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Skincare

Sisley-Paris Beauty Subscription 6 Months

July 11, 2017

Sisley-Paris Beauty Subscription | The Beauty Look Book

Sisley-Paris is one of those beautiful skincare lines with cult-status products and extremely expensive prices. I’ve tried a small handful of things to date and splurged on a few face masks which are really quite amazing. Due to the price points I haven’t looked at the line in detail even though many readers recommend the Black Rose Precious Face Oil. They launched a beauty subscription program which allows you to sample five things a month at a pretty reasonable price. The Beauty Subscription service is exclusive to the Sisley-Paris website in either a 6-month subscription for $60 or 12-month subscription for $100. The cost is like you are essentially paying for postage. I’ve been lucky to receive it for a few months now courtesy of Sisley. However since my move across country, other skincare projects, having to adjust to new surroundings and weather, and also other things happening in life I haven’t had a chance to try most of the items. The good news is that I saved up six months worth of boxes to be able to share with you today what 6 months looks like. Sometimes seeing more than one month’s worth makes it easier to decide whether or not to sign up for a subscription program.

Sisley-Paris Beauty Subscription | The Beauty Look Book

Each month you receive a little black box, small drawstring bag, five skincare, fragrance or makeup samples, a little card explaining each product and a promo code for extra points if you purchase anything from the box. I’ve never ordered anything direct from their site as I used to buy my Sisley-Paris items from my Neiman Marcus back in San Diego, however they do have a rewards program. Gold and Platinum members receive the subscription for free. Here are the box contents from January through June 2017, US:

Sisley-Paris Beauty Subscription USA 6 Months | The Beauty Look Book

What was in each box by month. Each month has a different theme to add a fun twist. Notes on what I tested below:

  • January – The Detox
    • Ecological Compount
    • All Day All Year
    • Botanical D-Tox
    • Phyto-Blanc Buff and Wsh
    • Eau du Soir Shower Gel
  • February – The At-Home Spa
    • Buff and Wash Facial Gel
    • Facial Mask with Linden Blossom
    • Moisturizer with Cucumber
    • Energizing Foaming Exfoliant for the Body
    • Eau de Champagne Lotion
  • March – The Instant Beautifiers
    • Eau Efficace
    • Sisleya L’Integral Anti-Age
    • Double Tenseur
    • Sisleya Le Teint
    • Izia Eau de Parfum
  • April – April Showers
    • Phyto-Blanc Lightening Cleansing Mil
    • Hydra-Flash Mask
    • Hydra Global
    • White Ginger Contouring Oil for Legs
    • Restorative Body Cream
  • May – May Flowers
    • Lyslait Cleansing Milk
    • Sisleya Radiance Anti-Aging Concentrate
    • Black Rose Precious Face Oil
    • Phyto-Teint Eclat Foundation
    • Eau Tropicale Eau de Toilette
  • June – Long Weekend
    • Sisleya Essential Skincare Lotion
    • Supreyma Cream
    • Eye Contour Mask
    • The Neck Cream
    • Eau de Champagne Body Lotion

As you can see I had saved all the packets but was able to test some of them over the past few weeks. With skincare I like to take my time anyways so I have these saved in a box that I can try at my leisure. Things I really loved:

  • Buff and Wash Facial Gel is a very gentle facial scrub suspended in a gel wash, this was very gentle but still effective, I find most scrubs too harsh for my skin and this one is among the most gentle that I’ve tried.
  • Facial Mask with Linden Blossom is designed for the most sensitive skin, it has a very soft and soothing feel to calm and smooth the skin, you leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and rinse off, it’s an excellent calming mask.
  • Energizing Foaming Exfoliant for the Body is such an amazing body scrub, I’ve mentioned that I’m a die-hard loyal fan to Aesop, this one is more gentle with a more feminine spa-like feel, I’m adding this to my buy list for when I see a good GWP.
  • Eau de Champagne Lotion is a lightweight cream that smells like a bright citrus champagne green scent, it has a light enough scent that it’s not overpowering, I love how it absorbs quickly, I’m more of a body oil kind of girl now, but would consider using this in humid weather as it’s quite refreshing.
  • Izia Eau de Parfum is a lovely soft rose scent, I’m more into green or white florals, but this is one of the most wearable rose scents I’ve tried.
  • Black Rose Precious Face Oil is the most raved about item and most recommended from my readers, I’ve been a long-time devotee to Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate and Midnight Recovery Oil. I tried the Black Rose Oil twice (each sample is a 1-time use and I had an extra one from another GWP) – both at night. It’s a richer oil but a little goes a long way, it’s beautifully hydrating and when I use it overnight I wake up with super soft skin.
  • I’ve also tried all the milk cleansers, I’m more of a liquid or gel cleanser person but these have been nice to try.

Sisley-Paris Beauty Subscription | The Beauty Look Book

I’ve featured a few other beauty subscriptions on the blog that I signed up for including this one from Sephora and this one from Birchbox. I cancelled both before I moved from San Diego. The monthly cost was reasonable but the contents were hit or miss. I’ve discussed beauty subscriptions with a few friends – some say they think subscriptions aren’t really worth that $10 to $25 per month because they’ve gotten things they just don’t care about. Others have said it makes more sense for a luxury skincare line because you’d have a better idea of what you’d be sampling from rather than a bunch of random brands or colors of lipstick or highlighter you’d never wear. I agree with both sides. For the Sisley Subscription Program you can find a lot of these in GWPs and I’ve definitely accumulated quite a few sample packets over the years. I had a good relationship with one of the sales associates at my local stores and they would often pull samples of what they could find. The nice thing about the subscription is you don’t have to spend $100 to $300ish for the minimum for just a few samples – it’s a lot more affordable this way.

A few last thoughts: The size of the packets and tubes you get are most of the time a single or two-time use. Some of the larger bottles of cleanser or makeup remover you can definitely get more use out of (I’ve used some 5 times and there’s still a lot left). With skincare I do feel like more product would definitely be helpful in testing these items – so whether or not this would be useful or worth it to you will depend on your preferences. There are some discovery sets with larger sizes available to purchase at retailers like Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom to give you a better sampling. Still at the price point of this subscription program this is a nice way to try new things each month.

You can find the Beauty Subscription Program exclusively online at Sisley-Paris. Full size items and sets also available at Beautylish, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Net-A-Porter.

Have you tried anything from Sisley-Paris? What are your favorites?

Beauty subscription provided courtesy of Sisley-Paris.

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.

Monthly Favorites

Monthly Beauty and Skincare Hits and Misses

January 31, 2017

January Hits and Misses for Beauty | The Beauty Look Book

I cannot believe the first month of 2017 has come and gone – I feel like the last few weeks have been a blur! I hope each of you have had a great start to the new year. In the beauty world I feel like things have been all about lips and highlighters. It appears the liquid lipstick trend is here to stay for quite some time. I still have my battle of the liquid lipstick post coming soon – with new launches almost weekly it seems like there’s more to test and try out. I’ve put a cut-off for testing though – I have two more detailed reviews to post before the official roundup. Today I have a roundup of the best and worst in beauty testing for January even though many of these have been put to the test for more than a month. Sometimes with products you know by the second or third use that a particular item just won’t work. Other items take a bit more testing to decide. By popular request here is my first Hits and Misses post of the year. We’ll start off with the hits.

January Favorites – Makeup

Monthly Beauty Favorites - MAC, Dior, Chanel, Marc Jacobs | The Beauty Look Book

This month’s favorite items and discoveries include:

  • MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Plus is something I finally tried and can’t believe it took me so long, it gives the skin a nice soft diffused look, it removes shine without looking heavy or overly matte and the best thing about this one is the color selection which I think is pretty good (shown on the skin here and also worn here)
  • Diorskin Nude Air Glow Powder in 002 Freshlight (shown on the face here) has been my go-to soft bronzer shade for the past few months, it has the perfect amount of warmth and has a sheer but buildable finish that works for my winter skintone color right now
  • Chanel Joues Contraste in Elegance (review here) is my perfect everyday beige blush, it goes with everything and adds life to the face without looking too dark or orange
  • Chantecaille Faux Cils Longest Lash Mascara is one that took me years to try because I tried a mini and thought it literally was the worst thing ever. Based on raves of a few friends who swore it was THE best thing in mascara I decided to order one and was blown away. They assured me the full size was better than the minis and they were right. I don’t know that I’ll repurchase this because even I have limits when it comes to expensive items. At a whopping $72 I don’t know that I can say it’s worth it but this mascara is really good. It lengthens, volumizes, holds curl, doesn’t smudge and doesn’t look crunchy. It’s supposed to have lash-growth ingredients but I haven’t used it long enough to see results.
  • Hourglass GIRL Lip Stylo (c/o, swatches here) are great in terms of formula, color payoff and color selection
  • Chanel Le Rouge Crayon de Couleur (c/o, all shades swatched here) are my favorite lip launch of the year so far, I love a good glossy lip and these have a feel and look like the Rouge Coco Shines but with a lot more pigment
  • Marc Jacobs Le Marc Liquid Lip Creme in Truth or Bare (c/o, all shades reviewed here) is my favorite rose pink liquid lipstick
  • Dior Addict Lip Glow is something that is almost always in my purse these days (review of all shades here), my most-worn shade is either Lilac or Coral, the new Berry color (c/o) is a really pretty one too
  • Tom Ford Lips and Boys in Douglas (c/o, review here) is my go-to these days for a soft cool-toned pink shimmer

January Favorites – Skincare

Monthly Skincare Favorites | The Beauty Look Book

Skincare favorites include a mix of old and new:

  • I’ve found myself reaching a lot for the Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate and the Midnight Recovery Concentrate for evenings, both feel just so amazing on the skin giving it just the right amount of hydration, it’s brightened the skin and makes it feel healthier and smoother, if you don’t want to splurge on the full sizes you may want to consider the Day to Night Set which has miniatures of six items at a value price, alternatively if you visit you local Kiehl’s store they usually have samples so ask if they have these available (making a purchase will usually make it easier to get a couple samples)
  • Bioderma Sensibio was mentioned in my 2016 favorites, I use this as a toner and it’s just perfect for my sensitive skin, it leaves the skin feeling refreshed and clean, it has helped calm and comfort the skin, especially since I’m prone to flare ups or sensitivity, I have both the 250 and 100 ml versions (one I took with me on travel), can’t rave about this enough
  • Chanel La Solution 10 de Chanel (c/o) is another good gentle moisturizer for sensitive skin, I’ve been reaching for this a lot, it hydrates without feeling greasy and gives relief for dry skin without being heavy, I will definitely repurchase once this is used up
  • Tatcha The Essence (c/o) is something I got a mini of with an order (I had a promo code) and fell in love with it immediately, I discussed essence a few posts back and many of you gave me some really good feedback on what to try! I’m currently testing three, this one from Tatcha and the SK-II Genoptics Aura Essence and Genoptics Spot Essence (c/o). It’s going to take me several weeks to see which one is truly the best, but I noticed results immediately from the Tatcha Essence. It softens the skin without feeling heavy or leaving a film on the skin like some other essence or serums do. It’s watery but not too runny so it’s easy to apply. It does make my moisturizer absorb into the skin better. As one who doesn’t like things that feel heavy on the skin I absolutely love this one.
  • Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Cleanser is something I ordered the day it launched online at Sephora. By the time this post is going live I’ve already used up one full tube 85% of the way and the one shown is a backup. I don’t have acne but I do experience breakouts and earlier this month I started breaking out around the chin and cheeks from a combination of getting really sick and experiencing a high level of stress. Using this helped clear up the skin without drying it out. It has sulfur which targets acne and blemishes. Based on the formula I don’t think it’s going to be for everyone, but I’ve tried every single one of Kate Somerville’s cleansers and her line is the one I keep replenishing for cleansers. I can use this daily without it drying out my skin and love it. That being said I still love her Gentle Daily Wash for times when I don’t have skin issues.

January Misses

January Beauty Misses | The Beauty Look Book

Four items that did not work for me include:

  • Burberry Liquid Lip Velvet (review here) did not work for me because the color selection just wasn’t flattering for my olive skin tone, even the neutrals did not work. Shades were either too light or too dark, colors lacked life and washed out my complexion. Formula-wise they were ok, but none of the colors worked for me leading me to call these a miss.
  • Make Up For Ever Water Blend Foundation is something I bought months ago back in early fall. I had high hopes as it looked amazing on a few of my fellow blogger friends. I mixed two shades in Y315 and Y405 to get a good match although the product is so sheer an exact color match isn’t really necessary. This was a miss for me because it caused my skin to become irritated which I suspect is from the fragrance. Tiny bumps surfaced all over my cheeks and since I test a lot of skincare and foundations, this took months of testing to make sure this was the culprit and not something else. Formula also felt sticky because of the gel-like texture. Coverage was not enough for me. This was a huge let-down since I consider the Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick and Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation to be in my top picks for foundation.
  • Glamglow PLUMPRAGEOUS Nudes got me based on their social media marketing. As a nude lip lover I just couldn’t resist and ordered 4 online sight unseen. The colors looked SO perfect! These come with a plastic spatula applicator which I found did not apply product evenly or easily. Second these are THE most painful lip plumping products I’ve ever tested – they burned my lips and if a tiny bit touched my tongue, a spicy tingle sensation went shooting to the back of my mouth. I tested two on separate occasions and the most I could tolerate was 45 minutes on the lips before I had to wipe it off and give the lips a thorough cleanse. I returned 3 of the 4. The one shown is going to a friend who is curious about this and doesn’t mind a tingle.
  • Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara was an impulse buy. The packaging has written on it a few statements like 1,944% more volume, 97% saw intense volume and length, 94% said this mascara stays put all day. There is an asterisk that says based on consumer study results. I did not research how many people tested this or were part of it, but at $23 it seemed worth a try. I know some mascaras take a few pumps or uses to get going so I gave this one 6 tries on 6 separate occasions. It does add volume and length and the color is a rich deep black. However the clumps were seriously horrible with this one. Layering was an absolute no for me. It made my lashes look super spidery and when I tried to separate or comb them out the mascara just looked even more clumpy and made the lashes stick together. It’s also extremely difficult to remove.

That’s wraps it up for January’s beauty hits and misses! I’d love to hear about yours as well – so please feel free to share them in the comments. If you have any feedback about the items I tried let me know.

P.S. A number of you have sent me e-mails saying you weren’t getting the email newsletters anymore. I’ve re-added the subscribe feature on the sidebar at the top of the page (if you’re on a desktop computer). Let me know if you have any issues – if you enter your email address you’ll be sent a verification link and should be good to go!

Press samples indicated with c/o.

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Haircare Skincare

Best Skincare and Haircare Discoveries 2016

December 30, 2016

Best Skincare and Haircare 2016

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:

Haircare

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

Face Mask

  • Aesop Parsley Seed Cleansing Mask (reviewed here) one of my favorite purifying masks that’s still gentle
  • 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

Moisturizers

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

Extras

  • Armani Prima Day-Long Skin Perfector (reviewed here) best primer I tried this year and I’m kinda an anti-primer girl because they usually don’t do anything for my skin to extend makeup wear time
  • 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 DermalQuench Liquid Lift (review here and here) combines hyaluronic acid and oxygen to help prevent wrinkles and give the skin a more even looking texture, this is probably the best thing I have discovered in skincare
  • 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!
  • Kiehl’s Scented Hand Cream Trio 2 of 3 shown is part of a limited-edition set exclusive to Neiman Marcus, you can find the three scents available in larger sizes individually as well or in the original unscented-version
  • Lano Lips 101 Ointment Multi-Balm in Strawberry (reviewed here) is tied with the Dior Pomade for best lip balm discovery of the year
  • 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?

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Beauty Skincare

At-Home Spa Essentials to De-stress During the Holidays

December 16, 2016

At Home Spa Essentials to Relax and Destress During the Busy Holiday Season

As much as I love the holiday season I find this time of year can sometimes be extra stressful with everything going on and finding ways to relax or de-stress can be challenging. Last week my husband and I took a much-needed vacation to try and escape reality for a few days. We were lucky to have one rare week where both of our schedules were clear to travel but for the times I can’t hop on a plane for a getaway, the next best thing is a mini at-home spa session. Doing little things here and there can make a huge difference. I think taking time for yourself to quiet the mind and soul are important. I’ve teamed up with Nordstrom to share some of my favorite at-home spa essentials to de-stress during the holiday season.

I’m a total bath person. If I could live in the tub I would totally do it. There’s nothing quite like a bubble bath to melt away any anxiety or stress so I do it frequently. I usually use shower gels and pour a capful under running water for a bubble bath, my favorites are the Diptyque Revitalizing Shower Gel and Fresh Life Bath and Shower Gel.

Fresh Sake Bath Sugar Cubes Le Labo Santal Shower Gel and Jo Malone Bath Oil

A few others to mention:

  • Fresh Sake Bath ($82 for 400 ml/13.5 fl oz) I used this many years ago but it has been such a long time since I last purchased I forgot what it was like. Many of you recommended I try this again, it’s a purifying bath soak that has ingredients to easy tension, detox, moisturize and smooth the skin. It’s pricey but a little goes a long way and I really love it. I think it was 100% worth the splurge.
  • Fresh Sugar Lychee Bath Cubes ($39 for 6.35 oz) are another way to create a nice bath soak. There are tons of products like this that dissolve in the tub but I have this thing where the ones with blue or pink colors make me feel uncomfortable. I’m all about the bath water looking clear or milky white so these are perfect. I use two cubes and it’s plenty to fill our tub.
  • Le Labo Santal Shower Gel ($50 for 8 fl oz) is one of the more spendy shower gels, if you like sandalwood and earthy scents this one is very unique but doesn’t have too much spice like some santal scents have.
  • Fresh Oval Soap ($15) come in assorted scents. I’m not much of a soap person because they usually dry out my skin or leave this film that makes the skin feel tight, but the ones from Fresh are among the few that I find hydrating and leave the skin clean.
  • Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin Bath Oil ($25 for 1 fl oz) is the ultimate spa scent for me, the oils are super concentrated and strong so you only need the tiniest bit, if you’re unsure of splurging some scents come in smaller travel sizes which are a nice way to test before buying the larger ones.

Up next are face masks. Based on previous posts and reviews I’ve done on face masks many of you are mask addicts just like me. I love trying new brands and formulas but when I find something I tend to just stick with it. My favorite line of masks is Glamglow hands down. I’ve tried every one that they have. I use face masks on a weekly basis. There’s something about using face masks that make you feel like a brand new person.

Favorite Face Masks from La Mer Glamglow Sisley and Kate Somerville

Shown above:

  • La Mer The Hydrating Facial Mask ($250 for six sets) comes in an upper and lower sheet for each application, this is one of the most luxurious hydrating masks I’ve tried but due to the price point I have only bought one box and use them on days I feel like I need extra care and pampering. These leave the skin feeling well hydrated and soft. In terms of hydration these offer the best moisture and hydration out of all the masks I’ve tried.
  • Glamglow is my favorite line. The Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment ($69 for 1.7 oz) is a go-to for me for hydration and smells absolutely delicious (I almost want to eat it). For those who don’t want to spend that much without knowing how it will perform they have minis in the 0.5 oz tubes for $22 each. For those who want a strong detox clarifying mask the Youthmud Tinglexfoliate Treatment has volcanic rock to help with exfoliation, but if you have super sensitive skin, do not use this one. I have sensitive skin and can tolerate the tingle, but I would recommend you proceed with caution and do a patch test first. The Powermud Dualcleanse Treatment is one of the newer ones they launched. It’s a deep cleaning mask that absorbs oil and is more gentle than the Youthmud.
  • If you have sensitive skin but want a gentle clarifying and acne-prevention mask, the Kate Somerville Eradikate Mask ($54 for 2 oz) is hands down the way to go. It’s a foam activated mask so once you apply, it starts to foam after application. It has sulfur which reduces acne and prevents pimples. Once it foams it dissolved dirt and reduces oil. It doesn’t dry out the skin which I find rare for masks that clear up the skin. I don’t have severe acne or have frequent breakouts but using this keeps the skin clear and has worked wonders on my friends who are acne-prone. I think I must have bought at least a dozen bottles this year for my brother, friends and family (and myself).
  • For a glow the Sisley Radiant Glow Express Mask ($128 for 2.3 oz) is one of the biggest splurges I made earlier this year. It cleanses the skin nicely and leaves it feeling soft, smooth and radiant. Skin feels like brand new after using it. I don’t know that I will repurchase because it’s just so darn expensive. I am pleased with the results though so if you want to know if it’s worth the price, I would say 100% yes.
  • Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask ($62 for 3.3 oz) is one that took me a long time to try. For Fresh I usually pick body items or the lip balms but haven’t explored the skincare line much. For those who have sensitive skin and find that purifying masks sting or dry out the skin too much, this is one that clarifies but has no stinging sensation – even on my super sensitive skin days. It’s very soothing on the skin with the chamomile and lavender water. A little goes a long way and if you only have certain areas like the nose or T-zone that need help you can use this as a spot treatment mask instead of applying all over the face.

Clarisonic Mia Fit Kate Somerville Scrub La Mer Face Mist

Some more favorites for the face:

  • Clarisonic Mia Fit is better than the other Clarisonic tools for me because the compact size and shape makes it easier to use. My husband has the grey Alpha Fit and I love that we have a his and hers version. I was super disciplined in using this when I first got it but tend to get lazy and use this once a week. My husband on the other hand uses his every day and it helps smooth and prep his face for shaving. For daily exfoliation I think it’s great.
  • Kate Somerville is a line that has pretty much changed my life. I had my first real facial at their clinic earlier this year and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced and put other facials I had to shame. They diagnosed my skin and helped me pick items that would help reduce redness, smooth texture and prevent wrinkles. The Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($24 to 85 depending on size) is one of their best-selling scrubs. It has lactic acid and fruit enzymes to smooth skin and make it brighter. It’s almost like a scrub and mask in one because you leave it on the skin for 30 seconds while it works it’s magic then you rinse. It’s gentle enough for my sensitive skin. If your skin cannot handle any tingle you may want to opt for the Exfolikate Gentle Option. I’ve tried both and like them both.
  • I love a good face mist and I’ve tried lots. The La Mer Face Mist ($75 for 3.4 oz) is one of my favorites. Again it can be hard to justify the high price points for skin care but I’ve never been let down.

Last but not least having a good smelling candle can work wonders to de-stress at home whether it’s in the bathroom, in the living room or bedroom. My favorites are of course from Diptyque and I love the beautiful glass jars because you can recycle them after use to store pens, brushes, flowers, q-tips or paperclips. My top 3 from Diptyque change often but for right now I like Baies, Noisetier and Figuier. The Mini Candle Holiday 10 Piece Set is the best way to sample a lot of fragrances at a reasonable price. Other favorites right this moment are the Antica Farmacista Champagne Black Label and also the Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin.

The Best Luxury Candles from Diptyque, Jo Malone, Antica Farmacista

For those who find it challenging to step back and de-stress I hope find this post helpful for ideas or inspiration to take care of yourself. There are times you have to try and force yourself to take a moment or two out of your day to calm the mind and relax. Little things here and there can help you keep your sanity during busy times. I hope you will find the time to treat yourself in the next few weeks! I know it’s a lot easier said than done, I’ve definitely had a few stress meltdowns over the past couple of months and even though I’m usually pretty good at managing stress I need a little extra help now and then.

For those who are doing last minute beauty gift shopping don’t forget to check out the Gift With Purchase page. There are some promotions that need a promo code at checkout so don’t forget to check the details. Also be mindful of shipping cutoff times.

Do you have any favorite at-home spa essentials to de-stress and relax?

Many thanks to Nordstrom for partnering to sponsor this post.

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