Tata Harper Full Review (Pt.1)

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I’ve spent the better part of 2 months going through my Tata Harper freebies and endless supply of samples at work to really be able to do a full rundown of my impressions on the products. Keep in mind – my skin type and sensitivities may not be the same as yours so the results I get might be different from yours. For reference, I would classify my skin as problem skin that is blemish prone (former Accutane kid), combination skin that is prone to oiliness but with dry patches if I don’t moisturize enough (especially in the winter where sometimes my skin looks oily but feels dry if that makes sense), and my pores are on the larger side so they’re easily congested especially around my nose. My skin is reactive and sensitive: it gets redness very easily and loves to break out especially along my forehead. Ok onto the products:

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Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser ($75) is the cleanser I prefer between her two products in this category. It is a orange sorbet colored cream cleanser that you need to massage around your face to activate. It feels like you’re just sliding cream around your face until the enzymes are activated by the warmth of your skin and the massaging action, then you feel the cream start to break down. The cleanser does not foam (so it isn’t drying but those of you addicted to your Clarisonic will need to keep looking), and uses pink french clay, white willow bark to cleanse and exfoliate skin. The reason I prefer this over her Regenerating Cleanser is because the main difference as far as I could tell, is that the Regenerating Cleanser ($75) -meant to be more exfoliating, has Apricot Kernel beads that more physically stimulate and remove dead skin. I found the beads to be too rough for daily use. 

The Refreshing Cleanser smells gorgeous and is a fusion of neroli, grapefruit, geranium. I started off really enjoying this cleanser after after using it for just 3 days, I noticed my pores became clogged in a way that it has never been clogged before. I didn’t break out or experience redness, nor did I get blackheads. But I noticed my pores just looked congested and a few were raised like little bumps, so I applied pressure to one of them and out came this waxy-oil! This is gross and has never happened before. I’m attributing this to the abundance of waxes in the cleanser (5 types, ingredients 2 & 6 are both waxes), and for that reason I believe it is not suitable for my skin type.

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Tata Harper’s Hydrating Floral Essence ($65/50ml & $85/125ml) is one of her signature products and contains 19 active ingredients including hyaluronic acid, white willow, grapefruit, witch hazel, and orange blossom. Spirit Demerson lists this as one of her favorites that she takes everywhere and uses as an all-in-one cleanser/toner/moisturizer. I found this scent very pleasant, almost a boastfully floral scent. I think this is a great product for any skin type that truly does provide make skin feel fresh and hydrated. I really liked the older formula which felt more “pure” and this one is a little more…. “watered down”? 

I think this is a great toner for all skin types, but mature skin will get the most benefits from the formula. I don’t think this cleanses or can act as a stand alone moisturizer but it does layer well under moisturizers. For the price though – I think even at luxury price points there might be some other toners that have similar ingredients at more manageable pricepoints/quantity.

Tata Harper Restorative Eye Creme ($90), is a rich creamy eye product that is said to visibly reduce wrinkles, fine lines, and dark shadows. I’m mainly concerned about dark under eye circles which are mostly hereditary but I also want an eye product that makes my eyes feel rested and not tired/sagging. 

The first thing you’ll notice is that you only need a little. I didn’t manage this correctly the first few times and ended up with white panda eyes around my face. I think part of the problem is that Tata Harper creams/moisturizers rely too heavily on waxes which lock in moisture well but are too large for skin to absorb so a lot of the product just ends up sitting on your face and you find yourself just moving it around. 

With that said, the product is very hydrating but I didn’t notice any change to my eye area, in terms of general well-being or dark circle relief. My boyfriend tried some and his eyes ended up tearing so I do think people will need to check the ingredients list for sensitivities (this is not gluten free). 

Tata Harper Replenishing Nutrient Complex ($45) think of this as Tata’s version of a facial oil, except it isn’t via pump or dropper but rather a rollerball. It is a blend of 11 essential oils with a base of Rosehip, Jojoba, Olive, Apricot, & Borage. This is a very hydrating combo but may not be suitable for blemish prone skin types due to the heavier nature of some of the oils. I think this might be good for some Neiman Marcus customers who want a more approachable facial oil that doesn’t even call itself an “oil” (though it is), but for those of you who are well versed in quality facial oils, this .34oz bottle is not really worth the price, when many facial oils with more interesting and dynamic ingredients are available for a lot less (once you factor in bottle size).

Tata Harper Aromatic Bedtime Treatment ($60) I really wanted to try this ever since reading all those positive reviews online and seeing the ladies of Nomoredirtylooks personally comment on the efficacy of the Aromatic Bedtime Treatment. I bought a bottle of this because I was really curious if it’s aromatic power was really as effective as all those ladies purported. 

To start: the scent is definitely strong. I can’t really describe it except there is definitely a very green grassy herbal scent. I went into it expecting the scent to be calming or euphoric to put me into the sleepy mood but it wasn’t.. it’s hard to describe but I think my nostrils and olfactory senses were more.. perplexed by the scent. It didn’t smell good but wasn’t off-putting, I just don’t think it really did anything to prepare my body for sleep. 

I let my mom use the rest of the bottle to see if it would work on her since she has a hard time falling asleep and is the lightest sleeper in the world. She didn’t really see any improvements and returned the bottle to me because she was not a fan of the scent. Upon trying the entire range of scents, I would recommend the irritability treatment over the bedtime and stress treatments – I think all three try to do the same job which is to make you happier and mellow but the irritability treatment smells better. 

Part. 2 Coming soon – including the mask, rebuilding moisturizer, body oil

The Quick Clean: Arcona Cranberry Toner

Since coming back to New York, I’ve filled my time volunteering with stylists for prefall presentations which I have been doing since moving here for school. Not only is it what I love to do, but it also gives me a chance to play with new products and test it out on different skin types. A dirty secret I’m going to tell you is that a lot of models, particularly the younger, successful ones who are always on jobs – just do not have time to properly clean their face! We simply do not have sufficient time to lead them to a washing area to cleanse and wash their face properly but we also don’t want a dull, tired complexion or even worse, day old makeup! A ‘cheat’ we’ve done in the past was to apply Bioderma Crealine solution to cotton pads, this process doesn’t need any water and leaves the face as a clean slate. But as I’ve started transitioning into natural beauty routines, a few stylists I’ve worked with have tasked me with finding a “clean” Bioderma. So I started looking around for something water-less that removes gunk and leaves skin clean. 

Enter Arcona’s Cranberry Toner, described as a 3-in-1 product that Cleanses, Tones, and Hydrates. I had used this product before but didn’t repurchase it simply because I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate it into my routine, it wasn’t the best cleanser, nor the best toner, and I wouldn’t exactly describe it as a moisturizer. It’s funny how a product you wouldn’t buy again that doesn’t seem to have a specific purpose turns into a holy grail item when the right occasion and need comes along. 

Arcona’s Cranberry Toner is a relatively clean product that has a cult following in Los Angeles, they’re known for natural formulations that avoid a lot of chemicals, but purists might want to give each product a close read on the ingredients list to see what they’re fine with and what are deal breakers. The ingredients list for the Cranberry Toner is:

Agua (Distilled Water), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Rice Milk, Sodium Lactate, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Extract, Vitis Vinifera, (Grape) Seed Extract D-alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E), Citric Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Essential Oils. 

So the majority of the formula is good and clean, however Sodium Lactate which is the 4th ingredient does rank a little high for my comfort on EWG’s list, at a solid 4 although data is limited. There is also Benzyl Alcohol which isn’t the most gentle type of alcohol, and I’m not sure if it is grain extracted but it is really low on the list so I don’t mind. I also wish they would reveal the Essential Oils, but as this product is heavily scented, I think they do it more to protect their scent combination rather than be sneaky about “bad” essential oils.

The product is a delicious cranberry-pink and when you shake it (since the liquid does separate if left alone), it mixes into a beautiful swirl which I attribute to the Rice Milk. The product comes out in a pump top, just be a little on the cautious side as it does dispense more than you need for one cotton ball. The scent is strong, but despite Witch Hazel being pretty abundant, the distinctive scent is masked perhaps by the Cranberry and Essential Oils that leave this scented like a fresh cranberry. 

All you need is to wet one cotton ball to apply to the entire face. It isn’t the greatest makeup remover (try a cleansing oil beforehand for this, such as Vapour Organics Cleansing Oil, reviewed here), but if you’re just trying to ‘clean’ up a face that hasn’t been washed in the morning or one that is a little oily, this is perfect. It really gets the dirt and oils out without leaving skin red. It leaves a thin film which I don’t mind because I think that helps moisturize the skin. Most of the models I put this on commented how quick and easy the process was and how quickly their skin felt refreshed.

One quick note, do not apply too much or rub too hard: it does foam slightly if you do that which creates a need for water which is what we’re trying to avoid. I’ve only had one model experience some redness with the formula out of maybe 30 so I feel like it should be pretty suitable for sensitive skin. For the normal girl or guy who isn’t going through multiple castings and shows in a single day, I don’t think this is the best product for your lifestyle. However if you’re self-described as a “lazy beauty”- someone who typically doesn’t wash your face in the morning or you crash in your bed rather than wash your face at night after coming home with a face full of makeup – this is an improvement and is a good first step for being good to your skin. 

Available from Arcona for $32, here

 

May Lindstrom: The Clean Dirt

Happy 2013 everybody! It is fitting that I start off the blog with a review of one of my favorite beauty brands: May Lindstrom Skin. I admit and am okay with the fact that a lot of the time with skincare brands, the message is very important to me and I can say of all the brands sold at Spirit Beauty Lounge, her entry was the one that got me most excited.

May Lindstrom is a model who has developed a line of 4 products: The Clean Dirt, The Problem Solver, The Youth Dew, and The Good Stuff. The Clean Dirt is her answer to a cleanser and after reading rave reviews from green beauties including Spirit Demerson herself who calls this her favorite facial cleanser, I knew I had to get my hands on this product!
 

The Clean Dirt comes in a miron glass bottle with a chic label strip at the bottom. The bottle is 6.76 oz/ 200 ml (question: do powders fall under the 3oz limit with the TSA?), and is topped with a cap. The cleanser comes as a powder which is a first for me as I’m not that used to products I have to mix. It reminds me a little of the wasabi powder that you add water to turn into a paste, which I just can’t ever seem to mix right and always ends up being over watered. 

The powder is made of clays, salts, and spices which claim to encourage blood flow and increase cell turnover for soft, refined skin.

I used a dropper to add water since I didn’t want to overdo it and have product go to waste, and I highly recommend this application method so you can control the consistency. Upon adding water, you notice immediately that it foams and becomes moussey in texture with some grittiness. This is a very cool effect that also helps the paste apply easily. 

Upon application, I immediately felt a warm tingling sensation. It smelled really delicious and reminded me of cinnamon cookie dough, due to the spices. Upon washing off, I noticed my skin did indeed feel cleaner and fresher. I do not think congestion will be an issue for people who use this cleanser as its drying power really does suction out a lot of the stuff inside pores. 

With that said, I have to say, I cannot use this daily. The description for this product online says it’s a daily exfoliating/microdermabrasion for your skin but I feel it is a little too rough. The grittiness of the paste mixed with the spices left my skin fragile and resulted in redness along my forehead and dry patches along my cheeks. I think it is too active for sensitive skin due to the spices (spices are a key irritant in a lot of skincare preparations, which is why I’m a little surprised that there are so many spices in this ‘daily’ cleanser), and the scrub texture. I think I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of physicial exfoliators and my reason is that it tends to be too much, our skin just doesn’t need that much ‘abrasion’ and it can actually tear delicate skin. Using this, I really feel like I had to stock up on repairing balms and increase the dosage of facial oils to make my skin not feel so raw. 

The Clean Dirts ingredient list is as follows:

white halloysite clay,
red moroccan rhassoul clay, 
red alaea sea salt, 
ascorbic acid (vitamin c), 
sodium bicarbonate, 
althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root*,
rosa centifolia (pink rose)*, 
calendula officinalis (calendula) flower*, 
cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon)*, 
myristica fragans (nutmeg)*, 
syzygium aromaticum (clove)*, 
curcuma longa (turmeric)*, 
zingiber officinale (ginger)*, 
vanilla planifolia bean*, 
theobroma cacao (raw cacao)**. 

There are just so many spices in here! I wish May would have cut back a bit and added a few more soothing ingredients along with the Pink Rose, Calendula, and Mashmallow Root because the scrubby texture is enough ‘action’ for most skin types. 

Overall, I’m a little confused by the May Lindstrom girl. Whereas Tata Harper is better suited for those with normal-dry skin, I feel like no consumer can use just May Lindstrom products because the 4 products are for different people. The Clean Dirt Cleanser is for those who do not have sensitive skin and perhaps those who have oilier complexions. The Problem Solver Mask is definitely not for those with sensitive skin and is for those who are blemish prone. The Youth Dew on the other hand is really a heavier facial oil that is better suited for dry skin, while The Good Stuff Body Oil is suitable for any skin type. The thing is, when I use key products by Tata, Kahina, Intelligent Nutrients, & YULI, I can imagine what kind of skin type the founders have by the products they use and then figure out which products in their line would work for me by comparison, I can’t figure out if May Lindstrom has extremely combination skin or if her products are truly a little extreme.

All said, The Clean Dirt feels like the most fun you can have with skincare. The foaming action, the tingling sensation all feel like a creative science experiment only you’re applying it to your face. I actually look forward to using this product because I like watching the powder fizz and the scent is amazing. For a clean product, this is very imaginative and has given me interest in raw powder products that previously I would not have tried. I just wish they would dial it back a bit and maybe create something more calming and healing for people with sensitive skin. 

Available at Spirit Beauty Lounge for $60 

Lighten up! Kahina Brightening Serum

*Product generously and lovingly provided by Kahina Giving Beauty, review is completely my own*

When I received a bottle of Kahina’s Brightening Serum in the mail, I was so excited! I love Kahina for their gentle, nurturing products which always do their job AND keep skin very pampered. I reviewed their Antioxidant Mask earlier, and ended up getting a full size of the product at work. In fact, I just used it last night because my skin was feeling very listless at the end of a grueling dead week before finals! Now onto the Brightening Serum!

Kahina’s Brightening Serum refines skin tone, evens out pigmentation, and increases luminosity. It does so with a blend of White Lily, Japanese Wakame Seaweed, Maritime Pine, Green Tea, and Argan oil, high in antioxidants. The serum is very milky in texture and consistency. The scent is composed of essential oils of Geranium, Lavender, Sandalwood, as well as Spearmint and Rosemary extract – therefore it has a fresh pine/mint scent. Kahina’s products are known to be great for drier and more mature skin types, but I found that I could basically use this serum as a moisturizer for my skin type. I apply two pumps all over my face day and night and it is enough to keep my face moisturized. I think the combination of Shea butter, Argan Oil, and Hyaluronic Acid are the key moisturizers which are enough for my skin type. 

I’ve been using this serum for 4-6 weeks as recommended and although I don’t really have pigmentation problems right now, I notice that my skin truly does look more luminous and bright. Even in the dull winter, my skin looks fresh and awake. I could not help but think how much better of an investment this is than the traditional brightening products you see from Shiseido (White Lucent Brightening Cream) or Clarins (Brightening Night Cream), not only do you get the results, but you’re also treating your skin well in the process with a very clean formulation.

One usage caution: for those with oily or blemish prone skin, start out using the Brightening serum every other night and gradually build your way up to see how your skin handles the serum. I noticed slight redness/bumps my first week along my cheeks and jawline and reined back my frequency of usage, and have now controlled/adjusted usage so that I do not get that type of reaction. I think we just have to figure out how to make the products work for us. I still think this is better than the non-clean products on the market like Shiseido and Clarins whose formulas cause me blown out cystic acne, irritation, and unbalanced skin, so take my tip for what it is but don’t let it scare you from trying this if you are looking for a product that will give you luminous, bright skin.

Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser

                             

Most of the cleansers I use are very very gentle or suitable for more mature skin although I myself have combination skin that can break out. The reason I typically use gentle cleansers is because I learned that my skin is extremely sensitive. It is easy for cleansers to strip my skin or make it red/irritated. But lately my skin started looking dull and I knew I wasn’t exfoliating the dead skin off as frequently as I should.

I really wanted something that was more of a chemical exfoliant rather than a physical scrub, and I knew I wanted to try something from a clean brand. Enter Suki. I had seen Suki at Whole Foods before, right next to Dr.Hauschka but never really paid too much attention. It wasn’t until my friend sang their praises that I decided to look into the line. Suki calls itself the “ first & only synthetic-free skincare solution that truly integrates advanced technology with clinically-proven results.” I did my research and discovered that their Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser is one of their most popular products and decided this is the perfect product to try out!

The reason I was so curious to try this product, besides great reviews, is because the ingredients are all very clean AND it uses natural sugar as both the physicial and chemical exfoliator. Sugar provides a buffing effect that melts away upon contact with water, and the acids in sugar then gentle exfoliate dead skin cells. Here is the full ingredients list:

sucrose (sugar), potassium cocoate, oryza sativa (rice) powder, cymbopogon flesuosus (lemongrass) oil, calendula officinalis (calendula) flower extract, lavendula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) extract & squalene, citrus aurantifolia dulcis (orange) peel extract, ascophyllum nodosum (seaweed) extract, *aroma/fragrance, limonene, linalool, geraniol
 
*component of 100% pure essential oils

Potassium cocoate is the 2nd ingredient listed and it is a coconut derived potassium salt used in cosmetics to cause the foaming action. It is listed on EWG as a relatively “low concern” chemical so I’m fine with it being used in that large quantity. Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol are chemicals you may often see especially from natural skincare companies. They are chemicals of plant origin used for fragrance. Limonene is extracted from citrus origin, Linalool is usually from lavender, mint, etc. and Geraniol is from Geranium. These can cause irritation in some people and Limonene is capable of oxidizing quickly unless there is a stabilizer. The aroma is composed of 100% pure essential oils which is great, usually I’d like to see which oils are used but since my main concerns with EOs have to do with plants that cause photosensitivity, this wasn’t too big of a deal since the entire product contains multiple ingredients that can cause photosensitivity. If it wasn’t clear from my last sentence, this is a product that should only be used at night, and per Suki’s instructions, no more than 3 times per week.

The product itself looks and feels very much like a soft, dried scrub. It is kind of airy and not dense. The product smells like lemon and reminded me the lemon drops. Upon washing I noticed that the scrubbing exfoliators typically melted away within 5-10 seconds, leaving almost a viscous gel that was significantly more gentle. The lemon scent stayed during the entire process but did give way to something that smelled like ginger. If you leave it on your face for a bit longer than you would a typical cleanser, you can really feel the product clear out the pores.

I was surprised at how effective this cleanser was, my skin felt clear, clean, but not stripped. I noticed that the area around my nose was a little red but also spotless. I don’t think it was too harsh but I could feel it working. Overall, I see why this is one of their best sellers, it is a delight to use: the scent is heavenly (I even snuck in a taste and yes, it tastes just like lemon candy), the results are spectacular, and I genuinely look forward to using this at night. The only cons are: this should really only be used at night due to the photosensitivity issue and my product came with not as much product as I thought based on the pictures. The picture you see above was one I took after my 2nd time using it, and I don’t use a lot – so I’m just a little bit disappointed there wasn’t more product in the jar. One thing to note, Suki does not recommend this product for those who have active cystic acne, and I can understand why – it would just irritate already unbalanced skin, but for everyone else this is a wonderful product to exfoliate skin.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment Review: Scientific Technology, Organic Innovation, Ultimate Results?

I hope everyone on the East Coast is keeping safe from Sandy! When I was young, hurricane days were oddly something I looked forward to – my parents would both be home and we would eat all those canned foods that we never usually ate, and sit in a room together with lit candles as we told stories. It was such a pleasant departure from the hustle of every day life. Today I got a break from school/work, and my boyfriend and I have spent all day watching a movie marathon (thank you Netflix!). I finally got some time to attend to my tumblr!

Lately I’ve been trying out more clean brands and Juice Beauty is one I always heard of but never really paid attention to. From a branding point of view, they’re definitely the less cool sister to other mainstream brands like Ren and Jurlique, but upon investigating their ingredient lists, I was surprised to see how much cleaner and more innovative they are than the aforementioned brands. They’ve reformulated most products to not use phenoxyethanol, and in general their products are just more natural. 

One product stood out to me, and that was the Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment. At $45 for .5 oz, it is right in line with similar offerings from Ren, Jurlique, and most other mid-high range lines. What made it stand out was that besides being clean, and natural, there was a clear focus on technology, namely, fruit stem cells.


The main active in this serum is a proprietary blend of fruit stem cells and fat soluble Vitamin C which are said to reduce damage and fight dark circles and fine lines around the eyes. The rest of the ingredients are grouped into antioxidant rich juices and plant oils which are hydrating and improve skin. My eyes don’t have many issues, which I am thankful for, but I do have the hereditary dark circles and want a product more for preventative purposes so this seemed perfect.

The full ingredients list is:
Juice Beauty proprietary blend of fruit stem cells: apple buds, grape buds & lemon bark. Ingredients: Organic juices of pyrus malus (organic apple juice)*, vitis vinifera (organic white grape juice)*, citrus medica limonum (organic lemon juice)*, aloe barbadensis (organic aloe leaf juice)*, vegetable glycerin, octyl palmitate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, glyceryl stearate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (Vitamin C), stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, malus sylvestris (apple buds), vitis vinifera (grape buds) & citrus limonum (lemon bark), organic plant oils of helianthus annuus (organic sunflower seed oil)*, butyrospermum parkii (organic shea butter)*, simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba seed oil)*, organic essential fatty acids of oenothera biennis (organic evening primrose oil)*, linum usitatissimum (organic linseed oil)*, borago officinalis (organic borage seed oil)*, xanthan gum, panthenol (Vitamin B5), allantoin, tocopherol (Vitamin E), sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, citrus aurantium (orange blossom) pure essential oils

Overall I thought it was fairly clean, although those with sensitivities to citrus oils and extracts may need to think twice since lemon bark stem cells, lemon bark extract, and lemon juice rank pretty high on the list. The list provides a lot of wonderful botanicals such as Jojoba seed oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Seed Oil, and the fruit juices. What will make the difference to a buyer between buying and not buying this product will ultimately be personal belief in the power of fruit stem cells. There are many scientists who say that stem cells only have power over similar cells, as such only animal stem cells can have any impact on our skin on a cellular level. 

Personally, I’ve seen decent results. Thanks to the rich plant oils and Organic shea butter, I felt like this product was very hydrating and made me under eye area feel moisturized and silky. Some products often dry out my under eye area which only makes the finest of lines even more pronounced, which I really do not like. I’m not sure if it is the magic of stem cells or the overall wonderful formulation but I do see some brightening in my skin. It could be due to the Vitamin C which is known to brighten skin but I’d like to believe that the stem cells made some difference. Overall, I felt this was a very comfortable eye serum that moisturized, didn’t sting, didn’t dry out, and didn’t make my eye feel “stretched” like how some firming eye treatments can do.

My only issue, ever so minor, is the applicator. At first I liked it since I read that our fingers can often be too rough or pull the sensitive skin under the eye area but this applicator was a little bit heavy handed since the serum deposits at the very top, so product often winds up in the lashes! I’ve since then learned to squeeze out beforehand and dab it onto my under eye area using my fingers, and then using the applicator to smooth it out. 

When it comes to natural eye products, what are your favorites? Have you had any experiences with botanical stem cells? Let me know!
 

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment ($45 from Juice Beauty)

The Essential Clay Masks

(L) Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask Sample;
(R) Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque

I’ve been on an obsession with masks recently and I’ve noticed they seem to be divided among two camps of “purifying” masks and “nourishing” masks. My skin is at that stage where a mask that is solely purifying is not enough since I need that extra something to make it glow, and a mask that is purely nourishing is too rich for my blemish prone skin. So I started paying more attention to clay masks.

Kahina’s Antioxidant Mask and Aesop’s Primrose Masque aren’t like the pore-vacuuming clay masks of yesteryear that left skin irritated and stripped. These masks infuse skin with nutrients like antioxidants, nourishing botanical oils, and minerals that give skin a wonderful glow while decongesting pores.

Aesop’s Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque has an earthy, green scent that won’t offend most senses. The product is a hardened clay so you will need to use the heat from your fingers to liquefy it a little so it melts easily on the face. It uses Kaolin clay and Bentonite, which are very ancient traditional cosmetic ingredients used to draw out toxins and impurities. There is also Evening Primrose Oil, Rose Canina Fruit Oil, and Sage Oil which provide antioxidants, Vitamin E, and hydration.

I found this masque a little messy to scoop since it is a little hard, which is why the sides of the bottle are a little messy. But applying on the face was a breeze. My skin didn’t really feel anything when I had it on, even when it dried, my face wasn’t stiff and stone-like. I love that upon drying, it turns to a white crust on top of the skin so it washes off very easily and cleanly. The only thing is it wasn’t as strong as the mask by Kahina in drawing out impurities and hydrating. 

Kahina’s Antioxidant Mask utilizes Rhassoul Clay, which is a mineral rich clay mined from the Atlas mountain region in Morocco. This type of clay is very rich in skin friendly minerals such as silica and magnesium. Kahina’s Antioxidant mask is richer in hydrating and nutrient dense ingredients such as Argan Oil, Sunflower seed oil, Acai Fruit Oil, Pomegranate seed Extract, and Rosemary Leaf Extract. I love that Argan Oil, which Kahina is known for, is included so high in the ingredients list because it balances out the drawing properties of the clay perfectly so your skin is being nourished as well. There are definitely more antioxidant rich ingredients in this formula which is important for repairing your skin.

Upon using this sample, I noticed the mask is significantly lighter than the Aesop mask. The clay scoops very easily onto my finger and applies effortlessly onto my skin. Because it was so easy to apply, I really didn’t need a lot of it to cover my entire face. I noticed some granules in the formula which provide gentle exfoliation. The scent is interesting, it shares a definite clay scent with the Aesop product but this product has undertones of key botanical oils of Peppermint, Eucalyptus, and Geranium which is very refreshing. I felt a little bit of a tingling sensation along the pores next to my nose so I knew this product was more active than Aesops. Upon washing the mask, I found that it turned into almost a foamy cleanser. I was pretty surprised at that! I felt that despite being a stronger purifier, this also left my skin more nourished, most likely due to the more abundant number of skin repairing antioxidant actives. I was also surprised after washing off that my skin was a little flushed, not red in an irritated way, but a healthy glow showing that there was some circulation to my skin. 

I think both products are wonderful with the edge going to Kahina due to higher quality of ingredients, more abundant ingredients, and a more effective product that both purifies and nourishes. Ultimately both will provide great detoxification and carry good antioxidant nutrition, so you can’t go wrong!

Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque ($47) 

Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask ($62)

Nude Skincare – You are more beautiful NUDE

During Fashion Week last month, I had the opportunity to work backstage at several shows and met with lots of influential beauty professionals. NUDE was there as part of their “re”-launch of their line. After they were acquired by LVMH in 2011, NUDE invested in developing a new line of products (ProGenius) along with a more aggressive marketing campaign. I was at their hotel suite where their aestheticians taught us about their line and provided us generous samples and full sized products to take away.

For those who want some background on this line, the following video is a quick glimpse into the founders message and an overview of their products:

 

I definitely think that Ali Hewson was a great partner to bring on board. Not only is she a known environmentalist (her clothing line Edun is completely ethical and fair trade), but her reach has definitely secured them a lot of buzz. The products are 98% natural, the packaging is biodegradable, and the formulations stress probiotics and omegas. I found this fascinating because I’m not too sure what Probiotics really do for the skin. I’ve seen Probiotics used in skincare from Eminence Organics, NUDE, and even Clinique’s medical line but there is little evidence out there that supports benefits of their topical application. 

The star of the line is the new NUDE ProGenius Treatment Oil. A Facial Oil rich in Omega 3,6,7,9. It is their signature treatment that is said to provide nourishment for the skin. At $72/1oz the price isn’t too bad but I wish they would have thoguht more about overall skin health. Although the oils pack more than just omegas, all other nutrition seems to be an afterthought and the truth is although omegas are good for skin health, they are not necessarily the only thing skin needs. I felt this was perhaps more of a marketing thing that made it easy to communicate what made this oil special. That said, this isn’t a ‘pure’ facial oil in the clean beauty sense, there is a preservative and alcohol but the rest of the ingredients are clean, botanical oils. The oil is on the thicker side and is definitely not something I would use during the summer. But I can see myself using this during the colder months later this year to add a boost of hydration. There is a light scent that is quite pleasant and the oil itself is a dark yellow/orange color which I thought was pleasant as well. Overall, recommended for drier skin types.

Another product I was curious to try was the Perfect Cleansing Oil ($36). I was pleasantly surprised that not only was it effective in removing makeup, but it formed a milky texture when added with water. Upon looking at the ingredients list, I deduced that this was because of a chemical called polyglyceryl-4-oleate, a special type of emulsifier, so it is important to note that this is not a “clean 100% oil cleanser” however, this isn’t a “terrible” type of emulsifier, and is less of a “big-bad chemical” than lecithin which is found in lots of products that purport to be natural. So use based on your own skincare philosophy, I didn’t really get bad reactions from this and found it to be effective in removing makeup. Although I do have to follow with a ‘normal’ cleanser just because I am wired that way.

The last product I got was the Cellular Renewal Moisturiser, another ‘hero’ product in their line. I didn’t know whether my skin really needed all that “anti-aging” technology but I love the formulation. It utilizes 3 key componants to target aging: antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and probiotics. Antioxidants are know to repair and replenish skin, and fight free radical damage. Hyaluronic Acid is a natural plumping agent used in many anti-aging products that draws in moisture. Probiotics is the one I’m a little skeptical about in terms of topical application. But I think their probiotics come from the ingredient “Yeast Extract” which itself is a very nutritious active. The only major complaint I have is that NUDE decided to put ‘parfum’ and phenoxyethanol in this otherwise wonderful moisturiser. 

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with the performance of this line. The packaging and bottles are sleek and beautiful, the ingredients are not the cleanest on the market but are a step above most mainstream brands, and the using the products were a wonderful experience. The main qualms lay in personal skincare beliefs, if you are okay with certain iffy ingredients, and are okay with products that use what I consider an over-reliance on probiotics and omegas- then this is a line worth checking out.

Products available in Sephora and Nude Skincare.

September Empties – Products I’ve finished using

As a product junkie, I sometimes try so many things that I fear I may never finish using them before I move onto my next. For me, the end of a product is the best time for me to write a review because it helps me think if I’m going to repurchase, what I’ll miss about it, what I won’t miss. I find that products that seem to have run out ‘too soon’ always tend to be favorites that incorporate into my routine and use a lot and there are products that I have to make a serious effort to use up – at which point its kind of like eating at a buffet, you might go back in the future but for now you don’t want to even look at it!

For September, I’ve finished using:

Jurlique Purifying Foaming Cleanser($34): A syrup-like cleanser formulated with tea tree oil and lavender to target blemish prone skin. Other cool ingredients include honey, green tea, grape seed, tumeric, and witch hazel. It really does help to remove makeup and grime but it is a little bit too strong. It foams a lot (more than the natural cleansers I’ve been using) so this is perhaps why it is also a bit drying since foaming agents can lead to that. Unless I follow with a facial oil in the summer, my skin will feel stripped and go into over-production of sebum. The scent was a very strange botanical scent, not that relaxing but not really a deal breaker for me. I felt like I really had to work to finish this cleanser, but perhaps that is because it isn’t really ‘right’ for my skin type which no longer needs a cleanser this strong.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector ($49.50): If you’ve read a few of my past posts on acne scars, you’ll know I didn’t really see results with this serum. Instead it aggravated breakouts on my forehead so I could not really use it. It has been a challenge for me to finish using but since I didn’t want to waste it, I ended up applying this around a few sunspots on my arms since my face has cleared up significantly with this product from YULI. Not sure if Clinique really did anything for those sunspots but just glad to have finally used this all up. Scent is a chemically, fluid is a milky cream gel. 

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask ($55): Most of the products in the Tata Harper line are not suitable for my skin type and tend to be too heavy on my pores. However, the resurfacing mask is perfect. It is a gorgeous amber hued gel that smells like a spa. It resurfaces skin but is delicate enough for sensitive skin. I did not get any redness and my skin felt so hydrated and nourished after using it. I can safely keep this on my face for an hour before washing off and my face will just glow. I used up my sample in 4 days because I was so addicted to the mask, just ordered a full sized jar.

Dermatologica Multivitamin Power Recovery Mask ($46): I’m not a huge fan of Dermatologica but I received a sample of this from a Beautybar order. I know their products aren’t completely clean but I love any mask that focuses on nourishing skin with vitamins, antioxidants, etc to relieve stressed skin. The mask is a white cream that looks like a lotion at first but once you apply it, you can really feel this layer on your face. Skin just feels ‘injected’ with moisture and looks soooo well rested when you wash it off. If the formula were cleaner, I would not hesitate to buy the full sized product but since it is not, I chose to spend my ‘mask’ money on Tata Harper.

Caudalie Vinoperfect Day Perfecting Fluid SPF 15 ($72): I had read a lot of great things about how this product is the perfect balance between moisturizer + spf + light coverage foundation. When I got my hands on this, the first thing I noticed was how silky and fluid the consistency was – lighter than most moisturizers and foundations I’ve used. The scent is like heaven, but I know they use a synthetic fragrance to achieve that. It absorbed fast but you do need a lot of this product to feel it moisturize. I don’t really see much coverage but this product is virtually weightless. I just wish the SPF could be higher, or the coverage could be a bit more but this isn’t a bad product by any means. I will definitely consider buying this if they could make a SPF 30 variant even if it is not as light weight.

YULI Panacea Elixir ($36): Remember how I said some products you just always run out of? This is one of them. If I was paid a dollar every time I sprayed this, I could probably buy this product over and over every day. I’m a stickler for scents and the most recent batch from them just smells GORGEOUS! Whenever I feel a breakout about to come out, I just spray this over my face at night, massage all over and go to bed – it seems to detoxify all the junk out over night. It also cleans out my pores and makes my skin look way better than it genetically should. I also use this after workouts and it keeps my face really hydrated. There is no alcohol in this so it doesn’t dry out your skin. And I found that facial oils and moisturizers sink into skin faster after I apply this product. This has become such a staple in my regimen.

Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Gel ($45): I think I said in the Sunday Riley Good Genes review that this is a cheaper, less refined, but more active version of the same thing. Truth be told, this is actually my boyfriends product but I use it too. I notice that it is way too strong to leave on overnight as the instructions say. I tried it once, and I looked like I had been laying out in the sun all weekend with no sunscreen. With that said, if you want a clean, acid peel this is a great product. It really allows your skin to start fresh. It is a clearish-green gel with a slightly slightly acidic scent. Not too sure if I would purchase this product again – there are a few clean acid peels and resurfacing products out there so I will probably test some, but this is still a very solid option.

nomadsoul replied to your postHow has your skincare philosophy evolved?

so has using these cleared you up? I have a very similar history but anytime I’ve tried any of the more natural alternatives, I’ve noticed no results and dissuaded find my way back to BP pretty fast. What is your regimen now?


First, I clicked your profile and your skin looks great!

My skin is pretty clear now, and I truly do believe it is due to the research behind the products I choose to use. When I stray and use skincare I am iffy about such as Sunday Riley, Clinique, Shiseido, Sisley, Kiehls, Lancome – I always break out. My skin within 2 days goes from glowing and clear to clogged and irritated. I also notice that my skin isn’t as balanced with some products I am iffy about and I will start overproducing sebum within an hour – so I definitely don’t think my skin is clear now because I’ve ‘phased out’ of that stage.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind when switching to natural skincare is that natural things unlike a lot of chemical things takes longer. Chemicals such as benzoyl peroxide are made to attack your zits right away so you get immediate results but long term, BP has been shown to increase damage to skin (free radical damage, photo-aging, etc.)  Natural remedies can work fast (try The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil w/ Tamanu) and in general I find that what you don’t get in immediate results, you will see over time as your skin actually improves in overall quality. Please don’t be dissauded if you don’t see results right away, pay more attention to how healthy your skin feels and if it is balanced. Once you listen to your skin, it will reward you by being amazing! 

*I will do a post about my regimen soon, but the only reason I haven’t really done this in the past is because I experiment a LOT with products since I work at Neiman Marcus beauty.*