Labor Day Weekend Essentials

When I was a kid, the end of summer was the saddest time of the year for me as it meant going from carefree days filled with travel to going back to school. Now, as a grown-up, I relish in this time of year when I know the weather is going to hit that sweet spot between hot and cold, and New York feels “alive” again. This Labor Day weekend, I’m gleefully bringing the sweaters and coats out from storage while eyeing moisturizers that will soon come back into the rotation (hi, MV Organics Rose Moisturizer!).

In the meantime, here’s what I’m using – split into two categories:

HYDRATION

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream: a buttery lotion in a very durable tube that will travel well in your handbag. Somehow this tube holds so much cream that I’ve been using it for months without really making too much of a dent. It could also be that it’s so effective that you don’t need a huge glob. The indigo colored cream melts into hands, leaving a watery sheen that feels so soothing and hydrating. And I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, this is one of the few hand creams out there that isn’t fragranced with synthetic perfume so the beautiful scent is enjoyable, not cloying.

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator: the spray on this is so fine, it feels like tickling your skin with a feather. Because of this, I often overspray my skin which isn’t bad because there are tons of wonderful organic ingredients. The scent is also really nice, I can’t really describe it other than it’s refreshing, clean, but delicious at the same time? Similar to the Tatcha hand cream, this is really light and durable, which means it is ALWAYS in my handbag. Beyond the convenience factor, this is important because it helps me increase my skin hydration since it’s easier for me to mist throughout the day no matter where I am.

African Botanic’s Cloudburst Micro Emulsion: if you’re looking for a light moisturizer that won’t suffocate your skin but is packing plenty of active nutrients, look no further! What I love about this moisturizer is that it’s essentially a serum masquerading as a moisturizer. The ingredients are a who’s who list of anti-aging, hydration superstars, and as it’s African Botanics, you can trust that they did not leave out any of the good stuff, from hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, to peptides and algae and minerals. Part of the reason why the moisturizer is so powerful but light is due to what’s called a “water in oil” technology that helps the gel-like moisturizer to sink into the skin and then plump and hydrate.

GLOW-GETTERS

Lina Hanson Global Treasures: I love, love, love this balm. Have I tried Blue Cocoon? Yes. Have I tried In Fiore? Yes. But Global Treasures from the ingredients (coffee, matcha, gold leaf, pearl) to the presentation, to the silky melt-on-your skin texture, is just unrivaled to me. I love putting this on as an eye balm, it tightens, firms and nourishes so well. Have persistent dry spots? Press this balm in, it will disappear quickly leaving only a subtle glow behind. If you’re worried about balms being too heavy, I can say that this is probably the lightest that I have used, in fact, I use a separate balm for my lips because the active ingredients make this function more like a super nourishing serum.

YÜLI Liquid Courage Antioxidant Serum: We can’t really have a discussion on glow-getters without talking about this gem. A good face oil can give skin that resplendent glow, but this one takes it to another level with brightening Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid (the combination is known to even undo pigmentation caused by sun damage), and a concentrated antioxidant cocktail that evens skin tone and instills radiance. The composition is really perfect where the oils soak right into the skin and wake up the complexion, due to actives like CoQ10 that really get to work on energizing skin. I like to put this on as an oil, antioxidant serum and primer before sunscreen and makeup because it’s so protective (boosts SPF) and functional, and in the night it’s a full-on anti-aging repair serum that leaves skin looking brighter, and more pristine the next day.

Kjaer Weis Highlighter: If you want that goddess glow, Kjaer Weis’ Highlighter is a must-have. One swipe per cheek delivers that radiant sun-kissed touch. If you want that Bella Hadid contoured glow, just apply the cream highlighter with a brush onto the under-eyes (to immediately vanish any darkness and bags), down the nose (for sculpting), and a dash on the cupid’s bow. It’s so simple to look good with this highlighter because the formula is so universally flattering and blendable. Any notice will look like a pro, because of how versatile this product is. This is that single product that can produce the perfect filter in real life, you know the one that your favorite Instagram influencer has where the sunlight hits at just the right angle and intensity.


Drop me a comment if you have questions about any of these products, or let me know what you’re using as we move from summer to fall! 

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JULY 4TH WEEKEND BEAUTY ESSENTIALS


I hope everyone is having a good summer! This year’s July 4th was on Wednesday so I ended up making a very long weekend out of it and made the trip from NYC to the Hamptons.

My skincare isn’t really based on set routines because I believe in changing things based on what my skin needs, so I’m sharing a couple of the products I brought with me for my long weekend trip.

Kahina Giving Beauty Oil Cleanser

I’ve been consulting with estheticians and figured out that it doesn’t matter if you only wear sunscreen and “light makeup,” especially in summer, everyone needs to double cleanse to get that surface stuff off before going in for that actual cleanse. It is apparently one of the core tenants of Asian Beauty Rituals so I’ve committed to oil cleansing every night before going over my skin with my trusty Halcyon Cleanser which is like…. the most necessary staple in my routine and key for good skin during summer when everything feels grittier and sweatier, it leaves my naked skin soft and baby-like.

As mentioned in my previous post on oil cleansers, Kahina’s Oil Cleanser is my favorite oil cleanser. It has a subtle yet pleasant aroma, possesses a nice weighty texture for massage without tugging at the skin and rinses cleanly. Beyond good organic ingredients, it’s also anti-inflammatory which is a major plus for heat prone summer skin. I like to massage it and feel the impurities glide off my skin. Since using this in conjunction with Halcyon, my skin has been totally clear and pores look clean and tiny, even those around my nose.

African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence

Many people assume that summer means going lighter on moisturizing products but that’s a mistake. The water content in the skin can be even more prone to TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss) due to the sun, air conditioning and high temperatures.

The Rose Treatment Essence is a nice weighty translucent gel that is far from the fluid textures of Asian essences. I gently rub this around my skin and it disappears immediately like a succulent serum. And the rose, oh my, the rose scent is such a pretty thing, so full and elegant, that the first few times I used it, I was so taken that I barely even paid attention to any results. Armed with botanical emollients, humectants, hyaluronic acid, and oligosaccharides, the results are worthy of the price tag: it’s very hydrating but not heavy or clogging which is exactly what you want from an essence, and the ingredients make skin feel firmer and pores look smaller.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

A classic as far as green beauty goes, this has been in my beauty ritual for years. I always purchase a new jar at the beginning of every summer because I know how beautifully it works to gently exfoliate dead skin cells and all that leftover residue that accumulates during summer. This leaves my summer skin feeling light, fresh and happy and the instant-ready jelly texture is convenient to apply and wash off. The refreshing aqueous-herbaceous, fruity scent is one of my favorites.

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream

Have you ever sat in an air-conditioned room and then felt your hands? For some reason, they always feel a little… rough, right? I first used Tatcha’s Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream years ago and continue to love it. This hand cream disappears so quickly that it feels like your skin just drinks it up like water. And my hands are always left so smooth and nice.

Truth be told, I love a chic, sophisticated tube of hand cream since I’m always taking it out of my handbag in public and Tatcha is a brand that I associate with elegant beauty. Unlike a lot of other brands that make chic, sophisticated hand creams like Byredo or Le Labo, Tatcha uses only natural fragrances so my hands (and the things they touch e.g. FOOD) do not carry any cloying scents. This is very important to me as strong, synthetic scents really get to me and make me feel sick after continued exposure.

YÜLI Cellular Lip Conditioner

I’m more laid back about lip balm usage during the summer, it just feels counter-intuitive to me to cover my lips in a layer of balm while my face is melting off. Cellular Lip Conditioner is a lip serum that is 100% food grade (yay!), but also serious business as there is a powerful antioxidant chemistry that strengthens against UV exposure. It has great, nourishing plant oils like avocado, sesame seed, and green tea.

The texture is light, yet you feel nourished and hydrated. I like applying this also as a base layer before lipsticks and stains which can be drying (especially organic selections).

Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation

This has been my go-to foundation since I first started using it (see Kjaer Weis review). I love how versatile it is, it can be worn as a “naked your skin but better” foundation or a fuller coverage depending on how you blend and layer. For daytime, I do three swipes: one on each cheek and forehead, then blend in for a very minimal face that still evens and lightens my skin.

What I love about this cream foundation is how it soaks up oils that skin produces throughout the day so even by the end of the day, I’m left with a very natural dewy complexion with a highlighter-esque sheen rather than a greasy face.

YÜLI Metamorphic Elixir

It’s funny how long I’ve been using this line. When I first started, my skin was ridiculously out of balance, oily and acne prone. I was using Panacea Elixir (which is like an organic P50 without the acids) and now, I all about that tall drink of Metamorphic Elixir which is a very rejuvenating (translation: anti-aging) and hydrating face mist. One thing I’ve learned is that a non-water based mist is much better than water-based mists that can evaporate and leave skin even more dehydrated and Metamorphic Elixir uses botanical hydrosols and aloe vera which are more hydrating and do not have that evaporation problem.

In addition to that base, Metamorphic has serum-level ingredients with an instant-mist delivery so you’re loading up on things like hyaluronic acid, carrot seed, and immortelle flower (the star ingredient of Madonna’s MDNA line). This has helped my skin feel more plumped and satiated. I have been using it for 2 weeks straight, spraying anytime I felt like it and my skin analyzer indicated that my hydration went up by 26% – the real deal.


Let me know if you’ve been trying anything new for summer!

My Current Routine: Winter 2018

There’s something about the winter season that inspires what I deem “hibernative self-care”, which I loosely define as cozy evenings/weekends of take-out, and skin pampering while a Netflix marathon plays. To me, there is no better time to explore products; playing with their textures and exploring their intricacies in layering and mixing them with other potions.

As we all know, I’m unable to keep to a pared down routine. I didn’t think it made sense to talk about a single cleanser, or lone face oil that I’m using because by the time you read this, I’m already experimenting with another product. So I’m going about this more through the steps and processes in my routine to achieve plumped, radiant, well moisturized winter skin and the products I’ve been use regularly.


Cleanse

Cleansing is so important regardless of your skin type. I’m actually very turned off when I see a skincare brand founder say that they don’t cleanse their skin for whatever reason. There are impurities expelled through basically every orifice of our body including the pores of the sponge-like epidermis. Pollutants, smoke, oxidized residue from stale sebum and protein deposits, proliferation of microscopic mites and parasites, accumulation of dead skin cells, etc. are all reasons why every skin type should take cleansing seriously.  

During the winter, I like to rotate in the creamy cleansers. For a deep skin pampering session, I use Aurelia’s Miracle Cleanser, a very luxurious creamy cleanser that I massage for a good 5 minutes and remove with muslin. This has a familiar cold cream-esque texture and an uplifting, fresh scent that feels very spa-like.

If I’m looking for a quicker or less involved cleanse, the cream cleansers I go between are In Fiore’s Treate Gentle Cleansing Emulsion and Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser. For make-up removal and deep cleansing, I apply around 4-5 quick pumps and massage onto dry skin. This allows the cream to create a nice emollient texture so you’re never pulling or tugging at skin. As a daily cleansing step, I massage 2-3 pumps on wet skin and re-wet if it dries during massage. These creams both rinse off cleanly with water. While I love both cleansers and would repurchase them both, I really think everyone should try the Kahina Cleanser as it has really been an under-the-radar product which is a shame because it has one of my favorite cream textures, has an ever-so-subtle luxurious scent, and is a great price for the quantity. There really aren’t any negatives and I highly recommend it.


Tone/Mist

It may seem like I’m on a Kahina kick, but I first used the Kahina Giving Beauty Toning Mist 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve wanted to revisit it, despite the fact that there are already so many beautiful organic mists out there. What I really vibe with from Kahina is their gentle, sophisticated nature. This mist uses soothing and hydrating aloe vera leaf juice, rose water, and anti-inflammatory argan and white tea leaf extract. It’s lightly scented with Moroccan desert rose (very similar to MŪN Anarose Toner) which makes this hydrating mist impeccably luscious.



Serum

Serums are the power players of any routine. My MVP serum since it’s release in late 2017 has been YÜLI’s Ambrosia Beauty Nectar, a highly impressive hydration/anti-aging serum that is the topic of 80% of the e-mails I receive. On that note: I hear you, I’ll post an in-depth review for Ambrosia Beauty Nectar. I have to admit that receiving all the requests just makes it harder for me to start putting together a review as I feel like the expectations are at a point where anything short of writing a book will not be enough.

Ambrosia Beauty Nectar is a beast, it blows hyaluronic acid serums out of the water, it raises the bar for how anti-aging serums can work, and I’ve even seen others say it has the benefits of all of the immensely popular Kristina Honey+Marie Veronique serums combined.

The oil-free texture is engineered to be identical to skin’s natural moisture reservoir, a layer of cushion that depletes with time. It’s active but unlike active serums with ingredients like Vitamin C, Retinols or Acids, it works WITH skin rather than trying to overturn it, so there is a lot of support for things like restoring the barrier, strengthening cell immunity, rather than creating irritation or inflammation. Though YÜLI is smart enough to know their customers are probably also using actives like Vitamin C (a notoriously difficult active that can have side-effects when in contact with the wrong preservatives, pH, etc.), so the formula is one of the rare ones that not only plays well with others but also boosts functionality, making it wonderful as the essential serum that can be the base of any cocktail.

Depending on how I feel, I either pump enough Ambrosia to create a thin layer before mist or mist and then apply a cocktail of Ambrosia + Face Oil. Ambrosia does for hydration, what face oils do for nourishment, so you want to use both. This is why one of the most common complaints I hear from readers who use primarily oils and balms, is this feeling of chronic depletion that is often mistaken for dryness but is really due to incorrectly relying on oil-based products to target hydration and reverse trans-epidermal water loss. If you are using a face oil by itself or only with a mist, Ambrosia is not only going to quench that underlying thirst for moisture but it’s also going to really elevate the way the entire system of products comes together.

When I want to go heavy hitting, my face oil of choice to pair with Ambrosia is YÜLI Liquid Courage Antioxidant Serum. Spirit Demerson refers to this more as a serum in oil form rather than a face oil because it’s not a straight blend of oils, there is pure Vitamin C (for glowing skin), Ferulic Acid, biofermented plant extracts that make it kind of a super-oil. I like to mix it or layer it after Ambrosia because they both contain concentrated, potent antioxidant complexes. Liquid Courage contains an antioxidant seed complex derived from the most nutrient dense seeds of superfoods while Ambrosia contains pharmaceutical grade antioxidants like Astaxanthin, so their concoction delivers the richest antioxidant cocktail. These two products combined are skincare nirvana and delivers such a radiant glow.

If I’m going more minimalist, I pair Ambrosia with African Botanics Neroli Infused Marula Oil which is a very pure Marula oil topped with Neroli for a very crisp, refreshing fragrance. African Botanics has the best Marula oil that is organic and comes from protected South African reserves. It’s so beautiful to just massage and lightly press into my skin. It’s really lightweight and sinks in quickly while feeding skin with all the necessary omega-rich goodness that comes with marula oil. Just very simple, high quality and beautiful.


Moisturizer

I’ve been all about textures lately and the African Botanics Cloudburst Micro-emulsion Balancing Moisturizer is this ingenious creation that is light as a serum but tops up perfectly after applying face oil. My skin is never left dry or thirsty. Thicker creams can clog pores, or dull the complexion, this one is quite different. The ingredients include marine algae, copper and plant peptides, and skin loving minerals like magnesium and zinc. The green gel is also immediately cooling and calming, thanks to wonderful anti-inflammatories like green rooibos tea, resurrection plant, and chamomile. It really is a serum level product, but intelligently utilizes molecular science to act as a moisturizer.

If I want something heavier or just crave that rich “slather on” feeling, I reach for the MV Skincare Rose Soothing & Protection Face Moisturizer, which is full bodied and indulgent without making skin feel suffocated. There are times where I get a little lazy and skip face oil, and this is that rescue product that really works well even by itself. When used alone, my skin is soft and comfortable. When layered after serums, my skin is glowing and has that extra oomph.

For daytime, I finish with Suntegrity Natural Face Sunscreen & Primer SPF 30. It’s a great, green sunscreen that uses only Zinc Oxide as it’s active sunblock. I like the texture compared to other physical sunblocks in that it’s easier to apply without leaving white streaks over my skin. I actually use this almost like a highlighter to take advantage of the white Zinc Oxide cast.  One tip is that the initial white cast does fade within 2 minutes, so don’t let that scare you. In fact, it wears incredibly well to the point that it “blurs” imperfections.


That’ll do it! Please leave a comment if you want to share your experiences with any of these products, your winter skincare tips or have any questions!

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!

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.

The Sunday Trio

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

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YÜLI Pure Mask

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

Tatcha Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate

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

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

Aurelia Cell Revitalize Day Moisturizer

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

The Spring Beauty Edit

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As seasons change, so too does our skin needs making Spring the perfect time to update our skincare top shelf! Gone are the thick moisturizers and anything that can be described as “heavy,” and in are fresh, enlivening products that awaken skin. The above are some products that I’d like to share with you as part of my Spring Beauty Edit:

Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser: As a first step, this cleanser smells lovely and gets rid of make-up/sunscreen build up. It washes off as a milky fluid making removal easy. Good for a quick removal or extended massage. Use in place of a balm which might prove too heavy for Spring/Summer.

Pro-tip: Apply on dry skin and cleanse before washing. The times I used this in the shower resulted in cleanser washing immediately into my eyes as I believe this cleanser is designed to break down with continued water exposure.

Kypris Moonlight CatalystA gentle resurfacing treatment that sloughs away dead skin cells and exfoliates dead skin cells that perhaps have been trapped under all the oils and moisturizers from winter. A night-time only serum, apply before face oil for best results.

Pro-tip: The older version which is more of a brownish-orange hue seemed to work better for me and the new version which is clear seems much more mild. Both versions seem to work best when slightly heated in hands first. Dry/delicate skin should use this 1-2 times a week as too much exfoliation can be counter productive and reveal thin/crepy skin. I’ll provide a more in-depth review comparing the two soon.

YÜLI M.E. Skin FuelSpring is a season of change, meaning skin may be in flux. This face oil from YÜLI is incredibly high quality being made on site from really incredible ingredients that are beneficial for problematic or compromised skin – black cumin, broccoli seed, sea buckthorn, red raspberry, prickly pear and the formula is focused on balancing and optimizing skin. Deemed a multivitamin for skin and topped with a refined fragrant jasmine note, few will find anything to complain about with this versatile oil.

Pro-tip: Apply to skin that is dewy. Oily and acne prone skins can actually put this anti-inflammatory oil on breakouts to speed up healing. Red/irritated/sensitive skins will like this gentle formula as it contains actual anti-irritant extracts. Use the press/pull technique for maximum absorption.

Kari Gran Lip WhipAvailable in a variety of colors, the naked Lip Whip is a beautifully packaged, green lip balm that gives a viable option for us girls looking for an alternative from the Rodin and Omorovicza balms. The buttery texture is melt on your lips soft while providing a solid base to apply lip stains (or just opt for one of their lip tints). Wonderful to heal chapped lips from chronic winter dryness for supple Spring kissers.

Pro-tip: layer under or dab and mix with heavily pigmented lip products (i.e. W3ll People, RMS, etc) to create a natural, moisturizing tint.

Sunday Riley Good Genes: Good Genes perhaps has Sunday Riley’s biggest cult following, any IT girl from Emily Weiss of Into The Gloss to Alexandra Pakzad will swear by this stuff. Good Genes Treatment is a multitasking lactic acid lotion that is perfect for Spring Cleaning skin. The lactic acid is pretty strong at first (with a very acidic 2.4 pH) and helps to brighten dull, tired winter skin. The first time I used it, my skin felt the tingle and once the sensation subsided, it appeared that all the trapped sebum from winter were released onto my skin as I looked absolutely shiny (TMI?)

Pro-tip: As lactic acid is an AHA, do not layer with oils or actives that can be easily broken down such as Vitamin C and Retinol. Use as either a 20 minute mask (2-3 full pumps) or alone in the evening with an inactive moisturizer.

Kate Somerville Cytocell Eye CreamMy eyes are SENSITIVE. Origins/REN eye products make it red, oils always end up in my eyes and many of the luxury (non-natural) products can really irritate my eyes so when I find one that works, I stick with it, especially through Spring when pollen and allergens are at an all time high. This eye cream from Kate Somerville has been on my wish list for years before I could afford to spend $75 on an eye cream. The ingredients include Vitamin C, a milk peptide complex and Peptide P-199 that renews skin. It relieves, soothes and gives me confidence that somehow my eyes look awake even if I am not.

Pro-tip: Stock in the fridge for added cooling benefits which helps with dark circles and firming. This cream glides onto skin so it can also be used as an eye make-up primer.

YÜLI Halcyon: This cleanser is an all time favorite and is in the Spring Beauty Edit because 1) with a flower water base, it smells like spring in a bottle 2) Spring is the best season for bare skin and this cleanser is perfect for that quick, one-step cleanse to keep skin beautiful. Every wash leaves my skin naked but never stripped just super comfortable and plush.

Pro-tip: The most luxurious cleanse I’ve had was by wetting skin with rose-water or face mist first before applying 3 full pumps of Halcyon and massaging skin. I do this every Sunday and my skin is baby soft, glowing, and pampered afterward. This gel cleanser is also superb when mixed with powder-to-cream masks.

In Fiore Encens Vetivert Body Oil: Unfortunately not yet in stock from In Fiore, this seasonal body oil is one I am well and truly obsessed over. The body oil comes out in a green hue due to the grapeseed oil base and sinks into skin beautifully that it can be applied to dry or wet skin. In Fiore’s scents are phenomenal and their body oils almost double as perfume oils, each transporting the wearer. This one is perhaps my favorite: Vetiver, Neroli, Jasmine, Mandarin all shine. It’s a floral heaven with some edge due to the grassey Vetiver note.

Pro-tip: Apply as a hair oil and do a weekly scalp massage with this oil. Not only do I find it beneficial for my hair and scalp, but it helps keep the scent ruminating all around.

What products have you put on the back burner and what are your staples for Spring? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!