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Summer Body Oils for Soft and Glowing Skin

June 26, 2017

Best Body Oils for Summer 2017 | The Beauty Look Book

Lately I’ve been obsessed with body oils for the lightweight dry down but moisturizing feel. My long-time favorites were from Nuxe, Caudalie and Moroccanoil. They’re lightly scented but not so heavy that they will interfere with my perfumes. Unfortunately Nuxe is no longer carried in the US and with the warm weather and beautiful beaches here I’ve been on the hunt for other options including wearable shimmers. There are a number of amazing body oils out there but the main requirement I have is that it comes with a pump or spritzer (of course I have made exceptions). To this day I don’t understand why companies make oils with open tops where liquid just pours out everywhere. It’s hard to control how much you apply, not to mention gets so messy. Product oozes down the sides of the jars and it really just seems so wasteful and inconvenient. Scent-wise I prefer ones that aren’t too floral, sweet or strong as they tend to interfere with the perfume of the day.

Up first are my favorites which are the clear options. As you’ll see below I’ve already made two exceptions for my packaging and scent requirements.

Body Oils NARS, Moroccanoil, Ouai, Darphin | The Beauty Look BookFrom left to right:

  • NARS Monoi Body Glow II ($59 for 2.5 fl oz/75 ml) is the best summer time oil because it smells like a vacation in a bottle. If this had a spritzer pump it would be perfect. It has Monoi de Tahiti oil with a tiare flower inside. It smells tropical and the scent lingers for quite a long time. The packaging is the only downside but it smells so good I’ve made an exception. It’s one I’ve used up quite a few times.
    • For NARS Cosmetics – there’s a promo where you can get a mini Velvet Lip Glide in Bound and Le Palace with any $50+ order online, use code NARSPOP – runs through 6/30/2017
  • Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil ($48 for 3.4 fl oz/100 ml) is another favorite and it comes with a spritzer! This has the classic Moroccanoil scent with argan, olive and avocado oils. It’s a dry oil and has a nice dry down after a few minutes. This one has a very raw earthy vibe to it. I like that this one doesn’t have a greasy feel.
  • Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil ($32 for 3 fl oz/98.8 ml) is the most fluid lightweight option I’ve tried. The full size is 3 fl oz, but it also comes in a mini 0.85 fl oz version in a set called The Morning After Kit. It has a very soft rose scent but it fades nicely after a few minutes. This one has a nice dry down and won’t interfere with perfume. It leaves the skin feeling very soft without any heavy feel.
  • Darphin The Revitalizing Oil ($ for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml) is one of the heavier body oils I’ve tried. It’s better suited for normal to dry skin or if you want a dewy finish on the skin. It has a very relaxing almost citrus scent to it, it’s not overpowering but definitely noticeable. I like this at night time if my skin feels dry, during the day in the humidity of Florida, this one can feel a bit heavy if I apply it all over. Also because it’s ultra nourishing it doesn’t really have a dry down which isn’t a bad thing – but if you need a lightweight one this may be too rich.

Next up are the shimmers. When it comes to tinted or shimmer options, I really prefer something that won’t stain white clothes so in this case I’ve tried to avoid any bronzer oils. For shimmer I also look for something that has a smooth non-gritty finish. These days I don’t mind extra sparkle but for the most part, I prefer a shimmer that is more subtle and barely there.

Shimmering Body Oils | The Beauty Look BookShown above from left to right:

  • Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil ($98 for 3.4 fl oz/100 ml) this is one I bought when it first launched a year ago and I hated it. Mine was gritty and the shimmer was something I could feel. I gave it another try at my local store this year and it seems the formula has been changed to a completely smooth texture-free finish. I adore the Soleil Blanc perfume so I don’t mind the scented body oil version. This is the most sparkly one I can wear on a daily basis and not feel like it’s too much. The sparkles are noticeable though so if you work in a very conservative environment you may want to stick to the perfume or try the regular body oil version. This one has a super hydrating feel and finish. It has a light moisturizing feel without being greasy but on me it doesn’t dry down 100%.
  • La Mer Glowing Body Oil ($100 for 3.4 fl oz) is one that is nearly impossible to find. It sold out almost instantly and by the time I decided to splurge it was gone. I found it online when it popped back in stock at Nordstrom. It’s since restocked a few places but sold out again. This is one of the most beautiful body oils with a pretty subtle gold shimmer suspended. It has a very lightweight La Mer scent to it which I adore because the hand cream and body cream are too strong for me. The shimmer finish is very very subtle though – if you need the sparkle, opt for the Tom Ford Soleil Blanc instead even though the scent will be different. The La Mer Oil leaves the skin looking very soft and glowy.
  • African Botanics Marula Shimmering Gold Oil ($105 for 100 ml) is the best smelling oil I’ve tried that isn’t a perfumed/fragranced one. It’s infused with Marula Oil, Baobab Oil, Moringa Oil, Meadowfoam Oil, Kalahari Melon Seed, Neroli Oil, Gardenia and Magnolia. This one is my husband’s favorite. I walked by him after testing this one and he smelled it instantly and said it smelled amazing. It has a rich finish so doesn’t dry down like a dry oil. The gold shimmer is very subtle and almost disappears on the skin to leave a very fine shimmer.
  • French Girl Organics is an organic beauty line and the Lumiere Bronzing Oil and Lumiere Moonlight Oil caught my eye. Both have a super fluid texture. These come with dropper applicators and contain sunglower oil, argan oil, coconut oil and meadowfoam oil. The shimmer settles to the bottom so you shake up the bottles to mix it. They both have a very natural scent to them – one of the most natural I’ve ever tried. The pigments and shimmer are  so subtle I cannot see anything on the skin, but legs and arms have a luminous glow which I think are mainly from the oil rather than the shimmer. Moonlight is scented with jasmin and neroli but smells identical to the bronzing one. They’re very hydrating and soothing. These are a bit hard to find right now. I ordered them direct from their website as they were sold out everywhere else I looked. You can find the bronze one at Beautyhabit still.
  • Darphin Soleil Plaisir Sultry Bronzing Oil ($55 for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml) is another beautiful shimmering body oil. I believe this one is new for summer. I picked this up at Bluemercury and fell in love at first swatch. It’s one of the softest white floral oils I’ve tried which is just so pretty. It’s not too strong or powdery like some white florals can get. It has a very hydrating feel like the Revitalizing option but isn’t sticky or greasy. It leaves a smooth veil of moisture on the skin and keeps it hydrated for hours after application. The shimmer is very subtle with a golden copper color so if you’re medium to tan or deep it doesn’t look like traditional gold shimmers.
    • For Bluemercury, with any $150 purchase and code TRAVEL you get a bag filled with minis

Swatches – note that these blend into the skin to disappear almost completely. The shimmers are very fine – on my medium tan skin, only the Tom Ford really stood out for the sparkles.

Shimmer Body Oils | The Beauty Look Book Shimmer Body Oils | The Beauty Look Book

A few notes on formulas I tested in store but did not buy:

  • Bobbi Brown Beach is another amazing scented option. It smells just like a beachy scent would I found this option too strong for me as I really do like my perfumes. This one you could just wear on its own and smell great. It also does not have a spritzer which was a deal breaker for me.
  • Caudalie Divine Oil is still one I really like, I have a mini but just don’t reach for it as often as I used to.
  • Clarins has a number of great body oils all in the pour container. These had a more herbal scent to me. I tested all three at the counter and fell in love with the Contour Body Treatment Oil. If this had a different dispenser I would have bought it. However since I had already bought quite a few other formulas decided to pass.
  • Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Body Oil was on my radar as I love the line – they have great body products. I was glad I tried this before jumping to splurge. If you love jasmine then you will love this. Since I prefer non-florals for oils I found this one too floral and passed.
  • L’Occitane Shea Fabulous Oil had all the things I wanted in an oil. It has great packaging and it smells great. I’ve tried this on numerous occasions though and it’s one that is just too heavy for my skin type. I suspect it would be amazing for me during the winter months or for those with dry skin. For me it was too rich and heavy feeling. If they come out with a lighter version I would definitely try it again.

In summary, thoughts and favorites:

  • My best body oil for summer for lightweight finish is the Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil
  • Favorite shimmer options are the Tom Ford Soleil Blanc or Darphin Soleil Plaisir
  • Best smelling body oils are the NARS Monoi Body Glow, Tom Ford Soleil Blanc and African Botanics
  • Most hydrating and moisturizing oil is the Darphin Revitalizing Oil
  • Most natural smelling and naturally glowy oils are the ones from French Girl Organics
  • If I could only wear one for the rest of the summer, it would be Tom Ford Soleil Blanc

Many of these oils are multi-purpose so you can use a lot of these on the face and hair. I tend to keep things separate, so for the face I really prefer oils designed just for the face and same for the hair. Out of all the ones I tested I found each one left my skin feeling soft and well hydrated, some were just heavier than others in the dry down or finish. If you have any favorites or thoughts please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear what your favorite body oils for summer are!

 

Skincare Suncare

Sunscreen Testing Part 2: Face Formulas

June 5, 2017

Summer Sunscreens for the Face Sensitive Skin | The Beauty Look Book

Shown above: Beach tray by Gray Malin, sunglasses from Jcrew, pouch by Goyard

I have Part 2 of my sunscreen testing to share today. Historically I’ve neglected using a separate sunscreen for the face thinking often times either my moisturizer or foundation with SPF was sufficient. I also react to a lot of skincare with red bumps. Not knowing exactly what ingredients caused an allergic reaction also prevented me from using face sunscreen diligently. This changed once I discovered some really good formulas from Kiehl’s, Eve Lom and Tatcha which were lightweight, unscented and suitable for my sensitive skin.

The Tatcha Pore Perfecting Sunscreen has been my most used sunscreen for the face because I found it really smoothed everything out, didn’t break me out, doubled as a pore smoother, worked well under foundation and helped protect my skin. Chanel UV Essential in the SPF 50 was a go-to for years because of the lightweight fluid texture. It did not do the best with running or sports if any sweating occurred and stung the eyes pretty bad. I’ve tested other formulas and brands by popular request and specific recommendations from readers. I wanted to find alternatives with higher SPF that would also suit my husband’s taste but in the end we each have our favorites which is ok because we have completely different skin types. As I age I’m being more proactive about protecting my skin. Still when it comes to sunscreen it’s overwhelming for me to discern what’s good vs. bad. The effective ingredients vs. necessary combination of ingredients for a stable product. Everyone has a different opinion and with all the information to sort through I’ve gone through a mix of reading other reviews, getting individual recommendations and also just testing items myself.

If you have any expert opinions please chime in the comments. Any information or details would help! Note that these are simply what I tested on my own to see what was suitable for my skintype. I wanted to see what worked well with foundation and also which ones held up the best under different weather conditions. I’ve split the 11 I tested into two categories. One is chemical and the second is physical. This is based on the ingredients although there was 1 formula I was unsure of which you’ll see below.

Part 1: Sunscreens with either Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide or both, most of these are considered physical or mineral sunscreens which you can find more information about here. I’ll list the active ingredients as they are labeled on each bottle. Note that formulas are subject to change so this is what is on each product as of the date of this post. With body sunscreens most formulas come in multiple sizes which is why I didn’t list the prices/weight in the body sunscreen post. However it seems more of the face formulas come in a single size. I’ll list the current prices and sizes below for reference.

Mineral Physical Face Sunscreens with Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide or Both | The beauty look book

Shown above include sunscreens that don’t have a white cast, aren’t thick, are suitable for my sensitive skin and hold up relatively well to humid weather conditions. There is some humidity where pretty much nothing will hold up. We got rained on in Orlando twice with some warm summer showers and I don’t think anything stayed on. However with two full days in Disneyworld we used the Supergoop! Mineral (my mother in law used this one), Glossier Invisible Shield (I used this one), La Roche-Posay (husband used on the face) and the Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen SPF50 on the body (me and the hubby used this) and I’m happy to report we didn’t get burned a single bit.

  • Supergoop! Daily Correct CC Cream with Omega-3 and Omega-6 – Light/Medium
    • Broad Spectrum SPF35, PA+++
    • $32 for 1.6 fl oz/47 ml (also available in two other shades)
    • Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 2%, Zinc Oxide 20% (full ingredients listed on Supergoop!)
    • I know BB creams and CC creams are huge in the beauty world. I’ve never found one I liked until this one. Most are just too thick in formula, too sheer or just simply the wrong shade with SO MUCH pink or orange. I don’t understand why they can’t make yellow based ones! This one went on a bit on the pink side but I was relieved that it adjusted within a few minutes. It offers sheer to medium super natural coverage. It did have enough to even out the skin tone. It has ingredients to protect skin with light-diffusing mica to soften look of lines and wrinkles. I like that it has a hydrating feel with a slightly dewy glow but doesn’t get oily. I do think the color selection is limited, but if you have normal to dry skin and can find a good match this is a great option.
  • Supergoop! Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen with Olive Polyphenols
    • Broad Spectrum SPF 40, PA+++
    • $28 for 2.4 fl oz/71 ml (also available in a smaller size)
    • Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.5%, Zinc Oxide 10.1% (full ingredients listed on Supergoop!)
    • This was a new to me product and I gave a bottle to my mother-in-law to try. She visited recently and we were chatting about sunscreen and she said she just hates the sticky feel of product on her face. I had an extra bottle for her to try and she used it every day the week she was here (I forgot to ask her what she thought!). I personally like this one a lot and I don’t consider myself a fan of mineral sunscreens. This one has olive oil polyphenols which are supposed to calm redness and reduce inflammation. It is one of the longer lasting face products. It dries to a semi-matte finish and you can feel that it adheres well to the skin. Since it stays put you need to take extra care at the end of the day to cleanse the skin thoroughly. Your regular cleanser simply won’t take it off. Both my husband and I found with long-wearing face sunscreens if you don’t cleanse the skin properly after working out or in the evenings then your face becomes more break-out prone.
  • Dior Capture Totale DreamSkin Perfect Skin Cushion – 20 and 30
    • Broad Spectrum SPF 50
    • $82 for 15 g/0.5 oz (also comes with a refill)
    • Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7%, Titanium Dioxide 4.15%, Zinc Oxide 9.8%
    • So this one falls into the sunscreen skincare category because several Dior reps corrected me while I chatted with them that this is NOT foundation, but a skincare with a tint. I went to several counters when this launched and the shades I would use 20 or 30 were sold out nearly everywhere. Each rep made it a point to tell me that “this is skincare in the form of a cushion” and not intended as foundation. I bought two shades when I finally found them and right now I use 30. My friend RaeView confirmed and assured me that even though it’s technically skincare it’s still a suitable base and she is 100% correct. I’ve been using this for several months now and since I like more coverage I use this as a skincare/sunscreen base then layer my foundation on top. It doesn’t look thick, doesn’t oxidize, doesn’t get goopy. It’s pure love. Finding a color match can be tricky as I do think it’s limited. For a while I was mixing both 20 and 30. It has the Capture Totale skincare ingredients inside (I used to use the line) to give the skin a youthful looking glow. Product description says “matte” but it’s really not matte, but just natural. I took this with me on my Dallas and NY trips over the spring and love it.
  • Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen
    • Broad Spectrum SPF 35
    • $65 for 60 ml/2 fl oz
    • Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 15%, Octisalate 5%
    • This is the best sunscreen I’ve tried with a matte finish without looking powdery. It has a silky feel that glides on the skin. I use this on top of my regular serum or moisturizer like I do with all sunscreens. It works well with foundation and tinted moisturizer formulas. Lasts all day without sliding off. It does take some work to wash off in the evenings. My husband tried this and found it so long lasting there was about a week he used it and told me “it broke me out” and I told him he had to double cleanse his face with this one. He did for another week and his skin cleared up. It’s so long lasting if you don’t rinse it off completely I do suspect some dirt or sweat could still be trapped underneath.
  • Darphin Intral Enviornmental Lightweight Shield
    • Broad Spectrum SPF 50
    • $45 for 30 ml/1 fl oz
    • Active Ingredients Titanium Dioxide 6.3%, Zinc Oxide 4.0%
    • This is a new sunscreen that is part of the Darphin Intral line designed for sensitive skin. As a huge fan of Darphin I was so excited to try this. Over the past few months (since early spring) this became my new favorite, especially because it has SPF50 and a peachy nude tint. It does disappear on the skin but I love that it’s not white. It’s fluid with some consistency so it’s not super liquidy. Darphin calls this a triple action gentle makeup base because it gives the skin a luminous look, protects skin from pollution and prevents damage. I apply over moisturizer and under foundation and it sets nicely onto the skin without any greasy feel or separation. You do need to shake the bottle before use.

Up next are the chemical face sunscreens I tested out. The only one I wasn’t entirely sure on was the Eve Lom. In looking for sunscreens to test out the two things I looked for when testing a few in store was: no smell and no white cast. Even though I wear foundation with coverage on top which can usually cancel out any white cast, for me it’s always been a no-go. If there’s any hint of a white cast I just won’t try it.

Face Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin | The Beauty look Book

Shown above:

  • Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Stick Sunscreen
    • SPF 30
    • $25 for .2 oz
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 2%, Octinoxate 7.49%, Octisalate 3%
    • This one is shown because my husband loves it. It’s one of the few he feels really stays put under his eyes on his cheekbone area for when he goes running. He thinks it’s great for touch ups as well. He’ll apply his Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector or Facial Fuel UV Guard on his face on top of his moisturizer, then he’ll add the Fresh Sugar Sport on areas he wants more coverage where the sun hits. It’s multi-use so you can use it on the face, lips and eye area. He uses this on his face and eye area. For me I felt it was too thick for my personal taste. It did work really well for touch ups and to last long. It has that delicious Fresh Sugar smell, I just didn’t like the texture as I’m all about weightless.
  • La Roche-Posay Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid Anthelios 60
    • Broad Spectrum SPF 50
    • $30 for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml
    • Active Ingredients: Avonezone 3%, Homosalate 10.72%, Octisalate 3.21%, Octocrylene 6%, Oxybenzone 3.86%
    • This brand has been one of the most recommended lines to me so I gave this formula a try after seeing it at Blue Mercury. Performance-wise this is in the top favorites for both my husband and I for the light fluid texture and matte dry down. It worked well to prevent tanning and burns on our face and for me it worked well with my makeup. It does contain oxybenzone which is a controversial chemical ingredient – there are conflicting views on how safe (or unsafe) it is. Also according to a few reviews on Makeupalley some have indicated the US formula is different from the European formula. I’ve only tried the one in the US so can’t report on the differences. If you’re not one who wants chemical sunscreens they do have a mineral version.
  • Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen + (20% off referral code by clicking on this link)
    • Broad Spectrum SPF 35
    • $30 for 1 fl oz/30 ml
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 6%, Octisalate 5%
    • Being a beauty junkie I had to try this one. I ordered a couple from Glossier and it has the most unique sunscreen formula I’ve ever tried. It’s a clear water gel which has no white cast and no residue. It has a semi-matte but natural finish. The formula has tiny microcapsules that are freshly delivered to your skin when you apply it. The reviews online seem mixed but mainly due to two things: price point for product size and the fact that it’s not mineral. I do wish it had higher SPF but I liked the way it performed – it did well to prevent tanning and burn while I was in Orlando. I reapplied pretty diligently every two hours especially since we went through a few rain showers.
  • Estee Lauder DayWear Advanced Multi-Protection Anti-Oxidant and UV Defense
    • Broad Spectrum SPF 50
    • $42 for 1 fl oz/30 ml
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 5%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 2.7%, Oxybenzone 3%
    • This is another favorite formula of mine. I think it’s particularly good especially if you have normal to dry skin. The water in Florida has dried out our skin a bit and our first months here was during the dry season. The humid weather has normalized my skin a bit more so I don’t know how this will hold up with the humidity in the upcoming weeks. It’s on the more emollient side with a thicker texture but isn’t goopy. It is scented but doesn’t appear to be added fragrance (although I can’t really tell for sure). It has the signature DayWear scent almost like pear. It does contain Oxybenzone so might not be for everyone. I found it suitable for my sensitive skin and like the way it wears.
  • Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist
    • Broad Spectrum SPF 50
    • $8 for 1 fl oz/30 ml (also available in travel and full size)
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3.0%, Homosalate 4.0%, Octinoxate 6.0%, Octisalate 3.0%
    • I bought this mini to try it out because I wasn’t sure how I’d like the full size. For those who always wonder how makeup wearers are supposed to reapply sunscreen to a full face of makeup you’re not alone. It’s one of the main reasons why I don’t reapply on the face because you literally have to take everything off and redo it all which just isn’t practical. This is one of Supergoop!’s answers to reapplying without having to redo your makeup. It’s called a setting mist which it does, but I really prefer this as a mid-day reapplication on the face if I’m going outside. It’s described as a “Matte finish three-in-one mist, sets make-up, controls oil, and delivers UV photoaging protection.” The full size says to 7 to 10 times in a circle on your face with your eyes closed. It dispenses a super fine even mist so after you are done spritzing keep the eyes closed for about 3 seconds or there will still be mist particles that can get in your eyes. The ones they have now have a new better mist dispenser as they took feedback from customers to improve it. I never tried the older version so I can’t compare the two though.
  • Eve Lom Daily Protection + SPF 50
    • $90 for 50 ml
    • Broad Spectrum SPF 50
    • Active Ingredients: This is one that is Eve Lom describes as containing “six scientific sunscreens and is free from zinc and titanium dioxide.” It’s not mineral but I am not sure this falls into the chemical category. Ingredients listed on Space NK and Sephora.
    • This is my second tube of this sunscreen even though it’s really expensive. It’s one of the best unscented options I’ve tried and I like that it has a high SPF. It does plump the skin and smooth it for a soft texture. It does appear to improve elasticity in the skin for a more youthful look. Still $95 is very pricey and since I use skincare underneath sunscreen I don’t know that I will repurchase given some other finds that I’ve found that I really like.

That wraps up my face sunscreen testing for this summer. I do suspect there will be more formulas I will try as summer progresses but I have a lot to keep me busy. Normally sunscreen takes me a while to use up but both my husband and I have been using it daily and reapplying when we go outside so we’re using everything up pretty quickly. Quick take on our favorites:

  • My top favorite formulas: Tatcha, Darphin and the Dior Dreamskin Cushion
  • Andrew’s favorite formulas: He still likes all things Kiehl’s, but also likes the La Roche-Posay and Fresh Sugar Sport Stick
  • Longest lasting formula for me: Tatcha and Supergoop! Mineral
  • Misses: No formula misses for me, I do wish some of the lower SPF ones came in higher, but I can live with 35

I consider myself very fortunate that none of these caused an allergic reaction or bumps. If you have favorites or input please share in the comments below. I’m still learning and if you have info you want to share I’m all ears!

Press samples include the Darphin Intral and Supergoop! CC Cream. Gray Malin tray gifted. All others purchased by me.

Skincare Suncare

Summer Sunscreen Testing Part 1: For the Body

June 2, 2017

Best Summer Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin

As promised I have a sunscreen roundup series of everything I’ve tested over the past several months – 95 days to be exact. The sunshine here in Florida is stronger than anything I’ve experienced in California. Our first week here both Andrew and I got burned from being outside just a mere 5 minutes simply walking around our backyard. I immediately unpacked sunscreen bottles and sprays that I had brought with me from our move and we used everything up in a matter of a couple days because we sprayed it everywhere. After using everything up we began our search for the best formulas that weren’t greasy, didn’t have that sunscreen spray, felt long lasting and were the most effective at preventing burn and tanning. Unfortunately so far the only way to avoid getting darker is to stay out of the sun or be covered up entirely. Over the past three months we’ve put quite a few sunscreens to the test.

This sunscreen edit is going to be split up into two parts: body and face. In gathering all the tubes we’ve tested, I found that there were around 25 different formulas we tried and we gave each one a thorough test run (with the exception of the tinted face ones which I tested but my husband did not). Both of us wished there was a formula that could be truly suitable for both face and body and while there are many formulas designed for multi-use, we’ve found for the most part we have to use separate formulas. Many bottles we used up entirely, mostly for the body. We each have our favorites which I’ll mention at the bottom.

Favorite Body Sunscreens | The Beauty Look Book

When it comes to sunscreen I have to admit it’s all a bit confusing. So many articles, doctors, specialists each have their own opinion on what the minimum SPF you should use. Some say sunscreens with high SPF numbers aren’t more effective over SPF 50. Others say the minimum amount you should wear is SPF 30 and if that’s the case then what’s the point of something with SPF 10 or 15? Also a look at some of the bottles I have and others online also show some have a PA rating which I wasn’t aware of. I did some research and discovered that the SPF (sun protection factor) measures how a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays, but that there is another rating to measure protection from UVA rays. This apparently isn’t measured in all countries and I looked up every sunscreen I tested and most of them don’t have a rating (a PA followed by + or ++ or +++). So while most sunscreens will say they are “broad spectrum” to cover both UVA and UVB protection, it’s difficult to measure how much UVA protection there is which appears to be due to the fact that there’s no adopted standard in the US. According to Skincancer.org, “To make sure you’re getting effective UVA as well as UVB coverage, look for a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, plus some combination of the following UVA-screening ingredients: stabilized a avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. MexorylTM), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide.”

Then there are different types of sunscreen such as physical vs chemical. This site and this article help break it down, but still as one with super sensitive skin, I always proceed with caution. Many of my friends prefer mineral sunscreens (which are physical and chemical free) but I know some people have sensitivity to zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide which are their only active ingredients.

All that being said I’m still learning about sunscreens. We tested different formulas to see what lasted the longest and also how each formula felt on the skin. Traditionally I’ve found that I liked spray formulas because they are easy for me to apply on my own especially on my back. I’ve read mixed reviews about sprays and the biggest concern is that you don’t always know that you’re getting the proper coverage since product is prone to evaporation when you mist it before it hits the skin. With sprays we’ve both made a point to try and mist each other and give each area several layers to try and get as full coverage as possible.

Up first are a mix of what we consider to be the longest-lasting formulas and then thoughts on some sprays. For body sunscreens it’s a must for me that there’s no white cast. I know many of them look white once you apply but the color disappears after a few minutes. In general the ones with a white cast tend to feel thicker and heavier on the skin. I wanted to see if I could find something that would be effective without being thick.

Sunscreen Testing for Body | The Beauty Look Book

Shown from above from left to right. Note that a number of these are water resistant with a time limit. I can’t recall the last time I’ve been in the water for 80 minutes so I can’t report on the time claims. But I will note which ones did the best in water.

  • Supergoop! Super Power Sunscreen Mousse Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (c/o), water resistant 80 minutes
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10%, Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5%
    • This is the latest from Supergoop! and I love this one. It’s a lightweight hydrating mousse that is long-lasting with a very light clean scent. It has a whipped texture when you dispense it and it’s easy to apply and blend into the skin. It contains Blue Sea Kale to provide antioxidant protection from heat rays, and shea butter, olive and avocado oils to keep skin hydrated. My husband felt this was too hydrating for his skin and for him since he sweats more in the heat this one felt a bit heavy on him but he does agree it lasts a long time. On me it was perfect.
  • Moroccanoil Sun Lotion SPF 30 and SPF 50 (c/o)
    • Active Ingredients: Homosalate (12%), Oxybenzone (6%), Octisalate (5%), Avobenzone(3%), Octocrylene (2.5%)
    • Both are hydrating lotions with the signature Moroccanoil scent but to me I detect a hint of licorice (which nobody else I know can smell in it so it must just be my nose). This is the most hydrating formula I’ve tried – these formulas have Argan Oil, Coconut Oil and Glycerine. Both the SPF 30 and 50 last a long time on the skin. For me I find them too heavy for every day normal use, I prefer them for the beach or outdoors. My husband on the other hand finds them hydrating but doesn’t mind the emollient feel. These have a super moisturizing feel and they do make the skin noticeably softer and helps with any dry patches or texture. The SPF 50 version noticeably helped prevent me from tanning a lot more than the SPF 30.
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 85+, water resistant 80 minutes
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 15%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 10%, Oxybenzone 6%
    • This one is a spray that works on wet or dry skin, on dry skin I felt it was just ok. It adheres well but the drydown isn’t my favorite and it wasn’t quite as effective on me at preventing darkening. Re-application on wet skin however is another story and I wholeheartedly like this one on wet skin. For some reason I found it adhered easily on wet skin and worked when we went swimming in our pool and at the beach. Your mileage may vary on this one.
  • Supergoop! Anti-Oxidant Infused Sunscreen Mist SPF 50, water resistant 80 minutes
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3.0%, Homosalate 4.0%, Octinoxate 6.0%, Octisalate 3.0%
    • This is one I’ve used up a number of times, it does have a slight alcohol scent but it’s a non-aerosol and the bottle says it has 35% less alcohol than other sprays although it does not specify which brands they are referring to. I find the misting dispenser to be really effective at applying product. I feel like it gives a more continuous mist which dispenses more product. I like this one because it’s non irritating, easy to apply and I can get my back without getting my hands greasy and spray those harder to reach places on my own. The only downside is that excess from sprays can get on the floor so if you spray inside the floor can get a bit slippery.
  • Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50, water resistant 80 minutes
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 2.24%, Homosalate 8%, Octisalate 2.4%, Octocrylene 4.48%, Oxybenzone 2.88%
    • This is both one of our top picks, we have tried a few other face sunscreens from Kiehl’s in the past and really liked them, for this formula they have both SPF 30 and 50. It’s a semi thick cream but is easy to blend, feels weightless, doesn’t have that greasy feel and has a good dry down. This lasted well in the pool and is completely fragrance/scent free. We found it really good at protecting the skin and since it has a lightweight texture it’s easy to reapply without feeling like you have layers of product on the skin throughout the day.
  • Clarins Sunscreen Care Oil Spray, Broad Spectrum SPF 30, (c/o) water resistant 40 minutes
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 2.7%, Oxybenzone 5%
    • I think I would 100% love this if it had a higher SPF. This is a light weight oil spray that has skincare properties to hydrate and nourish the skin and hair. It contains organic Indonesian Nyamplung Oil to protect skin and hair from the drying effects of sun, salt water and chlorine, senna extract defends from UV damage, Plane Tree extract fights free radicals. I really like the feel and hydration this offers. I rub this on my body and any excess on my hands I apply on the hair. It has a lightweight aloe almost honey-like scent that’s completely natural. The sun and heat can dry out the skin so I love that this is an oil that nourishes the skin. I need to invest in some of their After Sun Care like this After Sun Gel Ultra-Soothing product. If you have any good burn relief products you like that aren’t sticky let me know!
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray, Broad Spectrum SPF 50, water resistant 80 minutes
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 15%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 2.5%, Oxybenzone 5%
    • This is another great sunscreen spray with SPF 50+ and it has no white cast. So many of you have raved and recommended Shiseido for sunscreens and I really think they have great formulas. However most of them have that white cast which I just detest. Many of you have said they fade after a few minutes and I think if you’re fair or light skin it does seem like it will disappear after setting. However on those of us with medium-tan to deep skin there’s still a contrast even with the dry down. Anyways this spray is completely clear. You can use it on both face and body but I prefer it on the body. It’s lightweight and has no greasy feel although it does have a slight hydrating effect with a glow. I found this to be very effective and long lasting in the water.

Up next are what we consider to be among the best non-greasy body sunscreens. At this point in our lives we’ve both agreed that we can live with a slightly greasy feel as long as there’s no hideous sunscreen scent. We are more conscientious about taking care of our skin. We have however found some great ones with no greasy residue.

Non Greasy Sunscreens for Body

Shown above from left to right:

  • Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50, water resistant 80 minutes
    • Active Ingredients: (See above listing)
    • Shown same as the above photo because this is in the top pick for my husband in favorites for effectiveness at protection, preventing burn and minimizing tanning while still being lightweight, quick absorbing and suitable for both face and body. For me it’s in my top three for body. It truly is non-greasy, unscented and has a nice dry down. We really love Kiehl’s – this tube is completely used up, my husband loves it for both the face and body. We need to restock soon.
  • Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen with Cellular Response Technology, Broad Spectrum SPF 50, PA+++
    • Active Ingredients: Homosalate 10%, Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5%, Avobenzone 3%
    • This is in my top 3 for lightweight sunscreens. It’s oil-free for face and body, it is enriched with their Cellular Response Technology to preserve and protect the skin’s glow – and my husband even commented that my legs looked like they had a really nice glow with this on. Because it has a no-grease residue this is another good one for me to reapply every 2 hours and as the day progresses I don’t feel like I’m layering on tons of product.
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen with SPF 55
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 2.8%, Oxybenzone 6%
    • With this one I have mixed feelings primarily because it seems to have a lack of consistency. I bought a tube from CVS in store and then bought a multi-pack at Costco and while the product names are identical, the ingredient listing and order was not. I purchased them within a couple weeks of each other, both in Florida. I don’t know if one has a cheaper formula than the other or if they simply just changed it depending on distribution timing. This one has a creamy texture that’s semi thick but glides on the skin nicely. It does indeed have super sheer feeling finish but it’s not liquid so it doesn’t feel like it just dissolves on the skin. We both really like the formula, matte finish, long lasting effect. It did work to protect our skin – but as I’m already one who finds ingredients confusing, the difference in listings between the tubes makes me suspicious about quality.
  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid, Broad Spectrum 60
    • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10.72%, Octisalate 3.21%, Octocrylene 6%, Oxybenzone 3.86%
    • This brand has been recommended to me by friends and readers for years. It’s one I’ve wanted to try for a while but every time I see it in person I can’t help but be completely overwhelmed by the options! This one is actually for the face but my husband likes this on the body because of the lightweight feel and matte drydown. He feels this is one of the most effective ones for his skin and likes that if he sweats it doesn’t sting his eyes. We picked ours up from Blue Mercury but I’ve looked at the La Roche-Posay site and have been trying to figure out what to try next. If you have any specific recommendations please let me know what formulas worked for you.

That rounds up our body sunscreen testing! We only had 1 miss which wasn’t included here because we used a face sunscreen stick on our body and both broke out in a horrible reaction. It’s not included here because I suspect it was user error rather than product error. We were lucky to have a lot of hits and I was super lucky nothing caused an allergic reaction as I’ve almost always broke out in red bumps with drugstore sunscreens. In summary here are our thoughts on the best, longest lasting and what we recommend:

  • Longest lasting ones on the skin for best water-resistant formulas for both of us include the Supergoop! Super Power Sunscreen Mousse and the Moroccanoil SPF 50, these are also the heaviest with the most emollient feel
  • Longest lasting formulas for skin but lightweight if you’re not in water include the Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen with SPF 50 and Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector Sunscreen with SPF 50
  • Best lightweight winners for my husband are the La Roche-Posay Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid Anthelios 60 and Kiehl’s
  • Best lightweight winners for me are the Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen with SPF 50 and Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray, I also like the Kiehl’s as well but prefer the other two if I had to only pick 2

Because of the improved lasting power of so many of these we’ve found that we need to triple wash ourselves in the evenings with shower gel. Some of these really stick to your skin! If you have any sunscreen favorites for the body let me know in the comments. Any brand recs appreciated but if you can leave the formula name as well those are super helpful as so many lines have multiple formulas it’s so confusing when I’m at the store to pick one!

Face sunscreen roundup to follow soon! For those curious about the accessories shown:

Press samples include Clarins Sunscreen Care Oil Spray and the Supergoop! Sunscreen Mousse.

Skincare

REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask and Perfection Serum

May 30, 2017

REN Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask and Radiance Perfection Serum Review

I’m exploring more in skincare as I adjust to humid weather with our recent move. With humidity, heat, sweat, sunscreen and running I’ve found my pores are more prone to clogging especially around the places my sunglasses touch the face and especially around my chin area. I have yet to try any facial spas or clinics in the area yet so I’ve been relying on trying new products at home. It’s been quite a process to find skincare that truly makes a noticeable difference. Skincare takes time to work it’s magic and since I have sensitive skin I find it even more challenging to find products that work. REN Skincare recently reached out and asked me to try their Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask ($55 for 50 ml/1.7 fl oz) and Radiance Perfection Serum ($55 for 30 ml/1.02 oz). The descriptions sounded right up my alley so I gave them both a test run. I’ve been testing these for the past month, incorporating both into my weekly skincare routine and have been thrilled with the results.

REN Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask

The Glycol Lactic Radiance Renew Mask is the best at-home renewal mask I’ve ever tried. It’s a 10-minute exfoliating mask that removes dead skin cells for renewed, brighter, healthy and radiant skin. It acts like a gentle peeling mask that has a very subtle tingle sensation – but it’s not something you peel off. You apply a thick layer and it’s like a gel on the face. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then wipe off the excess with a damp cloth (cloth provided) and then rinse. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being stinging) I would rate this a 3 for tingle in the sense that I could feel some action going on but there was no burn or sting which is huge for me. As one with sensitive skin I almost always feel the tingle and this one had a very mild sensation on the face. The description says this is not designed for those prone to sensitivity. I found it gentle enough for my skin but your mileage may vary.

This mask has what REN calls a cocktail of four AHAs – the combination encourages exfoliation and cell renewal:

  • Glycolic Acid from pineapple extract
  • Lactic Acid from passion fruit extract
  • Citric Acid from lemon extract
  • Tartaric Acid from grape extract

Also included are:

  • Omega 3 and Omega 7 from Arctic blackcurrant seed oil to repair and regenerate the skin, prevent scarring and reduce inflammation
  • Papain from Mexican papaya which is another exfoliant

Recommended use is weekly. I’ve used this 2x to 3x per week since getting this and I noticed results from the first time I used it. Congested areas around the nose and chin felt noticeably less oily and tiny clogged areas around my chin cleared up by the next day. Skin feels noticeably smoother and tighter but not too tight. By the time of this post I’ve used this 8 times and it’s been a skin saver. We spent a couple days in Orlando where it was humid with rain showers and thunder storms. I had on layers of sunscreen and my makeup melted off. By the end of each day we were all sticky and I could feel my skin getting clogged. This mask helped remove dead skin and congestion.

One pump is all I need to cover my entire face. Shown below is about a 1/2 a pump – it has a slight citrus scent but not heavily fragranced. It has a thick gel-like consistency that adheres well to the face. They include a soft cloth which you dampen and use to wipe the mask off. The texture helps remove the mask and dead skin without being too harsh. Rinse with warm water and skin is left feeling completely renewed. Also unlike with other exfoliating masks this one does not leave any redness on my skin.

REN Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask

After using the mask, REN recommends you apply a serum afterwards in conjunction with your moisturizer. The Radiance Perfection Serum is what they recommend to use with the Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask. This one has a blend of ingredients including Glabridin from licorice and Tyrosinase Inhibitors from Wild Canadian Rumex with Vitamin C to reduce age spots and help correct skin tone. It also contains Hyaluronic acid to plump the skin. With regular use this is supposed to help reduce the appearance of sun damage and skin spots – since I’ve been exposed to the most sun I’ve ever been experiencing in my life I’m more aware of preventing spots than ever.

Ren Radiance Perfection Serum Review

I’ve been using this right after I apply and rinse the mask off at night. It isn’t super thick or sticky but I can feel product on my face. You do need to let it absorb and set for about 30 seconds and then it dries. I need to be better about using serums during the day but with the heat and humidity I’m all about lightweight creams and having as few layers of product on my face as possible since I’ve been more diligent in adding sunscreen to my morning routine. For this one I’ve reserved use for night and it has helped with radiance and brightness. My husband went on a 2-week work trip and when he came back home he noticed a huge difference in my skin. I think the serum has played a key role in brightening and improving texture. For reducing sun spots I suspect it will take more time for them to noticeably fade and I have high hopes this will be one to help them disappear with regular use.

Ren Radiance Perfection Serum Review

Overall two winners for my skincare testing. I’ve used a few mini samples from REN in the past but never explored the line in depth. A number of you have recommended their masks, in particular the Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial. I love playing with masks as they’re fun for me to use and also easy to incorporate into my routine without requiring a massive skincare overhaul. I haven’t had any flare ups recently but I wish I knew about the Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask like six months ago. I think it could have been a skin saver when I had some flare ups. If you have any recommendations from the line please let me know in the comments!

REN Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask and Radiance Perfection Serum Review

I’m going to continue using the serum at night and see how it works to reduce sun spots. The Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is hands down pure love for me. Going forward it’s going to be in my weekly routine. My skin has cleared up so I don’t think I will need to use it 3x per week, especially if I alternate with other purifying masks depending on what my skin needs. But it will definitely be on my weekly to-do list as it’s just what I need to remove dead skin and help combat congestion. REN gives a tip that you can add a bit of your own serum or oil to the mask to create your own custom exfoliating mask as well. I haven’t tried that with this but if you have let me know if you do that with any of your face masks.

Do you have any REN Skincare favorites? What’s your go-to renewal/exfoliating mask?

Thanks to REN Clean Skincare for partnering to sponsor this post.

Dior Skincare

Dior Hydra Life Skincare

May 26, 2017

Dior Hydra Life Skincare Review | The Beauty Look Book

Today I have a review on the new Dior Hydra Life Skincare line and am thrilled to have been able to test every item in the collection over the past several months. The Hydra Life collection is a complete skincare routine created with gentle ingredients to make the skin look and feel healthy and luminous. I’ve used Dior skincare for years, their face cleansers and cleansing waters had been long-time staples and I was sad to see them discontinued. As one with super sensitive skin I am happy to report the Hydra Life line works well with my skin type. I’ve been switching things up as I’ve moved from the west coast to the east coast. Differences in climate, water conditions and air have made it necessary for me to experiment with new products and the Hydra Life lineup does not disappoint.

There are nine pieces in the collection and with these items Dior has four skincare programs they recommend based on your personal preferences. I have combination skin and and prefer the Mix It Up and Multi Mask as I don’t have super dry or super oily skin. You can read more about the programs here and see which items they recommend.

I put every item to the test and will cover each one by category: cleansers, masks and moisturizers and at the end I’ll share which ones were my favorites. The first thing I noticed with this line was the packaging. Everything is well designed and the products come with generous sizes. The pumps on the cleansers are just perfect – they dispense product well and the tops are sturdy which I really appreciate.

Dior Hydra Life Skincare Review | The Beauty Look Book

Cleansers

Up first are the four cleansers. These include a foaming cleanser, cleansing water, cleansing oil and exfoliating powder. I’m a bit of a cleanser fanatic, it’s the one skincare item I’ll try lots of because finding the right ones are so personal. For traditional face washing I prefer a cream or liquid cleanser, but these days with long wearing makeup I find double cleansing absolutely essential. Sometimes I will use three steps to cleanse my skin if you count exfoliation. The Hydra Life collection contains everything needed to completely cleanse and prime the skin for skincare and makeup. They do have a lightweight fresh scent but it’s not irritating or overpowering.

Shown above from left to right and ingredients also shown:

Micellar Water – No Rinse Cleanser ($42 for 6.7 fl oz) is a new cleansing water formula that has Echinacea flower extract to soothe skin and work as an antioxidant to cleanse the skin, remove impurities and leave it glowing. I am extremely picky with cleansing water even though it’s one of my favorite items to try. This leaves no film on the skin and does indeed remove all face makeup. It won’t remove long-wear eye makeup or mascara but then in my experience most cleansing waters don’t and I use a separate bi-phase remover for the eyes.

Oil to Milk – Makeup Removing Cleanser ($42 for 6.7 fl oz) is a cleansing oil with sweet almond oil to nourish the skin. It glides over the skin well and emulsifies easily with arm water to cleanse the skin. It has a nourishing moisturizing feel to it and does an excellent job at removing makeup. Normally with cleansing oils I tend to avoid using it on the eye area. It’s nearly impossible to not get some in my eyes when I rinse with water and it either stings or fogs up my vision for a few minutes until I completely rinse it with water. This one rinses off easily and does remove eye makeup. I still prefer to use a cotton pad soaked with eye makeup remover to remove eye makeup first, but this is an excellent cleansing oil. I do think it will be best suited for those with normal to dry skin.

Dior Hydra Life Cleansers | The Beauty Look Book

Lotion to Foam – Fresh Cleanser ($42 for 6.3 fl oz) is a liquid lotion type of cleanser that has a pump which dispenses product into a light airy foam. Although it’s light in texture it has a moisturizing and cooling feel leaving skin refreshed. It contains a white tea leaf extract to remove makeup and purify the skin. It’s designed to be a cleanser and toner in one. It cleans the skin thoroughly while leaving it feeling soothed without that tight/dry feeling. There is a softening feel to it but without any film residue left behind.

Dior Hydra Life Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser | The Beauty Look Book

Time to Glow – Ultra Fine Exfoliating Powder ($45 for 1.4 oz) is a soft powder you activate with water. It has sugar extract and lotus seeds to smooth skin texture and polish the face. I often find most scrubs too harsh but still need to use something to exfoliate and these kinds of face powder cleansers are perfect because they’re gentle but effective. Out of all the items I would say based on the size this is the one item that feels more on the expensive side but I find it’s made the biggest difference in improving skin texture for me.

Dior Hydra Life Time to Glow Exfoliating Powder | The Beauty Look Book

Hydration

Up next are the two products for moisture that they have in the lineup. There is a Deep Hydration Sorbet Water Essence ($73 for 40 ml) and a Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme ($69 for 50 ml). These are said to be suitable for all skintypes. For me I’ve needed skincare with more moisture as the water has dried out my skin a bit. However after testing a number of creams for dry skin I found them too thick and heavy as I really prefer weightless feeling products for serums, lotions or creams but the Hydra Life Essence + Creme combo is just perfect. Together they give the skin a refreshed feel for a perfectly balanced base.

Dior Hydra Life Deep Hydration Sorbet Water Essence and Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme | The Beauty Look Book

The Sorbet Water Essence is a lightweight serum that glides on the skin without leaving any sticky residue or tacky feeling. It has a water-like feel in the sense that it’s weightless and refreshing. After regular use my skin feels more balanced and naturally hydrated. The Sorbet Creme is another refreshing product. It has a unique creme gel texture and gives the skin a more plumped and radiant look. For me it absorbs well into the skin but the essence helps it absorb better. I never tried the original version so I can’t compare but the current one is a win.

Dior Hydra Life Deep Hydration Sorbet Water Essence and Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme | The Beauty Look Book

Masks

Last but not least are the three masks, each designed for different skin types. These are quick 3 minute masks. The Pores Away Pink Clay Mask ($69 for 1.7 oz)is one of the most gentle clay masks I’ve ever tried. It has a whipped texture that minimizes pores and gently draws out impurities. It has a refreshing cooling feel and only takes 3 minutes. Once removed the skin feels instantly bright and clean. Since this one is very gentle I don’t think it will extract deep imperfections but it is effective for those with sensitive skin. It rinses off easily and I like that when it dries it doesn’t shrink or pull the skin like some other masks do. I like this one best on my nose or T zone area because it’s a bit on the pricey side, I want to try and limit where I put it.

The Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask ($69 for 1.7 oz) is the only one that I would say is not for my skin type. It is a balm designed for dry skin and I found it very hydrating. It’s a plumping mask with pine oil that you apply then wipe off and it does what the name implies. It smooths, plumps, hydrates and makes the skin look like it’s glowing naturally. Skin is left feeling super soft and smooth. For me it was just too hydrating. It has a soft light floral scent.

Last but not least is the Glow Better Fresh Jelly Mask ($69 for 1.7 oz) which leaves the skin fresh feeling with the most natural looking glow. It citrus fruit to smooth the skin and apricot seed powder to exfoliate. In terms of exfoliation effects the product is very gentle but it does feel more geared towards those with normal to oily skin.

Dior Hydra Life Masks | The beauty look book Dior Hydra Life Mask | The Beauty Look Book Dior Hydra Life Mask | The Beauty Look Book Dior Hydra Life Mask | The Beauty Look Book

Dior Hydra Life Skincare ReviewOverall a beautiful skincare line with a nice variety of products. My favorites from the collection are definitely the cleansers with the top three being the Cleansing Water, Cleansing Oil and Exfoliating Powder. Each one cleans well without stripping the skin and I like that they leave the skin feeling clean, soft and nourished but without any film. The products in the Hydra Life line do have a soft light fresh floral scent so if you’re super sensitive to any scent you may want to try these out in person first. I have super sensitive skin but didn’t experience any irritation or break outs from the products. The Water Essence + Sorbet Creme is perfect for my skin right now although it does have a more hydrating finish and feels better suited for normal to dry skin types. With the humidity levels increasing as summer approaches I suspect this may be a bit too heavy for warm humid weather for my skin type. Overall a beautifully designed line with gorgeous packaging, generous product amounts and gentle but effective formulas. Regular use for two months has given me smoother looking skin that feels more plump and hydrated.

You can find the Dior Hydra Life Skincare Collection now at Dior.com and all Dior counters. Have you tried anything from this line yet? Or do you use anything from any of the other Dior Skincare collections? What did you think? I’ve been really interested in the Dreamskin 1 Minute Mask as I adore the cushion. If you’ve tried it let me know if you think it’s worth the splurge.

Many thanks to Dior for partnering to sponsor this post. As always all opinions my own.

Clarins Lips Skincare

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil – New Shades

May 3, 2017

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil New Shades | The Beauty Look Book

Clarins fans will be thrilled to discover that they’ve just released four new shades of the Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil ($26 each for 0.1 oz/7 mL). I’ve been a huge fan of the formula for the lush moisturizing feel it gives. Since these are tints there is very little color payoff to these but the hydration in these is indeed comforting as the name implies and formula is top notch. It’s amazing how fast time flies but I last reviewed the original three shades a year ago here. The new shades come with different scents and one of them has gold flecks and shimmer in it. Shown below:

  • Candy 04 is a soft sheer pink, it smells like something sweet
  • Tangerine 05 is a deep red orange, swatched it pulls more orange, it smells like candy
  • Honey Glam 07 is honey with gold flecks, it’s not gritty or chunky even though the sparkles are visible, it applies smooth with a tiny bit of shimmer, it has a very faint hint of honey scent
  • Mint 06 is a sheer green, it has a very soft mint smell to it, this one is supposed to have a plumping effect but I didn’t notice anything different from the others which is actually good, I usually find tingly lip plumpers make my lips go numb

Overall with the exception of Tangerine, the other shades have a more lightweight scent to them. From the original launch Honey was my favorite because the scent was the most natural and soothing. With the shade extensions, I’m obsessed with all four even though they look similar on my lips. Also with this launch, Candy and Tangerine are designed to react to the pH of your lips so they are supposed to transform depending on your chemistry. On me they give a slight stain and since the tint is a bit brighter you can see the difference when swatched side by side. I’m not really into green colored makeup but my favorite of this launch is the Mint one!

For those who missed my original review or are new to these, the Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil is a hydrating lip oil that comes with a cushiony sponge tip applicator. They are scented to match the color name. They are semi thick but not tacky and give the lips a veil of gloss/oil to moisturize them. They noticeably soften the lips. Even though they are oils they don’t slide off the lips like you might think they would.

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil New Shades | The Beauty Look Book

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil New Colors Swatched | The Beauty Look Book

Swatched on bare lips:

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil New Shades Swatches | The Beauty Look Book

Close up of Honey Glam, it’s hard to tell in the lip swatch above but the sparkles are visible on the lips:

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil Honey Glam | The Beauty Look Book

All the colors side by side:

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil | The Beauty Look Book

Swatches of Honey, Raspberry, Red Berry, Candy, Tangerine, Mint and Honey Glam below:

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil | The Beauty Look Book

I’m a huge fan of the Lip Oils but not always a fan of sweet berry scents. Sometimes they can be a bit much with the sweetness which is why I liked Honey so much from the first round. The newer shades have a noticeable scent but I find them more subtle which is better suited to my super sensitive nose. Since they’re all sheer I still don’t think it’s a must to have them all unless you’re a die hard fan of the formula and like to keep multiples for the purse, bathroom, desk etc. Now that I’ve tested all 7, if I had to pick my favorites, they would be Honey, Candy and Mint. If oils just aren’t your thing but you like the idea of a tinted balm, you might want to check out their Instant Light Natural Lip Perfectors instead.

You can find the new shades of Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oils at a few retailers online. I suspect they will arrive at more places online in the upcoming weeks. Right now available online at Clarins, Clarins UK, Sephora, and Bloomingdale’s. Have you tried these yet? What’s your favorite tinted lip treatment right now?

Clarins Lip Oils provided as press samples for review.

Nail Polish Skincare

How to Maintain Hands for Healthy Looking Nails + My Personal DIY Manicure Tips

February 7, 2017

Hand and Nail Care Essentials | The Beauty Look Book

The most frequently asked questions I receive from readers relate to hand and nail care. For my nail polish posts I feature a mix of DIY and salon manicures. Finding a good salon and a reliable manicurist can take some time, then maintaining the nails with professional care can take up to 1 hour for a regular manicure so that requires additional time. Because I did so many polish reviews and swatches over the past years I could not afford to get regular manicures with the frequency of reviewing polish – both with the cost and time. I had to learn how to do it on my own so I observed the techniques of my favorite manicurists and practiced on my own. I will say that regular salon manicures and pedicures are 100% worth the splurge. Often times during high-stress periods in my life I found it impossible to shut off my mind and de-stress, even after work hours. Manicures kind of helped me stay sane because when someone is working on your hands you’re pretty much stuck doing nothing except for fun brainless tasks like reading magazines or listening to music or watching YouTube videos on your phone. It helped my brain go into hibernate mode so to speak. Also there’s something refreshing about having freshly groomed fingers or toes that makes you feel instantly alive and more put together.

For hand and nail care I typically stick to a few tried and true items and it has been the case for several years. I did my Nail and Hand Care Essentials back in 2014 (wow time flies!) but many of you have asked for an updated post with a tutorial. I finally have one to share with you today and if you compare the posts you’ll see that not much has changed. A few notes for newbies. If your nails are not in the best state I would highly recommend getting them cleaned, cuticles trimmed and polished professionally. Doing something like a manicure once a month or every other week for a little while can help improve the look and health of your nails. I think they can work miracles! If you have any cracks, chipped nails, or problem areas, a manicurist can help smooth everything out nicely. Once they’re in a better state you can do touch ups or manicures at home in between professional manis.

Up first are the tools then a DIY manicure tutorial of how I maintain and paint my fingers. Note that even after all this time of practice I can’t give myself a pedicure without it looking like I gooped a bunch of finger paint on my toes.

Tools of the Trade

Nail Files, Trimmers, Tools | The Beauty Look Book

I wish there was one brand or store where I could find all the best tools, unfortunately there is not. If you’re going to use my list as a shopping list for yourself, you will have to do a bit of shopping around. Most of the items I’ve bought can be found at Sephora, Ulta and Nordstrom (my 3 favorite beauty stores). Many of the items can also be found online at Amazon. If you’re shopping in store – check the online store locators to check inventory first. Often times I’ve gone to Ulta and found they were sold out of all the items on my list. They do restock frequently but to save time it’s best to research online and make a list first if you’re going to go out to multiple stores. As usual I’ve linked all the products to where I’ve bought the items in the past.

  • Revlon Nail Clippers – these are an older style, I can’t remember how long ago I bought these, the current versions have an embossed pattern on the surface, to clip nails I recommend clipping about 1/2 to 1/4 of what you think you need to trim. It’s better to do it in stages and then clip more. My biggest challenge was over-clipping.
  • Nail files – I usually accumulate cheap ones here and there, I’m not brand loyal to any particular type.
  • Ulta Beauty Crystal Nail File is no longer available online but you can find one from the Sephora Collection that is only $10. These are great for those with sensitive nails, there’s no grit texture like with traditional files so it’s more gentle on the nails.
  • Deborah Lippman Cuticle Remover is what I call my secret weapon for nails. It softens the cuticle area so you can push back any excess skin to trim them. This is an essential in my routine. I don’t know if she changed the packaging – I’ve seen a few in stores with a brush applicator instead of the dropper.
  • Tweezerman Cuticle Nipper is what I use to trim cuticles, it fits well in the hands and does the job well, mine has lasted since 2014, I do need to replace it soon though.
  • Face It Pro Salon Nail Pusher is something I bought at a local Korean Supermarket (Zion Marketplace in San Diego), I have super tiny fingers so this one is a bit large for my hands but still works, I like the shape of the tools and quality.
  • Tweezerman Pushy Nail and Cuticle Cleaner has been my go-to tool to push back the cuticle area and keep fingers looking groomed. Also available at Amazon for a cheaper price.
  • Not shown above, but there was a limited-edition Zwilling Manicure Set my husband uses and loves, this has been discontinued but he likes the quality of their tools if you’re looking for items for your man.

Base and Top Coats

Base and Top Coat Favorites for a DIY Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

My absolute favorite base and top coats have now been discontinued (Deborah Lippmann Rehydrating Base Coat, Formula X Base Coat, Chanel Brilliance Top Coat and all the items from Rescue Beauty Lounge). I have still found some others that I really like.

  • Nails Inc. 45 Second Top Coat with Kensington Caviar is a great top coat that doesn’t have any shrinkage with polishes like Chanel, Dior or Tom Ford. Mine lasted about 2.5 years before it got thick and I had to throw it out. It lasted me so long because I rotate top coat brands. This one does dry within 45 seconds – just make sure your polish coats have properly dried first before applying. This gives the nails a super glossy cushiony look.
  • Nails Inc. base coats I’ve tired include the Nailkale Superfood Base Coat and the Base Coat with Kensington Caviar. I prefer the Nailkale Superfood Base Coat because it’s nourishing and doesn’t tint the nails. It has kale to strengthen the nails and keratin to help harden and stimulate growth. This is what I attribute to having healthy looking nails. With base coats I think it’s important to not apply too much – if it’s too thick it doesn’t dry properly and then polish on top just sits there. The Base Coat with Kensington Caviar has been a long-time go-to as well, but it can get a bit thick with age and it also can tint the nails pink.
  • Formula X Base Coat has been my favorite for a long time. Unfortunately it looks like the line has been pulled from Sephora. If you visit your store you may see a bunch of items on clearance. So stock up if you see any favorites there.
  • CND has been a long-time favorite. One of my salons used both the Stickey Base Coat and Super Shiny top Coat. They’re reliable staples and I highly recommend both.
  • Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat has never really been a favorite because it has major shrinkage with brands like Chanel, Dior, Tom Ford, YSL and pretty much all the brands I use. It does work well with OPI, Essie and Louboutin though and since it dries quickly I like the way it works and looks. Your mileage may vary depending on what polish you use. If you find that Chanel or Dior gets really quick tip wear on you, check what top coat you’re using. Some formulas are not compatible with 5 free formulas and cause shrinkage which pulls back the polish from the ends like tips or cuticles.
  • Chanel Le Gel Coat is a newer top coat that Chanel launched. It wears really well and gives the nails a cushiony shine. I love this with Chanel polishes and it also works well with Dior.
  • Louboutin Loubi Primer and Loubi Gloss is one of the best nail care duos I’ve used. The price point is high and this comes as a duo. The primer keeps nails from yellowing and helps to hydrate them well. The top coat gives one of the best high-gloss shines I’ve ever seen and keeps polish lasting long for up to 7 days for me. It’s not the fastest drying duo but well worth the extra time it takes.

Extras

Best Hand and Nail Care Essentials | The Beauty Look Book

The extras that make a huge difference in hand care rounded up below:

  • L’Occitane makes some of my favorite hand creams, they’re great for dry skin and I love the fun packaging. For those with sensitive noses the Shea Butter is the best and most gentle. It has a very natural smelling scent that is soothing.
  • Molton Brown makes my favorite scented hand creams, they have a lightweight texture so they’re not greasy and I love their scents. Pink Pepperpod and Coco Sandalwood are my favorites but really all the options are great.
  • Kiehl’s introduced scented hand creams in a Limited-Edition Trio this year, you can buy them separately in a larger size, but the minis are exclusive to Neiman Marcus (while supplies last). The Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve is the unscented version and I also really like it. I don’t have one at the moment because my husband uses it as well and we go through them frequently.
  • Molton Brown Alba White Truffle Hand Treatment and Scrub are amazing for a hand cream and scrub. I’ve written about this duo before and absolutely love it. I’ve never done a hand scrub before trying this. Over the holidays a year ago many of you mentioned you do regular hand scrubs and that it works wonders on your hands.
  • Deborah Lippman Cuticle Oil has been my go-to for years. I’ve gone through several bottles and love it.
  • Dior Huile Abricot was interesting to me because it seemed to be less messy and easier to apply compared to most oils. It’s a great touch up for the cuticles and is super hydrating without getting messy. I really like it.
  • Two polish removers I swear by are Deborah Lippmann The Stripper and Zoya Remove +. If you find your nails peel it may be because you’re using harsh polish removers. Both of these are super gentle and good for sensitive nails. Amy from Cafe Makeup recommended the Zoya remover to me years ago and as her nails always look pristine I took her advice and am forever grateful for this discovery.
  • Chanel Le Coton is one of my favorite facial cottons, it’s bit spendy to use for polish remover but it soaks up a lot so you can use one square for one hand for lighter polishes. Facial Cotton review and comparison here.
  • Sephora Collection Cotton Rounds are great because they’re cheap and don’t leave fibers behind which can be super annoying when you need to get the nail surface completely clean. Love these and have have lost count of how many times I’ve ordered these.

The DIY Manicure

Step 1

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 2 is optional, let the fingers soak with warm water and bit of hand soap to soften the cuticles. I absolutely love the Molton Brown Hand Washes – they smell amazing, don’t dry out the skin and I love the packaging.

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 3

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look BookDIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 4

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 5

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 6

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 7

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 8

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 9

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 10 – Color is OPI Be There in a Prosecco

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 11

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

Step 12

DIY At Home Manicure | The Beauty Look Book

A few personal notes on nail care. I’m not a manicurist or nail professional but based on my experience I think the only way to avoid breakage is to keep nails on the shorter side. I do believe there are a lot of nail strengtheners and sometimes nail hardness depends on diet and health, but no matter what I do I can’t avoid breakage when they get long. For me playing frisbee always breaks my nails. On tip wear your mileage will vary depending on hand activity and nail length. The longer the nails the easier it is for the tips to come in contact with things like a keyboard or anything else you touch and therefore they get more wear than shorter nails. If you have broken chips, hang nails, cuts or any issue I highly recommend that you try to get them fixed by a professional manicurist – the few visits to get them to a healthy state is well worth the splurge. Also depending on hand or foot activities a salon can work wonders. I did ballet from the time I was 7 years old until 18 and my feet were badly calloused for years. I didn’t think there was anything I could do to get them fixed to a normal state. I did not get my first mani or pedi until I was 21 and was amazed at how much it improved my feet. It took about a year of regular pedicures every other week or so to get them into a presentable state.

Also a note on gel nails, I’ve never had my nails with gels so I can’t give any advice or input on those.

Best Hand and Nail Care Essentials for a DIY Manicure

An extra step that I just started doing is masking my hands. I used on a few occasions the Glamglow Thirsty Mud Mask and SK-II Facial Treatment Mask on hands and afterwards it was like years had been lifted. I don’t know that I have the patience to do this on a regular basis but on super dry skin days with the dry weather this helped a lot.

I hope you found this roundup helpful! With nail care there are so many options to try – the fancy packaging and pretty bottles are always so tempting at the store. I get overwhelmed at Ulta and whip out my phone to look for online reviews, realize it’s going to take too much time to research and end up sticking with what I’ve tried and loved.

If you have any favorites, tips or tricks please share in the comments! My advice is practice makes perfect! It does take time and there were many times in the beginning I just gave up and ended up going to my salon because it would be faster and more efficient for them to take 40 minutes to an hour to do them rather than try to finish myself. I gave up many many times. Eventually I got better and can do both hands easily at home on my own. I still get professional manicures when time allows. I would say over the past year for reference that the vast majority of the nail polish reviews I did were done on my own. Ballpark figure is over 80% of the nail swatches were done on my own.

Press samples include the Molton Brown Alba White Truffle duo and Louboutin Loubi Nail Kit.

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