Friday, February 28, 2014

February Favorites

I distinctly remember writing last year's 'February Favorites' post. There was something along the lines of 'there's no more chocolate left from Valentine's Day' and other beauty jibberish.
Here I am a year older and I'm typing along the same topic, except I have a whole new bunch of products, a few hundred more readers, and I still have some chocolate left; I'm not quite sure how I achieved the last feat this year.
But, alas, we have arrived at the end of another month, so, in typical beauty blogger behavior, I'll be discussing the crème de la crème.

A firm favorite, I've discovered another kindled use for the all-purpose wonder: the Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap. Yet, what is this new method of which I speak? Shampoo. It's surprising, I know. And it takes a while to get used to the new castile sudser for hair, too; first, be wary of the fact that you're hair will be far more tangly, will feel strange, matte, and sticky, and there's a possibility that, if you don't use enough, you risk possibility of looking like a grease ball, too. Yet, aesthetically, my hair has never been more manageable, stays in place without a hitch, and, although not as soft as my sulfate shampoos proved it to be, has loads more volume, too. Dr. Bronner's, you've charmed me, again.

A new discovery is the Herbivore Botanicals Blue Clay Soap. Okay, okay--I promise this will be the last time I talk about this wonder for another week, but it really is dreamy. A cheaper alternative to my previous clay cleanser love, it's clarifying, non-stripping, calming on the skin, slightly milky, and glorious--perhaps down to the lavender and peppermint aroma.
Moving onto another rave territory, I'm discussing the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I've only used this for about two weeks now, but I'm not considering its premature holdings void. As the name suggests, it's creamy, but also (dare I say) slightly fluffy, diminishing unwanted iffy texture. And, oo la la, it's coverage is something to boast about, too. But with all these astonishing characteristics, it also manages to look like skin, not a cakey mess.

Luckily, the onset of March has also brought some warmer and more humid weather; my skin is thanking those weather men. Yet, for most of the month, the Polar Vortex (as experts have called this winter) has shot a cold chill through my hands. To mend the disaster, I've been dousing mes mains in the Burt's Bees Hand Salve--a heavy-duty blend of solid oils that melt and leave more nourished paws and also preen in the cuticle department.

It's short and sweet on the favorites front this month. And there's a strange similarity drawing to my mini chocolate bars: also short and sweet.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate Fruit and Seed Oil Blend

I've learned from my Dad: upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. When possible, lift your vitality with an upgrade of more expensive behavior than attempt to do the same with small tchotchkes.
Well, my dad and I are very different, but I figured I'd take one of his words of wisdom (I was selective, too, might I add) and, verbatim, 'upgrade.'

Though, luckily, I didn't have to pay for my upgrade; it appeared under the sapin de noël--miraculously (although I did throw in a few hints). It was the Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate Fruit and Seed Oil Blend--a mouthful, but also a dreamy blend.
I'd like to propose an idea to the makers of Merriam-Webster: replace the photo for 'upgrade' with this guy.

I've been a fan of rosehip seed oil for quite some time now; remember my musings of the Aura Cacia blend? Well, this takes those standards to a whole new level.
On the outside, they look pretty similar, both orangey red liquids, oily (quelle surprise) in texture.
But, it's what's inside that counts.
High levels of vitamin E and vitamin C pack a punch to ease scarring and general complexion damage.

Yet, this Pai offering decks yet a larger blow. Although other options may be cold pressed, this upgrade is extracted with carbon dioxide to deliver untainted nutrition.
As someone who is not a sucker for staggering marketing claims, I couldn't help but doubt such a individualizing factor.
But, let me tell you, this is no hoax.

The high levels of Trans-Retinoic Acid--in the same family as retinoids--scoff like a chemical exfoliant. So much so that the exfoliating toner step in my evening routine is now null and void--and my skin isn't a happy camper if I add it back in.
So, it's safe to say that this oil is different; expensive, but noticeable. When was the last time your oil was exfoliating?
But with its scrubbing properties aside, it's also effective for the main reason I bought it: ridding of scars. The morning after I used this, I actually noticed a difference in my skin--more calmed and scars less visible. I only use this in the evenings--always following with a moisturizer.
Consider yourself warned: this stuff smells a little funky. But, as with most things, you get used to it--and the effects are worth the stunk.

I'm rather smitten with the likes of this exfoliating oil. Maybe I should listen to my dad's advice more often....

Monday, February 24, 2014

The NARS Purchases

I'm sure I'm not the only lass who has a mental wishlist occupying more space than what I've learned in Journalism class; now that's scary.
To eliminate that unneeded knowledge and replace it with constructive thoughts (that will actually better my being), I've noted every product want in wishlist format, on paper.
I'll finish this topic by saying that--whoa--it's a lot longer than I thought.

But ever since late last year (side note: time flies), NARS products have occupied a vast majority of the top half. The Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer was one of them, but, let's be honest, I don't need any more bases (although my beloved Dr. Jart BB Cream is on its last legs) and I couldn't justify another complexion enhancing tube to further convey the myth of makeup.
But there were two other standings, which, in reality, I could defend. Where did I go next? Off to the beauty market, of course--but, no, there were no little piggies in tow (pun intended).

The first order was the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer--a lust that, even before the tactile list, employed ten thousandths of a millimeter of brain occupancy. As both my existing concealers run low, I deemed this purchase essential.
The shade 'Vanilla' (I know--how unfortunate: the shade that the rest of the world wears, too) blends perfectly to match my skin tone. The light airy mousse texture also glides over the skin and blends seamlessly, to, shock horror, look like skin.

Since my makeup mantra is to make foundations and concealers look as skin-like as possible; to hide blush in appearing like my natural flush; and to line with eyeliner in the most undetectable of ways, another NARS product was coveted by yours truly to boost my 'no makeup' stash.
Even two years ago, I fell hard for the beaute, but the love eased and it fell void in my brain. Then, some blogger love arrived and it earned a spot back on my radar.

I would say obsession would encircle my love for the, then intangible, NARS Blush in Douceur. Well, baby--now it's mine and I haven't looked back.
With a pinky-brown blush theme gracing my cheeks, I knew it wouldn't sit unloved. Then, I caught sight of some of my favorite bloggers sporting it and I knew I made the right decision.
As the third NARS blush in my stash, I knew I'd be fond of the texture and application form, so the color was the real selling point--a burnished, rosy, plum, brown that's a bit darker than Tarte's Exposed (it's brown blush predecessor).

As two of the three things I've boughten this month. I'll draw a conclusion: I made a spectacular decision. Unfortunately, the wishlist keeps on growing. More NARS products, please?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Works Deep Sleep

There are many stereotypes when it comes to me--Lillian. Sizably, most initial conversations begin with 'oh, you're the dancer,' or, 'she's a dancer,' when it comes to introductions. Among my closest friends I'm also the chick who can't sleep.
Yet, I don't mean night owl; I'm talking about the type that rises at seven A.M.--no matter what time I began counting sheep (and I can bet that I didn't get past five).

I'm also such a beauty nerd and emit favorable behavior when it comes to studies. Seventy eight percent of participants 'had a deeper sleep;' eighty percent 'felt less tired in the morning.' I knew the drug in mention deserved a spot on my nightstand. It's the ThisWorks Deep Sleep range.
I've been lusting over everything from the bath soak to the candle for well over a year now and now my grubby little paws have both the Deep Sleep Pillow Spray and Stress Less tangible (a duo packed as the Deep Sleep Pillow Talk set).

As I've tested both constituents for the past month, I tend to strain for the Pillow Spray more.
With a few spritzes of this lavender, vetivert, patchouli, and chamomile liquid, the aroma instantly eases a little strain. How? I have no idea; but, remarkably, I'm never one to fall for aromatherapy promises and, I'll admit, this is certainly no placebo.

With a further induced drift of zzz's, I'll provide a little warning: do not use this stuff on weekdays--there's simply no hope of rising without a groggy finish.
Then, there's the Stress Less rollerball. Although I don't tend to get as much use out of this bottle, the packaging is destined for portable carrying. Housed in a permanent spot on my desk and a carved hole in my makeup bag for voyaging.

Both smell quite similar, but the Stress Less provides a scent of pure lavender with a hint of frankincense dashed in as opposed to the other formulation of a less exclusive essential. Yet, both formulations are made using one hundred percent pure essential oils and free from phthalates, sulphates, synthetic colors and fragrance, parabens, GMOs, mineral oils, petrolatum, and propylene glycol.

So while I don't think anything will cure my connotation (which possibly suggests while sleepovers are a rareity), I crown the Pillow Talk set as the duo that keeps me asleep longer, and, notably, for a girl who likes a good pamper, makes bedtime more luxurious, as well. Maybe the 'girl with the crazy aromatherapy oils' will become a new stereotype....

Friday, February 21, 2014

Vitamin D | Nutrition and Skin

I have two running reasons for the trek to perfect skin. First, who doesn’t want a flawless complexion? That’s what I thought. And, second, I think that my beauty blogger ego needs to boast such a feat, especially because I’m one to recommend the achievers.

But this is where I come clean to admit that I don’t have perfect skin.
Because of my stubborn personality, I’ll test product variations and ingredients until Earth’s end—which, thank goodness, wasn’t in 2013.
Nevertheless, there is one dosage that has really helped my skin, especially since this winter has brought the plenty of polar vortexes: vitamin D.

In my philosophical meditations, I considered the possible cause of my near impeccable summer skin. I tried reverting back to a replica routine, but I didn’t want to purchase all new products. I concluded that the humidity played a rather integral part (my skin always gets cranky come polar temps). But, beyond that, I also remembered that the occurrence happened while I was in New York City—land of pollution and mandatory pedestrian travels.

That’s it: my miles of walking also meant I spent miles in the sun—a habit that stopped as soon as I returned to suburbia. So I realized that the onset of vitamin D played some component in my skin’s favor.
Well, you better bet it was minutes until I had a tub of capsulated sun of my own and I started dosing up on one pill per night; gosh, this is starting to sound like a druggie confession. Nevertheless, after a few days’ use, I noticed that the majority of my breakouts had seized (especially the ones on my forehead—my largest problem area).

Now, I’m in no way disclosing that I currently boast an imperfection-free complexion—particularly because I currently boast a few stubborn bumps on my chin (and I’ve tried everything…). But, I can’t help but owe this dose of ‘D’ to my clear-as-day forehead; nice image, non?
But, even if you try this complexion tactic for yourself and you don’t see any results in the slightest, I’d say that a dosage can’t hurt. If you don’t eat much dairy like me or are as pale as medicinal gauze (and also tan quite easily, might I add), then you should still take a capsule a day for your own health.

The most considerable reason why this mighty capsule has aided my skin is the disclosure that if I forget to take a dose, the spots start popping again.
Who knew that these small drops could be as mighty as a sword?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Beautyblender

Although I consider myself rather restrained when it comes to buying beauty, I also can’t commit to the far contrary. My wishlist runs as long as my legs (which, in my acquaintances’ popular opinions, are rather lengthy), it may take me a lifetime to brush my way to the bottom of my blusher stash, and, when it comes to skincare, let’s just say that I throw all caution to the wind.

But, let’s consider one segment of my beauty toolbox: complexion application tools. There’s the Real Techniques Buffing Brush—you know how I feel about this babe (hubba hubba), my fingers, and, then the Beautyblender.
I could have written through my whole beauty blogger career without desires of this pink, teardrop-shaped sponge and I can’t apprehend from saying that it sits a little unloved amongst the ranks. But, after a year’s contemplation, I’m here to offer my thoughts.

I think I’ve already addressed the fact that I’m a Buffing Brush obsessive, but, assigning the first group of potential Beautyblender lovers, anyone who doesn’t share the love with the buffing would probably love this sponge.
It’s kind of travel-friendly, condensing into a small animal when dry; a run under the tap turns this thing into a rather massive piece.
Its damp nature feels strange (for lack of a better word), but refreshing—especially when puffy eye fever bites.

With stippling motions required, it also delivers heavier coverage, mending pigment to skin rather than distributing it evenly like the other two tools. Yet, despite how scary it may sound, it also does impart a skin-like finish sans fret.
But such rocking motions also requires more time; without careful and thorough means, your base isn’t going to look as blended as Beautyblender potential.

Another hitch: the aesthetic. Its perfectly pink mold gets vandalized with first use, leaving foundation marks and various other imperfections. With daily washing, most pigmentation can be alleviated, but not satisfying for my pristine loving ways.
On another note, this sponge is mighty pricy, especially for its recommended three to four months use (I’ve had mine longer…shhh). But, unfortunately, I can’t help but think that it’s a little unhygienic, too.

Alas, these are my thoughts on the Beautyblender. It’s a rather complicated composition, but—hey—I’m just sharing some minimalist behavior, and, not to mention, Buffing Brush love. Sorry, pink sponge.

Monday, February 17, 2014

REN Clean Skincare

Just over a year ago, my skincare routine consisted of a Neutrogena foaming cleanser and matching facial moisturizer. I know--I should have warned you to grab a steady object before dishing that one. But, then, on a sick day (after coming home from the ER, might I add), I discovered the wonder that is the Essiebutton brand--she can lift any vitality--as well as the other high ranking UK beauty blogger lot: Vivianna, Lily, Alix, and friends.

Now, after a whole day stranded in bed like a brick and an iPad on constant charge, my wishlist grew just about as long as a mile; and, for reference, I also made a miraculous recovery that day, too.
So Lillian's skincare addiction began and the first purchase was a cleanser: the REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser, to be exact; and my love affair still exists to this day.
I was blown at how effective more costly than chips, non-alkaline (hmm...) skincare could be. And whenever I needed a new addition, I always turned to REN. 

Now, I have a slightly different beauty philosophy, partly because I named No More Dirty Looks my bible. So, even with stricter standards, guess which brand still passes the test?
REN's philosophy circumvents 'performance,' 'purity,' and 'pleasure.' 
Surrounding performance, just read a few REN-centric reviews on 'Parisian To Be' and you'll understand why this box earns a slash.

The purity aspect is why, even after my ingredient reality check, I'm still lusting after their stuff. Boasting a thoroughly clean conscience, 'REN only uses 100% plant and mineral derived actives and is free from skin-unfriendly synthetic ingredients.'
Well, what are these unamiable components, anyway, that these potions remain without? We're talking synthetic fragrance, mineral oil, petrolatum, sulfate detergents, synthetic colors, animal ingredients and parabens, glycols, PEG's, PPGs, urea, and others--which I won't go into because I lack the knowledge to understand what half of them are (but, higher minds alike, here's the full list for your entertainment; you're welcome).

Last, the pleasure induced with every use comes down to the high effectivity. And, also, the packaging (a typical Lillian-discussed topic).
Call me boring, but white may be my favorite color; so I'm obviously partial to the minimalist containers. Each range comes with it's specific shade--pictured above is the radiance range depicted in a vibrant orange. Nearly all their products also come enclosed in a clear bag with a transparent outer face. It sounds simple, but it means it eliminates any 'darn--I've run out' situations which always turn a day for the worst.

Based upon the former evidence, you may be able to conclude that I'm a fan of REN Skincare, especially pertaining offerings of their Clay Cleanser, Clarifying Toning Lotion (seriously good stuff), and, although I'm not able to find a way to fit it into my routine, the Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is also nice.

The marketing part of my countenance praises REN for their ability to market themselves as a secretly clean brand, without the voodoo and gypsy connotations that other clean products bring (not that there's anything wrong with that). All I have to say is--damn: how come I didn't discover this sooner; talk about illness cures?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Winter Skincare Routine

Here in the northern hemisphere, it's winter (as if you couldn't already tell by the snow pounding outside your window--okay, it's just my window). But when Frosty arrives, outfitted with that vibrant orange nose, my complexion can't boast the same joy; it throws a fit. Dehydration is one of the principle causes of havoc graced upon my complexion, then over exfoliation holds a firm second.
So, while we're now in February, I think I've figured out how my skin likes to be treated when the thermometer drops below freezing and humidity is an nonexistent prize of gold.

One of the first things I do after downing breakfast and snuggling with my ceramic-housed, piping coffee, is go in with a cleanser. My recent love is the Herbivore Botanicals Blue Clay Soap which seems to be a bar of surprises; it's non-stripping, deep cleansing, packed with oily goodness from coconut and olive oil, and turns out to be a more wallet-friendly version of my previous REN obsession (which is a title it deserves considering it's the only cleanser I used all last year).

Then, I tone with the Derma E Refining Vitamin A and Glycolic Toner with Papaya--a chemical exfoliating potion that rings a wake-up call for my complexion. Luckily, the blend of witch hazel and glycerin also gives my complexion a good dose of moisture, as well.
And, if you're anything like me, you this wake-up ring also equals eyes puffed like a croissant--except they aren't as delicious. I've been using the Origins No Puffery Cooling Roll-On for Puffy Eyes for a handful of months now and it always reduces the size of my peepers like baking soda (obviously, I've been on a cooking kick...).

And before I begin throwing on my daily garb, I pump two dollops of the Kiehl's Skin Rescuer Daily Hydrator which gives an extra dose of hydration along with some skin calming powers.
At this point,  you may be scratching your chin and inquisiting why there's no sight of an SPF. Well, it's winter people and I rarely get a catch outside and the sun doesn't either.

Four products, and a whole morning routine; I wish I could say the evening counterpart was just as simple.
I always double cleanse at night, beginning with the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser which gently removes makeup in a non-disturbing action and also packs a dose of hyaluronic acid; but, for removing waterproof mascara--these formulas always require some extra attention--I snatch a splodge of coconut oil and massage it around my eye area, et voila--panda eyes (which quickly wipe away with a flannel).

For the second cleansing step, I use the Herbivore Botanicals Blue Clay Soap--again; luckily, the price tag means non-guilty cleansing. As for the application of this bar, I wet my hands, and slip it around my hands a few times, then massage onto my dry face until it because frothy (ironically, not because of sulfates) and milky.
After the cleansing is finished, I dry my face and splash some rosewater (at the moment, I've soaking on the Heritage Store Rosewater) for some additional nutrition. A few drops of Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum--what else?--goes on top, followed by the Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate Fruit and Seed Oil Blend. Believe it or not, the carbon dioxide extraction method means this vibrant potion packs loads of Trans-Retinoic Acid--a form of retinoid--which, in addition to banishing scars and spots, also exfoliates the skin. When was the last time your oil was exfoliating?

Unfortunately, I tend to go a bit overload with the oil, applying six a few drops, but my skin still needs additional moisture; so the Kiehl's Skin Rescuer makes another appearance.

As for treatments, I'm still establishing that subsection of my routine, but whenever I slap this load of products on my complexion, I know it's going to be a good skin day; and sometimes, it's even a snow day, too.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Blush Color Spectrum

Valentine's Day. The only chocolate gifts I receive are from my parents. And I tend to spend the passing hours on a date...with Netflix (although I also tend to cheat with YouTube--we have a complicated relationship). But, what better way to sprinkle the love than with some serious commending?
I'm a blush obsessive. I rarely go une jour sans a hint of pigment on my cheeks; and, surprisingly, tend to embrace the added flush despite my naturally red-tinted cheeks.
But, despite my intense love affair, I only have six compacts of pinkish tinted formulas in my whole stash. Six; now that's self control.

Nevertheless, by the likes of this picture, an intense theme runs: a hint of peach. So, you could say the title of this post is ever-so ironic; 'spectrum' cues images of a white to black scale, with mauves, burnished coppers, and moss-spiked greens ridden through the mix. But, you know my subtle cares, and, for me, my blush vault is the epitome of chromas in the spectrum.

Overwhelmingly, my texture of choice is powder, but two lovely cream formulas stun my heart (and then my cheeks)--when you only have six, you know they're all extraordinary. The muddy, white tinned potion is the RMS Lip2Cheek in Muse*. With RMS Beauty's philosophy and make up of luxe oils and plant pigments, this is by far the glowiest option, but also the most multipurpose. The combination of pink, plum, peach, and a splash of burnish means it's like a contour, highlighter, and cheek shade in one.
And the other cream compliment is the Stila Convertible Color in Gerbera (or the most stunning peachy-pink shade ever...). The pigmented formula requires only the slightest dip with a soft brush to impart the same shade as the packaging hints. Although the formula is slightly glowy, it's also more subtle and tends to stick and dry to a powder finish after a few hours time.

Continuing with the peachy-pink trend, the Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Colour in Peach Whisper won my 'most loved of 2014' award; beyond the more peach-toned shade than the former cream mention, it's formula like butter is the real standout. It's matte, but also gorgeous; who would have ever guessed I'd be praising a matte finish.
Albeit, my two NARS components are the opposite of matte, and one's a peach, the other a pink. The peachy, bronzy, embodiment is the NARS blush in Luster, imparting a truly bronzed appearing complexion--even despite my snow-white, porcelain visage rocking.

The pink compact is NARS Deep Throat (also, my first venture into the world of blush at the beginning of my makeup path). Imagine a true baby doll pink, but with the sophistication of champagne. Both NARS formulas are pigmented and soft, but not as creamy as the Laura Mercier formulation, and also boast a more glowy and sometimes shimmery aesthetic.
In the corner is the loner--Tarte's Amazonian Clay Blush in Exposed. A matte punch, stain-like finish, and burnished plum suggests a more toned-down version of the natural beauty of Deep Throat, but more 'no-makeup' appearing and stunningly gorgeous.

Gorgeous? Well, all of them are; why do think they've stuck around? You could say the reason I only have six is because I honestly can't decide which shall be the new addition to the ranks. Minimalist? Maybe, but definitely an obsession. Unfortunately, they can't give me chocolates, though....

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Ikea Journey

Swedish, equipped with an ethnic grocery section stocked with munchies from its homeland, and the place of organizational, OCD dreams. I love Ikea.
Okay, okay--I've only been once. But I already know the brand inside and out thanks to Estée and Aslan's vlogs; they take obsession to a whole new level.

So, I may have just stepped into the blue and yellow clad store, complete with its own line of flags (are you sure this isn't a country?) and a marketplace section that even had both my mom and I throwing all caution to the wind (i.e. ignoring the prices). But, let me tell you, souls with an induced anxiety when it comes to the dollars inside your wallet, Ikea is the home place for you.

So, my journey--and this one, too--begins in the showroom. There were bedroom spaces, kitchens, bathrooms, and offices; then, there were the 'my 300 square foot' home spaces that were replica versions of real people's homes--when can I move out, again?

On the floor underneath was the marketplace; oh, excuse me: The Marketplace. Tons upon tons of dishes, kitchen supplies, pillows, curtains, enough lights to cue a 'am I on the sun' inquisition. My favorite segment? The succulents.

I tested my green thumb in the form of transporting, then caring for an aloe plant two other lotus-like, green blooms. Let's just say that they ended up in the trash (and my green thumb turned more into a sore thumb), but I don't give up. I parted with a jade plant--a long branched and extremely thick, green leaf-clad pot. Jade, please live.

Yet, a close tie to succulents in the department arena is desk supplies. Technically, the Skurar Candle Holder is, as the name suggests, a home for a candle, but, I use it for storing my moisturizer, face masks, oils, etc. Now I'm really stretching the use.

So, you could say that I've fallen head over heels for Ikea; it's European--what did you expect?

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Five Product Face of Winter

Winter has sucked everything out of me. It’s true. This arctic blast These arctic blasts are slurping the moisture out of my skin; the flu season is defeating my immune system (and juicing isn’t fixing this one); the onset of deadlines and rehearsals galore means I’ve been rolling over a few too many times under my duvet, thinking the beeping of my alarm is the sound of ‘We are the Champions’—if only I was—and I’ve been rising with not a second to spare.

So, makeup has been placed on the back burner (of course, it’s never skincare) and a five product face in five minutes flat reserves more time for quinoa fuel in the morning and less for brushing away on my cheeks; sorry, Parisian To Be readers, but that’s the way I like it.

For as minimal a base as possible, I always turn to more pigmented options, but my moisture yearning complexion needs the added moisture of a tinted moisturizer. The Jouer Matte Moisture Tint seems to be the super-base in my stash. It covers in the pigmentation department, adds a hint of radiance yet stays matte and non-oily appearing all day, isn’t drying, and doesn’t initiate another turn for the worse in terms of my complexion.
But, because I’m such a tinted moisturizer maven, I usually always follow up with a concealer. At the moment, I’ve been smoothing on the Origins Plantscription Concealer. With a hefty dose of pigment, nearly invisible remains, and a formula meant for aging complexions, it’s hydrating and has been working really well on my wreck of a face.

Now, it’s time to initiate the job of some real multitasking wonders. With a five product limit, there’s no time for blush, bronzer, and the rest of the nine yards. Then, when considering makeup, we also have to consider what it’s going to do for the skin. Well, there’s the RMS Lip2Cheek in Muse* which, just like the tint is doing for my complexion, seems to save the day. It’s completely natural, organic, vegan, and complete with any bell or whistle you inquire. But, on the cosmetic level, it produces a sheen that’s highlighter-worth, and, then, it’s pigment in all its brown, pink, and slightly peach tinged glory ticks off the bronzer, contour, and blush categories.

Last on the route of superhero products are the true staples. The Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil is always gracing my brows, adding a sophisticated and polished touch to my overall visage and a hint of length for a more face-flattering arch.
Then, mascara by the name of the Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Waterpoof is wiggled and jiggled into the roots of my lashes for volume and then dragged to the tips for length.

Five products that have now been applied, and I can now fuel-up for the coming day; if only surviving winter was this easy.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This Week's Most Loved Trio | Sept

Is the cup half full or half empty? Normally, the answer to that question can solidify whether the person you’re speaking to is full of vivacity or lacking in bliss. Either way you see it, today—Sunday—is either the end this or the beginning of the one containing Valentine’s Day. On the topic of Cupid showered cards and chocolate-filled boxes, the latter is my only favorite morsel of February fourteenth, because I’ll be spending the day with me, myself, and I (and, of course, the load of beauty products which achieve the task of lifting my disposition).

And if there’s one category that elates my mood more than any others, it’s cheek products. Okay, okay—skincare obviously rules supreme, but anything cheeky maintains a close second place.
This week, I’ve been brushing up on the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Exposed. It’s been a long time, no use with this plum, pink, and slightly brown tinged beaute. In my chase for a seemingly pristine and untouched complexion, this shade wins as the most seamless looking pick—both in shade and texture. It must be down to the clay that makes this blush stain-like, but the texture (although not as buttery as I would have wished) still conjures a natural flush without a Rudolph-hint. If only I was a natural beauty….

Similarly on the natural-appearing front is the base which truly works a ‘no-makeup makeup’ finish: the Jouer Matte Moisture Tint. As a tinted moisturizer maven, the name has me smitten, but let’s not forget the actual goodness inside the tube. For a tinted moisturizer, it offers seamless coverage—what my complexion needs, at the moment (damn you, arctic blast), but without looking too makeup-y on the skin. Then, there’s the finish. I’ve ready given it a nod to its dewy, yet matte polish earlier this month, but I like to ramble, so I’ll be affirming it again. It’s awesome.

Now, you could say that I’ve been saving the best product for last; it falls into the skincare category (j’aime—obviously), works effectively, has an ingredients list nearly meant to be smeared on toast (meaning it’s as natural as it gets), is blended with dreamy essential oils of lavender and mint, and comes in at under a tenner. The angel (on in the air of Valentine’s Day) described is the Herbivore Botanicals Blue Clay Soap. As ironic as it is that I’m praising a bar soap for my facial regime—I’m a little shocked, too—and the fact that I’m eulogizing a cleanser other than the REN Clay number—now I’m on the verge of panic attack—this cleanser cleans, smells amazing, doesn’t strip the skin, yet is just as effective as it’s three-fold costing counterpart.

So, another week is on its way—a fresh start in ‘half full’ nature; I told you these things are truly mood lifting.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Natural Beauty Purchases

I'd like to think that my post-Christmas pleasure of gift receiving continues through January; but I'm wrong. I can't blame myself too much because, first, it seems like every beauty blogger has needed a few new things this month to boost their consciences (i.e. Anna, Estée, Suzie, Alix--I told you), and, second, January has been the longest and possible worst month ever. So, I've obviously caught a sense of the winter blues, but they're easing away with the approaching spring weather--yet how ironic it is that I'm lounging in four layers as we speak--and with these purchases that have mended my physiological state (and skin, too).

You could say the prose that influenced all this new beauty bumph was (and is--I'm still leafing)  No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O'Conner. Any natural beauty fiend or beauty obsessive in general could exhaust this book as vehemently as a chocolate bar (if you're any sort of a chocoholic like I am).
You could say this book has scared me away from my usual favorites (even Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, but that was short lived--I'm not too die-hard, yet).

Two words: Whole. Foods. I've been stalking the shelves of hydrasols, cleansing milks, and essential oils like I'm ready to shoplift the place. Of the ten few stops I've made, I've parted with two brown paper bags.

The Desert Essence Sweet Almond Hand and Body Lotion crossed one category off my list. Addressing the most important element of a body lotion--the scent, obviously--it smells like marzipan. And, on my list, that's nearly as good as it gets; but it goes to 'best' when I spill that the scent doesn't linger any longer than fifteen minutes post-application--so there's no perfume interruption.
Its thick, yet instantly absorbent properties have it's nightly application seeming less like a chore; but, luckily, the moisture lasts all day.

With one contestant from the body category, there's a compliment from the skincare arena by the name of the Derma E Refining Vitamin A and Glycolic Toner with Papaya. As an exfoliating toner fiend, you knew this would be the one I purchased. But, beyond its sensation-free, buffing powers, it's also ridiculously hydrating. With the blend of components labeled in the name, along with sea kelp, aloe vera, and witch hazel, it's also non-irritating and will help skiff those pesky scars.

Now, I suggest you hold onto a sturdy object because (dare I say) I've deviated from the REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. I know, I know--it's shocking. Luckily, I'm still hanging onto my nearly empty bottle if I need to yearn for it again, but that likelihood doesn't look too vivid, as I've treasured and am treasuring the Herbivore Botanicals Blue Blue Clay Soap.
Normally in the beauty industry, we warn against using soaps on your delicate complexion; but this one is surprisingly un-soapy with a swift ingredients list of saponified olive, palm, coconut, cambrian blue clay, and mint and lavender oil--c'est toute.
Just like the REN compliment, this clay number calms the skin without a stripped feeling and aids in the riddance of pesky pimples. But the best part is yet to come--it's only nine dollars as opposed to the shocking thirty-ish.

I'm pleased to admit that my natural beauty stocks have been extended from the previously (lonely) standing coconut oil. But these all hold another secret power: ridding of that winter enigma.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Phyto Cream Shampoo | Review

Back in my babysitting days (where there ever any?), I would imply the back stroking technique to soothe to sleep whosever child I was guarding . I have to admit: I wish I had come up with that on my own; but I read about the technique in an American Girl magazine. Nevertheless, that adolescent fell asleep eventually so I could par-tay--or watch TV...whatever.

Now, you know that my analogies are stretching to the max when I tell you that I'm going to relate this to shampoo, but stay with me.

I'm prone to an irritated scalp. Normally, it's just the slightly itchy sensation, but it got so bad at one point that chunks of my scalp would deter from it's natural territory. Now, dismiss that image from your head and stroke the mess to serenity.
When the Phyto Phytoneutre Cream Shampoo* entered my stash, I knew it was going to be good. Then, I tried it; in the midst of my irritation, the first squirt and application made my scalp feel tingly and soothed. I've been using it on-and-off for a few months now and can dish that whenever a hint of irritation occurs upon ma tête, this clears it up with a lather, standby minute or two, and rinse.

With eucalyptus (the domineering aroma), chamomile, sage, and witch hazel, it's no wonder the formula feels amazing whilst brisking oil, product residue, and grit. Most of all, my air-dried locks shines like a beacon (or the light that's keeping me from my soirée--now, away from the babysitting....) after use. Unfortunately, it doesn't do much in the volume department, but consider this a 'your hair, but better' sort of concoction. Did I mention the brand is also French?

I only have one hitch with this tube; I seem to be going through this mentholated, green shampoo at the rate of knots--to the extent where it's a little heartbreaking. I wouldn't say this is expensive (although it's certainly no budget habit), but, for the amount I go through, it kind of stands to the claim.
So, now that I'm nearly three-quarters of the way through, I'm implementing this as a scalp-mending treatment.

Alas, here comes the analogy. This shampoo is like the strokes that lull your burden to sleep, except in a fashion involving some scalp serenity, with a few tingly massages along the way. Once it's asleep, you can wake it up, but stroke once more and it counts sheep again. So, which scenario sounds better: shampoo or kid-watching? Definitely the shampoo; I'd so much rather party with some styling products than with my friends.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Luminous Powder Comparison

Most beauty releases have me a little skeptical; okay, really skeptical. 'Dragon's blood' cream? Really. Now I'm being a little superficial, but it seems like beauty brands come up with new fads and fabs everyday. Sometime last year, a new generation of powders cropped onto shelves. Contrary to their stereotypical matte, cakey, and cringe-worthy counterparts, these new pigments promised luminous, smoothed, and strikingly beautiful skin.

And I bet you can guess what I did: I wrote them off. But, luminous powders, hear me out, because I apologize for all the shunning you were once donned by your's truly and I hope my long-standing obsessed state dissembles the madness.
It's fair to say that I have a serious skin proclivity. Whether it be skincare or my ever-growing stash of tinted moisturizers, concealers, or other complexion tools, I have a never-ending mission to perfect the appearance (inside and out) of my dermis.

So, I guess I would end up testing these powders eventually. But the beauty blogger yearns for the a certain blend had me rushing to Sephora and, then, to the till with the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light. Well, that is kind of a lie because I first parted with the variety in Luminous Light--a more pink toned counterpart. But, my naturally existing pink undertones didn't fare well with the concoction, so back to the store it went.

When I finally did my own research and realized the red-banishing Diffused Light was basically a true match for my concerning complexion, I parted (yet again). Even though our true match signified love, it still took my powder banning ways a while to get used to the new purchase. Nevertheless, fast forward a month later and I was splodging and packing the stuff onto my face every darn day; I was in love with it's redness minimizing, imperfection blurring, makeup longevity stretching, and slightly luminous denouement.

Since I was so hooked on the Hourglass number, I figured I'd be just as keen on the By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder. Now, neither of these are made for any sort of budget edit, but this By Terry offering certainly breaks the bank; so, come my birthday, I unwrapped this baby and got to applying. After a day's sporting, I realized three things: this one didn't keep my skin as shine free as the Hourglass offering, it boasted a far more matte finish, but was surprisingly more smoothing than the yellow-toned counterpart (despite them both being mostly translucent on the skin--yet, I do sport a naturally Snow White complexion).

Indeed, so far, my sentiments for this By Terry powder weren't too bright, but then I realized how its extreme skin smoothing powers came in handy.
Now, on a side note, can we please conclude that the most annoying characteristic of spots is their texture--bumpy, 'visible from the moon,' and, sometimes, scabby. Cover the color with concealer, but their raise still remains. Well, that's where this powder comes it. It's non-cakey property means you can cake on as much as you'd like; the matte texture means the highlight and bumpy nature basically disappears, and you're skin is looking more flawless than ever.

At the end of the day this post, I realize that both these powders are darn amazing, but if you're on a budget (like I should be) and can only buy one, here's the breakdown: seriously luminous lovers in need of some general imperfection blurring and some oil-whisking, go for the Hourglass one. If you want a more matte complexion that smooths over pores and disguises bumpy nature, then go for the By Terry.

Still can't decide? Get both--like me; I can't believe I called myself a 'minimalist.'

Sunday, February 2, 2014

January Favorites

I love a fresh start. And the happy, sound part of my brain is amazing when it comes to asserting happiness and giddiness to anything new: the morning sunrise, an untouched jar of almond butter (unfortunately, that happens too often)--you get the jist. But, the onset of 2014 signaled valid and stimulating newness that just couldn't be contained.

But the new year sentiment has diminished (as have my resolutions...typical); nevertheless, we're wrapping up the end of January and commencing the first favorite's post of the new year--I told you I'm good at this.

And as I delve into new reads (one of my resolutions for 2014), I can't help but admit that the prose is my second favorite part of the ritual, the first being gripping an exothermic (you didn't expect that, did you?) mug of tea, enjoyed in tastebud-stimulating sips or tummy-warming gulps. This gulping is the reason I've made my way through a box of the Tazo Zen Tea--a blend of refreshing green leaves with a hint of spearmint.

Similarly, I've been caring for my eudaemonia with daily doses of vitamin D supplements. Although you thought I was naturally pasty, in truth, I just rarely make it into the sun. Now, I'm stating the obvious, but if my skin tone of gauze is any signal of my deficiency, then I'm sure my body is thanking me; but I also self-diagnosed myself with such a case with a few weeks of pondering. In CliffsNotes format, a dose of 'D' each day has showed an improvement to the condition of my complexion (and the rest shall be reserved for a vitamin D-exculsive post).

As I research more and more, fostering my insides is surprisingly related to what's going on the outside. Cleaning up my beauty routine will not be a month's feat, but I've been swapping for a few alternatives. Where did I start? My skin. 
On my limbs and tum, slathering on the Desert Essence Sweet Almond Hand and Body Lotion has mended my TLC-yearning skin with aloe leaf juice and a delectable sweet almond, marzipan scent (but in a concoction not too lingering to interfere with perfume spritzes). 
Then, on my complexion, my rosehip oil obsession has elevated to the next level because of the Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate Fruit and Seed Oil Blend. With the same scar-banishing and damage-ridding powers of my previous love, but with a more potent vitamin content and seemingly exfoliating characteristic; Parisian To Be readers, I don't think we're in standard rosehip seed territory anymore.

After a long time in the testing arena, I've finally decided the fate of the Phyto Cream Shampoo*; luckily, the odds are in it's favor. For a gal with an irritated scalp, this tingly eucalyptus shampoo calms irritation (in a fashion which involves the feeling of hair-fairies stomping to patch up the damage), but, beyond the fact, evokes smooth, soft, and slightly voluminous locks.
But that's not the end of my herbal scented love-affair; the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray should come with a warning pamphlet. Learn from my own experiences: don't spritz when you anticipate an alarm--two spritzes will have you counting sheep so serenely, there's no hope for any rooster's crow.

I've ignored the Origins Plantscription Concealer for the past couple of months, shunning it's longevity and covering powers for a more heavy duty counterpart. But, albeit, this stuff is surprisingly full coverage for such a liquidy blend, has a lasting power to battle waterproof compliments, and is creamy and moisturizing for a non-cakey finish.

With the 'January Favorites' page in my red Moleskin notebook now thoroughly crossed, checked, and noted with true nerd fashion, it's time for a fresh page; finding new beginnings is truly a momentous talent.
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