JULY 4TH WEEKEND BEAUTY ESSENTIALS


I hope everyone is having a good summer! This year’s July 4th was on Wednesday so I ended up making a very long weekend out of it and made the trip from NYC to the Hamptons.

My skincare isn’t really based on set routines because I believe in changing things based on what my skin needs, so I’m sharing a couple of the products I brought with me for my long weekend trip.

Kahina Giving Beauty Oil Cleanser

I’ve been consulting with estheticians and figured out that it doesn’t matter if you only wear sunscreen and “light makeup,” especially in summer, everyone needs to double cleanse to get that surface stuff off before going in for that actual cleanse. It is apparently one of the core tenants of Asian Beauty Rituals so I’ve committed to oil cleansing every night before going over my skin with my trusty Halcyon Cleanser which is like…. the most necessary staple in my routine and key for good skin during summer when everything feels grittier and sweatier, it leaves my naked skin soft and baby-like.

As mentioned in my previous post on oil cleansers, Kahina’s Oil Cleanser is my favorite oil cleanser. It has a subtle yet pleasant aroma, possesses a nice weighty texture for massage without tugging at the skin and rinses cleanly. Beyond good organic ingredients, it’s also anti-inflammatory which is a major plus for heat prone summer skin. I like to massage it and feel the impurities glide off my skin. Since using this in conjunction with Halcyon, my skin has been totally clear and pores look clean and tiny, even those around my nose.

African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence

Many people assume that summer means going lighter on moisturizing products but that’s a mistake. The water content in the skin can be even more prone to TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss) due to the sun, air conditioning and high temperatures.

The Rose Treatment Essence is a nice weighty translucent gel that is far from the fluid textures of Asian essences. I gently rub this around my skin and it disappears immediately like a succulent serum. And the rose, oh my, the rose scent is such a pretty thing, so full and elegant, that the first few times I used it, I was so taken that I barely even paid attention to any results. Armed with botanical emollients, humectants, hyaluronic acid, and oligosaccharides, the results are worthy of the price tag: it’s very hydrating but not heavy or clogging which is exactly what you want from an essence, and the ingredients make skin feel firmer and pores look smaller.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

A classic as far as green beauty goes, this has been in my beauty ritual for years. I always purchase a new jar at the beginning of every summer because I know how beautifully it works to gently exfoliate dead skin cells and all that leftover residue that accumulates during summer. This leaves my summer skin feeling light, fresh and happy and the instant-ready jelly texture is convenient to apply and wash off. The refreshing aqueous-herbaceous, fruity scent is one of my favorites.

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream

Have you ever sat in an air-conditioned room and then felt your hands? For some reason, they always feel a little… rough, right? I first used Tatcha’s Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream years ago and continue to love it. This hand cream disappears so quickly that it feels like your skin just drinks it up like water. And my hands are always left so smooth and nice.

Truth be told, I love a chic, sophisticated tube of hand cream since I’m always taking it out of my handbag in public and Tatcha is a brand that I associate with elegant beauty. Unlike a lot of other brands that make chic, sophisticated hand creams like Byredo or Le Labo, Tatcha uses only natural fragrances so my hands (and the things they touch e.g. FOOD) do not carry any cloying scents. This is very important to me as strong, synthetic scents really get to me and make me feel sick after continued exposure.

YÜLI Cellular Lip Conditioner

I’m more laid back about lip balm usage during the summer, it just feels counter-intuitive to me to cover my lips in a layer of balm while my face is melting off. Cellular Lip Conditioner is a lip serum that is 100% food grade (yay!), but also serious business as there is a powerful antioxidant chemistry that strengthens against UV exposure. It has great, nourishing plant oils like avocado, sesame seed, and green tea.

The texture is light, yet you feel nourished and hydrated. I like applying this also as a base layer before lipsticks and stains which can be drying (especially organic selections).

Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation

This has been my go-to foundation since I first started using it (see Kjaer Weis review). I love how versatile it is, it can be worn as a “naked your skin but better” foundation or a fuller coverage depending on how you blend and layer. For daytime, I do three swipes: one on each cheek and forehead, then blend in for a very minimal face that still evens and lightens my skin.

What I love about this cream foundation is how it soaks up oils that skin produces throughout the day so even by the end of the day, I’m left with a very natural dewy complexion with a highlighter-esque sheen rather than a greasy face.

YÜLI Metamorphic Elixir

It’s funny how long I’ve been using this line. When I first started, my skin was ridiculously out of balance, oily and acne prone. I was using Panacea Elixir (which is like an organic P50 without the acids) and now, I all about that tall drink of Metamorphic Elixir which is a very rejuvenating (translation: anti-aging) and hydrating face mist. One thing I’ve learned is that a non-water based mist is much better than water-based mists that can evaporate and leave skin even more dehydrated and Metamorphic Elixir uses botanical hydrosols and aloe vera which are more hydrating and do not have that evaporation problem.

In addition to that base, Metamorphic has serum-level ingredients with an instant-mist delivery so you’re loading up on things like hyaluronic acid, carrot seed, and immortelle flower (the star ingredient of Madonna’s MDNA line). This has helped my skin feel more plumped and satiated. I have been using it for 2 weeks straight, spraying anytime I felt like it and my skin analyzer indicated that my hydration went up by 26% – the real deal.


Let me know if you’ve been trying anything new for summer!

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Kjaer Weis Foundation, Highlighter & Lip Tint REVIEW

Kjaer Weis Beauty Idealist
One of the questions I get asked a lot is whether I plan to talk more about make-up. I’ve always been more of a skincare girl but new year, new endeavors, right?

We all know the benefits of green cosmetics, I just have not really embraced green make-up until recently. Kjaer Weis has always been on my radar as the luxury organic make-up brand. Everything from their gorgeous refillable compacts to the crisp, minimal design language just vibes with me. We often see organic brands reach for the luxury customer, but Kristen Kjaer Weis, renowned make-up artist and founder of Kjaer Weis, actually enlisted the product and packaging designer behind Dior and Come Des Garçon’s to design her innovative products which are all made in Italy. This is the real deal.

A beautiful presentation definitely makes a strong first impression but what has really made me fall in love with Kjaer Weis are the products themselves. Most organic cosmetics I’ve used *feel* decidedly unsophisticated, where instead of fantastic technology for strong coverage, longer wear, and vibrant colors, we’re flooded with endless iterations of mineral pigments. Kjaer Weis is the only organic make-up line that really elevates this, with radiant colors, buildable coverage and an attention to performance that is unsurpassed.


FOUNDATION

The Kjaer Weis foundation is genius. The compact form factor makes taking it on the go a breeze (for mid-day touch ups). The foundation blends with skin, evenly dispersing coverage and uniformity. The color just seems to mingle with skin’s natural hue and effortlessly delivers the “your skin but better” appearance. I love the buildable coverage which can go from a very subtle, “no make-up” look to editorial HD coverage.

The wear time is fantastic in part because unlike a lot of foundations, this one seems to work better with the oils that skin naturally produces throughout the day. It goes on matte but develops a dewy finish. If you’re on the drier side, it’s best to go over with a face oil, like Kjaer Weis’s own Beautiful Oil, prior to applying foundation to avoid accentuating any dry areas.

LIP TINT

When I first swatched the lip tint (in Sweetness), I was concerned that it was going to be too faint. But then I applied it to my lips and was surprised by how gorgeous the color came out. I’ll be posting to my Instagram stories the next few days to show how this wears (instagram.com/thebeautyidealist). The best word to describe it is vibrant and more pigmented than the lip tint classification might suggest. As with the foundation, the coverage is buildable and can go from just adding a subtle pop of color to making a bold statement.

Wearability is on par with non-organic lip products which is impressive, and the tints actually provide a light balm-like level of moisture which when coupled with the dynamic tint, really makes the lips look gorgeous.

HIGHLIGHTER

I saved the best for last. Where foundation gives that your-skin-but-better look, the addition of highlighter is responsible for that otherworldly flawless radiant glow. The Kjaer Weis Highlighter in Ravishing is a hands down favorite beauty product that will be repurchased over and over.  I don’t think any photos do it justice. Once you see this in person, you’ll be taken by it’s pearlescent sheen and once you apply this on your skin, you’ll be transformed from a mere mortal to a flawless goddess.

What I love about this is the careful, mastered approach that can only come from an experienced make-up artist: the sheen is just right where you don’t look like a Vegas showgirl but illuminates just the right amount to give the most natural looking glow. If you’re into contouring, I actually think this highlighter is better than any that the Kardashian’s may use as the particles are just so fine and high quality – I always feel like a million bucks when I put this on before going out.

APPLICATION & TECHNIQUE

All of the Kjaer Weis products mentioned have a beautiful creamy texture. I know many people like to use make-up brushes or sponges, my preference is to use my fingers and dab over my skin. This provides even dispersion and also warms up the product so it melts into skin for a very seamless look. Make-up artist Pat McGrath advocates this technique as well and she does *all* my favorite beauty looks at every fashion week.

No matter what your intended effect is, or whether you apply make-up with a heavier hand or a light touch, it’s all achievable with this line of products. Start conservatively and build up to the desired coverage or color intensity.


FINAL THOUGHTS

I love this line. It’s very obvious that an experienced make-up artist is behind all the products. Kristen Kjaer Weis has successfully developed a line of innovative, beautiful organic products that are easy to use, incredibly versatile, high performance and always well thought out. Kjaer Weis makes skin look naturally beautiful, almost as though the products are unlocking something in the skin rather than acting as make-up.

Kjaer Weis can be purchased at the following U.S. locations:

CAP Beauty 
Credo Beauty
The Detox Market
Violet Grey


Have you used anything from Kjaer Weis? Share your thoughts below and as always, leave me any questions. 

S.W. Basics Cocoa Lip Balm – Vegan

sw basics

S.W. Basics is a line that originated out of Brooklyn, created by Adina Grigore, a self described “jill of all trades” in the wellness industry. The line is known for their simple formulas that often times use just 1-5 ingredients. This is because the products were originally created by Adina for her own sensitive skin.

S.W. Basics is essentially what I consider to be a hip Brooklyn take on DIY natural beauty using simple ingredients and a funky brand message. The price range is generally affordable so they’re a great introduction for those looking for clean products without giving their wallets a work out.

A quick note: although skin sensitivity is different from person to person, it is true that products with less ingredients are considered safer for sensitive skin because there are less potential ingredients to trigger the sensitivities. However, this does not mean all products that use few ingredients are right for you, for instance if you happen to be sensitive to Jojoba Oil, then a 1-3 ingredient product that uses Jojoba Oil will likely not work well with your skin so the takeaway dear readers: be aware of your personal sensitivities and check the ingredients list (however long or short) for known sensitivities before purchasing.

The other note is that because these products only use 1-5 ingredients, the concentration of each ingredient is likely to be pretty high. For me, this meant caution in purchasing certain products such as their toner which is comprised of Apple Cider Vinegar, Witch Hazel, and Essential Oils since Apple Cider Vigegar/Witch Hazel should usually be diluted before being used otherwise it is just too much for every day use. [Edit: As many of you have pointed out, SW Basics Toner is indeed diluted with water as the main ingredient – my mistake as I could have sworn I read something about how water isn’t used in the line! Thank you all for the correction!]

Thus my first foray into this line came from one of their four lip balms, the S.W. Basics Cocoa Lip Balm. And since I felt particularly green the day I ordered, I opted to go all out and purchase the Vegan variety although I’m not a practicing Vegan. Essentially this just means the beeswax is switched out for Candelilla Wax.

SW Basics

I chose Cocoa because of the four flavors (Cocoa, Peppermint, Cinammon, Citrus), it is the only one without any essential oils (I don’t have anything against essential oils, but I understand they’re used in this for fragrance which I didn’t need in a lip product). This also meant my option was the most minimal with just 3 Ingredients: organic Cocoa Butter, organic Coconut Oil, Canelilla Wax. Now you DIYer’s are probably thinking “just make this yourself!” But two things:

1. Like a LOT of people out there, I’m not really a DIYer. And there is value in something ready made with a cool, well designed label, no?
2. Relax, this stuff is only $4 regular price and even less when you get it on sale (which happens pretty often!)

The Verdict

So after a good 2 months of using this on-and-off, how do I feel? Conflicted.

Here’s why:

When it came to moisturizing and making my lips not look mistreated, this lip balm did the trick. It really did make my lips feel and look better, in fact I had noticed I was able to extend time in between reapplication despite the fact that the texture did not feel heavy – bonus! So performance-wise, I was happy and impressed.

However this product also frustrated me more than any other lip balm I’ve used. Unlike other lip balms (including other natural ones like Burts Bees and Badger Balm), this just LOVED to melt. Do NOT keep it in your pocket or anywhere that comes close to your body because that will start melting this within 5 minutes, especially if you’re walking outside in the summer weather. This is why I had to use the lip balm on and off, because I couldn’t bring this with me when I left the apartment for fear it would just be leak and get messy. So it was relegated to being an “at-home” product, which to me is not ideal when it comes to lip balms.

swbasics2

The other area is application. Besides loving to melt, this lip balms texture is on the rough side (see the above picture) and prone to breaking off. I learned over the course of using this to be especially careful to not press it to my lips as a huge chunk will just break off, leaving me with the messy task of removing and putting the excess back in the tube or just applying on the back of my hands – wasteful and not clean, not to mention my boyfriend would jokingly feign concern that I was suffering from some form of selective motor challenge since it was so difficult for me to apply this!

SW Basics

Overall, I’m happy that I was able to try this line out and I do think they’re onto something with the entire less is more approach. SW Basics isn’t a line that embellishes their promises, instead it’s just an honest message of things that your skin would like. In this case, my lips liked the 3 ingredients, I just had a challenging time with it. The usability and durability issues perhaps highlight a key shortcoming with the mantra of opting for few ingredients as I’m sure in this case incorporating more ingredients to control the texture and such would greatly improve the overall experience. I know if those issues could be addressed while maintaining the actual performance of the lip balm (which leaves nothing to complain about), I would unreservedly recommend this product but as it is the shortcomings in my opinion are too great to overcome as the product currently is for this to be a viable repurchase. With that said, this doesn’t dissuade me from trying their other products, particularly giving their non-vegan version of the lip balm a chance.

So I know S.W. Basics is quite a popular line, do you think there are other products that I’ll love from this line? Have you tried this line? Do you love their less is more mantra? Leave your thoughts in the comments.