The Samples: Round Up

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Clockwise: La Prairie White Caviar Illuminating Serum, Ahava Mineral Body Lotion, Juice Beauty Cleansing Milk, Murad Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20, Dr.Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel

La Prairie White Caviar Illuminating Serum: A serum to treat dark spots and uneven coloring. Key actives for anti-pigmentation include: golden caviar extracts, tomato fruit extract, larch tree extract, and white tea complex. I make it a point to call this out because La Prairie is one of the most scientifically advanced high-end skincare brands and many detractors of the ‘natural skincare’ movement say natural products aren’t ‘effective’ which just isn’t true as it’s the base of active ingredients in nearly ALL skincare.

This is a light serum that seems to have shiny glitter in there. I seriously thought I was going to have sparkly skin a la Twilight vampires when I first used this. Fortunately the serum disappears upon contact. At $450 for 1oz, I expected miracles, as should you. I was disappointed to see that the top 3 ingredients in this formula are water, glycerin, and alcohol, followed by silicones. This is kind of the typical layout of ingredients you’ll see in many top-tier ‘premium’ brands in department stores. I wish that good ingredients like their active form of Vitamin C could be more concentrated as that seems to be the key method they’re using to lighten skin pigmentation. So as expected this serum is beautiful to look at but unfortunately didn’t really deliver long-term benefits.

Ahava Mineral Body Lotion: I am really enjoying this body lotion. At $24 for 8.5oz, there is a lot to like in this simple, but well made cream. The scent is lovely as is the texture, this is the kind of stuff clinical trials are made for as every sense is pleased with this lotion. The actual results are very typical and will be similar to what you’ll find in products that are cheaper and more expensive as the ingredients are very traditional: Water, Alcohol, Emulsifiers, etc. The good ingredients like Aloe Vera and Witch Hazel are in the middle of the pack, but I’d like to see them higher as I think it might make this mix more hydrating, soothing, and skin softening as it’s actual results now leave it in the “typical” range.

Juice Beauty Cleansing MilkSo first impressions – Tata-freaking-Harper! This formula reminded me so much of Tata Harper’s Refreshing Cleanser, from the texture to the scent to the way the product glides on the skin – I’m convinced that if I did a blind test study, few people could tell the difference if they’ve used neither products before. If you’re a fan of Tata Harper’s cleanser, you should jump for joy as this can be had for just $22 for 6.75oz! Unfortunately for me, this just felt so heavy on my skin like I was coating it in moisturizer instead of cleansing my face. In fact the first time I used it, I felt like I hadn’t washed my face the entire day afterward and by the time I came home at the end of the day I had 3 pre-acne bumps on my forehead. Not a fit for me.

Murad Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20In the spirit of being helpful, I decided to review this, otherwise I’d just leave a big resounding “ugh no.” This is called a light-weight acne moisturizer and I guess if you include Tea Tree Oil to your product, you can justify it. But the entire formula is laden with alcohol which ages and stripes skin (causing more oil production that leads to acne) and silicones which clog skin. Yes the texture is light, but you’d expect that from all the chemicals. The SPF power is only at 20, which is surprising considering all the sunscreen power comes from chemicals, so one would think they would at least bump this up to a SPF 30 to truly be of any use for daytime wear. Also, this contains retinyl palmitate which is the form of Vitamin A that dermatologists are advising should not be used in sunscreens. Overall, everything wrong with chemical sunscreens can be found in this product. 

Dr.Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel: I like Dr. Saul Alkaitis, his products are priced fairly (although the cremes are on the high side for his line), and I like his philosophy that his products intuitively respond to individual skin type so his products are not sold by skin type. However this also makes buying things like choosing between his 4 masks extremely difficult as you have to look for indicator words to figure out what would be best for your skin. I digress, the Organic Soothing Gel earned a steady reputation in Spirit Beauty Lounge as a lightweight gel moisturizer that is really good for acne prone skin because of its anti-bacterial properties. 

The scent of the gel is similar to his line, herbal, strong, but not something you’d think was bad. The texture in my sample was a bit inconsistent, can anyone confirm if this product is supposed to be shaken first? The product came as very fluid at first and as I used more, it became more gel like and darker in color. So something was going on there. Unlike a lot of natural skincare products, there is an obvious amount of alcohol in this gel. It’s derived from organically grown grapes so it’s better than the typical alcohol that is used, but I wonder if a lower concentration would be possible. 

There are great ingredients to counter acne such as witch hazel, lavender, & fennel, but while I think it helped rather than hindered breakouts, I can’t say I would count on this for serious breakouts or to dramatically reduce flareups. Nonetheless, I would consider purchasing this as a light moisturizer that has additional benefits in discouraging acne, despite my reservations over it’s alcohol content and effectiveness in tackling breakouts.

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.

Green Beauty Event Shopping List

I don’t know about you, but as a girl with one foot firmly planted in the luxury beauty market, and one foot planted in the clean beauty market – I couldn’t be more excited about some of the luxury brands participating in the 1st annual Green Beauty Event on Fashion’s Night Out! I will of course be working, so those of you in New York – please feel free to stop by Neiman Marcus where we will be hosting many events and giving away lots of prizes! Before my shift though, I’ll be eagerly taking advantage of the promotions offered by each brand, here is a shortlist of what I plan to buy:

Kahina Antioxidant Mask ($62)

I love masks and I love antioxidants, is it any wonder this product earned a spot on this list? I’m at the age now where I need to decongest skin while I can’t have anythign too drying/harsh as I need to start worrying about the first signs of aging so this seems like the perfect product. I also want to keep the jar for future use- I don’t know what I’ll use it for but it looks really neat.

Kajer Weis Lip Tint ($48)

Clean product? Check. Beautiful colors? Check. Slick packaging? Check x 100. This is a product that is not only well formulated but the gorgeous mirrored metallic sliding container is one of the most distinct, eye-catching packaging I’ve seen in a long time. I do hope the pigmentation and wear time are sufficient – I will definitely post a review after I’ve had enough time with this.

YULI Mr.Incredible ($78)

Been a fan of this line and the quiet storm they’ve generated since launching. The Mr.Incredible product is the ultimate luxury shave oil that I plan to get for my boyfriend who up til now only just transitioned from shaving creams to olive oil. I ordered a sample before and the scent is HEAVEN, kind of like my boyfriends current Tom Ford cologne only it is completely natural. I also really like that it also really takes care of skin besides just for shaving so he can use it daily.

Dr. Alkaitis Purifying Facial Cleanser ($65)

I’m always on the hunt for cleansers, and I’ve been meaning to try Dr.Alkaitis for some time now. I thought the cleanser would be the best product since it is described as both gentle and deeply cleansing which is important for me since I find that deep cleansing products often leave my skin ‘tight’ and dry which only causes my skin to overproduce oil soon after. I’m really curious if the organic castile cleansing base will be similar to Dr.Bronners or if the additional ingredients such as Aloe Vera and Skin Repair complex will add in some nourishment.

La Bella Figura Under Eye Repair Serum ($115)

I haven’t met an eye serum yet that has done what I needed it to: moisturize, firm/lift, erase dark eye circles, and enliven. At my age, I don’t have under eye bags or even crows feet  (luckily) but I do feel the undereye area get fatigued more easily now and when I don’t get enough rest, sometimes I look like a panda.

This natural beauty promises to tackle tired eyes, dark circles, and smooth facial lines. I have high hopes for this product since the ingredients list looks well put together with coffee beans, rosehip, tomato, and blue tansy.

YULI Panacea Elixir ($36)

This is my addiction. Plain and simple. The flower hydrosols, the antioxidant rich actives, the fresh earthy scent – this elixir feels like spraying living nature on your face. It is such a rush of energy when you’re tired throughout the day. I also noticed that if I spray just this on my face at night and go to bed, newly forming blemishes die down. I don’t know how it does this, but the decongestant/detox qualities of this product are no joke. My skin just feels better and pores look refined. I’m definitely stocking up on this stuff.

Vapour Organic Beauty Soft Focus Foundation ($48)

I love my current Koh Gen Do foundation, but the truth is – it isn’t a ‘clean’ product although based on the retailer literature I have access to, I did see that it is low in silicones compared to other foundations. I’ve decided to try out Vapour Organic’s Soft Focus foundation because if it can live up to the promise, it sounds amazing. There is light reflective technology to conceal the appearance of lines, pores, and wrinkles, and organic Pumpkin/Papaya complex actually moisturizes skin as you have your foundation on. There are also anti-inflammatory ingredients, skin brightening actives, and no chemicals! If this does work, it will most likely replace my mainstream Koh Gen Do, Armani, and Chanel foundations -so we will see if it can rise to the occasion! 

What products are on your shopping list?