What I’ve Been Using: Nov/Dec

Hello readers! It’s been a longer time than I expected since I last wrote a post. There have been a lot going on in my personal life that I do not share on here or anywhere really. But some things do not change and that is my love of beauty products.

I have been working my way through products and based on your e-mails of “what should I use?” I realize the importance of providing product feedback in a more cohesive routine manner rather than leave them in an individual bubble.

So here is what I’m loving:

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African Botanics Fleurs D’Afrique

Holy crap you guys, this is a face oil on steroids! African Botanics was not kidding when they released this “intensive recovery oil” which contains marine micro-algae, retinol, vitamin c and CoQ10 in ONE SINGULAR BLEND! The scent is incredible and it’s not a surprise considering Jasmine Essential Oil and Rose Essential Oil are ingredients 3 and 5! This is over achieving. For anyone who has ever questioned the effectiveness of a face oil, try this and let me know if you still feel the same way. I seriously think this stuff is divine and savor each drop that comes out of the beautiful bottle. Pictures do not do it justice, just bring this up to a light to see the golden oil through the black frosted glass, it’s a thing of beauty. I could only use this 2-3 times a week at the beginning because it was so strong, which is another thing, sensitive skin might want to look at a calmer option like their Pure Marula Oil. But for those of you who just want to put a high quality buffet of actives on your skin in a face oil form, look no further. Buy this, enjoy, you’ve met your perfect match.

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Lina Hanson Global Treasures Balm

The first time I saw this balm on Lina Hanson’s Instagram, I knew I had to have it. Sure we’ve seen balms by many a green brand at this point but I was captivated by the gorgeous color and gold specks! Then I looked at the ingredients list and discovered the green color came from matcha, the gold from real 24K gold, and the inclusion of pearl powder. Gaahhh.. what a creation! When it arrived, I excitedly opened the jar and it was the beauty junkie version of what I imagine it would be like to meet a hot guy off of Tinder. “Ohhh that’s how the color looks in person and omg there are those gold specks!” I took a deep inhale and was welcomed with a warm, chocolaty note. I wrote Lina basically saying “Yeah it looks just as amazing in person but how are you not telling people how good this stuff smells?!” I’ve been saving this balm for winter to use on dry spots. But the real secret is how well this works as an eye balm. It doesn’t tug or pull, and gives the perfect emollient feel that lets you know that it’s working to get your skin buttery soft. My eye serums have been replaced by this gem.

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Tatcha Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate

This embodies the innovative and quirky aspects of Asian skincare with a bouncy memory serum texture. Overnight Memory Serum is an ultra-concentrated form of Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Mist which means it is very very hydrating and absolutely packed with the rejuvenating powers of the mist. It is recommended for overnight recovery and I consider it to be extremely effective in combating dry winter air. Tatcha is made in Japan and I think of this as a very luxurious pressed serum/essence, as it is a very concentrated and nutrient packed product that delivers results like a serum. A little does go a long way with this and I use the gold scooper that comes with the jar which measures out the perfect amount. It kind of feels like breaking the super soft Japanese tofu over your skin and I say that in the most fun way. If your skin doesn’t handle moisturizers well (hello acne prone ladies) but needs that surge of moisture in the winter, this is the product you need. On a final note, check out how bouncy it is!

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Yarok Feed Your Volume Shampoo

I’m making my way through green shampoos and the latest stop is at Yarok which I have heard so much about. I believe it was Spirit who praised the way this smelled and although I enjoyed Rahua, I wasn’t completely in love with the palo santo scent so I had my eye on this for a while. I was pleasantly surprised by the gentle and light aroma of the shampoo. The way it smelled and felt reminded me of a fruity syrup. This shampoo was not drying at all, and made my hair feel and look great. I do not think it is really strong enough for my scalp though because it gets oilier quicker. With that said, I still really like this shampoo, my hair seems healthier and it just feels good. I find myself running my hands through my hair often because it just seems healthier. Many organic shampoos lack those chemical ingredients that give hair that “sheen” and “luster” but this brings it back with good ingredients which is incredible. I’m going to continue forward and see if my scalp situation sorts itself out – if it does, this will be a keeper.

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Yuli Metamorphic Elixir

When winter arrives, Metamorphic Elixir comes into play in a big way. If any green brand is going to pack in performance alongside the highest quality ingredients, it is Yuli and Metamorphic means business when it comes to hydration in the form of a botanically derived hyaluronic acid that is most compatible to the form of natural present hyaluronic acid in our skin, plant powered retinol alternatives (immortelle flower and frankincense which are both highly rejuvenating are literally ingredients 3 & 4), as well as the humectant glycerin which is a common ingredient however theirs is derived from fatty acids found in coconuts. Also if you love roses, this is flowing with a complex of roses with damask rose as the 2nd most abundant ingredient and also including a very rare white rose which smells soft and delicate. I think it was Chalkboard Mag that called this rose water on steroids for this reason. I first took the plunge to Metamorphic Elixir after hearing The Hermes Hippie and Rebecca Bailey of NMDL both  rave about it and it was love at first mist for me as well. A good face mist is like crack (I assume.. not speaking from experience), you just can’t get enough and already start dreading running out before you’re half way through  – that is exactly the relationship I have with this elixir. Add this to your winter regimen, it’s the tall drink of water your skin has craved.

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Winter Beauty MVPs

Beauty Idealist

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the most maddening time of year. Years spent as a student has given me near anxiety of wanting to experience and enjoy the seasonal merriment while also buckling down for the finals that loom in the ever approaching distance. While I’ve usually focused on skincare, this post is about those most valuable products that I’ve found myself relying on lately to look and feel my best whether it’s meeting a professor, stopping into a store for a gift buying session or catching up with busy friends over holiday cheer.

Byredo Gypsy Water

To me Byredo will always represent the first niche line I ever tried. What an exciting time that was to venture out of my comfort zone of Tom Ford, Armani and Chanel fragrances to try this then little heard of company with growing cult status. Now Byredo is game changer, managing to retain it’s cult-favorite status while expanding their doors in a major way.

In a line of simple and sometimes alarmingly stark selections, Gypsy Water is the signature in my opinion. It goes on citrus and dries toward incense. Surprising and captivating, making me feel somewhat powerful yet understated enough throughout the day.

Celine Bicolor Clutch

I’ve not discovered anything more versatile and understated as these now iconic two tone clutches from Celine that go with everything. They’re just the right size to fit the necessities: phone, cards, keys and the extras.

Kjaer Weis Lip Tint

I have to be honest that I didn’t like this at first. As the first green lip product I tried, I found the color to be a little basic and the texture to be dry/rough compared to the silky lip products I had been using. Yet I persisted, for two main reasons: 1. The Kjaer Weis packaging is just so damn glamorous. It literally turns heads as I reapply after meals. 2. Complaints aside, the sacrifice is worth it for safer ingredients since we eat the majority of what we put on our lips.

Over time this grew on me and Dream State is that perfect nude that doesn’t give the impression that you “dressed up” for any occasion but just that you look “together”. It also keeps lips moist (thanks to jojoba oil, shea butter and beeswax) and although you will need to reapply throughout the day, it’s not like that’s a bad thing, especially when it’s another opportunity to whip out the metal slider!

Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation

The Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation collection might be limited in color range but it makes up for it in perfect coverage and wearability. You’ll frequently hear beauty editors talking about how the HG foundation should give that perfect “your skin but better” appearance and this is as close as it comes to that in real life. This foundation is so light and layerable for deeper coverage yet the result is always a near nude never cakey appearance. You can go an entire day without feeling like you’re wearing any foundation. I’ve sang its praises time and again on Twitter but a good product deserves accolades.

Yuli Metamorphic Elixir

Yuli’s line is just genius and their elixirs have been on quite an editorial role lately. This elixir in particular seems to be making waves right now among the beauty heavy hitters, between make-up artists and celebrities. It’s my latest purchase from them and although I was initially hesitant since this is for dry/mature skin, I took the plunge after reading through the ingredients: a rose complex of 5 types of roses, hyaluronic acid that they make themselves from organic botanicals, Vitamin C, and the list goes on. And I’m glad I took the chance because this is perfect for winter and so so necessary. Where I usually get dry, flaky skin around my lips and cheeks this has helped keep my skin plump and hydrated. Since this is a hydro-based product (rather than oil based), it also addresses the water aspect of moisture (managing dehydrated skin rather than just dry skin) that balms, oils and butters will not address which is probably why my skin has never looked better.

Oh and the smell, the roses are light and luxurious. It makes me think of what a wealthy Upper East Side lady with a light, sophisticated touch would have in her beauty vanity. Each spray makes me feel wrapped in luxury. A knockout.

Look for in-depth reviews of these in the future, but in the meantime are there are products on my MVPs list that are also yours?