Weekend Trip: Kahina Giving Beauty Travel Kit


I’m spending the last month before school trying to fit in as much mini-vacations as possible. This weekend, I went to a Bachelorette Party in Miami so I went into work on Friday prepared to find travel friendly products to try for this trip. I don’t know why, but I love trying out new products/regiments out when I’m on vacation – maybe it’s the change in surrounding lending itself to a need to change regimen.

I glanced through the inventory and my eyes landed upon Kahina Giving Beauty Travel Kit – clean products, beautiful bottles, and MADE for travel: SCORE! I had found my weekend project!

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This travel kit contains smaller sizes of Kahina’s cleanser, facial lotion, and their signature argan oil. For those not familiar with the brand, Kahina is a “holistic line or organic skincare”, at the center of all their products is the signature ingredient Argan Oil. A percentage of proceeds go to benefit the lives of the Berber women.

Kahina Cleanser: I read on Nomoredirtylooks that they changed the formula for this cleanser, so I was excited to see how this was different from my big bottle of cleanser from Kahina. From a product standpoint, I absolutely love Kahina’s cleanser, it has high amounts of Vitamin E and fatty acids from Argan Oil (which, as much as I dislike hype – is an ingredient that works with my skin). I noticed that this new formulation was a bit ‘off’ I can’t figure out what it is, but they way it responded on skin was different. Not in a good or bad way, just in a way I didn’t expect so I am not sure how I feel about that. I do like that the cleanser really balanced my skin – I felt like it really moisturized my face without making it oily. The scent is a heavenly floral-neroli which is so delightful in the shower.

Kahina Facial Lotion: My skin doesn’t really need a combination of the lotion and the argan oil included in this kit so I gave this to my friend with dry skin to use. The mix of shea butter and beeswax really does wonders for moisture retention that when my friend with dry skin went to get a facial with me, the facialist didn’t really believe my friend had dry skin. It really moisturizes the dry patches. As I didn’t use this particular product, I can’t really comment but I think my friend really liked it. I do admit that my dabbling here and there with the product surprised me in the sense that this product really didn’t seem that “thick” for a product with such moisture intensive ingredients. It is a really sophisticated and well made lotion.

Kahina Argan Oil:  I’ve used Argan Oil from everyone: Josie Maran, Whole Foods, Kiehls, Acure, John Masters, etc. Kahina hands down has the best argan. I don’t know how they do it, but they for sure have the best source and the best extraction process. Their oil just SMELLS rich and beautiful compared to similar oils from Josie Maran (smells very neutral, slight nutty), or Whole Foods (decent light tea-like scent). It goes on the face very well, doesn’t “stay” behind leaving a greasy film, and my skin just LOVES this stuff. I use it all over, including my hair especially if it is a little sun damaged. It is so good. If I decide to make Argan Oil a staple in my beauty closet, Kahina would be the brand I choose. 

Product Review: Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation SPF15

I’ve written about Koh Gen Do’s Aqua Foundation on this blog before, but I wanted to dedicate a post to it as this has been my go-to summer foundation. I was first turned onto this through Emily Weiss of Intothegloss (watch the beautifully shot video here). I loved how buttery the texture looked and I loved even more how it blended in with the skin. I am not crazy about foundations that are too obvious or cakey, and I usually don’t take advice from beauty representatives who apply so much makeup you can’t really see their true skin- I feel like they have something to hide.

When I went to my local Barneys to try this product, I noticed these gorgeous girls stop by to pick up this foundation. They all had bright, even toned skin that looked natural and it was only after chatting with them that I learned they had Koh Gen Do on. The seemless, translucent, but improved skin effect is definitely what I want in my foundation. You know that Dolly Parton saying, “it takes a lot of money to look this cheap?”- I feel like with beauty, “it takes a lot of money to look this natural”. 

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Koh Gen Do is a Japanese cosmetics line that does both beauty and skincare. This foundation is said to have the perfect ratio (water, emollients, powder) to impart a glow that only healthy, moisturized skin can give off. In addition to this skin technology, they also use pure mineral water that balances ions on skin, and also delivers nutrients. Although many foundations claim to feature skin benefits, I feel like this actually kind of does what it says.

When I applied 2 pumps of this product to my face (the Rep advised using KGD’s own rubberized sponges) using just my hands, I noticed how quick it blended in without drying. It felt so light, almost like a light tinted moisturizer. Even at $62 a bottle, I knew I had to get it.

In my regular use, I’ve noticed that although it is a very light, near sheer foundation, it greatly improves the subtle look of skin to give you a glow that only comes from being well rested. My skin just looks healthier while maintaining a very natural appearance. In the summer heat, I’ve noticed the light texture is especially favorable as it doesn’t melt off or get messy over my face. It also did not dry or make my skin oily which some foundations do (Lancome Teint Idole dries me out so much). Although this isn’t a full coverage foundation, it does last for a substantial amount of time, if you aren’t too active, you can easily get 6-7 hours out of it which is perfect for dinner and a night out.

Additional tip: The women at Barneys recommended using KGD’s Oriental Plants Skin Lotion Spray to help set the foundation and impart dewiness. I agree that using a mist takes the foundation to another level but the Oriental Plants Skin Lotion Spray had too many not-clean ingredients for me as well as lots of alcohol derivatives. I substituted that for YULI’s Panacea Elixir which uses organic and wild grown botanicals and flower hydrosols. Not only did it do the job of imparting dewiness, but it also literally makes my skin better with its fresh, bioactives. And at $36 for 3oz versus $22 for 1.7oz, I was getting a better deal for a better, cleaner formulated product. 

Go Clean: Intelligent Nutrients Plant Stem Cell Renewal Complex

Product: Intelligent Nutrients Plant Stem Cell Skin Science Renewal Complex ($55, Intelligent Nutrients)

I love beauty products of every kind, there is nothing more exhilarating to me than the first pump, the first whiff of a new product’s scent, the first application, etc. I started at a young age when my mom started me on the Clinique 3 Step system, and since then my routines have evolved from Lazlo peels to even dabbling in La Prairie (the alcohol!). My most recent interest is in clean products. I think ounce for ounce, a well made, high quality clean product trumps all other products each time. I’m particular about saying ‘clean’ products because my personal theory is that a product doesn’t have to be 100% natural to be good for you, I just don’t want it to contain anything bad for me. There are some chemicals that can be good with no side-effects, and there are some naturals that can irritate or even be toxic!

In my quest to up my skincare to equally high-end, beautiful products that have better formulations, I landed upon a brand called Intelligent Nutrients. Intelligent Nutrients was started by Horst Rechebacher who was the founder of Aveda. His mission in creating Intelligent Nutrients was to create a line using non-toxic, 100% food based, organic ingredients. To prove how safe his products were, during a demonstration, he even drank an entire bottle of his cleanser.

I knew their key technology was the Plant Stem Cell and antioxidant rich Intellimune complex so I decided to try their Plant Stem Cell Skin Science Renewal Complex, which I’m told is their most concentrated product that combines all their core skin science philosophies.

The product is described as a spot treatment for scars, wrinkles, stretch marks, and other skin imperfections. I decided to use this on my forehead and smile lines since that is where most of my fine lines have begun to form. I also have some fresh acne blemishes on my forehead that I did not use the Ultimate Perfecting Serum on (I used that to get rid of old scars- click the link for my review on that wonderful product).

The first time I used this product, I felt like a scientist with the vial and dropper. The scent is strong and herbal but not unpleasant like how some synthetic fragrances are, in other words, you’ll live. I covered my “problem spots” with a few drops and massaged into my skin. The complex is easily absorbed and does provide some moisture.

The instruction say to not use anything else over it as that could compromise the effectiveness of the product. This is actually in line with what Dr.Hauschka and YULI say about letting your skin detoxify at night. Immediately after I put the product on, I could feel a slight… effect. It wasn’t a tingle but I could tell the product was pretty active.

After 2 weeks of use (they recommend using no longer than 30 days), I still have my fine lines, but they are ‘finer’ and less apparent. I also noticed places where I feel new potential breakouts really calm down when I put this over. In general, I have come to the conclusion that this is like a very natural version of a Retinol treatment without the risk of biotoxic accumulation. For $55 a vial, $130 for 4 vials – I think the price might be slightly high. However I would repurchase this again if my skin really needs an added dose of pampering.

Spotlight: Guerlain Summer Look Powder Brush

Product: Guerlain Summer Look Powder Brush ($43, Neimanmarcus)

I have a confession to make: I am a brush addict. I just can’t resist buying a new brush and will make any excuse: it’s a different color/texture/purpose, etc. At the end of the day, my brush collection is even more extensive than my foundation/powders!

When Guerlain introduced their Summer Look Powder Brush in the brilliant and colorful Emilio Pucci carry pouch, I fell in love. I know it is meant to pick up color from their Meteorites Perles d’Azur product (which is a genius product in itself), but I’ve been using it as almost a kabuki brush for my face. I absolutely love the size and shape of this brush as it has just the right amount of heft to feel like a quality product without being too ostentatious to actually use.

The beautiful packaging and presentation aside (the blue bristles are even more amazing in person) – the brush is good at picking up powder and it really applies powder evenly and gives a good soft focus effect on the face. After a few washes, I noticed that it doesn’t shed which is so good after the disappointment I’ve had with brushes from Laura Mercier, and NARS.

The negatives are that the bristles are goat hair, which means it is more coarse than many other brushes on the market. I’ve been able to buy brushes from other brands for $20-$30 that use natural hair that are more densely packed. The handle is a little short, but I wouldn’t say it is the shortest of all kabuki brushes I have used. It also isn’t as soft as I had hoped it would be so I definitely don’t recommend it for sensitive skin.

All in all, a decent brush that honestly looks better than it functions – but for a girl who loves eye candy as much as I do, this is one of the most special brushes on the market today.

Product Review: Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser

Product: Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser ($75, Neimanmarcus)

I adore a clean beauty product, so I was really happy to see Neiman Marcus carry Tata’s entire line. Tata has 2 cleansers, the Refreshing Cleanser and Regenerating Cleanser, the main difference is that the Regenerating Cleanser has natural exfoliating beads – other than that the formulas are very similar and leave the skin feeling much the same way. As I was looking for an every day cleanser, the exfoliating effects of the Regenerating cleanser would have been too much for my sensitive skin so I chose to try the Refreshing Cleanser.

The consistency is a orange creme colored lotion-like cream. It is thicker than most cleansers I’ve used but the instructions clearly state that it is activated when the enzymes are heated up when you rub it into your skin. Indeed at first it feels as though one is just moving the cream around their face until suddenly, it starts to break apart and do its job!

The natural aromas are heavenly! You can tell when a product uses all natural fragrances because it is just so beautiful, no synthetic can replicate it. And also – I’ve been trying this other line which I will review later and the synthetic fragrance grates on my senses after 20 minutes. The scent is floral and fruity with the dominant notes being chamomile, pomegranate, neroli, and bergamot. 

Immediately I noticed my skin felt so gentle and supple. It reminded me of what a babys bum kind of feels like! It left my skin feeling very nourished and indeed I can see where some people said it feels like giving oneself an at-home spa experience.

The only negative is that after 1 week of use, I noticed my pores were looking kind of congested. I then developed small white heads and black heads. No breakouts luckily, but I had never been the type to develop these clogged pores. I think the formula might be more suited to a more mature crowd with drier skin or smaller pores, and not really suited for my skin type which is blemish prone, and perhaps more easily congested.

I had to return this bottle only for this reason, but I wouldn’t say no to using it now and again. It’s just that at $75 a bottle, I need it to be something I can use everyday so my hunt for the perfect cleanser continues.