Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Eminence Stone Crop Masque

Stone Crop Masque is a healing and hydrating masque for oily to mature skin, irritated skin types, and those with uneven skin tones.  Key ingredients are:
  • Stone Crop: hydrating and nourishing for uneven skin tones
  • Lemon: contains high amounts of Vitamin C, antioxidant
  • Bioflavonoids: fights against free radicals, protective agent
  • Honey: nourishing and moisturizing agent
  • Biocomplex™: functions as an antioxidant booster of Vitamin A, Vitamin C Ester, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, Alpha Lipoic Acid
Stone crop is an exotic succulent that can increase the moisture content of skin as well as reduce uneven pigmentation, and you will see bits of it in the masque.  This has a cooling effect when I put it on, so it feels quite refreshing.  In the summer this feels great and this would be a good masque to use if you've gotten too much sun.  I usually leave on for 20-30 minutes while I'm watching TV or playing on the computer and after rinsing my skin feels soft and I feel pampered.

Eminence is a Hungarian company that specializes in organic skincare products, and they are on the higher end of the spectrum cost wise.  The Stone Crop Masque retails for $48.00 and can be purchased from online retailers like Skin1, Buy Natural Skincare, and Dermstore or at spas that carry the line.  It's a nice splurge that I was introduced to at the spa I frequent, and I've been able to sample quite a few of their products.  Overall, I find the quality and the ingredients to be top notch.  If you would like to see how Eminence products are made, click here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

DHC Coenzyme Q10 Facial Film Soap

Q10 Facial Film Soap is one of the more unique yet practical products that I've discovered from DHC.  I personally like using soap as a facial cleanser and have had good experiences with soaps from DHC, but I don't like taking bars of soap with me when I travel.  These individually wrapped sheets of facial soap are perfect for travel, the gym, or anyplace you might need a quick clean up.  This soap contains coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant our bodies produce, although at a decreasing rate as we age.  Antioxidants fight free radicals, and since free radicals contribute to the aging process, we want those antioxidants that can fight them.  I love the sound of this, but coenzyme Q10 has to be present in sufficient quantities and in a form that can penetrate the skin in order to be effective.  I have no way of knowing if the Q10 in this soap meets that criteria, but it does clean effectively without stripping my skin, so this plus the travel convenience factor makes it a winner to me.

These come 40 to a box are are currently on sale for $8.25 at DHC through March 31.  This was a sample contained in DHC's March catalog and while I have purchased these in the past, I'm currently out.  I've got a trip coming up in March so may need to restock!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Age Defying Duo

African Red Tea Age Defying Duo is an antiaging kit designed to renew and revitalize the complexion.  I purchased this from Sephora for $14 a few months back and while the set itself is no longer available, the two products featured in it can be purchased separately.  I love generously sized trial sets like this that allow you to extensively sample a product, as it usually takes me several weeks of use to determine if I'm going to like it. 

Highlighted ingredients of each product from Sephora's site, with full ingredient list in the below photo:
African Red Tea See The Difference Serum
-African red tea: A powerful antioxidant that strengthens the skin's immune system, slows the aging process, and soothes the skin.
-Sea kelp: A skin-firming and detoxifying extract that's naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
-Gingko biloba: Contains phytochemicals that help improve circulation and has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
-Grapefruit, orange, and tangerine extracts: These extracts are astringent, antiseptic, aromatic, purifying, and brightening. 

 Express The Truth Creme
-African red tea: A powerful antioxidant that slows the aging process.
-Ester C 10% vitamin C complex: An antioxidant that stimulates collagen production.
-Polylysine: A peptide that improves elasticity and muscle tone.
-Hyaluronic acid: A humectant that binds moisture to skin.
-Zinc, copper and manganese gluconate: Antioxidants with calming, soothing, and collagen-production properties. 

The serum, as would be expected, has a lighter texture than the creme.  I used the serum during the day and the creme at night, as my oily skin really does not need a heavy moisturizer during the day.  The creme had a pleasant, slightly nutty smell (it does contain macadamia oil, so perhaps that's why) and the serum a light citrus fragrance.  Both are supposed to be good for all skin types, but my initial impression of the Express the Truth Creme was that it was too rich for my skin.  I've since decided that it works well for me during colder months when my skin does dry out a bit from indoor heating and I've been using it every night.  Not much of the creme is needed, as it is very emollient.  You can see how much is left, even though I've been using it for about a month now.  The serum, on the other hand, is about 2/3 gone, as I use two pumps of it each time. 

Ingredients (click to enlarge)
Of the two, my favorite was the Express the Truth Creme.  I experienced no irritation or break outs from either, the creme is definitely hydrating and makes my skin feel smooth, and the serum was nice and light under my makeup.  I don't have many wrinkles and would like to keep it that way for as long as possible, so I appreciate the presence of a peptide and antioxidants.  However, I do question packaging in clear glass, as antioxidants like vitamin C break down and oxidize when exposed to air and light, so not sure how stable and/or effective these would be long term.  On the plus side, the creme does contain a 10% concentration of vitamin C complex, which is the minimum recommended for effectiveness.  Another plus is that expiration dates are included on the packaging, as these types of ingredients can and do go bad.  Since vitamin C that has gone bad (oxidized, indicated by a yellow or brown color) can potentially increase free radical development, expiration dates are important!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Korres Pre-2011 Nostalgia

I started using Korres products in 2008 after reading about them on beauty blogs.  Korres was founded by a Greek pharmacist with homeopathic experience in 1996.  Consequently, products were developed from homeopathic recipes coupled with natural ingredients and backed by scientific research to demonstrate efficacy and safety.  Product packaging really emphasized the company's background and philosophy and was both striking and unique. 

One year, they offered this insane mother lode of a free gift with a $40 dollar purchase that included so many different products that I still have remnants of a few to this day.  Also included with the free gift purchase was this really cool bag in case you wanted to part with anything as a Christmas gift to someone.  Obviously I kept everything, including the bag.

With that as my introduction to Korres, I signed up for their emails and would take advantage of various offers over the years.  Favorites ended up being the body butters and eyeshadows.  Each year around Christmas they would offer a sampler gift set of their body butters and shower gels, perfect sizes for carrying in your purse. 

Then I started noticing a few disturbing things.  First, a big sale that was a harbinger of change.  Some of my favorite body butter scents were being discontinued.  So were the eyeshadows, although I didn't realize it at the time.  Makeup collections, which I had bought because they were such a great value and included the coveted eyeshadows at a fraction of their original price, were no longer in existence  This year, there was no body butter/shower gel gift sampler, or at least I never saw one.  Why, Korres, why?

Apparently, this was why (https://www.korresusa.com/news):

Korres Packaging Update

May 2, 2011
Starting in June, we will be refreshing the KORRES line with updated packaging, more descriptive names, and a renewed focus on the most popular products, all while working closely with the Research & Development team in Greece, led by George and Lena Korres, to continue to bring exciting new products to the U.S. In addition, you will start to see valuable new features on KorresUSA.com. 

Why are you discontinuing certain products? Are they being discontinued globally?
In the U.S., we are creating a more focused portfolio, basing our business on proven best-sellers and on what consumers want. We will have a robust portfolio of more than 100 products and will continue to add new innovations as well as the best available from Greece, which includes more than 400 products. 

So, I guess in the name of expansion and appealing to the masses, Korres simplified both its product lines and packaging.  I get it, sales numbers rule.  I'm not going to even speculate on how the 2009 deal with Johnson & Johnson factors into this, but considering they now have complete licensing and distribution rights for Korres in the US, well....  However, I can't help but feel that they have lost a bit of their appeal to me.  Hopefully they can win back my original enthusiasm.  Korres had a nice gift with purchase last week (everything between the two larger boxes was gratis) so expect reviews on the following soon:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ulta Extreme Wear Lip Stain in Love Connection

Love Connection lip stain
One of the Ulta products that I bought in order to get the Countryside Gleam free gift that I recently reviewed was the Extreme Wear Lip Stain in Love Connection.  The coral red color was appealing and I liked that the ingredient list included lots of fruit extracts.  What fruit extracts, you ask?  Grapefruit, orange peel, apple, raspberry, blueberry, pineapple, apricot, blackberry, and grape! 
Love Connection topped with Smith's Rosebud Salve

This is the first lip stain I've purchased, so I didn't really have much to compare it against. What I've since learned about lip stains is that they are usually water or alcohol based (this one is water based), which gives them a liquid consistency and can make them drying on lips.  They look darker in the container than they apply and provide long lasting color.  And while Ulta Extreme Lip Stain does stain my lips with a bit of color and has a nice taste and smell, I'm actually enjoying it more as a cheek tint!

Extreme Wear Lip Stains retail for $8 at Ulta and are available in five different shades.  Love Connection is the lightest shade available.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nail of the Day: Gouda Gouda Two Shoes with Traffic Stopper Copper

The color of Gouda Gouda Two Shoes from the Holland collection by OPI is a perfect dupe for my lawn chair.  Maybe that's why I was drawn to it, as I love sitting in that lawn chair in the warm sun.  I think if this color as a dark terracotta and in the right light you can see a golden shimmer. The formula was good, just a few air bubbles from not waiting long enough between coats.  This is a two coater.

Then, because I am apparently constitutionally incapable of wearing one polish at a time, I topped it with one coat of Traffic Stopper Copper from Sephora by OPI.  But just look at this - it's frickin' gorgeous!  I haven't had a polish that I thought would really complement it until Gouda Gouda came along.  When the light catches the glitter, it adds just the right amount of bling without being over the top.

Maggie lending her head for contrast

Holland Collection by OPI

I picked up seven of the twelve available polishes from OPI's Holland collection yesterday!  I was hoping the spa I frequent would have them in by now, and sure enough they had them all, including the mini 4-pack "dutch treats".  I love mini sets for several reasons, including that there are usually colors in them I wouldn't be motivated to purchase but end up loving.  The coral red and pinks in dutch treats fall in that category - they are really stunning!
Wooden Shoe Like to Know?, I Don't Give a Rotterdam!, Gouda Gouda Two Shoes

I Have a Herring Problem, Red Lights Ahead...Where?, Kiss Me on My Tulips, Pedal Faster Suzi!
Here are some close up bottle shots of the colors with shimmer so you can get an idea of the color variations:
Gouda Gouda Two Shoes

I Don't Give a Rotterdam!

I Have a Herring Problem

Pedal Faster Suzi!

Wooden Shoe Like to Know?

Have you picked up any of the polishes from the Holland collection yet?  Any favorites?  My first nail of the day from this set will feature Gouda Gouda Two Shoes, a color that grabbed me once I saw it in person.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Color Tattoo by Maybelline!

I've enjoyed the Maybelline Color Tattoo eye shadow in Bold Gold that I reviewed back in January so much that I've purchased 4 more colors:  Pomegranate Punk, Audacious Asphalt, Bad to the Bronze, and Tough as Taupe.  These really are great shadows that can also double as a base for powder shadows.   They are relatively inexpensive, especially with the frequent buy one get one at 50% off sales offered, have great staying power and wonderful pigmentation.

Tough as Taupe is matte, whereas all the others I've got have shimmer.  I find applying with my finger works best.  I've used a foam applicator for applying under my lower lash line, which worked well.  I had some patchiness issues with Tough as Taupe, but not enough to put me off of this unique matte taupe.  When used as a base shadow with my other favorite taupe shadow, Korres Shimmering Eyeshadow in Grey Brown, it was perfect. 
Indoor lighting

Pomegranate Punk with Tough as Taupe

Monday, February 20, 2012

Violent Lips in Silver Glitteratti

Violent Lips are temporary lip tattoos.  This is not an item I would buy or have a use for, but since  I received them in my February Birchbox, I was interested to see what they were all about.  It's an interesting concept, and according to the description on Sephora, these were created by an entertainment industry veteran and his daughters.  Designed to last 4-8 hours, the lip stencils are applied and sealed with water and can be removed with baby oil. Designs range from polka-dots to leopard prints to sparkles, and all have been FDA-approved, certified vegan, with no animal testing involved - super models were used instead.

Instructions - click on photo to enlarge

First off, these require a skill and patience level that I clearly do not have.  You have to cut the stencils to fit the size of your lips, but given that the stencils didn't really conform to my lips even after sizing them, it was hard for me to accurately guesstimate.  I cut the bottom lip too thin and the upper lip was hard to fit no matter what I did.  I also had a malfunction with the bottom lip stencil before applying it - this photo says it all.  I'm pretty sure the reason three lip stencils sets are included in each pack is because there is a steep learning curve with lots of trial and error.  Or I could just be inept, but reviews on Sephora did reassure me that others had problems with application as well.
Lip stencil

Stencils popped out of card
Once applied, you are not supposed to stretch your lips for 5 minutes to allow them to set.  I did this, but smiling loosened the bottom edge on the upper lip, which was then dangling a bit.  I also drank coffee while wearing them, which probably didn't help, but who is realistically going to be at a festive occasion and not eat or drink?  So, beyond  an interesting look for a photo session, not sure how you would realistically wear these for 4 to 8 hours.  I did see a contestant on American Idol this week who I think was wearing Violent Lips in red, and they looked really good!  However, she was the Broadway singing girl with that stage theatre dramatic look, so I'm guessing her skill level with this kind of thing is galaxies beyond mine.

Top lip finished look
If anyone has had success with these, I'd love to hear about it!  Violent Lips are currently on sale for $7 at Sephora, and they regularly retail for $15 per pack.  I could wear my other two sets as body tattoos, I suppose!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lush Ocean Salt

One of Mobile's glaring faults is that it does not have a Lush store.  I was not even aware that Lush existed until a few short years ago.  I was visiting a friend in the D.C. area, told her I needed to get a gift for my mother, and she suggested the Lush store in Georgetown.  La, I was mesmerized.  I ended up getting Karma Cream, which is now one of my mother's favorites.  I've blind ordered some other Lush products from online since then, but nothing really substitutes for in store sampling.

The Lush store in Minneapolis is where I first met Ocean Salt scrub.  The store clerk gave me a hand treatment that involved scrubbing with Ocean Salt, followed by Lemon Cuticle Cream and Dream Creme.  I, of course, subsequently purchased all three.  Ocean Salt scrub contains lime-infused vodka, sea salt, avocado and coconut fats.  Yes, for every 440 pounds of Ocean Salt produced, 11 pounds of vodka infused limes are used.  This scrub is supposed to be ideal for skin with blocked pores, blackheads, and blemishes. Perfect!  The photo below shows some of the fruit being processed for Lush products.

I love how Ocean Salt smells - a bit like vodka tonics at the beach.  Who knew that vodka was good for the skin?  Apparently you can even use it as a skin toner in a pinch.  Would that be when you wake up hung over, sans overnight bag, in a well stocked house?  I don't know, but if you are ever in that situation, now you know.
The salt granules used are sea salt, so they are large enough that you want to scrub gently so as not to irritate your skin.  After I scrub my face, I leave on for a minute or so while I use the residue on my hands.  Ocean Salt can be used as a body scrub as well, but at $34.95 for the large size tub, I save it for my face and hands.  After using, my face feels uber soft and refreshed.  Strangely, I also feel more cheerful. 

All Lush products indicate who they were made by as well as an expiration date.  Shelf life for Ocean Salt is about one year, which is about how long it will take me to completely use mine up.