Fresh's Creme Ancienne is a good option for people who are very dry, or who have a compromised skin barrier and need a product that will shield their skin while they regain their skin's barrier functions. . That being said, this product is also marketing hype at its best. Save the meadowfoam seed oil and a little tocopherol (Vitamin E), it really isn't going to do much for the skin aside from provide intense moisturization. . But what do I mean by moisturization? In the professional skincare world, we are talking about oil content when we talk about "moisturization," not water content, which is "hydration." There is absolutely no hydrating value to this creme, because it is anhydrous (i.e., without water). Oil molecules are large and do not penetrate the skin much at all, so what you get is a shield of moisture. It sounds great, but unless you're incredibly dry or you've completely abused your skin with harsh peels or drying ingredients (like benzoyl peroxide) - and you know who you are because your faces are red and raw - you do not need this. It may even clog your pores and promote breakouts. . I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but prior to acquiring my license to work on skin, I completely bought into the hype of Creme Ancienne. It did absolutely nothing for my skin, and now that I understand what the ingredients actually do, I know why. I hate to say it, but if you're super dry, some aquaphor over your daily moisturizer (that hopefully provides some hydration as well as moisturization) will work, also. Dermalogica even sells an anyhdrous moisturizer called Barrier Relief that will function similarly. The fact is, if you truly need a moisturizer like Creme Ancienne, that means your skin type is on the extreme end of the dry-oily spectrum and my goal as a professional would be to get your skin to a point where you don't need it anymore. . Also, I completely agree with the reviewer before who mentioned that including a serum would be a good choice. For proper antiaging, you really do want to infuse more antiaging ingredients into your routine. Just because monks made it doesn't make Creme Ancienne anything more than a (WAY) overpriced moisturizer. A decent moisturizer, but completely mediocre as an antiager -- and at those prices, it should provide major antiaging benefits, too, don't you think? (But given that it's a waterless moisturizer, it wouldn't matter because it wouldn't be able to penetrate.) . Needless to say, anybody who is not very dry should stay away from this moisturizer. . For those who want serious antiaging, check out Derma MD Skincare or Somme Institute.
Mineral foundation is the one that's the best suited for my skin type, so I tried LM's version a few months ago hoping that it would be a good substitute for Bare Escentuals (BE was too irritating and it broke out my skin). The initial results were promising, but the product did not provide sufficient coverage, the glow quickly turned into an oily, shiny look by the afternoon, and once the oilies hit, the product oxidized and developed an orange cast. It was, unfortunately, a no-go. The light-to-medium coverage wasn't enough, and it simply didn't survive my tendency toward T-zone shininess (and I'm not a true oily skin type; I'm combination at best). At least I didn't suffer irritation or breakouts when using the foundation and setting powder. For the price, though, it needs to deliver on all fronts. I'm using Faerie Organic now, and it gives me the coverage and staying power I need for a much cheaper price. Would not re-purchase, as comparable and superior products are available at a much more affordable price.
Foundations -Unlisted Brand - Faerie Organic Mineral Makeup
Carys 5/31/2011 2:01:00 PM
I love Faerie Organic's mineral foundation. Mineral foundation is the type that's best suited to my skin, but previous bad experiences with Bare Escentuals' products turned me off from loose mineral foundation years ago. Every time I went back to BE, I had to stop for the same reasons: irritation, itching, and breakouts. I even tried Laura Mercier's mineral foundation, but the coverage was just so-so and her product would oxidize by midday, leaving my skin with a slight bit more orange than I would have liked. . I read about Faerie Organic being a good alternative to Bare Escentuals on an online acne forum, so I checked them out and bought their sample kit. I first tried the airbrushed variety (the one with the dewy finish) with their sheer veil powder, but despite their claims that it's appropriate for all skin types, my skin produced enough oil that it made me look too shiny by the end of my work day. Then I tried the full coverage (matte finish) with the matte veil powder. It was perfect. It gave good coverage, it survived my work day, and its color stayed true and did not oxidize despite my tendency to get shiny. . Now, I use the full coverage foundation in medium golden, the matte veil powder, the Flower Child au Naturale primer, and their concealer in medium. It provides sufficient coverage to conceal redness from breakouts and evens out my skin tone with a natural look. Most importantly, I have not suffered from irritation or breakouts since using Faerie Organic. The full coverage matte foundation also provides much better coverage than Bare Escentuals'. I also love that the matte veil powder has kaolin clay in it; between that and the silica and rice powder in the primer, the oilies strike way later in the day than they used to. . During a month or two during the winter, I did find that the full coverage with matte powder did leave my face looking a little overly done, but I suspect that it was the dryness that was the problem. Now that it's early summer, however, it looks completely natural. Next winter, I'll try using the airbrush version with sheer veil to see if that mitigates the "powder face" winter look. . I've turned some of my BE-using friends on to Faerie Organic and they've made the switch with me. We love the lower price point, the better coverage, and the gentleness of the product.
Concealers -Jemma Kidd Makeup School - Mannequin Skin Illuminating Concealer
Carys 10/8/2009 2:43:00 PM
This concealer is double-ended. The concealer is housed in a twist-up tube like a stick of lipstick, and the other end is a highlighter cream with a sponge application wand. I use this set to conceal the dark circles under my eyes, and it's worked very well. Using the highlighter cream as a base under the concealer completely brightens up the under-eye area and gives the concealer a great boost. (This is a technique similar to what Laura Mercier recommends, but I find that JK's highlight cream+concealer work together better than LM's click-pen highlighter+concealer.) The consistency of the concealer itself isn't sticky or tacky, and I would actually consider its texture similar to Cle de Peau's concealer's, which is smooth and easy to apply. Unlike Cle de Peau's beige, however, this concealer contains peach tones in it that aid in brightening (making it more similar to LM's concealers in color). I have this in med/dark, and it works just fine on my complexion (Asian, medium-to-tan). Overall, I think that this is a great find. The cream and the concealer work well together, and each product has its uses separately. Plus, the packaging is convenient and travel-friendly.
Makeup Brushes -Stila - #21 Double Duty Cheek Contour and Blush Brush
Carys 9/5/2009 1:18:00 AM
Amazing brush--a must have. It really does deposit blush differently and delivers a smoother, finer, and overall more gorgeous finish. I use it for all my blushes. If you thought your Laura Mercier and Chanel blushes were lovely before, try it with this brush. It's soft and dense, which makes it ideal for depositing any type of powder. I even use this with my Bobbi Brown and Dior shimmer bricks. . This brush became truly indispensable to me this year, however, when I started using it to apply my powder. I have combination skin that's oily in the T-zone, so I've always finished off my makeup with a dusting of powder, but I found myself shiny even with oil-absorbing powder (e.g., MAC's blot powder). Before, my solution was just put more on, but then I always risked looking cakey. However, I use this brush to buff pressed powder on top of my spray foundation, and my makeup's lasting power has extended noticeably. I end up actually using *less* powder (I dab the brush into the compact lightly, so I don't actually pick up more powder than before). It's the act of buffing it into the skin that really does wonders for me; buffing my blot powder on buys me a few more hours before I begin to get shiny. (One warning, however: As with any powder, the act of buffing will make flakes obvious, so make sure you exfoliate beforehand.) On top of being an amazing blush brush, it's now my go-to brush for powder application, as well!
I was one of those who couldn't use Carmindy's original liquid foundation because it turned my face into an oily mess by midday. This new foundation, however, is for us oilier girls. This spray has replaced Dior's Airflash as my staple foundation. I prefer it to the Dior and ERA spray foundations, since it leaves a supple, velvety finish that the other two don't deliver. (I have a theory about the different finish: the others were designed with people who like to spray foundation directly on the face in mind, while this one was designed to be applied with a tool.) This review will, for the most part, address how well the foundation sits on combination/oily skin. . Color: I'm NC-40-ish and Asian, and I was able to find a good match with the shades medium and medium-to-deep. My chin area and jaw line is darker than my cheeks, nose, and forehead, so I use medium-to-deep on my chin and jaw, then switch to medium for the rest of my face. It may sound time-consuming, but the foundation applies quickly since the formula is thin (almost watery). The two colors blend seamlessly and leave a velvet-like, sheer finish that is dry without being matte. (Note: I purchase my medium shade at my local Rite Aid, but they only carry light, medium, and deep. For the in-between shades like fair, medium-to-deep, etc., I have to go Ulta to find them.) . Coverage: I would say that this product delivers sheer-to-medium coverage. If you want something really heavy duty, I would probably look into something else with heavier coverage. My skin even-toned and smooth--however, I do have some dark spots from playing with blemishes on my cheeks and chin, and this airspray foundation evens out my skin color. . Application: This foundation was designed to be applied with a tool and not directly onto the skin. I like the finish of this foundation when applied with either a sponge or a brush, but I prefer sponges because they make the application go faster. Also, I don't mind having to apply this stuff with tools, because I already used brushes and sponges to apply my Dior and ERA spray foundations (which, funny enough, I started to do at the behest of a Dior artist who considered spraying directly onto the face a waste of product--using tools gives better control, also). I can see how some people have complained about streaking, but that is really only the case when it's first applied and it blends out quickly. As long as you don't need heavier coverage, it shouldn't be a problem. If you do need heavier coverage and still want to use spray foundation, I would consider another brand, as I wouldn't advocate building coverage with this stuff. . Lasting power: Spray foundations are the only ones that stand up to my oily t-zone when paired with an oily-absorbing powder, like MAC's blot powder, and this one is no exception. (Carmindy herself advocated spray foundation for oily skin on a recent episode of 'What Not to Wear,' so we're on the same page regarding that point.) The light, watery formula delivers color without as much filler as traditional liquids and creams, so the color stays put longer and doesn't trigger any oil slicks. I do not know how well it stays on the skin without powder, however, since I always apply an oil-absorbing powder on top of my spray foundation. This foundation combined with some oil-absorbing pressed powder stays put throughout my 16-hour days with the help of the occasional blot or two using blotting paper. (Side note: If you're oily, check out my Stila #21 cheek/contour brush review for tips on powder application.)
Liquid -Christian Dior - DiorSkin Forever Extreme Wear Flawless Makeup SPF
Carys 11/30/2008 11:36:00 PM
This is the only liquid foundation that I've used that doesn't melt off my face by the end of the day. It has the staying power of my Chanel Double Perfection powder foundation, and I use this when I want more coverage. Since it lasts throughout the day (with minimal blotting), I often use this on its own without powder. When I do use powder, I use the Dior Forever powder foundation, and, even then, I only dust lightly across my t-zone. Its finish is matte, but it does produce a faux glow that makes me look like I've been drinking plenty of water--the effect comes through especially when I don't use powder. It really looks great. The key to this stuff, I find, is to use a brush and apply sparingly. Putting too much on will land you with a cakey look, especially if you plan to powder afterward. I have classic combination skin with an oily t-zone and dry spots around my mouth, and this works just fine. It lasts, but isn't too drying. The first Dior associate matched me at a darker shade (40) than I would have liked (I'm Asian and the ethnic coloring makes me look darker than I am to some people), but a second trip to the counter and a different girl matched me at 30, which is perfect. (FYI: I wear Chanel's Double Perfection Powder Foundation in medium beige, LM mineral foundation in Rich Vanilla, Bare Escentuals in medium-beige, Bobbi Brown in Natural.)
Powder -Chanel - Double Perfection Compact Teint Poudre Mat Eclat [DISCONTINUED]
Carys 11/11/2008 3:25:00 AM
Honestly, this is the best powder foundation that I've ever used. The finish is gorgeous and the wear is long-lasting. No more foundation floating on (or, worse, disappeared from) my T-zone by the afternoon! It also just looks gorgeous on the skin, doesn't oxidize, and doesn't turn into a mess by the afternoon. Just one step does the trick--no priming, no setting powders afterward. I thought Laura Mercier's mineral foundation (with primer and setting powder) were superior to Bare Escentuals' foundation (with mineral veil powder), but Chanel's Double Perfection trumps both--big time. I've also used Origins' Silk Screen powder foundation as well as MAC's Studio Fix, but those two always sacrificed either wear or finish to achieve the other (i.e., good wear but bad finish, or good finish but short-lasting). Chanel combines the two pros and I can't think of any cons except for, perhaps, the price. But what's 50-some dollars when you can whoop out a sleek black compact with those interlocked C's for touch ups? This is the first foundation that I've truly been happy about in every aspect.
I saw Carmindy apply makeup on a talk show and she mentioned this primer as something appropriate for women of all ages. She also mentioned that there's a difference between glitter and shimmer, and that, apparently, this primer is age-appropriate because it's not glittery, but shimmery. Huh? This stuff sparkles, girls, and in a glittery way. (By "glitter," I mean that you get discrete points of sparkle and not a wash of shimmery gleam---think of the difference between twinkling stars and an iridescent sheen.) You can see the points of sparkle like little stars on my face in the right light (sunlight will do it) even right after I've applied my makeup, which is when the foundation is still intact on my face. As the day goes on and my foundation fades a bit, the sparkles come through even more. I will continue using this on my cheeks, but certainly not all over my face. I also used this, as Carmindy suggested, on my chest and collar, and the skin looked nice and gleaming at first, but after an hour or so, all that was left was some sparkle. My suggestion is to wear the foundation alone, as all this contributes is just sparkle and not sheen. More importantly, I don't think that it helped to extend the wear of my makeup at all. (Like other reviewers, I think that it actually limits the wear--I get really oily after a few hours when I pair this with my foundation. Also, like the other reviewers have noted, it does squirt everywhere, so make sure that you aim it into the palm of your hand.)
I LOVE this as a setting powder for concealer. I use this in combination with Erase Paste to achieve a nice brightening effect that looks natural and stays natural-looking even hours after application. It also helps keep my concealer from wearing. For me, Powderflage is superior to Laura Mercier's Secret Brightening Powder. My problem with LM's powder is that it's very easy to over-apply the powder and I had to be very careful applying it, or else I would end up with a white cast under my eyes. Too much of LM's powder would also result in an uneven, unsightly application. Powderflage's powder is very fine, however, and I still end up with a nice, pretty application even when I purposefully try to over-apply it. It doesn't accentuate bumps or ridges (LM's powder would do this if I wasn't careful) and doesn't seem to settle into lines. I also appreciate the light pink color as an alternative to LM's white-ish powders (even the #2 shade was still just a yellow-tinged white), because it simply imparted a more natural brightening effect than LM's shimmery white powder. (FYI: I'm a NC40 of Chinese descent with a complexion sometimes described as olive. Powderflage looks natural on me, but I doubt it would on my mom, who has much stronger yellow undertones.) Powderflage does have some very fine shimmer in it, but you need to get very close to be able to notice it. Powderflage also definitely helps to extend the life of my undereye concealer. Does this powder work as a concealer? Not really. I can see this working on its own and with nothing else for, say, a teenager (or someone blessed with a similarly youthful complexion). I'm 27 and I still need to use creamy concealer because Powderflage on its own is not enough to mask the light shadows under my eyes. For that, I need something with more pigment, which Powderflage doesn't really have, despite it being pink. Despite it not living up to its concealer claims, it works beautifully as a setting powder and brightening powder for my under-eyes.
Mascara -Christian Dior - Diorshow Black Out Mascara
Carys 7/23/2008 4:34:00 PM
I'm pretty much in agreement with what people have said here. Yes, it clumps. It clumped on me by the second application. Yes, it also produces the dreaded spider-lash if you aren't extremely careful and diligent with combing it out---itself a time-consuming process. Yes, it's also a wet formula---a problem if you have stick-straight lashes like mine that de-curl when it comes into contact with too much moisture (Asians, beware!). The heavy, gloopy formula also weighs sparse lashes down and mitigates prior efforts to curl them. I don't know what some people are saying about this formula helping to curl lashes, because it does the exact opposite for me. The saleswoman told me that this was a better, blacker version of DiorShow, that it was more like a tint than the creamy original and that the brush is smaller. Not true. It's just as gunky as the original and has the same, big, unwieldy brush. Furthermore, if I'm not careful with my application, I end up with lashes that are gunky, clumpy, and wiggly. Tammy Faye would have loved this, I think. The good thing about this mascara is that it's much better about smudging than the original. I usually have to use Fiberwig or Blinc's Kiss Me tubing mascara because mascaras always smudge on me, but this is one non-tubing formula that had pretty decent staying power. The others, however, aren't such pains in the *** to apply. All in all, I agree with previous reviewers that a mascara so expensive should not be so time consuming to apply well. There are better and cheaper out there that aren't so annoying to use. Yes, you can get a good effect out of it, but, for $35 bucks, shouldn't that be true without all the effort? Will not repurchase, as I honestly can't tell how this was a noteworthy improvement over the original. EDIT 8/1/08: Application improves greatly if you wipe off the wand with a kleenex, especially at the tip.
Kiehl's Rice & Wheat Volumizing Shampoo has been a HG for me. As someone who is not a "hair person," as my friends would say, a hair product needs to be impressive to justify the $18 it costs to buy this product. As someone with a LOT of fine hair and a normal-to-oily scalp, I needed a product that keeps my hair lightweight and full of volume without stripping it of moisture and softness. The combination of this shampoo with the Rice & Wheat conditioner are fabulous in keeping hair soft, shiny, and touchable without leaving much of any residue or weighing it down. I always had to sacrifice shine and softness in the past for volume and cleanliness, but this line doesn't force me to compromise. Every stylist I've had has complained (the nicer ones "remark") about the sheer amount of hair that I have. I bring this up because the weight of that much hair used to flatten my hair (doesn't help that it's all fine hair) within a day of washing, but the Rice & Wheat line has really helped me to be able to wash every other day comfortably. I can even wait until the 3rd day if I have to without my hair oiling up too badly if I really have to--something I wasn't able to do in the past without using a product that compromised the shine and softness of my hair. The Rice & Wheat line is advertised as products for people who have flat, lifeless hair--like me--and it has worked well enough to get someone who hates dealing with her hair to shell out the department store prices for hair products.
EDIT 8/1/08: Being cheap, I actually used up my bottle of this cleanser, despite what I said about it below. I used it exclusively (trying to use it up faster) morning and night for a week and it brought out my dry spots--flakey, red, and irritated. I actually have combo skin and the dry spots that flank my mouth only show when I'm overstripping my skin. Needless to say, I had to stop. I think it's just been too long since I've used a detergent-based cleanser (I usually use Origin's cleansing oil or Fresh's soy cleanser). So my advice to dry and/or sensitive types (which I'm actually neither) is to get a sample first. ------ (Disclaimer: I am not a health-care specialist or a scientist. What I say should not be taken as an expert's opinion, and I encourage readers to do their own research on the topics I discuss in this review.) --- Benefit markets this as a soap-free cleanser, but I would argue otherwise. I think what they mean to say is that this product is glycerin free, but please do not be fooled. Instead of soap (i.e., glycerin), You clean up nice! uses a detergent: sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). While I'm not a dermatologist or chemist (I'm just a skincare enthusiast), I thought that glycerin (soap) is actually preferable to detergents (like the SLES used in this product). Detergents are basically foaming agents that are cheaper to manufacture than glycerin/soap, so companies go with detergents even though they're not necessarily safer for use. Indeed, a quick search online shows that the detergent SLES has been shown to be both carcinogenic and a skin irritant, and its toxicity has been a point of concern for many researchers. So when Benefit says that this is a soap-free cleanser, they mean this in the worst way. Here, soap/glycerin would actually be superior than the detergent they use. Sodium laureth sulfate is cheaper and worse for your health and your skin. (Sorry I went on for so long about this--I just feel that since they market this as a "soap-free" cleanser, we need to analyze and be honest about what "soap-free" means and if it's really a good thing or not.) ------- Now, on to the actual product review! I'll start with the pros: - The orange blossom smell is very refreshing and light. It's a nice fragrance to wake up to in the morning. - It lathers easily, spreads easily, and rinses easily. Nice for when you're in a rush in the morning. It's a clear gel that foams up into a dense lather. - If you like squeaky-clean, it does leave your skin with that feeling. (I, however, don't and don't feel that it's necessarily good for your skin to be squeaky clean.) - The press-top lid is easy-to-use. ---- The cons: - I hail from the camp of "squeaky doesn't mean clean," so I don't like the feeling. I think the squeaky feeling just tricks people into thinking their skin is clean, and, worse, it achieves this by removing your skin of its natural oils. - The active ingredients are detergents. It's the detergents that are responsible for making the skin squeaky. Plus, research has shown sodium laureth sulfate to be irritating to the skin with prolonged use. - I didn't find that it takes makeup off well. Foams well, yes, but actually cleaning grime off? Not great--much like any other detergent-based cleanser. Use makeup remover or cleansing wipes prior to using this if you have a full face of makeup to take off. ---- The conclusion: There's nothing new or exciting here. You clean up nice! uses the same detergents that cleansers from the last few decades leading up to now have used. That was actually my initial thought when I used it for the first time: "This is just like what I used to use before I could afford the good stuff." There is no new or innovative technology here. I'm disappointed that, in an age where companies are trying to move forward with better, safer, healthier ways of taking care of skin, Benefit has decided to run backwards in time. SLES is cheap and harmful to the skin and the body, and, quite frankly, using it in cleansers is part of an old-fashioned approach to skin care. The best way to put it is that this cleanser, to me, felt like the cleansers that I was trying to move away from. It doesn't condition the skin, it doesn't pamper it, and, as far as cleansing goes, I have cleansers that were cheaper to acquire that work better *and* are healthier/safer for me to use. So, ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your oil cleansers, your cream cleansers, and, heck, even your Purity. $23 for decades' old technology (that's now been proven to be bad for you) is ridiculous. It's ridiculous just like its "soap-free" claim, since it would have actually been healthier and better for buyers if it *did* have real soap in it instead of detergent. I love Benefit, but this is a big let-down. It smells nice, but for $23 in the year 2008, I expect a lot more innovation. It's seriously like they didn't even try to come up with something better, and, instead, made the "soap-free" claim to pretend like it's something new. This is an overpriced, pedestrian product. Needless to say, I will not repurchase.
This is a light, non-greasy, non-oily makeup remover. There's no oily residue, but you do feel a little bit film-y afterwards. The filmy residue is very mild and nothing unlike what I've felt after using cleansing wipes, and it comes off easily with a quick splash of water. This is a good choice for removing face makeup, but not so for eye makeup. Stick to whatever your go-to eye makeup remover is, because this won't be replacing it. I end up having to rub my eye makeup off at least two or three times when using Gee..., especially when I wear more heavy-duty items like waterproof liners and mascara, and that's simply too abrasive for the skin around my eyes. (My favorite eye-makeup remover is still Bobbi Brown's.) Gee...'s sent is refreshing, though, and it's a great complement to its light feel. Final verdict: light, refreshing makeup remover that's good for the face, but falls flat for eye makeup.
Skincare - Face -Laura Mercier - Skin Cotton Squares
Carys 5/5/2008 9:39:00 PM
Biggest waste of money, ever! The gals at my local LM counter usually give very reliable advice, but they totally let me down with suggesting this purchase. The other reviewers aren't kidding about the shedding. These squares pretty much leave half of themselves behind all over your face. The only way I can get it to work is by saturating it with 4+ pumps of perfecting water, and, even then, I have to work quickly, because even in their over-saturated state they'll shed cotton all over my face. Use anything less than 4 pumps and shedding will be pretty much guaranteed. Don't let them tell you that using this helps the product penetrate or that using these squares will help you save product. You'll end up using more perfecting water (than if you just used your hands to apply) and you'll be wasting time pulling cotton threads off of your face. This stuff is so bad with the shedding that I'm absolutely amazed that it passed quality control.