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.

Rodin Olio Lusso: An Education

Rodin Olio Lusso is the stuff of legend. The now iconic 1 oz bottle of facial oil has graced every magazine, every major blog, and been used by all the industry insiders. Its acclaim is universal, with models, “it girls”, makeup artists singing its praises – as shown by it’s superstar status on ITG , is astonishing – with the exception of La Mer’s moisturizing cream, I haven’t seen this type of support for any singular product. 

Rodin’s Facial Oil isn’t the first facial oil, but at $140, it is one of the first luxury oils meant for the high end consumer market. It is to facial oils, what Britney Spears was to female pop stars in the late 90’s – they existed, but Britney’s success helped to define and open the market for everyone else. 

Rodin’s success has really moved the conversation of facial oils to a more mainstream audience who previously only focused on creams to hydrate their skin. As someone who has suffered from acne, it wasn’t until I read all the literature behind facial oils that Rodin produced that I decided to take the plunge.

The success of the Luxury Face Oil has spawned an entire line- body oil, hair oil, lip product, hand cream, etc. But the superstar remains the original face oil. Enough background – on with the review!

Full ingredient:

Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Benzyl benzoate, Linalool  

Rodin’s Luxury Face Oil consists of 11 essential oils that make up a vibrant golden tone contained in a art deco bottle. Upon first opening, the Jasmine floral scent is undeniable. In fact, Jasmine is listed as the first ingredient which is highly unusual for more facial oils that tend to rely more on carrier oils over essential oils. Jasmine is a beautiful oil that smells delicate but I have to admit that the scent is a little overwhelming for me. I’m also not sure how pregnancy-safe this is as Jasmine does have minor contraceptive qualities. In normal oils that use this lightly, I don’t think the amount is substantial enough for concern but as this is the main ingredient in the Face Oil – I would personally advise caution for ladies who are expecting.

The oil is rather light which was a pleasant surprise for me because Sweet Almond Oil is usually too thick for my skin type and Jojoba (although good for acne skin) is also on the thick side. I think the reason this oil composition wasn’t as thick is due to the abundance of Jasmine. 

I found that my skin felt hydrated with just 1-2 drops but to be honest I’m not sure if it did a better job than less expensive high-end oils on the market. I just don’t think it is worth all the hype, it seems to be a decent (though overwhelmingly Jasmine infused) oil but there aren’t any ingredients in there that make it better than lower cost facial oils. 

So where do we go from here? At first I thought I was strange for not also thinking this product hit it out of the park. So I really thought about why my experience would be different and I came upon two realizations. 1. A lot of the people who try this product probably have not even tried other brands of facial oils before, therefore, compared to their old products like La Mer creams, this truly is better. 2. The power of marketing. This product educated me on the strength of marketing a beauty product: get it into the hands of those who matter, get into the right press, and people will follow like sheep. 

Looking at online reviews from influential bloggers, you’ll see the same words used to describe this product: decadent, luxurious, miraculous – all words pushed out initially by Rodin’s own marketing team. It’s am image of a decadent, luxurious product (translation: costly) used to (as the Victoria’s Secret makeup artist says) ‘treat’ oneself. Based on the adjectives, you almost can’t even really think about this product, you just have to give in to the marketing that this is THE product you need, and that if you don’t like this product, you don’t get that this is a ‘miraculous’ wonder. And to be honest, this is the one product that actually took my blinders off and realize the people at ITG probably do have contracts and behind the scenes plans with a few brands behind each post. 

This isn’t to knock what Rodin’s Facial Oil does accomplish. It actually is a nice product, but there are just so many others out there that are more suited for different skin types. 

Rodin Olio Lusso Luxury Facial Oil ( , $140)

Sunday Riley Good Genes

Good Genes is what I don’t have when it comes to the genetic skin lotto. When I hit puberty, my face was just a constant battle between breakouts and astringents, in college I had cystic acne that lumped onto each other which even made the dermatologist say “I could give you some retin-a and antibiotics, but honey, that’s like treating a fire with a kitchen faucet at this point”.

Even now that my skin is at the place I’ve dreamed it could be (in no small feat due to the product formerly known as Ultimate Perfect Serum, Cell Perfecto PM– read about my experience with it here) – I still don’t think I’ve ever been in the category of people fortunate to be born with skin that just naturally glows and looks flawless.

If I can’t be born with it, then I’ll buy it! And Sunday Riley has the perfect product for such a thing, fittingly named Good Genes. The playful name promises to deliver the look of “good genes” for everyone! If there is anything Sunday Riley does well, it is in marketing her products.

The instructions for the product are very precise, it is a corrective treatment to be used at night (at least I think it should be), about once or twice a week, for a power treatment she recommends using it for five consecutive nights. The reason is because this is a very acid-heavy chemical exfoliator with a primary active being lactic acid. This doesn’t mean the formula isn’t clean, only that it doesn’t exfoliate through physical means which I actually really like, and lactic acid is fairly clean compared to alternatives.

The full promise of the product is that it will ” plump fine lines to reveal brighter, newer skin, and improve circulation to offer a smooth, vibrant complexion. Long term use will help restore damaged skin, reduce hyperpigmentation and scars, reduce the depth and number of lines and wrinkles, even out skintone, and increase epidermal thickness and firmness.”

The lactic acid is probably the active that addresses fine lines, revealing newer skin. Other actives include licorice which brightens complexion, yeast extract, squalene, lemongrass, and arnica.The formula comes out as a white creamy fluid that smells like dried fruit creamsicle (all her products seem to smell like a creamsicle). It is absorbed fairly quickly, though not as fast as Bionic. After one use, I did not experience irritation, but when I did the consecutive week long treatment I noticed my skin was getting red and I actually got a new breakout on my forehead and not looking so great around Day 3/4 – and my skin is fairly sensitive, so those of you with ‘normal’ skin might not find this to be too tough to handle.

The slight issue I have with this product is once again, it isn’t as clean as I hoped it could be, 3 types of silicones, 2 types of parabens, 2 PEGs, and caricinogenic Phenoxyethanol – I just wish they could have really lived up to their promise of 99% natural, botanical based products without injecting so much of this chemical stuff, it is actually a cheaper way of production that they don’t need to take since they’re at such high price points. Due to my silicone sensitivity, I think this might also explain why instead of getting clearer, my skin was freaking out during the 5 day test.

Good Genes retails for $105 for 1 oz in a beautiful glass vial that feels very heavy in a high-quality way. After having used nearly half the bottle (it does last a while) I will say that I think it is my favorite Sunday Riley product (after hits and misses), and it works well as a chemical exfoliator. The smell is good, texture is good, and results are good. There are cheaper options on the market, such as Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Gel at $45 (it has a cleaner formula too – but is much stronger and less refined).

Dr.Hauschka Rhythmic Night Conditioner

Dr.Hauschka at this point is one of the ‘classic’ natural skincare lines. Although many purists believe their products contain ‘iffy’ ingredients, I still believe they’re a viable presence in the clean skincare market. Dr. Hauschka is a German company that practices holistic health and this practice is carried through their skincare, beauty, and health products.

A lot of my friends have raved about their products, and after using a few of their skincare products (Normalizing Day Oil, Cleanser, Toner, etc) I decided to splurge on their $89.95 Rhythmic Night Conditioner (from Dr.Hauschka). When I first looked at this product I thought “what is in this thing!?” I did my research (see Beautypixie’s youtube video -scroll to 4:50m) – and really wanted to see what it did for my skin. 

The product is special in that it rhythmitizes the ingredients to balance and harmonize destressed skin and supports the skin renewal cycle on a 28 day period. I have been stressed from travel, starting school again, and other things so my skin although not breaking out, can definitely use some pampering. I thought this would be the perfect product to ‘regulate’ my skin before things got ugly.

First, the ampules are tiny and you do have to break them to use. I didn’t mind doing a little more for the product especially because I had never really used a product quite like it. If you can’t tell I’m quite taken by the premise of a ‘regulating’ product. Like Beautypixie, I noticed that if I felt an area of my face flare up a little before I apply this, the inflammation usually dies down without causing me too much grief. I also noticed that my skin in general looked pretty good with this product. I recently spent a day at the airport, moved into my new apartment, AND helped my friend move into her apartment – and noticed that the combination of Liquid Courage Antioxidant Serum during the day and the Rhythmic Night Conditioner at night pretty much kept all potential blemish flare up gone and kept my skin in tip-top shape. My skin just feels stronger and more durable. Even my small monthly hormonal breakouts are now reduced within a few hours.

The ingredients for this are:
Water (Aqua), Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Althaea Officinalis Leaf Extract1, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract1, Kalanchoe Daigremontiana Leaf Extract1, Anthyllis Vulneraria Extract1, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract1, Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract1, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract1, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Bark/Leaf Extract1, Mica1, Royal Jelly1, Honey (Mel)1, Silver1, Sodium Chloride 1In rhythmitised dilutions

It is the Silver1 ingredient that gives the product the rhythmic properties according to the website, as that corresponds to the moon and the 28 day skin renewal cycle. I’m honestly not sure if this is all just pseudo science hokey. I did like the botanicals in this product as well as Royal Jelly/Honey which are known to sooth skin and kill acne bacteria. I would love to see this formula with manuka honey as that is kind of like a supercharged honey for the skin. In general, I think even without the silver and rhythmic marketing, this is a good product but I think without the rhythmic marketing, this product is really just a toner with good botanicals so it probably isn’t REALLY worth the $89.95 if you think too hard, but then I haven’t used this product without the silver and rhythmitised dilutions so I can’t really compare. 

I think this product does help my skin stay in check and I will probably update this post when I am completely done with the product to give a better answer as to its effectiveness.

Aesop Equalizing Shampoo

I went to a wedding this weekend and stayed at a nice boutique hotel. I was surprised to find they stocked the restrooms with AESOP products, which is a massive  welcome departure from the norm. I usually never bring hair product for a weekend trip (TSA!), with the full knowledge that hotel shampoos will turn me into a dandruff ridden mess. But I was surprised to see Aesop’s Equalising Shampoo ($47) in the shower, after I had read about it in my boyfriends Details feature. 

I was told by concierge that this was part of their ‘Black Label’ – which surprised me since I didn’t know Aesop was trying to be the skincare version of Ralph Lauren. Nonetheless, I’m told that the Black Label is just another way of saying it is their line of hair products. The Equalising Shampoo was formulated for oily scalps to balance sebum production, it is one of 6 shampoos in the Black Label Hair care range.

The formula is true to Aesop: essential oils for scent, 80% clean, 20% not so clean- SLS is included as are PEGs. I’m told the SLS is derived from coconut, so I’m not sure if that makes it better. The shampoo comes out of the pump as a thick gel and lathers really easily (courtesy of the SLS). The scent is wonderful, I know some Aesop products smell weird and others smell great, this falls into the latter. It is herbal-minty. 

I noticed after 2 uses that my scalp didn’t flake nor was it oily which is really pleasant of a surprise for something that contains SLS, which is known to also be a drying agent. I’m not sure how my hair would stand with regular use, but after a weekend, it was fine. It really cleaned my hair leaving it only slightly ‘stripped’ feeling.  

While I enjoyed this shampoo, I do think the ‘normal’ shampoo for normal hair might be more suited for regular use. Has anyone tried hair products from Aesop before?

Joelle Ciocco Sensitive Cleansing Milk

Joelle Ciocco is kind of known as the elite cult skincare brand in France. Most of my friends in the fashion industry swear by her stuff, models, makeup artists, photographer, etc. On my last trip to Paris, I booked an appointment with her ahead of time since I knew the waitlist was insane! Fortunately, she was able to schedule me in during the 2 weeks I was in Paris.

Although the EU has a more stringent standard for skincare products, I’m surprised by how different each culture is: the English/Greeks love clean, natural skincare; the Swiss/Germans are all about science; the French love their brands and the clean skincare scene isn’t ‘super’ important to them. Of course these are massive generalizations but I have found through conversation that most people in Paris love their La Mer, Chanel, etc. and don’t really give a thought to even mass market natural brands like REN and Jurlique.

I was curious to try Joelle Ciocco, because, rave reviews from the fashion industry notwithstanding, she exemplifies the best of French niche-luxury skincare. Her treatments are known to focus on individual skin nutrition needs to make the skin ‘ecosystem’ as healthy as possible. Her products rely heavily on botanicals and good formulations.

I found the overall experience to be wonderful. Joelle is never pushy or condescending and really only prescribed 2 products for me. One of which was the Sensitive Cleansing Milk as I had told her of my journey for the perfect cleanser. I do agree that her products are VERY VERY expensive, a single treatment and two products cost me into the four figures USD.

Upon using the Sensitive Cleansing Milk, I found that it smelled delicious. The clea bottle was an absolute delight – minimal, chic, luxurious. The milk itself really did a good job or removing oil and grime without making my skin feel stripped of moisture. It does not foam much and you do need to rinse repeatedly to make sure the product washes off fully.

After 2 weeks, I noticed my skin was fresh and dewy so I continued using this cleanser. After a month however, I noticed small clogged pores around my nose and even two blackheads. Luckily, my facialist was able to extract these out. But she did say whatever I was using was congesting my pores. Thats when I dug up the packaging for this product and saw the full ingredient list:

Deionized aqua;orange flower water;shea butter;sweet almond oil;calendula extract;arnica montana extract;common horsetail;essentiel oil neroli;jojoba oil;polysorbate 60;sorbitan stearate;stearic acid;myreth-3 myristate;mineral oil;carbomer;allantoin;isopropyl myristate;tocopherol;parfum;benzyl alcohol methylchloroisothiazolinone methylisothiazolinone;TEA

For a line that purports to be relatively natural and clean, I was surprised to find mineral oil in there, which is an ingredient I know my skin cannot stand. This explains why my pores became clogged over time. I think the Shea Butter and Sweet Almond Oil are probably too much for my skin type and more suitable for dry skin. I was surprised there was parfum and two types of preservatives known for causing allergies in the formula. I was also a little disappointed because for the price, this formulation doesn’t really seem worth it.

I think I really like this line in terms of the brand message, it is very chic, and understated but then once I saw the formula and used the product – it was very ordinary. I might try a serum or another product down the line just to see if maybe there are other good products but for now I am underwhelmed.

Shiseido Bio-Performance Super Correcting Serum

Shiseido is one of the oldest beauty companies in the world and existed in Japan since 1872. It is particularly successful because it has successfully infiltrated nearly every mainstream upper market retail store and has legions of diehard fans who swear by their beauty and their skincare products. The success of Shiseido has led them to create an even higher end line – Clea de Peau, and opened the doors for other asian brands, AmorePacific, Sulwahsoo, etc. This brand is kind of the opposite of what I like, the high-end avant niche, this is much more mainstream, and it isn’t known for being clean.

I received a bottle of their Super Correcting Serum at a beauty event our store held, and the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the bottle was. Shiny, futuristic, and streamlined are the words that pop into my head when describing it. The product itself is a “time fighting serum that delivers revolutionary solutions to counteract wrinkles, sagging, and dullness.” Immediate results are promised, and the star of the product, the Bio-Corrective Complex is said to promote production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. Lofty promises.

Upon first use, I could tell this was formulated to appeal to a more mature set. The fragrance in this is dictionary “old lady fancy cream” smell. It wasn’t bad, but I’m not a fan of synthetic fragrance, it doesn’t really do anything and makes me think a lot of time was wasted trying to tune the smell, which to me really doesn’t matter for a skincare product. Upon application, I immediately recognized the ‘slick’ feeling and sure enough – this product is a silicone powerhouse! 

water, dimethicone, glycerin, butylene glycol, dimethicone crosspolymer, betaine, talc, polysorbate 20, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP copolymer, silica, alumina, titanium dioxide (CI 77891), PEG-150, polyvinyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol, mica, alanine, trisodium EDTA, tocopheryl acetate, sodium citrate, fragrance, sodium metaphosphate, serine, potassium hydroxide, citric acid, sodium metabisulfite, alpha-isomethyl ionone, benzyl benzoate, hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde, hexyl cinnamal, limonene, linalool, citronellol, geraniol, sodium acetylated hyaluronate, butylphenyl methylpropional, syzygium jambos leaf extract, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) flower extract

Of the top 5 ingredients, 2 are silicones. Judging from this list, it seems this is a product that mainly uses silicones and synthetic humectants to ‘smooth’ skin. This must be why they are promising immediate results, since silicones act right away to smooth fine lines — but the moment they are washed off, your lines are back! Also,  notice how high ‘fragrance’ is listed, not cool.

I’m disappointed this product took so many shortcuts to deliver at best temporary results after the high praise it gave itself. After 14 days of use, I couldn’t bother using it anymore. It didn’t break me out (although it made my eyes water a little – so that isn’t good), but it really did not do anything good for my skin besides make it feel clogged with all the silicones. At $80 for 30mL, I cannot recommend this product. 

My July Must Have Products

(Starting Top-Clockwise: Aesop Tuberose Lip Heal, Byredo Parfums Le Tulipe, Weleda Skin Food, YULI Liquid Courage, Vapour Organics Lipstick, Sunday Riley Cashmere SPF 30, Kahina Cleanser, Guerlain Terracota Bronzer, Sunday Riley Effortless Tinted Primer, Tom Ford Foundation Brush, YULI Panacea Elixir)

Instead of a one-product review, I thought I’d also do a post on what my favorite products have been for the past month. During the summer, my primary focus is taking care of my skin in the hot, sunny weather. These are the products I’ve been using:

1. Aesop Tuberose Lip Heal ($31, – a gorgeous lip roller that uses a blend of plant and nut oils to deliver gentle hydration. It doubles as a scent which really smells good and kept me from licking it off! 

2. Byredo Le Tulipe ($145, – The spring/summer scent from Byredo, a very pure, simple fragrance that has a beautiful tulip scent between vetiver and rhubarb notes. This is that perfect scent that once worn a little is the perfect subtle blend whether you’re at the beach or walking to lunch in Manhattan. The price might be a little high, but I love myself a lux-niche product, if you couldn’t tell.

3. Weleda Skin Food ($18.50, Weleda) – A staple for any season, Skin Food is always in my bag for those ‘touch ups’. This is my clean version of the 8-hour cream. It moisturizes rough spots on the hands and arms and leaves skin soft and healthy. Although it is for dry skin, I feel like using a the right amount on any type of skin will provide lots of benefits.

4. YULI Liquid Courage ($125, YULI) – Sun damage and summer go hand in hand. I really wanted a clean, antioxidant serum to protect my skin from the sun and found it with Liquid Courage. It is such a light serum that really sinks into skin and absorbs fast under any SPF and smells fantastic. It uses a blend of antioxidant rich plant seeds and biofermented actives to deliver a potent natural antioxidant kick. My skin is absolutely glowing and radiant from this, while it protects my skin, I have to say, it also gives me the appearance of ‘rest in a bottle’. The price might scare some, but it lasts a long time, and I know that they just launched the option to buy deluxe samples of the products on their website.

5. Vapour Organics Siren Lipstick ($22, Vapour Organics) – Created by some of the brains behind the late, great Kevyn Aucion, Vapour Organics uses clean formulations that provide comparable results to leading cosmetics brands. The Siren Lipstick is the first product I bought from them, after reading about the dangers of lead, carcinogens, and other chemical junk found in most lipsticks on the market. The pigments are very rich and I noticed that unlike a lot of pigmented lipsticks, this also moisturized my lips. I think the blend of castor seed oil and beeswax gives it a lip balm effect, but the high pigmentation makes it a very successful lip stick. A wonderfully made product that will be a staple in my beauty closet.

6. Sunday Riley Cashmere SPF 30 ($125, Sunday Riley) – This isn’t the cleanest SPF on the market, but it might be the most expensive. To be honest, I’m disappointed with the options for sun protection on the market, the luxury brands think for some reason everyone wants a bronzer and spf in one or they stock it with chemicals, while the natural brands tend to go for clunky physical blocks. Sunday Riley Cashmere SPF 30 is kind of that right balance between clean enough and high end. The white fluid sinks into skin very fast and leaves no scent. It didn’t make my skin shiny or oily, nor did it make my skin dry. I think the consistency is perfect, not watery but not clunky.

7. Kahina Cleanser ($56, Kahina) – I’ve mentioned this cleanser on my blog a few times already but I really like it. It’s fortified with nourishing oils for skin but at the same time balances your complexion so skin is not dry or oily. I think the Vitamin E is especially needed to cancel out any sun damage sustained during the day. 

8. Guerlain Terracota Bronzer ($50, Sephora) – The epitome of a natural bronzer. Does not go on orange, or muddy. Just the right shade and density for most skin types, stays on all day. Gives that perfect healthy glow. 

9. Sunday Riley Effortless Tinted Primer ($48, Barneys) – A lot has been said about this primer. I don’t know if the ‘oxygen hole’ technology is marketing hype or if there is a real benefit to it, but I just enjoy this primer for the simple fact that it is like a primer + tinted moisturizer in one. It smooths the skin while adding a little color. I find on my low key days, this is all I need.

10. Tom Ford Foundation Brush ($70, Neiman Marcus) – My favorite brush by a wide margin. Very soft, densely packed brushes with little shed over time. I also love the high-quality ‘heavy’ feel of the brushes. I know that these brushes are made in Japan, which has a reputation for their brush quality. I know it is a white colored brush, but it really does retain this color after many applications and washes. The brushes themselves pick up just the right amount of foundation and are not streaky at all. Makeup goes on seemless and flawless.

11. YULI Panacea Elixir ($36, YULI) – There was my skincare before this product and there is my skincare after this product. Panacea means ‘cure-all’ and this product is exactly that. Some people don’t believe in toning their skin, but after you’ve tried this and see the results, you will be converted! This made my pores so tiny and really firmed up my skin. It’s like a bootcamp in a mist for the face. There is also no alcohol in here, everything is natural and clean. Also, this sets make up really well, and the skincare benefits are delivered throughout the day with this under the makeup so your skin is actually improving as you set your makeup using this product. 

Sunday Riley Bionic

Sunday Riley is the new darling of the high-end beauty scene. Her products utilize what she describes as “green technology” which means botanicals and chemistry. This brand has been in every magazine and beauty blog! Usually when a brand is this big, I am curious to try their products because I want to figure out if they’re Press department is better than their product department.

I went to Barneys to play around with some products and came home with Sunday Riley Bionic, Good Genes, Juno, and Cashmere SPF. I tried Bionic ($225)first as that seems to be everyone’s favorite product, just ask Emily Weiss of Intothegloss

Bionic purports to be a cutting-edge, stimulating product that covers all causes in aging. The ingredients certainly seem like a list of heavy hitters, including: peptides, retinol, EGCG, CoQ10, resveratrol, and their patented NV-5 Ageless Complex that fights cellular inflammation that causes aging.

The cream is orange and smells like orange-mango creamsicle/bubblegum. I know a lot of people love this scent but I think because I’ve been using very clean products, this scent really irritated me after a while. It is too synthetically fragrant. I also noticed that it leaves a dark yellow/orange stain when dried because a little bit of the product leaked onto my counter – so I think it is REALLY important to make sure the product is completely absorbed.

The lotion goes on very light and is easily massaged into skin. The cream just sinks into skin so that is heaven for someone like me who panics when products don’t absorb fast. This is terrific for my normal-combo-oily skin especially in the winter. I do notice however that it makes my complexion slightly oily a couple of hours out so I’m not sure if it means my skin is too stripped or if the cream is too oily – but I didn’t mind a little bit of greasiness. 

After a week of use, I discovered that my skin appeared to be more radiant which the product claims to do, and I did not break out! However, I am sad to report it didn’t really do anything for fine lines, or making my skin feel nourished. I felt like I didn’t moisturize enough, but because of how oily it made my skin, I didn’t want to layer on something else since my skin is very blemish prone.

The material for this product says this will extend the lifespan of skin, but I honestly don’t know if I can believe that since my skin didn’t feel healthier (it only looked brighter). 

The ingredients list includes urea, silicones, PEG, and two types of parabens, which are very disappointing for a line that is marketed as 99% natural, using “green technology”. I think the urea and silicones were necessary to exfoliate and give the appearance of well-textured skin, but this doesn’t mean your actual skin is improved! In fact, looking through the ingredients list as a whole, I’ve found plenty of chemicals that aren’t good for skin. I love a clean skincare but I’m honestly not a crunchy-granola type, but the formulations here really aren’t that high-end or well thought out if they contain all these ‘shortcut’ ingredients that do more harm for the skin.

I really don’t like where this line is going especially because they do have relatively clean products like Juno, and the Ceramic Slip Cleanser; however I really don’t like when a company says one thing and does another so for now I will have to grade them harshly for having products that are much more marketing hype than truly effective. 

Weekend Trip: Kahina Giving Beauty Travel Kit

I’m spending the last month before school trying to fit in as much mini-vacations as possible. This weekend, I went to a Bachelorette Party in Miami so I went into work on Friday prepared to find travel friendly products to try for this trip. I don’t know why, but I love trying out new products/regiments out when I’m on vacation – maybe it’s the change in surrounding lending itself to a need to change regimen.

I glanced through the inventory and my eyes landed upon Kahina Giving Beauty Travel Kit – clean products, beautiful bottles, and MADE for travel: SCORE! I had found my weekend project!


This travel kit contains smaller sizes of Kahina’s cleanser, facial lotion, and their signature argan oil. For those not familiar with the brand, Kahina is a “holistic line or organic skincare”, at the center of all their products is the signature ingredient Argan Oil. A percentage of proceeds go to benefit the lives of the Berber women.

Kahina Cleanser: I read on Nomoredirtylooks that they changed the formula for this cleanser, so I was excited to see how this was different from my big bottle of cleanser from Kahina. From a product standpoint, I absolutely love Kahina’s cleanser, it has high amounts of Vitamin E and fatty acids from Argan Oil (which, as much as I dislike hype – is an ingredient that works with my skin). I noticed that this new formulation was a bit ‘off’ I can’t figure out what it is, but they way it responded on skin was different. Not in a good or bad way, just in a way I didn’t expect so I am not sure how I feel about that. I do like that the cleanser really balanced my skin – I felt like it really moisturized my face without making it oily. The scent is a heavenly floral-neroli which is so delightful in the shower.

Kahina Facial Lotion: My skin doesn’t really need a combination of the lotion and the argan oil included in this kit so I gave this to my friend with dry skin to use. The mix of shea butter and beeswax really does wonders for moisture retention that when my friend with dry skin went to get a facial with me, the facialist didn’t really believe my friend had dry skin. It really moisturizes the dry patches. As I didn’t use this particular product, I can’t really comment but I think my friend really liked it. I do admit that my dabbling here and there with the product surprised me in the sense that this product really didn’t seem that “thick” for a product with such moisture intensive ingredients. It is a really sophisticated and well made lotion.

Kahina Argan Oil:  I’ve used Argan Oil from everyone: Josie Maran, Whole Foods, Kiehls, Acure, John Masters, etc. Kahina hands down has the best argan. I don’t know how they do it, but they for sure have the best source and the best extraction process. Their oil just SMELLS rich and beautiful compared to similar oils from Josie Maran (smells very neutral, slight nutty), or Whole Foods (decent light tea-like scent). It goes on the face very well, doesn’t “stay” behind leaving a greasy film, and my skin just LOVES this stuff. I use it all over, including my hair especially if it is a little sun damaged. It is so good. If I decide to make Argan Oil a staple in my beauty closet, Kahina would be the brand I choose.