Monday, April 25, 2011

REVIEW: Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask

Okay, if it's good enough for Madonna, Liv Tyler, Kate Hudson, and Uma Thurman, then it's definitely good enough for me! :o)

Granted, these famously beautiful-skinned celebs have the actual $160 Oxygenating Facial done at the Bliss Spa in NYC...and this mask is based off that very expensive facial treatment! So yeah...I am definitely interested.

According to the good folks over at Bliss this mask "instantly delivers a shot of oxygen, a powerhouse form of vitamin C, time-released antioxidants, and a moisture fix, to spiff up your complexion when it's looking and feeling lackluster".

This mask has Vitamin C, NaPCA (a natural moisturizer), EUK-134 (a synthetic super-antixodiant that prevents oxidative damage to your skin), and Liquid Oxygen to increase Oxygen content in your skin.

You apply a thin layer of this mask on damp skin after you have washed it and let it sit for a quick 5 minutes.... it immediately starts to bubble and froth on your skin! It tickles a little, and the frothing is so intense you can easily hear it! After about 5 minutes you rinse it off well and follow with your regular serums and moisturizers. After I rinsed it off I have noticed that I am positively GLOWING! A rosy glow takes over my cheeks and my skin feels brighter.

The glow is only temporary, maybe lasting a few hours... so when you are after a "glow" this mask is best used in the morning. Maybe apply it to your face after washing with your favorite cleanser and before brushing your teeth for a quick fix! I have also used this mask after a night of too much vino with dinner to oxygenate and refresh my complexion, with great success.

As a side note, bacteria can't thrive in oxygen-rich environments, so theoretically this mask could even be used by those with acne-prone skin types!

The bottle is 3.4oz (100mL) and costs $52 at Sephora... I have EASILY had this bottle for about 8 or 9 months now, using it occasionally (maybe 2 or 3 times a month) so it's long lasting and well worth the little splurge.

If you ever feel your skin is looking a little lack-luster and in need of a little glowing boost you will LOVE this fast-acting mask!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

REVIEW: Guerlain Abeille Royale Youth Serum

What an absolutely luxurious delight this serum has been! Often times we dismiss luxury brands as not having effective skincare, that you may just be paying for the "name" more than anything. 

This particular serum helps to dispel that notion! Yes, it costs $160 for an ounce. Yes, the gorgeous glass bottle is far larger and heavier than one would ever think an ounce of product would require. But for someone serious about anti-aging, with a little extra cash burning a hole in their pocket, this serum is a must have!

The gorgeous glass bottle has a hexagonal shape through the top of the gold lid. A golden dropper with a little embossed bee is built right into the lid, which is a thing of beauty in and of itself. The bottle is quite heavy, so keep it somewhere safe. A little knock could send it crashing to the floor! (I would cry)

The main active ingredient, Royal Jelly, is very close to the top of the ingredient list. There are also other goodies, like Hyaluronic Acid, Centella Asiatica, and various peptides. The promise from Guerlain is that tiny micro-tears in the skin cause wrinkles, and Royal Jelly helps to speed up the repair process.

What I do know is that after using this serum twice a day for just a few days my skin was positively glowing! After about 10 days there was a new firmness along my jaw line and my eyes felt brighter (I tapped this serum right up to the orbital bone). 

What most surprised me about this product is the lack of silicone. There is a Dimethicone blend in there, but it's most of the way near the bottom of the ingredient list! Often when anti-aging products claim such fast results (cough *Olay* cough) they are using loads of silicones in the creams (combined with non-scientific, in-house, perception studies...not independent clinical trials).

After about a month of using this amazing serum I have to say...I am definitely in love (wouldn't it be a shame if an expensive treatment sucked?!?). My skin glows! Hydration levels are definitely up (even though I have started occasional Retin-A...more on that another time), my moisturizer works better, and my eye area is luminized!

A little goes a long way with this product! If you are in the Toronto area, get yours from Murale at Shops at Don Mills...the girls there will hook you up with loads of great samples to make the purchase even moreso worth your while! 

If you are buying it online, click on the logo below

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

REVIEW: Biotherm Skin-Ergetic D-Tox High Recovery Night Care

Biotherm recently launched a naturally derived skin care line, free of Mineral Oils, petro-chemicals, artificial fragrances, silicones, dyes, parabens, etc. The range of products include the serum (read that review here), an anti-oxidant day cream (read that review here) and this night cream.

The tag line in Biotherm's advertising, which you may have seen in countless magazines, is "So signs of Fatigue don't turn into Signs of Aging". With this night cream, the good folks over at Biotherm have put together a detoxifying blend of Tea Catechins, Buckwheat extract, Ruscus, Soy Protein and Cranberry extract so that SkinErgetic can help to activate toxin elimination and stimulate micro-circulation. 

Now I can't actually attest to the detoxification part, but I do know that when I used this moisturizer my skin felt soft and dewy. It absorbed really well, wasn't greasy, and had a fantastic (naturally derived) fragrance. My skin is slightly on the drier side and this moisturizer was just the tiniest bit too light. If I layered any one of my many serums underneath it, it felt like the perfect bit of moisture without overdoing it. 

I used this moisturizer every night while on our Dominican family vacation, and my face is the only part of me that didn't flake or peel...even after we returned home! Coincidence?

At $51 for a 50mL (1.7oz) glass jar, this is a well priced moisturizer, especially for those of us looking to limit our exposure to chemical laden cosmetic and skin-care products! I love it and I think you will too!

Click on the Sephora Banner below to buy it!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

REVIEW: Mylana's Cold-Process Soap on Etsy

I first "met" Clare, the owner of in the Teams Forum at Etsy where we are both members of "April's Army", a group of Etsians who really appreciate the humor of April Winchell, the creator of the hilarious Regretsy website.

Clare sells both Melt & Pour soaps and Cold Process Soaps, amongst other crafts. Melt & Pour soap bases are glycerin-based soaps that are purchased ready for additives, color and scents to be added to the melted soap before it is poured into a mold. Cold Process soaps are made from scratch where oil mixtures are combined with a water/lye mixture that causes a chemical reaction where the final product, after it has cured from 4-8 weeks, is a natural soap that is LOADED with natural glycerin, a powerful moisturizer. This is the way soap had been made for hundreds of years, and sufferers of psoriasis and eczema have long spoken for it's efficacy and gentleness!

One thing I have noticed is that I don't feel that uncomfortably tight and dry skin after I come out of the shower if I don't immediately moisturize. You know that feeling you get with conventional store-bought soaps and body washes? Your skin feels stripped and parched... Mylana's Cold Process soaps don't leave me feeling like that!

The soaps from Mylana are simply amazing! The bars are hard and last a long time, the fragrance selection is varied and the soap will fragrance your bathroom beautifully, the lather is so thick you could even shave with it, and the soaps are so gentle you could even wash your face with it (and I have!!!).

My favorite scent is the Lemon Maraschino scent, a sweet and slightly nutty fragrance! The Mint is beautiful because you can even see the flecks of peppermint in the soap! The Citrus Basil is pretty with yellow and green swirls in the soap and the scent is perfect for beside the kitchen sink for your hands!

With both reasonable soap prices and shipping prices, I highly recommend you try out a variety of Mylana's Cold Process soaps today!

Friday, April 15, 2011

REVIEW: Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask

The words "Instant" and "anti-aging" used together always make me wary about the product in question. Because I know nothing works instantly, there must be a cocktail of silicones at the very top of the ingredient list. Silicones (like the stuff found in primers) bend the light to create an illusion of perfection. But when you wash the silicone-laden offender off your face, guess what?!? Your wrinkles are still there!

Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was NOT A DROP of silicones in this treatment mask. Imagine my jaw hitting the ground when I felt the silky, sumptuous, thick-yet-lightweight, almost-silicone-like texture of this mask...and had to read the ingredient list one more time to make sure.

There are no silicones in this mask.

Right near the very top of the list you will find Sake, followed closely by Black Tea extract, Litchi extract, plant extracts, and Hyaluronic Acid, among other goodies. When you put this mask on, you will instantly feel a cool and refreshing tingle. The texture is hard to describe. It is light as air with a whipped solid texture, not creamy or greasy, but almost a semi-dense soufflé feel. I put a thin layer of this on and relax for 10 minutes. You have to resist the urge to keep rubbing it in! The texture is just so unique you will want to keep massaging!

As soon as you rinse it off you feel the difference in the texture of your skin. It feel plumped, soothed, and smooth. I have noticed I need a little less of my moisturizer after using this mask, if I overdo it I definitely look shiny! It definitely moisturizer and it definitely perfects!

This mask is about $100 for a 3.3oz (100mL) jar, which will last you at least 3 months if you are doing 2 or 3 masks a week.

A FANTASTIC treatment for those prone to dryness, dehydration or dullness

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Eye & Lip Treatment

Let me preempt this review by letting you know that I did NOT win the lottery. No, I did not purchase this $198 eye cream. I was lucky enough to receive 2 generous mini tube samples of the eye cream from a lovely employee at one of my favorite Shoppes Drug Marts. By all calculations, the samples were worth an astounding $50+ (holy cow!).

According to the good folks over at Guerlain, the Orchid has amazing regenerative and long-lasting capabilities, so they decided to spend a good decade researching this phenomenon. They narrowed 30,000 species of Orchids down to THREE rare species of Orchid that most exemplified this longevity best. 

Guerlain has dedicated an astounding amount of time and money into this venture, even building a dedicated "farm" in China where they grow these very rare Orchids. Additionally, they have a re-habitation program where they re-introduce some of these rare Orchids back into the wild where they are a rare and endangered species. 

So what does this all mean for your skin? Because of the Orchid's long life span, this cream is meant to bring youth back to your skin. While I don't understand the science of it all (the use of Orchid extract is pretty much exclusive to Guerlain), I do know this: this eye cream is amazing!!!

I have been using this cream for about 3 weeks now, every morning and night. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly light it was. It is thick in appearance and texture, but your skin will drink it up entirely in MINUTES! I reapplied a thin second coat almost every time, as I am a fan of thick and almost-greasy eye creams! :) 

My eye area looks taut and bright. My fine lines are non-existent! And best of all, my concealer does not crease, pile, rub off, or move in any way-shape-or-form! I didn't even have to use my beloved Smashbox Targeted Fine Line & Pore primer!

What am I going to do?!? How will I afford to buy this amazing eye cream?!? LOL! I shall find a way...this stuff is amazing! In the meantime I will see if I can find another sample of it to tide me over until I save up enough pennies to afford this baby. ;)


Monday, March 21, 2011

REVIEW: Smashbox High Definition Liquid Concealer

Before Smashbox launched their Hi-Def concealer, they had their Camera Ready Full Coverage concealer which was a cult-fave. Camera Ready was a stick concealer and could be build up to an extremely thick coverage...if you had the right shade you could even build it up to cover a bruise!

Their new concealer, High Definition, is very different because it is an extremely light finish with light coverage. Because of its texture, I have not been able to build it up to a FULL coverage concealer. If I carefully dab instead of stroke it on, the most coverage I can get out of it is a medium coverage. (Thank God I have been using an awesome eye serum that has helped minimize my under eye circles! Thank you NeoStrata!)

That aside, it truly is a natural finish! Set it with a dab of your favorite powder and it will last beautifully all day long!

The good folks over at Smashbox claim it has 9% Vitamin K in it, a powerful coagulating vitamin that has been claimed to help heal under-eye circles the way Vitamin K has been used in other brands' eye creams. But if you read the ingredient list there is no hint of Vitamin K anywhere on the ingredient list. Upon further questioning them, I was told that it was a "proprietary formula". Ummm...ok?

What it REALLY does have is caffeine to help drain puffiness away, Angelica extract to reduce dark circles, and soy to minimize redness. 

My only qualm is that I wish it came in more colours. Currently, it is only available in 6 shades which accommodate a lot of people, but another 2-4 shades would be awesome!

It's only $22 and well worth it for someone who wants a subtle daytime under eye concealer. If you are looking for something to cover up blemishes this might not be the best option for you. 

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

REVIEW: Olay Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex

I will not sugar coat this, let me be completely clear as to what a pile of crap this stuff was.

The second ingredient from the top is Cyclopentasiloxane, a silicone. The fourth ingredient from the top is Dimethicone, another silicone. These are the only ingredients in this cream that help you gain the illusion of reduced wrinkles because silicone bends the light to create the illusion that your wrinkles and pores have disappeared. 

As I have said before I try to stay away from products with loads of silicones in them, and with good reason. 

For starters, silicones are the main ingredient in primers. The purpose of primers is to create the illusion of flawless skin so that your foundation goes on more evenly and smoothly. Well, when used in skincare, its because the manufacturers of that product want to create the illusion of an even canvas.  Silicones in skin care do the same thing...they fill in your lines, pores and wrinkles to create the illusion of a plump, poreless skin. Your wrinkles haven't gone ANYWHERE!!! They are simply hiding under all that silicone. 

Also, Environment Canada cautions against the use of silicones in skincare as they feel more research needs to be done into its safety.

At $60 for a half-ounce tube, the people over at Olay are taking us for fools. For only $5 more you can get the amazingly rich and nourishing Benefiance eyecream from Shiseido. For less than half that cost you can get a natural alternative from Burt's Bees, or something gentle from La Roche Posay (the #1 recommended brand by dermatologists in Canada), etc etc etc

But here is the kicker. Its the 21st century. It's 2011!!!! And Oil of Olay STILL TESTS ON ANIMALS. 

According to some reviews I read online, people love the texture of this cream. But my skin is so used to products that actually absorb, so my eye area felt really dry and tight with this eye cream on.  Plus it wore horribly under my concealer, causing it to "pile" and seperate.

Thank god I had a free sample of this stuff...because it just affirmed what I already knew about them. They are a horrible brand!

Save your money folks...

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Friday, March 18, 2011

REVIEW: Biotherm Skin-Ergetic Non-Stop Anti-Fatigue Moisturizer

When I first picked this cream up, I wanted to grab the "Cream" version as my skin leans more towards dry skin than "Normal/Combination". But I figured with us going away on vacay (we are back, and it was lovely-thank you very much for asking) plus with warmer weather right around the corner, maybe I should just get the lighter gel-cream version.

It is 97.5% of natural origin, has an amazing fresh & fruity natural fragrance, is a lovely light texture that absorbs beautifully and is loaded with antioxidants to protect your skin. There are no petrochemicals, no mineral oil, no parabens, and loads of awesome antioxidants!

Some of these amazing antioxidants include Lycopene, Grape & Pomegranate Polyphenols, Neohesperidin from Bitter Orange, and Apple extracts. These ingredients come together to provide you with a broad-spectrum antioxidant protection to help you battle all the enironmental skin aggressors you may encounter in your day-to-day life.

This was THE ONLY daytime moisturizer I used during my two-week Caribbean vacation and my skin was just BEAUTIFUL and dewy the entire time. About half of the time I used the Skin-Ergetic Serum underneath it...and boy am I glad that I didn't buy the "Cream" version! The Serum and Gel-Cream together felt richer and thicker than the products used separately or with other products...a lovely coincidence!

I sometimes wore make-up on the resort, and the Skin-Ergetic provided a fantastic base. I never felt greasy and loved knowing that I had loads of anti-oxidant protection despite my almost-constant sun exposure!

Even now that we have returned from our vacation and my tan is slowly and surely peeling away my face is the ONLY part of me that isn't peeling! Coincidence?!? I dont know...but I do know that this Skin-Ergetic moisturizer has found a permanent place in my skincare routine!

At only $49 for a 50mL (1.7oz) jar, this natural beauty is a steal!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Confusion about your skin routine? Here is some help & clarification

The world of cosmetics gets more and more confusing the older we get. Once upon a time, all we did was wash and moisturize. Then someone tells you that you need a toner....then suddenly you need a make-up remover. Then one day you discover night creams, then the sales person tells you that you need a serum...sunscreen, eye treatments, peels, etc.

I have been requested to help you clear through the clutter of the skincare world... So here is to hoping I don't confuse you any more! Thanks MEC for the special blog request!

1) Cleansing
2) Exfoliating (whenever necessary)
3) Toning
4) Serums (follow instructions re: daytime and/or nighttime usage)
5) Eye Serums (if using)
6) Facial Moisturizer
7) Eye Cream
8) Sunscreen...daytime (can I get a resounding "DUUUUH!!!")

Cleansing: Not all cleansers are created equal. Not all remove eye make-up, and not all of them are even comfortable in the eye area. Read the instructions, or if you are like me, experiment! Haha.
Exfoliating: Always exfoliate clean skin ONLY! Exfoliating dirty skin can push dirt further into your pores. Yikes!

Toning: Avoid the alcohol-laden ones. Especially you acne-prone folks...alcohol dehydrates your skin, causing more oil production, which just exasperates your acne problem!

Serums: Some that are meant to be used just at night (those with retinol should be used only at night, as UV rays breaks retinol down), some are best used during the day (those with high concentrations of Vitamin C offer amazing free-radical protection, so you get maximum benefit using them during the day when you are out and about, exposed to the elements) and many serums are great day AND night (such as serums that help detoxify, protect, or hydrate).

Eye Serums: Not many brands make Eye Serums, and with good reason. Many people just want to use ONE eye product, and you MUST layer a cream over your serum. Because of the intensity of many of these Eye Serums, you may find that it irritates your eye lid...if this is the case, discontinue their use on the lid or try using it every other day for a couple weeks to build up your skin's tolerance. Otherwise, feel free to apply it all over, inside the orbital bone, taking care to not get it in the eye (can I get another "Duuuuh!"). As a wise friend of mine once said "Where else would Eye Cream go?!? It's not called CHEEKBONE CREAM!"

Moisturizer: Find one you love! Feel free to experiment. And, for God's sake, don't use the same one for 10 years!!! Your skin changes, so should your moisturizer. Feel free to use a different one for night and day, if you like.
Eye Cream: I have a theory about eye cream. "The thicker, the better". But not everyone prescribes to that notion. Again, find one you love. Eye cream samples are hard to find. Go to your favorite beauty shop and play around with them on the back of your hand until you find one you like. Buy your products at a retailer with a fair (or even a generous) return policy. *Sephora, I love you*

Sunscreen: A recent study published in the American Journal of Science listed two common ingredients/formulations of chemical sunscreen to, of all things, MELANOMA! Yes, skin cancer. SMARTEN UP PEOPLE!!! Get a Physical Sunscreen! The ONLY active ingredients in Physical Sunscreen are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. READ YOUR LABELS!

Do you have to use the same brand for all of your products? Of course not! You will get maximum benefit if you are mixing and matching your products to find individual products that address your individual concerns. 

Well what about masks or steaming, you say?

Whenever you steam, you should do it after cleansing or before masking.

If you are putting on a mask, you will get maximum benefit after cleansing, and you should skip the toning as to leave some of the penetrated active ingredients on your skin.

Have I helped you clear up any of the skincare routine confusion? Or did I just add to it? 

Talk to me! Leave a comment below...