Sometimes there are beauty collections that are simply too cute to handle and the Shu Uemura x Super Mario Brothers Collection for holiday is one of them. Many years ago I used to use and buy a lot from Shu Uemura. It was hard to find in the US so I first discovered the items in Asia and UK during my college days. They eventually launched in a few stores like Sephora and Neiman Marcus. When I lived in California I’d sometimes make a long drive from San Diego to their boutique at South Coast Plaza. Unfortunately they decided to pull the brand from all retail stores and they kept it online only. I hope they will bring it back to more places someday! The holiday collection is super cute and speaks to the young at heart.
Color items and makeup come in limited-edition packaging:
Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte in M PK375 ($30) is the first matte lipstick I’ve tried from Shu Uemura and wow is the formula impressive. I’m not a fan of matte lips in general but this formula is smooth and manages to look velvety without that dried up look. Pigment is opaque and smooth, there’s no tugging and lasting power is really phenomenal. It stays put adhering well to the lips. It also leaves a slight stain on the lips so if as it fades or transfers the color pretty much stays put. PK375 is a pinkish berry color.
Rouge Unlimited Sheer Shine in Saved Peach ($30) is one of those sheer glossy peachy colors in the tube but on my lips it turns more pinkish. This has a soft glossy finish with a cushiony feel. Lasting power isn’t as good as the matte but it does feel nice and hydrating on the lips. It has quite a bit of slip and while it looks pretty I’m not the biggest fan of the formula.
Tint in Balm in Fire of Flower ($30) is a lush pigmented balm. The formula is so good with this one and even though the color is a lot brighter than what I normally wear, I think it’s worth checking out if you are in the market for a brighter red. Lasting power with this is also very good, especially for a balm. I definitely plan on checking out the other colors in the regular line.
Drawing Pencil in Matte Black ($24) is a classic rich opaque smooth black eyeliner. It has a soft matte finish and on my eyes it lasted all day without smudging (even in humidity).
The hair care line Shu Uemura Art of Hair is carried on it’s own website, separate from the makeup and skincare items. Each holiday season they usually repromote classics with the holiday packaging so in the event you don’t like the designs you can always buy them with the standard bottles.
Cleansing Oil Shampoo ($57) is a classic shampoo I’ve used up entirely multiple times. With my hair type it’s best as a clarifying one to two times a week kind of formula. I always combine it with the corresponding conditioner and the two together are really good for soft clean hair.
Cleansing Oil Conditioner ($58) is the coordinating conditioner for the Cleansing Oil Shampoo. I actually like this formula a lot better than the shampoo and use this one with other brands of shampoo. I’m one who washes my hair daily. Back in California I didn’t condition it every day because I didn’t need to. In Florida the water is different and while the weather is hot and makes me prone to sweat more, the water dries out my skin and hair (even with filters). I’ve found I need some kind of conditioner daily and this one is definitely a favorite because it’s light enough to add moisture but not so heavy and rich that it makes my scalp oily.
Essence Absolue ($69) is one of their best-sellers and for good reason. It’s a lightweight oil that can be used in a number of ways. I apply it to freshly washed and towel dried hair and it works as a detangler. I also use it pre-heat styling and as a finisher on the ends. It’s consistently in my top picks for hair oils because of the lightweight texture, beautiful scent and great shine it gives my hair without weighing it down. I absolutely love that it comes with a pump dispenser.
Master Wax ($39) is another classic from Shu Uemura but this was the first time I’ve ever used a wax. I had to do some research on how to use and apply it because I usually associate a hair wax with a men’s grooming kind of product. It has a nice lightweight scent but feels thick like a gooey pomade. Instructions say you can use on damp or dry hair – I tried both. A little goes a very long way. With my hair styling I usually do the same thing every day. I just like it down and free flowing unless I’m working out and then tie it up. I rarely use hair spray as it gives my hair that crunchy feel. This wax seems like it would be the perfect styling product if you style your hair and need it to stay in place or get that piecey look all day without stiffness. For the most part I’ve had longer hair, at least slightly past the shoulders. There have been times I cut my hair shorter and found it extremely difficult to maintain and style. Shorter hair means there’s less weight and I found my hair kinda flew around in ways I couldn’t manage. Had I known about hair wax back then I think it would have been a styling savior. For now since I’m very minimal with my hair styling I prefer the Essence Absolue or softer creams.
Beauty, skincare and makeup items are available online at Shu Uemura and Shu Uemura Canada. The team has offered Beauty Look Book readers a special offer for orders. With code BLBXSHU online you will receive 5 free deluxe samples and free shipping on orders $50+. Samples include: a mini laque supreme sample rd01, maxi:hydrability essence-in cream 13 ml, sakura-rose-petal-mask 13 ml, ultime8 sublime cleansing oil 15 ml and nutri:nectar sample 15 ml.
That wraps up my look at some of the holiday pieces from the Shu Uemura x Super Mario Collection! Have you tried anything from Shu Uemura recently? What are your favorites? I’m still working on my skincare routine but I’ll say for now that their Sakura Rose Petal Mask is one of my latest obsessions for hydration and soothing.
Holiday collection items and promo code provided courtesy of the Shu Uemura team.
I have an updated hair care routine for summer to share today. Since moving to Florida I’ve been struggling for months to find a good shampoo + conditioner combo. The water here is so different from California and even with a filter in the home, many shampoos and conditioners simply don’t rinse or lather the same. I’ve tried a lot of my tried and true favorites alongside probably at least 15 other formulas and it’s been a real challenge to find something that works. Also with the heat, humidity, chlorine and salt my hair behaves differently. It gets dried out easily but the humidity also means sweat and oils surface so it feels like everything is just a hot mess. For a quick recap on my hair – I have long thick frizz-prone hair. It’s never been colored or highlighted (at least not yet). Many of the styling product favorites remain the same. My current favorites right now listed below.
Shampoo, Conditioners and Rinses
Molton Brown Inspiring Basil and Vetiver Shampoo and Conditioner ($30 each for 10 fl oz) is part of a limited-edition collection Molton Brown created for the Seabourn cruise line. This is my current holy grail duo. I’ve tried at least a dozen other brands and formulas over the past months and nothing compares to this duo for a good wash. It cleanses and leaves the hair feeling super soft and naturally shiny. It has a very soothing soft natural scent. I’m a bit upset it’s limited-edition as I’d love to keep repurchasing this for like FOREVER. I’m stocking up so I’ll be able to have this for a while. The entire Molton Brown x Seabourn Collection is amazing. I highly recommend you check it out.
Oribe Cleansing Creme for Moisture Control ($46 for 8.5 oz) isn’t shown because I’ve run out twice since moving to Florida. It was a favorite in California and is still a favorite here in Florida. I use this about 2 to 4x a week switching it out for regular shampoo/conditioner. It’s perfect to restore dry hair to a more natural balanced state.
Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo ($22 to $44) is something I keep in purse occasionally in the smaller size as a refresher. I wash my hair everyday, sometimes twice a day – it’s something I’ve always done and with the summer humidity I think it’s an absolute must. I tend to use dry shampoo as a refresher to absorb oil if I’ve been out for a while and don’t have time to go home to wash it (ie mid-day). There’s really nothing that will fix extreme humidity or wet hair from being rained on, but I find this is a pretty good fix to refresh hair. Back in San Diego there were occasions I did skip a day of washing here and there. This is my go-to for a dry shampoo. It doesn’t have a white cast and as someone with dark hair I really hate any that make my hair look dusty, ashy or grey.
MarulaOil Rare Oil Style Extending Primer ($30 for 130 ml) this is a primer spray that’s designed to extend the life of your hair styling. It smooths and primes the hair for heat styling. On me it works to detangle wet hair. I like the way it smells and it keeps hair looking smooth and frizz free all day even with humidity.
Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave-In Mist with Aloe Vera ($39 for 150 ml) is a light detangling spray with the most amazing natural soothing scent. It really does work well as a detangler. I have a slight preference for this over the MarulaOil one although they have a similar effect.
Oils and Creams
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Blow Dry Beautifier Thermo BB Serum ($39 for 150 ml) is another favorite right now. I reviewed this back in June alongside the BB Cream. Both are really good lightweight primers for heat styling or air drying. They help keep shape but in a natural looking way. If you’re familiar with Shu Uemura Art of Hair these both have a similar effect to the Satin Design Polishing Milk but have a lighter finish/feel. If you’re more of a spray person I’d recommend the Wonder Worker. You really can’t go wrong with any of them – they’ve all performed extremely well for me as multi-tasking preheat or post styling treatments. Right now I like the BB Serum the best.
Moroccanoil Treatment Light ($15 to $44 depending on size) is one of those versatile multi-taskers that great for anything. I can use this as a a styling or finishing product. I love both the regular and light version but for summer I’ve been loving this light one to add a natural shine. I can add it to clean towel-dried hair and just let it air dry. For heat treatment it helps protect the ends and keeps it looking nice and shiny.
Verb Ghost Oil ($14 for 2 oz) is another great lightweight oil. It smells fresh and light and won’t weigh down the hair. It comes with a pump (huge plus for me) and gives the hair a fluid soft sheen.
Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil (miniature shown from Morning After Kit here and here, full size here) is something I reviewed a few months ago. I still love this for both body and hair. I like this on damp hair or on ends to add a bit of shine with a nice scent.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Hair Mist ($65 for 70 ml) is a beautiful hair perfume. After all these years of hair mists I still haven’t tried many as I’d rather just spray perfume in my hair. This has completely changed my outlook. This one is light and soft and alcohol-free. It’s a soft floral with a bit of citrus and musk and mists the hair in a fine veil of scent. Lasting power is quite good on me – I was able to smell it even in late afternoon.
In terms of styling tools, I still haven’t found a brush that I 100% love for function and looks. Right now I use a CHI Turbo Paddle Brush which I’ve had for years and is pretty worn down. If you have any ones you love let me know in the comments. For blow dryers my go-to’s are in this post and you can also see my hair type there as well.
That wraps up my summer hair care loves! What are your current favorites right now? If you can share your hair type as well that would be super helpful 🙂 If you live in Florida or have traveled here for an extended time I’d love to hear what you’ve used or use while here!
Press samples include the Shu Uemura BB Serum, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Hair Mist, Christophe Robin Volumizing Paste, Christophe Robin Leave-In Mist, Molton Brown Seabourn Collection.
I’ve rediscovered cleansing oils from Shu Uemura and they’ve become a regular part of my daily skincare routine this summer. With the heat, sunshine and humidity I have multiple layers products on my face in order to prep, moisturize, protect the skin and also and make my base last. I’ve switched up my skincare routine over the past few months since moving to Florida because I found the water dried out my skin. At the same time the increasing humidity levels cause me to sweat while I’m outside. I’ve finally re-balanced my skin and will share my full skincare routine soon – but today I have a review on all six cleansing oils from Shu Uemura. This year marks their 50th Anniversary.
I’m fairly certain that every one of my readers are already familiar with cleansing oils. In case you are not these are cleansers in oil format where you apply to a dry face then massage into the skin. You can use them on bare skin or as a makeup remover. Simply add warm water to emulsify afterwards and rinse. It’s a skincare product that allows you to remove makeup and cleanse the skin effectively in a single step. With these I only need 2 pumps to cover the entire face although they recommend 3 to 4.
For a bit of background on my skin type, I have normal skin that is on the sensitive side. I tend to double cleanse with cleansing oils or cleansing waters because I like to have my skin squeaky clean. With the Shu Uemura oils they have enough power to do a single cleanse to remove all of my face makeup. With eye makeup or lipstick I still prefer to remove that separately first with a cotton pad and bi-phase makeup remover. It’s just easier and less messy for me. Also with waterproof mascaras and long-wear shadows most cleansing oils simply don’t take it off 100%.
There are currently 7 Shu Uemura cleansing oils – I have 6 of them that I put to the test. Each one has a different formula designed to be suited to certain skin types or preferences. I found they all performed similar in terms of how well they emulsified with water and also how they removed face makeup. Some are better suited for oily skin vs. normal/dry skin and there is a noticeable difference in texture between them. Most of these come in various size options – I have the 150 ml options shown in this post.
Thoughts on each one shown above from left to right. Up first is the one I’d consider the classic which is the High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil Advanced Formula. It’s actually “an evolved” formula of the classic with ingredients designed for waterproof make-up. This one is designed for sensitive skin and it has the most emollient medium-weight smooth feel out of the ones I tested. It leaves the skin completely clean and soft. In terms of mascara removal it didn’t take off 100% of my mascara but it was a very good first pass to remove most of it. For the face it will remove sunscreen, foundation, powder and concealer nicely without stripping the skin.
POREfinist is designed for acne-prone/oily skin but is the lightest weight option in terms of texture. This has a floral petal scent and is designed to remove excess oil and dirt from pores. For my skin it felt the strongest in terms of cleansing power. It was a bit too strong for daily use for me, but if you have oily skin this is probably the best option. This was the second best in terms of waterproof mascara removal.
Anti/Oxi+ is designed for those with aging concerns. It has moringa and green tea extracts to remove pollutants and balance the skin. This one has a fairly strong scent which my nose was a bit sensitive to. In terms of cleansing this removed all traces of makeup, mascara included without stripping the skin. The scent is a relaxing spa-like scent which is nice – but I preferred the unscented/fresh options. It does leave the skin looking completely refreshed with a smooth feel and the scent did not irritate my skin.
Blanc:Chroma is my favorite. It’s a lightweight oil with a brightening effect. On me it was the most gentle and it’s designed for combination skin. I have yet to see noticeable results for brightening with this one – I suspect it’s one that will take months and months of regular use to see visible results. I like this one for the way it makes my skin feel clean and soft.
Nutri:nectar is the newest cleansing oil from Shu Uemura and the most unique. It has a thick almost gel-like texture so it won’t slide into the eyes as easily as fluid options. It is designed for delicate skin and for me was definitely one of the most gentle feeling. It has calming Acai, magnolia to replenish and mushroom to improve resilience.
Ultime8 Sublime is the option best suited for normal/dry skin. On me this was the richest feeling option without any film. It removes all traces of face makeup and leaves the skin feeling plump and soft.
Ingredients on each of the boxes, left to right is blanc:chroma, high performance balancing cleansing oil advanced formula, nutri:nectar:
Left to right: anti/oxi+, POREfinist, ultime8 sublime
Out of all of the cleansing oils I found that Blanc:chroma worked best for me. It has a lightweight texture and soft scent that I really liked. Anti/Oxi+ was the best for makeup removal including waterproof mascara and liner. The new nutri:nectar was the most gentle. If you have any favorites from the line let me know in the comments!
You can find all the cleansing oils online at Shu Uemura. They are also offering Beauty Look Book readers a special promo of 5 deluxe samples + free shipping on orders $50+ with code BLBXSHU. Deluxe samples include: mini laque supreme sample rd01, maxi:hydrability essence-in cream 13 ml, sakura-rose-petal-mask 13 ml, ultime8 sublime cleansing oil 15 ml and nutri:nectar sample 15 ml. Valid online at both Shu Uemura US and Shu Uemura Canada.
Do you have any Shu Uemura favorites? Let me know what you recommend in the comments!
Happy Thursday! Quick roundup post today of some things I’ve been loving lately. Summer is in full swing here and the humidity levels here in Florida keep rising. I’ve experienced summer thunderstorms for the first time and so much here is completely new to me as I’ve lived in Southern California for most of my life. Even with the heat, we’ve been loving the sunshine and seeing real weather although lately we’ve stayed indoors to avoid sweating from the heat. At this point in my life fall fashion is something I cannot even start to think of and there are times I wonder if I will ever wear a leather jacket again while in Florida. Seven things I’ve been loving lately:
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Ginger is the best for me these days with this warm weather. It works for under eyes and redness. The creamy texture melds well with my skin and blends easily with other foundations. For my under eye area it definitely works to give a brightening effect and I like that it doesn’t crease as long as I set it with a good powder. Swatches of Custard, Macadamia and Ginger here.
Sisley-Paris So Intense Mascara in Deep Black is just so amazing. I bought it from the Nordstrom Sale reviewed here. I love it for the thickening and deep black color it has. No smudging and it holds the curl. It has the tiniest comb I think I’ve ever seen but it allows me to get the lashes right at the base without touching the skin around the eye area.
Bobbi Brown No Smudge Mascara is another winner. I had a tube I bought from a set a while ago still sitting in the box. I was waiting for my other mascaras to hit the 3 month mark to toss them and try some new formulas. This one has no smudging. It lengthens, holds the curl, defines and doesn’t clump. Huge thumbs up.
Replica Beach Walk Dry Body Oil Spray is summer in a bottle! A little goes a long way and even with a lot of spritzing I’ve barely made a dent in this one. The spritzer dispenses the perfect amount of product and sprays it evenly. I use a couple sprays on each leg to cover them entirely. It smells like the perfect beachy vacation. Compared to the perfume this one is almost identical, the oil just has a slightly salty scent to it making it more beach like. It’s just perfect for warm weather.
Tatcha The Body Mist (Limited-Edition) is a new lightweight hydrating body spray. It smells like the Indigo line with a lightweight feel. I’ve used face mists before for moisture but haven’t really explored body mists unless they are oils. This one has a cooling feel and nice lightweight finish. The scent has a calming effect and I love the way it absorbs into the skin in a light way. I wish it weren’t limited-edition as I’d probably like to restock when this is finished, unfortunately by that time it will probably not be around anymore.
Sisley-Paris White Ginger Contouring Oil for Legs is one of the most luxurious and most expensive body products I own. I tried this in a sample packet from one of the subscription boxes, fell in love and ordered the full size. The sample packet lasted several days for both legs. I found it had enough uses for me to decide I needed it. At $190 per bottle this is insanely expensive but it feels amazing on the legs and has an energizing feel. Right after I ordered one, the Sisley team sent one in a press package so now I’m double stocked on this. I don’t know how this works in terms of the contouring effects – there are quite a few body creams and lotion on the market that claim to have this effect. I feel like you would have to use this for months to notice results. For me the finish, scent and feel is enough to justify the price. It’s the best silky feeling oil I’ve used on the legs ever. It is emollient but it does absorb into the skin after a few minutes. If you’re looking for an oil with a dry down, this may be too emollient for you.
Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil is something I’ve rediscovered. I’ve been experimenting with the Shu Uemura cleansing oils again and will do a roundup review of all of them in a couple weeks. Right now I’ve been loving the Balancing One as it’s designed for sensitive skin and for me it leaves the skin clean and soft and removes all traces of makeup. There is also a new one called nutri:nectar cleansing oil in emulsion which has a thicker almost gel-like texture so it won’t run into the eyes like most fluid oils. It’s very gentle and effective. A more detailed review to follow on both – but these days double cleansing and starting with a cleansing oil for me is a must. The Shu Uemura team is offering Beauty Look Book readers a promo of 5 deluxe samples and free shipping on orders $50+ with code BLBXSHU (samples include mini laque supreme rd01, mini maxi:hydrability essence-in cream, sakura-rose-petal-mask, ultime8 cleansing oil mini, nutri nectar sample) – promo is valid online at both Shu Uemura USA and Shu Uemura Canada.
Don’t forget there’s still a few more days to enter my Charlotte Tilbury giveaway. Coming up next are reviews on new launches from Chanel and Bobbi Brown. What are you loving right now? Any favorite body care products you rely on during the summer months?
Press samples include the Tatcha Body Mist, Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils and Sisley-Paris Ginger Contour Oil.
Happy Thursday! Hope your week has been going well! I have a roundup of some things I’ve been loving right now along with a couple beauty sale/promo alerts for you. A few sales start today with good ones from Blue Mercury and Tatcha:
Bluemercury has a summer beautifully event from June 8th to June 12th with tiered savings:
Spend $100 and receive 10% off, use code SUMMER10
Spend $175 and receive 15% off, use code SUMMER15
Spend $250 and receive 20% off, use code SUMMER20
With orders $250+ you also get their complimentary Travel Essentials gift with purchase
Exclusions apply to all Tom Ford and Chanel products, spa services and gift cards
Tatcha is having a a summer savings event with 15% off site wide online at Tatcha.com, use code: SUMMER17 at checkout (valid one promotional code per household from June 8-15)
Nordstrom has some great beauty GWPs going on, there’s a good Kiehl’s one that I have my eye on
Darphin has 20% Friends and Family going on with orders $75+ using code MERCI at checkout, ends June 9th
First – I wrote about the La Mer Glowing Body Oil briefly and so many of you were bummed that it was sold out virtually everywhere. It’s restocked online at Bluemercury and La Mer. This is one I’d say GO BUY NOW. It’s a beautiful body oil that is wonderfully hydrating and gives the skin a luminous glow. The shimmer is very fine so it doesn’t look glittery on the skin. I took a few swatch photos below but because the shimmer is so tiny it’s pretty much impossible to see blended out. I’ve been a body oil kick and will have a roundup of the ones I’ve been testing soon. As a new Darphin lover I had to check out the new Darphin Soleil Plaisir Sultry Shimmering Oil (also found at my local Bluemercury, score!). It smells like a soft white floral. The shimmer in this one is also very fine and blends into the skin.
Continuing my NARS love, I finally gave the Charlotte Gainsbourg Hydrating Glow Tint a proper test. My initial thoughts were that I didn’t like it because the packaging caused product to ooze as soon I opened it, colors are very limited, and the one I picked looked orangey. Colors are still indeed very limited but Medium blends out to a perfect natural glow. I am completely obsessed (review + swatches soon). That being said I still love the NARS Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in St. Moritz because the color and finish is just perfect.
Of course the new Liquid Blush is on my love list (if you’re shopping the Blue Mercury event it’s also available here). Review + swatches in this post here in case you missed it. Torrid is my favorite although Luster and Orgasm are also good. A few of you asked me if I thought these were meant to compete with the Glossier Cloud Paints which was an interesting question. I don’t think so as the packaging is completely different and the NARS products are more pigmented and to me seem very true to brand. The Glossier Cloud Paints are also on point for their branding with a sheerer finish for that no-makeup makeup look. But yes, they are both unique formulas of blush with a similar color scheme.
Updated to add a few swatches:
For the face I ordered all of the Diorskin Nude Air Luminizer Serum sight unseen. There are four shades and 004 is available at Nordstrom. All shades 001, 002, 003, 004 are available at Dior.com but I haven’t seen them anywhere else. I love these dabbed on top of the cheeks as a liquid bronzer. The finish is natural but glowy. They dry down to a nice satiny finish and give a soft sunkissed look. I have to experiment more with them before I review. So far I’ve only used these on top of powder/foundation but I want to give them a try mixing it with foundation. I have swatches if you can’t see them in person. For the lips the Dior Addict Lip Glow is almost always in my handbag. During the summer they’re perfect for a natural swipe and glow kind of product. Since they change color on the lips they add a natural flush without any effort. Review on all the colors in this post.
For the hair, Shu Ueumura Art of Hair launched two new Blow Dry Beautifiers, one is called the Thermo BB Serum for fine to medium hair, the other is a Thermo BB Cream for thick hair. I’ve been a fan of the Wonder Worker which I use as a pre-heat treatment before I blow dry so I was curious about the new launches. Both are multi-taskers. The Thermo BB Serum allows for you to prime hair for heat styling. It moisturizes without being heavy and leaves hair soft and shiny. It does help protect from heat and for me helps smooth it out for brushing. The BB Thermo Cream is thicker in texture and designed for thicker hair. I really like both – I have thicker hair but with humidity I’m all about lighter weight products. I’ve been such a long time fan of the Wonder Worker because I like spritzing product in the hair, but I also like the Thermo BB Serum. Both have that signature Shu Uemura scent which is really hard to describe but it’s unique and refreshing without being heavy or too perfumey. I recommend both – I’d just pick one based on your hair type.
Last but not least I’ve been loving Tatcha’s The Essence, all of their Rice Enzyme Powders, The Water Cream and The Silk Cream. If you’re unsure about where to start try one of their Ritual Starter Gift Sets. You can pick one according to your skin type and I love these for travel. The two things I feel have made the biggest difference in my skin are the Rice Enzyme Powders (I currently use either the Classic or Deep Versions). I use these after my regular cleanser like an exfoliator because I just prefer regular cream or liquid cleansers to get the skin clean. I follow with one of the Rice Enzyme Powders every evening and it helps with gentle exfoliation without being too harsh. The Essence is something I felt would not really do much as it’s so lightweight almost like water. It has helped prep the skin to absorb serums and moisturizers better and also keeps it well hydrated without being too heavy throughout the day. Their 15% off sale runs today through the 15th with code SUMMER17 at checkout. I think one of the best things about this line is that they carry travel sizes you can buy.
What are you loving right now? Let me know in the comments! P.S. I’m a bit behind on responding to comments but will do a catch-up round very soon!
Press samples featured from Tatcha, Shu Uemura Art of Hair Blow Dry Beautifiers and the NARS Liquid Blush.
Today I’m rounding up my top picks in skincare and haircare for the year. I discovered a lot of great items for my sensitive skin – it was a challenge to narrow it down to such an edited list. I used up quite a bit over the course of the year – to do a post listing all the items I used and repurchased in the last 12 months would be quite extensive. Part of me wanted to do a favorites roundup for every category, perhaps I’ll do one in the new year, but for now here’s are my top picks:
Shu Uemura Wonder Worker (review here) is another favorite pre-heat treatment to smooth and detangle hair, you can still find it in the Limited-Edition Murakami packaging at Barneys
Face Cleanser and Toner
Bioderma Sensibio Tonic Lotion is a toner I discovered a few months ago, it’s gentle and perfect for sensitive skin to balance and soothe, it’s available in two sizes and I bought the full size as well – wish I had discovered it sooner! Now I don’t have to spend $90 to replenish my La Mer The Tonic because I’ve found a great alternative
Glamglow Supercleanse Daily Clearing Cleanser (review here) is a mud to foam cleanser, it’s the best clarifying one that helps absorb excess oil, reduce redness, and prevent breakouts, in the summer I use this daily in the evenings or post-workout, during non-hot months I use this 2-3x per week
Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash (reviewed here) is the cleanser I reach for the most and have repurchased the most, best gentle everyday cleanser I’ve tried that doesn’t dry out the skin but still leaves it clean, I’ve tried all of her cleansers and they are all great (yes ALL of them) but this one is the best for me for daily use (my brother loves this one as well), she just launched an EradiKate Cleanser and I rarely say this these days but this is something I absolutely feel the NEED TO TRY, it’s in my shopping cart right now
Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment (reviewed here) a stronger option but draws out all excess oil and helps clear up the skin, if you have broken skin or extremely sensitive skin, I’d recommend using this as a spot treatment or patch test first
Tatcha Pore Perfecting Water Gel Moisturizer (reviewed here) is the best gel moisturizer I’ve used, I usually don’t like gels because they’re often not compatible with foundation, this one works for me with the foundations I use while minimizing pores and smoothing the skin
Night Treatments – as someone who has extra sensitive skin, I cannot use most creams with any Vitamin C or Retinol without peeling or redness, Kate Somerville is one of the best lines for me in terms of night treatments
Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Remover (reviewed here) is the key product I use to keep my cuticles looking groomed and healthy, I know an updated hand and nail care post is long overdue – I’ll do a 2017 version in the new year
Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade (also featured here and here) one of the best nourishing treatments, it’s so good I bought a second one to keep in my purse and one to keep at home
Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment is the best pimple treatment, the key is to use it the minute you feel something start to surface and don’t use it on open wounds or broken skin, my husband uses this and it makes me giggle when we have matching pink spots on our faces at night because it looks so ridiculous, but it works!
Lavanila Deodorant is the only deodorant I’ve used for the past two years, I don’t sweat a lot so I can’t report on that aspect, but I love that it’s natural, keeps odor away and lasts all day long for me, I’ve tried around 4 different scents by now and all of them were great, the travel-sized ones are perfect to throw in the purse or to travel with
In the upcoming year I plan to be more diligent about testing and using eye creams. I’ve gone through a few this year but did not use them on a regular basis (mainly because I was lazy). I know with the eyes, wrinkle prevention and sun protection are key so I need to stop procrastinating and start acting now! If you have any recommendations for someone who is 35 years old (me) let me know in the comments and I will be forever grateful.
I hope you enjoyed this roundup! I feel as though I left out quite a few good discoveries but tried to keep the list to under 30 products so I wouldn’t end up regurgitating the entire year of blog posts for hair care and skin care.
What were your 2016 favorites in skincare and hair care?
When it comes to hair care creams, serums or oils I have to say that I’m just simply overwhelmed with all the options on the market. However there are so many different hair types and there is so much you can do with styling it does make sense why there are so many options. I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to styling my hair. I either blow dry and straighten or just let it air dry. For me I like to keep my hair on the medium to long side because it’s easiest for me to manage and also tie up in a pony tail or bun. I have medium to thick hair that is prone to frizz. It’s never been color treated although I have always been curious about the process and have been wanting to try it for a long time. My friends who have usually tell me not to though. They say once you start it’s a process you can’t really just say you’ll take a break from and that it requires a lot of maintenance.
Back to the styling. My hair is usually heat treated with a blow dryer and often a flat iron. My two favorites are the T3 PROi (c/o) and HAI Convertible Ceramic Flat Iron. I don’t mind air drying my hair on days where I’m not in a rush but I really don’t like having wet hair for an extended period of time and in the past air drying usually meant it would dry to an unflattering frizz. I would say that my main concerns for styling are controlling the frizz and flyaways without having something that will weigh down the hair or look greasy as the day progresses. Since I heat treat it frequently, finding something to protect or smooth it is also important.
Quick repost from previous articles on what my hair looks like, it varies in length depending how long it’s been in between cuts.
I’ve had a few go-to’s I would call staples but this year I’ve acquired a number of new to me products, some press samples for review and some based on recommendations from people who said “this product is simply the best.” This post has been months in the making. I’ve split the styling products by category and if you’re looking for something new or have been interested in any of these I hope this post helps you. Sometimes I’ll be in a Sephora store standing in front of the hair care section like a deer in headlights. This is going to be a long one and if you’re wondering what I plan on doing with all of these, I’m passing a good portion along to friends.
Up first are some items I am always happy to test out and try which includes blow dry treatments, primers and smoothers. I really believe adding a treatment before heat helps tremendously in detangling the hair and giving a good smooth finish.
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer (c/o, available at Space NK) is a pre-heat styler to condition, smooth and protect hair from heat breakage. I’ve used this one for years in the minis that you find with GWPs. It’s one of the best heat primers and smoothers I’ve used. It spritzes product evenly through the hair and doesn’t weigh it down. It is on the sweet smelling side like a mix of fruit and vanilla which is very strong when you spray it. The good thing is it does fade after your blow dry is finished. Leaves hair feeling silky, smooth and healthy looking.
Moroccanoil Blow Dry Concentrate (c/o, available at Morocccanoil and Nordstrom) is a new concentrate that can be used pre and post heat styling. For me it had a similar consistency and texture to the regular Moroccanoil but this new one comes with a pump dispenser which is genius. It comes in a glass bottle and works to smooth hair and add shine. As a huge fan of Moroccanoil I give this one a thumbs up.
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Wonder Worker Air Dry/Blow Dry Perfector (available at Shu Uemura Art of Hair and Barneys New York) has had so many rave reviews and I had to try it out. It was a bit hard for me to find in stores near me so I ordered it online. It works to prevent frizz and smooth hair. It is scented almost like a Byredo Gypsy Water kind of vibe but a lot lighter and sheerer. Their website claims that it instantly hydrates, detangles, smoothes, conditions, boosts radiance, tames frizz, and add silkiness. It does all of them. For my hair I still need to add a finishing product on ends for shine. Other than that it’s awesome.
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Satin Design Polishing Milk (available at Shu Uemura Art of Hair and Barneys New York) is another one that many love. I was torn between Satin Design and Wonder Worker so I ordered both to see what the difference. The Satin Design can also be used as a blow dry pre-treatment. Main difference is texture and consistency. This one is more like a fluid cream versus spray. It’s easy to work through the hair. Leaves hair feeling soft. Doesn’t leave hair greasy and holds up well in hot weather but it is thicker in consistency compared to the spray of Wonder Worker.
R+Co Park Ave Blow Out Balm (available at Birchbox) is amazing. I bought this in store at Space NK but it’s not listed on their website anymore. I love the way this smells and R+Co packaging is always so creative. It has a smooth fluid texture with a bit of thickness like a smooth cream.
What do you do when all the blow-dry products you’ve tried are amazing and have limited bathroom and storage space? Since I blow dry my hair very frequently and go through product fast, I can justify keeping all of these. I would say my recommendation for you would be based on your preference for consistency and packaging – do you like a spray, cream, pump or tube? If I were forced to pick one I would say kill me now. Just kidding – I have to give it a three way tie between the Shu Uemura Wonder Worker, Moroccanoil Blow Dry Concentrate and Bumble and Bumble Invisible Oil Primer.
Next are beachy wave sprays or what some call surf sprays. I never thought beachy wave sprays were any good because some I’ve tried in the past left my hair crunchy feeling. I do know the point of a beachy spray is to give it that tousled slightly messy undone beach look, but having hair that feels soft is still essential for me.
Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray (c/o, available at Space NK) is the best surf spray I’ve tried. I love the entire Surf Line and this spray gives that sea salt beachy kind of look with texture and volume. With heat treatment it does give that windswept look like it claims. I love the way the line smells which is rare for me when it comes to beach/salt sprays. It smells lightweight fresh and what I’d think of as soft and beachy.
Oribe Apres Beach Spray (available at Birchbox and Space NK) has been my go-to beach spray for years. I spray it on my hair and let it air dry and hair dries to a soft natural wave without any frizz. The only downside is the price – Oribe is very pricey and with aerosols I feel like you get less bang for your buck. This one gets used up quickly by me, but I know the point of product is to be used.
Ouai Wave Spray (c/o, available at Birchbox and Space NK) is a decent spray similar to the others in the sense it’s a mist that adds texture and a natural wave. It does hold the hair in place to give it that undone look. It also has the same floral scent as the Finishing Creme, which I’ll say again isn’t bad, just something I’m not a huge fan of. Performance wise it works. Scent wise, I prefer the Oribe or Bumble products. This one has a slightly heavier feel on my hair.
Bumble and Bumble Surf Infusion (c/o, available at Space NK) is now tied with the Oribe Apres Beach spray for me. I love that you shake it up to mix contents of oil and salt. It gives a softer feel to the hair compared to the Surf Spray which I really really love. The oil adds a very natural sheen. A little can go a long way. I hands down recommend this. Works well to air dry the hair to a natural finish and look.
Top two favorites are the Bumble and Bumble Surf Infusion and Oribe Apres Beach Spray.
Up next are hair oils and serums. Most of these can be multi-use products to use as a pre-heat treatment and also finishing product. I usually don’t like oils because I find they are easy to overdo and once you apply too much, it’s not like a blush that you can tone down. For me if there’s too much oil I simply just have to rewash my hair or put it up in a pony tail and hope that it helps cover a bad hair look.
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil (c/o, available at Space NK) is described as a lightweight oil to add shine. Reviews are mixed and I’m in the batch that finds this too heavy and greasy looking. I will say that a little goes a very long way so the quick fix is to simply use less. If you have very dry hair or have days your hair just looks like it’s had too much heat styling this is a great fix. For me it’s best as a once in a while treatment because it is very rich. For everyday it’s too much for me and easy to overdo. If you can manage how much you dispense and apply it’s very good to restore the hair’s shine and gives it a heathly look.
Ouai Hair Oil (c/o, available at Space NK) is a lightweight oil to tame frizz and seal ends. If the scent of most Ouai products didn’t have that floral scent I think I would be more inclined to use them more frequently. It’s a great lightweight oil so if you’re one who has been wanting an oil that is truly lightweight but adds shine, this performs well. I like the packaging and the dispenser works well. The bottle is sized perfectly to fit easily into my hand and for that I give the line a huge thumbs up on all their styling products.
Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil (c/o, available at Shu Uemura Art of Hair) is in my top two for hair oils because of the lightweight texture and almost-camellia like scent. I can use this as a finishing product after styling and sometimes put it on at night as an overnight treatment. Lots of love for this one and no complaints. The one I have is part of a limited-edition collaboration hence the packaging, but you can buy it in the regular clear packaging.
Moroccanoil Moroccanoil (available at Nordstrom) is the other oil in my top two. It’s a classic and I am beyond obsessed with the way it smells. I’ve gifted lots to friends and family and they all love this regardless of hair type.
Kerastase Elixir Ultime (available at Kerastase) has high ratings and raves which is why I ordered it. For me it’s excellent but also has a slight floral powdery scent that actually fades after a few minutes so it’s not a huge problem. For me it was not life changing but it’s a solid oil you can use before styling, on wet or dry hair, after styling. It’s multi-purpose and comes in a sturdy glass jar with a pump. People who’ve bought it seem to really love it. I have no complaints about it, it’s just on my favorites list.
Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil (available at Space NK) is another long-time love. I feel like this is a good oil to add natural shine and make the hair look healthy. It comes in close third behind Moroccanoil and Shu Uemura. I’ve never been let down by anything Oribe and think it’s very good.
Finishing creams and serums can perform similar to the oils listed above in the sense they add shine, give texture or smooth the hair.
Gloss Moderne High-Gloss Serum (c/o, available at Sephora) is one I received from SpaceNK but it’s no longer listed on their website. Out of all the products I tested this is one of the few where my reaction was “I don’t like it.” The words “gloss” and “serum” made me think this would be a clear product. It’s a beige cream. It’s also very sweet smelling like a vanilla cake which I’m not a fan of. Texture was thick and felt sticky. It did work well to add shine and once on the hair it did not leave my hair feeling sticky. Scent is important to me and this one I just did not like. If you’re a vanilla fan though you will probably like it.
Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream (available at Birchbox and Space NK) was previously in my Top 2 shine creams tied with Drybar’s Chaser. I still love this one for soft shine and moisture. If you have super dry hair or ends that need some love this is a great one. I love the way it smells. It adds shine and makes hair look soft and healthy with a sheen. Doesn’t get greasy or feel heavy.
Oribe Creme for Style (c/o, available at Space NK) is new to me but not a new product. This has replaced the Supershine Cream as my favorite cream. I like this one because it adds more texture and has a softer looking finish. If you like shine stick with the Supershine. If you feel like you want a softer yet textured look, the Creme for Style is it.
Drybar The Chaser (available at Sephora) has been such a long-time favorite I’ve lost count of how many tubes I’ve gone through. I’ve used this pre-heat styling and post styling. My husband has taken several of my tubes and claimed them as his own putting them in his drawers on his side of the bathroom. It adds just the right amount of shine while taming flyaways. LOVE.
Ouai Finishing Creme (c/o, available at Birchbox and Space NK) is a lightweight finishing cream to give what they call a “lived-in” look. It does exactly what it claims. I prefer something that looks a bit more polished so this one isn’t really for me. It also has a floral scent that is super feminine. I’m not a huge fan of the scent but it isn’t unpleasant.
Bottom line is I stand my point of view that everyone needs a little Oribe in their life, although the Drybar Chaser has never let me down.
These aren’t really styling products but more treatment masks.
Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt (c/o, available at Net-A-Porter and Sephora) is something I tried late last year. I’ve gone through two tubs already. Earlier this year I had the privilege of meeting Christophe Robin in person to learn more about his line and hair care philosophy. It was a joy to meet him and chat with him about hair care. I’ll say up front the Cleansing Salt is probably best suited for those with thick hair like me. I use it once a week as a purifying treatment to rebalance and cleanse the scalp and hair. I use in place of shampoo on the days I use it. For color-treated hair it helps to soothe scalp irritation caused from chemicals. Leaves the hair and scalp feeling squeaky clean. He did suggest after a look at my hair that I follow with a rinse out conditioner since I have normal hair. I do follow occasionally with a conditioner on the ends.
Christophe Robin Cleansing Mask with Lemon (c/o, available at Net-A-Porter and Sephora) is another cleansing mask. It’s softer in finish and a bit less stripping than salt scrub. It has lemon and is suitable for color-treated hair. The trick to using this is for me to apply on dry hair/scalp. Let it sit for a few minutes and slowly add water to emulsify into a foam. Rinse and hair is left clean and soft and moisturized. I’m almost done with a tub and need to replace very soon.
Ouai Treatment Masque (available at Space NK) is one I reviewed before in my shampoo/conditioner post. I didn’t really like the packaging design of these but after using them more frequently I have found I can look past it because this is one of the best restoring masks for the hair I’ve tried.
Last but not least, for texture and volume:
Edward Bess Black Sea Hair Hero (c/o, available at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and QVC) is the best all around do-it-all hair product for me. I use it pre-heat stying or after to add shine and texture to ends. It’s the best smelling hair product I’ve ever tried which is hard to describe but fresh. My brother helped me shoot this a couple years ago (time flies!) and to this day it’s still a go-to. The bottle is huge and a little goes a long way.
Ouai Dry Shampoo (c/o available at Birchbox and Space NK) I rarely use dry shampoo. I’ve tried a number of brands and at the end of the day I think the concept is a bit gross. I wash my hair daily and I know some do not have the time to wash and dry it daily or find it is too stripping for the hair, but for me washing daily is a must. Still there are occasions where I’m just dead tired or didn’t wake up early enough to wash and dry my hair. The Ouai Dry Shampoo is the best one I’ve tried. It doesn’t leave a white film or cast on the hair and absorbs oil.
Bumble and Bumble Surf Foam Spray (c/o, available at Space NK) is the best volumizing product I’ve tried. I’ve mentioned before even though I have thick hair, finding a product that will actually add volume has been almost impossible for me. Most just don’t add any volume. This one adds noticeable volume. It’s a blow dry mousse and works. Leaves the hair thick and volumized all the way through.
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray (available at Birchbox and Space NK) is hands down one of the best texturizers I’ve tried. I love the way it smells and adds volume. I use it as a dry shampoo occasionally to give a lift to roots.
Shu Uemura Ample Angora Volumizing Light Foam (available at Shu Uemura Art of Hair) is another winner for the volumizing category. Perhaps it’s really only the foam kinds of products that work on thicker hair to really add volume. It’s a bit more lightweight compared to the Bumble and Bumble product so there’s a bit less volume with the Shu Uemura one. It smells great, volumizes, combs through hair easily and isn’t sticky.
Christophe Robin Instant Volumizing Hair Mist with Rose Water (c/o, available at Net-A-Porter and Sephora) is one of the best smelling hair sprays I’ve tried. I’ve mentioned I do not like the florals from Ouai, this Christophe Robin has rosewater so it smells like roses but it’s the good kind of rose. On my thick hair it doesn’t add a ton of volume but it smooths everything out and leaves the hair looking and smelling amazing.
In sum, I tested about 30 hair styling products. With the exception of the tried and true favorites like the Drybar Chaser, Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray and Edward Bess Hair Hero, the remaining new to me items have been tested for several months. Summer humidity is relatively mild in Southern California so I can’t comment on how these hold up in extremely hot or humid weather. While traveling last summer through Europe and also earlier this year in New York, I barely used any styling product – it was so hot my hair air dried very quickly and it felt too hot to wear any serums or creams. After extensive testing, my top picks would include the following:
Best finishing product: Oribe Creme for Style and Edward Bess Hair Hero
Best oil: Moroccanoil and Shu Uemura Essence Absolue
Best heat pre-treatments for blow drying: Shu Uemura Wonder Worker, Moroccanoil Blow Dry Concentrate and Bumble and Bumble Invisible Oil Primer
Best volumizer: Bumble and Bumble Surf Foam Spray and Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ample Angora
Best beachy spray or air-dry sprays: Oribe Apres Beach Spray and Bumble and Bumble Surf Infusion
Best lightweight shine products: Oribe Supershine and Moroccanoil
Note if you have fine, color treated or even thicker or curly hair, some of the ones that worked for me may not work for you. As always I’d love to hear about your favorites regardless of hair type! Please share in the comments 🙂 I’m pretty stocked up on hair care for the moment but it’s something I tend to use up relatively fast.
Don’t forget that Space NK is having their Autumn Beauty Edit (huge GWP with any $250+ purchase), Barneys New York Love Yourself is going on (GWP bag with any $200+ purchase) and also next week Bergdorf Goodman will have their Rewarding Beauty event so if you have things on your list you may want to group your purchases to take advantage of the events this month. Also not on sale or part of any events, but Net-A-Porter has a Christophe Robin Essentials Travel Size Set which is nice if you want to try out items before splurging on the full size.
If you have any questions let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. I’m not an expert with styling in any sense and I know some of you are probably better versed when it comes to hair care. For those who are like me I hope this post helps from the perspective of a beauty junkie who really doesn’t know much about hair care products.