The Essential Clay Masks

(L) Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask Sample;
(R) Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque

I’ve been on an obsession with masks recently and I’ve noticed they seem to be divided among two camps of “purifying” masks and “nourishing” masks. My skin is at that stage where a mask that is solely purifying is not enough since I need that extra something to make it glow, and a mask that is purely nourishing is too rich for my blemish prone skin. So I started paying more attention to clay masks.

Kahina’s Antioxidant Mask and Aesop’s Primrose Masque aren’t like the pore-vacuuming clay masks of yesteryear that left skin irritated and stripped. These masks infuse skin with nutrients like antioxidants, nourishing botanical oils, and minerals that give skin a wonderful glow while decongesting pores.

Aesop’s Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque has an earthy, green scent that won’t offend most senses. The product is a hardened clay so you will need to use the heat from your fingers to liquefy it a little so it melts easily on the face. It uses Kaolin clay and Bentonite, which are very ancient traditional cosmetic ingredients used to draw out toxins and impurities. There is also Evening Primrose Oil, Rose Canina Fruit Oil, and Sage Oil which provide antioxidants, Vitamin E, and hydration.

I found this masque a little messy to scoop since it is a little hard, which is why the sides of the bottle are a little messy. But applying on the face was a breeze. My skin didn’t really feel anything when I had it on, even when it dried, my face wasn’t stiff and stone-like. I love that upon drying, it turns to a white crust on top of the skin so it washes off very easily and cleanly. The only thing is it wasn’t as strong as the mask by Kahina in drawing out impurities and hydrating. 

Kahina’s Antioxidant Mask utilizes Rhassoul Clay, which is a mineral rich clay mined from the Atlas mountain region in Morocco. This type of clay is very rich in skin friendly minerals such as silica and magnesium. Kahina’s Antioxidant mask is richer in hydrating and nutrient dense ingredients such as Argan Oil, Sunflower seed oil, Acai Fruit Oil, Pomegranate seed Extract, and Rosemary Leaf Extract. I love that Argan Oil, which Kahina is known for, is included so high in the ingredients list because it balances out the drawing properties of the clay perfectly so your skin is being nourished as well. There are definitely more antioxidant rich ingredients in this formula which is important for repairing your skin.

Upon using this sample, I noticed the mask is significantly lighter than the Aesop mask. The clay scoops very easily onto my finger and applies effortlessly onto my skin. Because it was so easy to apply, I really didn’t need a lot of it to cover my entire face. I noticed some granules in the formula which provide gentle exfoliation. The scent is interesting, it shares a definite clay scent with the Aesop product but this product has undertones of key botanical oils of Peppermint, Eucalyptus, and Geranium which is very refreshing. I felt a little bit of a tingling sensation along the pores next to my nose so I knew this product was more active than Aesops. Upon washing the mask, I found that it turned into almost a foamy cleanser. I was pretty surprised at that! I felt that despite being a stronger purifier, this also left my skin more nourished, most likely due to the more abundant number of skin repairing antioxidant actives. I was also surprised after washing off that my skin was a little flushed, not red in an irritated way, but a healthy glow showing that there was some circulation to my skin. 

I think both products are wonderful with the edge going to Kahina due to higher quality of ingredients, more abundant ingredients, and a more effective product that both purifies and nourishes. Ultimately both will provide great detoxification and carry good antioxidant nutrition, so you can’t go wrong!

Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque ($47) 

Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask ($62)

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Aesop Equalizing Shampoo

I went to a wedding this weekend and stayed at a nice boutique hotel. I was surprised to find they stocked the restrooms with AESOP products, which is a massive  welcome departure from the norm. I usually never bring hair product for a weekend trip (TSA!), with the full knowledge that hotel shampoos will turn me into a dandruff ridden mess. But I was surprised to see Aesop’s Equalising Shampoo ($47) in the shower, after I had read about it in my boyfriends Details feature. 

I was told by concierge that this was part of their ‘Black Label’ – which surprised me since I didn’t know Aesop was trying to be the skincare version of Ralph Lauren. Nonetheless, I’m told that the Black Label is just another way of saying it is their line of hair products. The Equalising Shampoo was formulated for oily scalps to balance sebum production, it is one of 6 shampoos in the Black Label Hair care range.

The formula is true to Aesop: essential oils for scent, 80% clean, 20% not so clean- SLS is included as are PEGs. I’m told the SLS is derived from coconut, so I’m not sure if that makes it better. The shampoo comes out of the pump as a thick gel and lathers really easily (courtesy of the SLS). The scent is wonderful, I know some Aesop products smell weird and others smell great, this falls into the latter. It is herbal-minty. 

I noticed after 2 uses that my scalp didn’t flake nor was it oily which is really pleasant of a surprise for something that contains SLS, which is known to also be a drying agent. I’m not sure how my hair would stand with regular use, but after a weekend, it was fine. It really cleaned my hair leaving it only slightly ‘stripped’ feeling.  

While I enjoyed this shampoo, I do think the ‘normal’ shampoo for normal hair might be more suited for regular use. Has anyone tried hair products from Aesop before?

My July Must Have Products

(Starting Top-Clockwise: Aesop Tuberose Lip Heal, Byredo Parfums Le Tulipe, Weleda Skin Food, YULI Liquid Courage, Vapour Organics Lipstick, Sunday Riley Cashmere SPF 30, Kahina Cleanser, Guerlain Terracota Bronzer, Sunday Riley Effortless Tinted Primer, Tom Ford Foundation Brush, YULI Panacea Elixir)

Instead of a one-product review, I thought I’d also do a post on what my favorite products have been for the past month. During the summer, my primary focus is taking care of my skin in the hot, sunny weather. These are the products I’ve been using:

1. Aesop Tuberose Lip Heal ($31, Aesop.com) – a gorgeous lip roller that uses a blend of plant and nut oils to deliver gentle hydration. It doubles as a scent which really smells good and kept me from licking it off! 

2. Byredo Le Tulipe ($145, Byredo.com) – The spring/summer scent from Byredo, a very pure, simple fragrance that has a beautiful tulip scent between vetiver and rhubarb notes. This is that perfect scent that once worn a little is the perfect subtle blend whether you’re at the beach or walking to lunch in Manhattan. The price might be a little high, but I love myself a lux-niche product, if you couldn’t tell.

3. Weleda Skin Food ($18.50, Weleda) – A staple for any season, Skin Food is always in my bag for those ‘touch ups’. This is my clean version of the 8-hour cream. It moisturizes rough spots on the hands and arms and leaves skin soft and healthy. Although it is for dry skin, I feel like using a the right amount on any type of skin will provide lots of benefits.

4. YULI Liquid Courage ($125, YULI) – Sun damage and summer go hand in hand. I really wanted a clean, antioxidant serum to protect my skin from the sun and found it with Liquid Courage. It is such a light serum that really sinks into skin and absorbs fast under any SPF and smells fantastic. It uses a blend of antioxidant rich plant seeds and biofermented actives to deliver a potent natural antioxidant kick. My skin is absolutely glowing and radiant from this, while it protects my skin, I have to say, it also gives me the appearance of ‘rest in a bottle’. The price might scare some, but it lasts a long time, and I know that they just launched the option to buy deluxe samples of the products on their website.

5. Vapour Organics Siren Lipstick ($22, Vapour Organics) – Created by some of the brains behind the late, great Kevyn Aucion, Vapour Organics uses clean formulations that provide comparable results to leading cosmetics brands. The Siren Lipstick is the first product I bought from them, after reading about the dangers of lead, carcinogens, and other chemical junk found in most lipsticks on the market. The pigments are very rich and I noticed that unlike a lot of pigmented lipsticks, this also moisturized my lips. I think the blend of castor seed oil and beeswax gives it a lip balm effect, but the high pigmentation makes it a very successful lip stick. A wonderfully made product that will be a staple in my beauty closet.

6. Sunday Riley Cashmere SPF 30 ($125, Sunday Riley) – This isn’t the cleanest SPF on the market, but it might be the most expensive. To be honest, I’m disappointed with the options for sun protection on the market, the luxury brands think for some reason everyone wants a bronzer and spf in one or they stock it with chemicals, while the natural brands tend to go for clunky physical blocks. Sunday Riley Cashmere SPF 30 is kind of that right balance between clean enough and high end. The white fluid sinks into skin very fast and leaves no scent. It didn’t make my skin shiny or oily, nor did it make my skin dry. I think the consistency is perfect, not watery but not clunky.

7. Kahina Cleanser ($56, Kahina) – I’ve mentioned this cleanser on my blog a few times already but I really like it. It’s fortified with nourishing oils for skin but at the same time balances your complexion so skin is not dry or oily. I think the Vitamin E is especially needed to cancel out any sun damage sustained during the day. 

8. Guerlain Terracota Bronzer ($50, Sephora) – The epitome of a natural bronzer. Does not go on orange, or muddy. Just the right shade and density for most skin types, stays on all day. Gives that perfect healthy glow. 

9. Sunday Riley Effortless Tinted Primer ($48, Barneys) – A lot has been said about this primer. I don’t know if the ‘oxygen hole’ technology is marketing hype or if there is a real benefit to it, but I just enjoy this primer for the simple fact that it is like a primer + tinted moisturizer in one. It smooths the skin while adding a little color. I find on my low key days, this is all I need.

10. Tom Ford Foundation Brush ($70, Neiman Marcus) – My favorite brush by a wide margin. Very soft, densely packed brushes with little shed over time. I also love the high-quality ‘heavy’ feel of the brushes. I know that these brushes are made in Japan, which has a reputation for their brush quality. I know it is a white colored brush, but it really does retain this color after many applications and washes. The brushes themselves pick up just the right amount of foundation and are not streaky at all. Makeup goes on seemless and flawless.

11. YULI Panacea Elixir ($36, YULI) – There was my skincare before this product and there is my skincare after this product. Panacea means ‘cure-all’ and this product is exactly that. Some people don’t believe in toning their skin, but after you’ve tried this and see the results, you will be converted! This made my pores so tiny and really firmed up my skin. It’s like a bootcamp in a mist for the face. There is also no alcohol in here, everything is natural and clean. Also, this sets make up really well, and the skincare benefits are delivered throughout the day with this under the makeup so your skin is actually improving as you set your makeup using this product. 

Review: Aesop B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel

Product: Aesop B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel

Price: $115

I’ve loved the Aesop line since before it was widely known in the US. I remember going to their one apothecary in Manhattan after class to get products before they opened their grand central station shop. The packaging reminds me of a more streamlined Kiehl’s with the wordy descriptions, but the dual tone colors (olive + black) make it a lot more sophisticated. During my most recent trip, the sales associated recommended the Aesop B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel as a great night time moisturizer for combination skin that also brightens the skin. As a huge vitamin buff, I was delighted to try out the B Triple C (1 part Vitamin B, 3 parts Vitamin C), even at the not-cheap price tag of $115.

The first thing I noticed when I put it on was how thick and molasses like the gel was, it isn’t one of those lighter, watery gels that just comes outs. You really have to get it into your skin otherwise it’ll be sticky. From experience, I now rub it in my hands a bit to warm it up which makes it a little more watery and easily absorbed.

I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of results but after the first night I used it, I woke up to skin that just appeared to be ‘better’. I can’t describe what it was, but I felt like my skin was firmer, and just appeared to be ‘better’. Having used it now for 3 weeks I can definitely say that my skin appears to be brighter, more radiant, and previous areas of redness have gone down significantly. It did not cause any breakouts, which is a little surprising given how thick the gel is. Although the texture left something to be desired, it was easily overcome by the results.

I will definitely buy this again and recommend it for those with normal-oily skin.