Scrubs -Giovanni - Dtox System Purifying Facial Scrub with Charcoal & Volcanic Ash
DearAlexandra 10/22/2012 11:38:00 PM
Underrated, below-radar gem. So much better than any other scrub from the drugstore and more effective than most of the high-end brands. Very hearty, dense, non-oily, non-slippy, rinse-clean formula whose abrasiveness can be easily manipulated depending on how much pressure you use (don't be scared off by the large grain size--you can make it very mellow if you prefer that to the enthusiastic scrubbing my skin likes). After I rub it in I like to keep it on my skin for a good 5 minutes in the shower so the steam can push it in further giving the active charcoal a chance to do its magic. On my 4th tube. Always stocked in my shower.
Lotions/ Creams -La Prairie - La Prairie - Cellular Body Emulsion
DearAlexandra 10/22/2012 11:30:00 PM
Disappointed. I can't believe how many positive reviews there are here. I love and trust La Prairie in general for providing some of the best, most elegant skincare products but this one is one of their rare flops. Texture, scent, absorption are all good and what you would expect from a high-end line but... the *performance* simply isn't there. I expected at least a very subtle extra silkiness or slight glow or longer-than-average moisture retention and suppleness but this product didn't *do* anything other than behave like a decent drugstore formula.
Scrubs -L'Oreal - Sublime Bronze Pre-Self-Tanning Scrub
DearAlexandra 5/31/2011 7:23:00 PM
THE. BEST. BODY. SCRUB. I feel like most scrubs on the market--esp. drug store brands--don't have the oomph to deface even a tulip petal. And then all the rougher, larger grained ones are usually: 1.) basting in thick oils that make me feel gross/ick up my towels/bathtub 2.) packaged in clumsy heavy glass jars that invariably crack and/or fall on my toe 3.) priced at around $30 for 6 ounces. And even when I do find those terrific body scrubs that are neither oily nor wimpy (like the lovely, moderately rough vat of Ren), I just go through them too fast to warrant the expense. But this scrub is perfect in every way: Its a generously filled drugstore tube of uniformly mid-sized grains that give skin that satisfyingly uncomfortable grinding that it needs to create a plush, silky glow. The formula is dense without being sticky or gummy; it isn't silicone-slippery or oily which makes rinse-off fast and easy; and there is a decent quantity of a chemical (BHA-salicylic) exfoliant added to boost the efficacy of the mechanical exfoliants. And, unlike many high-end sugar/salt/nut/pit particle scrubs whose ridiculous price points are (speciously) justified through "natural--is--better" marketing, these scrub particles are synthetic. This is actually preferable (in terms of manual exfoliants/abrasives) because the natural particles are irregular and therefore not only create an unevenly abraded surface, but also often unnecessarily irritate and sting the skin with their very sharp or jagged points (Origins' Ginger Salt Scrub, anyone?). Synthetics also don't disintegrate in water the way salt and sugar scrubs do, so you can do your whole body with a single glob instead of having to re-scoop every 5 seconds. So why can this product only be found online these days? Honestly, I think it's because it's too effective. If you have sensitive skin or use this too enthusiastically, you'll be uncomfortable. I
Since it's debut back in late 2006, I've been very loyal to this cream. I'm now on my 4th jar of this, not counting the tens of mini/deluxe jars I've used and all the dozens of sample packets I keep in my overnight kit. Like Clinique's DD Gel (which is also a standby workhorse of mine but its lighter texture works better for me in the summer), this sunk into my skin, moisturized, and lasted all day without being heavy. I could use it even on irritated post-peel/tretinoin skin without feeling any uncomfortable sting. I loved its fluffy, almost whipped texture and I reached for it as one of my most reliable, all-purpose, well-rounded moisturizers that didn't cost too much and performed beautifully. Something about it made my skin just feel clean and bright and happy. I especially loved it for the colder months because I found that it left this light but delightfully dewy, plumply moist feel and look. But something changed. For months now, my skin has been hating this. It simply will not absorb anymore--it just sits there on my face like a clammy, silicone slick. It has an almost mask-like feel to it. It still washes off easily and has a thin, light texture, but while I wear it, it almost feels like I have a fine layer of a water-resistant substance on my face. I keep trying to work with it--I've tried layering it w/ different products, pressing it in, rolling it in, tapping it in, praying over it, coaxing it to work with different massage techniques, etc....but nothing works. It feels almost like a silicone-laden hair shine serum on my face. My dehydrated skin has become increasingly ruddy looking and the pores seem larger than they normally do. My small patches of Renova-abused dry flakes can't seem to extract any of the humectants anymore. It's bizarre. It actually feels like it's suffocating my skin or somehow preventing it from absorbing moisture. Terrible. (P.S. The only other time I've had a product just turn on me like this is with a Perricone cream (was it the Face Finishing?? can't remember), which I had also been very loyal to. Months deep into my love-affair with it, it just bottomed out and my skin just didn't seem to be able to benefit from the formula at all any longer. Same thing with this. And neither of the two formulas had changed either (I've checked). Very occasionally this also happens to me with a hair product, but after I do a clarifying treatment, it usually starts working again. With this and the Perricone product, though, no amount of tweaking seems to restore its earlier performance. I don't get it. I can see how hair product build-up can prevent a 'poo/conditioner from performing, but my skin doesn't have any "build-up"--I use peels/tretinoin/toner/etc. every day--but I have no explanation for this. Anybody with a better dermatological insight care to enlighten me? I'm flummoxed.)
I've been looking for a cream formula that is light enough to melt into my combination skin but durable enough to stay put throughout the day. Since I tend to get oily by mid-day, many creamy foundations slip off, dissolve, or streak. But the lotions and sheer formulas I usually go for (LM Tinted and Armani Silk) don't give enough glow or plushness to my skin. When the MA applied this cream (with MAC's synthetic foundation brush), it stayed put through the day and gave a lasting plush finish. My skin looked smooth, moisturized, and even, and I neither needed a primer nor setting powder. I'm less happy with the results I get on my own, though. When applied with fingers, this streaks and sits on top of my skin. It just doesn't absorb no matter how much I knead, warm, and massage it in. Stippling with the 187 is a little better but, as other reviewers have mentioned, a denser dual haired brush is needed in order to get the pressure necessary to push the cream into the skin. But since I didn't want to buy the new 130 just for this foundation, after stippling I buffed with my 180 until the finish was seamless. Initially, the application looked flat but after a generous spraying of Fix+ and an hour of wear, that luminous and even luster that the MA created came right back. It's now almost 10pm and my skin still looks glowy and polished. So, all in all, this is a great option for plump, soft-looking skin but it does require elbow grease and time. If you are willing to add another 5 minutes to your routine, though, it's worth it. This formula seems to run a little on the dark side--I can usually get away with NW/NC 20 in their other liquids but the NW15 is an exact match for my tone. If you are ordering online and aren't sure what shade to get, feel free to click on my profile pic to compare your skin tone to mine. UPDATE: Jan. '11 : Dropping from 4 star to 1 star. With continued use, I've developed an allergy to this. I've never had a skin reaction before and I don't have sensitive skin so this is worth noting: 12-24 hrs after every single time I put this on, I get multiple painful cystic pimples. I find that I can get away with it if I only use this for a few hours (like for an evening) and then apply clin/benz peroxide afterwards, but any longer face-time than that and I wind up paying for it.
I generally only apply a bit of BioSilk or other thin silicone serum post straight ironing my long thick wavy highlighted hair, but I've been religiously using this for a year now (on dry hair) because it's less likely to grease up my hair and it also leaves this subtle but (to me) noticeable hint of silky shimmer. Calms flyaways too. Staple. EDIT - March 2010: Still use this after every wash. The best thing out there for a weightless, silky finish. Instantly brightens. Doesn't attract dirt or leave residue like other glossing serums and it never looks sticky. Only a Tic-Tac sized pump is needed. Can't recommend enough.
Makeup Brushes -MAC - #210 Precise Eye Liner (Fine Point)
DearAlexandra 1/11/2009 5:22:00 AM
THE finest and most well-crafted liner brush I've found. So easy to use, so durable. Perfect. I still use an angled liner brush to create my cat eye flick because I find it more precise than to freestyle it with this type of brush, but I always go over the angled brush's strokes with this to perfect the application. EDIT: Jan. '11: I've gone through a few of these now---the point doesn't stay fine enough and little hairs fray away from the tip and often mess up the application of a delicate cat-eye flick. I still think this is one of the best liner brushes I've found in makeup lines but I now use a better quality fine-point brush that's designed for painters working with oil-based pigments. So much better.
My favorite, plushest, densest, softest brush in my collection. A dream to use.
I've gone through two tubes of this and can say it's done nothing for me. I also don't find that the applicator picks up enough product to thoroughly coat my lashes. If you really want added length and volume, spend on a tube of Revitalash. Revitalash lasts much longer (tubes last me almost a year), it has a better applicator and is miles more effective. This does nothing. I suspect that the high ratings this solution gets is due mainly to accolades from reviewers who haven't ever used Revitalash and therefore have nothing more effective to compare it to.
Treatments -Kiehls - Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate
DearAlexandra 1/11/2009 5:14:00 AM
I'm on my third bottle and while I find the formula too thick and milia producing to use on my facial skin, I apply this to my hands as a vitamin C treatment every morning. I rate it so highly because I appreciate the photostability of the product and it's correct PH and L-ascorbic concentration. For my face I usually stick with my LRP Active C for Combination Skin.
I love Darphin but this rich cream did nothing for my dry winter skin. I've gone through multiple jars of their Arovita C cream (the original) and while it isn't emollient enough to use on its own during these cold months, it delivers a lovely glow to my skin and has a very elegant, layerable texture. This product just seemed to sit on my skin.
Treatments (Eye) -Clinique - Moisture Surge Extra Refreshing Eye Gel
DearAlexandra 1/11/2009 5:08:00 AM
I've gone through two of these because I was impressed with the ingredients but I have to say this light gel did nothing for my dry eye area. Good packaging, nice feel, no balling up. It just didn't do much of anything.
Portable, petite, cute packaging. Despite it's elegant cream to (semi)powder formula and pretty delicate scent, though, I find that this formula too drying for my undereyes. I'm a NW15-20 and the Light shade is a great match but this formula simply isn't durable or humectant enough for me and it doesn't cling to my skin well enough to last more than a few hours.
Eye Primer -Urban Decay - Eyeshadow Primer Potion - Original (UDPP)
DearAlexandra 1/11/2009 4:58:00 AM
the cat eye flick I create with my Stila smudgepots and Mac Fluidlines all fade on my oily lids after a few hours without this product. Very effective eyeliner gripper but I find that if I don't apply precisely, this formula dries out my lids and makes them look dry and crepe-like. Take care to blend this only into the lashline and where your little cat flick tail will be painted, if you are prone to looking dry on your lids. I cannot use this as an eyeshadow base because of how rough and parched it makes my crease look.
Makeup Brushes -MAC - 180 Small Buffer Brush ] [DISCONTINUED]
DearAlexandra 1/11/2009 4:52:00 AM
Creates a finer finish than my Kabuki brushes because of it's flat (rather than dome shaped) head and its perfectly molded wooden handle allows greater control during application. When time affords, I use this after each application of face makeup--primer, liquid, powder, blush--and then set everything with a few spritzes of Mac's Fix +. Seamless finish every time.