Saturday, October 29, 2016

October beauty favorites 2016

This month's beauty faves are mostly going to be Fall-centric.  It hasn't been at all cold here yet but I am desperately trying to get in the mood.  I put up all my Autumn/Halloween house and yard decor on October 2nd and have been trying to ignore the fact that it seems out of place in the 80 degree weather.  But I shouldn't complain, I know some people have already gotten snow.  That's the other end of the spectrum that I don't prefer.  But this is silly talking about the weather, let's get on to something much more interesting ie. beauty products.  Here is what I have been most excited about lately.....

Korres Shower Gel in Fig feels like you are doing something special for yourself.  You could even say it gives a decadent shower experience.  The clear gel is gentle and non-drying but it is the scent that is heavenly.  It is a pure clear true fig; sharp and dusky and green, not sweet in the least.  I bought this shower gel as soon as the Fall Equinox hit because it is the perfect fragrance for Winter and Fall, and I have been loving it ever since.

Benefit Rockateur Box O' Powder Blush became a favorite accidentally.  I happen to keep it in a spot that is really easy to reach for and so whenever I feel lazy or in a rush that is the blush I grab by default.  But then I started noticing that it always, no matter what, looks perfect on.  It goes with whatever look I have going and it never fails to be flattering.  These days I reach for it intentionally. The color is a pinky rose with just the barest hint of neutral gold illumination in it.  It doesn't show up shiny on my cheeks, rather it gives a lit-from-within impression.  It's a winner!

Safeway Signature Care Oval Cotton Pads were a revelation to me.  So large and soft, they feel like total luxury on my skin.  And I think they do a more thorough job of applying my toner or micellar water.  I can't (or choose not to) afford the $9 Shiseido cotton pads so these are the next best thing.  If you live near a Safeway grocery store I highly recommend you grab some.  I am truly obsessed.

Bath And Body Works 3-Wick Candle in Sweater Weather is another Fall favorite of mine.  I had never set foot in a Bath And Body Works store until last year when raving reviews on YouTube drove me in to check out the Marshmallow Fireside candle.  Until that point I had been spending a fortune on luxury candles but was delighted to discover these cheapies (if you buy them on sale even better - they are always on sale).  They are fun and fabulous and the Sweater Weather scent totally smells like a cozy sweater worn on a brisk Fall day.  The notes are fresh sage, juniper berry, aromatic eucalyptus, and fresh woods.  I don't get any eucalyptus from it at all, mostly just the woodsy vibe.  Sweater Weather is on sale right now and I am going to stockpile.

L'Oreal True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation will make your skin smooth and glowy.  Even dewy.   It's fairly light coverage but super easy to swipe on with its little sponge and go.  I unfortunately bought it in a shade or two too light and so was just letting it sit in my drawer.  But then I got some Benefit Dew The Hulu Soft Matte Liquid Bronzer in my Sephora Play! box and now I add that on top of the Lumi application.  I love how the foundation looks so much I really should go out and buy another one in the correct shade.  It's on the expensive side for a drugstore foundation, but really rather cheap for something I am crazy about.

Soap And Glory Clean On Me Creamy Clarifying Shower Gel makes the perfect shave cream.  That's why I'm listing another shower gel as a favorite - because I actually just use it as my shave cream.  Of course you could use it as a regular shower gel; the super silky texture makes it perfect for either one.  I get the ultimate close smooth shave out of it but it is the scent that is truly incredible.  Everyone agrees!  It's unique and a little hard to describe but I'd say its a floral and definitely some significant amber.  It smells like a really pretty well-blended perfume (but not too strong).  Best of all is the pump which makes it the easiest to use shave cream ever.

Nippon Kodo Ka-fuh Daphne Incense is the lovely scent of pink cherry blossoms.  Maybe even drying after a refreshing rain shower (for us here in Northern California rain is synonymous with Fall and Winter).  I start my morning by lighting up these incense while I enjoy my first cup of coffee, - it feels spiritual and calming.  They are a very pretty delicate floral with the smoky incense aspect that is perfect for these cooler months.  Nippon Kodu is a premier brand of Japanese incense - you can't not like them.

What were your favorites, beauty or otherwise, this month?

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Monday, October 24, 2016

must-have chemical exfoliators

Using a Alpha Hydroxy Acid or Beta Hydroxy Acid are my preferred ways to exfoliate.  Some scrubs can be ok but I believe that chemical exfoliation is a better way to go.  I think AHAs and BHAs work more effectively and if you don't leave them on too long, are actually gentler on the skin (scrubs can possibly pull and tear).

To give a quick chemical exfoliation lesson, some AHAs are glycolic acids from fruits or sugars, lactic acid from milk, and malic acid from apples. These give excellent surface exfoliation by eating away and dissolving dead skin cells.  BHAs are salicylic acids and penetrate the pores to clean out dirt and oil;  they are perfect for oily, congested, acneic skin.  Sorry for all the boring details but knowing all this can help you choose which product is right for you.

That said, there are a variety of ways to use your chemical exfoliants.  In toner form they are gentle and left on the skin.  In serum form they are highly concentrated and often mixed with other beneficial ingredients to form a cocktail that you leave on.  And masks are a terrific way to clean things out once or twice a week.  These you definitely wash off.  And very important:  if you are using these or any exfoliation regularly you MUST MUST MUST use sunscreeen!

So according to category, here is what I recommend:


Pixi By Petra Glow Tonic has cult status. In fact my Target is always out of it so I am left to order it online which really is nbd.  Its special formula includes aloe vera, botanicals, and 5% glycolic acid (a mild dose).  And no alcohol!  It makes your skin so smooth and soft and is a healthy step to take in your skincare regimen.  I use the Tonic that comes in a bottle because it is mild and I have dry sensitive skin, but there is also a fabulous formula called Glow Peel Pads which comes in pre-soaked pads in a jar that contains 20% glycolic acid.  These are great for oilier or mature skin or even normal skin to use on a daily basis and are more of a straightforward exfoliation rather than toner.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads are as gentle as can be, but they still get the job done.  They have a formula comprised of lactic acid (the least irritating form of Alpha Hydroxy Acid) and glycolic acid.  There is also Indian Gooseberry for toning the skin, and aloe and cucumber for soothing.  These pads aren't huge exfoliators - they are really more in the toner category but have been a reliable staple in my skincare collection for years - I always go back to them.  I would say any skin type would like them.


Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment gets rave reviews.  It's pricey but it'll make your skin look absolutely gorgeous.  And again, because it is lactic acid most skin types can tolerate it.  For my sensitive skin I only use it every other day just to be on the safe side, but boy do I love it.  It has a gorgeous milky consistency that absorbs immediately into the skin to give great glow.  It's a "must try"!

iS Clinical Youth Serum is another pricey one but well worth the cost.   It is extremely anti-aging because not only does it contain fruit (glycolic) acids but also hyaluronic acid and peptides for plumping and retinol and vitamins for revitalizing.  You will see immediate as well as long term results.  I was introduced to this years ago when I got a facial at the spa.  The esthetician there talked me into buying it and it has been a love affair ever since (with the serum, not the esthetician lol).


Herbivore Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask is my latest fave.  It is a 100% natural awesome blue gel of fruit enzymes and salicylic acid that gives you immediately smooth skin and totally unclogs your pores.  It's powerful yet not harsh on the skin, my sensitive skin didn't get red or irritated at all.  I would only leave it on 5 minutes for sensitive skin but 15 - 20 if your skin can handle it.  Using it once a week is usually plenty.  I had first gotten it as a free sample at Sephora and I wasn't even going to try it but I did and immediately went out and bought the full jar.  It is that good!

REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask has been around for years and is always one of the brand's best sellers.  It is full of all kinds of fruit acids and some hydrating ingredients as well.  The ingredients are mostly all natural.   It's pretty darn strong and not recommended for sensitive skin however I use it anyway but only for 5 minutes.  I love it because it really really exfoliates and sometimes that is exactly what I need.  I'm sure all the sales associates at Sephora will back me up on recommending this.  Also using it once a week is often enough.  

Which one of these appeals to you?

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Friday, October 21, 2016

new lippies! haul & review

I always tell myself I don't need another lip product.  But that's not the point is it?  I feel like lip colors, more than any other makeup item, are a game changer.  Or an outfit changer actually.  Changing your lipstick color is like changing your whole outfit.  So it stands to reason you would need an entire lipstick wardrobe to be able to give yourself a whole new look every day (heck! several times a day!)  So anyway, I expanded my wardrobe with 7 new lippies over the last couple weeks.  Some I was able to try on in store but others were sealed or only available on line but I bought them anyway.  Here's the rundown of my haul; the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Actually no ugly lol.

I had been meaning to try the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream for ages and ages.  I might even be the only beauty vixen left who hadn't tried it.  But I finally did and it is cool.  I chose the color Milan because it looked so pretty on one of those YouTube beauty influencers.  Every picture of it everywhere makes it look mauve but in reality it is closer to a bright pink with only mauve undertones. And this comes in tons of different colors so I'm dying to try more. As for the consistency, it is a gentle matte - not dry or harsh in any way - you can barely feel it on your lips. It is a lip cream after all.  It is not like a traditional liquid lipstick in that it doesn't dry down to 100% transfer-proof but it can be considered fairly long-wearing.  For only $5.99 I need at least half a dozen of these beauties!

I ordered two lip products from Colourpop (only available online):  the Ultra Satin Lip and the Ultra Glossy Lip.  They were only $6 each!

The Ultra Satin Lip was actually a bit similar to the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream, but richer and less matte.  In fact it is shiny until it wears on your lip for a while, then eventually turns into a satin finish.  The velvety pigmentation is incredible!  There are 27 colors which you kind of have to guess at because all there is to go by are the website pics, however they seem to be accurate. The consistency is like cream lipstick in a liquid form (uses a doe foot applicator).  It will come off and smudge around if you eat or drink - but who cares - thats what lipstick is like.  I chose the color Brooklyn, a bright Geranium pink.  Fun!

The  Ultra Glossy Lip is a lip gloss.  The color I got (Tight Fit) is to die for but the formula I wasn't keen on.  I was expecting this to look super shiny and plumping when in fact it's on the dry side.  It's the driest lip gloss I have ever come across.  And it doesn't wear for too long either.  Still, it's not a total loss because like I said the color is incredible - a metallic peach with shimmer of pink, silver, and gold.  I just keep it in the easiest to reach pocket in my purse to reapply frequently and liberally.

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks are some of the best on the market I think.  I bought a few of their Satin Finish ones the second they were released but now I want to talk about the Metallic Finish.  I just bought Big Bang, a fuchsia sparkle/glitter.  The color itself is on the sheer side so to get the full metallic effect you need to apply several layers.  Even so, it is fabulous.  I get more compliments wearing this than I do any other lipstick.  It's not creamy but it's not dry.  It's pretty comfortable and wears well; it doesn't get all smeary like some lipsticks do.  The Metallic Finish comes in 14 different shades, and I say live a little - try some sparkle in your life!

Coloured Raine Matte Lip Paint was another one I  had been wanting to try for ages.  Coloured Raine is a cool indie brand, mostly only available on line but not as inexpensive as ColourPop.  At $17 a piece you need to choose your lip shades carefully but the photos are user-friendly and fairly accurate.  I chose Mary, a burgundy matte with an unusual metal sheen. The color is exquisite! It only came out a bit darker on me than in the pic, but it is the formula I was truly disappointed in.  It was streaky and I couldn't for the life of me get a solid finish on it even with a couple layers. It just looked messy and was difficult to apply.  I really hate to bash indie brands however I did only try the one color; maybe the other colors work better.  I would say it wears about as well as an average liquid lipstick.  

A much much better liquid lipstick I bought is the Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick in Driver's Seat (a pinky terracotta).  I'm not the hugest fan of the usual dry liquid lipsticks but when I tried this on in the store it was actually quite nice.  The application was really luscious, smooth, and pigmented.  It never made my lips feel like they were cracking.  It lasted a long time however it is NOT transfer-resistant.  It will come off on your Starbucks coffee cup or if you kiss your lover.  It'll come off but plenty of color also remains.  It wears down to something like a stain.  But hey, no one's perfect.  I think it's worth it just so I don't have to feel discomfort.  

I am in love with my new Kat Von D Limited Edition Studded Kiss Lipstick in Lolita II!  It is the first time her regular lipstick has come out in the famous color of her liquid lipstick Lolita II.  AND the limited edition packaging is totally amped up to a gunmetal silver tube, not the usual black.  How could I resist?  The shade truly is incredible; maybe not super duper flattering on me but definitely divine.  And at first I didn't like the texture of the lipstick.  It is dry.  But strangely not cakey dry.  It is a sheer matte formula that wears for hours.  It somehow molds to my lips in the most flattering way so that it doesn't look dry.  And with a clear gloss on top it is beyond beautiful.  I have come to crave the feel of it on my lips.  Sounds corny?  Maybe, but I highly suggest you run out and buy one of these limited edition lipsticks (they come in 3 colors) before they run out.

What lippies have you bought lately?

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Friday, October 14, 2016

dark rose perfumes

The rose perfumes of today are not your grandmother's rose (though there is a lot to be said for those).  What is popular with many these days is the "dark rose".  I think of a dark rose perfume as a regular rose perfume with notes of patchouli, amber, musk, or even woody notes added.  It takes rose from polite to seductive in 0.5 seconds.  It is sensual and alluring, maybe even sometimes dangerous.  It brings the scent of rose to an excitable level.  I am even excited just to be talking about them!  Here are a few of my favorites; most if not all are considered unisex, often another characteristic of the dark rose.

Juliette Has A Gun Vengeance Extreme is all about the patchouli.  Most perfumes use that as the base note but VE features it as a mid note.  Of course there is the rose too - plenty of rose.  What I love about it is the musky-cologney vibe, especially in the dry down.  But then there's the vanilla.  VE would be a tad too masculine if not for the significant vanilla presence which softens it.  It is perfect for wearing out at night - preferably to a crowded dark venue to see live music.   Juliette Has a Gun also makes a perfume called Lady Vengeance which is in a way similar, but think of Vengeance Extreme as being the edgier, subversive/not so popular sister.  And of course the packaging is wicked cool.

Etat Libre D'Orange Rossy de Palma Eau De Protection is not something people often talk about but I love it.  It is named after the famous Spanish actress Rossy De Palma and her (rose) gardens in Madrid. However this is an outrageous rose:  a spicy, peppery, balsamic rose.  It is thorny, it is sharp, and of course there is the patchouli and incense which define it as a dark rose.  I appreciate that they used incense,  not just the usual patchouli.  ELDO is a quirky brand and their quirky reason for this title of "Eau De Protection" was to make it a "perfume of protection, a refuge on the battle field of love."  So wear it day or night:  on a hot date, or an exhilarating adventure of your own.

Clinique Beyond Rose is loved by many despite its difficulty to obtain.  It's not available in stores here in the US, but hopefully someday it will come.  Until then people are satisfactorily making it a online blind buy or going to Harrod's in London if they can.  There is a dusky-resin quality, sophisticated yet mischievous.  There are notes of pepper and a hint of floral greenness, and a very dominant amber reminiscent of the Middle East.  It is lighter than most dark roses yet it retains the sex-appeal.  It is a year-round rose, meant to be sprayed lavishly, and worn by vixens of any age.

Mancera Roseaoud & Musc is my favorite dark rose.   Certainly it is the sexiest of all the roses I am listing here - I think it is because of the saffron and jasmine.  Oh, and the oud - there is nothing not sexy about oud.  It is heavy and pungent and addictive, and very much alive with all the romance of Arabia.  And this is going to sound weird but when I wear it I feel like I smell like a rich person.  It smells of wealth.  I am transported to a dimly lit lair of wooly Persian rugs, oversized and overstuffed velvet pillows, a low wooden table laid out with platters of Turkish Delight, saffron rice balls, and other finger-food delicacies.  And yes, of course, a giant urn of roses at the very peak of ripeness.

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Rose is being written about all over the place, and with good reason.  In fact I recently blogged about it in my fantastic fall fragrances 2016 so you can get more great details about it there.   An Allure Best Of Beauty Winner, it is bringing the world of dark rose to the general population.  Is that a good thing?  Well, why not?  Nirvana Rose is luscious and delicious and lively.  The geranium and vetiver are what really make this unique.  It feels like "young" dark rose, sexy to it's core.

Montale Roses Musk took a while to grow on me because it was delicate and not as in-your-face as many dark roses are.  Now I really appreciate its restraint and refinement.  There is no grunge-factor here.   I like that here is no patchouli (nice for a change), and the jasmine makes the rose sparkle.  It's awfully pretty for a dark rose, but the light animalic musk base note still defines it as such.  To me this is a daytime scent - great for meeting friends for lunch, shopping and trying on clothes, or even going to work.  My one and only complaint about this beauty is the packaging - so unappealing!  

Have you caught on to the dark rose craze yet?

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Thursday, October 6, 2016

splurge! October 2016

If you are in the mood for something heavenly, this post is for you. Whether you actually plunk down the money for one of these beauties or just admire from afar they are thoroughly enjoyable.  I regularly make the rounds at Neiman's, Bloomies, Saks, and even Barney's just to drool.  I always come away excited to share what I have seen with you.  And I may be biased but I think all my "splurge!" posts are a lot of fun (just type splurge in the "search this blog" bar - there are plenty to read!).   See what you think of these.....

Laura Mercier Fresh Fig Wash is a shower gel to die for.  Not only is it creamy and hydrating but the scent is divine.  It's definitely very figgy but on the sweet (not overly sweet) gourmand side, not the usual dry dusky fig.  That said there is still the luscious green note that is common to all figs.  It's a bit decadent to use as a shave cream but if you are in the mood for it, it does give a smooth soft shave.  It gets a 5 out of 5 star rating on the Sephora website which is rare.  I say pick it up now - the scent is perfect for Fall!

$40 for 8 oz

Tom Ford Eyeshadow quads are ridiculously expensive, but also ridiculously gorgeous.  Definitely worthy of the occasional splurge. The smooth blendable texture and unique colors makes them worth it. They are known for their sparkly eyeshadows which you get one or two pans of in most of the quads.  Disco Dust is their most popular quad, and even though I hate to be too trendy, I just had to have it because the glitter it contains is sublime.  Disco Dust has one glitter, one metallic, one satin, and one matte color that go with virtually any skin tone or outfit.


Cire Trudon candles are a classic.  They start at $95 and can get as high as $550 for the gold ones, but at least they are quite large in size.  What is super cool about this brand is that it has been around since 1643 as a candle supplier to Louis XIV, and to this day they are all about luxury.  Also nice is that their vegetable wax is smoke-free.  All its different fragrances are decadent and unique.  A couple of my favorites are:  Balmoral a lush damp earthy green, and Byron a perfect Fall/Winter cozy woodsy spicy scent.  Simply divine! 

$95 for 9.5 oz

Hermes Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate Perfumed Bath & Shower Gel is another fabulous body wash.  It is so fabulous I just had to mention it even though I already listed a shower gel.  Of course there are other fragrances in the Hermes shower gel line but the rhubarbe is delightfully individual, complex, and refreshing.  It is fruity but not in an overpowering way.  It is not sweet like a berry, it is not sharp like a citrus.  It is pretty - a pretty fruit.  The frothy gel is clear but it comes in a vibrant red plastic bottle that is irresistible.  In fact, I would say it smells bright red like the packaging.

$43 for 6.5 oz

By Killian Playing With The Devil
is a sexy fruity musky perfume.  At least they say it is fruity but to me the fruit isn't prominent - it is just enough to lighten up all the animalic notes going on.  I would describe it as sometimes even borderlining on oriental, but a light one - nothing as intense as say Opium.  It is sophisticated yet playful.  It is Eve tempting Adam with the forbidden fruit.  And above all, it is a crowd pleaser; I can't imagine many people not liking this one.  Top notes include:  blood orange, white peach, lychee.  Mid notes include Jasmine Sambac (dirty!).  Base notes include:  Tonka Bean, cedar, sandalwood, patchouli.

$260 for 1.7 oz

Oribe Apres Beach Wave And Shine Hairspray is terrific if you use it under the right circumstances.  The optimal circumstances are for medium to thick hair, hair with at least a bit of natural wave, and always to be used sparingly.  More is not more, otherwise you will end up a grease ball.   Despite all that it can be so so lovely, though it is not even similar the the famous Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray (also totally splurge-worthy).  The results are soft and subtle; not a ton of hold.  On me it smooths down frizzies while emphasizing my natural waves in an edgy-piecey way.  Day two of wearing it, after the silkiness has absorbed,  I get a bit of volume and texture.  Using it is like wearing my favorite perfume - it smells that amazing!  It's pretty damn cool - not like anything I have ever tried before.  

$39 for 8.5 oz

What do you value as splurge-worthy?

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews