Thursday, March 11, 2010

Long overdue update

Hi guys,

I'm so sorry for not posting reviews in such a long time. I've been extremely busy with work. Though I am still constantly trying out new products, I haven't had the energy to blog. Working 12+ hours a day will do that to you. :-(

I just wanted to say hello and let you know that I do plan on reviewing products again! And if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me.



Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bare Escentuals bareMinerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen

Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 2 to 3 hours, or it can actually cause the skin more harm than good. However, no one really has the time or patience to wash their face and re-do their entire morning routine multiple times throughout the day. Thus, it's a no-brainer that reapplying sunscreen is especially a hindrance for those of us who wear makeup and don't want to ruin it.

But, there are sunscreen products out there which can alleviate this problem. Spray-on sunscreen, which comes in liquid form and is packaged with either pump bottles or aerosol cans, is easily obtainable at the drugstore and can be stashed in your purse for quick mists. Some brands that offer spray sunscreens are Coppertone, Banana Boat, Neutrogena, and La Roche Posay. Another option is mineral sunscreen, which comes in powder form and needs to be brushed onto the skin. So far, I have not seen mineral sunscreens at the drugstore except in mineral makeup like L'Oreal Bare Naturale, but Peter Thomas Roth has two mineral sunscreens, one with SPF 45 and the other with SPF 30. Additionally, Bare Escentuals has its own bareMinerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen, also a mineral sunscreen, which is what I'm reviewing today. It comes in a white plastic tube dispenser with a brush on the end, contains 0.14 oz of product, and retails for $28. You can buy it at Sephora,, or any retailer that carries Bare Escentuals. There are 3 different skin tone shades, but no transparent or clear. I received mine in light when I purchased the RareMinerals Active Mineral Skincare System--a great value if you're interested in trying all 4 products at a decent price. (The set is still in stock today, so get it with the Friends & Family discount while you still can!)

The Bare Escentuals mineral sunscreen is very simple to use. The powder is housed inside at the base, and you can actually see it because the plastic at the very bottom is clear. After you pop off the cap, twist the base to push the brush up out of the tube as well as slide open the dispenser underneath. Turn the tube upside down so the brush is pointing at the floor, tap it several times into the back of your hand. This helps get the product, which is distributed through three holes, into the the brush. Then, with your face tilted toward the ceiling or sky (as upright as possible), brush the sunscreen over your face in small circular motions.

Bare Escentuals claims that their bareMinerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen is oil-free, preservative-free, and contains 12% micronized Titanium Dioxide (micronized means the UV physical blocker has been broken down finely so it won't irritate the skin). Also, the powder supposedly contains Vitamins A, C, and E, aloe vera extract, and antioxidants to nourish the skin.

When I received this product, I noticed immediately how soft and nice the white brush is--it does not irritate my skin at all. The sunscreen also does not have any strange smells or fragrances; and since it only contains mineral, or physical UV blockers, rather than chemical, it is perfect for people with sensitive skin. This sunscreen does not accentuate any dry patches on my skin either. My T-zone develops shine various times throughout the day, so I prefer to blot my face before applying this sunscreen so as to prevent my skin's oils from contaminating the brush as much as possible. The powder has a bit of coverage but is still translucent enough that it matches with my skin tone. Also, I like that after applying it, my skin has a nice matte finish. I have not broken out or developed clogged pores from using this powder. It is convenient to toss into my purse and whip out for touch ups, and the packaging design ensures that the sunscreen never unscrews itself and releases a bunch of powder into my purse (I've read that the Peter Thomas Roth mineral sunscreen packaging does this).

However, as with any product, there are various cons:

1. Since the brush is attached to the product and you can't take it out, you'd have to probably purchase or use a special brush cleaner spray if you want to clean the brush every so often.
2. Although the sunscreen doesn't accentuate my dry patches, I don't recommend using it if you have dry skin. Though it claims to nourish the skin, it probably doesn't have many beneficial properties.
3. I know the product is coming out because the brush is stained darker with the powder from where the dispersing holes are located, but I cannot actually see the powder coming out itself. No matter how many times I shake or tap it the tube over my hand or a flat surface, there is no powder falling out from the brush. How much is really getting distributed on my skin, and am I protecting my skin sufficiently? I have no idea.
4. Since it isn't a cream or lotion, the mineral sunscreen is probably not rub or sweat resistant (forget being water resistant). I have to be extra conscious of not touching my face, like resting my chin in my hands, so I don't ruin my SPF coverage.
5. 0.14 oz means that this sunscreen actually doesn't contain a lot of product in it. Because the base is clear plastic, you can see the powder, but you can't see how much powder you've used up. Thus, you'll have no idea when you need to repurchase it until one day you don't see anything settling at the base anymore.
6. If you wear powder blush or foundation, you still might face the possibility of ruining your makeup anyway when you brush this sunscreen on.

Out of all these cons, the one that bothers me the most is #3. I am a little obsessive compulsive about protecting my skin from UV rays, so not being able to know how much product is coming out is rather annoying. However, I did use this product on my face on a little outing to the beach during the summer; and though I tanned, I did not sunburn. So maybe it really does a secretive, magical way like that of the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus? Hmm.

I do not think I'll repurchase this product, but I do think it's a good option to have around, such as for when you're breaking out and don't want to mess up your concealer/foundation by reapplying a liquid or cream sunscreen.

Hope this helps!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Anastasia Brow Powder and Highlighting Trio Brow Kit

Today's review is on a product I've actually been using for many months now, but completely forgot about since my main preoccupation is always with skincare. The Anastasia Brow Powder and Highlighting Trio kit has become one of the staples in my everyday makeup routine. It retails for $32, and you can purchase it at Sephora or Nordstrom. However, I would suggest you purchase yours from Sephora, since theirs comes exclusively with a mini clear brow mascara which is great for a makeup bag.

Everyone has one cosmetic product they cannot leave the house without applying, and for me, other than skincare, it would be eyebrow powder or pencil. I have very light, sparse eyebrows and I've been filling them in since high school. Before I knew anything about makeup, I used to get this brunette eyebrow mascara from Maybelline, but I'd over apply, and you could see the dried brow mascara on my skin rather just my eyebrow hair. A year or two later I turned to Wet 'n' Wild dark grey or brown eyebrow/eyeliner pencils, but since I still had (for the most part) unshaped, untweezed eyebrows, I still didn't look so great. Fast forward a couple years, and my new method was tapping leftover black cream eyeliner on my angled brush from lining my eyes on my eyebrows. This wasn't a good look for me either--my eyebrows didn't look natural or complement my hair color.

Enter Anastasia. The brand has been around for quite a few years but I always thought the brow kit was too expensive to purchase. None of the stencils really fit my eyebrow shape, and other than the powder and two-ended brush + spoolie, everything else in it could be easily obtained at a drugstore or for cheaper. I tried a couple samples of the brow powder and really liked it, but couldn't justify spending $75 on the kit or buying the few items I wanted separately.

But, when Anastasia launched this Brow Powder Trio early this year, I was willing to buy it because it seemed like a much more economical product. First, there were 3 brow shades in it instead of 2; second, it also contained 3 highlighting shades which could be used on the eyes, brow bone, cheeks, or anywhere else on the face; and third, everything was packaged in a nice little magnetic compact with a mirror on the inside cover--perfect if you're running late and want to apply your makeup on-the-go (the brow shades can double up as eyeshadow and the pink highlighter shade can be used as blush). Also, this product will definitely last me over a year or two, so I don't have to worry about constantly repurchasing (unlike brow mascaras and pencils, which have a short life expectancy).

The reason why I like Anastasia brow powder in general is because the colors are all perfect variations of ash. Thus, they do not clash with your skin tone or hair color and look great in all different sorts of lighting. However, I prefer this trio over the regular powder duo because it comes with an extra shade. Although I (currently) have black hair, I do use the blonde ash, the lightest shade on the left. For the most natural look, I apply all three shades. First, I start off with the blonde ash from the inner first halves of my brows to the middle (where the arch is). Then, I apply the middle grey/taupe ash halfway past where my brows begin to a little past the arch. Lastly, I apply the darkest brown ash shade from my arch to the ends of my brows. While I am applying these shades, I make sure to blend everything together with an angled brush and spoolie so the colors seamlessly darken, and I don't look like I have color blocked eyebrows or anything. I find this method to look the most natural and flattering on me, and it shows up very nicely in photos. The shades work for me because I have dark hair, but those with blonde or red hair might not have any use for this product--I'd suggest trying the Brow Powder Duos.

As for the highlighting shades, I don't use them frequently--and if I do, I prefer to use a finger to pat them into my skin for a more natural look. The shimmer particles are rather large, and they don't seem to take well to brushes.

Now, I do not know if the powders in this kit are pure minerals, but Anastasia claims that they do contain minerals and natural botanicals which are good for the skin and won't clog the pores. I haven't broken out from this product, but I haven't noticed any benefits from it either--since it's a makeup item, I wouldn't count on it improving your skin or hair.

While the Sephora Friends and Family sale is still going on, I highly recommend you pick up this item if you've been on the fence about it!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sephora Friends and Family 2009 - Calling All Sephora Employees!

So a lot of you are aware of this already: Sephora is having their annual Friends and Family sale starting October 19th and ending November 2nd. During this time, everyone is entitled to getting 20% off on any item, excluding gift cards, ONLINE with code FF2009.

What I was wondering if any of you lovely people out there who also work at Sephora would happen to have an actual Friends and Family card that you wouldn't mind sending to me. I am always on a budget, and I've been making my Friends and Family wishlist since (believe it or not) last year, 2008. If anyone has a spare card they wouldn't mind sending to me, please let me know! I want to be able to continue purchasing great products to review for all of you and a couple of extra bucks always helps :-) Of course, I would definitely send you a little something in return to show my appreciation!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

RoC Multi-Correxion Update

Hi everyone! I'm so sorry for neglecting this blog. I've started working (unpaid, sadly) and my hours are so hectic that I am deadbeat by the time I get home every day. I will try to update more often (I know I keep saying this) so please continue to stop by!

Anyway, I wanted to give a little update on my experience with RoC Multi-Correxion products since I last wrote the previous review. During the initial stages, after I purchased the Skin Renewing Serum, I used the product basically every day until my skin started feeling a little dehydrated and sensitive. As you may or may not remember, I was using it daily because the one time I stopped initially, the tiny fine lines under my eyes came back. So I wanted to really give my skin more time to reap its effects.

However, what I didn't realize until after I wrote my first review was how terribly drying daily RoC use became for my skin. After about 3 weeks of daily use, I developed massive peeling and flakiness on my neck, and my skin burned every time I applied product to it after cleansing. I had no choice but to gently exfoliate and patiently apply a moisturizing serum and cream to my skin every night. I also had to temporarily switch sunscreens, since my normal one dries matte so it can be drying. During this time, I did not completely stop using RoC--I probably applied it at night either once or twice a week.

Now, my skin has completely recovered, and it has definitely experienced lasting improvements. When I stop using RoC for a couple of days, my skin, especially around my eyes, still looks well rested, plump, and creaseless. Thus, I definitely do think that using RoC or products with retinol can afford you REAL results, not just a temporary allusion.

So, with this I conclude that RoC Multi-Correxion is definitely a wonderful product-line to add into your skincare regimen. However, be sure to proceed with caution. I was overeager when I saw the good results and used the products too frequently at first, and wound up irritating and drying out my skin. If you have oily, non-sensitive skin, you are probably lucky in that you don't need to acclimate your skin to retinol first. However, for everyone else, make sure you start out slow with RoC--even if it means it'll take a longer time before you see any results.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

RoC Multi Correxion Products

Lately, I've been hitting the drugstore frequently in search of quality skincare and makeup products. Sometime back during spring, I picked up the RoC Multi Correxion Night Treatment and Eye Treatment. RoC is one of the few drugstore brands that utilizes retinol in almost every product. I've talked about the benefits of retinol before in my review on Skinceuticals 0.5% Retinol, but you can also read more about why retinol is so highly acclaimed here, here, and here. I'm personally a huge fan of retinol, but I can't afford to constantly purchase high end brands like Skinceuticals. Thus, I decided to try RoC.

Prices vary for RoC from drugstore to drugstore, but on my latest visit to CVS, I saw that the Multi Correxion products were priced at $24.99 and below. The Multi Correxion Eye Treatment comes in a 0.5 oz tube, and the Night Treatment comes in a 1.0 oz tube. The products are definitely not cheap despite being from the drugstore, but if you compare RoC to other brands with retinol such as prescription skincare the price is definitely fair.

The Multi Correxion line claims to "diminish the multiple signs of aging." The Eye Treatment is supposed to "visibly diminish dark circles and wrinkles," and the Night Treatment is supposed to reduce "brown spots, wrinkles, and the appearance of pores." Both contain "pure RoC RETINOL to visibly smooth wrinkles and help stimulate sin renewal," "antioxidant vitamins to help neutralize skin-damaging free radicals," and "Vitamin C to help rejuvenate skin tone." The back of the boxes says that testers of the product saw "dark circles visibly diminished, skin tone and luminescence noticeably improved" in 4 weeks, "brown spots and the appearance of pores visibly diminished" in 8 weeks, and "fine lines and wrinkles visibly diminished, skin firmness and elasticity improved" in 12 weeks.

When I first started using the Night and Eye Treatment, I applied them sporadically--sometimes once or twice a week, sometimes even less often, but usually when I had acne or congested skin. (I only use retinol products at night because I don't want to weaken my skin against UV rays during the daytime.) Though they are both called treatments, they are actually face and eye creams. Both creams are white in color and smooth over the skin very easily without feeling greasy. After cleansing and toning my skin, I would skip applying an anti-aging or moisturizing serum (unless it was the Bliss Peeling Groovy Serum) and apply both creams. If my skin was dehydrated, I applied my regular moisturizer over the RoC after at least 20 minutes (allowing time for the retinol to absorb). If my skin was especially congested, I applied another layer of the Night and Eye Treatment again. However, because I used the products sporadically, I didn't see any immediate results. After awhile, I forgot about the products and stopped using them during finals period. Also, what made me shy away from prolonged use of the products was their scent. They contain a perfume-like fragrance that I found entirely too strong and chemical-smelling, especially the Night Treatment. Applying it gave me a headache, and I felt as if I were breathing in chemical fumes. (If anyone at RoC is reading this, I hope you remove the fragrance from your products!)

However, I started using the two again a little over a month ago--starting at once a week, then building the frequency up to as often as three or four times weekly. Sometimes, I applied the Skinceuticals 0.5% Retinol Cream onto my skin first, and then applying the RoC treatments for added moisture. This time, I started to notice a slight difference in my skin. It was looking a bit more bright and even. However, the results weren't anything too spectacular.

Then, on another recent trip to CVS, I decided to pick up the RoC Multi Correxion Skin Renewing Serum as well, which comes in a very sturdy 1.0 fl oz pump bottle. Serums are more potent than creams or moisturizers, so combining a product line's serum and moisturizer or cream should bring you the best results. The Multi Correxion Skin Renewing Serum's texture surprised me. It is a pale beige color and very creamy and silky. It does not feel sticky or greasy and absorbs quickly, but leaves a hydrating barrier on the skin. Perhaps I'm already used to RoC's chemical perfume-y scent, but I didn't notice it as much with the serum. Although the product is not supposed to be used in the eye area, I've been applying it there and I haven't had any eye irritation problems. (But if you have sensitive skin, don't do this!) I apply the Renewing Serum all over my face and neck after cleansing and toning and using an exfoliating serum or tea tree oil spot treatment. Then, I apply the Night and Eye Treatment over everything. (This is part of my new skincare regimen, please see previous post for details.)

I am absolutely impressed and blown away by the results I have seen since I started regularly using RoC the past month. Adding in the serum has made a HUGE difference in how my skin looks. Within just two nights, my pimples, clogged pores, and redness around the nose dramatically reduced, the fine lines under my eyes completely disappeared, and my skin tone became brighter and clearer. The lines on my neck also looked less obvious.

Though I initially was using RoC products infrequently, after purchasing the serum I have since increased the frequency to daily use. If you've read my posts before, you know that I try to rotate my skincare products every now and then so my skin doesn't become tolerant to them. Thus, I did try to skip using RoC one evening, especially because my skin felt a little dry and irritated from all the exfoliation I was doing and needed a break. Sadly, the next day I noticed my skin was looking less bright. The day after that, the tiny hair lines under my eyes had reemerged. Perhaps I haven't been using RoC long enough and my expectations for its anti-aging properties were too high. I've gone back to using the serum and treatment creams every evening, but it took twice as long for the wrinkles under my eyes to disappear this time.

This might be one of the downsides to using RoC, or any retinol products--when I run out of product, or I cease using RoC after the trial 12 weeks, will my skin lose its new clarity? Will my fine lines come back? What about other testers who have wrinkles and deeper fine lines? I haven't figured this out yet, but I will definitely give an update when I finish the products and let you all know whether or not RoC enabled any long term benefits. But, although my skin hasn't reaped any permanent results yet, I can definitely assure you that this product line is extremely effective in reducing the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes or redness. Whether you're in your early twenties like me, or in your fifties, you should give RoC Multi Correxion a try.

One thing that I would not recommend purchasing for anti-aging purposes is the cleanser. I didn't purchase it myself, and if you have a cleanser you're happy with, there is no need to waste your money on a product that is only meant to cleanse and not treat your skin. Save it for the serum or treatments instead.

Lastly, I believe that these products are designed for normal to oily skin, so if you have dry skin, you may want to limit application to once a week, three times at most. Let me know if you have any other questions or anti-aging recommendations!

RoC Multi Correxion Night Treatment Ingredients:
Water, Isononyl Isononanoate, Glycerin, Steareth-2, Ascorbic Acid, Dimethicone, Cetyl Palmitate, PEG-8, Sorbitan Stearate, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl Alcohol, Steareth-21, Cyclopentasiloxane, Retinol, Copper Gluconate, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Panthenol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Caprylyl Glycol, Methylparaben, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Bisabolol, Fragrance, Disodium EDTA, Propylparaben, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Sucrose Cocoate, Squalane, BHT, Tocopherol, Polysorbate 20, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Polysorbate 60, Lactoferrin. May also contain Sodium Hydroxide.

RoC Multi Correxion Skin Renewing Serum Ingredients:
Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethyllenediamine, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Nylon-12, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Retinol, Tocopherol, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Copper Gluconate, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Titanium Dioxide, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Pentylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Laureth-23, Bisabolol, Laureth-4, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Polyacrylamide, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, BHT, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Polysorbate 20, Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Laureth-7, Mica, Fragrance

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer / Fall Skincare Routine

I haven't posted a routine since the beginning of the year since I've been dealing with constant skin issues. Now, my skin has finally calmed down in what feels like ages, and I can get away with wearing little to no foundation or powder. I thought I'd post a routine for those of you who suffer from hormonal or genetic acne and are still struggling with choosing the right products. This has always been a challenge for me because I risk dehydrating and irritating my skin while treating the acne, and then causing more acne and oil when treating the dryness and flakes.

I've heard from many sources that birth control is an excellent way of managing acne, but I'd prefer to ingest hormones as a last resort. So far, this routine is helping aplenty.

My skin type: Normal-Combination, sometimes dehydrated and flakey, slightly oily on T-zone area by mid-day.
Prone to deep cystic acne, blackheads, enlarged pores, and comedones


1. Wash with DHC Mild Soap (any light, non-drying soap will do) or rinse with only warm water to take off the impurities and oils from during the night.
2. (Optional) Dab tea tree oil or acne medication on blemishes. I personally do not dilute my tea tree oil before applying, but most people prefer to.
3. A moisturizer that contains SPF. I've been rotating high-end and drugstore brands; anything will do as long as it is moisturizing. I prefer to use only products with SPF during the day, but you are welcome to use a moisturizer that doesn't contain sun protection properties.
4. High coverage sunscreen for face and eyes. My current favorites are Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 55 PA+++ and Shiseido Sun Protection Eye Cream SPF 32 PA+++. Wait a few minutes for everything to dry before applying makeup.

Because my morning routine is very simple, I cram in all the treatment and renewing steps at night.


1. Wash off all the day's dirt, pollution, makeup, and oils from the face and neck with a cleansing oil. I use DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.
2. Cleanse with a tough duty cleanser to clean off any remaining dirt or makeup and residue from the cleansing oil. I recommend using liquid facial soap, cleansing pad/cloths, or foaming facial cleanser formulas. I am currently rotating between Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub and Dove Daily Hydrating Cleansing Cloths.
3. A couple times a week, exfoliate with a salicylic acid scrub. A good sign you need to exfoliate is when blackheads appear. I recommend using an aspirin mask (instructions easily found through Google) or St. Ives Medicated Apricot Scrub for Oily/Acne Prone Skin.
4. Tone with a gentle toner. Try not to use toners with alcohol. Any brand will do, even one from the drugstore.
5. (Optional) Use an exfoliant serum like Bliss Peeling Groovy, Clinique Turnaround Concentrate, or Estee Lauder Idealist Skin Refinisher. This helps your skin absorb the other skincare products as well as slough off dead cells.
6. Wait a couple minutes, then apply a moisturizing, anti-aging, or renewing serum. I like to use Jurlique's serums for brightening the skin.
7. Apply tea tree oil on any blemishes or pimples. Dilute with water if pure tea tree oil is too strong.
8. Apply a face and eye cream containing retinol. A great drugstore choice is Roc.
9. (Optional) Apply an additional moisturizer over the retinol cream. I am currently rotating between Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, Egyptian Magic Cream, and DHC Virgin Olive Oil.

You do not have to use a retinol moisturizer every night. I started out with using retinol maybe once or twice a week, and then increased the frequency to 3 or 4 times a week. However, the combination of tea tree oil and retinol along with salicylic acid exfoliation is what helps really bring the acne down, so be sure to stick to it!
Of course, also pay attention to your health. Drink plenty of water, get enough exercise and sleep, and eat as many fruits and veggies as possible.
Hope this helps! Let me know if it works for you!