincare method." The Asian method of basic cleansing involves using cleansing oil on dry skin to loosen and remove oil, makeup, and dirt. This preps the skin for soap, which lathers away any remaining grime. A "lotion," which is the Asian version of a moisturizing toner, is then applied to the skin to add moisture. This allows the skin to better absorb moisturizer, which is the final step.

The following will be a walk-through the four products, along with my thoughts and experience. Since the website has its own directions, I wrote my own below, and only copied and pasted the price quotes and ingredients.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, 6.7 fl oz = $25.00, (on sale for $21.00 until 2/28/09), 2.3 fl oz = 12.50

Ingredients: olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, sorbeth-30 tetraoleate, tocopherol, phenoxyethanol, propylparaben, stearyl glycyrrhetinate, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil

Directions: Wash your hands with soap, then dry them. Pump one or two squirts into the palm of your dry hand. Use your free hand to apply the oil to your entire face until all the oil is on your face. With both hands, massage the oil into your face in an upwards and outwards motion for a minute, focusing on congested or problematic areas, or anywhere you've applied makeup. You may use this opportunity to massage your face muscles and dissolve waterproof or longwearing makeup, like eye makeup. When you are finished, rinse your face with lukewarm water. The cleansing oil will immediately emulsify and dissolve off your face on contact with the water.

Review: This is DHC's most popular product, and it comes in a sanitary plastic pump bottle as pictured. For those of you who have never heard of using cleansing oil, and cringe at the thought of applying oil to your skin, worry not. I have extremely combination skin, and this product has never caused me to break out or clog my pores, so it is perfectly suitable for all skin types. Also, this cleansing oil is completely water-soluble, though you would think that all oils are water-repellant. Once the oil makes contact with water, it will emulsify, or melt off your face in what looks like a milky liquid, or lotion that has been diluted with water. You will not be left with greasiness on your skin--it will just feel soft and moisturized. If you have dry skin, you can probably get away with just using this as a cleanser. However, if you have combination or oily skin, you should definitely follow up with a soap type of facewash. Make sure it is mild, so it does not overstrip your skin of precious lipids.
Sometimes, I like to add exfoliants into the DHC oil to really unclog my pores. You can put sugar, coffee grounds, beach sand, (or whatever floats your boat, really), and mix it in with your regular one or two squirts of DHC cleansing oil. Apply it to your face in the same upward and outward motion, gently scrubbing your congested areas. If your skin requires daily exfoliation like mine, this is a great way to gently unclog your pores without irritating your skin. Obviously, if your skin is easily irritated or problematic, don't try this scrub everyday, as it will only worsen your condition.
What I like about DHC's Deep Cleansing Oil, as opposed to Shu Uemura's, is that it doesn't require extra steps to dissolve from the skin. With Shu Uemura's cleansing oils, you have to wet your face after massaging in the oil so it is slightly emulsified, massage your face again, and then rinse. The 4 step cleansing method is already pretty time consuming, and since I have to do so much extra work than the average person to keep my skin clear, whatever is more efficient gets my appreciation.
I currently don't use makeup remover, and this oil gets off the hardest-to-remove makeup from my face, even from my eye area, and it does not sting or irritate my eyes the slightest bit. However, it is an oil, so if it gets in your eyes, your vision will be slightly blurred from a film of the oil, but this has never bothered me--it goes away after the second cleansing step. The only thing that this cleansing oil doesn't remove is fiber/polymer based/tubing mascaras, so don't go crazy rubbing your eyes trying to get those off. Rinse off the cleansing oil, and the tubes should be easily removed in the process.
I definitely recommend this product for all skin types. It's gentle, moisturizing but never leaves a greasy film, and it really works. The large size individual bottle is on sale right now, so be sure to check it out if you're interested.

DHC Mild Soap: 3.1 oz = $15.50, on sale for $12.00 until 2/28/09, see link for other sizes and prices

Ingredients: sodium palmitate, sodium palm kernelate, water, sucrose, glycerin, sodium isostearate, alcohol denat., sorbitol, sodium oleate, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, tetrasodium etidronate, honey

Directions: Splash your face with lukewarm water. Rub the soap between your wet palms until you have a lather. Apply the lather to your face and gently massage your skin with your fingertips in a circular motion. This soap may also be used in conjunction with a washcloth, face brush, loofah, or Clarisonic. Swipe the bar onto the tool after it's been wet a couple of times, and apply it directly to your face in a circular motion. It will work up a lather as you cleanse your face. This step is perfectly fine to use after cleansing with the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil or alone. Rinse your face thoroughly after the desired time has elapsed.

: I normally don't use bars of soap on my face because I find it harder to work them into a lather. DHC Mild Soap is not an exception--when I first started using it, I thought it was a bit hard to get a rich lather by just rubbing it with my hands. I think this soap just requires a little more work than your regular bar of soap, but the lather it produces is really nice--extremely gentle, foamy, and fluffy. Also, when I used this with my Clarisonic I was able to achieve an even better, richer lather. Unfortunately, if used alone, I don't think this soap does a very efficient job at cleansing. I've come to believe that cleansing thoroughly is a rigorous process, and you can't expect to remove a day's worth of grime off your face if you just use this and tone, unless you own a Clarisonic or a manual brush. Personally, I think this soap should be paired with the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. The oil does all the hard work, and the soap takes off any any excess oil or moisture the oil leaves behind, without overstripping your skin. This soap is extremely gentle. Your face will never feel tight or dry after you use it. It also doesn't have a scent, so if you are susceptible to fragrance, this is perfect for you. At the same time, like most of DHC products, this soap does contain olive oil and honey, which have amazing healing and nourishing properties. Though I do not recommend using this soap on its own if you have combination to oily skin, if you have normal or dry skin, this soap is excellent to use alone. You can wash your face with it as many times a day as you'd like, and it will never dry you out or cause any irritation or stinging.

DHC Mild Lotion: 6 fl oz = $34.00, 3.3 fl oz = $23.00

Ingredients: water, glycerin, butylene glycol, cucumis sativus (cucumber) juice, placental protein, methylparaben, dipotassium glycyrrhizate

Directions: After you have thoroughly cleansed your face, pat your skin dry with a towel. You can apply this lotion either with a cotton pad or your hands. If you use a cotton pad, soak the pad until the other side of the pad is wet, and gently rub it into your skin in a circular motion. If applying with your hands, squeeze out a dime size into your palm, rub both palms together, and gently pat or blot your palms onto your entire face.

Review: Asian "lotions" tend to be different than Western lotions. What we know as an emollient rich, more diluted version of a cream is actually a hydrating toner in Asia. After cleansing your skin thoroughly, the Asian lotion is meant to soften up your skin and moisten it in preparation for your actual cream, lotion, or oil product. This is so when you follow up with your final moisturizer, it will seal in additional nutrients and water into your skin, so your skin receives the most hydration possible. An Asian lotion is not meant to "tone" the skin, or remove additional dirt, makeup, or residue from it. Treat it as you would any serum--you want to apply it to a clean face, and ensure you apply a thicker moisturizer over it, to guarantee the deepest penetration.
The DHC Mild Lotion is a clear gel-like liquid that reminds me of the essence found in Asian paper facial masks. However, it doesn't have any of the stickiness I've encountered in the essence from Asian paper masks. It goes onto your skin much more smoothly. I much prefer using my palms instead of a cotton pad to apply it to my face since I don't need the cotton pad for exfoliation or "toning." One or two pea sized drops are plenty enough for your entire face. After I shake them into my palm, I rub my palms together, and gently blot and press them over my entire face until it has been entirely covered with the Mild Lotion. The Mild Lotion feels slightly oily to the touch when I'm rubbing my palms together, but I think this is because of the glycerin. Once I've applied it to my face, it does not feel greasy or oily at all, just incredibly moisturized. If you have oily skin, you could probably end your skin regimen here, because the Mild Lotion feels so light yet very hydrating. I have oily to dehydrated combination
skin, and I never skip or make this my last step. A couple times a week, I will substitute this product with whatever serum I am applying at the moment.
An interesting tidbit is that this Mild Lotion used to have an actual liquid rather than a gel formula several years ago. I'm not sure why DHC changed the formula (maybe they added more glycerin?), but I like this version better. The old liquid wasn't very hydrating to me, and it felt like I was just applying water onto my skin. If I had been using makeup before they discontinued the liquid version, I would have probably only used it as a substitute for MAC's Fix It spray to apply powder mineral makeup.

DHC Olive Virgin Oil: 1 fl oz = $39.00, on sale for $29.00 until 1/31/09 (if you're considering purchasing this alone, hurry before the sale ends!)

olea europaea (olive) fruit oil

Directions: After cleansing and toning your face, pump one or two drops onto one of your dry palms. A small amount of the oil goes a long way, do not be generous with the product. Rub both palms briskly together. This will warm the oil and make sure you have covered your palms evenly for even distribution. In the same way you would apply the DHC Mild Lotion, gently pat your palms onto your face until it has been entirely covered with the oil. Your face should NOT look oily or shiny.

Review: Again, DHC has us putting oil onto our skin, and is completely shattering any negative preconceptions about it. If you have combination or oily skin and are cringing at the thought of applying this to your skin, please don't feel dubious. Like I said previously, I have combination skin myself. Sometimes I get horrible dry, flakey patches, especially in the winter, but I struggle with finding a thick moisturizer for my skin that won't break me out or clog my pores. This oil is perfect for that. Unlike the thick, vitamin E oil I used to apply to my skin, this clear oil is much thinner and lighter in consistency. I didn't realize until recently that I have always been applying skin oil incorrectly. You only need a teeny bit to pat all over your skin, just like you would with La Mer cream. However much olive oil you want to apply is actually up to you; you can apply a lot until your face looks oily (not recommended unless you're going to bed), or you can apply just one or two drops. With this rubbing/patting application method via the palms, I guarantee that one or two drops will be nearly indiscernable on your face, it will absorb quickly into your skin, and your skin will still reap the natural oil's benefits.
This oil has been amazing with allowing my moisturizers and serums to sink even more fully into my skin. I usually only apply it at night (the sunscreen I'm currently using doesn't go on moisturized skin well), and in the morning, my pores have all shrunk considerably, and my skin is radiant and glowing. This extra olive virgin oil contains all sorts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and nutrients. It really protects and nourishes the skin without clogging your pores, and a wonderful anti-aging measure. My grandmother is in her eighties, but her face has hardly any wrinkles because she has been slathering on facial oils for years. This oil is also great with dry or split hair and other areas of the body.

In the past, I've felt DHC is pretty good about giving newcomers samples. If you call their toll-free number (1-800-DHC-CARE) and give them your email address, you can request a free catalog with skincare samples. I'm actually not sure if they'll make you pay $2 for shipping, since that's what the request a catalog section specifies. Eek. I hope not.
Or, if you want to try this set for less, you can purchase the mini set, which comes with mini version of the 4 products and only costs $17.50. It's also perfect for travel if you go on vacation and need to pack light.

If you are considering purchasing new skincare, I definitely recommend this set from DHC.
If I had to choose my favorites in this set, they would be the Deep Cleansing Oil and the Olive Virgin Oil. I use those two products the most, and I will always keep a bottle of each in my bathroom. I could probably do without the Mild Soap and Mild Lotion, but I would definitely give them a try if you haven't already before discounting their efficacy. The entire set is extremely nourishing and moisturizing, works for all skin types, and lasts quite awhile. I rotate it between my other skincare products and now my skin has a rosy, healthy glow. I love it!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

$175 million worth of free samples!

Be sure to stop by your local department store's beauty counters to pick up your free sample on January 20th, 2009! Because of a class action settlement, for seven days, the following department stores will be handing out samples:

Bergdorf Goodman
Boston Store
Carson Pirie Scott
Neiman Marcus
Saks Fifth Avenue

The following is a list of the Manufacturer Defendants and their products that will be distributed, while supplies last, through the stores listed above:

* Boucheron (USA) Ltd.:
Femme Eau de Toilette (1 ounce/30 ml)

* Chanel, Inc.:
Coco Mademoiselle body lotion (3.4 fluid oz)

* Christian Dior Perfumes, Inc.:
J’Adore Eau de Parfum (15 ml)

* Clarins U.S.A., Inc. (customers will have a choice of ONE of two products, while supplies last):
Clarins Energizing Morning Cream (30 ml) OR
Clarins Beauty Flash Bomb (30 ml)

* Conopco, Inc. (distributed by Coty, Inc. on behalf of Conopco, Inc.) (customers will have a choice of ONE of three products, while supplies last):

Calvin Klein Euphoria Bath and Shower Crème (6.7 oz)
Vera Wang Princess Body Polish (5 oz)
Lovely Sarah Jessica Parker Shower Gel (6.7 oz)

* The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. (customers will have a choice of ONE of two products, while supplies last):

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair (15 ml/0.5 oz)
Clinique Moisture Surge (30 ml/1 oz)

* Guerlain, Inc.:
My Insolence Eau de Toilette (15 ml)

* L’Oréal USA, Inc. (formerly known as Cosmair, Inc.) (customers will have a choice of ONE of eight products, while supplies last):

Lancôme UV Expert 20
Lancôme Cils Design Pro Mascara
Lancôme Fatale Mascara
Lancôme Courbe Virtuose Mascara
Lancôme Primordial Skin Defense
Ralph Lauren Romance Shower Gel (6.7 oz.)
Giorgio Armani ACM Shower Gel (6.7 oz)
Lancôme Hypnôse Shower Gel

* Parfums Givenchy, Inc.:
Very Irresistible Givenchy Eau de Toilette (15 ml)

So...what's the catch? You are only allowed to receive, while supplies last, a maximum of ONE free cosmetics product from ONE of the Manufacturer Defendants. You must also fill and sign a form to verify that you purchased Department Store Cosmetics during the class period, May 29, 1994 through July 16, 2003. No rainchecks will be issued, and this offer is only valid while supplies last.

What do you want to pick up? I'm thinking maybe the Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Body Lotion...

for more info, visit the settlement website.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

MAC Strobe Cream

Since I previously reviewed a soft focus powder, today I'm discussing a soft focus liquid/cream, MAC Strobe Cream. Strobe Cream comes in a 1.7 fl oz tube which will cost you $29.50. It's a bit expensive, but this tube should last you a fairly long time, if used correctly.

I was disappointed at the time I was contemplating purchasing this because there were no adequate reviews on this product! I hadn't gone to the MAC counter or store to test the product, so I had no idea what the finish looked like. I couldn't find any before or after photos or videos. People mostly talked about whether they liked it or not, which is somewhat useless. Unfortunately, my camera is (still) out of commission so I can't add any photos but I will do my best to describe it.

From the MAC website, Strobe Cream is:
"The ultimate quick fix for the skin. Super-powered with potent botanicals; de-snoozes, de-stresses, moistens, freshens and boosts the look of dull, flat or tired-looking skin with a fully loaded vitamin zap and a mega dose of green tea. Brightens and clarifies with iridescent particles and antioxidants. Enhances the effects of light on all skin and in all lighting conditions from sunlight to spotlight."

So Strobe Cream is not only supposed to make your skin look more refreshed, but it's also supposed to improve its condition, by delivering antioxidants, green tea, and what not.

Strobe Cream comes in a small pearly, white plastic tube with a black cap made of the similar rubbery plastic in NARS products, so if your fingers are oily, it will unfortunately accumulate marks. I don't really like the packaging because 1) I can't see how much cream I've used or have left, 2) I can't squeeze out all of it if I run low, and 3) it's a little bulky. Good thing is that since it's more hardy you don't need to worry about the cap coming off and cream oozing everywhere into your purse or makeup bag. Still, I would have much preferred they kept the original packaging in a squeeze-type tube, but oh well. Maybe they can think about that eventually.

The cream has a bit of scent, which I actually didn't like at first. Some people find it smells nice, but it doesn't smell fragrant, fruity, floral, or etc. at all. I don't think it's meant to smell like anything, but the ingredients list does contain perfume. It just smells like makeup or face powder to me. (I know that's not really helpful.)

Here's the ingredients:
Spring Water (Aqua), Cyclomethicone, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Distearate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cholesterol, Jojoba Esters, Steareth-10, Cetyl Esters, Cetyl Alcohol, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Saxifraga Sarmentosa Extract, Morus Nigra (Mulberry) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Extract, Whey Protein (Lactis Proteinum), Panthenol-Pro-Vitamin B5, Cyanocobalamin Vitamin B12, Tocopheryl Acetate, 7-Dehydrocholesterol Pro-Vitamin D3, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ceramide 2, Scutellaria Baicalensis Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pyrus Malus Extract, Lactic Acid, Sucrose, Linoleic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Polyacrylamide, Laureth-7, Glycerin, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Sodium Sulfite, Fragrance (Parfum), Sodium Citrate, Sodium Metabisulfite, Citric Acid, Propylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Red 4

There are a couple pore cloggers in there, so if you have super sensitive skin, or combination/oily skin, you might want to test this product and see first if it'll break you out. Also, if you're into natural products, as you can see this does contain parabens and animal cholestoral, so you'll probably want to skip out on it.

At first glance, the Strobe Cream has a very light consistency. It should probably be called Strobe Lotion instead, and the Strobe Lotion should be called Strobe Liquid. Strobe Cream is a thin, white moisturizer with this bit of luminous purple-pink-gold sheen, so when your skin catches the light at certain angles, it reflects those colors. The glow comes from the shimmer particles which have been blended so well and finely that you can't even tell it contains shimmer particles. You don't need to use a lot of it to achieve a glow. Like any lotion, you squeeze out a tiny bit and just smooth it over the intended area.

I've heard many different things about Strobe Cream's purpose-it should be a primer, it should be a highlighter, it should be a plain moisturizer, blahblahblah. So let's go through each claim. I have normal to dry combination skin, and I've noticed that Strobe Cream looks awful if used over dry, flakey skin. So the product is only as good as your current skin--unless your skin is smooth and not prone to oiliness or flakiness, Strobe Cream is not for you.

Also, I believe that Strobe Cream works best for highlighting purposes. I apply a bit of it on my cheeks and browbone for a little extra radiance. Strobe Cream looks great alone or under gel or powder blush. I do not apply it anywhere near my T-zone since I am prone to breakouts and oiliness in those areas. However, blush is the only makeup product I ever put over my Strobe Cream. Also, I usually don't put foundation on my cheeks, so the only product under my Strobe Cream would be my SPF. I've noticed that Strobe Cream does NOT look good when applied over foundation or concealer. When I've added Strobe Cream over foundation in the past, it made my skin look cakey, and my makeup seemed to oxidize faster. The shimmer and silica in the cream also probably merely made all that oxidation seem more obvious and unnatural. Foundation should never look like it's not your natural skin, so I was absolutely repulsed when I saw my face in the mirror. So the highlighting aspect of Strobe Cream is somewhat limited.

Since Strobe Cream works great on bare or moisturized skin, it's also great for the collarbone and decollatage area, or anywhere on the body for a subtle gleam. It primes and preps your skin for shimmer powder as well.
I don't like the effect of Strobe Cream over or under foundation since I have combination skin, but I believe that dry skinned gals will love its effect. Strobe Cream works fine under mineral or loose powder foundation, but only when buffed on ever so lightly.

I recommend this product, but I say "proceed with caution." Strobe Cream does not work for everyone, it causes some people to break out horrendously, and others have said it makes them look like a "disco ball." However, I love this cream because of its unique purple-y gleam. My favorite thing to do is to layer my Smashbox limited edition Tokidoki Soft Lights in Dolce Vita over it, which also imparts a unique, violet sheen.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Golden Globes 2009

Every year I drool over the gowns, jewels, shoes, hair, and makeup at the Golden Globes. This year is no exception. Here are some of my favorites.

Lately, Angelina Jolie has this amazing glow about her and is always sporting simple and clean hair and makeup. She looks classy and elegant, as always.

Anne Hathaway's dress and earrings are absolutely gorgeous! And her skin is so milky and fabulous!

Freida Pinto's dress mixes elegance with bohemian, and looks great with her olive and chocolate coloring. I also love her soft, romantic hair and makeup.

Wow, I didn't even recognize Megan Fox at first! Her usual bright pout and flowing hair is replaced with an updo and nude look...and her blue eyes just pop!

There were a lot of mermaid, ruffled skirts on the red carpet, but Sandra Bullock's was one of the few that caught my eye. Her loose waves are the perfect complement to the sleekness of the bodice.

Another ruffled, mermaid dress! Isla Fisher is adorable, and she definitely knows how to dress. The nude taupe looks so good against her skin and strawberry hair, and her makeup is very subtle yet pretty. I recently had the pleasure of attending a preview screening of "Confessions of a Shopaholic," and she is so hilarious and cute! I don't usually like watching chick flicks in theatres, but I totally recommend you all go see it when it comes out.

Cutie Cameron Diaz's bright pink is a refreshing pop of color amid all the nude looks this year. Though she completes her outfit with pink eyeshadow and lip color, she pulls it off without looking matchy-matchy.

Congratulations to sweepers of the night Kate Winslet and Slumdog Millionaire! I can't wait for the Oscars.

Photos from JustJared and other sources.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder

As you all know by now, I'm obsessed with skincare. My mom used to say, "if you don't have the natural basics, you can only do so much with makeup." (Though she used much cruder words, haha!) So to me, it's important to have a good canvas to work with.

If you read my resolutions, you also know I'm angling to look more or less the same with or without makeup. I'm so used to wearing makeup that I feel self-conscious and unattractive without it. You ever wonder what those girls who are never without a pound of eyeliner or foundation
really look like? If they have boyfriends, do they feel self-conscious during sleepovers? (I guess Bare Escentuals thought about this one.) Do people wear makeup even at the gym? (Personally, I would never wear makeup to the can't be good if you're sweating. The heat opens up your pores, the makeup gets trapped in them along with all that sweat and dirt and oil....gross.)

The best make up, in my opinion, is applied so lightly it looks like your own skin because it's enhancing, not covering or masking, what you've already got. And you want it to be good for your skin too, as it blocks out pollution and toxins from seeping into your face.

The Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder seemed like the perfect product for what I'm working towards.
Sold exclusively at Sephora, it is a 100% mineral, silica powder (read: talc and paraben free) that imparts a soft lens focus on skin, diffusing light so you look naturally flawless and radiant. Because of the soft focus properties, the HD powder "softens the appearance of imperfections, sets foundation, and mattifies the skin without changing its natural contours." I was sold at this point! A translucent and colorless powder...if anyone asks, of course I'm not actually wearing makeup!

At 0.35 oz for $30, it's somewhat pricey. However, the beauty of mineral makeup is that you only use a little bit at a time for a lot of coverage, as you ladies may already be aware. Plus, since it's a powder, you don't really need to worry about it expiring. So, it seemed like a good investment.

I actually purchased the limited edition combination set which came with the same 0.35 oz powder and a mini synthetic kabuki brush. I didn't have a good kabuki brush already, and I had been looking for a synthetic brush, so the set was perfect.

If you look at the above picture closely, you can see that there are about four to five holes punched out in the sifter. Though the holes are very small, the powder can get everywhere and be very messy to use. Be VERY careful about how you store this product. After I peeled off the plastic sticker, I found that the powder was very hard to tap into the cap. Also, when I set the jar back onto my dresser, little sprays of silica powder would disperse into the air from the slightest force. The best thing to do is either put your powder brush over the sifter as you're setting the jar down, so the brush catches the silica powder, or just capping the jar before putting it down.

Also, if you travel and you want to take this with you, make sure you put tape or some kind of sticker over the sifter holes before you toss it into your makeup. When I took this on my flight, I didn't bother with that and the powder got everywhere inside the cap. This now makes the application somewhat annoying, but I'm not too heartbroken over it (though I'm waiting for the inevitable event where I knock the jar over and spill silica everywhere).

My gripes about the product end here. The only thing I dislike is the actual packaging. The product itself is amazing and this jar will last me forever. Unlike normal mineral makeup, you only need the TINIEST smidgen to set your entire face and neck. It's easier to gauge how much of the HD powder you're using if your powder brush is black or dark grey. I would recommend using a clean, soft brush everytime you use this product, rather than the same brush you use to apply your mineral makeup, to ensure the silica goes on smoothly. Since it is a finishing powder you can apply it on top of your mineral makeup.

For the best results:
Tap the jar maybe once into the cap, there should be barely any HD powder in the cap. Swish your kabuki brush into the cap in a clockwise motion. Look at your brush--if the color of the bristles hasn't changed at all, you can add another tap into the cap and repeat. You have enough of the HD powder on your brush when the product is almost indiscernible on the bristles. Then very lightly buff all over your face and neck in a circular motion. Your skin should look instantly matte and soft.

I read a lot of reviews where people are complaining that this product makes their face look pasty and white. This is only because they're applying way too much. Less really is more.

This powder does not break me out or clog my pores, but it keeps my makeup looking fresh and matte all day. My skin does not get oily at all. I totally recommend this for people with combination or oily skin.
If you have dry patches, this product probably isn't for you. Like any powder, it will cling to scabs and flakes. If you have combination dry skin, I would suggest only applying it on your oily areas.
Unfortunately, since I do not have wrinkles or fine lines, I cannot attest to how well this product conceals or diminishes them.

If you want to check this out at your nearest Sephora, I definitely recommend bringing your own face powder brush. You'll probably get a couple weird looks for whipping a brush out of your purse, but it's better to be sanitary than sorry! If you don't own a soft kabuki brush, keep in mind that the results of this product highly depend on the tool you use, so you should definitely consider purchasing one. I do not recommend using a buffer brush, since it will concentrate the product too much in one area.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Clarisonic Cleansers

I have a bunch of skincare reviews coming up, but I'm procrastinating a bit on writing them, haha. I thought I'd get this post out of the way since I had planned on doing a short blurb but forgot all about it until now.

When I bought the Clarisonic, I received the Breast Cancer Awareness one, which comes with 3 trial cleansers. Most people tend to chuck the cleansers, and use their regular cleansers, since Clarisonic doesn't specialize in actual skincare. I decided to try two of them anyway, since the strength of the cleanser doesn't really matter when you have the Clarisonic, which does all the work.

On a slightly related note, if you use the same cleanser daily, it's actually a good idea to rotate your cleansers every month to every two months (obviously, if you're past the stage of being experimental, you should just rotate what you know works for you). I have maybe three to five cleansers in my arsenal right now which I rotate every morning or night depending on what I think my skin needs (nourishing, exfoliation, etc.). This keeps your skin from plateau-ing, so it continually reaps the benefits of the product.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Refreshing Gel Cleanser is paraben free, which is a big trend right now. The back of the tube reads that the cleanser was actually created by Dr. Robb Akridge, PhD. (I have no idea who that is, but the fact that a scientist/doctor created it is somewhat comforting.) It is specially formulated for normal to oily skin types and contains 1% Willowbark Extract (Sephora tells me this is a natural antiseptic), beta-hydroxy acid, bearberry extract (what is this???), and pro-vitamins B5 and B12. I highly doubt these ingredients are anything to write home about, but I actually did like this cleanser. It was very gentle and it didn't dry out my skin. You only need to squeeze out a little bit of this clear-pink tinted gel and rub it all over your damp face, and it will not drip or run into your eyes. It also has a floral scent. After I used this, my Clarisonic brush head started smelling very opposed to smelling bacterial, which is how it smelled the first week I had it.

The other cleanser I tried was the Gentle Hydro Cleanser. This cleanser is not paraben free, but it contains aloe, cucumber, green tea, and Vitamin E. This cleanser is formulated for normal to sensitive skin. It is white and has a more milky consistency than the Refreshing Gel cleanser. I didn't like this cleanser as much because of the milkiness--the consistency was much thicker and it seemed to deposit residue on my skin. It also smells like cucumbers steeped in milk. Maybe some of you might like that scent....I didn't though. I'm sure it works just as well as the other cleanser, though--it's just not for me.

I didn't bother trying the Nourishing Care Cleanser, since it's for dry skin. I assumed it probably would have felt like pushing lotion around on my skin. Oh well!

I would not recommend using these cleansers if you're not pairing them with the Clarisonic, as it would probably be too weak to clean your skin. However, if you have dry or sensitive skin, I think this cleanser would be great alone, although they are created for normal to oily skin.

If you do use these cleansers along with the Clarisonic, do bear in mind that they probably will cause your brush to become more clogged with soap residue than your normal foaming cleanser. However, you should always clean your brush head anyway, no matter what cleanser you use.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Clarisonic Skin Care Brush - Week 8 and Final Verdict

So, my 8 weeks with the Clarisonic are finally up. There were a lot of ups and downs with this brush..I guess you could compare it to a real life relationship! Now that we're parting ways, here are some final pros and cons (some might sound familiar):

- cleanses your skin thoroughly
- gentle enough for twice daily use
- exfoliates
- leaves skin feeling super smooth
- preps skin for better absorption or suction on subsequent products, like peels or moisturizers
- pores gradually minimized (with good skin maintenance)

- price
- lacks indication of how much time it needs to charge
- difficult to keep brush head sanitary
- bulky size and weight (only for those who travel)
- no amount of external oscillation and exfoliation will completely purge your pores of oil and dirt

I admit, when I first started using the Clarisonic, I did notice a bit of a rosy "glow" in my face after a week or two...however, I feel like I might have been able to achieve that through daily manual exfoliation. Honestly, it does not seem like an absolutely indispensable product. Yes, it provides excellent cleansing and exfoliation, but it's not the "miracle" product that everyone claims it is. Depending on your skin's unique problems, your results might vary week to week like mine did.

The reason I bought the Clarisonic was because I needed something solid to rely on for maintaining my skin amidst stress, hormones, lack of sleep, product changes, and etc. Unfortunately, the Clarisonic, along with my regular regimen, was not enough to ward off my skin issues. I still broke out, and it still took me a long time to heal. My skin is still throwing off some last few miserable zits, in fact.

My verdict? Skip on the Clarisonic if you don't have the extra cash. But if you're a busy or impatient person who can afford to part with $195.00, the Clarisonic will save you time on the cleansing and exfoliation front. It's really a personal choice.

I hope these weekly posts have been helpful for those of you considering the Clarisonic. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment or email me.

Related links:
Clarisonic Week 1
Clarisonic Week 2
Clarisonic Week 3
Clarisonic Week 4
Clarisonic Week 5
Clarisonic Week 6
Clarisonic Week 7

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Anastasia Mini Brow Kit

I bought this Anastasia Mini Brow Kit recently since my tweezers were becoming blunt and I needed new ones asap. This kit looked super cute and it's also a pretty good deal ($25!). Besides the mini tweezers, you also get a mini "Matte Camille Highlighter (0.1 oz.)," and "Clear Brow Gel (0.04 oz.)."

The tweezers work pretty well, but since they're tiny, they're not always effective. You might want to keep them for your purse or trips. On the other hand, I love the pencil highlighter. It goes on super smooth and creamy, and the color is a great mixture of nude and pink. I dab it on the inner corners of my eyes and blend with my finger, and my eyes look instantly brighter. It's also great on the brow bone and around the arch. I love that it has no shimmer so it's not obvious on my skin.

I actually haven't tried the clear brow gel yet since I haven't used up my clear mascara, but I've read pretty good reviews on it. You can check out the reviews on Sephora for more information.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My 2009 Minimalist Beauty Resolutions

1. Diet--more fluids, anti-oxidants. Cut out processed carbohydrates and meat.
2. Exercise--cardio as often as possible, followed by targeted workouts.
3. Skincare--exfoliate every day, never fall asleep without washing face, always use eye cream, remember to put sunscreen on areas other than face, stop rubbing eyes
4. Makeup--wear less, cut routine time to 15 minutes maximum.
5. Sleep--at least 6-8 hours a night.


This is Japanese singer Mika Nakashima as on her latest album. Shot completely in natural light with minimal editing. I'm convinced she's hardly wearing any makeup, and she looks absolutely beautiful, and her skin is milky and translucent. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those girls who can get away without wearing makeup and still look decent. However, I'm going to do my best to get there as much as possible!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Clarisonic Skin Care Brush - Week 7

Being a female, I've been in a state of hormonal fluctuation and increased estrogen the past two weeks, haha. Though I reported that my comedones seemed to be disappearing last week, I probably spoke too early. A bunch of them became inflamed, morphing into stubborn pimples all over my T-zone.

I don't think the Clarisonic has sped up the acne's healing process at all. In the past two days, my skin has been clearing wonderfully, but I think that's because I've switched skincare products and modified my night time regimen (I will definitely do a review soon). Sadly, there are visible discolorations all over my forehead. Also, my cheek acne doesn't seem like it's going to heal anytime soon.

I still have one more week to observe the Clarisonic before returning it, so I'll come back with my final verdict next week. Hopefully I'll also finish a couple of other reviews between now and then!

I hope everyone has a prosperous, healthy, and happy 2009.