Despite my bitter screed against the Pro-Activ 3-step system that I posted here on MUA (and recommend that anyone interested in the 3-step system read, as a precaution), I will admit that this mask worked very, very well for me. It didn't seem to have much of an effect on my cystic acne, but it did work to speed along annoying lesser whiteheads, and unclogged my blackhead-prone nose. I used it as an overnight spot treatment, as well as a facial mask. No complaints, only compliments for its efficacy on minor blemishes. Whenever I see the Proactiv ads, after mentioning to anyone who may be watching what I REALLY think about their product (see afore-mentioned screed), I always make the disclaimer that the Refining Mask is a very decent product. I will not repurchase, however, because of Guthy-Renker's shady billing practices and in protest against what I feel is patently false advertising and ridiculously overstated claims of what their product can do.
I've come to look forward to using this sunscreen more than any other product I presently use in my daily routine. I started Retin-A treatment about a month and a half ago, and hadn't used anything more than a Eucerin 30SPF lotion that I had lying around, and only sporadically, at that. I bought this, though, based on the reviews here on MUA, as well as my general love for Shiseido products (and the recognition that with springtime upon us, I needed to start using sun protection in earnest). And my goodness, am I glad that I did! Firstly, the protection is really just amazing. My face had been getting pretty red - probably due to my minimally-protected, newly photosensitive skin, I suppose - before I started using this. I thought the redness was just due to the retin-a. Since using USPL for about two weeks, however, my pale face is just that - pale, as it should be, and not ruddy, as it had been becoming. Also, I live in Denver, and the constant sunniness plus the altitude makes sun protection incredibly crucial - retinoid use or not. You see so many people here with sun-aged skin (the appearance of which is exacerbated by the dryness), as well as little melanomas on their faces and extremities - it's nuts. On that basis alone, i recommend this to EVERYONE, in every climate. Secondly, though, I just LOVE the texture of my skin after I apply it. I think that it may have given me a little pimple, but that just shows me to be more thorough with my DHC oil cleanser (which I don't in the least mind using to remove this product, because I started using this great cleanser prior to my use of USPL). It doesn't seem to dry my face, but that might be because I use DHC's mild lotion (really moisturizing) and Dr. Haushcka's rose day cream (REALLY moisturizing) before I put this on (this also may account for the fact that I don't get a white cast). Rather, it makes my skin so silky, and does block oily breakthrough incredibly well. I mean, this product, I think, is pretty much perfect - UV protection plus the silkification, plus the fact that it's superlong-lasting and won't fail you by mid-day? What more could a person need in such a product? The packaging does permit a liberal flow of this product (which is very milky), but not so much that you can't still measure how much you use, and therefore waste it. *A sort of frivolous aside: I love the color scheme of the packaging! It reminds me of the deep blue mediterranean under a perfect, cloudless sky, with a dazzling sun shining down... :) It is undeniably expensive (nearly 40 USD for 100 mL/3.3 oz), but for sun protection like this, I'll shell out, and gladly.
Eye Shadow -Fyrinnae - Loose Eyeshadow in Snow Leopard
mercymercyme 3/26/2008 5:41:00 PM
I received this sample free from my first order with Fyrinnae, and I am so happy that I tossed it into my makeup bag to for a test run. Before work, I dabbed it onto my lids dry with a fingertip - this lets me make the shade as sheer or as bold as I like. And it's this really gorgeous gunmetal taupe color that is so cool - nothing like what one would expect from looking at the drab, brown blob of powder inside of the jar! When I glanced into mirrors the first day I wore it, I was pleasantly startled every time at how sophisticated a look it created. It's gorgeous-yet-subtle for the office, and I'm sure it could be just slathered on for a super smoky, mysterious, glowing look.
I had used this mascara in the past (the non-waterproof version), and wondered, when I saw it on drugstore displays, why I'd only purchased it once, maybe twice. It just looked so familiar, but I couldn't remember what I thought about it. I do like featherlash, and had been loving the Spanish brand Belcils for the last few years, so that was one reason why. But, I wanted a waterproof mascara to go skiing in (I know, silly, but I wanted to look a little cute under the goggle suction and helmet hair!), and had read a lot of reviews on voluminous, so I picked up a tube. Well, having used its waterproof sister, the reason that I haven't used it in so long might be that I just...I don't know, I just didn't like it. And I just sort of don't like this mascara now. Sometimes it goes on really nicely, with no clumping and a delicate finish to my lash tips, and other days it's pretty spider-leggy. I remove the brush the same, slowly, pressing it against the rim of the tube to remove excess mascara; I never pump. Perhaps the thickness I'm experiencing is due to the waterproof nature of the mascara - and on that count, this stuff does deliver! It just does not come off, no matter what - however, it does flake a little by the end of the day. As this is my first experience with waterproof mascara, perhaps I'm not being fair by saying that I wouldn't purchase it again, or by only giving it three lippies. But the thickness, the clumpiness, and the unpredictability of the results of my application compell me to say that I'd have to do a lot of shopping around before I'd buy this again.
As with my review of the DHC Oil Cleanser, I have to preface this by saying that I've only used this product twice. However, as with the cleanser, I have to say that i recognize how good this stuff is right away, and want to communicate why I like it so much already. So, I received the olive essentials kit for Christmas and didn't open it until a few weeks ago - I started Retin-A treatment nearly 1 month ago, and I thought I'd get accustomed to the oil cleanser in preparation for using the heavy-duty suncreens I'd need to protect my newly photosensitive skin. I loved that product immediately, and still do. It's really incredible. But I was still using my apple cider vinegar/green tea toner, until I found that stung far too much once I upped the Retin-A application from once every three days to once every other day. I started using rose water as a toner, which I had around, which was far more gentle and did not sting. My face was EXTREMELY dry, though, which I attributed to the Retin-A, to the fact that I had stopped moisturizing at night, to the incredibly dry climate in which I live, and to the fact that it's still winter. I mean, so dry that If I tilted my head upwards, my whole face - from my forehead down to underneath my chin - would feel pulled. And during the day, my undereye area would feel so, so dry - I could feel the skin there pulling when I looked up, or to the side - just my eyeballs moving, and I could feel this! And then, horror of horrors, I noticed that the skin under my eyes was TOTALLY wrinkled and crepey when I smiled - and I'm only 27! On scrutiny I saw that the fine lines beneath my eyes had grown deeper, and even my eyelids looked a little odd. I freaked. I had been applying the Retin-A (which is only .5%) on my eyelids and under my eyes, because of the anti-aging, collagen-producing effects of the medication, and I thought that by doing so I had totally damaged my face forever. Then I remembered the reviews of this mild lotion that I'd read to decide if I wanted to incorporate this toner into my routine: because of the relatively low percentage of people who had said that they would buy this product again, I decided against it at the time I started using the cleansing oil. However, it dawned on my that the rose water I'd been using as a toner might indeed be the problem, as my face felt so incredibly dry and tight after using it, and, remembering that others had said that this was too moisturizing and heavy and odd for them, I thought that this actually might be exactly what I need - and decided to give it a whirl last night. And that, my friends, was the right decision to make. It really felt moisturizing upon application - I pumped about four squirts (from the little travel-sized bottle) into the palm of my hand and patted the stuff all over my face and neck, including the eye area. No moisturizer followed. After waiting the requisite hour after cleansing before retin-a application, I found that my skin felt more flexible, and not 1/10th as tight as it had in nights past. This morning I woke up and examined my eyes. The wrinkles appeared to have abated considerably since the night before. My face felt just really firm, not dry, not tight, and I awoke with the glow. It wasn't even as flakey as I'd come to be used to it being. I used it again this morning after cleansing, and now, sitting at work, i think my face looks pretty great - and I feel very comfortable in my facial skin! So, in clonclusion: Girls in really dry climates, those using retin-a, those in the midst of a dry, crappy winter - this stuff is great. i'm guessing by the texture of this stuff that girls with oily skin and/or those who live in humid climates, might not like it or see much use for it. But for those in my situation, it's great. I'll update in a few weeks - I gave it a tentative four because of the short length of time I've been using it, but it might just deserve 5 lippes from me. UPDATE 3/18/2009 - I think it's been...a year since I wrote this review? Wow. Well, I think it's about time I update to reflect the fact that I've been loyal to it ever since, through good and, admittedly, bad skin periods (I still have them; whenever I think I've figured it all out, something throws me for a curve. I doubt I'm the only one...). I have repurchased several times and will continue to do so. When I don't use it, I definitely feel its absence: my moisturizer doesn't spread as smoothly and my face feels drier. HG.
I always carry a small, travel-sized tub of this stuff around with me, and have been doing so for years. I mostly use it as a lip treatment, but it works for elbows, knees, hands, and random maddeningly dry and itchy spots in a pinch. I would freak out scratching myself in the wintertime, and my lips would split into a thousand pieces, without this stuff. I don't know what else to say about it, but, you know, it is what it is: cheap, versatile, effective, portable. A staple. UPDATE, 6/12/08: Considering the price of oil, America's overreliance upon it, and the environmental impacts of drilling, transport, and comsuption, I am taking a (small, and probably totally futile) stand against petrolatum based products, and will not re-purchase Vaseline. I know - it's sort of silly to do so, when we use plastic products all the time, but still. Every little bit might help, somewhat, somewhere down the road.
about 2 and a half years ago, I came down with my first and most incredibly terrible case of cystic acne. I have had isolated incidences of cystic acne since, but this initial breakout was physically and, most damagingly, psychologically scarring. I'd never had perfect skin before, but it was pretty enough for me, and I could deal with the random zit now and again. I had never even applied foundation before, nor concealer, not having needed it. These eruptions was something else - big, ugly, and unfair. So, in my desperation (and without the foresight to see a dermatologist) I purchased the pro-activ three-step kit. And what happened? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Less than nothing. I used the whole suite, diligently, for about five months. My acne did not improve. It worsened. I repurchased three times, because I hoped that it would take just that much longer, just a few more weeks, and then at least these massive, painful lesions would begin to heal, right? No. I was wrong. My desperate hope that pro-activ would work didn't jibe with the reality of the situation, which was that the company's product did not live up to its claims. I called to cancel all future shipments, and was talked out of it at the moment by one of their representatives - she told me that there was a much stronger version of pro-activ, with salicylic acid in the toner, more benzoyl peroxide in the face wash, and suchlike. I demurred, but agreed to put a hold on the account and on payments rather than canceling it outright. I was vulnerable. Seriously. Soon after that, I left the country. I returned about a year later for the holidays to discover that Pro-activ had billed me for an order I did not receive, and that bill went into arrears, and was held by a bill collector, screwing up my credit. Shocked, I called them to resolve this, and calle dthe bill collector to resolve it, but it turns out that the myriad hands who had touched this supposed debt had lost track of the whole thing, and while it was still in arrears, it didn't even exist in anyone's system so that I could dispute it or pay it. I don't know what the hell happened there, but the moral is, as far as I've understood it: The product is highly ineffective, the advertising is supremely misleading, and the company may or may not have serious issues with their billing department. I would never recommend that ANYONE buy this, not even my worse acne-afflicted enemy; rather, save your money and get thee to a dermatologst. To echo reviewer marissakmac below, this stuff is a total scam.
Toners -Shiseido - Pureness Balancing Softener alcohol-free
mercymercyme 3/3/2008 6:14:00 PM
For about 4-5 months I used, in conjunction, the entire Pureness line - the Deep cleanser, this, the moisturizer, the acne gel, and the powder makeup - and of those three products (with the exception of the foundation, which is in a different category), this was my favorite. I used the products while living in the deeply humid Mediterranean, doing bar work, and generally coming home with the grimiest face possible. The whole line worked extraordinarily well for me, and then just very well, until it stopped working well at all, and I began to break out - gradually at first, then pretty seriously. So it made sense, when money became tight, to phase out the cleansing Shiseido products - at over 60 euros for the whole suite, every 2 months, I couldn't justify it for such marginal results! But this one was the last to go, and it pained me to part with it. It left me with a very soft, clean, refreshed face. I loved the smell, the texture, the beauty of the packaging, the tourmaline infusion, the company's longevity and philosophy - at the risk of seeming overly in love with a product, everything about it made me happy. But I just couldn't maintain my habit. I repurchased this many times, which was part of the problem: the softener, more than any of the other Pureness products, seemed to run out incredibly quickly. That could have been because I thought I needed to use more to combat the humidity, or because the deep cleansing foam wasn't doing its job very well (as much as I loved it at the time, I suspect that this was the case), and I had to use a lot of the softener to get off the residual grime. All this considering, though, I would probably repurchase this again at some point in the future. I didn't know then (and I know this now partially due to MUA) that you don't need to use an entire line; it's not apostasy to pick and choose favorite products from one brand and use them with favorites from others. So, if I could see a need for this product in my skincare line in the future, I might just adopt it and see if I loved it still. I probably will. I completely adore Shiseido.
I loved this mascara in college, but it must have been discontinued - I look for it when out on drugstore forays (In the past few years, I've done this more or less casually in Boston, Chicago, AND Denver) to no avail! Even though it has been a while since I've used it, I will give in a 5 rating, and will be delighted - and buy extras - the next time I come across it. As the name suggests, it made my eyelashes very feathery - no-to-minimal clumping, no spider-legs. Just delicate, darkened, longer, very pretty lashes. As far as I remember, this was a great everyday mascara. I'm using the waterproof Voluminous now, and find it nice and durable and serviceable - but somewhat clumpy, and not as silky as I remember Featherlash (this could just be the waterproof formula). I'll abide, of course. But this stuff, if I were to find it again, I would have no problem proclaiming my HG. UPDATE, same day: L'Oreal still lists this as a current product, so I am wrong, and they have not discontinued it. I am just having bad luck finding it!
My Japanese sister-in-law gave me the olive essentials travel kit for Christmas after I told her that DHC intrigued me - she loves DHC products, and so do all of her friends back in Japan. I didn't have the guts to really use it up until last night - mostly, because I was perfectly satisfied with my cetaphil/honey combo. However, I've just started using retin-a, and as I'll need to start using a stronger sunscreen, the likes of which are best removed with an oil cleanser, I thought I'd test this out. And really, it's so lovely! I should wait a while before commenting, I know - but the texture was so silky, and the sensation of massaging it into my skin was so nice that I massaged for upwards to two minutes. I have also just started wearing waterproof Voluminous and had resigned myself to waking up with raccoon smudges all around my eyes. But not since I started using it have I seen my face so clean! I decided against using the mild soap afterwards, because my skin felt really clean once I rinsed the cleanser off - also, partially due to the dry climate I live in and the retin-a, my face felt pretty tight, and there was flakiness around my muzzle area. I can't attribute that to the cleanser alone (the retin-a is the likelier culprit), but I did feel that this step alone was enough. And my face was so soft! I used this for the second time this morning, after my daily workout. Again, the softness and cleanness of my face was so pleasant, as was the act of using it. I love my cetaphil, but really, I recognized after the first use that this is a superior product. I'll definitely purchase the normal-sized bottle (and save this small travel sized bottle - it's really convenient to throw in the gym bag!).
These are long-lasting, sturdy flip-flops. They come in a wide array of colors, and are apparently pretty fashionable. They were the go-to, cool flip flop for all the American expatriates living in Barcelona for the couple of years I was there - and for all the Brazilian (of course!) expatriates too. Although, the Brazilians that had come to Spain with their Havaianas had far cooler ones!
Skincare - Body -Mary Kay - Private Spa Collection Satin Hands Pampering Set
mercymercyme 2/11/2008 2:07:00 PM
Wonderful! I got this as a christmas present. The giver said, "Trust me! After you use this, just try to remember how your hands felt before, then see what you think about it." Well, after submitting to this three-step process, my hands were lovely, smooth, soft, and I was happier for having pampered myself. Dry climate/winter-skin sufferers, this stuff is lovely! And, because you don't really use a lot of it at a time, I'll bet this stuff lasts all winter, and into the next.
Treatments -Nelson's Homeopathic Products - Acne Gel
mercymercyme 2/9/2008 8:27:00 PM
This stuff is really lovely! I've been using it for about two weeks now, and it's had a fantastic impact on my existing breakouts - as in, they're usually eliminated with twice-daily application within 2 days. Of course, it's not a preventative product, but for anything that's on your face, or for anything that feels as if it's about to emerge, put a little of this on the spot, and hopefully, it'll work as well for you as it has for me. I really love the smell. I agree with the commenter who remarked on its earthiness, but even moreso for me, it smells just like fresh concord grapes taste. Perhaps it's a very personal thing, but beyond this product's efficacy, the smell of it makes me deeply happy. I will say, as a disclaimer, that it's taking far longer than 2 days to have an effect on a hard, cystic lump on my jawline. I've still been applying it there diligently, every day and night, for about 5 days. Although, I will withheld ultimate judgment of this product on this count, because my cystic zits tend to linger for a few months - and this one is much, much smaller than it was when it fully emerged. So, if this blemish is gone within the next week, my 5-lippie rating will be totally vindicated. UPDATE 2/25/2008: Well, I have to say that I stopped using the Nelson's on this particular blemish as a cautionary measure; I was planning on getting (and now have) a prescription for Retin-A, and had read that it and products with sulphur might react adversely. So, I cannot say that my 5-lippie rating is totally vindicated, but I will not change it because I do believe it works: the spot had shrunk noticeably and steadily throughout my application of the Nelson's, and since I stopped, it remained the same size as it had been as of the last application. It's actually become far more painful since I've let it be. I hope this prescription stuff works! If not, I know there's something of a viable alternative around.
NOTE: I don't use this as a toner, despite the category rose water is found in. This is a very new, yet very welcome addition to my skincare routine! When I do the aspirin/honey mask, I usually moisten the aspirin with my apple cider/greet tea toner. But, because it's been so dry here and my face is getting all flaky these days, I moisten them with rose water instead, due to rose oil's moisturizing properties. I've also been using a few spritzes of this when I mix up my morning moisturizer (3 drops each of jojoba and tea tree oil, three pumps of eucerin 35 SPF moisturizer) instead of my usual toner, for the same reason. The smell is quite strong (but quite faithful to roses!) so for me, I have to sort of use it sparingly. The best application I've found for it, though, is when I use it to set my powder foundation. My Shiseido The Pureness powder foundation needs a good 15 minutes to "relax" and settle on my face, but this takes care of that in 3 or 4 spritzes. UPDATE 3/3/2008: I no longer use this to set my foundation; perhaps I was a little overzealous in my previous applications, but it appeared that it forced my foundation to oxidize prematurely - whereas it would appear a little darker around 4:00pm or 5:00pm, after setting with rosewater it would look just as dark by about noon instead. However, I've found how lovely it really is as a toner. I thought that my apple cider vinegar/green tea toner was the last word in my removing makeup, after cleansing with Cetaphil, but because it's essentially the same color as the makeup itself, I couldn't see how much residue remained on my cotton pad. with clear rosewater, I could see how much more cleansing I needed to do. Having adjusted that aspect of my routine, I use a few spritzes of rosewater on my toning pad with my ACV/GT toner, and I find this more soothing and calming than the AVC/GT alone. Also, this is a very refreshing facial spray when your face feels tight, or when you feel hot or grimy. I'm sure I'll be making much use of this in that capacity in the summertime. UPDATE 3/11/2008 - I now use only this product alone as my toner. I began retin-a about three weeks ago, and since I've upped applicaiton from every third night to every other night, my skin has become far too sensitive to tolerate the ACV. The rosewater, I have found, is just great the way it is - whether it's applied with a cotton pad, or sprayed into the palms and patted on the face. And I love the smell now! UPDATE 3/18/2009 - Final Verdict on this stuff? Too drying as a toner for my skin and for the climate I live in. Been using DHC's mild lotion for a year; thought this review should reflect that. I now use this mostly to make myself smell nice once in a while after showering, and also to moisten aspirin for the aspirin mask. Would still repurchase, as it's just sort of lovely to have around, should you need it.
I am SO glad that I read this series of reviews, and learned the right way to use this product (Thank you, lillamars!) - namely, massaged onto a dry face with dry hands, then removed with a soft, warm, wet washcloth, or massaged away with warm water alone. It's so gentle, especially for this extremely dry environment I live in, yet effective in removing my makeup and keeping me (mostly) blemish free. It's also a flexible product! For instance, I add three or four drops of Tea Tree Oil to my nickle-sized glob of Cetaphil, morning and/or night, when my face is more blemished or feels grimier than usual. Also, I've found that using a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of Cetaphil to honey in the mornings really helps my face retain moisture throughout the day. When I need to freshen up my eye area in the late afternoon/evening, a drop of this on a tissue removes mascara that may have strayed under-eye. My jury of one is out as to the negative effects of the surfactants it apparently contains; I plead total ignorance. I really love this stuff, though, so I'd be super-bummed if I found a compelling reason to discontinue use.