Monday, May 30, 2016

Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Age-Correcting Collection: May Skincare Review

Disclaimer:  This was a GWP.
For the month of May I used five products from the Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Age-Correcting line by Estee Lauder.  This set was a GWP with any $125 Estee Lauder purchase during the Saks Off Fith Avenue 2016 Beauty spring event. While I haven't been particularly impressed with most of the skincare products I've tried from Estee Lauder, I was curious to see how the rather pricey Re-Nutriv line performs.  Let's dive in.
I've got oily skin and have never really enjoyed using creme cleansers, which I associate more with dry skin. Consequently, I wasn't expecting much from this one, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I used it as a second cleanser after my oil-based first cleanse, and it left my skin clean and soft with no noticeable residue left behind. A full-sized version of the Hydrating Creme Cleanser will set you back $60, but it does have some interesting ingredients:
  • 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
The Re-Nutriv Softening Lotion would be used after cleansing as the toner step, although it is thicker than a traditional toner. It is meant to prepare your skin for the products that come after it, and I forewent using a cotton round to apply and instead used my hands to pat it onto my face. Lots of interesting ingredients in this as well, including gold, which you can see in the soft shimmer of the liquid.
  • Acetyl Glucosamine: skin identical/skin repairing, inhibits melanin production
  • Yeast Extract: antioxidant, promotes tissue repair and wound healing
  • Green Tea Leaf Extract: combats free-radicals and reduces inflammation, helps reduce sun damage.
  • Adenosine Phosphate:  cell-communicating ingredient and inflammation modulator.
  • Barley Extract: reduces inflammation
  • Wheat Germ Extract: skin conditioning agent
  • Squalane: an antioxidant, prevents UV damage and the formation of age spots, promotes cell growth and is an antibacterial
  • Linoleic Acid: also known as Vitamin F, an omega-6 fatty acid.  Anti-inflammatory, moisturizer, skin softener, and acne-fighter. Helps other active ingredients penetrate the skin barrier.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate: attracts and binds water to skin, promotes nutrient absorption and micro-circulation.
  • Gold: helps lock in moisture and inhibits the breakdown of elastin, however some people can have an allergic reaction to gold
The softening lotion absorbs quickly and does seem to help other products absorb quickly as well.  This is my favorite of the line, and a full size bottle is $60.  That's more than I want to spend, but I do like it.
On the plus size it lasts quite a while, and I've still got a quarter bottle left of the travel size after a month of use. I could see where the full-sized bottle would last a long time, considering it's 8.4 oz quantity.  Hmm....I could end up talking myself into this with a good GWP to sweeten the deal.
Next in the series is the Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Age-Correcting Serum, which is supposed to lift and firm the skin's appearance with 5 times the level of ingredients found in the Re-Nutriv creme.  It has a loooong ingredient list and will set you back a jaw dropping $270.
A little does go a long way, as I found a pea-sized amount was enough to cover my entire face. Could I tell any particular lifting and firming action?  Not really, although the sample size was the smallest of all the products and was only enough for about 2 weeks of use.
  • Laminaria Digitata Extract:  also known as Atlantic kelp, and thought to form a protective moisturizing barrier on the skin
  • Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract: also known as Goji or wolfberry, with antioxidant and anti-aging properties
  • Pearl Powder: stimulates cell regeneration, inhibits melanin formation.
  • Algae Extract: antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
  • St. Paul's Wort Extract: anti-inflammatory and stimulates wound healing
  • Mimosa Tenuiflora Bark Extract: helps regenerate damaged skin and heal wounds
I could keep going, but you get the picture:  lots of really interesting ingredients with some solid research behind them to support their benefits in skin care.  If I was not such a gadfly when it comes to products and money was not an issue, this could be a worthy skincare investment piece.
The Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Age-Correcting Eye Creme is billed as a breakthrough fusion of serum and moisturizer, containing over 50 ingredients that are supposed to deliver profound results.  These results include boosting collagen levels to help eye contours look younger, firmer, and redensified, and reducing the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and crepiness. Sounds like a miracle in a jar, doesn't it? 
I've yet to find an eye cream that can turn back the hands of time, regardless of marketing claims. This is a good eye cream, and it works well with moisturizing my eye area without causing milia or any type of irritation. It is $140 for half an ounce, which means my sample is worth almost $70.  I'd say if you are interested in this eye cream, keep an eye out for another GWP that features it.  I can see the sample lasting for a good 4-5 months of twice daily use, and if I see a marked improvement in my eye area I will update the review.
  • Shea Butter: moisturizing and antioxidant properties
  • Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract: also known as Japanese Knotwood, which is the primary natural source of resveratrol.  Considered to have a number of beneficial effects, including anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial activity.   
  • Boswella Serrata Extract: the source for Indian frankincense, with an anti-inflammatory affect on the skin.  It can also stimulate fibroblasts, which are the cells that make collagen.  Conversely, it may be skin sensitizing for some people.
  • Fuscoporia Obliqua Extract: a mushroom that grows on silver birch trees, it has anti-inflammatory and cell regenerating properties
There are lots of other goodies in here, and if nothing else, I'm happy to see that Estee Lauder really is utilizing heavy hitter ingredients in this line.  I do wonder how stable the ingredients are in the jar packaging, but the marketing lingo includes this blurb, which perhaps helps with the stability of the ingredients?
"Includes Life Re-Newing Molecules, the multi-patented infusion that is the secret strength of Re-Nutriv's power to visibly renew skin at any age."
Last up is the Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Age-Correcting Creme ($285), which would be the moisturizer to seal in all this goodness. I used it only at night as I prefer gel moisturizers for daytime use with my oily skin, but I was happy with it as a night cream.  It is not too heavy and even has a somewhat matte finish, so I would consider it as a daytime moisturizer during colder weather. It contains many of the ingredients listed above, so I'll highlight some of the other ones below.
  • Cucumber Fruit Extract: antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Cladosiphon Okamuranus Extract: found in brown seaweeds and has the ability to regenerate skin cells.  Some studies have found that it has moisturizing effects exceeding that of hyaluronic acid.
  • Tourmaline: thought to trigger a warming effect to increase the production of new collagen and the contraction of fibers, which helps restore the springiness of skin.   
Here is what I know:  the products work well together, I experienced no breakouts or skin irritations, and my skin feels soft, moisturized, and healthy.  I don't have major sagging at this point so it's hard for me to evaluate the lifting claims, but my skin does feel plump and firm after using the Re-Nutriv line. The products feature quality ingredients that do have some research to back up the skin care claims, although the price puts them out of reach for the average consumer.  If you want to spend the money, however, I'd say it definitely has it's appeal.

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.