I’ve been such a long-time fan of L’Occitane skincare and I’m excited to partner with them to share a look at their Immortelle Divine Cream Grand Cru Edition. They’ve created this special launch to celebrate 10 Years of this classic cream. Bigger and better than the original Divine Cream, this limited-edition product packs in even more anti-aging power thanks to the use of highly concentrated Immortelle essential oils.
The L’Occitane Immortelle line has been one of my favorites for years. I love the cleanser and oil and think the line is especially good for the fall and winter season or if you have dry skin.The Immortelle Divine Cream is one of the most beautiful luxury creams I’ve tried for restoring hydration, firmness and improving elasticity of the skin. It has been a go-to for many fall seasons for me and a single jar lasts a long time. What makes the Immortelle Divine Cream Grand Cru Edition so special is that it contains essential oils from 800 Immortelle flowers that were harvested in a limited batch during the summer solstice. This provides the highest concentration of anti-aging ingredients and I find that a little goes a very long way!
For me this is a great anti-aging cream to help smooth fine lines, replump the skin, restore hydration and glow. The texture is super smooth, blends into the skin flawlessly, absorbs quickly and dries down to a soft finish where I can still feel the moisture but not in a super heavy way. I can use this day or night, it’s perfect anytime my skin feels super dry and it is easy to incorporate and switch it in or out of your skincare routine anytime.
If you’re looking for a new moisturizer to try for the upcoming fall season I highly recommend you check out the Immortelle Divine Cream Grand Cru Edition.
This post is brought to you by CJ Affiliate’s VIP Content Service. Thank you L’Occitane for sponsoring this post. While this was a sponsored opportunity from L’Occitane, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.
The holiday season is quickly approaching and I’m thrilled to share a peek at two cute gift options from L’Occitane. This year there are two fun and unique L’Occitane Holiday Advent Calendars perfect for any kind of beauty lover regardless of style and age. Their body products and skincare have been long-time staples for me and as one who has picky females in my life I can say that L’Occitane has been a safe go-to for gifts that are well received. Both sets are beautifully packaged and contain 24 miniatures for the Christmas holiday countdown. The Signature Advent Calendar is priced at $69 ($104 value) while the Luxury Advent Calendar is $124 ($174.50 value).
Signature Advent Calendar
First a look at the Signature Advent Calendar. This style has been launched in previous years but they usually have a variation in contents. I love keeping these for travel and also think it’s a great way to sample new things. Inside the Signature Advent Calendar 2017 set you get a mix of body lotions, perfumes, hair care, shower gels and more. I’m beyond obsessed with the shower oils and hand cream. Their shea butter line is my favorite for soothing dry itchy skin and it has an amazing gentle scent that relaxes me:
Almond Shower Oil 1.18 fl. oz.
Almond Delicious Hand Cream 0.33 oz.
Almond Delicious Soap 1.7 oz.
Shea Light Comforting Cream 0.17 oz.
Almond Milk Concentrate 0.67 oz.
Arlésienne Eau de Toilette 0.25 fl.oz.
Arlésienne Perfumed Soap 1.76 oz.
Aromachologie Shampoo 1.18 fl.oz
Aromachologie Conditioner 1.18 fl.oz.
Aromachologie Relaxing Shower Gel 1.18 fl.oz.
Cherry Blossom Shower Gel 1.18 fl. oz.
Cherry Blossom Shimmering Lotion 1.18 fl. oz.
Citrus Verbena Shower Gel 1 fl.oz.
Aromachologie Revitalizing Sugar Cube 1.4 oz.
Peony Flora Hand Cream 0.33 oz.
Shea Butter Shower Cream 1 fl.oz.
Shea Butter Body Lotion 1 oz.
Shea Butter Hand Cream 0.33 oz.
Shea Butter Foot Cream 0.33 oz.
Shea Butter Lip Balm 0.1 oz.
Shea Butter Milk Soap 0.88 oz.
Verbena Leaf Soap 0.8 oz.
Verbena Body Lotion 1 oz.
Verbena Hand Cream 0.33 oz
Luxury Beauty Advent Calendar
Next is the Luxury Beauty Advent Calendar which I’m super excited about! This has quite a few products I’ve been dying to try. It has some really great skincare items including the Immortelle Divine Youth Oil and Cream which I highly recommend. If I were to pick one to recommend out of the two, I’d say hands down splurge on the Luxury Beauty Advent Calendar, especially as a gift to yourself. It has a little bit of everything for the lips, face, body, hands, hair and fragrance.
Inside the Luxury Beauty Advent Calendar set:
Almond Delicious Hand Cream 10ml
Almond Supple Skin Oil 15ml
Almond Milk Concentrate 20ml
Almond Delicious Hand Cream 10ml
Arlésienne Eau de Toilette 7ml
Aromachologie Relaxing Shower Gel 35ml
Aromachologie Conditioner 35ml
Aromachologie Shampoo 35ml
Cherry Blossom Shimmering Body Lotion 35ml
Cherry Blossom Hand Cream 10ml
Divine Cream 4ml – love this!
Divine Youth Oil 4ml – also love, this is one of my favorite oils!
Néroli & Orchidée Eau de Toilette 7ml
Immortelle Precious Cream 8ml
Immortelle Essential Water 30ml
Immortelle Oil Make Up Remover 30ml
Shea Butter Lip Balm 12ml
Shea Butter Hand Cream 30ml
Shea Light Comforting Cream 8ml
Shea Butter Cleansing Oil 30ml
Shea Butter Shower Cream 30ml
Roses et Reines Hand & Nail Cream 10ml
Terre de Lumière Eau de Parfum 5ml
Verbena Eau de Toilette 10ml
That wraps up a look at the two L’Occitane Advent Calendars for this holiday. There are a number of other holiday gift sets and stocking stuffers available as well, options at multiple price points all beautifully packaged. How cute are these holiday baubles and festive crackers? Finding a universally appealing gift can be a challenge because everyone has different tastes, preferences and personalities, but I think for the ladies in my life L’Occitane wins for me year over year. The products are always well received and with these minis they’re bound to get used up!
You can find both of the L’Occitane Holiday Advent Calendars online at L’Occitane and at all stores.
By popular request I’ve compiled a series of posts on my updated skincare routine and testing. Skincare routines are challenging for me to write about as I am frequently testing new things and I like to switch things up on a regular basis. Since moving from California to Florida my skin has had quite a time trying to adjust to new climates and water conditions. My skin has become truly combination as the weather can make me a bit oily outdoors but the water dries out my skin. I’ve always had sensitive skin and that has pretty much remained the same – I usually react immediately if I have any kind of allergic reaction and then it takes at least a full week for my skin to recover. Luckily with cleansers I’ve had no reactions with what I’ve tested and I’m kicking off my skincare series with cleansers and toners.
I have a rather complex cleansing routine and you definitely don’t need to have one this complex. In the mornings I use one cleanser and then follow with one toner. In the afternoons after workouts or in the evening I definitely double cleanse on a regular basis, sometimes I triple cleanse with an exfoliator added to the routine (scrubs and exfoliators will be covered in a separate post). To try and help simplify things I’ve split all my testing this year by category. At the end of the post I’ll list my top picks and recommendations.
Cream and Gel Cleansers
I prefer traditional liquid cleansers because I find they lather best to really clean the skin (vs gels, balms or oils). Ones I’ve been testing this year along with some tried and true favorites:
Sisley Phyto-Blanc Lightening Foaming Cleanser * ($130 for 3.8 oz/108 g) is a creamy gel cleanser that has a foaming quality when you add water. It’s gentle but effective and does help give the skin a more glowing look to it. It removes excess oil without stripping the skin and doesn’t make the face feel tight after rinsing. Key ingredients according to their website includes white mulberry and scutellaria extracts to lighten the complexion, lemon extract to tone and restore radiance, vegetable glycerine to moisturize, lavender essential oil to sooth and balance and marjoram essential oil to soothe.
Kate Somerville cleansers in general are my favorite because they work the best for my skin type and are affordable for the quality and performance. I often have to rotate skincare because my skin gets used to a product and then I find it becomes less effective. This is not the case with Kate Somerville. My husband also uses these and my brother who is in his early 20’s with sensitive skin also loves these as well.
EradiKate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment ($19 for 1.7 oz/50 ml to $38 for 4 oz/120 ml) is the best for clearing up the skin. It is part of the EradiKate line with sulfur which is their line that helps with acne and blemishes. It’s meant for oily combination skin, but if you’re dry I think it’s still suitable for weekly use or during times you have break outs. Often times anti-acne skincare is too strong for me and ends up stripping my skin so much. This does not dry me out. Ingredients here.
Gentle Daily Wash ($36 for 4 oz/120 ml, also available in a larger 16 oz size with pump at Nordstrom) is the best everyday kind of gentle wash. I use it in the morning frequently and in the evenings as well. This is my brother’s favorite. Ingredients listed here.
Exfolikate Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash ($38 for 4 oz/120 ml) is a exfoliating cleanser but doesn’t feel like a scrub. It has AHAs and natural fruit enzymes to purify the skin. If you’re looking for an exfoliating wash that doesn’t have scrubby particles this is a great one. Regular use for me helped improve texture and glow. Ingredients listed here.
Glamglow SUPERCLEANSE™ Clearing Cream-to-Foam Cleanser * ($32 for 5 oz/150 g) is the new formula and packaging of their Supercleanse Cleanser. I really loved the original version and was really upset to find there was a new one. I still prefer the original version because I found it stronger and better for clarifying and reducing redness. The new one is still good but it’s creamier, a little more gentle and almost feels like it’s hydrating. It has a pore refining triple charcoal complex with three charcoals: coconut, ubame white oak, and gray bamboo, all designed to detox skin. Mediterranean clays absorb oils to mattify skin and restore balance. I just think the original was better. Ingredients listed here.
Omorovicza Moor Cream Cleanser * ($80 for 5.1 oz/150 ml) is one of the most hydrating cleansers I’ve tried. It has a cream feel with a cream finish to the skin. It’s a detoxifying cleanser and almost has a cooling hydrating feel once you rinse it off. Skin is left feeling refreshed and hydrated. If you want to try this in a smaller size you can find it in the Holiday Cracker duo the or on Omorovicza’s site you can create your own custom mini travel trio. I would not recommend this for oily skin. My husband and I like to use this on our triple cleanse days to add moisture. Ingredients listed here.
Saturday Skin Rise + Shine Purifying Cleanser ($26 for 4.05 oz) is something I tried and liked, but didn’t love. I think it’s a good basic purifying cleanser, but there’s not really anything special that it did for my skin. It has apple and peach extracts which are supposed to remove impurities without stripping. It is paraben-free, sulfate-free, synthetic fragrance-free, synthetic color-free if these factors are important to you. It does a good job at cleaning the skin without drying.
L’Occitane Immortelle Divine Foaming Cleansing Cream * ($39 for 4.2 oz) was something I previously reviewed here. Quick recap is that it’s a great cleanser that gentle and soothing on the skin. I’m nearly done with a tube. It does have a soft scent that you find in the Immortelle line but it’s not strong and does not irritate my skin.
Huxley Secret of Sahara Be Clean Be Moist Cleansing Gel ($30 for 6.76 oz) was something I purchased from Nordstrom when they had the Korean Beauty Pop Up. They no longer carry it but you can find it now at Saks Fifth Avenue. This is one of the most gentle gel cleansers I’ve used. It is a hydrating cleanser but doesn’t leave a film on the skin and it leaves the skin feeling very clean. In general I find I don’t really like gel-like cleansers as they don’t lather as well as others. This one is one I used up entirely and liked, but I prefer Kate Somerville and Sisley.
Toners + Cleansing Waters
Finding good toners that don’t cause my entire face to flare up has been a challenge. My three go-to’s below:
Sisley Botanical Floral Toning Lotion * ($103 for 8.4 fl oz/250 ml) is one of the best toners I’ve tried. It’s an alchohol free toner that is designed for dry/sensitive skin, but suitable for my normal combination skin. Since the water here in Florida tends to dry out my skin having a slightly moisturizing toner works well for me as the water strips my face and the toner helps rebalance everything. It has rose extracts, cornflower and witch hazel. The rose scent is super soft and soothing. I’m super picky about rose scents. The By Terry line is excellent but their skincare is often too strong in scent for me (I’m ok with the lip products though). The Sisley toner is soothing and softening. I’ve accumulated minis from GWPs and have been hoarding them.
Bioderma Sensibio Tonic Lotion ($9.90 to $16.90) is the best toner I’ve used under $25. It’s soothing and softly hydrating. I’ve bought several travel-sized options which is still a bit pricey but cheaper than high-end brands. Ingredients online at Beautylish.
La Mer The Tonic ($90 for 6.7 oz) has been one of my favorite toners for years. I can’t recall how many bottles I’ve purchased. It helps to rebalance the skin and make it feel completely refreshed and clean. I hate repurchasing it though because it’s so expensive. It does last a long time but the price is always a huge ouch to the wallet. Ingredients listed here.
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Darphin Intral Toner is another favorite to soothe skin and help with redness. It doesn’t sting even on sensitive days. I’ve actually been a fan of multiple products from the Intral Line including the Sunscreen and Mousse Cleanser.
Cleansing Waters have been in my skincare rotation for years. I find using these in the evenings to remove makeup really help improve clarity of my skin if I use in conjunction with a regular cleanser.
Bioderma makeup removers have been great for gentle makeup removing. I’ve tried multiple formulas that I’ve ordered from Beautylish. I really like that they have small travel sizes which are convenient to pack for short trips. The Sensibio H20 is the most gentle, Hydrabio H20 is for dry skin, Sebium H20 is for oily skin. None of these remove waterproof mascara or eye makeup for me, but they do work nicely to remove face makeup. I still need to do a regular cleanse with a regular cleanser but doing a double cleanse with a cleansing water or oil first really helps to make sure all traces of makeup are washed off and gone. Ingredients are all listed on Beautylish.
La Roche-Posay Micellar Water ($19.99 for 400 ml, available at Dermstore, Ulta, La Roche-Posay) is a great all purpose cleansing water. It does a really good job at removing face makeup – it’s more effective at removing makeup than the Bioderma for me. It’s gentle but effective. It doesn’t leave a film on the skin. It comes in multiple size options. Ingredients at Dermstore.
La Mer The Cleansing Micellar Water ($50 to $90 for 3.4 oz to 6.7 oz) is something I had high hopes for. I ordered mine from Nordstrom and it’s lasted a long time. I think it’s a great cleansing water, but you can get something similar or just as good for a lot less. Still I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you try it. Ingredients listed here.
Erborian Cleansing Micellar Water ($26 for 6.4 oz/190 ml) is another great cleansing water that I tried. It’s a three-in-one like many other micellar waters to remove makeup, refresh and clean the skin. It feels more fresh than others although performance is very similar to others I’ve tried. Ingredients here.
Cleansing Oils are also fun to use. I like these for the double or triple cleanse to dissolve and remove face makeup before I wash the face. Sometimes I’ll use a cleansing oil, follow with cleansing water + cotton pad and then use a regular cleanser.
Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils * were previously reviewed in this post here. You can find all the details plus a special Shu Uemura promo code for beauty look book readers. Ingredients for all the oils in my original review post.
Tatcha One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil ($48 for 150 ml) has been a long-time go to for years. It has a mix of Camellia and Rice Bran oils and is super gentle with a hydrating finish. It removes all face makeup well. You can find smaller trial/travel sizes in a number of Holiday Gift Sets. Also in a few duos at Sephora. Ingredients at Tatcha.
Sunday Riley C.E.O. C + E Micro-Dissolve Cleansing Oil * ($38 for 3.4 oz/100 ml) is one that I didn’t like for my skin. I found it a bit too drying for my skin type. If you have normal or oily skin you will probably like this. It is very effective and rinses off well without leaving a film. Skin is left smooth and completely clean, just a little too tight for me. Ingredients here.
Cleansing Balms and Solid Cleansers
Balm Cleansers have a melting effect on the skin. They are often solid or thick and once you work it into the face it melts and transforms into a balm or oil. I have mixed feelings about these. I feel like they are better suited for normal to dry skin. They often have a creamy moisturizing finish on the skin, almost like a film of moisture. I often follow with a regular cleanser after to make my skin feel more clean.
Eve Lom Gel Balm Cleanser ($60 for 3.2 fl oz/100 ml) is a new cleanser from Eve Lom similar to their classic Cleanser but in a pump with a hybrid gel-to-balm like finish. This has a similar oil/balm like formula. It has clove oil, Egyptian chamomile oil, grapeseed oil and eucalytus oil. This one has antiseptic properties for healing and protection. It has a rich moisturizing feel with a strong scent, but it’s not irritating. If you have normal to dry skin but found the regular solid Cleanser too rich, give this one a try. Ingredients at Space NK.
Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm * is something I got in a mini. It comes highly rated by online reviews but did not work for me. I found it too rich and oily feeling. I couldn’t get it to rinse off properly with just my hands and after reading the instructions I found you have to use a wash cloth to remove. I tried it with that method and it did come off, I still found it left a film on my skin. For me it was too rich. Ingredients here.
So after this year’s testing so far my favorites have remained my favorite cleansers are from Kate Somerville. I find all the ones I’ve tried to be the most effective yet gentle for my super sensitive skin. They work well to remove dirt, makeup and impurities and keep my skin clear and smooth. I really can’t pick one – every one I’ve tried works well. Still with the heat, humidity, sun, and long-wear makeup a single cleanser can’t remove everything 100%. My favorite cleansing water is still the Lancome Micellar Cleansign Water (I’ve used up two bottles this year) although I’ve really been enjoying La Roche Posay as well. Bioderma is still very good and remains a classic but sometimes it’s nice to try new things. In terms of cleansing oils, I rediscovered the Shu Ueumura ones this year and have been pleasantly surprised. I have reviewed and used up the SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil which I feel is one of the best ones I’ve tried alongside Tatcha’s. I haven’t repurchased the SK-II as I’m trying to work my way through other formulas. When it comes to balms or solid cleansers I think they are definitely interesting and there are a number of great options – I’m still one that prefers liquid ones instead.
That wraps up Part 1 of my updated skincare routine and testing. I tried to link ingredients where I could find them for each product. I’ll hope to have the rest of my skincare posts up before the end of the month to cover exfoliating scrubs, moisturizers, masks and face mists. If you have any questions let me know in the comments and I’ll try to answer as best as I can.
As always I’d love to hear what your favorite face cleansers are!
I’ve been a long-time fan of the L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil and Youth Cream for the gentle yet effective anti-aging properties. This fall season they reformulated their Divine Youth Oil to increase the concentration of Immortelle essential oils to improve the anti-aging properties. L’Occitane has also expanded the Divine Skincare Collection with new cleansers and I’m thrilled to have been able to get an early peek at them to put to the test. I have five items featured today. For those new to my blog I’ll give you a little background on my skin type and concerns. I’m in my mid-30’s and have sensitive but otherwise normal skin. I’m extremely sensitive to many kinds of fragrance and any kind of reaction (to scent, ingredients etc.) usually happens immediately. I’ve used L’Occitane since I was a freshman in college starting with their Shea Butter hand creams and cuticle treatments, ventured into their body treatments and then skincare. They’ve consistently been a favorite for natural gentle and effective formulas for my skin type. For most of my life I lived in Southern California where there was mild but warm climate and the Divine Youth Oil was perfect for cooler weather and also for times I felt dry. I currently live in Florida where the heat and humidity are pretty high but I’ve still experienced dryness due to the water. My primary concerns are anti-aging, finding something lightweight but with enough moisture to hydrate the skin, and also finding cleansers that will remove all traces of sweat, makeup and dirt at the end of the day.
The Immortelle Divine Youth Oil has been a long-time go-to and the new formula is just as good as the original. It has a lightweight soothing natural earthy scent to it, absorbs quickly into the skin and makes all tightness (if you are dry) disappear. On me it’s instantly soothing and hydrating with a good dry down but still has that soft emollient feel. Skin feels noticeably more plump and smooth. It’s one of my favorite oils ever.
The Immortelle Divine Youth Cream is also one of my favorite face moisturizers because it has a very soft consistency. This one also absorbs quickly into the skin and doesn’t leave any heavy or goopy residue. It leaves the skin looking like it has a natural glow and it’s compatible with the different formulas of foundation that I use. In general I’m more of a cream person than an oil person for day so if I had to pick one, I’d probably opt for the cream over the oil.
The Immortelle Divine Eyes isn’t new, but it’s new to me. My personal favorite eye treatment has actually been the Immortelle Precious Eye Balm, but I love trying all kinds of eye treatments. The Immortelle Divine Eyes comes with a nice pump that dispenses just the right amount of product for me to cover both eyes (I only use a tiny bit). It’s a creamy gel formula that has a lightweight feel. Often times I can’t use the rich formulas for eye cream because they run into my eyes and sting them. This one has a light enough texture that it sets within a few minutes and make the skin feel smoother and softer.
There are two new cleansers this season for a double cleanse routine including the Immortelle Divine Cleansing Balm (in a jar) and Cleansing Foam (comes in a squeeze tube). The Divine Cleansing Balm is a super hydrating balm-in-oil formula that you massage into the skin to remove makeup. Once you work it in a circular motion on the face it transforms into an oil. It removes all face makeup (I still use a regular eye makeup remover to remove mascara and eyeliner first) and almost feels like a mask treatment after you rinse. L’Occitane recommends using the Cleansing Foam after as a double cleanse to further remove impurities from the skin. I’ve tried both together and also separately. In the mornings I find I can just use the Cleansing Foam. In the evenings I like the double cleanse routine to completely clean the skin. It’s something I do anyways as I wear makeup pretty much everyday and with the long-wear formulas I find double cleansing essential to fully cleanse the skin.
As a beauty blogger I love putting new things to the test but I still like to have a routine. The nice thing about brands like L’Occitane is that you can easily incorporate one or two new items into your morning or nightly skincare rituals without having to overhaul your entire routine. As cooler weather approaches I always have to switch things up a bit as my skin adjusts to temperature changes. I start using oils more frequently and if you’re looking for a nice gentle one I highly recommend giving the L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil a try for glowing skin.
As an added bonus the L’Occitane team is giving away everything featured in this post to 1 lucky winner. Enter through the widget below. It’s open internationally but you must be 18 years or older to enter. Simply follow through the instructions in the widget and a winner will be selected at random and contacted by me via e-mail by 9/25/2017 11:45 PM EST.
The most frequently asked questions I receive from readers relate to hand and nail care. For my nail polish posts I feature a mix of DIY and salon manicures. Finding a good salon and a reliable manicurist can take some time, then maintaining the nails with professional care can take up to 1 hour for a regular manicure so that requires additional time. Because I did so many polish reviews and swatches over the past years I could not afford to get regular manicures with the frequency of reviewing polish – both with the cost and time. I had to learn how to do it on my own so I observed the techniques of my favorite manicurists and practiced on my own. I will say that regular salon manicures and pedicures are 100% worth the splurge. Often times during high-stress periods in my life I found it impossible to shut off my mind and de-stress, even after work hours. Manicures kind of helped me stay sane because when someone is working on your hands you’re pretty much stuck doing nothing except for fun brainless tasks like reading magazines or listening to music or watching YouTube videos on your phone. It helped my brain go into hibernate mode so to speak. Also there’s something refreshing about having freshly groomed fingers or toes that makes you feel instantly alive and more put together.
For hand and nail care I typically stick to a few tried and true items and it has been the case for several years. I did my Nail and Hand Care Essentials back in 2014 (wow time flies!) but many of you have asked for an updated post with a tutorial. I finally have one to share with you today and if you compare the posts you’ll see that not much has changed. A few notes for newbies. If your nails are not in the best state I would highly recommend getting them cleaned, cuticles trimmed and polished professionally. Doing something like a manicure once a month or every other week for a little while can help improve the look and health of your nails. I think they can work miracles! If you have any cracks, chipped nails, or problem areas, a manicurist can help smooth everything out nicely. Once they’re in a better state you can do touch ups or manicures at home in between professional manis.
Up first are the tools then a DIY manicure tutorial of how I maintain and paint my fingers. Note that even after all this time of practice I can’t give myself a pedicure without it looking like I gooped a bunch of finger paint on my toes.
Tools of the Trade
I wish there was one brand or store where I could find all the best tools, unfortunately there is not. If you’re going to use my list as a shopping list for yourself, you will have to do a bit of shopping around. Most of the items I’ve bought can be found at Sephora, Ulta and Nordstrom (my 3 favorite beauty stores). Many of the items can also be found online at Amazon. If you’re shopping in store – check the online store locators to check inventory first. Often times I’ve gone to Ulta and found they were sold out of all the items on my list. They do restock frequently but to save time it’s best to research online and make a list first if you’re going to go out to multiple stores. As usual I’ve linked all the products to where I’ve bought the items in the past.
Revlon Nail Clippers – these are an older style, I can’t remember how long ago I bought these, the current versions have an embossed pattern on the surface, to clip nails I recommend clipping about 1/2 to 1/4 of what you think you need to trim. It’s better to do it in stages and then clip more. My biggest challenge was over-clipping.
Nail files – I usually accumulate cheap ones here and there, I’m not brand loyal to any particular type.
Ulta Beauty Crystal Nail File is no longer available online but you can find one from the Sephora Collection that is only $10. These are great for those with sensitive nails, there’s no grit texture like with traditional files so it’s more gentle on the nails.
Deborah Lippman Cuticle Remover is what I call my secret weapon for nails. It softens the cuticle area so you can push back any excess skin to trim them. This is an essential in my routine. I don’t know if she changed the packaging – I’ve seen a few in stores with a brush applicator instead of the dropper.
Tweezerman Cuticle Nipper is what I use to trim cuticles, it fits well in the hands and does the job well, mine has lasted since 2014, I do need to replace it soon though.
Face It Pro Salon Nail Pusher is something I bought at a local Korean Supermarket (Zion Marketplace in San Diego), I have super tiny fingers so this one is a bit large for my hands but still works, I like the shape of the tools and quality.
Not shown above, but there was a limited-edition Zwilling Manicure Set my husband uses and loves, this has been discontinued but he likes the quality of their tools if you’re looking for items for your man.
Base and Top Coats
My absolute favorite base and top coats have now been discontinued (Deborah Lippmann Rehydrating Base Coat, Formula X Base Coat, Chanel Brilliance Top Coat and all the items from Rescue Beauty Lounge). I have still found some others that I really like.
Nails Inc. 45 Second Top Coat with Kensington Caviar is a great top coat that doesn’t have any shrinkage with polishes like Chanel, Dior or Tom Ford. Mine lasted about 2.5 years before it got thick and I had to throw it out. It lasted me so long because I rotate top coat brands. This one does dry within 45 seconds – just make sure your polish coats have properly dried first before applying. This gives the nails a super glossy cushiony look.
Nails Inc. base coats I’ve tired include the Nailkale Superfood Base Coat and the Base Coat with Kensington Caviar. I prefer the Nailkale Superfood Base Coat because it’s nourishing and doesn’t tint the nails. It has kale to strengthen the nails and keratin to help harden and stimulate growth. This is what I attribute to having healthy looking nails. With base coats I think it’s important to not apply too much – if it’s too thick it doesn’t dry properly and then polish on top just sits there. The Base Coat with Kensington Caviar has been a long-time go-to as well, but it can get a bit thick with age and it also can tint the nails pink.
Formula X Base Coat has been my favorite for a long time. Unfortunately it looks like the line has been pulled from Sephora. If you visit your store you may see a bunch of items on clearance. So stock up if you see any favorites there.
Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat has never really been a favorite because it has major shrinkage with brands like Chanel, Dior, Tom Ford, YSL and pretty much all the brands I use. It does work well with OPI, Essie and Louboutin though and since it dries quickly I like the way it works and looks. Your mileage may vary depending on what polish you use. If you find that Chanel or Dior gets really quick tip wear on you, check what top coat you’re using. Some formulas are not compatible with 5 free formulas and cause shrinkage which pulls back the polish from the ends like tips or cuticles.
Chanel Le Gel Coat is a newer top coat that Chanel launched. It wears really well and gives the nails a cushiony shine. I love this with Chanel polishes and it also works well with Dior.
Louboutin Loubi Primer and Loubi Gloss is one of the best nail care duos I’ve used. The price point is high and this comes as a duo. The primer keeps nails from yellowing and helps to hydrate them well. The top coat gives one of the best high-gloss shines I’ve ever seen and keeps polish lasting long for up to 7 days for me. It’s not the fastest drying duo but well worth the extra time it takes.
The extras that make a huge difference in hand care rounded up below:
L’Occitane makes some of my favorite hand creams, they’re great for dry skin and I love the fun packaging. For those with sensitive noses the Shea Butter is the best and most gentle. It has a very natural smelling scent that is soothing.
Molton Brown makes my favorite scented hand creams, they have a lightweight texture so they’re not greasy and I love their scents. Pink Pepperpod and Coco Sandalwood are my favorites but really all the options are great.
Kiehl’s introduced scented hand creams in a Limited-Edition Trio this year, you can buy them separately in a larger size, but the minis are exclusive to Neiman Marcus (while supplies last). The Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve is the unscented version and I also really like it. I don’t have one at the moment because my husband uses it as well and we go through them frequently.
Molton Brown Alba White Truffle Hand Treatment and Scrub are amazing for a hand cream and scrub. I’ve written about this duo before and absolutely love it. I’ve never done a hand scrub before trying this. Over the holidays a year ago many of you mentioned you do regular hand scrubs and that it works wonders on your hands.
Dior Huile Abricot was interesting to me because it seemed to be less messy and easier to apply compared to most oils. It’s a great touch up for the cuticles and is super hydrating without getting messy. I really like it.
Two polish removers I swear by are Deborah Lippmann The Stripper and Zoya Remove +. If you find your nails peel it may be because you’re using harsh polish removers. Both of these are super gentle and good for sensitive nails. Amy from Cafe Makeup recommended the Zoya remover to me years ago and as her nails always look pristine I took her advice and am forever grateful for this discovery.
Chanel Le Coton is one of my favorite facial cottons, it’s bit spendy to use for polish remover but it soaks up a lot so you can use one square for one hand for lighter polishes. Facial Cotton review and comparison here.
Sephora Collection Cotton Rounds are great because they’re cheap and don’t leave fibers behind which can be super annoying when you need to get the nail surface completely clean. Love these and have have lost count of how many times I’ve ordered these.
The DIY Manicure
Step 2 is optional, let the fingers soak with warm water and bit of hand soap to soften the cuticles. I absolutely love the Molton Brown Hand Washes – they smell amazing, don’t dry out the skin and I love the packaging.
A few personal notes on nail care. I’m not a manicurist or nail professional but based on my experience I think the only way to avoid breakage is to keep nails on the shorter side. I do believe there are a lot of nail strengtheners and sometimes nail hardness depends on diet and health, but no matter what I do I can’t avoid breakage when they get long. For me playing frisbee always breaks my nails. On tip wear your mileage will vary depending on hand activity and nail length. The longer the nails the easier it is for the tips to come in contact with things like a keyboard or anything else you touch and therefore they get more wear than shorter nails. If you have broken chips, hang nails, cuts or any issue I highly recommend that you try to get them fixed by a professional manicurist – the few visits to get them to a healthy state is well worth the splurge. Also depending on hand or foot activities a salon can work wonders. I did ballet from the time I was 7 years old until 18 and my feet were badly calloused for years. I didn’t think there was anything I could do to get them fixed to a normal state. I did not get my first mani or pedi until I was 21 and was amazed at how much it improved my feet. It took about a year of regular pedicures every other week or so to get them into a presentable state.
Also a note on gel nails, I’ve never had my nails with gels so I can’t give any advice or input on those.
An extra step that I just started doing is masking my hands. I used on a few occasions the Glamglow Thirsty Mud Mask and SK-II Facial Treatment Mask on hands and afterwards it was like years had been lifted. I don’t know that I have the patience to do this on a regular basis but on super dry skin days with the dry weather this helped a lot.
I hope you found this roundup helpful! With nail care there are so many options to try – the fancy packaging and pretty bottles are always so tempting at the store. I get overwhelmed at Ulta and whip out my phone to look for online reviews, realize it’s going to take too much time to research and end up sticking with what I’ve tried and loved.
If you have any favorites, tips or tricks please share in the comments! My advice is practice makes perfect! It does take time and there were many times in the beginning I just gave up and ended up going to my salon because it would be faster and more efficient for them to take 40 minutes to an hour to do them rather than try to finish myself. I gave up many many times. Eventually I got better and can do both hands easily at home on my own. I still get professional manicures when time allows. I would say over the past year for reference that the vast majority of the nail polish reviews I did were done on my own. Ballpark figure is over 80% of the nail swatches were done on my own.
Press samples include the Molton Brown Alba White Truffle duo and Louboutin Loubi Nail Kit.
Earlier this fall L’Occitane launched the Harmonie Divine Collection which includes a serum and cream designed to combat signs of aging. This line combines two natural and rare ingredients from earth and sea including oils from the Immortelle Millésimée flower and extracts of Jania Rubens a red algae. The two ingredients work together to improve skin texture and elasticity with the smoothing effects of the flower oil and rejuvenating abilities of the red algae. I’ve incorporated both the Serum and Cream into my daily skincare routine over the past month and love the comforting and nourishing feel it has on my skin. After regular use my skin feels more balanced and smooth. Fine lines on my forehead have started to soften. Texture has improved as well and the skin has an overall brighter appearance.
L’Occitane describes harmony as “a happy relationship between the parts of a whole, beyond a simple balance” and I think L’Occitane’s definition is spot on. This collection gives a harmonious skincare experience from texture, scent and effect. If I could describe the line in one word it would be “comforting.”
A few notes on ingredients and sourcing from L’Occitane:
“Both Immortelle Millésimée and Jania Rubens are sourced from the island of Corsica, where the sun drenches the soil and makes for some of the highest concentration of active molecules.
Immortelle Millésimée essential oil boasts warm colors and floral notes, and contains an optimal, more potent concentration of active molecules due to the sun saturation and climatic influences of the region. With only several acres of land for Immortelle Millésimée harvesting, the limited quantity makes for very precious oil.
For the first-time in our history, L’Occitane performed exclusive sourcing from Revelatta’s Bay in Corsica for red algae Jania Rubens. The preserved area within the Mediterranean Sea fosters more sun, great temperature and a smooth sea surface that allows sun rays to better enter the water, which allows for the continuous regeneration and replication of the red algae organism.
Based on this natural regeneration, L’Occitane created the first sustainable growing program under controlled laboratory conditions with no impact or destruction on the nature of the algae to develop the natural extract found in Harmonie Divine products.”
Up first is the Harmonie Divine Serum ($220 for 1 fl oz). This is a serum that encapsulates 5,000 micro-drops of Immortelle Millésimée oil in each bottle. The oils capsules are suspended in the serum to keep them in their pure state. The serum portion contains the Jania Rubens algae. Both ingredients are combined when you pump/dispense the product. The texture is lightweight and absorbs quickly into the skin. The immediate effect is brightening and smoothing – something you can even notice if you test this on the back of your hand.
The L’Occitane Harmonie Divine Cream ($198 for 1.7 fl oz) is a unique cream-to-oil formula that is like a cushion for the skin. It has a soft cream texture that transforms into a soft oil upon contact with the skin. When massaged into the skin, the face feels very smooth and hydrated. Using both the serum and cream in conjunction with each other gives a higher concentration of the ingredients and therefore yields better anti-aging results. The packaging is well designed as there is a protective cap hinged onto the container so it won’t get lost or misplaced. This helps keep the product as fresh as possible. There’s a very soft and natural scent to it which gives a calming effect.
The two combined create a truly harmonious skincare experience:
Finding good soothing skincare suitable for sensitive is a challenge but L’Occitane is one line I’ve been able to rely on for years. They use natural ingredients that are gentle but still effective. In using the Harmonie Divine line for over a month the past weeks I’ve noticed a visible difference in having skin that is brighter and more plump. In addition those fine lines on my forehead have started to soften and I have high hopes that continued use will reduce the fine lines even more. The price points are on the high side but the serum and cream deliver visible results and I highly recommend you give them a try. Overall I am really pleased with the way it makes my skin feels, plus the soft and natural way it smells adds to the harmonious experience on a daily basis for morning and night.
You can find the Divine Harmonie Collection in stores and online at L’Occitane. Have you tried this line yet? What did you think?
As the weather shifts my skin has been in need of an extra hydration boost. The air is dry and I can definitely feel it as my arms and legs tend to get a little itchy when skin is dry. My skint ype is pretty much normal combination but I do have super sensitive skin – I’ve mentioned a number of times that I’m allergic to a number of things so I always patch test items before applying them all over. However as a beauty blogger it is my duty to try and test things to be able to see first hand how they work so I don’t mind an occasional reaction here and there. Many of you liked the Spring Skincare Favorites for Sensitive Skin so today I have a roundup of Beauty Look Book sensitive-skin approved products that will help with dry skin and add that extra boost of moisture for winter months.
Up first are some lip products I’ve been loving right now for dry lips. You can see a more detailed comprehensive Winter Roundup from 2015 if you want more options. The Armani Him/Her Lip Care are also great options for tinted unscented options.
Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfectors (c/o, all shades swatched here) and Instant Light Lip Comfort Oils (c/o, also reviewed here) are among my favorite for hydration and smooth coverage. They are scented though so if you’re super sensitive to fragrance you may want to smell first before buying – I am semi-sensitive to scent in lip products but love both. There are a number of holiday sets out so be sure to check them out (there’s also a few cute GWP options going on at Clarins). The Sweet Kisses Set has 3 lip oils at a value price, Clarins Kisses has minis of both formulas, XOXO, Clarins! has 3 full size Lip Perfectors at a good deal as well.
The Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade has been a staple for hydration and smoothing lips. It gives instant relief for dry lips and really does work to help improve texture and look of the lips. I have two tubes because I want one at my desk and one to carry in my purse when I’m out and about.
The Lanolips 101 Fruities Duo in Strawberry and Peach are a Net-A-Porter exclusive and I cannot rave about them enough. They’re a thick but very smooth balm that feels incredible on the lips. I’ve never tried any other lip product that gives such a comforting hydrating feel like these do. The Strawberry option is also available at Ulta Beauty.
Up next are some hand cream favorites. I’m obsessed with hand creams of all kinds – I do prefer a smaller compact tube so it’s easy to carry with me and also because they take up less space whether it’s on my nightstand, clutch, purse or drawer. Molton Brown is always a good option for me as I love the lightweight feel and they absorb quickly. Coco and Sandalwood (c/o) and Pink Pepperpod (c/o) are my favorites but I’ve tried them all and they are ALL amazing options. (I buy the Fiery Pink Pepper Cracker set every year.)
For holiday Neiman Marcus and Kiehl’s have an exclusive trio with the Limited-Edition Scented Hand Cream Trio and it’s only $16 (they are 1 oz each). They also have the regular unscented version in a the Limited-Edition Ultimate Strength Hand Salve Trio they have every year in the full size. The scented ones are just as hydrating with a slightly creamier feel. I love the scents which are Grapefruit, Coriander and Lavender. It’s great and I highly recommend it as these are the best I’ve tried for super dry hands.
Face Oils and Serums are something I’ve never been into historically – I’ve only really gotten into them in the past couple of years as I’m more of a lotions and cream kind of person. Quite a few of you asked about the La Mer Renewal Oil and I’ve been able to acquire a few minis from gift with purchases. Out of all the oils it has the thickest feel upon application but actually absorbs the best for the least emollient finish which is rare for oils. It’s very hydrating but also scented. The scent doesn’t bother me and it did not irritate my skin. Once I use up my others I will most likely buy it – it hydrates, balances the skin and reduces redness.
The Darphin Intral Soothing Serum does just what the name implies. It helps reduce redness from itchy dry skin and works wonders to calm down flare ups. If you’ve tried this and found it didn’t do much for you it’s probably because in most cases serums are meant to be used in conjunction with a moisturizer on top. Serums alone have a unique texture that doesn’t always work well with your makeup, but when you layer them with your moisturizer they help keep the skin balanced and hydrated. This is on the lighter side so if you have super dry skin it probably won’t have enough moisture, but if you’re normal and sensitive this is a good one.
The L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil has been a favorite for a long long time. I’m pretty much finished with this bottle but kept it for this story as it’s a good one. L’Occitane skincare in general is underrated and it’s among the most gentle and natural that I’ve tried. It smooths the skin, makes it glow, plumps up the surface. You can use it alone or with moisturizer. I like to use it at night too and I wake up with glowing smooth skin. This is a great one for winter time.
Another favorite is the Kate Somerville Dilo Oil Restorative Treatment and I tried this thanks to a number of recommendations from my readers who commented on previous posts. This oil is everything. If I were forced to use one oil the rest of my life this would be it. My friend tried it as well and she couldn’t stop repeating “my skin feels sooo amazing.” It really does everything it claims: smooths skin, strengthen, replenish and restore elasticity, maintain suppleness and helps improve skin evenness. It has the most amazing scent which is hard to describe but it’s not irritating.
Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate is one that is well-loved by many and for good reason. It’s another oil you can use daily but has an energizing/reviving aspect to invigorate the skin. The description for this says it has “antioxidant protection with a powerful blend of naturally-derived oils, including Ginger Root, Sunflower and Tamanu, to help skin feel fresh and look energized morning to night.” I was nervous to try this but have been hooked every since I tried it.
Next up are lotions and creams. Note this looks like a lot and it is, but quite a few of these are empties that I’ve used up. First Aid Beauty is the best affordable mid-end skincare line I’ve tried and one of the best for truly sensitive skin. One of my best friends is in her mid 30’s and loves their line and my younger brother is in his early 20’s and it’s one of the two skincare lines he asks me to stock him up on (Kate Somerville being the other).
Many of the First Aid Beauty items contain colloidal oatmeal to help soothe dry itchy skin. I’ve tried their Ultra Repair line and also the Purifying line with Red Clay (best for summer/oily skin) and everything is gentle but effective. The Ultra Repair Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer is a great basic no-fuss lightweight moisturizer for normal sensitive skin. It contains, “meadowfoam seed oil and avocado oil soften and hydrate while shea butter and ceramides help protect the skin’s barrier function. The best in the line is the Ultra Repair Cream and if you’ve been reading recent posts, you know they just launched the Ultra Repair Cream in Vanilla Citron (c/o) which is amazing. I bought the Ultra Repair Cream Minis set and feel almost like a broken record talking about it, but it’s GREAT. I still prefer the unscented version because even though there’s no scent it has a soothing undertone in the formula. They always have great value sets so be sure to browse those if you’re new to the line.
If you need something natural but not heavy, the Chanel La Solution 10 de Chanel (c/o) is something I just started using on a more regular basis and it’s a great one for something simple but effective. The Chanel is a great in between option if you need something that acts
somewhere in between a lotion and cream. It helps calm down flare ups
and is great for sensitive skin. This year they added a larger 1.7 oz
version (the smaller 1.0 oz version is shown below).
If you have very dry sensitive skin, I’d recommend the Tatcha Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream or Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cream (I have the older original version but have tried both and the new one is just as good). If you read customer reviews on both their sites you’ll find an overwhelming number of others who love both. The Tatcha is on the expensive side so if you’re unsure of splurging $100+ be sure to check out their Travel Size Shop. They have all their items in minis and also in sets that are great to try out.
A few more notes on the La Mer Moisturizing Soft Lotion. I featured it in this post here to compare it to the Soft Cream and I prefer the lotion because of the pump packaging and texture. It’s quite the splurge and I do think it’s amazing. I have no regrets buying it but the others in this roundup are also great at more affordable price points.
Last but not least, for the body three things I’m loving right now are the Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil Spray, Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saver and also the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream as a body treatment. They offer instant relief from itchy dryness and I’m obsessed with the way the Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil smells. The Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saver is one I’ve bought multiple tubes of now for friends. I get texts a lot from my girl friends that say “help my skin is freaking out, what do I need?” I either tell them First Aid Beauty or this one. I love that First Aid Beauty made their Ultra Repair Cream in different sizes and packaging options for travel, full size and value size.
Two other body products that deserve a mention but I just used up and didn’t keep the empties include the Tatcha Indigo Body Butter and L’Occitane Shea Butter Extra Gentle Lotion for Hands and Body. Both are extremely good for super sensitive skin. The Tatcha is the most hydrating one I’ve tried and is on the thick side since it’s a cream but feels amazing. I like to use it at night. I love the formula but it’s a bit too rich for my skintype for day time – I would absolutely die if they made this in a lotion form. The L’Occitane has been featured a number of times before as well. It’s the best lightweight gentle lotion that gives relief without feeling sticky or heavy. It absorbs well and anytime my skin feels itchy or irritated this is my go-to to help with relief. I need to go buy another one soon.
I hope this roundup give you some ideas on what to try if you’re suffering from dry itchy skin or flare ups. Recommendations as always depend on your specific skin type, age, formula preference and scent preferences. I turned 35 this year and my skin has finally seemed to rebalance itself and I attribute this in part to finding good skincare.
As I transitioned from my late 20’s to my early 30’s my life went through a lot of stress and my skin suffered. I have always been able to manage a lot of things in life but in my early 30’s the stress of life, career, balancing a full-time corporate job, a part-time job, this blog along with other things in my personal life took it’s toll on my skin and it suffered. I experienced breakouts on the chin even though I never had any acne issues growing up. I had pretty bad texture issues on all areas of my face. Red spots from scars were pretty bad as well. Finding balance in life, learning to say no to some things, taking time to take care of myself and worry less have helped my skin as I’ve worked to improve things from the inside out. Many of you have asked about work/life balance and I’ll have more on that when I publish my get to know me post.
Back to the skincare – I’m always asked if I could only pick one in each category what would it be. I like options, I always have. It’s really hard to pick just one favorite because I have many and preferences change. Right now I will say that:
My favorite face oil is a three-way tie between Kate Somerville Dilo, Kiehl’s Reparative Treatment and L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil
My favorite body treatment is the Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saver
My favorite face moisturizer is a three-way tie between La Mer Moisturizing Soft Lotion, Kate Somerville anything, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
Most gentle items for sensitive skin are the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, La Solution 10 de Chanel and Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation Cream
Best lip balm of the moment is Lanolips
Favorite hand cream Molton Brown Coco and Sandalwood or the Kiehl’s Scented Hand Cream Trio
As always if you have sensitive skin, dry skin issues or eczema – please chime in on what your favorites are!
Press samples indicated with c/o. All other items purchased by me.