Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bohemia Eye Kaleidoscope from Le Métier de Beauté: May VIP Subscription

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
The elusive Le Métier de Beauté kaleidoscope. You always hope for one, and 10 months into this year's VIP subscription program, it finally arrived.  Better late than never, I say.
Created specifically for the VIP program, Bohemia features 4 new exclusive shadows.  Zari, a shimmery platinum blonde with great pigmentation:
Sway, a soft muted plum with a matte finish that can also be worn as a blush. This was the least pigmented of the four but can be built up in intensity:
Gitan, a shimmery soft copper that applies like butter:
Chambray, a matte peacock blue:
As always, LMdB shadows can be layered for a multidimensional effect, and application suggestions were thoughtfully included on the enclosed card.

Here are two looks I've done since receiving Bohemia on Monday.  I'm quite happy to have another eye kaleidoscope to add to my collection and that the past 4 months of the VIP program have brought quality items I know I will continue to use.
The current year's plan runs through July and I do not plan on resubscribing for a 4th year as I'm on product overload, but the VIP subscription program seems to be back on a good track!
Wearing Sway as a blush as well

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hopping on the Low pH Bandwagon: Cleansers Currently in my Rotation

Disclaimer:  I purchased these.
I've seen a fair amount of discussion online regarding the pH level of facial cleansers and how low pH is better for maintaining your skin's acid mantle/moisture barrier.  Turns out cleansers that leave your skin squeeky clean may not be the best thing after all, which seems counter intuitive to this lifelong oily skinned person. Stripping skin of oil and damaging the moisture barrier can lead to more breakouts as the skin is not as resistant to acne causing bacteria, and a rebound oil producing effect by skin trying to get things back into balance.  Now, that's a simplistic introduction and if you'd like a much more comprehensive look at this issue, I recommend this post for a balanced view of the whole low pH cleanser debate.
I've been trying to select cleansers that fall below a pH range of 7.0.  It's not always easy to tell, considering pH is rarely listed in product descriptions and I don't use pH strips to test products. I've been relying on lists I've found online (here's one) or looking for key words such as "gentle" or "protects skin's moisture levels", and looking at ingredient lists.  Also, non-sudsing or low-sudsing cleansers typically have low pH levels, and some cream cleansers can make a good alternative to foaming cleansers as a second cleanser after using a cleansing oil to remove makeup. 
That's how I've been using Estee Lauder's Re-Nutriv Hydrating Creme Cleanser ($60), which I received as part of a GWP back in March.  The Re-Nutriv line is prohibitively expensive (IMO), but I was happy to try it out to see if expensive=better (it doesn't).  Not that this isn't good stuff (it is), but good stuff can be found at much lower price points. I was pleasantly surprised at how the Hydrating Creme Cleanser performed, however, as it did a good job of cleaning my skin as a 1st cleanser in the morning or as a 2nd cleanser in the evenings. 
My skin felt soft and clean and I had no issues with pores clogging or breakouts.  I typically did not use a clarifying or pH adjusting toner afterwards, although I did use one to see if there was any remaining makeup or dirt residue, and there wasn't.  There is a distinct floral fragrance, and while not overwhelming, it's there.  Formal description:
A rich, luxurious creme cleanser that cushions and conditions skin while gently and effectively sweeping away impurities. Three key emollients help restore skin's moisture barrier, helping skin retain natural lipids. Ensures your skin's comfort from the very first step of your skincare routine. This is the pampering cleanser your skin has been looking for.
The Hydrating Creme Cleanser does have lots of interesting ingredients, which helps to support the $60 price.  I do wonder how much of the benefits you will experience considering the short amount of time on your face before it's rinsed off.  This cleanser is marketed as preparing your skin for the rest of the Re-Nutrive products though, so perhaps there is an additive effect:
  • Olive Fruit Oil:  Contains essential fatty acids, including oleic, palmitic, and linoleic acids. It Phenolic compounds also provide antioxidant benefit. 
  • Glycerin: Humectant and moisturizer. 
  • Safflower Seed Oil: contains about 78% of linoleic acid, which is a principal fatty acid which can not be generated by the body.  Helps skin retain moisture.
  • Linoleic Acid: anti-inflammatory,  acne reduction, moisture retention.
  • Green Tea Leaf Extract: anti-oxidant, helps stimulate microcirculation.
  • Barley Extract:  Contains vitamin C, antioxidants, and minerals and helps improve elasticity of skin.
  • Squalane: an antioxidant, prevents UV damage and the formation of age spots, promotes cell growth and is an antibacterial.
  • Sage Leaf Powder:  Antioxidant and antibacterial.
  • Wheat Germ Extract:  Helps support collagen production.
Andalou naturals' Citrus Kombucha Cleansing Gel ($13) is probably my favorite of the 4 cleansers, as it did a good job as a 2nd cleanser and I really enjoy the refreshing citrus scent. I purchased this deluxe sample size as part of the Clarifying Kit and will repurchase the full size when I run out. Here is how it's described:
Fruit Stem Cell Complex and citrus Kombucha, rich in skin friendly probiotics and aminos, replenishes beneficial microflora. Clarifying willow bark and aloe vera gently foam to whisk away excess oil and dull surface cells, maintaining a healthy moisture barrier for clean, clear skin. Gentle and non-drying, for a healthy complexion.

Not surprisingly, Paula's Choice gave this only 1 star, but she and I frequently disagree on what works for me. Key ingredients are:
  • Willow Bark: Astringent, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties soothe skin, neutralize bacteria, and promote cell regeneration.
  • Lemon Juice: Gently clarifies by loosening surface oil and impurities.
  • Sugar Cane: A natural source of glycolic acid, gently exfoliates.
  • Kombucha: Active enzymes; improves immunity, neutralizing germs and bacteria.
  • Aloe Vera: Soothes, oxygenates, and hydrates, advances dermal absorption of beneficial vitamins and nutrients.
Other Ingredients:
Aloe barbadensis juice*, decyl glucoside, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, vegetable glycerin, sodium PCA, saccharum officinarum (sugar cane) and citrus medica limonum (lemon) juices*, saccharomyces xylinum (kombucha) black tea ferment, fruit stem cells (malus domestica, solar vitis) and bioactive 8 berry complex*, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C), vitis vinifera (grape seed) polyphenols, lippia citriodora (verbena) extract, salix alba (willow bark) extract*, citric acid, tocopherol (vitamin E), aspalathus linearis (rooibos) extract*†, allantoin, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, cymbopogon flexuosus (lemongrass) oil, citrus aurantifolia (lime) oil*
*Certified Organic
†Fair Trade
Hada Labo's Tokyo Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($12) is one of the few low pH (5.5) Asian-brand cleansers that is easily accessible at mass retailers (I purchased mine during an Ulta BOGO sale).  Described as:
Hada Labo Tokyo Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser is a hydrating, gentle foaming, creamy cleanser which purifies skin while protecting and locking in skin's essential moisture, leaving it clean, refreshed, silky smooth and healthy looking. Fragrance Free, Paraben Free, Soap Free, Alcohol Free, Dye Free.
I consider this a work horse cleanser:  it gets the job done, basic with no frills or thrills.  I'm on my second bottle now and have no complaints, but neither am I particularly excited.  
The Jules and Esther Aloe Cleansing Gel No. 1 is something I picked up at Birchbox with my points, and it's my 2nd favorite of the four cleansers.  Sadly, I'm not even sure if it's still available anywhere, as it's no longer available via Birchbox and on the Jules and Esther site the product page link is broken.  Hmm.  Cool brand, but I'm getting the impression it's no longer in production. Fortunately, this is a generously sized 8 ounces and should last me quite a while.
In order to behave, skin needs to be cleansed (but not too vigorously), moisturized, detoxed, protected, and refreshed—every single day. Fortunately, this botanical-based cleanser can handle our skin’s long list of demands, giving it a thorough-yet-gentle clean that removes impurities and preserves moisture, all in a wonderfully sudsy wash.
Ingredients: Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera)*, hydrocotyle asiatica (gotu kola)*, equisetum arvense (horsetail)*, pelargonium graveolens (geranium)*, taraxacum officinale (dandelion)*, sodium cocoyl alkyl esters (coconut soap), decyl glucoside, coco-glucoside, sodium cocoyl isethionate, glyceryl oleate, cocamide dipa (sugar derived), capryl hydroxamic acid, sodium chloride (salt), vegetable glycerin, caprylyl glycol, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, citric acid, sodium pca, sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate, lauryl glucoside *organic ingredient

Bottom line, all of these cleansers worked well for me.  I think a gentle facial cleanser that does not strip my skin is the way to go for me, although I've got an arsenal of pH adjusting toners that I can use when I want to veer outside of low pH territory. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Warm Gold Shimmer Eyeshadow 101 Shadow Stick by Julep

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
I love wearing gold shades on my eyes as a neutral with a bit of bling, plus they complement my blue eyes. Julep's Warm Gold Shimmer Eyeshadow 101 shadow stick ($18) hits that sweet spot, although it's not without issues. Let's take a look.
If you are not familiar with Julep's Eyeshadow 101 shadow sticks, here is how they are described:
A crème-to-powder shadow stick on top with a smudger on the other end. Expect huge color payoff and crease-proof, stay-all-day power.
What it does:
  • Glides on evenly with excellent color payoff
  • Blends easily before setting to a long-lasting finish
  • Soothes and smooths delicate skin with plenty of vitamin E
Warm Gold Shimmer can look lighter or darker depending on how heavy you layer it. Based on the arm swatch I was expecting smooth color, as applying and building it up was easy peasy. However, pictures of it on my lids told me a different story, as it looked slightly patchy.  Still pretty, but not the smooth opaque color I was expecting.
So, I've decided this particular color works better as a topper over other shadows, which is how I wore it below.  It gives a nice glint without looking metallic, something that my crepey lids appreciates. Once the shadow sets it wears well and I like having a more reasonably priced option than the Laura Mercier Caviar sticks,  but like I said, there are issues.
The Eyeshadow 101 shadow sticks are not the most sturdily packaged, as the shadow bullet tends to come loose in shipping and if you are not careful fly out when you open it. This problem was supposedly fixed, but mine was from the new improved batch and still came apart.  Fortunately, no harm was done and I was able to put it back together, but....not optimal.  Most of the shades are showing out of stock on Julep's site, so it will be interesting to see if these come back or are being phased out. Personally, I hope they come back with more colors.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Precious Petals Megaglo Highlighting Powder by Wet 'n Wild

Well would you look at this.  A drugstore highlighting powder from Wet 'n Wild that I've been reaching for every day since I got it a few weeks back, even over some other favorites from much more expensive brands.  
Not only is Precious Petals gorgeous to look at and reminiscent of much higher end brands, it also applies smoothly with minimal powder kick-up, perhaps due to it's talc free formula?   Shimmer can be built up from glow-from-within to high beam by applying layers. For the arm swatches, you are looking at 3 layers and a resulting high beam shimmer.
The color of Precious Petals is what I consider a soft champagne pink.  It's slightly pinker than BECCA's Opal, although in the same ballpark. I have one other limited edition highlighter from Le Metier de Beaute that is close in color, Trompe l'Oeil. 
Both Opal and Trompe l'Oeil kick up much more powder in comparison, although they both apply beautifully.  Precious Petals is right up there with them, however, which is saying something considering it's $4 price tag. 
Too bad Precious Petals and it's sister Crown of my Canopy are limited edition! I tried to pick up the darker Crown of my Canopy once I realized how nice Precious Petals is, but they were all gone, gone, gone.  Within a few days, actually, and I'm already seeing listings on ebay with prices just shy of $30.  Crazy.  Good.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sheet Masks and Weeds Are Taking Over: Memebox FOMO Mask Unboxing

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
I enjoy using the occasional sheet mask once or twice a week, but when I saw the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) Mask Box on presale at Memebox for $39, I decided it was time to up my sheet mask game. I was able to use some MemePoints which knocked off $5, making this mystery box of masks even more attractive. Let's see what was inside, starting with these fun colored, albeit landfill cluttering little pods from Prelab. For the few masks I've already used I'll include a more detailed description.
Prelab Skin Energy Mask - White Energy $2
Prelab Skin Energy Mask - Wrinkle Energy $2
Prelab Skin Energy Mask - Soothing Energy $2
Prelab Skin Energy Mask - Aqua Energy $2
I've used the Prelab Aqua Energy mask, which was heavily saturated with essence and features sea water to deeply hydrate dry and rough skin. My skin is oily but I'm coming to the conclusion that it's also dehydrated, and this mask did a good job of moisturizing without feeling too heavy or breaking me out. The  mask itself is 100% natural fiber derived from botanical plants and my biggest issue was unfolding it, but beyond that it fit and wore well.  There was enough essence to smooth it down from the mask onto my neck and decollete with a wear time of about 35-40 minutes.

Ingredients:  Water, methylpropanediol, glycerin, butylene glycol, sea water, trehalose, sodium hayluronate, allantoin, panthenol, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/vp copolymer, xanthan gum, tromethamine, carbomer, disodium edta, ethlhexylglycerin, chlorphenesin, ethyl hexanediol, 1,2-hexandiol, fragrance.

The most represented brand was Mediheal, and I'll start with the fancy masquerade themed Dress Code series, which allows you to play dress up while treating your skin. 

Mediheal Dress Code in Blue - Aqua Care $3
The Blue Aqua Care contains hyaluronic acid, lavender extract, and rosemary extract to hydrate dry and rough skin.
Mediheal Dress Code in Violet - Tone-Up Care $3
The Violet Tone-Up Care contains several high quality berry oils and extracts to help brighten and revitalize the skin.
Mediheal Dress Code in Red - Ginseng Care $3
The Red Ginseng Care contains ginseng as its main ingredient, which is supposed to help the skin develop stronger cells. Other key ingredients are
  • Trehalose:  rehydrating and water binding properties, antioxident 
  • Betaine: humectant and anti-irritant  
  • Fig Extract: hydrating and provides enzymatic exfoliating action 10x greater than papaya 
  • Mulberry Extract: lightens age spots and uneven skin tone
  • Gingko Biloba Extract: antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
The mask was richly saturated with essence to the point where I was able to wear it for a good 35-40 minutes. My skin felt mildly tacky afterwards but not to the point where it bothered me for felt like too much for my skin, something I've noticed with some masks. My skin was plumped, well hydrated, and I did not experience any morning after whiteheads, which sometimes happens when I use overly emollient sheet masks. Overall, thumbs up.

Mediheal also has a more medical looking series of masks, no doubt connoting serious ingredients for serious skincare benefits. Or at least I'm hoping:
Mediheal E.G.T. Timetox Ampoule Mask $4 (firming)
Mediheal I.P.I Lightmax Hydro Nude Gel Mask $4 (brightening)
Mediheal N.M.F. Aquaring Hydro Nude Gel Mask $4 (moisturizing)
Mediheal P.D.F A.C-Defense Hydro Nude Gel Mask $4 (acne and oil control)
Mediheal P.D.F. A.C Dressing Ampoule Mask $4 (heal and sooth irritated, troubled skin)
Mediheal Mogongtox Soda Bubble Sheet $4 (deep cleansing and exfoliating)
Mediheal I.P.I. Lightmax Ampoule Mask $4 (brightening)
Mediheal N.M.F. Aquaring Ampoule Mask $4 (moisture regulating)

I think the most visually appealing set of masks to me is the Banobagi Vita Genic jelly masks.  I like the simple and colorful design and that I can tell what each mask's primary purpose is at a glance, without having to look up acronyms (I'm eyeing you, Mediheal). These are currently $6 at Memebox, and I received 2 of each:
The sneak peek mask was the Oozoo Face Injection Mask Hydro Lift ($5), which features a separate serum with anti-aging and hydrating ingredients including Ceramide, Ectoine and Beta-Glucan that you inject into the mask.  Fancy.
Also high on the visually pleasing scale but rather low on quality (based on Be-light's usage) are the Urban Dollkiss masks (6 total). The currency artwork is stunning, but the masks themselves are on the small side and rather dry. I guess they will be good for nights when I don't want to sit with a mask on my face for 30-40 minutes, as the one I tried was dry after about 10 minutes.  Oh well, let's enjoy the artwork.
Urban Dollkiss Welcome to Korea Be-light $2
Urban Dollkiss Welcome to Korea Impact Essential $2
Urban Dollkiss Welcome to Korea Moistful $2
Urban Dollkiss Welcome to Korea Solution $2
There were a total of 30 masks from 5 different brands, which averages out to $1.13/mask for what I paid. Personally, the reasonable price + the variety = happiness for me. I can get a bit overwhelmed when perusing Kbeauty products, so something like this helps me experiment and discover without spending endless amounts of time reading reviews prior to purchasing. Not that that isn't fun as well....but you get the point.  The FOMO Mask box is sold out, but Memebox is always adding new boxes, so I'm sure something comparable will be coming down the pike.