Skincare Catchup: March 2020 Quarantine Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The Nue Co: Brand Overview & Review


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

The Nue Co Debloat Food + Prebiotic

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

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

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

The Nue Co Skin Food + Prebiotic

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

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

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

The Nue Co Skin Filter

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

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

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

 

The Nue Co Functional Fragrance

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

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

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


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

Tatcha The Serum Stick

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

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

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

Here are the purported benefits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other Holiday Sales


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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Current Routine: A Maximalist Focus on Layering Serums

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

The Detox Market: Best of Green Beauty Box 2019 – REVIEW

Every year, The Detox Market puts together a box of their best of green beauty products. It’s a curated selection of their best selling products usually across categories so there is something for everyone/ every interest. My favorite aspect is the price because they manage to pack full-sized products at really great savings. This year, the box retails at $159 while the total value of the products is actually $249.

Here is what’s in the box and my quick take on each product!

What’s In the Box?

KOSAS
Kosasport LipFuel in Pulse
 | full size 0.17 oz | $18 value

I’ve wanted to try KOSAS for the longest time. They’re known for being the new hip kids on the green makeup block and their lip balm in the color Pulse is such a good universal pick and introduction to the brand. Not only is the lip balm something that is universally needed, but the color gives you a good idea of the formula sophistication when it comes to color intensity and wear, both of which are surprisingly good for a lip balm. It’s more exciting than the plain colorless variant but offers enough sheerness for those who don’t want to be too colorful. I love it because it gives just the right amount of pop that makes lips just look ever-so-slightly more defined without being obvious. And the texture is incredibly “balmy” which is good for a lip balm, as it provides sufficient nourishment and protection.

PAI SKINCARE
Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil
– Mini | full size 10 ml | $28 value

This is one of the classics of green beauty and I’m glad it was included even in the cute mini size. Pai’s Rosehip oil really started the whole rosehip craze a couple of years back, and their rosehip oil has reached iconic status at this point. Rosehips are high in beta-carotene, omegas, and antioxidants so they’re just overall great skin protectors. What makes this oil different from others is that it’s a blend of rosehip seed and rosehip fruit oils of the highest purity. I think this is a very clean, simple yet effective product that can do so much from both nourishing skin to rejuvenating it. My deepest impression of this product came from an event in NYC where I met a 60-plus investment banker with beautiful skin who swore up and down that this was her entire anti-aging regimen, “rosehips are the new retinols” she declared.

MAYA CHIA
The Eye Achiever | full size 0.3 oz | $70 value

I’ve been curious about Maya Chia for the longest time, so when the Eye Achiever was included in this box, I was beyond excited to try it. Unfortunately, it made my eyes water and itch. And upon checking the ingredients, I was quite surprised to see spices like Black Cumin, Sea Fennel and Fennel, and Sweet Lupine (which can be an allergen for those with nut allergies). As many of you know, I’m not a fan of spices in facial care products in general, and I feel that many such active ingredients need to especially be used with caution around the eyes. This just irritated my eyes, and as I tried it on my partner and friends, I realized that it wasn’t just me. I wanted desperately to love this because the cooling rollerball is a great idea for stimulating circulation around the stagnant eye area, and some reviews were very glowing in how this can even temporary fill fine lines, but it just wasn’t a match for me. Nonetheless, that’s why these boxes are great, because it lets you try new products with lower risk than paying outright at full price.

RMS BEAUTY
Signature Set in Mod Collection
| full size | $44 value

I actually wanted this the moment I saw it launch on RMS Beauty’s instagram. The signature set is available in two colors but Mod is perfect because it’s so versatile. The set functions as a cross between a “best of” sampler set and an on-the-go everything-in-one sort of thing, giving you blush, lipstick, lip balm, highlighter – specifically, there are two lip2cheek colors, a lip and skin balm, master mixer and the signature living luminizer all in one palette. Super convenient and useful, I’d pretty much purchase this box just to get this below normal price.

ODACITE
Blue Aura Cleansing Water
 | full size 120 ml | $39 value

This is a micellar water, but oh my goodness it’s so much more. There are ayurvedic herbs that fight pollution, aloe vera water to soothe skin, and French micellar water to remove the day. The scent is quite unwinding and I love using it at the end of a long day to remove make-up and sunscreen, especially applied on a cotton pad to remove eye makeup. You don’t need to rinse this off, it just wipes off but as a creature of habit, I just like to go over with a wash afterward as well. Definitely an upgrade to normal micellar waters and a must try. For the full bottle at 120ml for $39 retail, I think the price is really good for how much product you get and how long lasting it is, so it’s an even better value in the box.

W3LL PEOPLE
Expressionist Volumizing Mascara
 | full size | $23 value

Have not opened this yet just because I’m still using another mascara, but W3LL People is a great brand and I’ll update once I finish my current mascara.

INNERSENSE BEAUTY
Pure Travel Trio
|  travel size | $27 value

I recently traveled with the conditioner and shampoo, and have to say my hair felt the most lustrous that it has in a long long time. I’m a huge convert to this brand now, and sometimes will use their leave-in conditioner just for fun because it feels like a vitamin for my hair.

DETOX MODE
Happening Scrub
| full size 120 ml | $35 value

I didn’t love this at first because the scrub has a kind of oil/balmy texture that I thought would not rinse well. But as I kept using it, I noticed that while the refined granules did their job in smoothening out my skin texture, the oils (all from plants) really helped to soften and condition my skin such that my skin was both clean and well-nourished that I did not even need to use a body oil after stepping out of the shower. The smell is very herbal but in a meditative way that I appreciate. I’ve really grown to enjoy this both as an experience and as a really effective product.



Overall, I think the Best in Beauty boxes that The Detox Market comes out with are among the annual highlights in terms of products and value. It’s always been a great opportunity to try out the new products that I’ve seen but never experienced, or classics such as the Pai Rosehip Oil that is universally beloved and can always fit somewhere into anyone’s routine. These boxes are available seasonally, so if you want to grab one, order yours here.

MIJA – Superstar: The New Supplement that Changes Everything

We all know that beauty is more than skin deep, which is why ingestibles have been one of the most exciting categories in the beauty and wellness space in the past few years. For every skincare cocktail there is, there now exists a literal cocktail of powders, tinctures, and liquids that do from the inside what the organic lotions and potions promise to do on the outside. But if you’re like me, someone who has put forth earnest energy in trying all the Moon Juice Dusts (Brain Dust, Sex Dust, Beauty Dust… there’s even a dust for the Spirit?) and purchasing an esoteric ancient herb recommended by Los Angeles health gurus on Instagram, you’ll probably find all the information out there pretty confounding. Unlike a cleanser that tells you what skin type it’s suited for or a face oil that has an obvious density that will either agree with your skin or not, ingestibles are a bit like the wild west. It’s hard to say what exactly they’re doing once you take them in the same way that a salad is good for you but you can’t go to a mirror after eating one to see results, and if they’re not working, it might not be immediately obvious the way your skin might react to a harsh exfoliant.

I’ve tried them all. From the statuesque Super Elixir by WelleCo founded by supermodel Elle MacPherson to the blue and gold single-ingredient creations of Sun Potion and the aforementioned Moon Juice, whose creations are ubiquitous in this space. Some, I liked and some were so-so. But it wasn’t until I experienced headaches after taking a cocktail of herbs recommended by an industry-recognized retailer in the space that I realized these tonics, like an improperly formulated skincare product on skin, could just as easily fuck up your body. It sounds obvious in hindsight, but I think so many of us just fall into the complicity of following a recommendation. So I started doing my research with the same questions that I asked of my skincare brands, who is making this? what are their qualifications? what are the ingredients doing? why is this good for me? what are the potential risks? And you know what happened? I had to stop taking all of the supplements because none of them could get past my vetting in a way that made me feel confident and secure of what I was putting into my body.

Then in July, my friends at Garçon’s World told me about MIJA – a nutraceuticals brand made with 100% plant-based ingredients, whole-foods, and so on. Been there, done that. But they insisted I try MIJA’s hero product, Superstar, because their entire office loved it. So I did and it arrived just few days later – all eco-sustainable/biodegradable packing materials (nice!). Upon opening the box, I was immediately drawn to the packaging, something about it just felt so thoughtfully created and just holding it made me feel happy.

First Impressions

I mixed 2 teaspoons of Superstar, as instructed, with some room temperature water and added manuka honey and a squeeze of lemon. The powder resembles matcha (the base is pure, organic, ceremonial-grade matcha and moringa leaf) and is quite water-soluble. I didn’t expect the taste to be so satisfying but it really felt like a treat. It’s a fruity profile of lychee and honeydew melon that tastes decidedly better than anything I’ve had from Moon Juice, The Nue Co, or Sun Potion, and yet more natural without the overpowering flavoring found in WelleCo and The Beauty Chef. I’m not kidding when I say this – but within 10 minutes, I felt a zen vibe take hold where everything just seemed to chill and I felt optimistic and positive. As I was thinking to myself of first impressions to later share on my blog, an e-mail came from the founder of MIJA, Sarah Koszyk, that explained why she created MIJA and what made their first and currently, only product, Superstar so outstanding – and everything became clear.

About MIJA and Sarah Koszyk

Sarah Koszyk is a registered dietician and nutritionist. What this means is she had to get a bachelors degree, then a masters degree, followed by a residency program (she did her program at the renowned Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital), and just to draw some distance between this and say a “wellness expert” or “holistic guru” – Sarah’s expertise is covered by health insurance because she’s recognized as a medical practitioner, which won major points for me since…. absolutely none of the other nutraceuticals are founded by people with directly relevant degrees of this magnitude. Sarah has her own private practice in San Francisco where she’s basically the go-to wellness expert for the Silicon Valley elite as well as professional athletes. And remember how much I loved the taste of Superstar? Not surprising coming from the woman who is also a published author of 5 books on delicious, nutritious, healthy eating. After a couple back and forth e-mails with Sarah, it became clear why she created Superstar. Most supplements on the market today, she explained, fall into two categories:

They either focus on a single issue (gut health, pH, proteins, skin, etc.), resulting in the need to purchase many to see any meaningful holistic benefits. This is not only inefficient but can also result in nutrient imbalances. Or formulas try to throw everything in, which overloads the body with things it does not need and not enough of what it does.

As Sarah explained, the body is not a single-issue system, it is complex and responsive. Envisioning Superstar as a hero product that is scientifically backed and can be safely beneficial for everyone as a comprehensive supplement, she utilized her extensive experience working with clients as data points to deep dive into the universal nutritional gaps and dietary shortfalls. The resulting product is a complex of anti-inflammatories, full-spectrum vitamins, and antioxidants, beautifying minerals, pH-balancing herbs, gut-healthy microflora, omegas, stress-relieving adaptogens, plant-based proteins, and hundreds of health-boosting phytonutrients delivered in a 100% organic, vegan, gluten-free formula.

The Results

I’ve been using Superstar daily for over a month and I have to say that there are noticeable benefits in many areas. Most surprisingly, it has really improved my digestive and gut health where I no longer feel “heavy”, lethargic, or bloated after dinner, I’ve been getting more restful sleep where I wake up refreshed and energized even if the hours slept are the same and my skin looks really even and toned like I’ve been doing micro-current treatments every night for the past month. My partner who I asked to test this out with me is also fairly convinced that this is helping to turn back what he thinks is the beginning of his receding hairline and after he pointed this out, I noticed that I wasn’t losing as much hair as I was. Although this is not a diet supplement, because it tastes so satisfying and is filled with good ingredients, it feels satiating so I’ve actually lost about 4-6 lbs (depending on the day). Finally, it puts me in the zone as far as creative kicks go and I find myself writing most of my e-mails in the morning after I drink it to get myself in a calm-focus state.

These were the results that I experienced, and reviews on their website are similar. You may be wondering if there is some synthetic drug in here, but it’s actually all superfoods like goji berry, turmeric, Chaga mushroom, camu camu, and lucuma. We all know superfoods are good for you but I think it took someone like Sarah Koszyk, a medical professional rather than a self-professed guru or influencer, to come along and get the right superfoods sourced from the right local suppliers in the right formula with the right concentrations using the right extraction processes (their process was created in a San Francisco-based performance lab to ensure high absorption and full bio-availability of the nutrients) to create something exceptional. That’s a lot of things that have to go right, which means what MIJA has accomplished with Superstar is truly spectacular. I’d easily rank Superstar as the best supplement I’ve used and my top pick as an all-in-one supplement. Superstar retails for $78 per jar which can easily last over 2 months, you can get 10% off if you sign up for their newsletter but when I told Sarah that I was planning to write a review, she generously offered a 15% off code for my readers that will last all month long: BEAUTYIDEALISTLOVESU

**Update: I’ve been getting e-mails that you’re seeing this out of stock sometimes, and I know they’re trying to make this as fast as they can. The good news is that they’re also available at Ayla Beauty, which offers 10% off when you sign-up for their newsletter.


I know this almost doubles as my journey through ingestibles, so I want to hear about your experiences in the comment section!

*I am not paid nor compensated for my review, and my discount code is not an affiliate link, I just really really love the product and think it’s one that is spectacular and worth sharing.*

 

 

ROSE, ROSE, ROSE: African Botanics, MV Organics, YÜLI


We’ve all used products that can only be described as beautiful. They’re the ones that just feel like heaven from the fragrance down to the way they feel, where every time you just feel uplifted, calmed and transported. I’ve noticed that mine all revolve around roses. There are so many roses on the cosmetics market, the majority are synthetic and those can be cloying and overly sweet. But with the rise of green beauty and the demand for authentic ingredients – we’ve been exceptionally fortunate that real, high quality, organic roses are now used in skincare. These are on another level because when done well, they are the most majestic, clean, and luxurious ingredients that really elevate a product into an experience. I’ve been feeling especially in need of pampering but with a simple routine in mid-summer, so this beautifully minimal 3-step rose centered routine has been making me feel like I’ve treated myself to the spa every time.

Cleanse – YÜLI Halcyon Cleanser – Limited Rose Edition: I’ve been using YÜLI’s limited-edition drop for the past two weeks and it has been nothing short of heavenly, especially when the rose gel combines with a cool splash of water on a summer day. Only 500 units of the cleanser were made which sold out after 1 day. The limited quantity was due to the sourcing of roses from private rose gardens that are untouched by any form of commercial harvesting. The OG Halcyon is a staple in my routine, so I knew I’d love this one – I just didn’t realize it would completely take it to another level of luxuriousness of the most pristine roses. It is decadent and like wrapping your face in a hug from roses as impurities are gently lifted from the gel every morning and night. Absolute perfection. *Update: YÜLI just launched at AYLA! And they’re the only place in the US that has this stocked as of this afternoon! Shop here.

Tone – African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence: This has been in my routine for a while and the reason it has lasted this long is that it feels so special that I save it for times when I really want to slow it down and savor a product. The essence is like a buttery-gel that melts into skin and works like it’s part toner, part serum. Sometimes I put it on before an oil, other times I use only the essence which does wonderfully on its own due to a heavy roster of hard-hitting actives and lets me experience the sensorial pleasure of the roses as it hydrates and tones my skin. At this point in the routine, I’ve cupped my hands over my nose and done enough inhales to relieve any stress. I linger in the bathroom for a bit, organizing my shelf, texting friends back, etc. as the humectants and emollients in this essence soak in moisture for my skin.

Moisturize – MV Organics Rose Soothing Protective Moisturizer: To close out the routine is this incredible moisturizer. The price point is high but I need like 1/5 of one pump, basically a tiny string of product for my whole face so it will last and last. What impresses me is that the cream is so rich, yet I’ve never broken out because it just lands on the skin perfectly, with a nice smooth texture that can work as a primer. I read a lot of reviews on Detox Market that said the same thing, saying the cream is thick and rich yet soaks in and doesn’t cause breakouts. The rose in here is full-bodied but not cloying and provides a good cap to my 3-step skincare routine or the olfactive feast of roses.

Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition & Daily Vitamin Infusion

Sorry for the long absence, friends! I’ve been keeping consistent with my skincare ritual and haven’t felt the need to post any updates. But earlier this month I received my April Box from The Detox Market which features the new releases from Indie Lee, Daily Skin Nutrition and Daily Vitamin Infusion (along with a sample size of her Rosehip Cleanser). After using it for the past few weeks, I felt that it was important to come on here to give the scoop about the products – especially before the month is up so you can snag an April Box ($55 for a $155 value) or even take advantage of The Detox Market’s Earth Day savings if you’d like to start with just one of the products.

Indie Lee is a brand that is not new to me, I’ve always loved how her products looked and they always seemed very clean and result driven. This is my first time actually using her products though and I have to say, they lived up to expectations and make me excited to try the rest of Indie’s line. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here’s my experience with the products.

Daily Skin Nutrition and Daily Vitamin Infusion are standalone products (the first is a lotion and the second is an oil serum), which can be used alone but really ideal when paired together.


Daily Vitamin Infusion is a face oil with only the good stuff: fatty-acid plant oils and ceramides that nourish, and even pure Vitamin C and Vitamin E. You won’t find fragrant essential oils in this resourceful 10-ingredient product, only the things that your skin absolutely needs:

Squalane, Rosa Rubiginosa Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil

With two forms of ceramides, Squalane, Avocado, and Coconut Oils, this oil is intensely nourishing yet, due non-clogging. I have been using this for weeks and my skin has only felt soft and supple, with nary a single breakout or pore congestion. One of the reasons for this might be that the base squalane is an intensely nourishing oil that is not greasy and absorbs quickly due to skin’s affinity for squalane. The 2nd ingredient rosehip is highly nutritious and rejuvenating and is known to be deeply rejuvenating. I love that there is actual Vitamin C in this already great oil which helps to brighten and boost collagen so this oil is performance packed. My skin feels like absolute velvet on this and the ceramide-rich oil just cushions and plumps my skin. The fragrance-free profile also makes me feel as though this is just a pure shot of vitamin infusion, and I’ve really come to love this product.

The idea here is for the oil to absorb quickly (which it does) to really get that infusion of vitamins delivered deep into the skin, feeding it from within. Then, with the vitamin-infusion, we layer with Daily Skin Nutrition to work on “feeding” the more top-level layers.

Daily Skin Nutrition is a light, yet nutrient-intensive cream made from a base of water and squalane so it both hydrates and nourishes. There are many active ingredients in here that you’ll find in Daily Vitamin Infusion since they work in synergy on different levels:

Water (Aqua/Eau), Squalane, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Propanediol, Cetearyl Olivate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables, Olea Europea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Rosa Rubiginosa Seed Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Carrageenan, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Gluconate, Xanthan Gum

I love the high concentration of squalane and Olive oils (which contain high concentrations of natural plant squalane) because it’s excellent for the skin barrier. The Vitamin E here helps to condition the skin so it feels soft to the touch, while Vitamin C in this serves to brighten the complexion. The fatty-acid rich plant oils help against environmental damage while pure hyaluronic acid also helps to draw in hydration.

I can’t stress this enough though that the cream is really light, I’ve used cream-based serums that have been heavier than this and the fact that it comes in a pump is evidence of it’s more fluid nature. While nourishing, the cream absorbs quickly and forms the perfect outer layer for day or night without making skin feel weighed down nor looking greasy. The first few times I used this, I kept touching my skin because the cream absorbed so quickly yet my skin continued to feel soooo soft and supple.


The beauty of this pared-down ingredients list is that it’s only performance-based and there are no “superficial” ingredients that can cause irritation so I find these products to be good for any skin type. Both products are beautifully made and really do feel like they’re nourishing my skin. Used together, you really do feel your skin just absolutely saturated in total nourishment and nutrition from deep down all the way to the surface, everything just feels so plush and plumped. Unlike many oils and serums that make huge claims, I really love the promise of the Daily Vitamin Infusion and Daily Skin Nutrition that they’re here to just feed and nurture skin like a pack of multi-vitamins. Proper nutrition is sometimes lacking as everyone is focused on one or two active ingredients, which makes these products quite universal as everyone can benefit.

The Daily Vitamin Infusion is $65 and the Daily Skin Nutrition is $80, but during Earth Day weekend, you can get anywhere from 10%-15% off on The Detox Market. Or just get The Detox Market’s April Detox Box which features full sizes of both these products plus a sample of the Roseship Cleanser for just $55, which is cheaper than the cost of one product – I can’t stress how great this deal is – the Indie Lee box will no longer be available after April, so if you’d like to get on this, time is of the essence.

Daily Vitamin Infusion
Daily Skin Nutrition
The Detox Box: Indie Lee


Photos: Taken by Garçons World

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!