Winter 2018: The Body, Skin, Make-up Prep for that “Holiday Face”


I had overarching intentions of attending to my blog over Christmas but then caught a bug and simultaneously overcommitted to too many dinners. So in between catching up on my magazine subscriptions and Netflix (just finished Sabrina and Bird Box, not very festive, I know), I’ve had to put myself together for holiday dinners with family and friends. So I thought I’d share my “holiday face,” putting on a healthy complexion even when you’re not at your best.

I start with a soak in a hot bath (you’ll be too tired once you get home). It helps to clear the passageways. Afterward, I go over my entire body with In Fiore’s body oil*(the one pictured is discontinued but the current version is the Solution Botanique), which gives me my personal fragrance of green, yet sweet jasmine while helping to keep my legs, elbows, and arms silky soft. Follow with two glides of Agent Nateur’s No.3 Deodorant (they also have this in a sensitive skin version which is baking soda free, here), which mingles well with the body oil, to keep me smelling and feeling fresh. That wraps up my body care.

I move on to skin prep which starts at skincare. A good skincare system sets the tone for how your makeup will settle onto skin and how your skin will “breathe” with the products over time. YÜLI’s Ambrosia Beauty Nectar serum is magic in a bottle, even if I am sick, I’ll look like I just came back from a camp where we just juiced and did IV drips. YÜLI products as many of you know, are serious business and this serum is excellent for plumping the skin and it immediately vanquishes dry, rough spots that can easily become exaggerated by foundation. Ambrosia wears many hats in my routine, in this case, with its flash absorbing, emollient hydrous texture, it works like a hydrating, antioxidant-rich skin primer. I close with MV Organics Rose Soothing Protective Moisturizer, my barrier shield from winter elements. It’s used by makeup artists as a base product for good reason, the smooth yet full-bodied texture creates the perfect canvas and it also balances my skin under makeup so it doesn’t look dry and cakey, nor shiny and oily.

For makeup, I’ve been loyal to Kjaer Weis. I know there are many brands that came out with foundation in the past year, but the Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation feels like a higher quality product to me. The packaging is unrivaled, the colors blend so well, and the texture is so buttery on the skin. The cream wears beautifully in a “your skin but better” way where it compliments your natural tone and evens it out like a perfect real-life filter. The Kjaer Weis Lip Tint is equally wonderful, I layer it on almost like a lip balm because it’s also moisturizing due to the plant oils and butters. In addition to a burst of creamy, intense pigment, the lip tints also nourish lips with shea butter and jojoba oil, how wonderful is that? I dab just a touch of the RMS Beauty Living Luminizer on my cheekbones and under eyes to instantly lift my complexion. It’s the makeup equivalent of Red Bull, you’ll just look awake fresh as a daisy. I finish with Beautycounter’s Lengthening Mascara, which reliably extenuates my lashes without irritating my sensitive eyes. The brush itself is very intuitive and the product applies onto lashes in a very fluid yet direct manner for great control.

Et voilà!

What are the products that pull you together even when you’re under the weather? Have you discovered any great products this Christmas? Leave me a comment!

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BeautyCounter: The Future of Green?

BeautyCounter was introduced in 2013 and focused on spearheading the movement for safer cosmetics through legislation and offering greener products. Their philosophy of advocating for legislative change for safer cosmetics while introducing these safe cosmetics were made simple through products that looked beautiful with a price point that was unexpectedly fair – although their prices have systematically increased through the years.

Despite my initial interest, I never pulled the trigger in purchasing any products due in large part to their sales strategy that focused on growing a network of independent consultants which instantly drew comparisons in my mind to pyramid operations such as Amway and Herbalife that leave a bad taste.

Then in late 2016, one of their independent consultants sent me an e-mail to try their products and I thought, why not? Especially as at the time, BeautyCounter was being carried in Target stores which I only later realized was a temporary engagement.

I received sample packs of their Countertime Rejuvenating Collection which includes:
Soothing Face Wash
Radiance Firming Complex
Uplifting Day Cream
Restorative Night Cream
Vibrant Eye Perfector

If you click the links, you’ll see that the names of the products I linked to have all changed, and I actually could not find Soothing Face Wash nor it’s current iteration on their site. I’m not sure why this is, but it is pretty confusing. As I only received small 4ml sample tubes, I also don’t know the ingredients, so if the ingredients or formula has changed as well, my insight on the products may be obsolete.

The first thing I noticed was how all of the 5 products were so similar in texture, consistency, weight, and fragrance. They’re all white-ish creams with a lighter more gel like feel and fragranced ever so subtly with natural essential oils. To the immediate senses, despite the uniformity across what should be 5 different categories, the products all pass the initial impressions test.

Here are my mini run downs of each product:


Soothing Face Wash: a good cleanser very similar to many cream/milk cleansers on the market. It’s good if you’re not wearing a lot of make-up and just want a time saving, simple cleanse, ideally in the morning or when you’re tired in the evening. I like that there is no foaming and the cleanser washes off clean. With that said, I preferred to use this with another cleanser: an oil/balm make-up remover if I wore full make-up during the day as my first cleanse then followed by this, or this as my first cleanser followed by a more in-depth cleanser if I went more bare faced.

I think those with drier skin will especially find this cleanser agreeable, if it even currently exists in the line?

Radiance Firming Complex: This is the serum of the collection. It combines Vitamin C, fruit acids, algae and marine extract to tackle wrinkles, skin tone and improve hydration. Looking at the ingredients list which includes lots of plant oils that provide antioxidants and good amounts of algae (first ingredient), I definitely think that it is a pretty solid all-around serum. I don’t know if it has the high concentration corrective ingredients to really turn over wrinkles and skin tone, but I think for someone in their 20s to 40s, this will be a solid standard serum at a very reasonable $63 for 1 oz. The only caveat is that there are citrus oils so I recommend it for night time use. This would be my top pick of the collection.

Uplifting Day Cream: First thing to note is that the uplifting day cream doesn’t contain any ingredients that make it especially advantageous for day time use other than a lighter weight than the night cream. The good news is that it also doesn’t contain anything that makes it unsuitable for night time use either. I’d recommend picking between the two day/night moisturizers based on your skin type (choose the heavier night cream if you’re dry, or the lighter day cream if you’re oily, and try out both if you can’t decide). I’m not taking any points away for not including things like SPF which I actually prefer as a separate product, but what I will call to attention is that many of the beneficial ingredients are listed after phenoxyethanol, which as a preservative is either too concentrated in here or the beneficial ingredients are not concentrated enough to actually do any “uplifting”. I think that at $73, for a ‘meh’ ingredients list, there are better moisturizer options out there.

Restorative Night Cream: See note on day cream above. The Night Cream is thicker, and contains more emollients such as shea butter and heavier plant oils. For a restorative product, there aren’t actually that many anti-aging ingredients as one might assume given the very promising marketing language. You’re pretty much getting a heavier moisturizer that has good antioxidants, which isn’t bad but in a similar vein to the aforementioned products, probably won’t deliver top performance for the fanciful “lifting/firming/restoring” results that are promised.

A strike against this cream is the jar packaging which I wouldn’t mind (especially as it looks beautiful in the photos), but will accelerate the antioxidant breakdown which is unfortunate since that is the main source of the “restoration”. Again, as a general moisturizer, I’m not sure that I’d spend $75 on it but if you can score one of the day/night creams for around $40-$50, it might be worth it to try as long as your expectations of performance are aligned because they are good, solid moisturizers, just don’t count of them for too much anti-aging performance.

Vibrant Eye Perfector: This is a great eye cream that feels very emollient and disperses quite beautifully. Similar to the night cream, the jar packaging is problematic which may explain why the phenoxyethanol preservative is listed so uncomfortably high in the ingredients list again *sigh*. I probably sound like a broken record but the truth is that the limitations of the products are all very similar since the products themselves as I explained at the beginning are so similar to one another. I still enjoy using this eye cream but I know that there are better options out there both in terms of efficacy and formula.

For some of you, the fact that Beautycounter advocates for safe cosmetics but uses phenoxyethanol in their formulas might be a turn off. I try to steer away from phenoxyethanol in my products but do not consider it a deal breaker. For others, the independent consultant sales strategy might be a detractor for you as it was for me, which can easily be mitigated through purchasing directly through their website.

I found the samples a pleasure to use, and while I do not think there are enough good ingredients to back up the proposed benefits of many of the products, I do think that if you’re currently spending your money on products like Origins/REN, it would be worthwhile to give this line a try as well.