June Empties – Arcona The Solution, Juice Beauty Eye Treatment, Rahua Shampoo, Suki Exfoliation Cleanser

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I readily admit to being a complete skincare and beauty devotee which entails hoarding products in an otherwise unrealistic fashion. My boyfriend calls it obsessive and I don’t argue with that assessment at all! Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed with the options and worry products will spoil before I even get to them, only to turn around and purchase 2 or 3 new products that same week – insanity! So it’s with a sense of accomplishment that I present to you my newly finished products, the ones I managed to finish amid the ever expanding collection of products.

Rahua Shampoo
A fantastic green option for the luxury girl looking for a clean shampoo that still has the presentation factor. I have done an in-depth full review which you can read here, but suffice it to say my opinions have remained largely unchanged. I found the shampoo to be low maintenance and a delight to use 2 times a week. It was a good balance to keep my hair from being a greasy mess without drying it. The scent grew on me and was never unpleasurable to start. I think this is a wonderful luxury item but wouldn’t recommend the budget conscious beauty save up for this if she’s after results as the bottle of Acure I’m currently testing offers really *surprisingly* good performance at a third of the price.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment
This was reviewed a LONG time ago (click link on product title to read that), but I needed to go through another tube to figure out how I felt. I do want to point out that this is a gel-serum like texture so those looking for a moisturizing eye treatment should look elsewhere. As an eye treatment, I cannot say if it did anything for heriditary dark undereye circles which I am extremely prone to but I also know this is not really something any products can treat. I did find that when my undereyes felt a little tight or tired, this provided the right amount of relief. Also very important is that this treatment does not ‘slip’ into eyes and has never irritated my VERY sensitive eye area. The applicator isn’t something I love so I just pump the dispenser onto my finger to apply which I find to be more precise. I was initially interested in this product because its premise was very similar to the Intelligent Nutrients Eye serum (next on my to try list) and I found it to be ultimately a pretty solid product, but it hasn’t kept me from trying other eye products either.

Arcona The Solution
As a massive fan of Arcona’s Gentle Solution which was recommended to me by Hazel, the owner of Nubonau, I had really high hopes for The Solution. These products are like mini chemical peels that are applied overnight to exfoliate, resurface and clear skin. I really enjoyed using the Gentle Solution so around March I decided to spring for The Solution which is a more powerful version of the same product, which I thought would be perfect for summer when my skin needs a stronger product. I was surprised that The Solution had a liquid texture while the Gentle Solution was like a gel, and this made The Solution difficult to apply. It also made it runny on the skin unless I really patted it in, which spelled trouble for my eyes when the acid would get in there. I just found it to be troublesome and not well made in this regard. The results seemed to be less impressive as well, but I’m attributing that to the difficulty of applying the product correctly. Would definitely not repurchase unless they reformulated.

Suki Exfoliating Foaming Cleanser
I am on my third jar of this cleanser which is the most popular product in the Suki line. It smells like a lemon lollipop and when used 1-2 times a week helps to slough off dead skin cells which is so necessary for blemished prone skin gals like me. I also like to use it to prepare my skin when I know I’m going to be using a super-serum so they are better absorbed. One of the key problems I noticed is that it’s nearly impossible to prevent moisture from getting into this jar because you have to scoop it out each time and even using it somewhere with water vapor (such as a shower) will interact with the product in the jar resulting in hard.. molten lumps which become difficult to scoop. I can pretty much only fully enjoy this the first month and last month of use before it has been exposed and when there is little left that it’s easier to scoop. The other gripe I have is that all of the Suki promotional pictures show a full jar of this cleanser but with all 3 jars, they came to me at about 80% full which I didn’t mind too much with the first jar but started feeling a bit misled after noticing all the brand new cleansers came with a lot of empty space. This is a great scrub but I’m looking for maybe a company that doesn’t rub me quite the wrong way.


Have you tried any of these products? What are your thoughts?

 

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Mother’s Day At Home Spa Routine

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day has always meant a day of pampering for my family as we indulge in a day of brunch, shopping, & facials. Since I’ve been at school, I haven’t really been able to take part in the festivities since it also falls right around finals. This year I was quite fortunate that my family was in town for the weekend. Making us of our limited time, we went to many great new spots around the city and also made use of the wonderful products I had at home to treat ourselves to a little skin indulgence right at home!

The routine begins with clearing the face of everything so we can really treat the skin. This is a two step process that begins with using a gentle clay based cleanser Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip which really takes off excess oils and impurities. Then I opened my new bottle of Tatcha’s Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder, a delightful powder that turns into a creamy mixture with a few drops of water right in the hands. This fragrance-free powder helps to exfoliate and get rid of buildup/dead skin in a wonderfully gentle way that does not make skin feel anything abrasive. Think of this as a lighter version of May Lindstrom’s Clean Dirt in that they’re both powder cleansers that foam with water, only this is much better suited for sensitive skin and is a much cleaner product to use (not in terms of ingredients but actual making and washing off). After this step, skin is completely clean and thanks to the gentle nature of the products – there is no feeling of tightness.

Now we prepare the Dr.Alkaitis Organic Universal Mask. For my skin, I applied a few drops of water and some manuka honey into the mix for it’s acne fighting anti-bacterial properties. My mom used Royal Jelly which is much more suited for mature skin with its anti-aging collagen boosting properties and also used a few drops of the nourishing Modern Alchemist facial oil by Yuli to add another boost of anti-aging treatment. Once prepared, the mask looks so good – a very fresh green hue. We apply with an old makeup brush, a trick learned from May Lindstrom, to evenly spread the mask and wait 15-20 minutes for it to work its magic.

Once the mask hardens, it is time to wash off. The honey delays the onset of tightness so it really helps the nutrients absorb into skin and I recommend using it for these powder masks. Upon washing off, my moms skin was smooth and soft and so was mine. It just looked so rested with redness gone and lines plumped. At this point skin is both fed but also open to receiving the treatments so I take advantage and liberally spray Yuli’s Metamorphic Elixir on my face and my moms to add in a boost of hydration and anti-aging actives. We gently pat that around our skin until it is fine and soft. While skin is still moist, we apply two pumps of Arcona’s Night Worker PM Repair serum that is loaded with Vitamin C to boost skin’s immunity and stimulate collagen synthesis during sleep. This serum smells like peaches due to pumpkin, peach, and apricot extracts which add an antioxidant kick. You’ll want to layer on a moisturizer over this although it is quite thick for a serum because the texture is a little sticky. The final step is massaging the nourishing Yuli Modern Alchemist facial oil with its bio-retinol complex and omega-lipid complex to lock in moisture and infuse skin with a dose of anti-aging nutrients. This has becomes my mom’s holy grail facial oil for its power to make her skin look more youthful and brighter, even I can feel that her skin has become smooth, soft, and plump. I don’t use this a lot for my blemish prone skin and mainly use it when my mom brings it with her but I love that I can use it sporadically to treat my skin when it really needs that extra replenishment and pampering especially around finals without worrying about breaking out.

Follow this regimen with its rich skin nurturing actives and I promise that by the morning your skin will look like you just came from the most indulgent spa experience ever.

My Current Routine: The Regulars

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I know this has been a long time coming, but getting my skincare routine down isn’t that easy because: 1. I rotate so much, for instance, I go between 3 cleansers every week (exfoliating, foaming, & daily) and I go between 3 moisturizers based on the level of hydration I need and how they layer with other products 2. I am constantly sampling new products. Due to my job, I have a lot of samples at my disposal, some I write about, some I don’t (obviously not clean brands like La Prairie, La Mer, etc.) – so I generally use those products to take care of the “nonessential” skincare products. 

Due to these factors, consider this… not my definitive routine, for example I’ve been using the Arcona Toner mainly just to finish it up, I don’t really think I’ll rebuy it again, and my cleanser is still in heavy rotation, and this list doesn’t even cover the facial oils I play with. Without further explanation, here is my current routine which is subject to change at a moments notice

Arcona Cranberry Toner: This is my pre-cleanser product since the Intelligent Nutrients Cleanser doesn’t really remove a lot. I apply 2-3 pumps of this to a cotton pad and remove “the day” from my face. I don’t use this in the morning and when I do use this at night, I follow up immediately with the cleanser because I’m kind of convinced the EO’s and fragrances in here are going to be irritating to my skin if I leave them on for long. Be sure you wash this off your skin because there are foaming agents and alcohols in here that are not good when left on skin for a long time, that is why I use it right before I hop into the shower with my cleanser. The scent is also something you’ll love or hate as it has staying power – I found it ok but a bit much. Another alternative I’ve been substituting is pure Jojoba Oil, but that is more like an oil-cleanse that the Intelligent Nutrients cleanser cannot “eat” through – so I reserve it as a once a week ritual.

Intelligent Nutrients Anti-Aging Cleanser: I find that in the winter, I do not need cleansers that “remove everything” because my skin tends to feel stripped afterward, leading it to over-produce sebum. I’ve been using this cleanser because it is actually more like a lotion that you apply to your skin. It doesn’t strip skin at all, in fact there is no foaming action at all, only the feeling of the cream sliding through skin. Before you ask when a cleanser would have anti-aging benefits since it is only on your skin for such as short amount of time, let me explain: what it lacks as a actual ‘cleansing’ agent, it makes up for in the nutrients department. This feels more like a skin conditioner than a real cleanser because most of what I rub around my skin isn’t even washed off, it seems to be absorbed by skin! You know when you massage a cleanser into skin and give it a while to do its work sometimes? If you do that with this, I’d say about 60%-80% of the product will be absorbed by skin. For ordinary cleansers that are loaded with foaming agents, emulsifiers, alcohols, etc. this may be a problem but the natural, mostly organic ingredients in this cleanser will only make skin better. I really like the wonderfully healthy ingredients list that boasts food-grade ingredients such as Apple Juice, Pumpkin Oil, & Cranberry Oil. 

I don’t think this is a good product it you’re really looking to remove a lot of make-up or grime/oil from your face, but it is wonderful for low-maintenance dry skin or winter skin that doesn’t need another round of detergents. As a bonus the plant oils in here leave skin glowing without creating congestion. For those of you with oily or congested skin, I actually recommend this cleanser over a lot of other cleansers (even those that may foam) because this is not formulated with any waxes so it is a lot lighter on your pores.

YULI Panacea Elixir: A staple product. I apply this LIBERALLY all over my face right when I get out of the shower to maximize absorption while my pores are most receptive. This is a toner/mist that is designed to treat and hydrate all skin types but particularly those who may have combination skin. The scent is heavenly and addictive, I can’t quite describe it yet except that its so fresh and delightful.I think part of the reason why their products smell so spectacular despite not using EO’s or fragrances, is that everything is made fresh and so pure in batches on their own farm+lab, the quality of ingredients is unsurpassed – just follow their twitter to see pictures they post of the vibrant biodynamic farm they work from! The formula is so pure and made of organic and wild-crafted ingredients including hydrosols and flower waters. There is a lot of research into the nurturing and healing powers of flower waters and after using this elixir, I believe in it 100%. This uses ingredients that are so fresh that they are biologically active which is why they’re so effective at remedying all skin concerns. I noticed that when I stray away from this, my skin becomes oilier and more prone to breakouts. This is hands down, my favorite toner on the market and a regular purchase. Only complaint: MAKE BIGGER SIZES.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment: I haven’t really appreciated eye products in the past but this eye cream/gel hybrid from Juice Beauty is the first one that really agreed with my skin. It is the right balance: the texture is creamy but doesn’t make you feel like you smeared your eyes in a heavy paste and the product leaves a hydrating presence while still being fast-absorbing. I can say that although I don’t have many eye issues right now, I notice my eye area especially the undereyes where I have the hereditary dark eye circles, look more refreshed and rested when I use this. My eyes feel comfortable and rested, never feeling “streched” like how some products can make it feel. I attribute the results to a combination of the Vitamin C and Fruit Stem Cells and I believe the comfort and hydration can be attributed to the shea butter, aloe, and organic juices. This is also one of the only products that doesn’t sting or irritate my eye, which has been my experience with the majority of products on the market for eye cream ranging from Sunday Riley to vBeaute. 

I also like the lightweight cream texture because it applies very evenly and absorbs fast so it doesn’t “travel”. Lately I’ve been experimenting with an eye product from a natural beauty company that is a oil that you roll on and every time it gets into my eyes somehow and makes it sting & water. So there is something to be said for a well made cream/gel that can stay in place. 

Kahina Brightening Serum: I use this to justify all those times I leave the apartment thinking “I don’t need to wear that much make-up” because the brightening serum is kind of like my moisturizer + serum in one. The blend of shea butter, glycerin, argan, and hyaluronic acid in this makes it moisturizing especially after I apply this over the Panacea Elixir. I like the thought that not only is this moisturizing my skin but it is also correcting any possible discoloration. I don’t think I suffer from hyperpigmentation or discoloration, but I feel like we can all use products like these because ultimately the difference between photoshop and non-photoshop for a person with good skin is the tone and eveness, which is what this product addresses. So I like using this with the thought that “it’s making my skin look healthy”. It doesn’t hurt that the actual ingredients truly do make skin better, including white lily, seaweed, and algae extract. 

YULI Liquid Courage: This is their antioxidant serum which in the day provides protection from UV damage, environment (pollution, exposure), and fatigue, while in the night the antioxidants are at their most active in healing and repairing skin while we sleep. What I like most about this serum is that the key active is called the Botanical Antioxidant Seed Complex which uses pure botanical seeds that are known to contain the densest concentration of nutrients (Vitamins, minerals, Omegas, phytonutrients) and antioxidants. What makes it stand out are the supercharged ingredients like liquified Biofermented Black Garlic extract and chirally correct Ferulic Acid (derived from Acai and Argan) – their ingredients are truly outstanding and second to none. Working in beauty at a high-end dept store, I can say that these are ingredients that are ahead of the curve even compared to the $500 serums out there that use maybe a fraction of their ingredients. 

Ingredients aside, what makes this serum amazing is that each and every single time I use this, I notice it, especially the morning after I use it night. I had heard YULI say that they developed this product for their friends, professionals who traveled and were jetlagged but had to look like they had the perfect restful night on just 3 hours of sleep, and this definitely gives skin that perfected healthy glow. If you want to see results, use this at night, if you want protection and preventative benefits, use this during the day. I always wake up noticing how bright, smooth, and well cared for my skin looks. They truly are not joking when people say it gives the 8-hr sleep with perfect nutrition look even if you just went through a war. 

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Not Pictured:

Daytime:
Omorovicza Complexion Perfecting BB Cream SPF 20: The perfect daytime product, SPF 20 + Complexion perfect BB Cream benefits make this a versatile product that both protects from UV exposure (the SPF20 is fortified if you layer YULI’s Liquid Courage under to neutralize sun damage and free radicals). The cream is very light and will only enhance complexion without making face look made up. Expect very natural glow and minimal coverage. 

Nighttime:
Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum: Great for winter when skin needs more than a facial oil. I love to layer this on as a lotion since it is quite thick for my skin type to be considered an actual serum. The fact that it’s loaded with 29 active ingredients means this is possibly the most loaded anti-aging night time moisturizer I have used, since it was designed to be a serum. The hydration properties are “just right” for my skin, any more waxes and my pores will not like it. 

The Quick Clean: Arcona Cranberry Toner

Since coming back to New York, I’ve filled my time volunteering with stylists for prefall presentations which I have been doing since moving here for school. Not only is it what I love to do, but it also gives me a chance to play with new products and test it out on different skin types. A dirty secret I’m going to tell you is that a lot of models, particularly the younger, successful ones who are always on jobs – just do not have time to properly clean their face! We simply do not have sufficient time to lead them to a washing area to cleanse and wash their face properly but we also don’t want a dull, tired complexion or even worse, day old makeup! A ‘cheat’ we’ve done in the past was to apply Bioderma Crealine solution to cotton pads, this process doesn’t need any water and leaves the face as a clean slate. But as I’ve started transitioning into natural beauty routines, a few stylists I’ve worked with have tasked me with finding a “clean” Bioderma. So I started looking around for something water-less that removes gunk and leaves skin clean. 

Enter Arcona’s Cranberry Toner, described as a 3-in-1 product that Cleanses, Tones, and Hydrates. I had used this product before but didn’t repurchase it simply because I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate it into my routine, it wasn’t the best cleanser, nor the best toner, and I wouldn’t exactly describe it as a moisturizer. It’s funny how a product you wouldn’t buy again that doesn’t seem to have a specific purpose turns into a holy grail item when the right occasion and need comes along. 

Arcona’s Cranberry Toner is a relatively clean product that has a cult following in Los Angeles, they’re known for natural formulations that avoid a lot of chemicals, but purists might want to give each product a close read on the ingredients list to see what they’re fine with and what are deal breakers. The ingredients list for the Cranberry Toner is:

Agua (Distilled Water), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Rice Milk, Sodium Lactate, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Extract, Vitis Vinifera, (Grape) Seed Extract D-alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E), Citric Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Essential Oils. 

So the majority of the formula is good and clean, however Sodium Lactate which is the 4th ingredient does rank a little high for my comfort on EWG’s list, at a solid 4 although data is limited. There is also Benzyl Alcohol which isn’t the most gentle type of alcohol, and I’m not sure if it is grain extracted but it is really low on the list so I don’t mind. I also wish they would reveal the Essential Oils, but as this product is heavily scented, I think they do it more to protect their scent combination rather than be sneaky about “bad” essential oils.

The product is a delicious cranberry-pink and when you shake it (since the liquid does separate if left alone), it mixes into a beautiful swirl which I attribute to the Rice Milk. The product comes out in a pump top, just be a little on the cautious side as it does dispense more than you need for one cotton ball. The scent is strong, but despite Witch Hazel being pretty abundant, the distinctive scent is masked perhaps by the Cranberry and Essential Oils that leave this scented like a fresh cranberry. 

All you need is to wet one cotton ball to apply to the entire face. It isn’t the greatest makeup remover (try a cleansing oil beforehand for this, such as Vapour Organics Cleansing Oil, reviewed here), but if you’re just trying to ‘clean’ up a face that hasn’t been washed in the morning or one that is a little oily, this is perfect. It really gets the dirt and oils out without leaving skin red. It leaves a thin film which I don’t mind because I think that helps moisturize the skin. Most of the models I put this on commented how quick and easy the process was and how quickly their skin felt refreshed.

One quick note, do not apply too much or rub too hard: it does foam slightly if you do that which creates a need for water which is what we’re trying to avoid. I’ve only had one model experience some redness with the formula out of maybe 30 so I feel like it should be pretty suitable for sensitive skin. For the normal girl or guy who isn’t going through multiple castings and shows in a single day, I don’t think this is the best product for your lifestyle. However if you’re self-described as a “lazy beauty”- someone who typically doesn’t wash your face in the morning or you crash in your bed rather than wash your face at night after coming home with a face full of makeup – this is an improvement and is a good first step for being good to your skin. 

Available from Arcona for $32, here