“natural”

Quickie Responses to Recent Wall Posts

No, I didn’t drop off the face of the planet. I may have perhaps loosened my grip on it for a bit, but I have not been sucked out to space by a giant black hole, unless by “black hole” we mean my research project, in which case that is exactly what *did* happen, how did you know? Still trying to claw my way back to regular blogging.

In the meanwhiles, two quick responses to recent wall posts.

A Biologist asked if we could discuss Kate Middleton’s wedding makeup, and the answer is OF COURSE WE CAN! I didn’t post about it earlier because (as is so typical for me) I had Big Plans to do a post with a “what she looked like” picture compared with a “what I think she should have looked like” picture via Photoshop. Have I done that? No I have not.

Here is my take on the whole business. There is no question that Kate generally knows her way around a makeup bag. Her eyeliner wasn’t crooked, her lips weren’t misshapen — all of that is fine. My problem with it all was not her technique, but her choices, and what those choices tell us about how she wants the world to see her.

Now, you should know that before the official engagement photo was taken, a makeup artist had done her makeup, and she hated it and took it off and insisted on doing her own. So there is already a history here of wanting to be controlling about this. Which I get.

However.

One of the things that makeup does for us is allow us to emphasize the features and characteristics associated with qualities we want to portray ourselves as having. Ruby-red lips = sexy. Smoky eyes = mysterious. Etc. So when you are choosing makeup for a public appearance, you should think about what you want to broadcast about yourself. This is especially true when the public appearance is your wedding and it is being broadcast around the world and BILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE WATCHING.

So what were Kate’s choices? Ones that made her look old, hard, pinched, and … I have to say — controlling. What makes me say that?
— eyes tightly lined with black, all the way around
— brows that are too heavy and strong close to her nose, which makes her look like she’s perpetually wanting to squinch them up in annoyance
— a too-heavy hand with blush (and again, I don’t think this is a technique issue, I think it’s a choice issue)
— a sad lack of fresh, youthful colors and the dewiness of youth. That makeup could have been the makeup of a 50-year-old, not a 29-year-old. Everything is too taut, too tense, too full of harsh lines and contrast.

What do I wish she’d done instead? That’s what I want to show you via a Photoshopped picture.

Then there’s the other issue — I can’t believe the Queen let her get away with doing her own makeup. If you are marrying the future King of England, you have a public image to consider, and it is your obligation to uphold the good image the royal family is trying to present of itself by being a team player. Does this mean losing some corners of personal freedom? Yep. For God’s sake, they can hire the best makeup artists in Britain — I can’t believe that any of them would have made her look clownish. A good makeup artist can work with you to help you get the look you want in a better version than the one you could have produced yourself. You can’t convince me that Kate was better off — in actual execution, in concept, or in significance — doing her own makeup than by having it done for her.

And now for something completely different.

Ab_grp asks the very pertinent and timely question: “[N]ow that summer is just around the corner I was wondering if you have any tips for maintaining a polished look without appearing too made up. For example, today I feel that I am wearing too much eye makeup with my tank top and capris. Still, I don’t want to look as, um, natural as I do when I first roll out of bed. Is there a post on this that you could direct me to, or do you have any thoughts on finding that balance? Thanks!”

Ab_grp, are you suggesting that we don’t all roll out of bed, toss our hair back, and saunter to the bathroom looking like the women in Dior ads? Perish the thought. ;)

I think there are two ways to go about this:

1. Use less product.
2. Look like you use less product.

In the end the goal is the same, but most of us will probably end up reaching it via option #2.

You will want to have, in your bag of tricks, a “no-makeup makeup” look. This is not actually “no makeup” — it’s the set of products you use to make people think you are wearing no makeup. In summertime, this is a good base look for everyday, and if you are feeling like being a little bold it is easy to take one feature out of this look and jazz it up just a bit for something that is a little more interesting but that still doesn’t look like a full face of makeup.

What will you need for a “no-makeup makeup” look?

1. Primer of your choice. If you are going to try to convince people you are not wearing much makeup, you will want the canvas to be in as good a condition as possible.
2. A sheer-to-medium foundation or tinted moisturizer in something that is as close to your actual skin tone as possible.
3. A colorless, translucent, or lightly tinted powder for getting rid of shine. If your skin is very good, and/or if you like mineral powder foundation, and if your primer is good enough, you may be able to forgo a cream or liquid foundation or TM in favor of just primer and powder.
4. A concealer that can be used on dark circles, blemishes, and eyelids.
5. An eyeshadow in the neutral brown family, something light that covers any remaining discoloration but that is close enough to your skintone that it doesn’t look like eyeshadow. My go-to shade has been ULTA Cocoa, but I think they stopped making it years ago. A light taupe for cool tones and a light neutral-to-warm brown for warm tones works well.
6. A brown eye pencil (brown always looks less made-up than black). Try reducing (or eliminating entirely) any eyeliner on the lower lid.
7. Black or brown mascara, applied lightly.
8. Clear brow gel. If you feel like adding color to your brows makes you look too “done up,” skip that part, but do groom them with clear mascara.
9. A peach-toned blush. Creams are nice for summer if your skin isn’t too oily, and they often look less like makeup than powder blushes. Peach almost always looks less made-up than pink.
10. Clear or tinted lip gloss or balm.

From this basic summer set-up, you can always choose to bump up one feature or another. Maybe you want a slightly more bold eye, so you dust a little blue or violet shadow along the upper lash line. Or you want a bolder lip, so you use a lipstick (applied gently and concentrated more on the center of the lips than the edges), with a balm or gloss on top to soften it. Or you play up the cheek with a little bit of bolder color (or by dabbing some of your lipstick on the apple of your cheek and blending, which is one of my favorite things to do for summer because it’s subtle).

What you really want is something that is clean, well-groomed, and shine-free. If you have really good skin, you can probably do this by actually using less product. Most of us, unfortunately, have to fake using less product by just making different choices.

Other tips and tricks, or other comments about the Royal Makeup? Please share them in the comments!

Kate Middleton photo via People; The Earth via http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/5679642883/

Review: Run Don’t Walk to Sephora for Tarte’s “Maureen’s Favorites” Set

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a pretty serious crush on Tarte. Like, the blushing and stammering kind. The kind where I don’t want to be caught looking but can’t stop myself. The kind where I write “Voxy + Tarte 4Ever” in little hearts all over my notebook paper.

(I totally don’t do that.)

As is the nature of crushes, I find myself wanting to talk compulsively about the wonderfulness and magicalness of the object of my affections. Now, I am the first to admit that there have been some Tarte products I have not been too crazy about in the past, and their packaging still leaves me baffled on occasion (purple snakeskin condom mascara). And I am not too wild about their lip products for the most part. But nobody’s perfect! I mean, are you going to hold it against Dustin Hoffman that he once agreed to star in Ishtar?

Okay, yes, I am too, I admit it. Bad example.

Anyhoo, this new set, exclusive to Sephora and for Beauty Insiders only — and if you aren’t one already, for heaven’s sake join — is so perfect for me that I refer to it as Vox in a Box. (Well, it’s actually Vox in a Bag, but that doesn’t sound as good.) It’s called “Maureen’s Favorites” because the products are apparently the picks of Tarte’s founder Maureen Kelly. I first saw it online, but for once had the good sense to step away from the computer and check it out in person at a Sephora store before buying. And it is fabulous.

This package of delightfulness contains the following:

• Full size Lights, Camera, Lashes! mascara (the purple snakeskin condom thing)

• Full size Natural Lip Crème Pencil in shade Peaceful (limited edition)

• Slightly-smaller-than-regular-size Lock & Roll Creaseless Eye Shadow Duo in shade Deep Amethyst (new, and also limited edition AFAIK)

• Deluxe sample size Natural Cheek Stain in shade Exclusive (limited edition)

• Deluxe sample size Mineral Powder Bronzer in shade Park Ave Princess

• a purple bag for putting things in, with a purple flower pin which they say you may wear out in public but about which I am HIGHLY DUBIOUS

So, lookit. The mascara by itself costs $19. The lip pencil by itself costs $24. So at $39, this kit is less than the combined cost of the two full-sized products, and you get the others basically for free!

I reviewed the Lights, Camera, Lashes! mascara previously, and I still like the product very much, although I have not warmed up to the … er, wrapper … at all. I also reviewed the Natural Lip Crème Pencil previously, and although I was disappointed by its lack of staying power, that bothers me much less in a product that’s nearly nude to start out with. In the swatches at the end of this post you’ll see that on my skin it looks like quite a bold terracotta color, but lips are darker than skin, so on my lips it is a just slightly tawny nude.

The Lock & Roll Creaseless Eye Shadow Duo is a clever product that has a cream shadow on one end and a matching powder shadow on the other end (which comes out in a ROLLERBALL, which you know contributes to my giddy excitement). You put the cream shadow on first, then set it with the powder, and it’s supposed to last for 12 hours. Most of the permanent Lock & Roll shades are quite light, so you could use them on the whole eye. This dark amethyst is a gorgeous deep warm purple, so using it over the whole lid is out of the question, but near the lashline this will be a great accent color. The size of the product in the kit is 0.12 oz of cream shadow and 0.04 oz of loose shadow; the full-size version is only a tiny bit larger — 0.14 cream and 0.05 loose — and retails for $17.

If you’ve missed my previous posts on Tarte’s cheek stains, these are some of my favorite products on the planet. Most of the ones I’d previously accumulated (True Love, Berrylicious, Tickled, Blushing Bride) were red or rose-colored, with Blissful (apricot-peachy-red) and Tipsy (a less complicated apricot) being the exceptions. This new “Exclusive” shade is a perfect slightly brown neutral. For a no-makeup look, I can’t really think of anything better. I’ve only ever seen the Tarte cheek stains in two sizes: the full-size (1 oz) version, which retails for $30, and these smaller sizes (0.24 oz), which you can only get as parts of samplers or other combination packs. I have sample sizes of Blushing Bride, True Love, and Tipsy, and haven’t even made a dent in them, so I think this will last anyone a long time.

The last product in the lot is the Park Ave Princess Mineral Powder Bronzer. Confession: As a fair-skinned, slightly cool-toned girl, I am scared of bronzers. I have not found a one that has not made me look either dirty, orange, or both. So I looked up some reviews of this product before purchasing and found several from other fair-skinned women who said this was the only bronzer they’d ever been able to wear. So, we’ll give it a go. This is the lighter of the two shades of Mineral Powder Bronzer Tarte offers; on skin it does swatch out a pretty pure bronzy-gold color and doesn’t look orange.

Oh, yeah, and there’s a bag. With a purple flower pin. (I hate these bags that come with kits. Almost all the time they’re useless — and in fact, the last time I bought a Tarte combination set, it came with a bag that was so heinously ugly I kept it just so I could use it to scare off thieves, vandals, and small children. Dear cosmetics companies: Please stop making cheap bags that don’t hold enough product to make it worthwhile; it’s wasteful and adds no value to the package.)

Pics and swatches!

Left: Cheek Stain in “Exclusive”

Right: Natural Lip Crème Pencil in “Peaceful,” which goes on my lips as an almost invisible tinge of warmth

Lock & Roll Creaseless Eye Shadow Duo in Dark Amethyst

(left: cream shadow; right: powder shadow)

(still trying to figure out why skin on my wrist is differently toned in these photos than the skin on my arm; must keep working on photography skillz)

Bag, for those of you who like these things.

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Tarte “Maureen’s Favorites” Exclusive Value Set: $39, exclusive to Sephora

Provenance: Purchased, gleefully.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent! Fantastic!! Amazing!!!

Purchase again? I’d definitely buy individual components again, but I doubt I’ll be running out anytime soon (except for the mascara, of course, which I would repurchase).

(Have you used this set? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: Caudalie Vinoperfect Complexion Correcting Radiance Serum

caudalie_1Mmmm, grapes.

Since it’s Food Week in America, I might as well stick with the theme and review something from Caudalie, a French spa/skincare line that touts the power of grapes, which apparently are far more kick-ass than I ever knew. Kind of makes me wish I didn’t secretly throw out the grapes that my mother put in my lunchbox when I was a kid, or try to trade them for those little peanut-butter-cheese-cracker thingies (which, sadly, have not been shown to have any skincare value whatsoever).

Now that I am Older and Wiser, however, and no longer have the skin of a ten-year-old, I’m taking a fresh look at the restorative power of grapes. In the last several years there’s been oodles of research showing that many berries, including the humble grape, are potent sources of antioxidants, and that a lot of these antioxidants are concentrated in the skin of the berry. Fortunately, no need to try the Lucy Ricardo grape-stomping foot treatment to reap the benefits of this discovery — Caudalie has made the grape their signature ingredient, and almost all of their products include some portion of the grape: skin, seeds, pulp, or vine. Luxe skincare, no stomping required.

For some reason, I stayed away from the Caudalie line for a long time. I really don’t know why this is, except that the harder the sell is on a particular ingredient, the more I tend to resist. I am stupidly stubborn about some things; as I probably have mentioned before, I am a Sagittarius, and therefore I have four feet to dig into the ground in resistance, not just two. Anyway, that’s probably been one of my stupider decisions, from which I hope you can benefit.

During the recent Caudalie F&F sale (and with some other financial incentives that lowered the price considerably), I picked up the Caudalie Vinoperfect Complexion Correcting Radiance Serum. If you order from the Caudalie website, you also get to choose one of five free multi-product sample kits at checkout, all of which are very nice, so if you can find a way to order during a sale and take advantage of free shipping, etc., the what-you-get to what-you-spend ratio improves enough to make it a reasonable, though still spendy, splurge.

I was interested in this product because this fall, for the first time, I noticed some uneven pigmentation in my skin, which I suspect is due to a summer in which I did a lot of driving and probably didn’t have adequate UV protection on for the car. (I think this because the uneven pigmentation is on both the left side of my face and my left arm, both of which get more sun while driving than the right side.) I also had a place near my hairline in which some old acne discolorations had never really faded away, and I thought this serum might help with both — which, I am pleased to report, it has.

This serum comes with a squeezie eyedropper applicator, so you can drop the product onto your fingers one drop at a time, without ever needing to stick your hand in the jar. This is great, and helps keep the product free of skin oils and bacteria, so long as you don’t actually touch your finger with the dropper tip while you’re dispensing the product. I use it twice a day, as directed, after cleansing and toning and before applying other products. When applied to skin that is still slightly damp with toner, I only need about two drops to cover my whole face. So it’s not a cheap product, but at the rate I’m going, it will probably last four or five months, even with twice-daily application.

The product is thin and goes on smoothly, but as it soaks in it leaves skin with a level of moisture I usually expect from a much thicker product. It has a fragrance that I had some trouble identifying at first, but now I think it smells like grapefruit. I do perceive both a more even and radiant skin tone overall and a definite reduction in uneven pigmentation. My old acne discolorations are much reduced after about 6 weeks of use, and my new freckles are starting to disappear; if you are interested in products to reduce discoloration but don’t want to use hydroquinone, this would be worth checking out. Other moisturizers and makeup go over it easily, although you may find that you want a lighter follow-up moisturizer or night cream when you use this.

I haven’t yet dug into the sample kit I received (I chose the Vinexpert Anti-Aging Firming sample set, which includes generously sized samples of the Vinexpert Anti-Aging Eye and Lip Serum, Radiance Day Fluid, Night Infusion Cream, and Firming Serum), but now I’m kind of anxious to do so, since I’m so happy with the Vinoperfect Complexion Correcting Radiance Serum.

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Caudalie Vinoperfect Complexion Correcting Radiance Serum: $79

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Oof. At full-price, this is expensive, but it lasts. I’ll give it a “fair.” However, if you can get it on sale or find it through another retailer for less, and especially if it comes with other Caudalie products for sampling, that can go up to “good.”

Purchase again? Probably, but I’ll really be trying to make my current bottle last until the next sale.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Review: Ole Henriksen Pure Perfection Night Cream

ole henriksen pure perfection<– That’s supposed to be orange. I don’t know why it looks so red. Is it me? (Huh, and on the Ole Henriksen site it looks brown. Maybe my eyes are broken.)

Anyway, Ole Henriksen Pure Perfection Night Cream may not exactly be perfection — that is, after all, an awfully high bar to set — but it’s definitely pretty darned good. It has a ton of good-for-you ingredients in it: antioxidants (vitamin C and beta carotene), AHAs (glycolic and lactic acids), primrose oil, and other good stuff. It’s also paraben-, phthalate-, sulfate-, and fragrance-free, and the whole Ole Henriksen line is all about the “natural,” however you want to define that.

This cream is fairly emollient, so I don’t know how it would be for those with oilier skin (who in general will probably do better with lotions rather than creams anyway). It’s the weight, texture, and consistency of vanilla frosting — the kind that you get in the can, the kind that makes perfect little curly points on top of a frosted cake, the kind that you eat with a spoon straight out of the container at two in the morning. It spreads easily (the cream, I mean; I can’t stop thinking about the frosting) and you don’t need much to cover the whole face. Because it has silicone in it (OK, now I’m off the frosting), it leaves a smooth, silky finish. It’s a bit too heavy for me to use in the summer, but now that we’re getting into chilly weather, it’s about time for this to make it back into my rotation, probably on an every-other-night basis. It lends a lovely glow to the skin and the AHAs definitely make my skin smoother. I do find that my pores get a bit congested if I use this every night, which is why I alternate it with other things. I also don’t use it on the night before or the night after another AHA treatment (like the MD Skincare daily peel). Because of this, and because you don’t really need very much, my jar has lasted quite awhile, and doesn’t seem to have diminished in effectiveness at all. I’ve had it about a year now, I think, and I’m just starting to get to the end of it.

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Ole Henriksen Pure Perfection Night Cream: $48

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good

Purchase again? Yes

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Review: Alba Botanica Hibiscus Facial Toner

alba tonerI started using toners when I was a teenager, except back then they were called astringents and their whole point seemed to be to prevent you from breaking out by stripping every bit of oil from your face and making your skin feel like it was being stretched on a canvas. And then you broke out anyway. Typical.

Today’s toners are much more scientifically advanced in general, but it’s still important to look at the ingredient list to make sure that you aren’t getting one of those skin-tightening astringents, which are still out there. There are plenty of good toners available at drugstore prices, and there are also some outrageously overpriced toners from high-end lines.

Do you actually need a toner? Not necessarily. Plenty of people get by without one, and their noses don’t seem to be falling off or anything. I like toners a lot; they are a transition product for me between cleansing and moisturizing. They feel good on the skin (or at least they should), and they prepare the skin to receive other products.

A good toner, applied post-cleansing, will do the following things:

• Remove any lingering traces of makeup that your cleanser didn’t quite get off (with the possible exception of eye makeup, which can be tricky)

• Remove any lingering traces of your cleanser that remain on your skin

• Remove any traces of chemicals or minerals that might have been in the water you wash with

• Help restore the pH balance of your skin, which may have been disrupted by your cleanser

• Deliver antioxidants, water-binding agents, and other skin-friendly ingredients

The most important thing you need to look out for in a toner is that it should be ALCOHOL FREE. Even if you have oily skin, you do not need alcohol in a toner. Read the ingredient list carefully. If you want to use a toner to address acne or oily skin problems, look for a BHA toner without alcohol.

Alba Botanica Hibiscus Toner has been a long-time favorite of mine. It is alcohol-free, paraben-free, and hypo-allergenic. It does have fragrance: hibiscus and guava. To my nose the fragrance is not strong. It contains aloe vera and cucumber extract as anti-inflammatories and some other flower extracts and oils (including witch hazel, to witch [get it?] some people are sensitive).

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Alba Botanica Hibiscus Toner: about $13

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (drugstore: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good

Purchase again? Yes

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Review: Korres Lip (and Body) Butters

korres pomegranate lip butterI know it seems like even though this blog is only a few weeks old, it’s already been kind of lippy. That’s actually unusual, because up until now I haven’t been that much of a lip fanatic. (You would not believe how much having this blog has changed my skincare and makeup habits. Of course I have to wear lipstick! I have a responsibility! It is my sacred duty!)

Here’s the review in a nutshell: run-don’t-walk to your nearest Sephora or ULTA and pick up the amazingly fantastic Korres lip butter. “Full price” for this is only $9, so I’m marking it a steal even though it feels like a splurge.

A full-size container of the Pomegranate Lip Butter came with the Sephora sampler pack I mentioned previously (which is made of win, by the way; more reviews to follow but I have three rave products already, of which this is one!).

But considering that November is All Largely Somewhat About Skincare, I figure I can get this in under “skincare” just as easily as under “makeup,” because it is without a doubt the most fabulous-feeling lip product I have ever had the pleasure to apply, and that includes hot fudge.

Some other time I’ll get into my rant about lip balms, waxes, and other supposed dry-lip solutions. (Do you know what’s in Carmex? Yeeesh.) So you can safely assume I didn’t have high hopes for this product. As has happened several times recently (DuWop Circle Block, Almay Smart Shade foundation), I am pleased to be wrong, wrong, wrong. The lip-feel of this product is nothing short of extraordinary.

Not only that, but the color is fantastic: a sheer translucent full-bodied pink with a hint of melon. Gor. Geous. This is a product with some fragrance, but I don’t find it obtrusive: it’s a delicious fruity scent.

I do, of course, wish it had more staying power. But it’s easy to reapply and feels so good that frankly you might want to apply every hour just for the sybaritic pleasure of it.

There are several other shades available, besides the scrumptious Pomegranate: Guava, for those of you who prefer an untinted lip butter, and tinted butters in the following shades: Quince, Wild Rose, Jasmine, Plum, and Mango. Bonus: you can also use them on your cheeks if you’re out of blush. (OK, I sometimes do that anyway, but these are specifically approved for that.)

korres_body_3

To up the “skincare” legitimacy of this entry, I’ll also mention that I recently tested a sample of the Korres Guava Body Butter, which I liked but which I didn’t feel like plunking down $29 for. (I mean, really.) They have a sampler/gift kit that has three smaller-but-still-reasonably-sized tubes in it (Guava, Quince, and Fig), which was, I think, $24.50? Something like that. Anyway, still too expensive. But as it happened, my next stop on the way home was TJMaxx, and lo and behold, what did I discover in TJMaxx but the exact same body butter 3-pack for the low low price of $6.99. Well, now, that’s a different story. I may review these later as part of a hand/body cream round-up.

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Korres Lip Butter: $9

Provenance: Purchased (part of Sephora sampler pack)

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent

Purchase again? You bet your sweet lips I will.

(Have you used these products? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Want ’em? Let us know in the comments!)

Review: Decleor Aromessence Angelique Night Balm

decleor angeliqueTo me, Decléor is a brand that has always communicated luxury and mystique. This is mostly because I think their packaging is incredibly alluring (take a look at this, and this) — who knows what miraculous elixirs and potions might be housed within those seductive and mysterious bottles, bottles that whisper to be held and caressed and gently opened to reveal the exotic unguents within? Unfortunately, they’ve been launching more and more products in boring, ordinary squeeze tubes rather than little glass ampules, and as hard as I try I just can’t seem to get up the urge to caress a plastic squeeze bottle.

Also, a disturbing number of their products seem to be yellow. Case in point: Decleor Aromessence Angelique Night Balm.

Decléor was one of the first major lines to incorporate aromatherapy and essential oils in their skincare products (35 years ago, believe it or not; how time flies). The Angelique products have essential oil of angelica in them; this line is designed for dry skin. Most of the Aromessence products also come in a Ylang-Ylang version for oily skin and a Neroli (yum) version for normal skin.

One thing I like about this product is the simple list of ingredients, which reads merely:

Essential Oils (Rosemary, Geranium, Chamomile, Angelica), Plant Oils (Borage, Avocado, Red Palm), Essential Waxes (Narcissus, Rose, Cassia).

I bought this one winter when I was having a lot of dry, flaky undereye skin and I wanted something really emollient. The saleswoman at Sephora gave me samples of several products, and this was the best of what I tried at that time, even though it’s not specifically a product for the eyes. It is, indeed, extremely emollient. In fact, it is so emollient (it is, after all, oils and waxes) that it might be too much for some people. I haven’t tried the oily- or normal-skin versions; it might seem paradoxical to put a balm of waxes and essential oils on oily skin, but I have recently come around to thinking that that might actually work in some cases.

In the manner of saleswomen, this one told me that this product would “help my dry skin learn to heal itself.” Uh… maybe my skin didn’t study enough, or needed tutoring or something. I didn’t notice any lasting change in my skin from continual use. I still use it as an undereye balm in winter (sometimes at night), and during the driest and coldest days of winter I use it as a face balm also.

To use this as an undereye balm, apply a small (tiny, minuscule, almost-invisible) amount with your ring finger. To use it as a balm for the whole face, take an only-slightly-less-tiny amount and rub it between your hands to warm it. Pat gently and lightly (but thoroughly) over the face. I’m not a fan of rubbing or pressing this product in; the patting works just fine for me. The warmth of your skin helps distribute the product evenly over your face.

If you want to really enjoy your Decléor products, I highly recommend that you do not look at the price tag, because this is one expensive line. On the other hand, the products last forever, so you’ll probably only ever need to buy one.

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Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): fair

Purchase again? No (it’s a nice product, but I can’t imagine ever running out or needing to purchase another one)

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Review: Ole Henriksen Roll-On Blemish Attack

ole_hI’m a big fan of some other Ole Henriksen products, so I thought I’d give this one a try. Although I’ve had almost no breakouts since I bought my Clarisonic (about which you will definitely be hearing more in future posts), from time to time I go to sleep without washing my face stress gets the better of me and I end up with a blemish.

One of the things I found appealing about this was that it was a roll-on, which I thought was fabulous. Those of you who have used benzoyl peroxide products for acne control probably (if you are at all like me) have some tell-tale spots on pillowcases, pajamas, or towels where the benzoyl peroxide has bleached them. (OK, maybe I’m the only one who’s that klutzy.) But a roll-on! I thought, with, frankly, glee. Just roll that baby right over the pimple — no benzoyl peroxide ever getting on my hands, and therefore no benzoyl peroxide ever getting on anything else. All right, I would still have to take off my nice pillowcases to sleep with the stuff on, but hands-free application was a big step forward as far as I was concerned.

Unfortunately, the product directions tell you to use the rollerball to apply the product to your finger, and then use your finger to apply it to the blemish.

Drat.

(What’s the point of the roll-on, then? Really, what’s the point?)

The product does do a reasonable job with helping to kill bacteria and shrink pimples; the benzoyl peroxide (5%) is joined by salicylic acid, kaolin, and zinc, so there’s a nice handful of helpful ingredients in there. However, this one for me was only OK, and not worth a repurchase, especially since it’s very unlikely I’d get through the whole bottle before the expiration date. I also think it’s strange that it’s not in opaque packaging, since benzoyl peroxide loses efficacy when exposed to light, and the clear glass roll-on container isn’t helping there. I suppose you could just vow to keep the thing in a drawer, but it just seems like there might have been a better packaging decision that could have been made there.

It has Sephora’s “natural” seal, though given the lack of regulation of the term “natural” (which is why it appears in quotes in categories/tags on this blog), that may or may not be saying much.

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Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): fair

Purchase again? No