My Holiday Sales Picks

I gotta be honest, each year the holiday sales start earlier and get increasingly confusing. I started receiving emails as far back as September, and many of you messaged me around October to see when or if I’d be writing my usual holiday sales guide. I know that great deals coming at you over this period can aggravate a pretty aggressive case of FOMO (fear of missing out). My overall approach this year has been to wait until the Black Friday- Cyber Monday weekend, even with earlier holiday sales start dates. And I feel like it has paid off. But with so many sales, instead of a long list that you could possibly peruse anywhere, instead I’m sharing exactly what I’m getting for myself and which sales I’m using to get them. Do note: this list is serum-heavy because sales are when I typically splurge on this category.

5% Boost: If you have a Chase Freedom credit card, purchases made using PayPal automatically reward a 5% cash back bonus, so as I go through the deals, if I denote this boost, just know that you can basically add another 5% to the promotion. If you don’t have this card yet, get it here (there is no annual fee).

NATURIUM – 25% off Orders $50+, Code: THANKS.

I purchased a bunch of products from Naturium last year, but haven’t gotten around to reviewing them even though I’ve been using them consistently. So consider this my repurchase/mini-review in one:

Vitamin C Super Serum Plus — Naturium is priced very reasonably (this retails for $25 regular price), and the Vitamin C Super Serum Plus (the most concentrated Vitamin C serum in the line) will not feel like you’ve sacrificed any quality. Initially, I wasn’t sure if Naturium achieved the low price points by sacrificing ingredient quality or concentration, but after using the Vitamin C Super Serum Plus, I can confirm it is not the case. This is a VERY potent, yet non-irritating Vitamin C serum that utilizes pure Ascorbic Acid, and I often notice my skin brighten and look more even overnight. Beyond the Vitamin C, what I like about this serum is that it’s a one and done because there’s also retinol, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. I don’t really like to layer serums, I prefer to use one-two serums in my routine in one sitting, and changing them out daily based on how my skin feels. With the Vitamin C Super Serum Plus, it feels like I’m really going in on the Vitamin C without sacrificing anything else. I’m going to bring up the price again because it’s kind of unbelievable to me that this serum retails for $25, when really it could easily be going for $75+. So of course with 25% off, this is high on my repurchase list.

Alpha Arbutin Serum 2% — on nights where I’m not using Vitamin C or Retinol, I like using the alpha arbutin serum which has lemon (nighttime only!) and niacinimide to work on hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and balances skin tone. Where retinol promotes cell turnover, Vitamin C brightens skin and boosts collagen, this serum is a complexion brightening powerhouse that will work in tandem with retinols, Vitamin C, and anti-aging serums to really bring out that glow we all talk about. I also like adding Alpha Arbutin because you won’t usually find it in acid products, and it’s not only effective, but it’s considered a more skin-friendly alternative to hydroquinone (they’re the same root molecule), the gold standard skin brightener that dermatologists use for age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory pigmentation.

YÜLI – 15% off Site-wide (with deluxe trial of Ambrosia Beauty Nectar), Code: BFCM21; 20% off Orders $250+ (with full-sized Harmony Body Oil, $80 value), Code: BFCM200.

YÜLI really is a staple in my skincare collection, and their once-a-year holiday sale is basically the only opportunity to get anything at discount. 20% off at $250 is the lowest price tier I’ve seen from them, not to mention you get an $80 product – Harmony Body Oil, which I feel is such an easy product to love that everyone can use. If you can’t hit that number, and just want to try something, you’re still getting a 15% discount, and they’re including a deluxe sample of Ambrosia Beauty Nectar, their most expensive (but worth it) product. Additionally, they take PayPal, so you can add in a bonus 5%.

Halcyon Cleanser – Limited Rose Edition — It’s no exaggeration to say that since finishing my last bottle of Halcyon Cleanser – Limited ROSE Edition last April, I’ve thought about it…. Each time I’ve cleansed my face. I mean… the original Halcyon is my holy grail cleanser, and the Rose edition is just so next-level aaahhhhhmazing. It smells of faint, aquatic roses, the type of fresh and pure floral that you just want to bury your nose into. And their rose is uncompromising, sourced from private gardens which is why the stock is so limited. I’m buying multiples.

Ambrosia Beauty NectarAmbrosia Beauty Nectar has been described as witchcraft in how it just does… everything you could want for the skin in an almost indescribable way. Writing a review for it a while ago proved it be a challenge because there was so much I wanted to say, and didn’t know how to say. Yes, even I found myself out of words. Just trust me on this, it’s an exquisite product. You know how you always hear about miracle serums that do multiple things? This is it. And the ingredients deck is all killer, no filler. For instance, there are multiple actives classed as pharmaceutical-grade antioxidants, and each one is like a miracle ingredient that has long been missing in skincare. Yes, it’s expensive, but there are still serums multiple times this price that don’t have a third of the innovation and formulation integrity as this one. It’s also why I stock up on this during the sale. The formula is absolutely worth it for what you’re getting.

Paula’s Choice – 20% Off Site-Wide

Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment: When it comes to retinols, I prefer to stick to the tried and true retinols, and when I think of tried-and-true, science-based formulas, you can’t go more standard than Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol which is a very powerful, result-driven retinol that happens to also be outfitted with antioxidants and even Vitamin C. It’s such a packed ingredients list for a great price. I had purchased two bottles last year that lasted me until August. I’ve felt a retinol-shaped hole in my routine since then, so I’ll be picking up one extra bottle this year.

Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant: When it comes to acid-exfoliants, I’m kind of done with glycolic acids. They’re harsh, photo-sensitizing, and can cause inflammation. Upon researching acids, I started finding more and more literature about the strengths of Salicylic Acid, an acid I recall from my acne-prone teenage years. I purchased a travel size of the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant (pictured) last year, and have loved it for how gentle and effective it worked. Salicylic Acid works on the sticky and congested bits, the clogged pores, build up, and congestion. That’s why it’s so marvelous for acne. But even for those without acne, I feel those are the qualities one would want from an acid. Plus it’s so much gentler than glycolic acid.

The Nue Co. – 30% Off Site-wide + Free Barrier Culture Cleanser ($42 value) on orders $100+; Code: GARCONBF30

I love this deal because not only is 30% super generous, but the free bottle of Barrier Culture Cleanser (which I reviewed here) is so welcomed because it’s a product I would have otherwise purchased since I did like it a lot. Additionally, they accept PayPal, so you’re potentially looking at a whooping 35% off.

Barrier Culture Moisturizer — The ideal light yet weighty gel-cream texture, lightly scented with the most delicate touch of something nice and comforting, sinks into skin wonderfully, just perfection. Barrier Culture Moisturizer just resonated with me off the bat, and it’s sort of the ideal moisturizer for me. I’ve found myself always reaching for it as my moisturizer of choice from mid-summer to the colder temperatures we’re now experiencing. Such is Barrier Culture Moisturizer’s versatility that it never feels heavy yet always provides that perfect moisturizer benefit. I’m already on bottle 2, and will be purchasing another.

Destress 360 — Truth be told, since initially trying Destress 360 and really enjoying the benefits that I experienced, I’ve been looking around at others. BUT each time there is something that piques my interest, I read the ingredients list, compare them to Destress 360, and Destress 360 wins me back every single time. Most stress supplements focus on 1-2 herbs, an adaptogen or a CBD, but Destress 360 is so much more thorough and holistic. Since the pandemic, I’ve found my anxiety levels have increased significantly, but I just find that Destress 360 helps me coast through stressful days with ease that I otherwise would not have had.

Special Note: I would also recommend their Functional Fragrance, but I just feel like I’ve BEEN all about it for so long now. Seriously though, if you haven’t tried it yet, you really should.

Violet Grey – 20% Off Site-wide

D.S. & Durga Rose Atlantic — D.S. & Durga is one of those cool niche fragrance brands that I’ve been wanting to try, and I got a bottle of their Rose Atlantic after hearing how pretty much every cool kid in fashion and entertainment swears by it. I felt there was no better entry point to this chic Brooklyn perfume brand than the future Santal 33. And boy was it love at first sniff. Out of the box, I was afraid it would smell old-grandma, but nope, Rose Atlantic is much smoother and hipper to ever be that. The rose is soooo nice and fluid. Rose Atlantic is forward and clean without being cloying nor overbearing. There is more staying power and direct fragrance gravitas than just essential oil based perfumes, yet without the overwrought synthetics that feel overwhelming with ongoing wear which was a delight to discover. This is such a nice personal fragrance that feels beautiful, clean, and luxurious.

Royal Fern PHYTOACTIVE SKIN PERFECTING Essence — I just LOVE pressing this onto freshly cleansed skin. Firstly, an essence is a fluid that has a high concentration of plant based matter, and this uses the namesake Royal Fern extract which is an anti-pollution, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory extract. It’s pretty much an instant refresh for tired skin. Now… the product that put Essences on the map is SKII’s Essence, and this one is just sooooo much better in my opinion. This contains good acids, like gluconolactones, that tame enlarged pores, manage hyperpigmentation, and soothe irritation. It also has my favorite acid, lactic acid, that helps to plump as it exfoliates. It’s one of the only acids that is exfoliating, hydrating and anti-aging. Finally the Royal Fern extract helps to overturn the effects of pollution and UV damage on the skin. And it smells so clean and fresh in a green unisex way. 

Special Note: Last time I posted a Violet Grey sale, so many of the products I recommended got excluded so I not only made these purchases successfully with the code, but also checked again prior to publishing this post. If you have your eye on anything from Augustinus Bader, I’m happy to confirm that as of this writing, their products are 20% off as well. I purchased the newly launched Augustinus Bader Eye Cream with the 20% applied.




The Nue Co Mind Energy Review: A Fragrance Supplement for Brain Fog?

What is Mind Energy?

Over the past year, countless wellness studies have indicated that people generally cite stress, sleep, and mental function as their top issues. I personally don’t think these issues just arose, I think they’ve always been there, but with the shift to conscious self-care, we’re perhaps finding the vocabulary to vocalize of these major issues.

The Nue Co. is a wellness supplement company that I’ve mentioned before as one that has continued to intrigue me. They’ve really diversified their offerings entering into skincare (my review here), and different formats for supplements including fragrance, where their original Functional Fragrance remains a favorite for me.

The Nue Co. recently launched Mind Energy, their latest fragrance that uses their patented olfactive science to activate neural pathways to help with brain fog, and mental exhaustion. Many of us probably refer to this as our 3PM slump, our mid-week burnout, but whether you have a name for it or not, I think we can all relate to having these moments where composing another email just becomes one task too many, feeling sluggish, unable to recall something you were doing, and just feeling absolutely mentally tapped out.

If you’re not familiar, The Nue Co. fragrances are made my master perfumers using their patented olfactive science. As such, their fragrances never smell like a mix of essential oils, they’re incredibly sophisticated and function not only as olfactive supplements, but actual luxury fragrances. In this case, the perfumer for Mind Energy is Stephen Nilsen, who has formulated for luxury perfume brands like Bond No.9, and Commodity. And the research comes from the Brain and Behaviour Lab at the University of Geneva that did a study of ingredient notes that activated mental energy, and stimulated the brain. A fragrance that makes your mind function better, sounds good, right? So how does it feel and perform in real life?

The Experience

The first time I sprayed Mind Energy in its inviting ruby-red bottle, I immediately thought “what does this remind me of?!” And my answer is a mix of childhood happiness, summer fruits, and bubbly beverages. Here is Mind Energy’s note composition:

Top notes: coriander seed, juniper, and pink peppercorn
Middle notes: clary sage, spearmint, peppermint, geranium, and clove leaf
Base note: cedarwood

I find the inclusion of uplifting coriander seed, soothing clary sage, and intoxicating clove leaf so beautiful and nuanced. I would describe Mind Energy as bright, fresh, enlivening, yet grounding, warm, and inviting. Think of Mind Energy as that instant zest that would totally refresh you and your senses on a long-haul international flight, that spray that just absolutely wakes you up and brightens the cabin, yet is comforting and soothing like being wrapped in your favorite soft blanket. The opening notes are so bright, fresh, and zesty, it’s almost like smelling a just peeled citrus rind (though there isn’t a citrus ingredient), and then the incredibly fresh greens come in, and eventually it eases and lulls into a soft clovy creaminess.

The entire aromatic experience of Mind Energy is delightful, and comforting. The first time I sprayed Mind Energy was in the evening after it arrived in the mail, and I remember just enjoying it. The second time was after I took a mid-day walk, and I really felt the functionality of Mind Energy kick in. All of a sudden, things just felt clearer and more open, like somehow a light that had been off was switched on. While I didn’t feel that I was in a mental fog, after spraying Mind Energy, I suddenly felt more awake and proactive. And while these feelings may differ with use and from person to person, the connection in how an application of this fragrance made this change was undeniable.

Recommendations

I recommend Mind Energy to fulfill self-care needs whether as a functional boost, or a nice treat yourself moment. Especially as we head into overcast, stay-inside weather, I think this burst of Mind Energy is the perfect antidote for mental fog. And because I work with Garçon’s World who have a great relationship with The Nue Co, we have an exclusive reader perk for 25% off all full-sized The Nue Co. Fragrances until end of month (October 31st) with the code GARCONME25.

If you want a quick run through the their fragrances, keep reading:

Functional Fragrance is the OG, and has been one of my favorite fragrances. Especially with winter approaching, I’m looking forward to using this cozy, and warm fragrance more. Functionally, it’s designed to target stress, which is one of the three big issues. It’s formulated by master perfumer Frank Voekl who is also the nose behind Glossier’s You, and most of the Le Labo range (including their cult Santal 33). I really consider this The Nue Co’s pièce de résistance, and one of the jewel products I’ve encountered.

Forest Lungs is the jungle green fragrance, designed to bring the outside in. It came out at the perfect time when we were all working from home, and staying in. The science here is to bottle the molecules that drive the calmness and happiness we derive from being in nature, called phytoncides, for stay-at-homers, and urben dwellers. This of this as Forest Bathing in a sophisticated fragrance.

Mind Energy is of course the newest fragrance that I just wrote about. It sits nicely in the collection, by focusing on the mental wellness aspect. I find it to be more energizing, and engaging. On a pure fragrance level, it also feels more youthful, with wear time sitting nicely between Functional Fragrance and Forest Lungs.

Final Thoughts

All of the fragrances from The Nue Co. use real plant ingredients, in very high concentrations, alongside scientific molecules that are derived to achieve their performance. As such, they tend to be lighter than most perfumes which is a good thing in my book. I find that lots of perfumes, even ones sold by “clean beauty retailers” can feel cloying and overbearing, but The Nue Co. generally sticks the landing in delivering effective, yet gentle fragrances. My recommendation is that if you haven’t tried any fragrances from The Nue Co. you absolutely have to get Functional Fragrance, and then I just really think Mind Energy should be experienced because it’s so different, but equally impressive.

There are only a few days left until the end of the month, so do remember to use the code GARCONME25 to get 25% off any and all full-sized fragrances from The Nue Co.

SHOP ALL FRAGRANCES HERE or SHOP MIND ENERGY HERE

My Bedside Edit: Skincare and Wellness

Lately I’ve been centering my routine around restfulness and peacefulness. It feels like a lot of the uneasy energy from 2020 hasn’t quite dissipated, so I’m being more mindful in my routines to look at how I can promote a more conducive environment to unwind. My bedside is a place I spent some time editing. I first removed any gadgets that might blink their lights in the middle of the night. Then I reduced clutter until I just had a purposeful yet thoughtful selection of bedside essentials.

Skincare: Retinol, PM Serum, and Eye Mask

Let’s start with skincare! My PM routine is where I like to apply powerful products that can work on my skin overnight. Apparently night time is the best time for skin healing and repair, so reserved for this time is my current retinol of choice, the reintroduction of a holy grail PM serum, and gel eye patches which have become my new nighttime addiction.

African Botanics Retinal Night Cream: I love African Botanics, and tend to have at least 2-3 products from them in my skincare rotation at any time. Many of you know I’ve been on a kick for high-performance retinols, and I knew that African Botanics Retinal Night Cream would not disappoint. Although called a ‘night cream,’ it really works as a retinol serum rather than as a moisturizer. It is described as an “ultra-strength Vitamin A,” and contains actual retinol in the form of 0.1% encapsulated retinaldehyde. Retinaldehyde only needs one conversion in the skin to retinoic acid, the active retinol, whereas traditional retinol needs two. This means faster and more effective results with less chance of redness and irritation. Further, because African Botanics is known to provide a buffet of beautiful actives, the Retinal Night Cream also contains Vitamin C, Peptides, Niacinimide, CoQ10 — all superstars in the skincare world in their own right, along with signature African Botanics oils like Marula, and Kalahari Melon oil that help to keep skin moisturized and soothed, especially from the effects of retinol.

I initially wondered if the powerful combination of actives might be too much for my skin, as Retinol, Vitamin C, Niacinimide are each active in their own right, though they’re also known to work well together. I was pleased to find that the formula, while impactful, did not cause irritation; it is totally a case of high performance with little to no down time (no redness, nor stinging). The light yellowish cream absorbs quickly and because it is feeding my skin so many great ingredients, I don’t really feel the need for face oils or other serums. I also like to have the retinol serums work more on their own any way for full impact. Unlike other African Botanics products that have the luxurious fragrance, this is fragrance-free because it is obvious that they just wanted to focus on the performance. It is still a luxurious feeling cream with amazing ingredients and results, but it’s clear that everything in this formula is made to make it a full-on performance beast. I currently use it every other night in my routine, not because it is sensitizing, but because I like to rotate my retinol for best results and give my skin an overall offering of diversified actives. On the other nights, I use…

YULI Cell Perfecto PM: My initial post about this product still remains my most read blog post (remember when I started back in the days on Tumblr?). Cell Perfecto PM will always reserve an indelible place in my skincare holy grail tier of products because it made such a significant impact on my skin, there is a line in my skincare history defined as pre-Cell Perfecto PM and post-Cell Perfecto PM. I had tried every product for acne scars but none come close to this in delivering such meaningful improvement, to a degree that I did not expect from a skincare product. I no longer need this as much because my skin has improved, which is really the best testament — but I still like the benefits that I get from this corrective serum. Even without apparent acne scars, I find that Cell Perfecto PM helps with areas of my skin that appear a blotchy or uneven, like a real life Photoshop airbrush tool.

If you’re familiar with the YULI approach, you’ll know they make the most advanced custom formulas with tailor-made, cutting-edge actives. I think what makes them standout next to super high performance lines is their approach which goes beyond putting in the standard actives. There is a whole lot of thought behind how the actives should be working, so you’ll see really interesting use of ingredients and unique formulas meant to almost reinvent the approach. The ingredients in Cell Perfecto PM for instance contains complexion actives like Vitamin C (in the potent THC form), Bearberry, and Liquorice, which brighten skin and repel accumulation of melanin; then there are unexpected highlights like Reishi, Pine Lignin, and Gotu Kola, which help with skin repair and healing from damage; where your head might start to spin is upon seeing their exclusives that go beyond anything in the market like their Sea Minerals and Renew Minerals Complex (a lot of science here but what you need to know is they have a mineral technology using actives like zinc that lock onto damaged tissues, primary scar tissue, to correct and rehabilitate them), along with L-Arginine, an amino acid that shortens healing time and repairs damaged collagen structures (scar tissue), and L-gluconic Acid which controls keratinization processes (most acne scars have improper keratinization) and restores damaged skin. This formula is super power-packed, and my skin often looks brighter and more even by the next morning. Also, speaking of nighttime, the formula is not photo-sensitizing, but is a PM serum because the formula works in synergy with the skin’s rejuvenation system that works mostly as we sleep helping to overturn skin damage and deliver those transformative results. Hands down, game-changing night worker.

Patchology Flashpatch Restoring Night Eye Gels: I’m at the age where an eye cream is a non-negotiable, and I’ve come to accept that. However, what I’m noticing is that there are times when I just feel like something more is necessary. And that is when I reach for these convenient eye gels from Patchology that seem to be made for exactly this situation. The eye gels are naturally very occlusive and provide a natural boost to the thin, delicate skin around the eyes. Besides a direct infusion of needed moisture to the tired and more frail under-eye area (one of the only places on the face that doesn’t produce its own sebum), these eye gels also contain power actives like Retinol and Peptides to help with cell turnover, fine lines, wrinkles at night; and Pine Leaf Extract and Purslane which are powerful antioxidants and can help reduce dark circles. You might also recognize Purslane as the signature ingredient in all of Dr. Barbara Sturm’s astronomically priced skincare formulas, so you know this Patchology formula is legit. These gels come with a scooper for hygiene and are inside two caps to help retain their moisture. Once I put them on, they have a nice immediate cooling and moisturizing feel on the skin, and the gel starts to feel like second skin as it dries. Based on the fact that the eye gels actually thin out, I think the eyes actually absorb a lot of the gel and serum, which means its working.

I use these about 2-3 times a week as a power up for my eyes. I’ll admit to leaving them on for longer than the recommended 15 minutes. I make sure the fluid is all absorbed, pat, then wait about 2 more minutes. I notice that my eyes feel better, and creeping fine lines fade substantially and remain gone for days after. This has become a go to when I just need that extra kick in my eye routine.

Wellness: Room Spray, Pillow Spray, and Throat Spray

Besides skincare, I also like to make sure my bedroom is conducive to rest, and recovery. Lately, I’ve found that fragrance has a deep connection to wellness.

The Nue Co Functional Fragrance – Home Room Spray: I’ve been raving about The Nue Co’s Functional Fragrance, and their room spray is just as good as the personal fragrance, if not better, because it works on such a larger area as a background character, which is how I prefer fragrances to work. I think if you’re the type that doesn’t love wearing fragrance, but can appreciate their therapeutic effects, The Nue Co’s Functional Fragrance room spray will be just the thing for you. The scent is similar to the personal fragrance: warm, calming, and cozy, and the big bottle feels grand to have around. The Functional Fragrance is an “anti-stress” supplement because the scent notes are scientifically associated with lowering stress and anxiety based on studies with the Brain and Behavioral Health team from the University of Geneva.

Unlike traditional room fragrances, the Functional Fragrance leans toward more of natural fragrance formula that uses genuine plant notes to deliver the connected anti-stress results, and the formula is designed by the same perfumer behind Le Labo’s Santal 33 and Glossier’s You, so trust me, it’s exquisite. I particularly love the notes of Green Cardamom, and Cedarwood which make the room and overall atmosphere feel relaxed and “lived in.” I like to spray the Functional Fragrance throughout the day especially if I end up writing or binging a show in bed, and I always do a few sprays 3 hours before bedtime so it leaves just the right crisp dry down as we prepare for bed as a subtle atmospheric scent to promote relaxation and lift away stress.

REN Skincare & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray: While The Nue Co’s Functional Fragrance is an anti-stress fragrance that relaxes and unwinds, this spray is an actual sleep aid that does the trick in delivering beauty sleep. When it comes time to drift off and catch my zzzzz’s, I spray my pillows with REN’s & Now to Sleep Pillow Spray, which is the perfect addition to any night routine. As a fragrance with an entirely natural essential oil composition, it won’t overwhelm. The spray is not designed like a fragrance, it won’t last and is more something that will gradually subside as it lulls you into deeper sleep. That is why it’s a pillow spray, meant for closer contact for aromatherapy benefits. Although I love fragrance, I am very much sensitive to smells, so I was conservative at first, but now spray about 5 times per pillow. It smells so relaxing, with a pleasing blend of hops, lavender, and frankincense, which combine to provide a sedative quality. This helps me drift off to sleep much quicker, and with better, deeper sleep quality. Also, bottle of this will last AGES.

Biocol Something for a Cactus Throat Spray: In college I took a class on evolutionary anthropology and learned that all species have a “weak point,” and for humans, it is the neck/throat. This might explain why if I’ve been more extroverted than usual (hello Zoom gatherings!), my throat easily feels a little raw, and also why sometimes I get that dreaded “morning cold” where it feels weird or even uncomfortable to swallow. I never really thought there was anything that could be done about it, but on a whim I decided to try Biocol’s Something for a Cactus Throat Spray, a plant-based fix made to address these exact issues. The formula contains propolis, lemon, Icelandic moss, and copper. It tastes exactly how the ingredients make it sound, sort of like a liquid Ricola. Unlike a lozenge, I can immediately feel the spray take effect. Biocol’s Something for a Cactus Throat Spray is anti-inflammatory and soothes my throat, I really feel it work right away. My partner even takes a few sprays if he’s on back to back work calls and it helps his vocal stamina so he doesn’t sound hoarse. Most importantly, I use it in the mornings if I’m feeling the ‘morning cold,’ and I find that it takes care of the ‘cactus throat’ feeling each time. Biocol is a pretty quirky line that is both fun and yet highly scientific. I recommend anyone looking for functional, well made, and amusing products to check this one out, Something for a Cactus Throat Spray might also be one of my favorite product names.


Drop me a comment if you’ve used any of these products, and let me know what your bedside essentials are!

December 2020: Objects for Interior Life

How is everyone? I didn’t know how I’d approach holidays this year with increasing restrictions in the greater NYC area, and general feelings of disconnectedness. I ended up taking this time away from being online, so please give me a bit more time if I haven’t replied to your DM/message over on Instagram. As we near the end of this tumultuous year, I did want to pop on here both as a check-in and to jot down a few items in vastly different categories that are helping me through these days of “interior life.”

Mija Superstar

Oh how I love thee. This supplement has been my tried and true for over the past year. The founder, Sarah Koszyk is a doll, and a treasure trove of knowledge (she actually served as a dietitian/nutritionist specialist at Zuckerberg General Hospital in San Francisco), and I just think they’re really pushing forward what clean supplements can do as I found the first-wave offerings from brands like Sun Potion and Moon Juice to lack a true scientific approach. As a clinically formulated one-and-done daily supplement, it has streamlined my routine significantly. The formula contains a ratio of vitamins, minerals, and otherwise necessary nutrients (Sarah Koszyk delights in discussing the formula’s digestive and immune supporting agents), using over a decade of Sarah’s clinical work as a chair of the Board of Dietetics as data points, making it one of the most scientifically-backed, comprehensive, and universal supplements out there.

And a bonus is the inclusion of adaptogens, a special class of plants that help with stress, mood, and regulating the hormones linked to sleep, anxiety, and happiness, which has been very much needed this year. Take this in the mornings, you’ll get this feeling of someone letting the sunshine in and feel good the rest of the day.

NuFace Trinity Microcurrent Device

If there is anything I’ve been doing a lot of this year, it is at-home facials. Since I don’t go out I have the time to play around at home, and I barely even order food delivery so going out to see a facialist isn’t on my calendar either. I upgraded to the Trinity with attachments during holiday sales. What I didn’t foresee was all the shows I’d be binging during the holidays (favorites are The Flight Attendant, Industry, and The Crown, leave a comment if there are any others I should watch), which create the perfect downtime to do these at-home micro-current treatments.

Sometimes I just do the quick 5 minute swipes which is good for toning and maintenance since results come from consistent usage. It’s when I do the more involved 20 minute sessions that I always notice a different in my skin the next day. I also like double-teaming with the LED light wrinkle reducer first, then the micro current orbs. By the time I’ve watched an episode of whichever show I’m streaming, I feel like I’ve turned back the clock on my skin. It makes me feel incredibly productive.

Sigil Amor Fati

I’m so glad Sigil exists. Prior to discovering Sigil, I had grown a bit disappointed with the state of green beauty fragrances. You might notice that I haven’t covered clean fragrance brands like Ellis Brooklyn, or Phlur, and that’s because they don’t smell any different from generic perfumes out there, and worse – to me, they’re also very cloying and artificial. The only brand I remember really loving was Strange Invisible Perfumes, which were so beautiful, and just worked within a green formula of natural ingredients. Unfortunately they pulled out of most retailers, and I’ve kind of lost touch with their line in recent years.

Then Sigil came on my radar, and I took a chance. And wow – what a payoff! Sigil is entirely green, no synthetics, just pure beautiful plant made fragrances. At the same time there is that touch of complexity and sophistication that is rare in the pure, green fragrance space. Where Strange Invisible verged on the overtly floral, Sigil is all about edgy, modern, non-binary scents. Amor Fati is what the founder Patrick Kelly, recommends as the gateway fragrance. It’s simultaneously unexpected yet easy-to-wear for anyone. There is a fresh, yet deep opening with notes of oud and green pine needles connected through a more bitter bergamot top note. As it dries down, you’ll go through a phase of grounding Palo Santo and balsam-like resins that might at first challenge your aesthetic but manages to stay on the side of pleasing. The final dry down that defines the life of the fragrance that remains is what won me over with a beautiful almost floral, milky combination that is so comforting, and gentle that I wear it to bed.

This green fragrance is such a pleasure, and never cloying nor artificial where it would aggravate sensitive-nosed individuals. Wear-time is significant, but as it doesn’t use synthetics to prolong nor project, I’d say 3-5 sprays will you get through the day if you want to be more subtle by mid-day/afternoon. But that’s the thing about non-synthetic perfumes, they don’t over-extend, so you can always top up if you’re missing those top notes, or you just want to get another fresh hit.

I look forward to playing more with this line in the future. Thus far, it has made me excited about green fragrance again.

YÜLI Pure Mask

I’ve always loved Pure Mask. It has been a product that I’ve used over and over. But in the past year specifically, I felt like I finally had an opportunity to use this to its full potential. In many high-end spas from Los Angeles to Paris, masks are stored as powders that are mixed on-the-spot by the facialist according to the client needs. The YÜLI Pure Mask is actually one of the most used base formulas by many renowned Asian facialists, so I took advantage of my time at home to figure out how to replicate those fancier facials since I already have the base.

One formula that I’ve been obsessed with is mixing Pure Mask with half the amount of water I’d normally use, then using a plain yoghurt, and adding two pumps of their Ambrosia Beauty Nectar. To replicate the K-beauty facial experience, I even use a spatula to apply this creamy mask. The yoghurt gives the mask a texture like a creamy moisturizer that keeps the actives in the mask lively, moisturizes the skin, and contains probiotics which are good for the skin anyway. The double pump of Ambrosia Beauty Nectar gives the skin the good stuff like epidermal growth factors and the vegetal placenta extract in a more intensive mask application. It works for any skin type because it’s creamy and hydrating, resurfacing and purifying, and is an absolute beast when it comes to the level of nutrients and actives. With that said, sometimes when I just want to take it easy, Pure Mask is good on its own, mixed with just water. I like doing this before evening showers, and rinsing off in the shower. It somehow leaves my skin feeling baby smooth and so soft when I step out of the shower.

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.

What I’m using Feb-Mar 2019

I’ve been trying to share a routine update/highlights every month or so (product reviews to come as well!). One of the things I never really liked as a reader was following someone’s routine that would change on a weekly basis. It’s just not realistic and I don’t think it cultivates a real understanding of how the products work in an actual routine. So you might see repeats in these posts but that’s only because I’m sharing the products that I genuinely use. And if I do show repeats, I usually have some new thoughts about them as well, so read on…

Kjaer Weis Highlighter (in Radiance): I’ve really been loving this highlighter recently. It works flawlessly using fingers which is my preferred method especially for winter because it lets the product melt onto skin and blends seamlessly. Lately, I’ve been on following Patrick Ta and Mario Dedivanovic makeup tutorials on Youtube, and the way they use highlighters to sculpt the nose and bring the eyes to life is just mesmerizing. Radiance is the perfect shade that catches the dark undereye circles and “shadows” around the nose, and gives them a “glow up.” The texture of this highlighter is perfect, it dispenses just the right amount of product without being obvious, and it erases any dark circles and undereye bags and really gives definition to my cheekbones and nose.

DECIEM Anomaly Petrowhat? (in Rio -Guava): I love organic products, but every now and then, a convenient and cute product such as Glossier’s Balm Dot Com will win me over. However, as much as I loved Glossier’s balm and carried it with me everywhere, the ingredients really bothered me. DECIEM launched Anomaly, a line of lip balms, pretty much to directly target people like me who love this type of product but want better ingredients. The vegan, petrolatum-free formula is decided a step up while the familiar packaging retains the Insta-genic aesthetic. Definitely my pick for the next cult lip balm that every girl should be using.

YÜLI Modern Alchemist: I rediscover my love of this oil every time the weather turns cold. It’s a beautiful nourishing oil that is absolutely plush and luxurious on the skin, with a gorgeous rose scent that you’ll delight in pressing and massaging into your skin. I have done my research and this is one of the most nutritionally loaded oils that you can feed to your skin. YÜLI also sources their own ingredients and uses a proprietary in-house extraction and formulation process that increases bio-availability and absorption of the botanical nutrients. Although an oil, this is technically a serum because it’s not just a blend of plant oils thrown together, instead it’s almost 30 ingredients from CoQ10 to plant-derived Squalene, and bio-fermented ingredients as well as a bio-retinol complex, a safe and photo-stable alternative to prescription retinol that renews skin. The formula is designed from traditional Chinese medicine so they work in a very nourishing and therapeutic way that is not at all harsh or irritating to the skin.

ONOMIE A.C.E. Illuminating Eye Treatment: Part concealer for the under eyes and part eye serum, I have continued to love this treatment more with each use. The cream settles really well on the skin so it never accentuates creases and it provides a perfectly blendable, natural coverage that is incredibly subtle. I usually experience pilling when layering products around my eyes, but have noticed that this treatment works really well with the Kjaer Weis Highlighter. The treatment (with Vitamin A, C, and E) is also helping to fade a few pesky sun spots I developed a few years ago around my under eyes (since I’m terrified of getting SPF near my eyes) and it keeps my eyes feeling well moisturized.

Kahina Giving Beauty Fez Perfume Oil: So Kahina has two perfume oils, Fez and Essaouira, both inspired by Morocco. I loved both because they’re perfect “mood” fragrances that can be applied to pulse points so you smell gorgeous without ever feeling overwhelmed. Where Essaouira is the perfect crisp citrus for summer, Fez has that warm, grounding earthiness that is perfect for winter. It applies onto skin bold and exotic and dries to a sweet and delicate mix of rose, orange blossoms, and vetiver. If you’re dragging your feet on natural fragrances, make this your first foray – it’ll show you how beautiful high quality, perfume oil made from plant ingredients can really be.

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator: Is there a person who does not like Josh Rosebrook’s Hydrating Accelerator? People swear by this stuff. I admit, when I first tried it, after hearing allllll the hype – it felt like an ordinary face mist. But over time, it grew on me. The spray is as good as everyone says, with the product being evenly dispersed in such a fine mist that it’s practically weightless. The mist actually contains a lot of plant oils so it’s actually quite nourishing as well as hydrating. I think because the mist contains water and oils, it actually helps layer with oils very well. One more note on the packaging, it is a lightweight plastic but that makes it extremely durable and it is basically the perfect mist to keep in your handbag for on-the-go use.

African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence: Organic beauty sometimes just spoils us with real, luxurious plants and this product takes the cake. I love the way the roses between the African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence layer with YÜLI’s Modern Alchemist serum, it’s just the most beautiful thing that leaves skin so dewy, soft and plumped. The texture of this essence is quite unique, it’s like a buttery gel that holds its shape rather than liquids like most Asian essences. I tend to use this alone after cleansing and before applying serums or oils because I think of it as the toner step for African Botanics. It’s very hydrating and the essence moniker is true to form because it’s almost like a serum in the level of ingredients (peptides, B vitamins, caffeine, yeast beta glucan, marula oil). If my skin feels more dehydrated than usual, I will use this essence first and then spray a face mist like the Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator, because the hyaluronic acid in this essence will bind the water molecules in the mist.


Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what products you’re excited to try now that we’re hopefully moving into Spring!