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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Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Body Lotion

weleda

Weleda is one of my favorite “mass” green product companies. You’ll typically see them sharing shelf space with Dr.Hauschka, but their products tend to be priced lower. From my research, Weleda tends to use purer sources for their ingredients, relying on a lot of organic farms, which is to me, the key difference between them and Dr.Hauschka. This isn’t to say Dr.Hauschka products are inferior, the products are vastly different and so you will need to test them individually (luckily, they’re both carried at Whole Foods so that shouldn’t be too difficult for most people).

Weleda’s Pomegranate Regenerating Body Lotion is one of 4 body lotions in their diverse line (which includes Wild Rose, Citrus, Sea buckthorn, and Pomegranate). Each lotion has a different purpose: Wild rose for normal to dry skin, Citrus for normal skin, Sean Buckthorn for dry skin, and Pomegranate for mature skin. Now before you ask why there isn’t a lotion for oily skin, I’m told it is because the market for body lotion is self-selected unlike facial skincare, so those with oily skin who don’t need the extra replenishment aren’t looking for this product (eventhough they should still use one for protective benefits!)

vitalamines-weleda bonous

I chose Pomegranate because to be honest, it smelled the best (Sea Buckthorn is another wonderful option but the other two were not my cup of tea). The scent is very subtle and light but wonderfully done to almost resemble the POM drinks which leaves you really happy when you get a whiff of it throughout the day. All the lotions were soft and absorbed quickly when I tested them at Whole Foods, so I decided to go home with the Pomegranate. My skin is finicky, while my face is blemish prone and combination-oily, my body has rough dry patches especially persistent roughness around my legs and elbows, so I was fine picking the mature skin lotion, besides, I could always use an antiaging boost since I want my body to keep up with my face.

Weleda Box

Weleda Bottle

Weleda Pump

The bottle is made of high quality plastic with their label on, molded in the shape of their signature wave which gives it great grip and durability. The pump dispenses just the right amount and is very easy to control. Unlike a lot of pumps, you can tell the Swiss engineered this perfectly to not hold residue that can dry out the lotion. The lotion is a very silky yellow/beige cream with a comfortable emollient quality which helped it absorb quickly. When I applied this after my shower at night, I woke up the next morning seeing wonderfully happy skin without any rough patches or dryness. However, I do think that if I missed one application after showering, my skin might revert back so I would not mind more staying power. I feel like for a mature skin lotion, if I’m okay with it being stronger – then perhaps their body lotions in general need to be stronger since I’m only in my 20s and have relatively youthful / well moisturized skin as it is.

Weleda Ingredients

Now let’s discuss ingredients. The Pomegranate Regenerating Body Lotion is 100% Natural/83% Organic. The composition of shea butter, pomegranate seed oil, apricot kernal oil, sesame seed oil, sunflower oil, olive oil are the anti-aging powerhouses that also provide hydration for ‘mature’ skin. I did find after regular use, that my skin felt less ‘thin’ so I do think there is some correlation between the cell-renewal qualities of the ingredients and my observation. This cream uses 4 types of alcohols (not specified if it is grain based, which is the much better option) which also act as emulsifiers/emollients to help the formula maintain its silky consistency, there are some preservatives but notparabens/phenoxyethanol, and some fragrances dervied from natural sources such as Limonene which are better than synthetics but can be irritating so check if you have any sensitivities.

Weleda Bottle Full

Overall, this is a wonderfully formulated product that absorbs quickly and helps regenerate the body’s largest system. I truly do feel that my skin is stronger and that regular application of this product will ward off signs of aging until they have to happen. My skin is very happy. Going into the hotter summer months with no heating that causes dryness, I definitely think this will provide my skin with enough support. I may pick up another bottle of this or try the Sea buckthorn next, either way I plan to keep it in the Weleda family.

Available at Weleda Online ($16.50)

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, Aesop.com) – 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, Byredo.com) – 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.