Monday, March 23, 2009

Sewame Paris Paper Facial Masks

(image taken from

Awhile ago, I had someone purchase some Sewame Paris paper facial masks for me on a trip to Asia because my skin has been acting up (when does it not?). They were found at Watson's and apparently dirt cheap...approximately $1 USD for a pack of 4 (but don't quote me on that).
I was given 3 different kinds: the VINCH Spring Refreshing and Moisturizing Facial Mask, the Clear White Radiance Renewal Mask, and the Shining and Whitening Sleep Promotion Facial Mask. The first two each came in a box of three, and the Sleep Promotion Mask came in a box of four. However, judging from Sasa, they also seem to come in packs of 7...wish I had the bigger packs, but oh well!

(image taken from

I couldn't find photos of these specific masks online for the longest time but now carries them. They also have a version called Whitening and Moisturizing Essence Mask, which has received much better reviews than the Clear White Radiance Renewal Mask. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to try it, but I plan to check it out as soon as I run out, and it's so cheap anyway (7 masks for $8.30) so it won't do much damage to the wallet. They also have several other masks, including a Face Slimming QQ one, if you're interested in anti-aging properties. I also tried one Whitening and Firming Essence Mask, I thought it was very similar to the Clear White Radiance Renewal Mask, but with thicker and more essence (it was dripping off the mask!).

For the price, I don't think you can really go wrong with these masks. They may not be as high quality as the more expensive brands, but they still work, and are cheap enough to use on a daily basis. Once a week after showering and toning, I peel open one of these and lay motionless on my bed for 20 minutes while the mask does its work. The masks are thickly soaked with essence, and the fabric Sewame uses is highly absorbent, so the mask retains a lot of essence without dripping all over the place. One thing I dislike is the way the mask was designed. There are a lot of slits all over the mask supposedly to help you adjust it to your face shape and keep it in place, but the slits actually cause the mask to slip awkwardly and fold over and under itself. It also makes it harder to massage your face while keeping the mask on.

After lying on my bed for almost half an hour, I take the mask off and massage the remaining essence on my face into my skin. I then squeeze the mask really hard to get all the leftover essence out, which I use to rub onto my neck, decolletage, arms, and legs. I don't apply any body lotion to the rest of my body afterwards, but I follow up on my face and neck with moisturizer. If your skin is dry, you can use facial oil or a thick cream; if you have oily or combination oily skin you can probably simply follow up with a gel moisturizer. The next morning after I wake up, my skin still has the thick, moist protective barrier from the mask essence over it, and when I rinse it off, my skin feels super soft and silky.

What I've noticed is that each Sewame mask has a different effect. The Clear White Radiance Renewal mask didn't leave my skin feeling super tight or sticky, like the Kanebo masks I've tried before--the essence had a soft and silky after effect. Thus, I didn't have to bother with rinsing my face to get rid of that sticky serum feeling, so this one is perfect for using prior to going out or applying makeup if you don't want to use it before bed. Also, I liked the fit on this one best--it was much easier to put on and adjust position on my face. On the other hand, the other two are definitely designed to be used in the evening. They left a very sticky after-sensation that I didn't particularly care for, but since I was going straight to bed after application I didn't mind so much.

Our of the three, my least favorite is the VINCH Spring Refreshing and Moisturizing Facial Mask. It's supposed to be the most hydrating and contain 30 ml of natural warm spring essence and micro minerals, but I actually didn't see much results with it. It was also extremely sticky. Blegh.

However, I definitely liked the Clear White Renewal Radiance Mask, and the Shining and Whitening Sleep Promotion Facial Mask as well. The latter was the only scented mask out of the three, but it smelled absolutely AMAZING--exactly like creamy, strawberry pocky with a tiny hint of lavender. I was so tempted to stuff the mask into my mouth but then I remembered it wasn't food. I haven't had Pocky in a couple months, and I'm going to NYC tomorrow, so the first thing I'm going to buy is several boxes of Chocolate and Strawberry Pocky. Mmm.
Anyway, in all seriousness, these two masks had a slight brightening effect on my skin after use, I thought. However, my skin isn't super pale, so it might've been more noticeable on my complexion--I think the brightening will vary from person to person. At any rate, I recommend these two out of the three that I've tried--and at such an awesome price, you can't really say no!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Clinique Turnaround Concentrate vs. Estee Lauder Idealist

This is a post I actually meant to write awhile ago, but never got to because I was busy, and then I was lazy, haha. After my great results with Estee Lauder's Idealist, I decided to try the comparable Clinique Turnaround Concentrate Visible Skin Renewer and find out which of the two was better. Both have received awards for their ability to "turn over" dead surface skin cells and reveal more luminous, radiant skin.

The price of Clinique's Turn Around is a tad cheaper than Estee Lauder's Idealist by almost ten bucks. Both come in one ounce pump bottles, but the Clinique is $37.50, and the Estee Lauder is $46.50. However, the Estee Lauder Idealist also comes in a 3.4 ounce version ($120.00), while Clinique only comes in the one ounce bottle.

Okay, now on to the product's purpose. Clinique says that their Turnaround Concentrate is
a "high-performance cocktail of exfoliants" that generates a "multilevel, time-released renewal process." It is supposed to help your skin constantly renew itself, look "brighter, more radiant" and feel "velvety, perfected." As for usage, Turnaround Concentrate is supposed to be used twice daily, and is designed to be used in conjunction with Clinique's 3 step system. However, you can use this with any cleansing regimen, really.

After cleansing and toning, I applied the Turnaround Concentrate to my T-zone, and followed with a moisturizer. Unlike Idealist, the Turnaround Concentrate comes in a fluid formula, so it is much lighter and easier to blend. Like most Clinique products, there is no intentional perfume or scent, but it has this sterile, clinical smell. After the Concentrate goes over my skin, there is no shine or oiliness.

Now, onto the actual review...
Though there are tons of great reviews on this product on and, I did not find it helpful for my skin at all. First of all, unlike Estee Lauder's Idealist which is both an exfoliant and moisturizer, this product is only an exfoliant. Furthermore, it didn't even do a good job exfoliating. I still had enlarged and clogged pores, and it wasn't until I applied their Total Turnaround Visible Skin Renewer moisturizer on top of the Turnaround Concentrate did I get the exfoliated, mattified effect I was looking for--smaller pores, flattened comedones, less bumps, etc. By itself, the Turnaround Concentrate is quite useless, and it only works in conjunction if it is used with the other Turnaround products in Clinique's line. If you have combination skin, I suggest you skip this product altogether and just go straight for the Estee Lauder Idealist.

While I'm doing a comparison, I also want to update on my results with Idealist. Unfortunately, after using it on and off for 4-5 months, my skin has acclimated to it, and it no longer helps prevent my breakouts or reduce my comedone size. So, I am on the lookout for a new exfoliant serum that will not only keep my skin clear, but also keep it moisturized. Please let me know if you have any product recommendations!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Financial Woes

A little non-beauty related today...

So I am thinking about purchasing my first DSLR camera. It's secondhand, but even so, costs a few hundred dollars. I've always wanted a DSLR, and not having a functional camera is really hampering not just my blogging abilities, but also normal life (can't document anything when I go out, etc.).

BUT, being a student with extremely limited cash inflow, I don't know if I should be making this purchase now, or if I should wait until my first job to get one.

I'm also going to New York City next week, which we all know is a super expensive place, so I expect to have a huge credit card bill at the end of the month...haha.

What do I do?!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I may be turning a year older...but I don't have to look like it!

This is just a random entry about age preventative measures I've consciously added into my life to ensure I continue to age gracefully, even though I'm still young. I think the title of this entry says it all,'s all about looking and feeling good! Most of my suggestions are pretty basic, but I don't think of all us always strive towards them on a daily basis.

#1. Take vitamins frequently.
I was never an avid vitamin popper, but I started this year (2009). I take a vitamin C tablet and a multivitamin tablet for teens (though I'm not in my teens anymore, sniff sniff) every morning at breakfast, and I'm good to go. I noticed such a HUGE improvement in my energy levels, mental acuity, and immune system strength (while everyone else around me was getting sick, I was perfectly fine!). You don't have to take vitamins every day, but I'd say every other day is a good way to go.

#2. Early to bed, early to rise.
This one is so hard for me, because I am not a morning person by any means. Some people wake up instantly after their alarm clock goes off, no matter how many hours they've slept, but I will definitely sleep like a rock. I go to bed when everyone else is waking up and I am awake when the world is sleeping...such a terrible habit. If you're like me, it's so painful to reverse your sleeping habits, but you have to do it for you own health. A tip is to go to bed super early, even if it means going to bed at 7 or 8pm, and waking up around 5 am. I love waking up early, because it gives my brain time to "warm up" before starting the day.

#3. Exercise!
Okay, I hate exercising too...haha! But it's crucial to elevating your mood, energy, and even positively affects your appearance, such as your skin. Since I hate lifting weights and prefer cardio, my preference is to run about half an hour to an hour in the morning after eating a light breakfast. This jump starts your metabolism for the rest of the day, which is really important if you work in an office and find yourself sitting down all the time. The initial working out is painful, but once you get yourself into an exercise routine, you'll find that it is quite addictive and you'll feel sad when you miss a day!

#4. Increasing natural liquid & fluid intake.
While it may not be necessary to drink a fixed amount of 8 glasses of water everyday, you should definitely be making sure you're hydrating yourself properly throughout the day. Cut out soda, beverages with artificial sweetners (yes, that includes most bottled juice or flavored water), as much coffee as possible. This is one area I think I've been fairly consistent in--I drink tons of water, tea, and soy milk throughout the day, and it has helped to control my hunger pangs and energy level.

#5. Sunscreen!
I think this is pretty self-explanatory...UVA and UVB rays are the #1 cause of premature aging. When applying sunscreen, you should be using half a tablespoon for your face to ensure it is protected completely. We are also advised to reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, but as most of us are unable to do this in a work environment, I think the best method is using a mineral powder with sunscreen to touch up your makeup. Or you could always wash your face and reapply your makeup all over again.
On a sidenote, I was watching a "behind the scenes" footage of Barbie Hsu/Xu on the set of "Corner with Love," a Taiwanese drama before. In all the scenes where she filmed outside, she had an assistant constantly follow her around with an umbrella until the cameras started rolling...and as soon as the director cut the scene the umbrella would come back up over her head. Insane, huh?! But certainly clued me into how she maintains her milky white skin--I want someone who will follow me around with an umbrella!

#6. Exfoliate daily, use retinol.
This has been the biggest skincare epiphany for me in 2008/2009. No matter how sensitive your skin is, everyone can benefit from daily exfoliation. This ensures that the dead skin cells and oil are constantly getting sloughed off and won't clog your pores or cause pimples. I love to use old coffee grounds, white sugar with cleansing oil myself; if your skin is more delicate, I suggest using a lukewarm washcloth. Also, if you read my previous post, you can understand why retinol is so important for age prevention. I'm going to be diligent about skincare and I better not see any wrinkles until I'm at least 45! Haha!

#7. Movement habits--sleep upright, don't rub eyes, watch the facial expressions.
Not doing all the things stated above can definitely affect how quickly your skin ages. Sleeping on your back ensures that gravity is evenly pushing down on your face; if you sleep on one side, gravity will eventually tug it more quickly to one side. Rubbing your eyes or face can tug at your delicate skin and tear it, especially where collagen is thinnest. Lastly, as for facial expressions--be conscious of how you move your face. For example, my mom is a chronic "frowner" and now she has these terrible furrows between her eyebrows that don't disappear even when her face is relaxed. :-( So relax your facial muscles as frequently as possible.

#8. Don't layer too many products onto the skin.
With all the frenzy towards staying youthful as long as possible, people can get overeager and excited about the skincare products out there, and end up layering too much on the skin. It is important that we use as little as possible so our skin can still breathe, and not become too reliant on the products. During my morning routine, I try to limit my products to a serum, light moisturizer, and sunscreen before applying makeup. At night, I only use a serum followed by a moisturizer and eyecream. Less is more!

#9. There's nothing wrong with caring about your appearance.
To some people, beauty is superficial. But let's be honest--society itself is superficial. And if looking like a better version of yourself will keep you happy, why not? Investing time, care, and money in your appearance also shows respect for the other people in your life. But it's important to keep the self-preoccupation in check...i.e., if you look like Michael Jackson, you probably should reevaluate your priorities.

#10. Your health and happiness comes first before anything else.
I think this is pretty self-explanatory...if you're not happy, those symptoms will begin to manifest physically at some point or another, if not already. This is similar to some advice I recently told my mom, someone who has always stressed out about her family instead of herself and isn't the healthiest person--make sure that you're happy and content, because if you're not, you will be unable to help others who rely on you in life, no matter how hard you try.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Skinceuticals Refining Night Cream with 0.5% Pure Retinol

Since my terrible comedone outbreak last month, I've been adding retinol to my skincare regimen with the Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5% Refining Night Cream. This product comes in a 30 ml/1 ounce aluminum bottle with a plastic pump, and retails for $46.00.

I always had perfect skin until my late teens, when I started to develop terrible congested skin and cystic acne. My mother took me to a dermatologist regarding my acne problems on my forehead and upper back, and he prescribed me Sulfalac (sulfur soap), Buf Puf (special loofah for the face), some Benzoyl Peroxide cream, Retin-A Micro, and some antibiotics. When I started out using this combination, my skin dried out within 3 days and became incredibly flaky and sensitive, so I had to stop. However, any over-the-counter products weren't strong enough, so I couldn't use those either. (I wish I knew the things I know now then, because maybe I wouldn't have broken out as much.)

Even though I didn't like my former experience with Retin-A Micro, which contains retinol, when I read up about this Skinceuticals cream, I definitely wanted to give retinol another shot. Retinol does have the side effect of drying out the skin, but the positives far outweigh the negatives--it helps stimulate cell regeneration and collagen production by penetrating deeply into the skin layers. This makes it great for reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Furthermore, it relieves congested skin (i.e. acne, blackheads, whiteheads), diminishes pore size, corrects blemishes, and reduces age spots and blotchiness.

Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 contains, like its name says, 0.5% pure retinol. It's different than other retinol products because it contains the most cutting edge formula to adjust to your skin's moisture levels and deliver the retinol accordingly. (The website says it also "stabilizes" to your skin--I'm not quite sure what that means, so if there are any dermatologists or med students out there, please tell me!) Skinceuticals also makes a Retinol 1.0 which contains 1% pure retinol, but since my skin dries out easily and has been really sensitive lately, I wanted to start out with this. I've read that you can build your skin's tolerance to retinol, so eventually I may start using the 1.0%.

I think everyone can benefit from adding retinol into their routine, but the frequency of use should definitely be varied depending on your skintype. Skinceuticals recommends people who've never used retinol products before to start by using twice a week. I think twice a week is fine for people who have oily skin. If you have dry to combination skin, I definitely suggest starting with once a week, and only applying to areas that are problematic or congested. If your skin does not start to dry out, then move up to twice a week...and slowly keep increasing the frequency. How often you want to use it is up to you; I personally do not like to use retinol daily because I want to keep my skin from becoming tolerant to it as long as possible. Also, retinol weakens your skin's outer skin layers and makes it more vulnerable to UV rays/sunlight, so I prefer to use it when I know I won't be going out into the sun the next day.

The directions say that you should apply this to cleansed and toned skin, and then wait at least 30 minutes before applying moisturizer over it. I think it's important to distinguish the difference between this product as opposed to a serum--serums work better with moisturizers over them, but I believe this works best alone. Adding a moisturizer on top would basically help protect and soothe your skin because of the retinol's drying effect. Also, this is called a "refining night cream," but don't let that mislead you, because it is not thick, or is it intended to moisturize, even though it contains some emollients. Because I have combination/normal skin, I normally don't apply moisturizer over this the occassions I do use it, but I don't notice any instant drying or burning sensation. For a product with such a high concentration in retinol, it really applies smoothly and nicely, almost as if it were a primer. One pump is good for my forehead, and a second pump is good for my nose, upper lip, and chin. If I want to apply it to my cheeks, I'll split the third pump evenly between them. That brings me to the one thing I dislike about this product; the pump feels fragile and is very hard to control, and I can't just dispense a little bit. But maybe my bottle is defective, I don't know.

Comparing the Skinceuticals 0.5% to Retin-A, the Skinceuticals goes on much more smoothly, and has a nice matte, silky finish, and becomes virtually indiscernable on my skin. I did not like the Retin-A because when it dried, it left these white flakey, grainy marks on my face as if my face had fallen into a pot of grinded rice bits. (Does that analogy make sense?) Not very attractive, especially for those of you with husbands/wives/etc. It also was way too drying in general. When I apply the Skinceuticals 0.5%, it sinks immediately into my skin, and I can see it actually shrinking my pores and flattening out my congested comedones. When I wake up in the morning, my skin looks calmer and more evened out. Also, Retin-A is a prescription retinol product, and Skinceuticals is over the counter.

Overall, this is a great corrective skincare product and I highly recommend it to anyone concerned about age prevention, pore size, blemishes, or acne! Don't be dissuaded by the price, because this will last you an extremely long time--a year or more, maybe.

Water, Cyclomethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane (and) Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone (and) Dimethiconol (and) Laureth-4 (and) Laureth-23, Hydrogenated Lecithin (and) Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) (and) Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (and) Ceramide 2 (and) Ceramide 3 (and) Phytosphingosine (and) Cholesterol, Hypericum Perforatum Extract (and) Propylene Glycol, Allyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer (and) Polysorbate 20 (and) Retinol (and) BHT, Sodium Polyacrylate, Dimethicone PEG-7 Isostearate, Glycerin, Polyacrylamide (and) C13-14 Isoparaffin (and) Laureth-7, Bisabolol, Rosa Canina Leaf Extract (and) Silybum Marianum Fruit Extract (and) Possiflora Incarnata Flower Extract (and) Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Leaf Extract (and) Citric Acid, Methylisothiazolinone, Tetrasodium EDTA.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Clinique Derma White

I've been using the Clinique Derma White Advanced Brightening Essence and the Derma White Moisture Milk since the end of January 2009, along with the Derma White Super City Block Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 40++ since the end of December 2008. You can read my initial thoughts on the Super City Block here. In this post, I will review the essence and moisture milk, and also update you with my current thoughts on the sunscreen.

As I've stated before, the Clinique Derma White line is available exclusively in Asia, as it's especially formulated for Asian skin, but you will probably find online retailers who will ship to other parts of the globe. Currently, the only Derma White product carried in the US Clinique office is the Powder Makeup SPF 15++, which I have no desire to try, haha.

The website says that the purpose of their "lab-certified" line is to "undo the visible evidence of sun damage, dark patches, skin stresses, and age spots for brightness and clarity." Notice how I emphasized visible...meaning if your skin is damaged from tanning and such, any brightening or whitening products only serve to improve your skin's appearance, not actually heal or repair the damage. So it's extremely important to limit your exposure to the sun, because no whitening or brightening product is going to turn back the clock on the damage your skin has already suffered. It's like

The products contain ascorbyl glucoside to prevent and inhibit the production of melanin (or pigment) in the skin by physically blocking them from being released. In addition, the Black Out Yeast extract disperses whatever melanin is released from the skin, in order to lighten the dark spots. Glucosamine and salicylic acid exfoliate the surface of the skin to prevent dead cell buildup, and a special complex of Apigenin, White Birch, and Oili extract work to slow down the release of melanin to the skin's surface. (Glucosamine is also in Estee Lauder's Idealist, an effective exfoliant serum I use religiously.) In addition, there are many antioxidants in the products to help slow down free radical activity.

The Brightening Essence and Moisture Milk both come in extremely durable, nice packaged 30 ml (one ounce) bottles, but the Brightening Essence bottle is larger in size. I'm puzzled why two ounce products are different sizes, but I can only guess that the serum/essence is packaged in thicker plastic. Both of these bottles are extremely thick and somewhat heavy! While I like that sunlight won't seep through the bottles and whittle away the products' efficacy, and that the pumps are extremely easy to control (unlike some pumps that are hard to push and you end up getting more amount out of the bottle than you need), I'm annoyed that I can't see how much product is left. So I have no idea when I'll finish these bottles...I can't even tell if I'm halfway through because the bottles are so heavy.

I've been applying these once a day, in the morning, or sometimes after I shower since the end of January. I waited awhile before this review since Clinique says that the Derma White line takes 4-6 weeks for results to appear. I agree; I didn't really see results until the end of February. I think my skin probably got one shade lighter, but the difference is very subtle since I'm not that dark to begin with. What I think this helps with is preventing me from tanning, because I tan VERY easily and always consciously hold my purse next to my face for protection while running around in direct sunlight like a crazy person.

I think these products will only work well for those who have normal to combination oily/normal skin. If your skin is dry at all, you probably should stay away from whitening products. I haven't tried other whitening brands yet so I can't compare Clinique Derma White's strength, but I used the products only about 3 or 4 times and my skin did completely dry out at first and turn super flakey. Eventually, my skin got used to these, and stopped drying out. However, because I have skin that's EXTREMELY prone to clogged pores, whiteheads, and blackheads, it requires an insane amount of the end, this line has actually benefitted my skin. If you read the ingredients (which I've listed at the end of this post and the previous one on the sunscreen), you'll see that this line uses really superior, quality ingredients...though the line may be expensive, I think it's worth it for the ingredients alone, since they are there to really improve the condition of your skin, instead of just "whitening" it.

Also, as for the Derma White Super City Block SPF 40 ++...if you read my initial review you know I started off not really liking this sunscreen because I thought it gave my face a weird matte shimmer that was unflattering. However, I've really changed my mind about it. I don't think this sunscreen is a substitute for tinted moisturizer or foundation by any means, but many times I find myself skipping base makeup because this sunscreen offsets the redness and blemishes on my skin with its matte effect. And you know me--anything that speeds the "getting ready" process and helps me reduce the amount of product on my face is a winner. Also, after over two months of using this sunscreen, it has not broken me out. Though I had initial reservations that the SPF value wasn't high enough and it didn't provide the maximum possible UVA protection, I put those worries to rest after realizing how many antioxidants and healing ingredients Clinique has put into the sunscreen--something I don't think you will find anywhere else, at least I haven't found it anywhere else yet. :-)
Cosmetic Garments is selling this sunscreen for $22.50 if you want to give it a try and aren't located in Asia.

Lastly, here are the ingredients right off the boxes:

Advanced Brightening Essence-
Water\Aqua\Eau, Isododecane, Cyclopentasil-oxane, Butylene glycol, Yeast extract\faex\extrait de levure, Dimethicone, Silica, Cetyl PEG\PPG-10\1 Dimethicone, Glycerin, Ascorbyl glucoside, Polysilicone-11, Glycine Soja (Soybean) seed extract, Curcuma longa (Turmeric) root extract, Gentiana Lutea (Gentian) root extract, Hydrolyzed rice bran extract, Chamomilla recutita (Matricaria) flower extract, Betula alba (Birch) bark extact, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, Rosa roxburghi fruit extract, glycyrrhetinic acid, saccharomyces lysate extract, Angelica cutiloba (Japanese angelica) root extract, Zizyphus Jujuba fruit extract, citrus unshiu peel extract, poria cocos sclerotium extract, Gardenia florida extract, paeonia albiflora (peony) root extract, Hordeum vulgare (Barley) extract\extrait d'orge, Porphyra Yezoensis (algae) extract, Carthamus Tinctorus (safflower) flower extract, Helianthus annus (sunflower) seedcake, Bifida ferment lysate, sucrose, sodium RNA, caffeine, acetyl glucosamine, PEG-6, Salicylic acid, glucose, PPG-3 Myristyl ether, Phospholipids, Tromethamine, Propylene glycol dicaprate, sodium hyaluronate, arginine, tocopheryl acetate, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Laureth-12, Caprylyl Glycol, Disteardimonium hectorite, Hexylene glycol, Disodium EDTA, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Titanium Dioxide (CI77891), Mica

Moisture Milk-
Water\Aqua\Eau, Dimethicone, Butylene glycol, Hydrogenated lecithin, paeonia suffruticosa (peony) root extract, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) flower extract, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, Peonia albifloria (peony) root extract, Angelica acutiloba (Japanese angelica) root extract, Gardenia florida extract, saccharomyces lysate extract, poria cocos sclerotium extract, Rosa roxburghii fruit extract, Zizyphus jujuba fruit extract, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, betula alba (birch) bark extract, Glycyrhetinic acid, Laminaria saccharina extract, tocopheryl acetate, yeast extract\faex\extrait de levure, hordeum vulgare (barley) extract\extrait d\orge, chamomilla recutita (Matricaria), squalane, chamomilla recutita (Matricaria) extract, sodium RNA, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seedcake, propylene glycol dicaprate, polyethylene, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Glycerin, Glucose, Diethylhexyl Succinate, HDI\Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymertromethamine, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butyparaben, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Murad Sleep Reform Serum

I received a sample of this product from Sephora recently. Normally I don't review samples, since you don't get enough product to determine whether or not it really works over time, but I think this product deserves a review!

The Murad Sleep Reform Serum is an expensive little $97 for just one ounce, you're paying a lot for something which will only last you a one to three months, at most. But as a culture obsessed with aging gracefully (or not aging at all), many of us will probably shell out our hard earned dollars in search of a non-surgical method to turn back time.

Since I don't have wrinkles yet, I can't tell you whether or not this product actually diminishes them. However, I can tell you that within two nights I could already feel it working on my young, early twenties skin.

Some readers might be wondering why I'm even testing this product out if I'm so young. Well, I may not have wrinkles yet, but delaying their appearance is all about prevention. Murad Sleep Reform Serum claims to do just that--it's an anti-aging treatment that works at night when you sleep by "locking in moisture, promoting skin firmness, and fighting signs of aging" so your complexion is "rejuvenated" when you wake up in the morning. It contains an exclusive formula they call "Repair Enhancing Matrix"--not sure what that is, but we all know that as we sleep, our skin works to slough off dead cells and repair the damage incurred during the day, and this repair matrix is supposed to aid that process. Furthermore, the serum contains melatonin, which is supposed to stimulate collagen production. Melatonin is a chemical our bodies produce naturally when we go to sleep in response to levels of light, and it helps with all the renewal, cleansing, and healing processes our bodies undergo as we rest...this is why beauty sleep is so important.

I applied Sleep Reform Serum after cleansing and toning my skin, and then simply added a thick cream on top. The first morning after I woke up, my skin looked slightly more glowing than it normally does, and my eyelids which have a tendency to droop, looked more lifted. My pores (which have become enlarged lately due to clogged sebum that refuses to be extracted) were visibly tighter and refined. But after the second night, my skin felt tight, firm, and lifted in the morning, even to the touch. It was as if the temporary tightening of the skin you get from egg whites had been harnessed into a serum, except the tightening didn't feel dry or uncomfortable. The sensation lasted the entire day and the next, though I didn't apply any more serum the following night. My skin continued to look and feel completely hydrated--my eyelids, which have thinner and more fragile skin than normal, were nice and plump, and the tiny lines disappeared except for my eyelid crease.

Unfortunately, the effect did not last into the rest of the week. When I tried the serum again another night, my skin looked nicer the next day, but the tightening effect was not as apparent. Based on my results, I would recommend that you apply this serum nightly until you can feel and see the results, skip a night or two, then start applying it again. It's very potent, but whether the results are long lasting or temporary remains to be seen. Murad claims it stimulates collagen producing cells by 78% and improves collagen potential by 62%, but notice how they never say the percentage of actual collagen increase. Ultimately, I consider this product a form of "topical Botox"--you'll see positive results, but without continued use, they'll go away.

Ah, I forgot to mention that this product isn't good for those with sensitive skin. My skin is sensitive lately because it's pretty dry, and this product burned upon application...though the burning sensation did go away as soon as it was absorbed into the skin.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Make Up For Ever Cream Concealer Palette

I went on a Sephora binge earlier this month to test out all these products I've been wanting to try. Among them was the Make Up For Ever 5 Camouflage Cream Palette in No. 1 and the Make Up For Ever Camouflage Cream Concealer in Mauve. I purchased the Mauve shade individually in a pot, but the above picture is just an example from the link of what the pot looks like. For a realistic depiction of the Mauve shade, see below.

This is Palette No. 2, also for Fair to light skin tones. The shades it comes with seem to have a more neutral or pink undertone, and the color concealer on the right is the shade Mauve. The picture accurately reflects what Mauve really looks like; it's a pale lilac or lavender..for some reason the Mauve individual shade example next to the add to cart button looks more magenta, in my opinion.

I think the packaging of these materials is quite nice. Though MUFE uses plastic, the palette feels very slim, light, and convenient. The dimensions are probably around 1.5 inches x 4.5 inches (sorry metric users, I don't know the conversion off the top of my head!). The pot is also very light, the opening is quite wide so the concealer won't be hard to get to as you deplete it. What I didn't like about the packaging on the palette is that the concealer looks like it was just poured directly into circular indentations in the palette--I can't tell if they're inside a tin because the top of the tin (if there is one) isn't showing. As a result, the concealer can get messy and onto your palette if your finger or brush isn't careful.

This is just going to be a super short review because I really did not like these cream concealers! I got them because of all the rave reviews, but they were just impossible to use. When I first opened the palette, there were little globs of oil sitting on top of the concealer and the sides of the palette--which can be expected and quite normal, since the product itself contains mineral oil. Thus, I expected the product to be quite creamy, but I was wrong. Even after heating them up with a hairdryer, the product felt too matte and cakey to blend out on my skin. I think you need to have perfectly smooth skin to use this product--I tried many different blending and application methods, but this concealer would still crease under my eyes, or just look completely unnatural. The winners of this concealer are the green and mauve, but they aren't even included in the same palette, which really annoys me.

So sadly, I will be returning this product. My search for the perfect creamy, moisturizing concealer continues...until then I will be sticking to my Skin79 Beblesh Balm, which has the versatility of covering flaws whether my skin is dry and flaking, or clogged and irritated.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Vickery and Clarke Aloe Vera and Cucumber Face Tonic

Last month, I purchased the Vickery and Clarke Face Tonic which is formulated for normal to oily combination skin. Vickery and Clarke is available exclusively at CVS and is a natural, paraben free line.

Lately, I am all about mixing the high end products with the low end. I cannot use solely drugstore brands or my skin becomes aggravated, but I am always looking for quality products at the drug store. Because Vickery and Clarke is all natural, I've been slowly working their products into my rotation.

Sadly, I don't have a photo other than the miniscule thumbnail on the CVS link...but the packaging looks exactly the same in person. The Face Tonic, which is actually a facial mist or spray, comes in a 4 oz bottle. The spray mechanism works really well, despite being a drugstore brand--everytime I press the nozzle, I get an extremely even and fine mist of tonic.

This is actually my first facial spray. Face sprays are intended to prep the skin like with toner and watery emulsions. After cleansing and toning your face, you're supposed to mist them all over the skin, to ease the application of serums or moisturizers and provide additional moisture. I honestly don't think that facial sprays are a necessary step in the skincare routine. I actually didn't like using this after toning; it stings the skin if you have sensitive or combination to dry skin. I would only use this for skincare purposes if I had oily, unsensitive skin, on areas I am prone to acne, because this spray is not very soothing or moisturizing.

On the other hand, a face spray in your makeup routine is another story. As far as drugstore brands go, this tonic is great for mineral makeup, concealer, or any type of foundation in general. A lot of the time I struggle with creating a natural finish after I apply foundation or bb cream. I want my skin to look naturally flawless, as if I don't have any makeup on. The Face Tonic really helps with that. With mineral makeup, I achieve the best finish if I swirl my brush in the powder first, then mist my brush once or twice, and then buff it into my skin. With concealer or liquid foundation, I apply it first onto my face with my fingers, then mist a makeup sponge a couple times and gently go over the spots. This prevents your makeup from looking cakey, artificial, or dry. If you would like to use this for touch ups, I would still recommend you carry around a kabuki or powder brush, or a sponge, and use the same method. What's good about using this spray for your makeup is that it contains witch hazel, which is a natural astringent and will help control the oil and bacteria on your face, as well as your makeup tools. Also, since you've already plied your face with moisturizer and makeup, the spray will not sting your skin.

Sometimes, I even use this spray on my hair after curling it. I don't recommend doing this, but it is certainly a quick fix when your hair is dry or staticky!

Here are the ingredients. What I like is that V&C tells you how natural each product is right on the label. The Face Tonic is 97.5% natural.

Ingredients: Water, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Distillate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe Vera) Extract, Camomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Glycerin, Glycereth 26, Rosa Damasensa Flower Oil, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Chlorphensin, Sodium Benzoate.

This product isn't really a must have for me, but that will not deter me from trying the Mega Rich Eye Cream and Antioxidant Vitamin Serum next!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Get Thee to a Target...

and take a gander at the Go International McQ Collection by Alexander McQueen!

(click to enlarge)

I'm a fan of his clothing, so this is definitely a treat. Normally I don't really bother with the Go International collections, since I find most of the clothing tacky and poor quality. However, I'm really pining for the McQ graphic t-shirt and the black dress with cream straps. The leather vest looks super cute too.

The collection drops tomorrow, March 4th!

Go here for some more photos:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sephora Haul

Besides the Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer freebie for Beauty Insiders, Sephora is also having a 15% off sale! Time for me to make another haul!

The Goods:
Anastasia Highlighting Brow Kit (desperately need brow powder...I've always used cream eyeliner on my brows!)
Bare Escentuals Eye Quickies #1 (bought this of the rave reviews...I love highlighting products, bronzer looks awful on me for contouring)
OPI Nail Colour Drying Drops (addicted to nail polish but hate waiting for my nails to dry!)
Make Up For Ever 5 Camouflage Cream Palette in No. 1 (I don't own any concealer...I really need something for my blemishes because BB cream clogs my pores)
Make Up For Ever Camouflage Cream Concealer in Mauve (actually don't know if I'll receive this since it's "out of stock" but I was able to add it to my cart.)

So much stuff! I even wanted to get more things, but I'll resist and head to the store first and test out other things on my list. Haha.

The 15% off sale ends this Saturday, March 7th. Just add code J89LM to checkout. Unfortunately Sephora codes aren't stackable, or I totally would've snagged myself another Smashbox lid primer, haha.

I promise more substantial entries (aka reviews) soon!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

February 2009 Skincare Routine

February has not been a good skin month for me. If I don't have deep cystic pimples (the kind that has nothing to do with external skincare, I get them from lack of sleep), I have clogged pores and comedone acne. My skin was clearing up before coming back to school, but a change of climate, habits, and products is making my skin constantly erupt.

So, the bad news is that it's going to be awhile longer before I have any reviews to post as I wait to see if my skin will heal with the products I'm currently using. The good news is that I originally wasn't planning on getting new skincare products for a long time, but now I'll probably have to purchase new things to get rid of the acne, and thus I'll have more reviews.

If you guys have any tips on how to get rid of comedone type acne for normal type skin on the T-zone, do share them with me!

Current skin type: dehydrated normal skin with clogged pores and breakouts on T-zone


Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub

Clinique Derma White Advanced Brightening Essence
Estee Lauder Idealist Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher
Clinique Derma White Moisture Milk

Clinique Derma White Super City Block SPF 40 ++


Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm (alone or with white sugar)
Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub

Clean & Clear Cooling Daily Pore Toner OR Missha Rose Water Controlling Skin Toner

Estee Lauder Idealist Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher AND/OR Kiehl's Abyssine Serum +
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion OR Puritan's Pride Vitamin E Cream


Biore nose strips
Aspirin Mask
Skinceuticals Refining Night Cream with 0.5% Pure Retinol
Sewame Paris paper facial masks