Good to the Last Drop: Weleda Sensitive Care Cleansing Lotion – Almond

I usually photograph products before I’ve really gotten into them as I prefer to capture them closer to their pristine state. That is obviously not the case here. I purchased Weleda’s Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion (now called Weleda Sensitive Care Cleansing Lotion – Almond), because I was intrigued by the idea of a naturally formulated cleansing lotion but I did not go into it with the intention of writing a review.

What is it?

Cleansing lotions aren’t new, a lotion/cream that can double as a cleanser or cold cream cleanser, is not only a comforting idea, there are real functional benefits as they easily dislodge waterproof makeup and sunscreen, and they gently cleanse the skin with a texture that feels like moving a creamy moisturizer around which does not disturb the barrier or dry the skin, and like most moisture creams, they rinse off with water, pretty smart right? Cold cream cleansers are very popular for people with dry skin, and with models, actresses, and early-day Into The Gloss muses, the people who regularly go through tons of products, who are prone to sensitivity from all the different products.

While lovely, I had never considered them a “must have” for a few reasons: I’m acne-prone and don’t usually wear too much makeup. Plus, most cold creams have outdated formulas that remind me of drugstore creams circa 90’s. But when I saw Weleda’s Sensitive Care Cleansing Lotion – Almond, it felt like every descriptor I was reading aligned with what I thought a modern “cold cream” should be: good natural ingredients, and made for sensitive skin (as that is the top clientele that uses it), and at under $20 (usually $19.99, I found them selling for $16.99 at Pharmaca which is why I linked to them), it was too good for me to pass up.

What’s in it?

The ingredients list is concise, and high-quality, which is what we want to see in a sensitive-skin formula:

Water  Sweet Almond Oil  Alcohol  Glyceryl Stearate SE  Glycerin  Hydrolyzed Beeswax  Prunus Domestica Seed Oil  Xanthan Gum  Lactate

While Weleda has product lines with nice scents like rose, and citrus, there was a clear reason they opted to make this cleanser part of their Almond line. By using Almond (which has a nice and subtle sweet note to it), the formula is free of any fragrances including essential oils, making it kind of over-the-top excellent for those with sensitive skin. The two plant oils in here are Sweet Almond which is not only a gentle carrier oil that nourishes acne-prone to dry skin (yay for me!), it’s also wonderful for sensitive skin prone to eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Sweet Almond Oil’s high fatty acid content is known to help dissolve excess oil on the skin as well, which is why it works beautifully to moisturize AND cleanse the skin, especially the stubborn waterproof products which usually have an oil-base. The other plant oil is Plum Seed Oil, which is a star ingredient in many more expensive products including Le Prunier’s Plum Beauty Oil which retails at $72 for 1 oz of pure Plum Seed Oil. Plum Seed Oil is known to be rejuvenating and anti-aging, excellent for the skin barrier, with high polyphenol antioxidant content. It also calms irritation, brightens the skin tone, and does not clog pores with recommendations as especially suitable for dry, sensitive and acne-prone skin types – what’s not to love?

Plant oils aside, the ingredients in Weleda’s Sensitive Care Cleansing Lotion – Almond are purposeful, with a water base, this helps to moisturize alongside glycerin, and the Alcohol Glyceryl Stearate SE is a nice texturizer that is a fatty-alcohol that calms the skin. It works with the Hydrolyzed Beeswax and Xanthan Gum to form a nice rich creamy texture that is simultaneously moisturizing, and “breathable”.

How do you like it?

A lot. As if that wasn’t clear from the ravaged tube of product. If this was a plate at a restaurant, mine would have been embarrassingly empty with even the sauce wiped up, the type of scenario where we all know a sassy waiter will sarcastically comment “looks like you didn’t like that at all.” Weleda’s Sensitive Care Cleansing Lotion – Almond is gentle, the cream is rich but not suffocating because all of the ingredients are nourishing yet light on the skin (even suitable for acne-prone skin) so you feel like you have a hefty comfort cream on, without concern of the cleansing lotion clogging pores, nor causing congestion. The performance is right up there in terms of make-up removal, and I even use this for eye makeup due to the high quality ingredients (no mineral oil or harsh cleansers), and total fragrance-free nature of the formula.

I love this for any time, as it’s such a low-maintenance product that works gently, quickly, and effectively, and easily rinses off when done. It takes the place of cleansing balms/oils/micellar water, and even some 2nd cleanse cleansing milks.

And because of the sensitive-skin formulation, with a creamy texture suitable for dry skin, yet thoughtful enough to benefit even acne-prone skin, and the fact that all this goodness comes in under $20 – I really don’t know who Weleda’s Sensitive Care Cleansing Lotion – Almond wouldn’t be suited for. Although Weleda’s Sensitive Care Cleansing Lotion – Almond wouldn’t fall into the typical luxury category that I usually review, for me the performance is every bit as sophisticated, if not more so, the ingredients are thoughtful and high-quality, this is one of those products that is an absolute gem that also comes in at an excellent bang-for-the-buck price.

A Skincare Update: All Green Beauty July 2020

Lately the idea of semantics has been weighing on my mind. The term Green Beauty, which to me started as a movement for empowerment in knowledge of the ingredients we were buying in our personal care products, has shifted into becoming the equivalent an eye roll synonymous with Gwyneth Paltrow jade vagina eggs and frou-frou rituals of the rich and bored. If you came here through my Instagram, I go into it a bit more on just how the industry is actually quite toxic from the people behind it to how it got this way.

While I think our green beauty community now has all but dispersed, I do believe in many of the products we championed. Here is my all green routine.

I know it’s odd to see an oil cleanser as a morning cleanse, but these days I’ve just been at home and it’s hard to justify a full cleansing experience sometimes when I barely want to even do a morning routine. I tried to go through with just water but notice it does a terrible job of penetrating the film of oils my skin seems to secrete overnight. One morning I reached for Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil out of sheer laziness, and found this to do a good job of getting rid of that oil film as oil binds oil (some of you with drier skin might like the film and refuse to cleanse in the morning, but you should especially if you use serums as they need to actually penetrate). It’s gentle and works in a breeze without any fuss, and because I only use half a pump, it rinses off quickly (*yes it does emulsify with water, hurrah!) and my skin feels clean and ready for the next steps without feeling like I had to do a whole production with my cleansing.  I first got into cleansing oils with Shu Uemura but the ingredients kind of turned me off (in addition to the fact that it doesn’t rinse off with water very well), it wasn’t until One Love Organics came along with their oil cleanser that I absolutely loved it. But the Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil in my opinion, has better ingredients (a lot more plant oils) and feels nicer.

I follow with Yuli’s Panacea Elixir. If I do a full cleansing routine, I like to mist it on my skin as I feel that hydrates my skin more (this is what I tend to do at night), but if I do an oil cleanse, I like to apply this like a traditional toner with a cotton round. When used this way, it works like an organic Biologique P50 without the harsh acids that seemed to make everyone’s skin red, blotchy and angry. Panacea uses enzymes and ionized minerals instead that break away dead skin, oxidized pore clogging sebum, etc., and keeps my skin clear of congestion and any general griminess. It’s described as a juice fast for the skin, and feels to me like the skincare version of a herbal tonic you’d drink from a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to leave skin fresh, hydrated, and clear of breakouts or congestion.


Next I use Agent Nateur’s Holi(oil) as my face oil. I loved this oil from first use. The texture is beautifully plush as it uses rice bran which is nourishing but also easily absorbed. There are only 7 ingredients in here, which isn’t bad because some of the most beautiful creations only have a handful of ingredients, and these ingredients are all top of the line in quality as we know Jena prides herself on sourcing. Standouts include a French patented Calcium Ketogluconate, and Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate) which work with each other to increase the efficacy of Vitamin C in building collagen and brightening the skin. Now.. the smell. It’s beautiful and was something that stuck with me from first use. The more I used it, the more I thought “wow this is divine but also.. familiar?” It was only after reading the Garcon’s World review of Saint Jane Beauty’s CBD Face Oil where they compared the smell of rose and sandalwood as being extremely similar to Agent Nateur AND Ila that I figured it out. Remember Ila? I forgot until I read that review from GW who always manages to be on the mark and are friggin beauty archivists. I remember using their oil YEARS ago, and thats when the lightbulb went off that the Agent Nateur oil isn’t just similar in smell, upon some digging (going to their websites lol) their formulas are like copies. Where Agent Nateur uses a base of rice bran, Ila uses argan, and Agent uses the calcium+vitamin c, but other than that you can see for yourself:

Ila Formula
Wild-Grown Argan Oil (Argania Spinosa Kernal), Rosehip Seed Oil (Rosa Canina), Sandalwood (Santalam Spicatum), Rose Otto Oil (Rose Damascena Flower Oil), Vitamin E Oil (Tocopherol Extract)

Agent Nateur Formula
organic oryza sativa (rice bran), organic rosa mosqueta (rosehip) oil, calcium ketogluconate, wildcrafted rosa damascena oil, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, organic helichrysum gymnocephalum oil, wildcrafted santalum album (sandalwood) oil.

Not to take away from the brilliance of the Agent Nateur face oil which is one of the nicest I’ve used, I just have to wonder how much Ila’s oil that came before might have informed the formulation of the Agent Nateur oil. **As an aside, I’ve been reticent to talk about Agent Nateur on my blog because as many of you may be aware, the founder has some fringe beliefs that I think are harmful. She’s also treated a fellow blogger (who I consider to be a genuine friend in the space) in a very ugly and hurtful manner. I stand by my review of this product, but I don’t think I will be purchasing from the Agent Nateur line in the future.**

Following face oil, I make sure I get my eye serum in. Kahina’s Eye Serum is a favorite. I’ve used many, and it’s a category I obsess over. What I’ve learned is that creams are for dry skin (if your skin is more oily, it could lead to milia which has to be extracted via surgical instruments), serums with a lighter gel texture tend to be more for active benefits, which is the camp I’m in right now. Kahina’s Eye Serum is a gel texture but it doesn’t have alcohol and doesn’t have that “evaporating” feel that dries your skin out. There are peptides and good plant extracts that are brightening and boost microcirculation. I think of it as my anti-aging serum for the eyes.

So in the serum step we’ve done the face and the eyes, I finish with my lips. I’m very hot and cold when it comes to my lips. Sometimes I fall behind on taking care of them and they easily get chapped. But I was watching Blackpink on Youtube and noticed how ALL the girls are religious about applying their lip products before every interview, performance and photoshoot. Like they didn’t care about touching up lipstick, but if their lips were chapped, oh no! I also know that not taking care of the lips can really mess up the plumpness and lose volume as we get older. My main problem is that I like to drink my wellness tonics, eat food, etc. and I know half the ingredients in most lip products are not ones I want to ingest so it’s hard to space it out. This is why I use Yuli’s Cellular Lip Conditioner which is 100% food grade. It’s not a balm, think of it like a face oil but for your lips. How is it different? The lips don’t have sebum glands, there is more collagen, and they’re more exposed (that’s also why the lips are more pigmented).  The Cellular Lip Conditioner helps to nourish the skin, and their plants offer a degree of protection from exposure, and it helps to keep lips plumped. I consider this an insurance to keep my lips as healthy as voluminous as I can.

The Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition is the moisturizer I’ve been using daily. It is light enough that it can be dispensed from a pump and is not too flashy. But it contains all the right ingredients that a dream moisturizer should have like squalane, avocado oil, hyaluronic acid, and even rosemary extract (good for environmental stressors) and Vitamin C. It melts into skin without any heaviness or greasiness, yet is substantial enough that you’ll miss it if you forgot to apply it. I think of moisturizers as more of the defensive line meant to keep the moisture from escaping, adding some of that creamier heft, and if good active ingredients are there, all the better, and this ticks all the boxes.


Before we’re done there’s one more thing I do in the morning. My wellness tonic! Let’s be honest here, everything we can perceive from our skin and hair, to our digestion, and how we feel is rooted within our inner wellness. I’m not going to do elaborate multi-step skincare routines, invest in expensive products, and then ignore what’s going on inside where everything is actually going on. MIJA Superstar is one that I talked about before. I love that it’s made by a board certified nutritionist and dietitian who is very acclaimed, as most are not. And I love their approach of filling the universal gaps we all have with one comprehensive supplement that can align all of our systems. Their approach is to balance and optimize the body where it needs it, rather than other brand approaches where you’re asked to take something for your mood, something else for your immune system, another thing for your digestion, without any clinical evidence what taking them together will do, and no concern for what individual supplements might imbalance in other areas. Beyond their approach, this just works for me on all fronts (for me it is most noticeable in my digestive regularity, metabolism, and energy level, but it will be different for everyone, my sister who is usually sick about 2-3 times a year has not been sick since she started taking it in October 2019). Unlike skincare that has steps, you don’t need bundles of supplements to be healthy, Mija’s Superstar has replaced jars of other stuff I was taking before, effectively cutting down on both time and cost, as well as always feeling like I wasn’t getting everything out of my supplements. I’ve never been more satisfied.


I love hearing from you, whether in the comments section here or on my Instagram. Reach out!

Saving my skin during Quarantine: Reflekt 1 Daily Exfoliating Face Wash & YÜLI Pure Mask

Throughout quarantine, I’ve been quietly feeling and figuring out changes to my skin. I knew that staying at home would have some physical repercussions, as the small spaces and lack of openness in New York just aren’t conducive for activity, but I didn’t know how it might manifest on my skin. Even if you’re dedicated to doing online workouts, I just don’t think they’re able to compensate for the absolute change in lifestyle and drop in overall activity level.

Now this paragraph is going to bring us closer, because we’re going into TMI territory. The first thing that I noticed after a few days is what I call a “sticky sweat.” This isn’t the good body-drenching sweat that leaves you feeling the kick of endorphins after a productive workout, we’re talking about sitting around feeling stuffy and finding the skin surface kind of… “moistened” (a word I hate but find to be the best fit), like there is a layer of film. I find this to leave the skin more vulnerable to breakouts and irritation at large. Scientifically, it’s probably due to the “moistened” surface giving rise for more bacteria to flourish which I imagine can’t be good for the skin barrier. The second thing I noticed was an increase in my skin’s oil production. I think with any added stress (my iPhone happened to conveniently die in the middle of this and it was nearly impossible to get a hold of Apple), and bad eating (I have been going to town on my baking projects which are more of an excuse to indulge in comfort foods like muffins and scones), on top of the “stuffiness” from lack of fresh, free-flowing air, there probably is an over production of sebum that can mix with the moistened surface, creating congestion and triggering breakouts, which to me pop up around my hairline and T-zone. Thirdly, it wasn’t a visible thing, but I just felt that my skin was very “meh” and it wasn’t until I read this post from YÜLI on microcirculation and lymphatic movement that I realized how much my skin really just needed to be “touched”.

These are the two skincare products I’ve been using to address and relieve the issues that my skin has encountered during quarantine:

1. Cleanser – Reflekt 1 Daily Exfoliating Face Wash

With the stuffiness, and heightened sebum production, washing my skin in the sink at night no longer felt like it was enough to “break through”. I moved it into the shower where the steam would help to dilate the pores, giving me a deeper cleanse. About 2 to 3 times a week, I’ll use Reflekt’s Daily Exfoliating Face Wash, a very gentle gel cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin (water, jojoba esters, and glycerin are its first 3 ingredients), nor does it even use acids to exfoliate (the only acids it does contain are hyaluronic acid and collagen amino acids). The exfoliation is provided by physical beads, the jojoba esters, a natural and very gentle physical exfoliator that is smaller, softer, and more uniform than any other physical exfoliator out there — natural or not — which is very important to me as I swore off physical exfoliators a while ago after seeing all the research on how even natural ones like Apricot Seeds can just as easily scratch and create micro-tears on the skin. This does not do that, the jojoba esters aren’t a hard solid, and would sooner collapse than damage your skin. What they do really well is they buff away the hardened oxidized sebum on the skin surface and those that have slipped into the pores, in addition to dead skin cells that stick to the surface now due to the excess sebum, which can cause breakouts.

Further, I like giving my skin a nice long massage with this cleanser, rolling the jojoba esters over my face as form of microcirculation to stimulate blood flow and restore some color to my face. I go over my skin in three sections: each cheek and forehead, massaging by barely applying any pressure to the surface of my skin and going counterclockwise. Not only does this keep the exfoliation very even, but it gets the blood circulating through the major areas, so everything feels fresher and more responsive afterward. I think this has become a great regular to rescue the skin.

 

2. Mask – YÜLI Pure Mask

Because quarantine is a lifestyle change, you need that “intervention” that snaps your skin out of the stagnant funk. YÜLI’s mask is my treatment step, sought out weekly (or sometimes bi-weekly if needed) as a stand-alone hero to press the reset button when I just need a clean slate. Pure Mask happens to have the perfect formula that deals with everything skin is going through at this time. The clays are biologically active, so unlike many of the clay masks, these are rich in minerals and antioxidants, more helpfully, these active clays have an ionic charge that happens to be adapt at pulling out pollution buildup, and luring out the the hardened and oxidized sebum, and all the pore clogging impurities. There are also fruit derived enzymes and rice powder (a renowned beautifying ingredient recognized as central to Geisha skincare rituals used across the Tatcha line) that resurface dead skin cells and remove that film of buildup, while evening skin complexion. The two ingredients together also increase cell turnover, which is not only good for anti-aging but also timely to overturn the sluggishness and dead skin cell buildup. This mask helps to dissolve that film of grime, and excess sebum, and makes my skin feel like it can finally breathe again and that serums can actually penetrate.

And Pure Mask contains lymphatic herbs that work with the active clays to boost microcirculation and lymphatic drainage which are the two most helpful activations to handle the overall effects of stagnation on the skin. These processes help to give tissues new nutrients and the increased flow of blood brings in fresh oxygen, while moving out waste and buildup (goodbye sodium/sugar induced bloating and puffiness), and what this meant for me was seeing my skin come alive again with a noticeable rosy, fresh glow.

Wearing makeup again… #UpdatesfromQuarantine

Two makeup posts in a row? It must be a sign my wanderlust is trying to express itself amid my stay-at-home quarantine for what has felt like the longest month. A quick note if you see the above photo and think “we’ve seen many of these products before..”; if you know me, you’ll know that I love to experiment with anything luxurious and promising but that I’m also very loyal where if something works, I’ll keep it. For reviews, this is good because I can provide you all with actual real feedback since I ‘live’ with the products, but for content, where many bloggers cycle through new release after new release without any repetition (where the reviews tend to be more superficial and not that enlightening IMO), you’re likely to see things I might have talked about before and not always the “release of the minute.”

RMS Beauty Signature Set – (in MOD) if you like discovery and options, the RMS Beauty Signature Set is for you as it’s a composite “best of” collection of 5 products in a convenient palette. I opted for the MOD palette which features the Master Mixer, Living Luminizer, Smile Lip2Cheek, Spell Lip2Cheek, and Simply Cocoa Lip & Skin Balm because the selections and colors felt more versatile to me and featured the ‘greatest hits’. This is lovely for basically testing out the entire range and figuring out how to play with the colors, and textures together before buying the stand alone products. I love that the products together cover nearly everything from lip color to blush and highlights. And while most of the makeup featured in this post is very clean, RMS Beauty is known for being as natural and organic as it gets.

Ellis Faas Skin Veil Pen – (in S102) Ellis Faas is a brand that should be more well known than it currently is, at least Stateside. If I were to draw a comparison, Ellis Faas would be Kjaer Weis meets Serge Lutens: the packaging is nothing short of original and innovative with refillable “pens” for every makeup category shaped like a haute couture piece; the colors are rich, lush, and editorial, drawn from human colors that always compliment natural skin tones; and the wear is almost costume makeup grade in endurance with an almost nude second skin feel. The Skin Veil Pen dispenses foundation through a brush tip applicator that gives skin a gorgeous glow up, I’d describe it as ballerina emerging from a dew petal.

Glossier Boy Brow – I’m so glad that full brows are in, but letting them grow out can be unwieldily. Boy Brow is a great tool that fills spots in, and it has a waxy texture that holds brows in place so you have a natural yet clean and streamlined appearance. Unlike brow pencils that rely on a bit of skill to get the shape right, this is really meant to accentuate and fill out your natural brows giving quite an effortless but put-together look where brows don’t look too “artificial,” like you just woke up with fuller, uniformed brows — and isn’t that the best, no wonder this remains one of Glossier’s top-sellers.

Tatcha Kissu Lip Mask – This is the most precious thing. The Kissu Lip Mask is a pot of peachy goodness in a honey jelly texture. Using a combination of Japanese Peach Extract, Camellia Oil, and Squalene to repair and nourish the lips, Kissu is a pleasurable lip mask that you apply with a scooper (provided). It’s just so delightful to put on and “luxuriate.” I love it for mornings after I’ve brushed my teeth and need to give myself that 15 minute window before starting teas or anything else. According to Tatcha’s own studies 100% of women noticed improved texture and overall condition to the lips within 1 week, and 100% of women noticed continued improvement after 2 weeks. I definitely think lip balms have their place, but sometimes you just want to break the cycle of dry/chapped lips, and Kissu mask about 2 times a week has helped me tremendously (and in case it wasn’t clear, it’s SUCH A JOY to use).

Rituel de Fille Enchanted Lip Sheer – (in Narcissus) Rituel de Fille is a newer organic color cosmetics line, but what made it stick out in a crowded space is their strong branding and product identity, focusing on an occult-like vision of natural cosmetics where rich pigments and stunning shades are the focal point. Enchanted Lip Sheer is smooth and creamy, deeply moisturizing to the lips, the coverage is sheer (as the name suggests) but the color is indeed quite rich and the staying power is impressive. From the consistency and texture to the feel, look and overall performance of the product, it truly doesn’t feel like an “organic product” which I mean in the best way possible in the sense that I was pleasantly surprised by how much organic make-up has really caught up to conventional products even in the color space (which even makeup artist Katey Denno acknowledges can sometimes fall short). Even the scent of rosemary and lavender is quite spellbinding. Narcissus is a nude, buttery color that tends toward a peachy strawberry color, perfect for spring/summer, and for when you want to look together in a more subtle way. The color is more exciting than a typical nude, and more discreet than a statement red, ideal when you want options.

Beautycounter Sheer Lipstick – (in Twig) Perhaps my favorite item from the Beautycounter makeup collection, for the performance and beautiful packaging alone. This has been my “everyday” lip stick. The formula is pure butter, silky smooth and super moisturizing. The color is light and buildable, you can easily go from barely there your-lips-but-better to full glam color. Oh and this buttery lip stick also smells like vanilla from the natural vanilla extract. Unlike many conventional lipsticks, this is not only luxurious but also feels “good for you,” hence its place as my regular go-to.

 


I hope this downtime is giving you time to rediscover, experiment, and just have fun with your products again, for me it’s been with makeup, share yours in the comments!

*This post is not sponsored, though it may contain some affiliate links.

Obsession: Kjaer Weis Lip Tint

(Originally reviewed as part of the Kjaer Weis Trio of Foundation, Highlighter, and Lip Tint which you can read here.)

During quarantine, I’ve had more time to explore my beauty stash and reacquaint myself with a few gems. Kjaer Weis Lip Tint is one product that I came across a while back and loved quickly. But being more of a skincare girl, kind of left on the back burner since I usually go pretty barefaced unless going to an event like a night out. However, lately, all this staying at home has seen my elaborate multistep routines dwindle to like… 2 steps, 3 on a good day. Recently, I read a piece either on The Cut or Guest of a Guest about spending this time more focused on regimens because the downtime really is the best time for all that healing/improving to happen. And somewhere deep down in my sweats and eye gel patch wearing casualness, I always wanted to get that put-together look, the woman who can do a few swipes of makeup, tuck her hair back and pull off the casual yet put-together look even for a laid-back day at home.

So this morning, not only did I get back into a solid routine, I made myself put on “my face” by adding some color just to feel more special and polished. Of course, I’m not going with a full-on makeup look so the Kjaer Weis Lip Tint was perfect. It’s a fusion of lipstick and lip balm, which adds a pop of color AND gives the lips that balmy goodness I’d need anyway. The color I use is Passionate which is described as universally flattering as a very classic neutral berry. In the evening its richer tone comes out more, while in the sunlight, it’s a very summery, juicy color. It applies like a balm, silky and smooth, imparting an effortlessly sheer-yet-rich color that is also buildable and addictively moisturizing almost like a gel-balm. I’d describe it more as glossy and not never greasy, every touch of Kjaer Weis is focused on luxury all the way. Most importantly it gives just that subtle bit of put-togetherness that doesn’t look out of place regardless if you’re actually heading anywhere.

Kjaer Weis Lip Tint $49 at The Detox Market / Refills $25
Recommended colors are Passionate (pictured), Dream State (lightest nude berry), Sweetness (a flattering coral pop perfect for Spring/Summer), Lover’s Choice (a classic deep red), Goddess (dark, rich, like something from an editorial).

Skincare Catchup: March 2020 Quarantine Edition

90090948_319410682350650_1004495937312807981_nHow’s everyone doing? As an introvert, this period of self-distancing hasn’t hit me particularly hard as it’s given me a chance to catch up on books, Netflix, and all the shows I’ve been meaning to watch. As an avid beauty junkie, I’ve been using this downtime to basically treat every day as though it was my Sunday self-care day. Here’s a snapshot of what I used today:

I begin each morning with my wellness drink, and given these times I’m not risking it — made by a board-certified nutritionist and dietitian, MIJA Superstar hits all the marks and immunity is a major benefit, plus, it tastes really good. I usually get anxiety/stress-induced inflammation that manifests as a stye or digestive issue but have not experienced any which I credit to this supplement.

I wash my face with lukewarm water then slather on YÜLI Pure Mask, which I’ve always loved but now have the time to really luxuriate in it. I think staying at home and not being able to get a decent sweat in at the gym has not been good for my pores and I’ve been noticing a bit more congestion, so this mask really helps to clarify while infusing with nutrients, giving me that naked baby-soft skin feel.

After rinsing off the mask, I follow with Reflekt’s Daily Exfoliating Face Wash. It’s very gentle and the exfoliation comes from jojoba beads rather than strong acids. I don’t use it as a scrub per se, but just a normal cleanse when I feel like my skin is a bit on the dull side. I also like that this is diluted in hyaluronic acid and otherwise skin moisturizing ingredients as well.

Post cleanse,  Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist is such a gorgeous mist. The bottle is beautiful and the juice is a nice milky texture. The only thing I had to change was being stingy with spraying it as I treasured it so much that I was not more generous with my sprays at the beginning.

Yuri Pibu Cellum Amaid Essence is so nice as well, and the perfect water-based serum that moisturizes. It’s a relatively clean K-Beauty staple that is focused on high concentrations of plant ingredients like yam that help to brighten skin too. It’s also very very gentle.

African Botanics Fleur’s D’Afrique Intensive Recovery Oil, I use this primarily as a night time oil but since I’m staying in all day, I figure why not go for it and slather on the anti-aging oil, right? This oil is STRONG but in that good way where you’re like “I’m definitely getting my money worth.” And it smells beautiful thanks to night-blooming flower extracts.

Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition has become such a reliable moisturizer for day or night. It’s not an attention-getting product and I mean that in a good way because some products are divas and this is like the hardworking team member on your group project who always replies emails, does their work, is super dependable, and you end up becoming friends.

Vive Sana Serum Cream is my last step. It’s an SPF 20 which in any real-world scenario is low (Vive Sana has an actual SPF cream that is SPF 30), but in this stay-at-home scenario works wonderfully because it provides just that right amount of protection and is such a rich anti-oxidant filled cream. I’d almost describe it as a face oil in a cream form with SPF20 in there.


Let me know if you’d like me to share more daily routines while we get through this very unusual time together!

*This post is not sponsored, though it may contain some affiliate links.

The Nue Co: Brand Overview & Review


The Nue Co. is a brand that appealed to me right away. Their branding is described as a “scientist had sex with a supermodel,” as they’re a hybrid between scientific and stylish, with products backed by data rather than cutesy millennial-speak (Moon Juice/Golde) or esoteric Santa Monica hipster (…we all know), and they’re always packaged in standard amber bottles but with very distinctive, eye-catching design language that is simultaneously understated, minimalist and sophisticated. Gradually I started amassing a collection of their products and having spent time with them to varying extents, I’ll review the products one by one, then a general summary of the line.

The Nue Co Debloat Food + Prebiotic

This was the first product I picked up from them. What I liked was how clear and purposeful the product was, and I appreciated the straightforwardness that this was just a treatment designed for digestion. Since turning over to the latter part of my mid-20s, I do notice things like metabolism slowing down and sometimes it feels like my dinner just sits without being processed which makes me feel kind of gross when I go to bed at night, so I thought this would be perfect.

What I noticed upon the first impression is how “bare” the product was — although the packaging and design language are quite stunning, the formula is very bare-bones and this literally looks and feels like scooping up a spoonful of spices. You can tell that there REALLY isn’t anything put in for the taste and the 5 ingredient list of maqui fruit powder, cinnamon powder, ginger root powder, turmeric powder, and inulin are really all there is. It sounds kind of like “well no shit, that’s all that is listed” but you know.. I kind of imagined the ingredients might somehow look, taste, or feel like something I couldn’t just mix at home in my own kitchen given how sleek and damn-near Aesop-like the branding was… but nope this felt like what would happen if I threw in those powders myself.

Results: the spices are warming and they do move things along so I do think it works. But I tried my own DIY of cinnamon and turmeric with shavings of fresh ginger I had in my kitchen, and it worked just as well? So I was a bit let down at the kind of DIY-ness of it all, but I chalked it up to the brand going a little too far with embracing a purist mentality on this one product. So I decided to explore more rather than write-off the entire line.

The Nue Co Skin Food + Prebiotic

I purchased this with their Skin Filter pills when The Nue Co really leaned into their internal skincare supplement rollouts in late 2019. This convinced me that when it comes to powder-supplements, The Nue Co takes a very minimal approach in general as it is also just 5 ingredients as well: inulin, lucuma, baobab, camu camu, brown rice protein. Inulin is in this and the previous supplement, so I thought it might be helpful to let you know that a quick google shows this is a type of plant-derived dietary fiber. The primary benefit of this supplement is collagen-production from Vitamin C contained in the 3 plants. Which when I thought about it seemed like a lot of work to take an additional supplement for what is really just Vitamin C?

I mean this delivers a 122% daily value of Vitamin C, which is key for collagen so I don’t doubt that it works,  but geez… an entire step/product just for this. And the taste is… sour and tart. I suggest either gulping this down without letting it hit your tastebuds or sweetening it with honey. I’m not someone who needs things to taste great, but wow is this sour. The first time I tried it with my fiance and we immediately had the signature Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen “prune” face.

I think the science is there, Vitamin C has been shown to be better than direct collagen supplements for building collagen in the skin. Camu Camu is renowned for its Vitamin C. But the actual user experience leaves a lot to be desired with this product.

The Nue Co Skin Filter

What’s interesting about Skin Filter is that it’s actually in pill form and contains 11 ingredients which for The Nue Co, is a lot, and it makes it feel less DIY and more of a true supplement. So how is this a skin filter? Reading more into the product literature, we’re essentially told to think of this as ingestible retinol. Retinol is the anti-aging powerhouse of the skincare world and this delivers 50% Daily Value of Vitamin A from beta-carotene, alongside Vitamin C, and zinc, which is said to help with collagen degradation, control melanin production and improve microcirculation to give improved elasticity, reduce blemishes, and brighten the skin.

I took this daily for 1 month (the full bottle), and did feel that my skin felt firmer and tauter especially around my cheeks and jawline. You know sometimes when you lose water weight or you’ve been eating right, working out and your face just seems to have some angles and your skin just looks prettier? That’s how I felt using this. I really loved the results with my first bottle/first month and will be ordering another bottle when we are in the Spring/Summer months as part of the benefit of this is also to protect against sun damage.

The difference between Skin Filter and the previous Skin Food to me is that whereas Skin Food felt like almost a superfluous step, needlessly complicating a routine with a DIY formula, this felt impactful with a more scientific, clinical formula that offers a more comprehensive set of benefits for the skin. So although the two products are a bit different, I know most of you are not looking to purchase a number of products to go through every morning so I’d definitely recommend Skin Filter as your go-to skin supplement in the line.

 

The Nue Co Functional Fragrance

I was excited about the Functional Fragrance, the moment this product launched. I love fragrance but have such a hard time with most as I have such sensitivity toward synthetic fragrance – in fact, many brands carried at Credo such as Ellis Brooklyn and Phlur are no-go’s for me as they still get nauseating after a while of wear for me. There isn’t true clarity in the fragrance industry with clean and non-clean ingredients, mainly because there isn’t a requirement for disclosure of ingredients when it comes to perfumes so beyond general ingredients like phthalates that we know to avoid, it’s impossible to tell what actually is and is not in a “clean perfume” as they all talk about using “natural ingredients.” I was quite excited about this because it’s functional fragrance and I’m a huge believer in the potential of fragrance to improve wellbeing if the ingredients used were clean, so I had high hopes for this.

I think The Nue Co is quite original with their approach and applaud them for approaching wellness from a new angle with fragrances. This is marketed as an anti-stress supplement, linking scent with cognition to help re-center and reset in the form of a unisex fragrance. It was formulated by a legendary perfumer, Frank Voelki, and you can really tell that this is a really serious fragrance product. The layers of green cardamom, iris, violet, palo santo, jasmine, cedarwood, musk, amber are all quite elegant and complex. It smells grounding, and rich, like lulling your senses to sleep in soft suede and silk sheets. It’s also luxurious enough to be worn as a daily perfume if desired but I just love it around the 5PM-6PM mark when the day transitions to a quieter, more intimate pace.

I don’t believe all of the ingredients are completely natural (e.g. there isn’t a natural plant musk ingredient), but the formula is 100% vegan and non-toxic. More importantly, it hits my itch for a luxurious fragrance and the functional component is a wonderful bonus.


There are definitely some hits and misses for me with The Nue Co, but I’m excited to see what is next for the brand and count myself as a fan. Although at times some of the products (the powders) were a bit too simplistic for my liking (and for the price point), the brand as a whole is undeniably inventive and execute things well from the presentation and branding elements to the results, and their newer products have been especially captivating – you can’t go wrong starting at the Functional Fragrance. If you’ve tried anything from The Nue Co, leave your thoughts in the comments.

Tatcha The Serum Stick

Tatcha is that line that just always go for it in terms of over-the-top luxury and almost fantastically whimsical creativity, which speaks to my ever-niche-luxury loving beauty heart.

When I received their newest product, The Serum Stick, I was a bit confused. Why do a serum in a stick form from the line that already makes such good serums? Then I read the product information:

A concentrated solid serum of 80% squalane and Japanese lemon balm that targets signs of aging and dryness instantly and over time, keeping skin and makeup fresh throughout the day.

Here are the purported benefits:

  • Smooths dry fine lines instantly and over time. Ideal for perking up the eye area, it also helps address laugh lines and other areas of crepiness wherever dehydration appears.

  • Locks in moisture instantly and over time. Weightless, all-natural squalane glides on easily to soften, comfort and lock in moisture, alleviating and minimizing skin and makeup dryness.

  • Creates a dewy cushion for makeup and refreshes. Melts into clean skin seamlessly, preventing makeup from settling into lines and improving blendability. Over makeup, it refreshes dry spots throughout the day and imparts a natural glow.

It was only upon first application that I started to get it… the cushiony pearlescent formula felt almost like a gel when it touches the skin and rather than a chunk of solid, this was really a serum concentrate made in a solid form. Oh, and it’s fragrance-free as well for those who might be sensitive.

Why solid? I imagine you might ask, given that it was my initial question too. Although Tatcha doesn’t go into why they decided to go this route, through my use, I noticed practical it was. Due to the stick form factor, you can easily throw The Serum Stick in your handbag (or backpack) and go about your day. It’s great for touch-ups both working as a makeup primer but also as a light balm. For me, the initial levels of skin nourishment from creams, oils, and general moisturizers always subside throughout the day, especially when it comes to my undereye area, and Tatcha’s The Serum Stick is perfect for these times because a quick swipe and the formula of a whopping 80% pure squalane (the renowned barrier improving emollient), lemon balm (an anti-inflammatory leaf, not the citrus fruit), and Tatcha’s signature Hadasei-3 complex of antioxidant-rich Japanese superfoods absolutely makes the skin feel nourished and dare I say, silken? Even touching my skin as I write this, the areas on my forehead and under eyes where I applied this about 20 minutes ago feel like the texture of a pearl, and that tight, uncomfortable feeling with dry skin vanishes almost immediately.

Should you get The Serum Stick? Well, it retails for $48 and is a cross between a balm, face oil and traditional serum (hyaluronic acid), all products that individually would cost more. And with the way that one glide will cover so much, The Serum Stick is sized to last so yes – get this and keep it on your person so your skin never has to go without.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other Holiday Sales


If you’re anything like me, the evening of Thanksgiving can be the most stressful because all of a sudden, those emails start coming in. A sale here, an exclusive there, and before you know it, you’re drowned in offers from every brand you’ve ever heard of and what should be a fun reward, shopping a great offer, turns into a tedious chore. This year, I’ve gotten a little fatigued by it all and I feel like others might be too. I think part of why this year’s holiday sales have seemed exhausting is because everyone is trying to figure out how to squeeze the sales in such a loaded few days, we have some like Beautyhabit, Credo, and The Detox Market that started at the beginning of the month (and are on round 2 of holiday deals), others though are boycotting Black Friday, such as DECIEM which closed down their entire website today and Abel Odor (and those like them) that advocate boycotting Black Friday altogether:

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Not from some righteous notion or desire to name and shame those partaking in #BlackFriday. But from a very genuine, very deep-rooted desire to see change. To be part of the change.⁠ ⁠ On July 29th 2019 we "celebrated" Earth Overshoot Day. The day in which we used up nature's resource budget for the entire year. July 29th. The earliest ever.⁠ ⁠ But, this year we've also seen millions united in climate change protests around the world. There is a movement underfoot, a momentum change… A change that global feeding frenzies like #BlackFriday can undermine in a single weekend.⁠ ⁠ #BlackFriday goes against every fibre of our being, every cell in our body.⁠ ⁠ Don't shop anything you don't need tomorrow. Don't shop our perfume tomorrow. ⁠ #boycottblackfriday ⁠

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And while I get the sentiment, it does come across preachy and self-righteous. Look, here’s the deal. I don’t love this consumerist machine, but as a blogger who buys most of her own products, I know how helpful it can be to get a truly great deal so in the spirit of providing helpful information rather than deluging you with a pointless collection of sales I’m going to write up just a handful of sales that I’m personally partaking in and why:

The Nue Co: I know they’re carried everywhere now but most of their retailer offers top out at 20%. I was ready to pull the trigger at a 25% sale but then The Nue Co themselves came out with 30% off their line. The reason I’ve been waiting for their sale is that I had been looking for an opportunity to buy their Functional Fragrance. I love fragrance yet have a low tolerance of anything synthetic (unfortunately including the “clean” options at Credo such as Ellis Brooklyn and Phlur). I keep hoping that new fragrances will break the mold sort of like what happened when green beauty took hold of skincare years ago, but that just hasn’t happened. From Credo (Ellis Brooklyn, Phlur) to Aesop, which was my big splurge last year, fragrances have remained very synthetic and as a result, nauseating. I just don’t think the fragrance industry has figured out how to kick out the truly bad offenders. It’s sort of like nail polish, sure, you can get up to 7-free but there are still ingredients that you don’t want near you. I am hopeful that The Nue Co’s Functional Fragrance, which is more aromatherapy and supposed to be very natural in ingredient origin, can work out.

MIJA: MIJA launched its hero product, Superstar, earlier this year and it’s taken off like the Vintner’s Daughter of the supplement world. MIJA is making Superstar available for 15% off or if you buy two (like I am), you get 20% off. As a bonus, they’re also including a free stainless steel reusable straw which is one of those things I kind of need to have anyway as laws are passed in CA and NY regarding plastic straws. You might notice that I’m not getting any supplements from The Nue Co, and that’s because I’ve been using MIJA’s Superstar since late summer and absolutely love it. You can read my review here. I love experimenting with skincare and makeup, but I think when it comes to internal wellness, the industry is a bit too lax and we should be more thoughtful. I don’t think it’s good to mix/match/switch around different supplements “just to try things out” because our bodies and internal processes are so complex. What I do know is that MIJA is made by a board-certified dietitian nutritionist, and not a new-age “wellness guru” like a lot of the others, and the results I’ve experienced from their signature product, Superstar, has really made it the only wellness supplements that I’ll need.

VERISHOP: So I hadn’t heard of Verishop before, but they popped up on my Instagram feed with a 25% offer for skincare, so you know I clicked. After perusing, it didn’t look bad at all. If you want Oribe or Tata Harper, get them here rather than their own sales (at 20%) because they’re offering 25%. When I saw that these two lines were stocked at Verishop, I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t stock up at Oribe nor Tata Harper’s current sale. Other notables are the Cire Trudon candles, which I really don’t think I’ve seen at anything past 20% before. There are lots of categories, including clothes so exercise some organization when perusing.

Shani Darden: 25% off the LA celebrity esthetician line. I think Shani has come leaps and bounds in the past year with a rehaul of her entire skincare line and the launch of her clinic in Los Angeles. I have been paying attention to her since she debuted on Into The Gloss years back and recall her single product – the Retinol Reform, then packaged in a tiny white glass bottle, and how every editor and celebrity in LA swore by that retinol as being both gentle yet effective. The past year, I’ve really dug more into retinols, after both high-end, organic, and everything in between. In fact, I just finished out a retinol (5% Granactive from The Ordinary), and want to try a new one. Since Retinol Reform put Shani on the map, I figured 25% off would be the perfect time to dip my toes into the line.

YULI: what makes YULI unique is that they don’t work with most retailers in the United States, and when they do (e.g. Ayla) they’re sold out faster than a Yeezys drop. They’re also known for never being discounted, even when they were one of the top-selling lines at Spirit Beauty Lounge, every sale excluded them at a time when even May Lindstrom and Vintner’s Daughter were not exempt from promotions. This year they’re having their biggest sale: 10% storewide, 15% over $200 — which had been their biggest sale, and now 20% at $300 which they’ve never done before. They also launched a seasonal holiday shop, it isn’t massive but their curation is spot on: an organic blush/highlighter/lip tint from new makeup line 14e, that comes in a pump — which keeps it more hygienic than the standard pots that we’d have to dip our fingers into, and even MIJA’s Superstar(!). Also, their beautiful Halcyon ROSE (which I wrote about here) which sold through their first and second run, is back — so it’s pretty easy to stock up and get that 20% because this is the line that makes Cell Perfecto PM, Ambrosia Beauty Nectar, Halcyon Cleanser, Liquid Courage… I mean their entire line is strong.


I hope this was helpful! Leave me a comment below and let me know what you’re shopping for the holidays. Also — how do we feel about Black Friday sales in general? Is there a better way it can be done?

Current Routine: A Maximalist Focus on Layering Serums

 

Lately, I’ve been in a decidedly maximalist state-of-mind. It could be the colder weather, but I’ve also started binging skin talk videos from dermatologists who despite having very basic recommendations (for my taste), all adhere to going full-on with their serums. I remember the founder of MAC once declaring his greatest beauty secret was using “tons of serums every night” and I think it’s something we all casually say about people who take care of their skin, but it’s made me wonder — just what is the best way to layer serums?

Firstly, serums are the powerhouse step in any regimen. They’re the change-makers. This is the category of retinol, acids, vitamin c, peptides, hydration, or deep nutrition in a concentration that is meaningful. Second, while serums can be layered, there is only so much that our skin can take and we have to consider the point of diminishing returns when later serums might not even be able to effectively penetrate. Third, serums can be powerful and like alpha-type personalities, it’s best to make sure the serums can coexist before mingling. For instance, it’s not a great idea to do an acid peel the same night as a retinol treatment, and I know that Vitamin C and certain peptides can be particularly volatile around exfoliating acids.

So be smart about how you’re layering your serums. The evening is when I bring out the heavy hitters that turn back the clock, while in the day I’m more about protection which revolves primarily around SPF, and barrier creams rather than active serums. I’ll share a current system that I do in the evenings focused three-fold: anti-aging, nutrition, and nourishment.

I start by figuring out the layers, separating my options by texture: a lighter more watery essence-type of serum, a classic light cream-gel type of serum, and finally an oil-based serum. As my goal is to really feed my skin in good nutrition, I’m particularly looking for products without a lot of fragrance, silicones, or other non-beneficial fillers so I’m primarily sticking to clean skincare which tends to be more concentrated in the actual powerhouse ingredients.

For my essence-serum step, I choose the k-beauty brand, Yuri Pibu’s Cellum Amaid Essence which contains 60% Galactomyces Ferment, which is extracted from fermented Sake Yeast. Sound familiar to SKII’s Sake Yeast derived signature active, Pitera? That’s because it is, this Sake Yeast ferment is purported to brighten, soften, and renew skin, and is used in higher concentrations than anything from SKII. There is also wild yam extract and rice bran extract which help to brighten the complexion as well. Dermatologists say the primary indicator of skin aging isn’t even fine lines or wrinkles but the pigmentation changes, and this milky-watery essence is perfect for helping to give that hydrated, brightened effect popular in Asian routines.

In choosing my next serum, I go by texture weight, so after the watery-essence, I followed with a more textbook serum, African Botanics Nutritive Molecule Serum which is a coppery gel-cream hybrid not dissimilar to the textures of old school serums that you’ll find from brands like Sisley and Clinique but, obviously, with a much better formula. The great thing about African Botanics, other than clean formulas, is how complete they make their products. Nutritive Molecule Serum is thought of as skin nutrition, but it does much more than that:

There are 3 types of Vitamin C which build on the brightening and complexion benefits while also targetting anti-aging by building collagen, there are also anti-aging plant-based peptides and anti-inflammatory molecules from the Resurrection Plant and Aloe Forex that help with skin aging, and Niacinimide which has been shown to be effective in treating acne, fine lines, and pigmentation irregularities. Then there are plant-based hyaluronic acids that plump the skin and restore moisture, and marine-derived antioxidants that provide protection against urban pollution and UV exposure making it excellent for city-life which can be quite aging. This is an excellent gel-cream to give your skin incredible actives in a gentle manner that only feels nurturing and never aggressive.


I finish with an oil textured serum that can help lock everything in but at the same time is also the nutrition powerhouse since plant oils are shown to contain the most complete and bio-available nutrients for the skin. YULI Modern Alchemist is a nourishing, anti-aging serum in oil texture that provides the motherlode of skin nutrition with almost 30 active ingredients. The reason I call it a serum in oil texture than a face oil is because there are many active components in the formula that aren’t botanical oils such as CoQ10, Green Tea extract with superior antioxidant compounds EGCG and Resveratrol (this is the antioxidant compound that some dermatologists say is the most powerful in the world), numerous extracts and even an infused tamarind seed that is clinically shown to draw in more hydration through the deep delivery oil form factor than commonplace hyaluronic acid.

There are 2 game-changers in this serum, first a bio-retinol complex made from photo-stable plant-based retinol analogs that focus on renewal and anti-aging without the downtime. Finally, it’s a serum that addresses skin volume, elasticity, and dermal density. Our current method of approaching aging with lasers, exfoliation, and turnover has led to thin, crepey paper-like skin, and many dermatologists now judge skin quality by its dermal density and volume which is super hard to truly restore (it’s most commonly treated with temporary injectable fillers), and this serum actually works on the composition of skin to restore lost volume and density — all while the nutritive oils nourish skin in ceramides, fatty acids, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.


Let me know if you’re also cocktailing or playing scientist with your serums, and your favorites!