The Supplement Top Shelf

The idea of spending $$$ on serums, and leaving supplements as an after thought doesn’t make sense. The research is conclusive that the things we ingest play a bigger picture in our overall health, and while we don’t discount the power of a really epic serum, at the end of the day it seems a bit daft to distill one’s youthfulness and wellness to only the lines or breakouts on one’s face. Here are a few of our favorite supplements:

Top Row (L to R):

WelleCo Nourishing Protein
Protein is often seen as a “men’s supplement” as it’s equated to muscles and working out. But men and women can both benefit from more protein. Protein deficiency can cause the loss of muscle mass, slower recovery from physical activity, and anemia. Most protein comes from sources we prefer to avoid. Welleco sourced their protein from Pea and Brown Rice Protein, making it clean and plant-based. It tastes satiating, and contains a host of other wonderful and important ingredients like L-Glutamine, Taurine, and fiber-rich Psyllium Husk. Clean protein with additional functional benefits, this is as good as high-end proteins get.

Sun Potion Green Adaptogens
A 3 herb mix of Suma, Maca, and Chlorella that tastes green and slightly toasty. Green Adaptogens is not a daily go-to supplement. The herbs are all geared toward raising energy levels. Instead, think of this as your caffeine-less energy boost, excellent for jet lag, or since who is really traveling that much these days, when you just feel like you’ve been put through the ringer.

MIJA Superstar
Superstar is made from adaptogenic superfoods that have the highest levels of bio-availability. Think of it as a modern, universal one-and-done multivitamin. It’s benefits are comprehensive, it’s performance is clinical, and it’s formula as good as it gets from an 100% organic ingredients list to having luxe ceremonial-grade matcha as a base ingredient. Superstar is made by acclaimed and board-certified Silicon Valley-based dietitian and nutritionist, Sarah Koszyk, and its formula is informed by decades of data points including her work at Zuckerberg General Hospital in San Francisco. This is foundational, and our non-negotiable daily supplement as it provides for every baseline nutritional need.

Flora Ex Machina Royal Ghee Gold
This delicious spread is made from raw honey, grass-fed ghee, propolis, turmeric, pepper, ashwagandha, and Himalayan salt. The highlight of this concoction is ghee, a type of Ayurvedic butter. It works with raw Californian wildflower honey forms the base for the immune and anti-inflammation centric spread of herbs. Excellent as a “lubricator” with functional anti-inflammatory benefits. Royal Ghee Gold is exactly what’s needed for recovery after strenuous workouts as it relieves common issues like tennis elbow or runners knee. And in some cultures, women also use it to boost healthy fat content while breastfeeding.

The Beauty Chef Collagen Inner Beauty Boost
Collagen is responsible for the characteristic plumpness and bounciness found in youthful skin. Inner Beauty Boost is a liquid concentrate that dilutes in water. It tastes like berries, and contains a good serving of gut healthy probiotics as well. It’s a wonderful add-on if you’ve been in situations that might cause collagen breakdown such as sun and smoke exposure, or certain partake in activities such as running (the gravity is no bueno).

The Nue Co Skin Food + Prebiotic
The Nue Co’s Skin Food + Prebiotic is a tarty powder. The formula contains ingestible Vitamin C at 122% daily value along with a prebiotic that smooths out digestion for clearer, brighter skin. In immune-readiness season, the extra Vitamin C helps to support the immune system.

CAP Beauty The O’CLOCKS 4PM
Made by a master herbalist to counter the 4PM slump, and reawaken the body. CAP Beauty’s signature supplement series did not disappoint from a conceptual standpoint. The O’CLOCKS 4PM has a nice tasting formula that reminds us of some of the Moon Juice dusts with a more palette friendly taste. However, for some reason the powder was so clumpy from the outset, and has hardened so much that it’s unscoopable (even bending our metal spoons).

Bottom Row (L to R):

Mariage Frères Pleine Lune
One of the most prestigious heritage French tea houses, Mariage Frères offers timeless, yet unique full-bodied flavors. Pleine Lune is a honeyed Black tea with notes of apricot, and warm vanilla with a pinch of spice. Definitely would not be out of place in the world of Harry Potter. Would also recommend the blue tea, made from green tea leaves and infused with notes of passion fruit and lychee over a milky coconut-rice profile.

The Fullest Saffron Latte
An uplifting, pleasing, and delicious happiness potion. Saffron Latte is helps the body release happiness-inducing, stress-relieving hormones. Easily mixable, tasty, and pleasurable all around. In 2020, we’ve really enjoyed (and needed) this bright cup of cheer. Full Review.

Pot d’Huile Hemp-Infused CBD Olive Oil
This functional CBD infused olive oil from Pot d’Huile is one of our at-home cooking must haves. Made from premium single-variety, cold-pressed, organic Californian Olives, and infused with full-spectrum CBD from Californian grown hemp. Drizzle onto salads, breads, or any place you want your olive oil to go. It tastes incredible, like a bottle of gourmet olive oil, and generates a nice, relaxing buzz. We recommend this olive oil to be enjoyed over a slow, thoughtful dinner, as the anti-inflammatories on the CBD lift away the wear and tear of the day.

WelleCo The Super Elixir
This is the OG of the WelleCo family, the original Super Greens that opened the conversation on green, alkalizing supplements. Inside, you’ll find a plethora of fabulous ingredients like Shiitake mushroom and free radical scavenging Grape Seed powder. Although there is now a Lemon and Ginger flavor option, the original Pineapple and Lime was quite agreeable to us. It’s actually the only flavor available in the refillable caddy option. The entire experience of this is luxury supplement at its highest-end.

The Nue Co Skin Filter
The Nue Co’s Skin Filter is a supplement that functions as edible skincare. It offers a good dose of 50% daily value of Vitamin A as beta-carotene, and a patented blend of Vitamin C, Zinc, Champagne Grapes, and Melon extract. Designed as ingestible skincare, The Nue Co originally rolled this out with many before and afters photos to show that their approach works just as well, if not better, than topicals. We suggest taking these pills for a month, with before and after photos. These pills will have you convinced that they’re real life skin filters.


Written by: Garçon’s World Team & The Beauty Idealist

Maya Chia The Eye Achiever REVIEW

MAYA CHIA THE EYE ACHIEVER REVIEW THE BEAUTY IDEALIST
I’m keeping this concise because my thoughts on Maya Chia’s The Eye Achiever are pretty straight forward. This is an oil-as-eye serum. Eye oils are my least favorite medium for the eyes because they travel, and can potentially get in the eyes leaving some irritation and temporarily clouding your vision. The rollerball applicator is good for massage and if it’s cool, can help de-puff and increase circulation, but it’s hard to control the amount of oil that gets out, which can leave oil streaking down your face.

The formula of Maya Chia’s The Eye Achiever is promising because there are stellar ingredients like astaxanthin (as the 2nd ingredient no less, so you’re getting a good dose), and oil soluble Vitamin C, in addition to lots of great plant oils like the brand’s namesake Chia Seed Oil (as the 1st ingredient), Raspberry Seed Oil, and Cranberry Seed Oil which are very nutritious and loaded with antioxidants. Unfortunately, where The Eye Achiever falls apart for me is the inclusion of spices like black cumin, fennel, and sea fennel. While I appreciate their collective nutritional aspect, I think it’s problematic to put these spices in a product that is used so closely around the eyes, especially in the oil format that is notoriously prone to traveling and getting into the eyes.

MAYA CHIA THE EYE ACHIEVER REVIEW - THE BEAUTY IDEALIST

Each time I have tried The Eye Achiever, I’m not able to go for more than 2-5 minutes without feeling some irritation just from the proximity to my eyes, that leads to my eyes watering. Due to the oil texture, I can’t actually rub this off my eye area as it just ends up getting everywhere, especially my eyes, which significantly aggravates the problem. There are times where I have had to wash my face again and start over just to remove The Eye Achiever, and deter further irritation.

I would be open to trying Maya Chia’s The Eye Achiever again in a spiceless version because I do like many of the ingredients in the formula. But as of now, if I wanted an oil for my eyes, I would most likely just separately apply my face oil around my eyes. If you want an oil that is ‘specialized’ for the eyes, I am kind of curious about Kora Organic’s Noni Eye Oil, which is a more forgiving $38 for the same size as Maya Chia’s The Eye Achiever which retails for $70.

Drop a comment if you’ve used Maya Chia’s The Eye Achiever, have any tips, or want to share your favorite eye products.

 

The Fullest SAFFRON LATTE – Review

I’m not a big believer in complicated routines. Especially when it comes to supplements, I’m a huge advocate of one-and-done. This is why I’m such an instant convert to MIJA Superstar (review here). Recently, I’ve been thinking about pleasure. 2020 has been quite a lot, and the idea of simple, pleasurable experiences has been at the forefront of my thoughts. By happenstance, I landed on The Fullest’s Saffron Latte through a GOOP newsletter on the very topic of happiness.

Saffron Latte is very straight-forward. It’s a pleasure powder, more experiential than supplement, and contains only 4 ingredients: Coconut Water Powder*, Coconut Milk Powder*, Saffron*, and Cardamom*. All certified organic. This doesn’t seek to replace your supplements, nor beat you over the head with scientific literature. The Fullest’s Saffron Latte just seeks to be a bright spot in your day, serving as an instant mood lifter.

The Experience

Firstly, Saffron Latte tastes delightful when added to oak milk (I’ve since tried soy and almond, all tasted amazing). Hell, it tastes good added to just water. Creamy Coconut Milk and Water give it a rich fullness, Cardamom is one of my favorite tastes that has a very bodied, grounding component, and finally, Middle-Eastern Saffron produces a sweet, floral top note that floats on the tongue.
Secondly, measurements of happiness are not exactly the most precise science, and admittedly GOOP is known to play fast and loose with science. But, it turns out there is compelling science behind the namesake Saffron. According to integrative doctor, Dr.Habib Sadegi, “research has shown that saffron is just as effective as Prozac for treating moderate depression. Best of all, saffron doesn’t come with the usual side effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) like Prozac and other antidepressants that include weight gain, and feeling emotionally muted. Adding to saffron’s neurological benefits, a review of 14 different research studies has found it to be as effective as Aricept, the most commonly prescribed drug for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Final Thoughts

The Fullest’s Saffron Latte feels like a ray of sunshine that you drink. It’s absolutely delicious and flavorful, and I do get a nice lift to my mood. The most economic option for Saffron Latte is the 7oz size for $64. In regards to the price, it turns out that saffron is very difficult and expensive to produce, especially for high quality, certified organic that yield better flavor profiles like the ones used in Saffron Latte. And despite the overall cute aesthetic, there is some serious science going on: Saffron is best absorbed by fats, so the rich and flavorful blend with coconut and cardamom is both pleasurable and functional. I definitely think most will find this to be enjoyable, and isn’t that especially worthwhile these days?

 


Photos shot by: Garçon’s World

Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment and Super Antioxidant Serum REVIEW

Paula's Choice Retinol and Antioxidant Serum Review, Garcons World

Paula’s Choice is the original influencer brand before social media was even a thing. Paula Begoun, the founder of Paula’s Choice, started her career as a makeup artist, and then became an investigative journalist. She wrote books like Blue Eye Shadow Should be Illegal and Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, and even appeared on Oprah. In 2008, Paula launched Beautypedia, a massive platform where her followers hung on her every word about ingredients, and products. So it’s no surprise that in the 2000s, she launched her own skincare line called Paula’s Choice.

What I know about Paula is that she prefers everything to be incredibly clinical. She loves formulas that have the tried and true actives, like retinol, and vitamin c in actual meaningful concentrations. Perfect, because lately I’ve been tired of the parade of Rosehip and Bakuchiol serums masquerading as retinols. I also noticed a lack of good, proven actives that actually penetrate the skin and make a difference. Paula’s Choice is not a flashy nor luxury-driven line, but it has a solid reputation. So I decided to test it out.

Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Treatment, Garcons World

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment is the strongest retinol in the line. Not only does it contain encapsulated 1% retinol, but also peptides and Vitamin C. Basically, this retinol treatment is the most effective retinol you can purchase without a prescription. This serum also contains botanical ingredients like brightening licorice extract, and soothing oat extract.

The texture is a light lotion which absorbs quickly, and is excellent for all skin, even oily skin. I found it moisturizing enough during the summer that I don’t follow with any oils or moisturizers (thanks glycerin!).

I’ve went through a full bottle of this retinol treatment, and loved it. My skin was never irritated by the active retinol and vitamin c because they’re both encapsulated. The retinol converts in the skin, so you’re not going to feel any stinging nor irritation. I’m at the age where lines form with repeated movements like when I smile, floss my teeth, put in contacts. These lines and creases served as the litmus test for the retinol.

In 2 months, Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment has softened, and faded the lines. My entire forehead and mouth area feel much more firm and lifted. I had felt that I was losing some volume by a specific area of my cheeks, but this has noticeably increased the area’s density and firmness.

Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment is one of the best non-prescription retinols. It is powerful, effective, without being irresponsibly irritating. There are so many retinols on the market, and so much confusing verbiage. Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment is a clinical (thoroughly scientifically vetted), high-quality retinol that will do exactly what it’s supposed to do with great ingredients, in meaningful concentrations, all at a reasonable price of $49.30 for a full ounce. I already have another bottle on the way.

Texture photo of Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Treatment, Paula's Choice Super Antioxidant Serum; Garcons World
(L) 1% Retinol Treatment; (R) Super Antioxidant Serum
Paula's Choice Super Antioxidant Serum, Garcons World

Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum


As I was purchasing the retinol, I couldn’t help but also test the Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum. I really like the idea of a very strong, clinical antioxidant serum as I know antioxidants are good actives. However, I wanted to see what a “clinical strength” one could do that botanicals perhaps could not.

The Super Antioxidant Serum felt almost like a syrup-gel that melts into something resembling a face oil. The texture is very unique, instead of a sticky syrup feel, there’s a nice smooth slip quality before the whole thing melts into an oil as it absorbs. The way the Super Antioxidant Serum feels on the skin, I felt like no oxidative molecules, nor free radicals, were going to get through my skin. It’s not suffocating, but rather very nourishing, like slathering your skin in a hefty layer of protection. No wonder it is recommend for normal/dry skin. However, if you’re good with face oils, chances are your skin will like this too even if you’re on the oilier side.

The ingredients are phenomenal. Being a clinical line, there aren’t many plant ingredients. What we do have are incredible actives like 2 forms of Vitamin C, Tripeptides, CoQ10, Ferulic Acid, Beta Glucan, Superoxide Dismutase. The Vitamin C combo is potent, and high in the ingredients list. Fret not, it’s buffered with ceramide and Vitamin E oil which are soothing lipids, so you shouldn’t experience sensitivity issues. There are some plant ingredients including Turmeric Extract which is highly antioxidative.

I was pleasantly surprised at the level of actives in the Super Antioxidant Serum, which really is a double Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Ferulic Acid serum with peptides, CoQ10, and Beta Glucan all added in (amongst many other antioxidants). This really feels like if it could easily be a Skinceuticals serum, that could cost over $100. But it’s just $39 for a full 1 oz. My skin felt soooo buttery soft, and smooth using this. If I used Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum overnight, it felt like instant beauty rest in a bottle because my skin would noticeably appear more even toned, moisturized, and rested.

Results & Conclusion


I purchased the Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment and Super Antioxidant Serum together in case my skin needed a break from the retinol serum, in which case I’d turn to the antioxidant serum. However, both worked so well in different ways that I ended up just using them some days with the Antioxidant Serum in the morning and Retinol at night, or Retinol for 2 days straight, then the Antioxidant Serum to give my skin a change.

While my skin responded well, sometimes with results noticed overnight, I think the products really show their benefits with regular, ongoing use. Going through both of the serums together, they’ve provided a major anti-aging kick in making my skin just feel more more firm and defined, with a nicer tone and smoother texture to my complexion. It’s amazing how much performance is packed in for the price point as together, you’d get a really wonderful serum combo of powerful actives for under $100 (Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment is $49.30 and Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum is $39). I definitely urge you to try this because I feel like retinols and antioxidants are two of the most universal, top line actives, and in this time when we’re really searching for value, Paula’s Choice offers such a good value for well made, clinical performance products.

 

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.