Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Favorites

Upon scribbling my monthy beauty jams for the month full of hot, hot weather (otherwise known as July), two things came to my conclusion - first, this month turned out to be pretty beefy, beauty-wise (eight favorites!?!) and, two, the color scheme looked pretty fantastic. So, here lands the collection of stunningly gorgeous, aqua, mint, pink, and chocolate brown shaded favorites. Oh - and, utilitarian wise, they're pretty good too.

Skincare-wise, my skin has been behaving fantastically and the hot weather means I'm not nearly as dry as I was during the snowy weather (which sure does sound nice, right now). Earlier this month, I purchased the Origins Make A Differrence Plus + Rejuvenating Treatment on a whim after hearing about its skin saving properties. Well, I'm here to say that it has become a staple in my skincare routine, curing my dehydration, spots, scars, and other woes. Since it's just a treatment, I've been following up with the Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins Oil Free - an option which I couldn't wait to finish just a few months ago while I embarked on a journey to grab the ropes on my skin. Now that I've cured the dehydration, it adds just the perfect dose of moisture to my skin, while also imparting a glowy finish and has me longing at the dregs.

Complexion wise, I've had a hard time putting down the Dr. Jart Waterfuse BB Cream. Summer and this babe is a match made in heaven - a pretty long-lasting formula, dewy, yet not over the top finish, skin tone evening powers, and slightly oil-controlling outcome. I've stopped the heavy doses of concealer just for this *gasp*. Since the weather has been heating up, I've been slapping on a powder to keep my makeup that little bit more long lasting. The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light has been my daily complexion jam, BB cream or not. A redness reducing, dew imparting, imperfection blurring, power if a product. Just apply over makeup, and, if you want to be like me, apply in hefty, hefty doses. More really is more, in this situation.

As for cheeky favorites (you knew I had them...), the Jemma Kidd Dewy Glow All Over Radiance Cream in Rose Gold and TheBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen have firmly been added to my daily makeup roster. The stain adds a hint of natural, pink, rosy flush without being the tiniest bit over-the-top - just an 'I'm healthy' sort of glow. Meanwhile, the Radiance Cream adds that bikini model-esque sheen that makes you feel as hot as....Miranda Kerr. (???) Although it's discontinued, take it as a friendly reminder to dig it out of your stocks, or give yourself a slap on the bum if you never took the plunge. The slightly rosey-orangey tint works fantastically with my barely noticeable tan, making a summer favorite.

We're nearly at the dregs, but, this month, I've become rather attached to hair and nail care. Shock horror - maybe it's just because I've realized that I've got no need for more makeup, but I've got something else to spend my hard earned cash on. I'm still testing a few things out, but the Tangle Teezer has been a hair winner. Knot extracting with barely any pain or tugging, it's a messy, textured, hair lover's dream. Nail-wise, I've been too excited to distinguish a favorite nail color, but the Seche Vite Top Coat has been serving up a glass-like, fast drying last step to my twice weekly manicure.
So there's the heat-proof, ice cream colored, summery favorites that have been gracing your's truly for the past thirty one days. They're pretty fantastic, too....

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Pharmacy Purchases

During my recent New York City stay, I made a stop at a cozy, quaint, and cute pharmacy (fully equipped with this friendly black cat) - New London Pharmacy. I've previously noted the decor, brands, and, basically, how I wasted three hours (no joke), but, now, I'm here to note the result. And - it's worth mentioning that I brought my savings in tow.

Although I fully savored the moment, I was on a mission to replenish some missing holes in my stash. First up - cleanser. I rambled in my 'Beauty Reading Material' post about my desire for a makeup remover/morning cleanser. In an unwilling effort to test out other products (thus, compromising my clear skin) I settled on the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. Previously my morning skin jam, it's back in action, but, this time, I've settled on a smaller bottle, just in case I end up feeling experimental.

If you think three hours of time spent roaming around a pharmacy is a lot, then I will undoubtably tell you that I've probably spent more browsing and lusting over UK-only beauty websites. Cult Beauty and Feel Unique are at the top of my 'Most Visited' page, but what if I told you that New London brought some strictly British brands to us. Well, they have - surprise, surprise - and the most heart attack inducing one is Aromatherapy Associates. Loved by Vivanna, Lily, and the whole London crew alike, I picked up the Aromatherapy Associates Revive Evening Bath and Shower Oil. All I can say is the I'm counting down the days until my post vacation sort-out, hosted by a hefty dose of this stuff.
Although I was induced by a needy feeling upon browse of makeup, haircare, and ridiculously expensive hair brushes alike (Mason Pearson, I'm looking at you), my sensible side took over and I tossed the REN Clarifying Toning Lotion into my wicker basket. Although my mom begs to differ, an exfoliating toner in my routine is essential and, for lack of a better explanation, I needed a new one. The REN stocked shelves were fab, but I was in this so-called sensible mood, remember?

We're at the dregs of the bag now, but the last few bits were at the choice of the cashier. Yup - my shopping bag (which ended up being rather large...) was fully equipped with rather large sized samples. The Philip B. Lightweight Deep Conditioning Crème Rinse, Philip B. Drop Dead Straightening Baume, and Styling Gel, rather than just being a mouthful, will be saved to pimp out my next pamper sesh.

Goodbye, New York and, most of all, goodbye, New London. Until we meet again... I already miss the beauty ensemble.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Space NK | NYC Beauty Destinations

'What's that?" - this was my response upon my Uncle's announcement that we were going on a field trip to Space NK. Yup - my low maintenance, surrogate parent (for summer), making a run to buy another tube of REN Hand Crème...he's as awesome as he sounds. At the time, the store and shelves were as thrilling as a new dog. At first glance, it seemed heavenly, but once you got comfortable and wandered around the perimeter a few times (more like five) it lost its thrill. Post introduction to Vivianna and Kate (otherwise knoen as my two make-believe best friends), I'm mad for the London based shop and a stop was first on the list on my New York agenda.

Upon my mom's arrival, accompanied by yours truly, we were swiftly greeted by a piddling sales woman, obviously picking up on my mom's beauty newbie-ness. Little did this sales lady know that she had a a high maintenance beauty gal on her hands, but she soon came to find out. Before we knew it, we were knocked off our feet for facials and makeovers. On me, a sheer concoction of the Eve Lom Rescue Mask, REN BB Cream, By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder, Kevin Aucoin bronzer (apparently the best-selling bronzer EVER), lip gloss, eye shadow, and liner, and By Terry Mascara was brushed, slapped, smoothed, and coated upon my visage. The outcome? A much heavier dose of my usual war paint, yet still young and chic.

As for the mère, she and her wallet were induced by Rodial skincare, a facial steamer, and a convincing sales person. As for the makeup, I have no idea what she had done, but it still looks fab. Amidst the matronly makeover, I took the opportunity to take a peek around the shop. Brands like Diptyque, Sunday Riley, Nuxe, Caudalie, Hourglass, Kevin Aucoin, Lipstick Queen, By Terry, Bumble and Bumble, Oribe, Philip B., and many others stocked the shelves. Other than a long play with the By Terry goodies, Life NK's (Space NK's own brand) Drift Away Milk Soak caught my eye as a specialty, 'can't get it anywhere else' sort of product.

In the end, I left empty handed (well, sort of) *pats self on back*, but my mom sure didn't. As it turns out, she's pretty darn gullible and added what wasn't on her receipt from the Rodial line to her wishlist and swept away with a hefty dose of Kevin Aucoin products in tow. Elaborating on the topic of me (which seems to be a recurring theme on the blog), my little-girl-cute looks came into play when the lovely cashiers allowed me to pick out a few bits from the beauty basket - it was better than Halloween. As for my mom, between you and me, she picked up on my adoration for the By Terry Hydra Powder and added it to the basket to keep on tap for a birthday gift. Kisses to mom!

So there's the tale of my Space NK obsession, and, rest assured, you won't be hearing 'what's that?' and 'Space NK' in the same sentence anymore...

I visited the Space NK in Bloomingdales here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

New London Pharmacy | NYC Beauty Destinations

So far, we've stopped by the bog standard drugstore, stocked with French pharmacy brands. Nevertheless, without a doubt, there's something missing when it comes to the cozy, friendly, and (dare I say) cute factors. Yet, a stop by New London Pharmacy in Chelsea and all of these boxes - and more - will be ticked.
In laymens's terms, I made the trek on a lazy ol' Sunday and my Aunt and Uncles's jaws dropped at the thought of me spending three hours wandering around the twenty by twenty foot space. Now, I'm not sure of the exact dimensions, but the time accounted is right on track and, if permitted, I would have spent the rest of my day there as well.

This place really is a gem. Cozy, comforting, yet undeniably chic (and complimented by a friendly black cat...I know, I know) - it's aesthetically an old-school pharmacy, but WAIT until you hear about the brands inside. Get your cup of joe, because this is a long one - Mavala, Davines (Italian haircare brand with looveely packaging), Aromatherapy Associates, Burt's Bees, RMS (yes, I know. And the Living Lumanizer has been added to the top of my birthday list), Kevyn Aucoin, Bioderma *gasp*, Embryolise, Essie (including the non-diffusion line shades), Butter London, Nuxe, La Roche Posay, Avene, Eve Lom, REN, Vichy, Mason Pearson, Bumble and bumble, Oribe, Redken, Tokyo Milk, Tocca, Dr. Hauschka, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. All other stocked brands are listed on their website, and, luckily for me, there's an online shopping option...score!

If you're ever in the NYC area, a stop off at New London is a must. But, just as a cheeky tip, either (A) bring savings in tow or (B) fasten your wallets. I, for one, followed tip 'A' - thus, a report on my beauty purchases will show sometime within the next week. So, check back. And, please, visit the New London website...for your own good...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Duane Reade | NYC Beauty Destinations

New York City - the financial capital of the nation, foodie heaven, fashion scene frenzy, and tourist trap (Times Square, I'm looking at you). Nevertheless, we can't forget about the beauty spots. Until my arrival, the number of dreams I've had about Aesop stores, Space NK, and French-esque pharmacies are countless and I couldn't count them on just one hand. Alas, I'm here and I've scooped out some beauty destinations that have the Parisian To Be touch and are good enough to be featured in an ensemble of 'Beauty Destinations'.

First, I'm here to talk about Duane Reade - I know, I know - the drugstore, Band Aid, and convenience stop and shop. Alas, I'm not talking about these parts. I'm talking about the beauty stuff (otherwise known as paradise). There's the Maybelline, Rimmel, Covergirl, and Milani sections, but you can get that stuff in any US drugstore. Specifically, my heart beat a little bit faster when I caught sight of the French and speciality brands.

These showcased, well kept shelves are part of Duane Reade's 'LOOK Boutique'. Stocking French brands (obviously, my favorite) such as La Roche Posay, Avene, Klorane, Nuxe, Vichy, and Lierac and, also, niche brands such as 100% Pure, TheBalm, Cargo, and others, it's all pretty hard to resist. Without a doubt, a wander around and you'll forget you're in a lousy old drugstore.

If I had drugstores like this around me all the time, I'd be a happy camper (and have no savings...). So far, I've resisted the temptation of the Duane Reade calling...for the most part. Seche Vite Top Coat, OPI Nail Envy, OPI Samoan Sand Nail Colour, and the usual cotton pads and Icy Hot (Remember? Beauty blogger AND ballerina) have been my only beauty booty. Restrained? I think so, but, for those coming from out of town or have saved up some cash, love the Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm, Lierac eye balm, La Roche Posay 'Anthelios' range, and others. At the end of the day, I try my hardest to resist the call of Nuxe cleansing milks, Klorane hair-y goods, and Vichy BB Creams as I pass by block by block. I've made it thus far, and now, it's your turn. Enjoy the LOOK Boutique and note any cheeky experiences or general chit chats in the comments.

And remember - this is on the first stop of the 'NYC Beauty Destinations'.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Origins Make a Difference + Rejuvenating Treatment | Review

With skincare, trial and error can be the best (yet, at times, unfortunate) way to find the path through your skin. As a young un' my main and only concern was the slightly slick appearance that was imparted upon the face of yours truly come three o'clock. Now, things are a tad bit more complicated. I don't mind a bit of grease come the end of the day, but only as long as my skin stays spot, scar and dry patch free. Well, this wasn't the case over a month ago, when two spots on my skin at a time was 'good' and when it was mandatory to leave the house with the whole base shabang *read: foundation and concealer*. As of late, my complexion has changed for the better and when the two spot case pops up again, it seems the contrary and my mind goes in a state of 'something's ridiculously wrong'. Alas, my clear complexion is all down to this - the Origins Make A Difference Plus + Rejuvinating Treatment.

The oil-free treatment gel gives skin a lasting, moisturized, dare I say, plump feeling. For my dehydrated skin, aside from the added dose of moisture, I've reaped the concurring benefits. As stated before, I rarely get spots now a days *taps wood* and, when I do, they scar far less than they used to. So, does this sound like a miracle product to you? Well, this redness reducing, moisture boosting, scar busting gel really is, for me.

Yup - my skin is so dreamy, you'd think I've been slapping on a jar full of voodoo - minus the crystal ball and jingling skirt. Instead, a blend of 'The Rose of Jericho' (got that from the website) to rehydrate, watermelon for water retention, and lycée extract to promote lasting hydration have been mending my troubled skin for the time being. Since it's a treatment, I apply post-serum, but still follow up with some moisturizer. If you remember from my last skincare routine, I mentioned that I used to spread on the Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask chaque nuit because I thought my skin was that dehydrated. Well, I've sorted things out, put down the peaches (if you own the mask, you'll know what I mean), have simplified my routine, and things are looking dreamy over here on Parisian To Be's visage.

So, a case of trial and error has been sorted and my skin is ready for the close up - the very, very close close-up. If you are interested in seeing my updated routine, shout it out in the comments below because I've been spot free for weeks. The downside? My products are running out and, although I want to try new ones, I've got a case of attachment to my current conditions...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Beauty Reading Material

As part of the beauty blogging community, the breakdown of my day includes reading beauty blogs with coffee in hand, reading beauty blogs on the subway, reading beauty blogs complimented by afternoon tea, and a dose of beauty reading before bed. Yep - you could say it's an obsession. Well, I'm here to share the love and dish on some ridiculously awesome, online beauty reads and general chit chat hosted by Lillian of Parisian To Be. Grab the cup carafe of coffee...because it's Sunday.

When Maddy asked me about a month ago if I could contribute to her online magazine project, my first reaction was texting my beauty-shizz-loving-friend the news, which, then, resulted in an obviously quickly written reply of 'your famous' (verbatim)....oh - and I said yes. Well, I'm here to shout that DYLAN Magazine has been published - and, cheers, to Maddy and her sister, because its amazingly well-done. Check me out in the beauty section!

As for new additions to the beauty reading line up, Elle's new blog, Dreaming in Blush, is a mere concoction of a UK-esque read featuring mostly high end love affairs, skincare obsessions, and products that I don't have to ship from around the world. In laymens's terms, it's fab. Similarly, the story of Sophie's blog, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF A GIRL, is a plain ol' love affair. Chic taste, ridiculously simple yet stunning photography, and a writing style that seems nonchalant, yet beautiful, there's no wrong among her site full of rights...and a site that evoked far too many wishlist additions.

As for general ol' chitchat, I've been pushed around by the hype and purchased a pot of Coconut Oil a few days ago among my other purchases of Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, Ezekiel bread, and strawberries...they're breakfast necessities. As for the coconut oil, I'm not sure I understand the heist. As a cleanser/makeup remover, it's far too pore clogging for my skin and it doesn't melt eye makeup as easily as I would have thought. So, I'm confused. Im far too fearful to try it as a moisturizer, so keep that in mind as you spill other suggestions in the comments below.

Now, I present to you the war paint beautes that have rocked my visage chaque jour - the Jemma Kidd Dewy Glow All Over Radiance Cream in Rose Gold (note: it's particularly stunning with NARS Laguna...swoon). Yes, I know it's discontinued, and I'm deeply sorry for those who can't get a grip on it, but take it as a reminder to dig it out of your stocks. Added to the wishlist and an opening for recommendations is a missing slot in my skincare routine. In other words, I'm in dire need for suggest-y comments for a morning cleanser and makeup remover in one. I've had my eye on the Origins Cleansing Oil, but, for those of you who have tried it, how is it? I digress....

You're at the dregs of your carafe? Well, that's no surprise. I hope you enjoyed story time and now have a pass time for the rest of the day. Enjoy in air conditioning, if I may say so myself...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder | Review

Normally, for a dewy-makeup maven like myself, powder is a no go. Why would you want to apply a matte, cakey mask over your already good-looking complexion in the first place? Well, I was this girl - that was, until Hourglass Cosmetics answered my prayers. Their Ambient Lighting Powders promise a complexion grazed with (you guessed it) light. Varying from that of a 'radiant', 'dim', 'mood', or 'ethereal' they universally recreate a flattering light effect for the complexion. Yours truly hasn't chosen a powder for a golden beige sunset or whatever else the makers have concocted, but she has gone for the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light.

Although yellow and shimmery in appearance, it's deceiving (as I would know from experience). In fact, on the skin, it's pretty darn gorgeous. Even in hefty doses and with my heavy handedness, it still remains undetectable on the skin. Despite the con of running out quite quickly and the well known beauty fact that 'less is more', in this case, more really is better.

So where does the 'diffused' part come in? I hear you, I hear. Upon first application, I wasn't quite sure myself, but with insistence, a near epiphany took place on my skin. Imperfections (read: spots and scars), dull looking skin and other complexion blahs fixed...with a powder. Although the shade promises redness reduction, Hourglass is neither telling truth or fib, but the other properties are far worth it. For matte faced lovers, firstly, you're probably looking at the wrong blog, and, secondly, this isn't the powder for you. There's no glitter in sight, but also no contrary - just pure, glowy heaven.

So, I've told the tale of my powder-convert-ness. At $45 a pop, it's not cheap, but, on the other hand, you won't find something like this anywhere else. The finish and outcome means it has earned a prime spot in my daily makeup application....even on 'simple' days, and you know that those come often.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Makeup Starter Kit

Let's be honest - makeup is hard. Finding the balance between looking like you've really gotten two hours of sleep and that of a clown is difficult. On top of all this, the need of finding some ridiculously amazing products among the stocked shelves containing sheer thousands is near impossible. So, that's where I come in. No, I haven't had a dose of each product among the world of beauty, but I've learned from the marketing scams, wallet wasters, and every where in between. Just to be clear, this is no 'budget' makeup starter kit, but the stuff inside is better than the drugstore could ever serve up, and, perfect for a holiday wishlist, or generous grandmother.

At the front of the pack is a good base (skincare is at the top, but that's for another post). Balancing just the right amount of coverage, dew, and lasting power is très difficile, but the Jouer Matte Moisture Tint does it all and more. With just the right amount of buildable, light coverage, matte-ness so one could go sans powder, and a lasting power fit for a school girl or working female, it has earned a firm spot in my stash since purchase last year. Did I mention I'm nearly at the end of the tube?

A good set of brushes is basically an essential and Pixiwoo's set of Real Techniques Core Collection Brushes are pretty darn fab. Multi-purpose, well washing, quick drying, and soft, I grab them daily and there's no doubt that you won't, too. The 'Buffing Brush' wins top spot for beefing up foundation/tinted moisturizer coverage, the 'Contour Brush' mends concealer to skin seamlessly, and the list continues. It seems like everyone has their own use for each orange handled set of bristles, but, at the end of the day, they're a must have in a beginner kit (or a pro's, for that matter).

Now that we've got base and brushes done and dusted, it's time for the 'fun' additions. Leaving bronzer (it's too hard to master...even for my 40+ old mum), highlighter, and lipsticks alone, you knew that I couldn't master this list without a blusher - namely, Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Colour in Peach Whisper. A soft, pigmented formula and a color that's to-die-for, it's the only one you need, because, in all honesty, it's the only one I each for among my collection of nine. Also, as told by this video, the peachy-apricot-pink shade will compliment any skin tone.

Although a smokey eye may not be on the cards for an everyday slap on, eyeshadow is far too troublesome, but a cream means any messy-handed gal can master the look. The Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Birthday Suit imparts a shimmery, veil of taupe-bronze pigment to the lids, yet all wrapped up in a creamy, creaseless, long lasting formula. Plus, there are loads of other shades to float your boat. Another good un', no fuss, product is the Korres Lip Butter in Jasmine. I've also got 'Pomegranate' hanging around the stocks, but all the shades are gorgeous. Furthermore, they're all wrapped up in an easy applicable, sheer, moisturizing, perfection of a balm - perfect for a night out or no-makeup days.

So, there you have the makeup starter kit minus cheeky marketing strategies (heads up for the Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual for a wishlist extending, good beginner read) or biased 'Must Have' lists. To all you starters out there, note questions and comments in the section below. Otherwise, you beauty know it alls, enjoy the good, basic product info and unite with more recommendations (you guessed it), below.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Alpha H Liquid Gold | Review

When it comes to my skin, I put products into one of two categories - the 'everyday essentials' or the 'treatments'. You've already heard the ode to my everyday slap on for the skincare department, but, in other words, it contains the boring basics that keep my complexion in check day by day. On the other hand, we have the treatments - a round up of real kick butt products that turn 'ughhh' skin into dreamy, 'flaunt it bare faced' heaven. Then, there are those extra special, ridiculously awesome treatments that are applied in a routine-esque fashion. Alpha H Liquid Gold is one of these truly, kick butts (as in plural) solutions.

The treatment was created to cure minor skin issues, as well as the noticable. Containing miracle ingredient glycolic acid, it plays the antagonist in a solution for any skin woe. Already known for its anti aging powers, for the younger generation, it defies that of a 'mature' product. Because of glycolic acid, skin sloughing properties, count acne, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, and scarring cured as well.

When the parcel arrived at my door, my complexion was a mess. Breakouts here and there, it was nearly in the 'acne' category, redness prone, and in dire need of some resurfacing magic. Although the bottle warns on use against sensitive skin, I can vouch for the outcome - upon application, things would tingle (as expected) and my complexion went a little beet red. Nevertheless, in the morning, it had passed, and, miraculously, over time, the redness reduced to none, my skin looks far better overall, and I no longer suffer from clown cheeks or a red-toned visage. As for its acne curing properties, I think that with a better routine all together, you're skin will benefit more. So. Why do I love this stuff? Those under the skin bumps and lumps which have no redness to count as 'spots' but certainly aren't smooth - well, count those cured with an application of liquid gold. In the morning, glowing, smooth, skin is imparted. And, last but not least, application helps with scarring overtime...score!

Application every third day, at most, as an intense treatment - no moisturizer or serum to follow - was my standard approach, making it a simple, über easy, skincare routine for lazy nights....despite the bottle ordering every other day. As for the rest of my balade, I'm now done and through and the Liquid Gold affair has made a massive difference to my skin overtime. I didn't repurchase (I, instead, chose the REN Resurfacing AHA Concentrate), but, at the moment, I'm really missing the ol' Alpha H. Ahhh...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Exfoliators

For the average ol' teen, grandma, or mère, the term 'exfoliation', most often, evokes images of some walnut kernels in a creamy, foamy cleanser. For beauty obsessives, we take the context to a whole new level. For us, peach kernels are old fashioned, and, for a high end lovers like myself, we can't help but think if a fifty-cent peach kernel, can really do all that good for the skin. Well, you're in luck - because here is a list of the exfoliating and chemical potions that I apply on the regular, but, luckily, it won't mean I'll be reaching for the leftover apricot pits.

Sans chemistry interest, the chemical exfoliants tend to be my favorite. Although the newly acclaimed notes of AHA's and other gibberish sound oh so twenty first century, they date back to when the ancient Egyptians took baths in warm milk. As of late, Alpha H Liquid Gold has become the Harry Potter of the aesthetic-lovers world. The glycolic acid solution offers up an intense treatment that scuffs away dead skin cells and imparts baby soft, glowy skin. Probably the most harsh out of the bunch, it does offer some oomph, but, because of its treatment like properties, twice weekly application means it won't burn your face off.

The more daily friendly option, the Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner, puts forth enough exfoliation to rid of bumps, lumps, and rid of bacteria, while still (again) not burning off your face. Perhaps the most friendly option for sensitive skinned gals, a normal skin, like mine, could get away with this on a regular basis and, like I, use it as an everyday toner.

As of my recent 'Products I've Used Up Post', Liquid Gold has hit the dust and the REN Resurfacing AHA Conentrate is filling the gap. The difference? The serum like quality of the concentrate means that you can follow up with the rest of your routine, rather than, with Liquid Gold applying it and nothing else (quite perfect for lazy nights, though). Similarly, the concentrate makes use of other acids - including lactic, fruit, glycolic, tartaric, and others - whereas glycolic acid hosts the main show for Liquid Gold. I'm still grabbing a hold on the ropes with this one, but, so far, I'd say it's a good middle zone for those looking for something more heavy duty than the Clarins Exfoliator, yet less harsh that Liquid Gold.

So far, we've touched on the chemistry-esque exfoliation, but, now, it's time for one that brings us back post -AHA craze - the manual exfoliaters - namely, the Clarisonic. Ever since Oprah or some other Chatty Cathy mentioned the electric toothbrush for the face, it's been all the craze. Where does Lillian come in? I think it's taboo. Although the chemical exfoliators sound scary (there are no gloves required), the dangers of manual include broken capillaries and plain, ol' rough housing. As of May, I had an intense love affair with the thing, dating back to August. Now, I've put it aside and haven't touched it in a month.

So - there's the round up of grandma approved kernels (boring...) and twenty first century ready chemicals. You know I love the acids, but lets ask the real jury - yup, my skin loves 'em too.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rediscovered Makeup

To be blunt, my plans of doing another post featuring my daily war paint didn't quite work out...as I realized that it was nearly identical to the last. Alas, being the problem solver that I am, I improvised and came up with a round-up of some pretty fab products that I've been slapping on daily. What else do they have in common? Dug out from the depths of my makeup drawer, they've been rediscovered just like that high school yearbook....except they won't result in sheer embarrassment.

It's been nearly a month now since I first purchased the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light and, oh boy, does it have a story behind it. The fracas began with Kate's video (no surprises...) featuring 'Luminous Light', and, that same day, I might add, I had rushed to Sephora and it ended in a dished out fifty. Upon application, the pink toned tint wasn't working out for my complexion and I returned. Then, a generous grandma with encouragement at the ready (you can check out the damage here) and I parted, once again, with 'Diffused Light'. It's still taken me about two weeks to fall hard for the love affair, but I'm here to vouch for its imperfection blurring, non-powdered-looking, intense magic. Oh - and I've got the fingerprinted tin to prove it...captured on camera. Excuse moi--

I won't dish out another sob story, but the memoir by the Dr. Jart Waterfuse BB Cream follows a similar path. I was first wrapped up into purchase by the aqua faced packaging (I know, I know...) and a similar adoration by my idol - Vivianna. Once the parcel arrived at my doorstep, I thought I loved it and its application with the Real Techniques Buffing Brush, too. Yet, pushed it went --to the back of a drawer, that is. Unfortunately, I found the 'one shade fits all' promises not particularly promising and it left me a little pink in the face. As of late, I've retired the buffing for this particular product and I've been more than pleased with just fingers. Magically, it matches my skin tone nearly perfectly and imparts a glowy, dewy finish...yumm.

It's no lie - I've shouted from the blogosphere (I promise I didn't get that word from a thesaurus) rooftops that I'm no eyeliner gal. Yet, remarkably, I'm here to talk about an eyeliner. Nevertheless, the Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner in Black isn't performing any cat eye looks, but, rather, is being dotted and smudged right in between the lashes for a bit of volume and 'no-makeup makeup' lashy goodness.
Just like the eyeliner situation, you probably know thwt I'm a picky, picky person when it comes to blusher. I'm highly devoted to Laura Mercier Peach Whisper, but what if I told you that I've been going for something more pink? Well, I have - The Balm's Stainiac in Beauty Queen. A Birchbox sample that I haven't got around to using until now. The gel formula means you don't have to drop all tools to blend, but it means that it sticks around for a pretty long time. The color? A neutral pink that looks just like a natural, gorgeous flush without looking too over the top.

And last, but not least, the Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel in Granite. When I first purchased, I was a little wary, as my already well-groomed brows weren't in need of the extra definition and a swipe with the wand resulted in a slightly bushy-looking outcome. Sooner than later, I went a little crazy with the Tweezerman's and I'm in need of some 'bush' here and there. So, as of late, it's a been my staple brow product in my routine for adding some much needed definition to my sparse brow situation.

So, here is a group of products that go against the grain of my daily makeup slap-on, yet have made their way in. Rediscovered from the depths of my makeup wardrobe, they're delivering pretty fantastically, as well.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Aesop Parsley Seed Deep Cleansing Mask | Review

Although the world of pampering is rather new to me, I'd say that the statement only applies to my 'grown up' self. As a young un' I hosted my fair share of pedicure nights, nail painting seshes, face mask applications, and full on makeovers. Before you get any crazy ideas about how I might have lives in a castle while the maids pimped out slumber parties straight out of 'The Princess Diaries 2', I'll clarify. In other words, my nail salon job only included two customers - my mom and dad - and stopped when I got tired of wasting a whole tube of lotion on my dad's cracked, dry feet...yuck. Similarly, the nail painting outcome was far less than visually pleasing, my face mask stocks stashed 99 cent green veils (probably full of alcohol), and my makeup stocks were otherwise known as the equipped train case full of no-name-brand makeup - courtesy of grandma.

So, now you understand. It's been rather recent that I've rid of the play toys and replaced them with the grownup essentials. Now, I've extended my Sunday night bedtime to sort a full-on pamper session...recently including, the staple, Aesop Parsley Seed Deep Cleansing Facial Mask.
The clay based mask (that just happens to be quite pricy) has become a twice weekly staple in the skincare/pamper department. I've mentioned my love of the heavy duty, Origins Clear Improvements Mask before, so the need of two clay based masks seems unnecessary. Of course, being the beauty junkie and high maintenance gal that I am, I've concluded that they are far different.

Earlier this week, my skin was looking a little rough around the edges. Red here, and spotty there, I dug into my skincare stash (otherwise known as 'cost center') and applied, then rinsed twenty minutes later. Unlike the typical green or black clay mask, this one comes out of the tube a slightly orangy, taupe color and looks nearly undetectable on the skin when wet (otherwise, stating, that I can avoid glaring looks from friends and family...). When dried, a white veil appears, complimented by patches, holes where the liquid has gotten deep into pores and other high tech business. Surprisingly, post removal, my skin didnt feel tight or dehydrated - a usual side effect of pore clearing business. Nevertheless, the real magic appeared the following morning - the little spots were gone, redness cleared, and an immaculate complexion imparted...score!

As for the nitty gritty, the solution contains aloe leaf juice, lavender oil, evening primrose, and, as per the name, parsley seed oil. I don't know what it is exactly, but all I know is that my skin eats this stuff up, sans excessive moisture dosage post application. Although it's pricey, the tube will last foreva' and the results are simply irresistible. And, it's light years more appealing than the 99 cent counterparts...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The New Nail Purchases

Just over a month ago, my opinion if nail polish, or, rather, stereotype, was a cuticle flooded, half chipped, neon pink, tipped, manicure - otherwise known as an OCD girls' worst nightmare. Before I knew it, a legitimently free couple of hours to kill, a rummage throw my mom's drawers (surprise, surprise) and it was official: I fell in love with my newly found, chic manicure, curated a special place in my heart for Essie nail colors, and returned to my room with pen, paper, and YouTube videos at the ready....and here is the outcome.

Like I said, I soon enough had a lust affair with the white lidded bottles (otherwise known as Essie). You already know that I'm in love with 'Mademoiselle', but I decided to take the plunge into mints, specifically, Essie's 'Mint Candy Apple' - a slightly off blue shade with just the right amounts of green and white shot through to make it chic and summer ready. This heart-melting shade gets even better with the addition of a thick faced brush and a good lasting power...and the white lid.

After all this color, you know I couldn't leave without another neutral. Spotted among the pages of Chelsea's blog, the shade OPI Samoan Sand has made it as my most worn color since purchase. A nude with hints of peach and pink and slightly sheer, it's more than flattering and, above all, gorgeous on the nails without giving you mannequin faced tips. I can't help but think that it's oh so Parisian...

Enough with the colors, more than anything, I was in need of a good base and top coat. After much deliberating with me, myself, and I, I decided on OPI Nail Envy. A nail strengthenar and nail prepper in one, I love to multi-task, and it seems like OPI does too. Instructions order a two coat application, followed by another coat daily. So, I guess this means that I haven't been following the doctor's orders...but it definitely makes a good base coat.
The combination of the Nail Envy and the Seche Vite Top Coat have been prolonging my manicure from three days (with my old 'nail stuff') to over a week. After about five days, I notice a few chips here and there, but, for those who can handle the damage, it could last longer. Although the smell is a little less than pleasing, the glass like finish and fast drying goodness make it more than worth it.

Okay - now I'm ditching the videos and opening the pad and pencil to you; to your nail recommendations because Lillian is now hooked in nail care. With that sorted, which shade should I paint on now...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Beauty Empties | Un

Im a picky eater (I'm all for 'clean' i.e. fruits and veg) and the same thing applies to my beauty preferences. We all know I'm up for a good, high-end makeup musing, or a good peachy pink, but some stand out for more than others. Added to the daily grab and brushed, smudged, to slathered on, I arrive at the dregs (sooner or later) and spur on the 'Products I've Used Up' post to the front of the blog-scheduling pack.

Skincare connoisseur? That's me. And when I find a favorite, I know it's a good 'un. The Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask - a dose of peach scented, über hydrating heaven. During hibernation *read: winter*, I slapped it on daily (thus resulting in an empty tube...travel sized tube). Even before I hit rock bottom, I already had another one hanging around in the stocks so I'd never have to go without its ridiculously amazing properties.

My fearful ways by no means stopped at the overnight mask, but, as soon as I felt the last drops of the Origins Vitazing Moisturizer get squeezed out, I was quick to add another to the cart. I've mowed on about the stuff enough, but it makes a perfect day moisturizer. Although it does contain SPF, I always follow with another (just to be safe). Nevertheless, the added bonus simply adds to the love affair.

As of this week, you know of my fears of the 'Milky Way light shedder' (my words exactly...), so you bet bet your bum that I rarely step foot in the sea. Although I just read an article about how the ocean itself is the best salt spray, I don't care and I rely solely on the Bumble and bumble Surf Spray. Again, I've already repurchased, simply because the beachy, slightly textured, tresses are pretty hard to resist.
As my personal, skincare research progresses, I've configured a mental 'cheat sheet' which assigns a product to cure a certain woe. Although this mostly results in many vicarious diagnosis on trains, planes, or other public areas, it's been most helpful when it comes to my own skin. Bumpy, clogged pores? 
Alpha H Liquid Gold is the prescription. An intense glycolic acid solution makes this twice weekly application a godsend for my texture ridden skin. I haven't clicked the 'add to cart' button on this product, again, quite yet, as I've replaced it with the REN AHA Concentrate, but I'm missing it....and I've spotted others on the subway that need this in their routine.
Last month, I delt the news that I had finished a bottle of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir, and I'm here, again, to say that I've finished another. You'd think that I'd be off to snatch my third, but, in my opinion, it's far too expensive to continue repurchasing, especially since I seem to go through it at the rate of knots. Sayonara Eau de Beauté.

Among multiple things you don't know about me - I'm Lillian, and I'm addicted to washing my hands. I know, not the best of habits, but also not the worst. The only repercussion is dry hands, but, luckily, it can easily be cured with a shed load of hand cream. My recent savior of choice was the Aveda Hand Relief Cream. It's nice smelling (of rosemary and mint) and gets the job done, but it's nothing to rave home about.

Perhaps the empties post containing my most loved products, I've left my scurrying 'I've got to use this up' ways behind and learned to enjoy the products while they last...because they're darn expensive. I guess I've got to place another Sephora order...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Neutrogena Ulta Sheer SPF 55 | Review

Ahhh - summer. Currently, my head dances with visions of beach chaises, crowing seagulls, and drifty sleeps lulled by the shore. That's all good, but there is one thing that I despise about summer: the sun. Like most of my beauty wardrobe, I go through phases when it comes to my adoration of the Milky Way light shedder. In lame men terms, I'm all for a subtle bronze. The problem? I burn far too easily and would rather keep my natural English porcelain skin tone rather than mask it with an orange sheet. Perhaps the latter is an exaggeration, but I definitely like to keep the sun off my face.

Post skincare musings and riddance of spotty skin, I was left with scarring - debatably even worse the red bumps. Taking months to fade in themselves, my ever-so-philosophical mind (only during this second) undertook an epiphany. In other words, I realized that using an SPF under my makeup would help prevent extraneous pink marks. In the end, I was right. As directed by the goddess Hirons, one cannot solely rely on the SPF already in your day moisturizer (something about the active ingredients not mixing). A dig through the first aid/beach essentials, family cabinets and there I found...Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 55.

Ridden with déjà vu images of my mother and sand laden fingers *dismisses sight*, I somehow got over this atrocious vision and discovered the extreme pros of the adolescent beach staple itself. Just like it's stated on the tube, it's "ultra sheer" and finishes to a "dry-touch." For an SPF 55, it's ridiculously lightweight and nearly undetectable on the skin. Although it does impart a slightly more sheeny finish than expected, it is nothing too unmanageable *cue powder*.

Everyday, post cleanse/tone/moisturizer, I slather a pea sized amount over the skin and remain free from sun damage until evening removal (hosted by Bioderma Crealine H2O) strikes. Being a chemical sunscreen, you'll have to decide for yourself whether this is worth a try for you, but, for my combination-normal skin, it's pretty darn good.

So - this Neutrogena SPF has become quite the summer staple and I've been slapping it on daily. Cheap as chips, readily available at any US drugstore, and quite the perfect formula, it can't get any better. Now, if only I could find a way to just get a sunkissed glow, sans heat...
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