Holiday Weekend Essentials: May 2017

Greetings from the first official summer holiday weekend! I’m writing this post while curled up in bed with a multiple masks on my skin – testing out Josh Rosebrook’s new Advanced Hydration Mask on dry patches and a mask I finally added to my collection: Tammy Fender’s Epi-Peel, on oilier/more congested areas.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve provided an update on the products in my rotation and as many of you have told me through e-mail and on social media, I agree that individual product review posts do not really provide a comprehensive window into how exactly the products work or are being used together. So without further ado, these are the products I’ve been using regularly for the past month or have introduced recently.


Sun: Spring and Summer is all about committing to sun protection. Mustela Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ has become one of my all time favorites and I have repurchased this about 5 times which is super rare as I love to try new products. For starters, this is a broad spectrum sunscreen that uses only mineral based sun protection (Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide) rather than chemicals which can be unstable and irritating. I’m not speaking from an analytical standpoint on chemical sunscreens, I speak from experience as someone whose eyes burn with any combination of chemical sunscreens. I also prefer the way my skin looks and feels with a physical block, yes it leaves a white cast and feels heavier than a chemical screen, but if you put it on just right it works like a highlighter and your skin just looks more luminous while being protected. And yes Zinc Oxide physical blockers may feel weighty, but they’re also anti-inflammatory and can be mixed with foundation for tinted coverage. Comparatively, chemical screens always add an oily shine, require more frequent applications, and don’t hide any imperfections (in fact I’m pretty sure the shininess accentuates them).

The SPF 50+ rating for Mustela is very rare for a non-chemical sunscreen so that is a huge bonus. There is a lot of evidence that many sunscreens on the market do not hold up to their sun protection claims, but Mustela is a brand that is developed from it’s French Lab origins which has higher compliance markers than the US (they have the seal of approval from the Melanoma International Foundation) and their line is specially made for the delicate skin of babies which makes this sunscreen even better for sensitive skin. They are categorized as a natural sunscreen but this isn’t really a botanical sunscreen and the ingredients are clean enough for me although some might not like that there are iffy ingredients like silicone. The kicker: a 3.4 oz tube costs only $16, which is INSANE for the quality you get, which may be why it’s sold out everywhere (Dermstore currently has 20% off but if they’re not allowing back ordering, try Sephora).

Fragrance: My former Neiman Marcus co-worker says there are two types of women, those who invest in perfume and lip stick, and those who invest in skincare, I fall firmly into the latter group.  I love sampling fragrances but cannot wear any because the synthetics are nauseating to me. I remember trying natural perfumes from Whole Foods and feeling like I was just throwing on essential oils from an aromatherapy class which felt too crunchy for my taste. Enter Kahina with their concentrated roll-on oil perfumes. Essaouira is a seaside Moroccan village, and their namesake fragrance is a fresh and crisp homage with notes of floral rose, sweet woodsy sandalwood, uplifting lavender, and a very pristine top-note of citrusy petitgrain. The perfume is 100% steam distilled essential oils which means it is powerful and concentrated yet never cloying as there are no artificial fragrances. The staying power is just right where you can catch it wafting with the summer breeze. And best of all, it actually smells like something I’d be able to get at a department store.

Moisture: Weleda’s Soothing Almond Facial Lotion is basic, and that’s the point. This lotion is meant for sensitive skin and is hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free. With all the active serums, masks, toners in my rotation, I really wanted a moisturizer that just moisturized really well. This is that product. Sweet Almond Oil and Plum Kernal Oil both fight dryness, enhance softness and soothing properties that makes this lotion a pacifier for when you overdo it with the retinol or acid-toning. Too much action from acids and serums can lead to inflammation that ages skin and makes it more delicate, this lotion is my trick for avoiding that fate whenever I start seeing redness or feeling tightness and excess tingling and it has always come through for me.

Acid Toner: Speaking of… I finally jumped on the Drunk Elephant bandwagon by taking the plunge on Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. I’m not a huge proponent of regular acid-toning, but during the summer with the sweat+excess oil production plus heavier sunscreen usage, pores are way more prone to clogging so I acid tone to basically let my skin breathe every few days especially if I feel a breakout developing. This is a transparent brownish gel that works best under a moisturizer and reminds me of Arcona’s The Solution. I just started using this night serum (which is really an acid toner), and like all glycolic acid based acid-toners, my skin tingled/burned a bit when first used but is now adjusting.

That is one of the things I feel needs to be said: I know this brand made a splash by intimating that due to a lack of essential oils, their products will not cause irritation and be a sensitive skin’s best friend, which is a hefty promise that is unfortunately not realistic. All ingredients have the potential to cause irritation based on individual allergies and it is therefore not possible to have an ingredient much less a formulation that will work for everyone without triggering any sensitivities given that no two people are alike. Drunk Elephant may not use essential oils but they do use other active ingredients, in this case a 12% Glycolic Acid in addition to Tartaric and Lactic Acid which is very powerful and should be approached with some caution. I think there will be more people with sensitivities to this acid than a dilution of an essential oil like rose oil. It all depends on your personal skin sensitivity and how a product is formulated (concentration, other ingredients, other products used) that will determine how your skin gets on with the product so don’t blindly think this will work for you and don’t automatically assume anything with essential oils is going to be bad for you if you don’t have those sensitivities. This is not a critique on the T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, in fact I quite like the formula so far but I just wanted to provide clarity to what I felt was a problematic message by their founder regarding skin sensitivity. As for the actual product, I’ll be able to give more insight after I’ve used it a while longer.

Mask: I’ve really been obsessed with masks lately. Beyond the two mentioned at the beginning, I finally got around to opening my Tata Harper Purifying Mask which is. oh. so. good. Truth be told, I like this more than her original Resurfacing Mask which is already one of my favorites. This is one of those cases where Tata’s tendency to stay in her own lane in terms of developing products that primarily suit her own skin type (mature – drier skin) is beneficial. This purifying mask is deep cleansing, removes “environmental toxins” and great for “eliminating surface build up” which is much needed in the summer, and because it’s a Tata Harper product – even the purifying mask is buttery and non-stripping. It spreads so easily and rinses clean, and is a total pleasure to use (the scent is very fresh and spa like, I’d describe it as crisp lemongrass meets zingy ginger)- only con is that it only comes in that one size which really doesn’t last long enough given how addictive this will be throughout summer. Seriously though, please – someone at Tata Harper, I’m glad you got the pricing under $60 but these masks HAVE to be offered in a size that is bigger than 1 oz.

Serum: I think anyone who invests in skincare asks the question: “is this the best that money can buy?” With YÜLI, the answer is a resounding yes. Liquid Courage is their antioxidant serum which I use year round but especially for environmental protection and repair during summer. This serum is special, here’s why: mainstream lines throw in superstar ingredients next to an ingredients list of fillers that are cheap and don’t do too much, while green/organic lines just throw together a bunch of plant oils and call it an “antioxidant” serum or a super active serum. With YÜLI, each product feels like a realization of a dream product the same way that companies like BMW and Mercedes Benz design concept vehicles to realize purist visions outside of prohibitive production costs or other business considerations.

Case in point: YÜLI designed Liquid Courage to be the antioxidant powerhouse with a base made of a botanical seed complex which is the densest natural source of nutrients and has the highest levels of antioxidant activity. Then there is the advanced form of Vitamin C that even a line like Sunday Riley has JUST incorporated as the star ingredient in her newly released Vitamin C serum, heralded as a cutting edge discovery. This just shows the level that YULI is on, as the same form of Vitamin C is just one of the many notable ingredients for this serum, when with any other brand’s product, much less Sunday Riley, it is treated as the singular superstar. YÜLI also put in Ferulic Acid and Vitamin E, which means, yup this is a cleanly formulated CE Ferulic serum with an organic antioxidant botanical seed oil base – basically all the best things for your skin in one bottle. Oh we’re not done: then there are peptides and their exclusive – biofermentation of black garlic which increases its antioxidant potency by 6 times. The serum sinks in effortlessly and has a crisp, bright scent of neroli, which like most of their ingredients, are grown right on their own farm which brings fresh to a new level as well. And while a “super oil” these days will often mean a blend of 11-20+ oils if that, at around the $200 mark, this one has 20+ of the most beneficial ingredients, including powerful ones that are not harnessed in this synergy anywhere else for $125. So yes, this is the best that money can buy and the fact that it comes in at the price it does shows they design the best products and really deliver on value, this is why YÜLI has earned such a cult following where their products are continuously sold out and it is also why I’m currently on bottle number 8 of this antioxidant serum.

That’ll do it for this round-up, any products you have questions about? Drop a comment!

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Lina Hanson Global Face Trio – REVIEW


Last year, Lina Hanson relaunched her skincare line with a redesign and brand new products, and I immediately gravitated toward her Global Treasures Balm (which I wrote a bit about here). The other product she released alongside the scene stealing balm was the Global Face Trio, a 3-in-1 multipurpose powder that can be used as a cleanser, exfoliator and mask. Now I know what some of you are thinking “I do not need another powder in my life,” I felt the same way between the 3 cleansing powders, 5 powder masks, and 2 exfoliant powders all sitting in my bathroom. But Lina thought ahead and knew we were essentially cluttering our lives with products, so she instead took another approach by simplifying all these products into one multi-use product – a powder versatile enough to be a cleansing powder, an exfoliant, and a mask based on what our skin needs. Now, sometimes when a product promises hybrid functionality, it ends up doing each thing in a mediocre way but every now and then you get something like the chopstick – a purist tool that is high-functioning and valuable. So where does Global Face Trio stand?

Let’s start with learning more about the product:

“This 3-in-1 multi-purpose solution is a gentle yet effective powder that purifies, brightens, clarifies, and balances the skin. This unique product is not only customizable depending on your skin’s needs, it saves space on your counter, in your luggage, and in your mind, because it multi-functions.”

So this powder is basically the konmari version of your skincare. It’s formula is:


kaolin (white clay), limonia acidissima (thanaka) wood powder,** citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel powder* oryza sativa (rice) bran powder, acanthopanax senticosus (ginseng) stem extract, bambusa vulgaris (bamboo) stem powder, citric acid, curcuma longa (turmeric) root, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root powder, cymbopogon schoenanthus (lemongrass) oil,* citrus nobilis (mandarin) peel oil,* limonene***, citronellol*** geraniol,***

*Organic
**Ethically Harvested
***Naturally occurring in essential oils

The powder is clay based, and Kaolin Clay is very adaptable for most skin types as it is deeply cleansing yet also mild. The 2nd ingredient is the key: Thanaka Wood Powder, which falls into Lina Hanson’s Global Beauty philosophy of sourcing effective ingredients from her travels. Thanaka Wood Powder comes from the Thanaka Wood in Myanmar and it gives the powder it’s golden tint. Burmese women apply Thanaka Powder to their skin for its multiple skin benefits which include tightening pores, clarifying skin and decreasing breakouts. Orange Peel and Mandarin Peel are going to be clarifying powerhouses and while I would not use citrus in a face oil, I do not have issues with using them in a product that is rinsed off at home. The Ginseng, Licorice, and Turmeric are highly anti-inflammatory, brightening ingredients that boost circulation. Rice Bran Powder and Bamboo Powder are traditionally used in Asia to refine skin. Finally lemongrass gives this powder it’s refreshing scent and also has anti-septic properties. And if you’re keeping count, I’ve called out virtually each ingredient, which just shows that there really is no filler in this product, everything is in there for a very good reason.

How it Performs:


If you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know that I take my time to really get to know a product. In this case, I realized that while the Global Face Trio can indeed by used as a cleanser, exfoliator, mask – it works best in two ways:

1. Add a few drops of water then mixed with a cleanser as a base (my favorite pairing is with YULI Halcyon) to simultaneously cleanse and exfoliate skin. The powerful mixture gives a deep clean and exfoliation that must be experienced. I do this about 2 or 3 times a week when my skin feels a little congested or in need of a “resurfacing” treatment, it feels like you’re soaking your skin in the best ingredients, almost like a mini-mask treatment as you cleanse. As an exfoliating powder, the finely milled nature of this powder means that it is much more gentle on skin and won’t feel rough or scratch at your skin.Take a good 5 minutes to just slowly cleanse and relax, adding more water if it dries before rinsing off. My skin immediately looks like there’s a soft filter, to a degree where I did not know skin tone could change so drastically in such a short amount of time.

2. As a mask, mix with water and add a few drops of a face oil if you need more moisture (Lina’s own Global Facial Serum is quite a good pick and the ingredients work really well together). I almost immediately feel a tingle where you know an ingredient is working. It’s not uncomfortable and there is no heat/burning sensation, I think it is from the tonic nature of the herbs including the thanaka, citrus peels, ginseng, licorice, and turmeric.  I leave it on for 15-20 minutes and when I wash it off, my skin really does look 2-3 shades lighter.

Final Thoughts


I think the Global Face Trio is an amazing product that packs so much performance as each ingredient is so powerful and purposeful. This is why my skin ALWAYS looks brighter and clearer almost immediately after using it. I know that I probably made it sound like it is solely a brightening product but it really goes beyond that, the brightening is the most visible result but it’s really an entirely stimulating procedure due to super-toning herbs that evens skin tone, calms inflammation, erase irritation, reverse skin damage (many of the herbs actually fight UV damage) and boost overall radiance due to improved health. Perhaps a better word for the result would be that it is rejuvenating but the most visible/immediate result is definitely the brightening – either way, there is no question that Global Face Trio is the real deal. Beyond that, I also commend the Global Face Trio as unlike most powders on the market, it does NOT contain Baking Soda – a major rarity and a huge bonus.

At $70 for 3.4 oz + a beautiful bamboo spoon for scooping, I feel that everyone using a powder with baking soda needs to make the switch and those who don’t have any powders, need to make The Global Face Trio, their first powder as it’s so hard to go wrong with how multifaceted and results-driven the formula is.

Available at:
Credo Beauty
The Detox Market

The Sunday Trio

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Although everyone worries about their skin during the winter, I’ve always found summer to be more challenging. With the hot weather and scorching sun you have to not only figure out how to keep or increase moisture in your skin, but you have to account for increased sweatiness, oiliness, and increased usage of sunscreen. This leads me to sharing my Sunday trio, 3 steps that work as my weekly “restart” button to get my skin back into shape for the week ahead.

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YÜLI Pure Mask

This is one of the best powder to cream masks I’ve experienced. As is to be expected with YÜLI, there is a level of thoughtfulness and sophistication here that is quite special. The airy texture of the powder is super-fine that once activated with water turns into a silky cream that applies effortlessly onto skin. The reason this works so well for summer is because the ingredients have a cooling and soothing effect thanks to traditional Asian botanicals like mung bean, green tea and goji berries. When my skin is red, overheated, congested, or feeling gross in general from the effects of summer, this is like a cool smoothie for my skin – filter out the bad stuff, chock full of the good stuff.

Tatcha Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate

I am absolutely obsessed with this product. Like all Tatcha products, the presentation is beautiful but more so – the memory serum concentrate has such a unique formula where the texture is like a cross between a soft Japanese tofu and JELLO. Even when I scoop over some of the concentrate, the formula refills the areas I just scooped – how cool is that?!

So moving beyond that, the reason I love this is because it is essentially the ultra-concentrated form of Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Mist that is universally loved (it was even recently featured on Kylie Jenner’s snapchat). So this is THE product for getting hydration into skin and to accelerate recovery from a day out – making it the perfect pairing to the Pure Mask.

Aurelia Cell Revitalize Day Moisturizer

This is a dreamy, rich day cream that helps with dryness and dehydration, and it is the final step to seal in all of the good stuff from the first two steps. While the thickness may deter some, I love the way the creaminess just melts away into skin leaving it feeling only nourished without heaviness. This is definitely a very high quality product that is very rich with organic oils, aloe, and probiotics which keep skin surface healthy. Simply a pleasure to use.

The Review: May Lindstrom The Problem Solver

May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist
Do you have Instagram? If you do and you follow green beauty pros then you’ll know what I mean when I say there doesn’t seem to be a single person who has not heard of or tried May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver. It’s almost an unspoken requirement that to be inducted into the green beauty club, one has a signature Problem Solver #maskselfie.

May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver is one of her core products that helped start it all. It’s a correcting mask made of powdered clays, salts, warming spices, charcoal, and “soil nutrients”. May calls this her “hero. over-achiever. superstar” and describes it as follows:

The jet-black fusion of antioxidant-rich raw cacao, healing bamboo charcoal, soil nutrients, salts and exotic warming spices goes deep, on a mission to reveal your most radiant self. This intense treatment masque effectively purifies and tightens pores, extinguishes inflammations, fights and heals blemishes, jump-starts circulation in the epidermis and detoxifies skin with delightful ease and power. The radically different powder-to-mousse formula activates on contact with water, only releasing its magic at the exact moment of use so you experience full potency every time.

I had read about how this mask provides for quite an intense, heated experience and I will never forget the first time that I used this mask. When I opened the jar, it felt grand. The hefty, weighty jar seemed like it could go on forever. The powder looked a little like ash or soot and smelled like cacao, spices and clay. I diligently followed the instructions and rejoiced in turning the mask into a jet black fusion. Immediately upon application I felt an initial sting that quickly grew into a burning sensation and my face became frozen in a state of grimace.

5 minutes in, I was sweating. My breathing grew heavy and every second tested my resolve to stick it through. But I was so afraid of seeing lobster-red irritated skin if I washed it off prematurely as I believed that this must be the reason we’re instructed to leave the mask on for 45 minutes. As the mask began to dry, my pain gradually subsided. I thought I was out of the woods. And it was then a single god forsaken drop of sweat dripped into my eyes and I discovered pain on a whole new level. I was now crying while wincing and grimacing simultaneously. 45 minutes could not come soon enough and when it did, I washed with tepid, low flowing water which was all my battered skin could take. The rinse off actually provides exfoliation which is good in theory but horrible when your skin just got destroyed. It took me about 5 minutes to wash my face as I needed to be gentle and also because this mask rinses pretty dirty. I was pleasantly astonished to see that my face wasn’t lobster red after the blistering burn I experienced. However it felt traumatized and I looked like I had just emerged from an all night bender. My pores were blackened which required toner on several cotton rounds to clean. My skin looked sullen, dull, and lifeless.
May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist

If I’m being fully honest, this is the first beauty product I’ve purchased that I’ve seriously thought about returning. Given that this mask costs $90, I was determined to make it useful in some way: trying it on friends, boyfriend, family – no one really took to it. Then I read through online advice provided by May: apply this mask pre-cleansing/showering, or add some honey. But these are all just ways to keep as many things between the mask and your skin as possible, in other words creating barriers from your skin and the mask while still convincing you to use it.

Now let’s figure out why I had this experience. This is the full ingredients list for The Problem Solver:

Fuller’s earth clay, red moroccan rhassoul clay, raw cacao, red alaea sea salt, ascorbic acid,sodium bicarbonate, bamboo carbon charcoal powder, organic vanilla, organic lavender, organic marshmallow root, wild harvested frankincense, organic gotu kola, organic angelica root, organic cinnamon,organic nutmeg, organic clove, organic turmeric, organic cayenne

Baking soda, raw cacao, cinnamon, clove, cayenne pepper. The aforementioned are not my Whole Foods shopping list for my next baking project, they’re what you’re marinating your skin in when you apply The Problem Solver. Cacao is a very popular product that’s antioxidant rich, however it’s kind of like wine – there are great properties but nothing exceptional but people laud it because it’s pleasurable. Baking Soda is something I use to scrub and clean my bathroom, it is also very alkaline which really messes up your skin’s pH and functionality so it is not something that is going to do your skin any favors long term. These are among the first 6 ingredients in the mask.

Then we have the spices, or what Tata Harper and countless other skin experts call sources of irritation and inflammation. Despite being culprits for the intense burning, their skin benefits are arguable yet what is absolutely for certain is that these spices cause inflammation. There was a short lived sitcom starring Michael J. Fox on NBC when I first got this mask where his TV character’s family makes a effort to connect with his zanny sister-in-law who always flocks to the next trendy thing. She makes them all mask together and they all going with it to accept her, and then they get burned and run to wash their skin as she says “there is cayenne pepper! They said it’s dujour!” and that summarizes the nonsensical nature of this mask.

To be fair, I understand everyone’s skin will respond differently. And you might love this mask and have no idea what I’m talking about when I share my experience. The reason I call out these ingredients is because I think they’re objectively bad for anyone’s skin.

And that spells the genius of the May Lindstrom hype machine which has convinced legions of beauty junkies and hopeful customers to not only apply these ingredients that go against one’s intuition but to idolize this time as the most delicate form of sensual self-care. As an industry, beauty is swayed more by a pretty story, visuals or ideas than actual scientific data which is irresponsible because the products we use should be more thoughtfully considered.

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Via May Lindstrom Facebook Page

Case in point: it wasn’t until May introduced a mask that used cayenne pepper that now multiple green brands also happen to have masks that use cayenne pepper despite this being highly irritating and inflammatory. It wasn’t until May educated us on the benefits of honey for skin in her Honey Mud that multiple green brands now have honey based products, despite it being essentially unviable when any other ingredient touches it. It wasn’t until May made us eye-gasm over the Blue Cocoon’s hue that other companies jumped onto the bandwagon with blue tansy oil despite the fact that with exception to its striking color, I would not use it daily or long term as it is listed as an ingredient to avoid for pregnant women and also those with endocrine or hormonal imbalances, which feels like nearly all the commenters on No More Dirty Looks, and I’ve seen multiple comments online from those who use this saying they can’t use it regularly as it leads to clogged pores and breakouts.

So many blogs will write about the importance of vetting brands while hyping up the very lines they should be questioning. Based on what I’ve researched, I cannot find sufficient evidence that shows whether May herself has any educational background in skincare or dermatology – and if I’m being honest, her title as skin chef doesn’t inspire too much confidence (again beautiful imagery, but WHAT DOES IT MEAN). Green Beauty is rife with passion, but passion and good intentions don’t translate into safe nor beneficial formulas. Given my history with her products, I question how these products are supposed to actually be good for skin (see review on Honey Mud).

Due to my very intense experience that created a very real, physically adverse reaction – I did more research on The Problem Solver in particular to see whether I was the only one. To my surprise, upon closer reading I found a handful of reviews where the bloggers acknowledge the burning but also that upon contacting May, a new jar was sent as a replacement that was free of said irritating ingredients, leading to a glowing review. This isn’t really a question on the validity of the green beauty hype machine, but rather at what point the review becomes entirely inconsequential as the product reviewed is essentially a custom-made product that is going to be different from the one that readers are being convinced to purchase? I know May is kind and gracious, but I think it is misleading to assume that your Problem Solver, will match an influential blogger’s custom made version.

May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist

This might come off preachy and judgy but I assure you it isn’t my goal – because I’m just as guilty of slathering on the said bathroom grade solvent+spices on my skin when they’re gorgeously packaged in dense black glass and gold lettering. My hope is to have this serve as a wake-up call to truly and actually reclaim your independence and trust your intuition. It’s an exercise in being active about what you put on your face rather than passively streaming in the messages you are bombarded with when you go onto social media from retailers, bloggers, brands and beauty sites. I know that May did the level of work and research that satisfied her and her retailers/customers, but I also know that the way she makes products and her choices of ingredients (& those other lines that mimic her) are just not aligned with my ideals.

If I were to summarize the line it would be this: I think May’s objective and success is that she formulates for that sensory experience. Creating products with aromatic richness or vibrant hues that are instantly photo-friendly and incredibly easy for editors to feature as they’re more concerned with marketable copies while only requiring a superficial understanding of the actual skincare. The priority then isn’t necessarily focused on ingredients that are especially great for the skin which opposes what I believe the goal should be for skincare products. This doesn’t mean in my book she can’t do anything right, it just means I’ll have to be diligent in examining future products in a vacuum away from the hype machine.

So tell me: have you had a similar experience to share or am I being too harsh? 

The Review: African Botanics Marula Mineral Cleansing Mask

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When it comes to masks in the green beauty and luxury field, we’ve got it pretty good. There are a lot of options: powders that turn to creams, gels, clays, etc. African Botanics Marula Mineral Cleansing Mask is the latter, a ready-to-go clay mask reminiscent of the tube of Origins Clear Improvement Mask most of us may remember from high school/college days. Think of this as a luxury upgrade to the clay masks from yesteryears, a antioxidant-rich, nourishing clay mask that features pretty green ingredients.

I’ve been interested in the African Botanics line for a while and here’s why: they have pretty clean ingredients, they source many of their ingredients from South Africa (such as the Marula Oil) and they’re relatively under the radar yet have great presence at many of the upscale boutiques such as Space N.K., B-Glowing and CAP Beauty.

Here’s what this mask promises:

Clay-based treatment mask that deeply cleanses and refreshes fatigued skin while providing hydration, vitamins, and energy to your skin.
Replenishes skin with minerals rich in iron, zinc, magnesium and amino acids to boost circulation and stimulate cell renewal. The antioxidant and omega-rich fusion of Marula, Baobab and Africa’s legendary botanicals purify, clear congested pores, brighten, firm and smooth the skin. Enhanced with the latest plant stem cell technology, this mask deeply rejuvenates while addressing facial blemishes, breakouts, discoloration and oxidative stress. Resores a healthy glow without drying or leaving your skin feeling taut.
Skin Concerns:
• Congested
• Stressed skin
• Loss of firmness and youthful density
• Uneven skin tone and texture
• All Skin Types subjected to urban stress and city life

Pretty impressive right?

Here are the full ingredients:

AQUA (WATER), KAOLIN (WHITE CLAY), SCLEROCARYA BIRREA (MARULA) SEED OIL**, ADANSOANIA DIGITATA (BAOBAB) OIL**, PERSEA GRATISSIMA (AVOCADO) OIL, GLYCERIN, GLYCERYL STEARATE, SODIUM LEVULINATE, SODIUM ANISATE, CETYL ALCOHOL, MYROTHAMNUS FLABELLIFOLIUS (RESURRECTION PLANT) EXTRACT, ASPARLATHUS LINEARIS (ROOIBOS) EXTRACT, SMITHSONITE EXTRACT, HEMATITE EXTRACT, RHODODENDRON FERRUGINEUM (ALPINE ROSE) LEAF CELL CULTURE EXTRACT, ROSA DAMACENA (ROSE) ESSENTIAL OIL, PELARGONIUM GRAVEOLENS ROSEUM (ROSE GERANIUM) ESSENTIAL OIL, CITRUS CLEMENTINA (CLEMENTINE) PEEL OIL, ISOMALT, LECITHIN, SODIUM BENZOATE, LACTIC ACID, GLYCERYL CAPRYLATE, TOCOPERHOL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), MAGNESIUM ALUMINUM SILICATE, XANTHAN GUM, DISODIUM EDTA, DEHYDROACETIC ACID, BENZYL ALCOHOL, IRON OXIDES, CITRAL*, CITRONELLOL*, EUGENOL*, GERANIOL*, LIMONENE*, LINALOOL, *METHYL EUGENOL*, NERAL* MAY CONTAIN ± [CI 77499] *CONSTITUENTS OF 100% NATURAL ESSENTIAL OILS USED. **CERTIFIED ORGANIC INGREDIENTS. 100% VEGAN. GLUTEN-FREE. FORMULATED WITHOUT MINERAL OIL, TOXIC PRESERVATIVES, COLORANTS, SILICONE, SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES, SULFATES, TRICLOSAN, PARABENS, PEGS, PPGS, DEA, TEA, UREA OR PHTHALATES.

What I like is that white clay which is purifying and drawing is balanced with rich plant oils from Marula, Baobab, Acocado which all are renowned as superb oils that keep skin plumped. There is also Alpine Rose Leaf cell culture extract which supposedly increases cell longevity, and lactic acid which exfoliates and plumps skin.

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Essentially this mask promises the purifying properties of a clay with the anti-aging properties of what they can ‘essential’ extracts or plant oils that balance out the drawing properties of clay allowing the mask to remain rather soft, applying as a paste and staying consistent throughout.

My Experience

Right off the bat, I loved the little, subtleties from the way the box opened to the mirrored cap on the frosted glass. It reminds me a lot of the Omorovicza Thermal Balm in terms of appearance.

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Once you open the jar, you’ll notice a natural scent of clays mixed with citrus which is a good balancing act. The texture of the clay mask is substantial yet also light enough to easily scoop. I’d compare it to a light, fluffy peanut butter. It also spreads pretty easily and evenly on skin which makes application a breeze. Due to the presence of oils, this mask will also not harden too much during application which is great for keeping moisture in your skin.

I find that if I apply too much around my laugh lines, there is a tingle sensation that can feel a little unpleasant but that’s my own skin sensitivity that tends to happen with a significant number of products. I leave this mask on for the recommended 5-15 minutes (usually going for 15 minutes to get my money’s worth) and wash off as a cleanser which supposedly also helps to exfoliate skin. The wash off is quite simple and the mask removes fairly easily without the need for excess scrubbing.

What I like about this mask is how easy and simple it is to use. No self-mixing (which is great for when you have time and want to fine tune, but sometimes you just want to get a quick mask session in- feelme?? ), soft texture so no tugging at skin for uneven application, and easy to rinse off.

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In terms of results, I felt that this was a very useful and convenient mask. Despite initial tingling which is normal for me, it’s actually very gentle overall especially for a clay based product which makes it good for those with sensitive skin. In full honesty, I’m not sure if this mask did anything to address the anti-aging claims such as increasing firmness or density, though I wouldn’t rely on this mask as the primary source of my anti-aging skincare needs anyway. With that said I did find the clays to be quite resourceful at tackling congestion in a non-irritating manner and thereby also taking care of my skin when stressed (which tends to manifest in excess oil production and slow turnover). Those with more problematic skin might want to apply a hearty layer and leave the mask on for longer than the recommended 15 minute allotment.

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At $75 for 1.7 fl oz, this is pricey especially as it is ready made which tends to run out quicker. This mask can be used 2-3 times per week and while I’ve only stuck to using it once per week, I would imagine increasing usage would make it run out easily within 2 months. The closest mask similar to this would be the Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask which is also a ready-made clay mask that retails for $62 for the same amount of product. Because I enjoy these masks for their dual use: clays to draw out and oils to nourish principal, I always keep one stocked for when my skin needs something quick yet gentle.

This mask can be purchased at the following locations:
African Botanics 
CREDO Beauty
Space N.K.

Have you tried anything from this line? Any good clay masks you keep in your top shelf? Leave a note in the comments section!

YÜLI Pure Mask Review

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For as long as I could remember, masks have been the singular most important part of my skincare ritual. I just love the pampering and attention to self that is required when doing a mask; it is that extra therapeutic step which defines our relationship with our skin. Although I’ve been a fan of the entire YÜLI line, counting many of their products among my top must-haves for their innovative formulas that manage to be both clean and modern, I dragged my feet at purchasing their mask. I have been so spoiled by my ‘dirty’ masks that forays into natural masks left me relatively underwhelmed. Then the reviews came in for Pure Mask, and they all sang its praises, so I placed it on my wish list. One day while perusing my instagram feed, I saw this picture on Spirit Demerson’s Instagram and Pure quickly moved to the top of my to-purchase list.

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If the reigning queen of green beauty and owner of Spirit Beauty Lounge put this front and center on her beauty counter of masks, then I knew this was going to be something special. The only problem was, other people got the same idea and beat me to it as the mask was sold out for about a month. When it was finally back, I quickly placed an order:

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This mask is a robust water-activated powder so finely grained that they feel silky to the touch. One time I accidentally dropped it, and when I opened the container there was a puff of powder floating around, that just tells you how high the quality of the fine grains are, its definitely not something you can DIY by hand. It is made for all skin types due to their skin technology which lets the live product adapt to individual skin needs. YÜLI is known for their ultra pure and high quality ingredients, and true to form, this masks very vibrant and rich hue is indicative of that unparalleled high standard. The dynamic mix contains enzymes, clays, and botanicals that come alive when activated with water (they also recommend mixing in honey or yogurt for added moisture). The powder means there are no preservatives or fillers in the formula and that everything in there has a direct purpose.

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After adding water, it becomes a very rich creamy paste that is light and velvety in texture. I went a little overboard with water the first time, so I learned to use a spoon to slowly add water until it was the consistency that I wanted (I prefer it to be a little on the light/runnier side for easy application). The scent like all YÜLI products is a pure result of the actives as no ingredients are used for fragrance purposes. You’ll be glad to know the scent of the mask is very light and subtle with botanical notes of rose, frankincense, and green tea which are calming and soothing.

I guess the first sign I had that this mask is serious business happened as I was applying the mask from the palm of my hand. After I had washed my hands, I felt that my palm was just softer and more hydrated. I know it’s a weird observation but with repeat applications, I kept observing this. Once I apply this on my skin, it feels almost a bit moussey which helps it spread evenly over skin. I concentrate mostly on blemish-prone areas, areas of clogged pores, fine lines, and post-acne scar damage areas. Sometimes if I want more of a nourishing active treatment, I spray some water every 2 minutes to keep the mask wet which keeps the bioactive mixture at peak activity. If I want more blemish treatment and decongesting of pores, I allow this mask to dry on my skin which creates a purifying action where I can feel toxins and pore cloggers being evicted from the depths of my skin. I can feel inflamed breakouts start shrinking and pores being cleared as this mask dries.

I like to keep the mask on for 20 minutes because the actives are very beneficial for skin so I think it would be a waste to wash off quickly. Most mask rituals are spent with a cup of tea and sitting through the recording of a TV show. Upon rinsing off, the tri-phase mask evolves into its final stage with the water to create almost a milky cleanser that gently removes all impurities. After toweling off, my skin feels like it went through a deep cleaning, and it instantly feels fresher and softer, and looks more vibrant. The natural lactic acid and anti-aging actives seem to quickly plump fine lines. Going through 2 months of weekly use, I can say this kept breakouts from forming which is no small feat given my propensity to breakout and the humid summer weather, and what beginnings of breakouts I had quickly ceased when confronted with this mask. Over this period, my skin has healed significantly since using this mask, as my complexion looks clearer, firmer, brighter, more even toned. I’ve heard masks described as “glow inducing” but this is literal, as my skin just transformed. So let’s examine the ingredients to see what makes this mask so spectacular:

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To start, YÜLI incorporates four wild-crafted clays of exceptional quality. Most masks use one or two as the 3rd or 4th ingredient to cut costs and because some of the clays are not easily attainable, and this shows why I love YÜLI so, as they go above and beyond with four clays to refine and purify skin. These four clays contain vital minerals that enhance skin health and texture including zinc and magnesium. They’re also natural sources of antioxidants and nutrients which revitalize and nurture skin. The combination of the four clays means that pore-cloggers and blemishes don’t stand a chance, while aging skin benefits from the deep delivered skin restoring nutrients. These natural clays are also naturally balancing and adapt to different skin types so they’re never harsh or dry out skin.

Mung Bean Powder is one of the ancient botanicals they infused into this mix and it is known as a gentle yet powerful medicine for detoxifying the body. It’s also used as an anti-inflammatory which is a targets the key culprit behind aging skin and blemishes. Finally, it helps cool the ‘heat’ condition that can accelerate breakouts and skin tissue breakdown.

White Willow Bark Powder is a natural source of salicylic acid which is extremely effective in the treatment of acne and exfoliating dead skin cells and surface debris. Aging skin benefits from the cell renewal stimulation while problem skin benefits from the cleansing and toning properties. This is unlike most salicylic acid products which use a synthetic form which is less active but more prone to causing irritation. This natural version is not used very often because of how expensive it is to obtain, which just shows the attention to quality in this product.

Biophotonically charged Matcha is a type of green tea derivative made of finely powdered green tea leaves that undergo a special biophotonic process which enhances the nutrition content. Unlike green tea, where only a portion of the powerful nutrients are infused into water, 100% of the nutrients in matcha are infused. According to ORAC values, matcha has 137 times the antioxidants as regular green tea, and biophotonic technology drives that number even higher. When induced with this technology, antioxidants and other phytonutrients multiply, with beta-carotene (a form of retinoic Vitamin A) levels more than 9 times greater than what is found in carrots. This is a major skin rejuvenator that benefits aging and problem skin as it promotes cell renewal and restores youth. Research has shown that the ECGC in green tea (28 times as concentrated in Matcha form) has a special way of communicating with damaged human DNA cells to either self-destruct or regenerate, leading the body to produce healthy new cells.

Goji Berry is another traditional botanical classified in a class of herbs that can preserve youth. There is research that shows its potent effects against photo-aging and uneven skin tone, fine lines, and spider veins. It’s also high in an antioxidant called astaxanthin which is a natural sunscreen which helps to reverse and protect skin from sun exposure. Similar to Matcha, Goji encourages new cell growth and contains more beta-carotene than carrots. This herb also contains skin regenerating polysaccharides and collagen stimulating Vitamin C. It is also a very potent anti-inflammatory. Goji also contains fine line fighting and hyper pigmentation regulating peptides.

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Amount left after 2 months of regular use

The results I received from this treatment mask made me so curious about how these ingredients work together to transform my skin, seemingly softening emerging fine lines and neutralizing breakouts simultaneously. YÜLI excels at their careful attention to detail and in-depth knowledge and this mask is a shining example of their mastery of clean and advanced formulas. Unlike a lot of natural masks, this never left my skin irritated but it delivered way more results. $65 for 1.7oz is worthwhile when you consider how much use you get since the powder is so concentrated. After over 2 months of use, I’m not even 30% through the jar (see photo above). This mask does it all: deep cleanses, anti-aging, blemish fighting – it is a remarkable product that I’m happy to now call a staple. The best part is that YÜLI employs natural adaptogens to ensure that their products including this mask adapt with each skin type so even my mom with older, sensitive skin loves using it. I consider it a skin treatment, complexion perfecter, and essential once-weekly treat for skin. I very rarely give this much of a glowing review, but Pure Mask is a true knock out that even for this jaded girl who plays with new products every week, impresses and delivers in a way not really seen in today’s market. Trust me when I say this, keep a jar of this around you, and you are always one mask away from your best skin.

Sunday Pampering Routine

Sunday is usually the day I spend longest on my skin. I like to think of it as the opportunity to rest and repair from the previous week, and then get my skin ready for the coming week. 


The first step is I usually do a gently moisturizing but deeply cleansing routine. To do the trick, I prefer using a balm. My current favorite is the Skin Savior Multi Balm from One Love Organics ($68) which is a waterless balm that cleanses, moisturizes, and conditions the skin. I love it because the plant oils and butters really get the extra oils and grime that accumulates throughout the week so when I rinse off with a muslin cloth, my face feels really soft and light. The formula is really rich and dry skin will love this especially during the winter while those with oily skin will appreciate the pore-clearing effects of the plant oils (like attracts like in this case). With skin clear and ready for more pampering my next step..

I use the Metamorphic Elixir from YULI ($50) which delivers the extra pampering and conditioning my skin is looking for between the skin-plumping moisture binding hyaluronic acid, soothing anti-aging Eternal Rose complex that infuses 3 different kinds of rose extractions, and the rich natural antioxidant retinols that repair and renew skin. This just feels comforting as skin becomes soft and plump while it is primed for treatment from a powerful mask..

If I’m in the mood for some exfoliation, I turn to Tammy Fender’s Epi-Peel ($80), which is a balancing, invigorating scrub/peel that will clear all of your pores and get rid of dead skin and debris that have accumulated on your face. What is really amazing is that there is no stinging or redness but my skin felt clarified and looked glowing when I washed off the mask. I wouldn’t ever go back to abrasive chemical peels after this. If I’m more in the mood for a pore refining antioxidant kick though, I turn to:

Kahina’s Antioxidant Mask ($62), which I have reviewed here. The clay mask boasts a healthy dose of antioxidants from the vitamin e rich Argan Oil and a lot of other high-quality botanicals such as Pomegranate, Rosemary, and Acai. It is a soft, gentle mask that actively clears out the pores and draws out cloggers which leaves my skin with a minty, clean feeling but never stripped. 

I give the mask about 20-30 minutes to do their thing, after which, I gently rinse with warm water. Then I reapply the Elixir to ready my skin for the onslaught of nutrients to my now fresh, clean, blank slate:

Then I slather on the antioxidant cocktail known as Liquid Courage from YULI ($125) which gives me a potent dose of antioxidants between the powerhouse of odorless bioferment of black garlic, acai derived Ferulic acid, peptides, and an antioxidant seed complex. There is something about this liquid that manages to just fix everything wrong with skin, if I put it on at night before bed, my skin always seems tighter and brighter in the morning like the lighting is just hitting your face perfectly the next day, it is like photoshop in a bottle, thats how good the repairitive effects of the product are. So once I quench my tired skin with this baby, I diligently apply..

Kahina Eye Serum ($78) – one of my favorite eye products that I’ve rediscovered. It’s lighter than the eye cream and perfect for those of us who are more concerned with preventing the signs of aging. I find that tired eyes that tend to have dark circles, some puffiness, and overall fatigue are healed. Unlike some eye products that can make the eye area tight and taut or dried out to remove puffiness, this hydrates my under eye area and makes it feel really rejuvenated. 

After I’m done applying the eye serum, the Liquid Courage would already sink into my hungry skin. So now that I have put in all the good nutrients and skin food for my skin, I focus on hydration

For the last step of my weekly pampering routine, I massage my skin with some Antioxidant Creme $95 which is the epitome of a solid moisturizer, described as a “multi-vitamin in a jar”. Oily skin types will love the quick sinking, light-weight of the moisturizer while dehydrated skin will appreciate the truly moisturizing benefits of this product that seemed to make my skin supple and build up the moisture barrier. Your skin won’t have an oily shine nor dry patches, it’ll just look primed and ready for the week.