* Product - Monoi de Tahiti Precious Dry Oil (Huile Seche Precieuse) * What is Monoi? Monoi oil is one of those beautiful breeds of cult beauty products that does triple duty: It is a moisturizer, conditioner and fragrance oil all-in-one. It is a cult Polynesian beauty secret, made from Tahitian gardenia flowers (tiare) soaked in a coconut oil base. * Review - This golden shimmer oil is a new addition to the ever popular Monoi de Tahiti range by Yves Rocher. It is a Monoi scented dry oil with delicate gold shimmers. And it is the new competitor to the cult beauty fave, Huile Prodigieuse OR by Nuxe. As a devotee the dry oils by Nuxe, I just had to give this a try to see how it compares. Well, I'm pleased to report that I am not disappointed! To compare: this Yves Rocher dry oil is 98.0% natural origin, contains no parabens, and no mineral oil. The Nuxe dry oil with gold shimmers is 95.2% natural origin and sans preservatives. Both dry oils are lightweight, penetrate into the skin easily without feeling greasy/heavy/sticky, and both leave a pretty subtle shimmer. Let me emphasize: the shimmer here is very discrete! Like the Nuxe dry oil, this contains delicate gold shimmers that looks more intimidating in the bottle than it does on the skin. It is delicately scented with tiare flowers, whereas the Nuxe dry oil has its own unique fragrance. * Cons - The heavy glass bottle is rather large and can be unwieldy to use/handle. It sort of reminds me of an old school brandy or liquor bottle (not that that is necessarily a bad thing!). Unlike the Nuxe bottle, there is no plastic stopper nor a spray so it pours out (way too) easily and way too much product. So, I transfer the precious oil to an empty bottle of Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse OR which works better for me ;) * Tips - This shimmering dry oil is perfect for use after sun exposure to give an incredibly radiant, enhanced sun kissed effect. I like to massage onto my arms, shoulders and legs for that smooth as silk sexy look! It is also a wonderful fragrance alternative for the summer that doubles as a skin and hair moisturizer. * Price - Only 9 EUR for a 100ml. bottle. (It is often on sale at half-off, look for buy one get one free promos as well!) The equivalent 100 ml. bottle of Nuxe Prodigieuse OR retails here in Belgium for around 36 EUR. * Verdict - Overall, I am very happy with this product. A fabulous and very affordable dupe for the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse OR. I will definitely repurchase and in fact, I'm going to buy a backup for summer vacations! Recommended.
Styling Products -Unlisted Brand - Homemade Sea Salt Spray
ExpatBeauty 4/25/2013 10:06:00 AM
* PRODUCT – DIY Surf Spray * HAIR PROFILE – Layered, long, thick hair. Somewhat wavy. Tendency to get oily after a day or two. * REVIEW – I just returned from a tropical beach holiday and now that I’m back at home, I’ve missed having that sexy, wind-blown beach hair that I had every day whilst on vacation. I’ve read/heard much about Bumble and bumble’s Surf Spray but at € 28 each here in Brussels (ouch!), the price is a bit steep. So, I did a little investigating, a lot of experimenting, and voila! I finally figured out perfect DIY Surf Spray recipe for my hair. * MY RECIPE: • 1 cup distilled water, warmed up • 2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt or Epsom salt (the more you use, the more textured your results – just experiment to see what works best for you) • 1 teaspoon hair gel • ½ tablespoon leave-in hair conditioner • 4-5 drops of coconut oil or Argan oil or your favorite multi-usage oil (I adore Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse) * INSTRUCTIONS - Combine all of the ingredients. Store in a spray bottle and shake well before using. (If you need to control frizz, or want extra volume, please refer to helpful tips below now.) Spray throughout, and work it through with your fingers to the ends. Don’t be afraid to apply it liberally. Then, section off your hair into separate pieces, cupping the ends in your hand, scrunching up the ends (like an accordion) to encourage waves/curls. You can either let it air dry naturally or blow-dry with a diffuser, and you’re good to go! * HELPFUL TIPS & SUGGESTIONS: (1) FRAGRANCE – The spray recipe is fairly un-fragranced. So, if you want to add a fragrance, simply add a couple of spritzes of your favorite perfume. >> > Example: I add a couple of spritzes of Yves Rocher Monoï Eau des Vahinés because the scent is Tahitian-paradise-in-a-bottle. Absolutely island-style divine. (2) TO MINIMIZE FRIZZ - If your hair is naturally dry or coarse, rub on a dime or quarter size amount (depending on the length of your hair) of styling cream to moisturize and control any fly-aways beforehand. This is also the secret to getting that breeze-y effect. >> > Example: I use Bumble and bumble Styling Crème. I got it in a swap from a friend so it cost me nothing. It’s lightweight and adds noticeable texture and hold without weighing my hair down. (3) FOR EXTRA VOLUME – Apply a volumizing product such as a mousse, lotion, or gel to the roots beforehand. This will help to give your hair that extra lift! >> > Example: I use John Frieda Luxurious Volume Thickening Mousse. (4) FOR EXTRA WAVES – Create waves by lightly wrapping random strands around the barrel of a clip-less curling iron or a curling wand, focusing on the area from the root to the mid-shaft. Leave your ends free - this will give you that natural, windswept kind of look you’re after. This will also polish up a few random pieces of hair for extra definition. >> > Example: I use the Remington T-Studio Pearl Curling Wand. (5) FOR EVEN **MORE** VOLUME – Set sparingly with a volumizing hair spray, hair tossed upside-down while spraying. Now you're ready for the red carpet! >> > Example: I use L'Oreal Elnett Satin Very Volume Hairspray. (6) TO MAINTAIN THE BEACHY LOOK – To maintain this look the day after, I simply apply a little dry shampoo to the roots, if needed, and couple spritzes of the salt spray to rejuvenate my waves. This brings my hair back to life again. >> > Example: I use Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk. * CONS – Salt sprays can be drying on the hair if used every day. Therefore, always remember to introduce moisture back into the hair with a deep conditioner or a moisturizing hair serum as part of your regular hair care regimen. (That being said however, if your hair is like mine and ends up oily a day or two after washing, this salt spray is great!) * PRICE – Next to nothing if you have all the ingredients already. Otherwise, a couple of € (or $ or £). Much cheaper than a 4 oz. bottle of the Bumble and bumble Surf Spray. * VERDICT – Wow, am I so thrilled to have discovered this DIY Surf Spray. What I like about my recipe is that the added leave-in hair conditioner and oil helps to combat the drying effect the sea salt has on the hair. My hair is beachy wavy but it's also soft, touchable, and manageable; not crunchy and not stiff! Personally, I found that applying this on freshly washed toweled damp hair works best for me. However, it also works pretty well on hair that hasn’t been washed in a day or two as well. What I like about this is: (a) it costs next to nothing to make and (b) it gives me that sexy summer hair all-year round, wherever and whenever I want it. Now *this* gives me the tousled, beachy Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, and Gisele Bündchen hair that I’ve always wanted but never thought I could achieve without the help of a Hollywood Glam Squad to do my hair every day! Highly, highly recommended!
* Product – Le Petit Marsellais L’Huile Sèche Sublimante (Dry Oil) * Skin Profile – Normal to dry, drier in the winter. Mild hormonal acne. * Review – I must admit, I’m a big fan of dry oils. No bath or shower is ever complete without the ritual of applying dry oil to moisturize the skin. My most favorite dry oil of all time is the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse – HG for me. So, when I saw this affordable dry oil by Le Petit Marsellais, one of the most popular French drugstore brands [specializing in bath and body products], I had to give it a try. I tested this recently on a two week tropical holiday and what can I say? I like it! * Pluses: + Affordable + Plastic spray bottle is convenient for travel, format fits comfortably in the hand + Contains Argan oil, well known and well regarded for its nourishing and softening properties + Contains Shea butter, known for its moisturizing and nourishing effects + Contains sweet almond oil, highly valued for its emollient and softening properties + Penetrates quickly and easily onto my skin, moisturizes well, and helps to improves skin texture for proper hydration. + Great for hair too! After spending the day under the sun/in the salty ocean/in the chlorinated pool, I wash with Yves Rocher Monoi de Tahiti Shampooing Douche des Lagons (Lagoon Hair & Body Wash). I spray lightly spray throughout my hair as a leave-in hair conditioner. Makes my previously salty, beach-y, chlorinated, unruly wild and wacky hair all nice and soft again! * Minuses: - Gourmand scent, somewhat sweeter/more sugary than I’m accustomed to. - Contains parabens * Price - A 150 ml. spray bottle retails for around € 6. Available at all supermarkets and drugstores. * Tip – Can also be used as a pre-treatment for hair. Spray throughout, wait 15+ minutes, wash and condition as usual. Hair will be soft and shiny! * Verdict – Whilst this doesn’t top my beloved Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, I think this is nice dry oil nevertheless. Personally, I just prefer the scent of the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse over this scent. When it comes to scents and fragrances, it's all a matter of personal preference. Overall, the quality is good and the price is affordable with this humble dry oil. And for travel, it really is ideal since it’s a lightweight plastic bottle format and not a heavy glass square format like the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse. I would repurchase.
Moisturizers -Avene - Hydrance Optimale Riche UV SPF 20
ExpatBeauty 4/12/2013 12:55:00 PM
* Product - Avène Hydrance Optimale Riche UV SPF 20 (Nouvelle Formule) * Skin Profile – Normal to dry. Drier in the winter. Mild hormonal acne. * Review – I bought this late last autumn as a moisturizer with sunscreen to get me through the autumn and winter. I say autumn and winter because here, the daily UV Index here is pretty low during that time of the year (2 or less). I’m a big proponent of sunscreen all year round but the thought of applying my super duper heavy duty SPF50+ summer sun repellant sunscreen in the dead of winter does not appeal to me in the slightest! So, this is where Avène Hydrance Optimale Riche UV SPF 20 came in. Well, after using this to get me through the last few cold months, I’m happy to report that this is a winner for me. * Pluses: + No adverse reactions. My skin seems to agree with it. + Hydrates and moisturizes nicely. With the SPF20, I half expected the usual ‘sunscreen-y’ feel but none here! It’s not greasy nor uncomfortable at all. Texture-wise, it feels similar to Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè except that it's maybe slightly thinner or runnier in terms of fluidity. + Very easy to apply and absorbs into the skin pretty quickly. + No fragrance. Always a plus in my book for skincare products. + Works quite nice as a makeup base, especially with my Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel foundation (which doesn’t contain any SPF protection). * Minuses: - Might not be moisturizing enough for very dry or severely dehydrated skin. Tip: during very cold days, I liked to pre-moisturize with a drop or two of Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, massing it into my skin. For me, the extra pre-moisturization seems to do the trick. - Also, the texture of this cream is a little “runny”; this is not a super creamy cream. - The packaging could be better. The cap often gets messy from the product getting overflowed into it. I have to store it upside down (i.e., cap up) to prevent this from happening. * Composition of "New Formula" - I'm not familiar with the old formula since this is a first purchase for me but from what I could tell, the new and/or different ingredients featured in this "new formula" seem to be: + Lipomucine®: patented complex prevents dehydration and provides optimum hydration + Meiboserine: acts as a protective film that prevents moisture from evaporating. Combined with Lipomucine, it leaves a lipid film that reduces the evaporation of water from the skin. + Beurre de karité: aka: shea butter. * Price - 18 € for a 40 ml tube. Available at all pharmacies and parapharmacies. * Verdict – Overall, I’m happy with this. It’s often difficult to find a nice moisturizer with sunscreen and this seems to tick off all the boxes for me to get me through the autumn and winter months. I also found it worked nicely on my hands too. Moisturizes nicely without being greasy or gross and bonus: it has decent SPF too. A win-win for the face *and* for the hands. I will repurchase.
Sunscreen -L'Oreal - Solar Expertise Gold Protection SPF30
ExpatBeauty 4/4/2013 1:01:00 PM
* Product - L'Oreal Solar Expertise Gold Protection SPF30 * Review - I am a big fan of European sunscreens this time I decided to try this sunscreen for my body. This appealed to me because it's marketed as a sunscreen with advanced UVA/UVB protection thanks to Mexoryl but it also provides for "bronzage sublime" which means (I think) optimal bronzing thanks to its micro-particles of sublime oil for a perfect tan. Well, sounds like a good combo doesn't it? That's what I thought too so that's why I gave it a try for my two (2) week tropical beach holiday! * PLUSES: + Protects well against the sun and yet at the same time, it does let my skin get some color. Indeed, it does seem to provide a nice tan color, moreso than I would get normally with a traditional sunscreen. + Great packaging with the anti-sand screw cap. This works brilliantly. No more accidental leaks! + Very water-resistant. I did not need to re-apply like mad every time I went into the water. + Light texture, blends easily and does not leave a white mess. No more Kabuki sunscreen skin! + Moisturizes well, does not dry out the skin whatsoever. I think this is due to the carrot oil and beta-carotene. * MINUSES: - Fragrance. Somewhat vaguely citrus-y to my nose. Reminds me of Bioderma's "sunshine" fragrance they put in some of their sunscreen products. Not my fave. - I didn't really notice any "micro-particles of sublime oil", certainly no shimmer. Perhaps if there was some shimmer, similar to the very elegant light shimmer that's found in the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or (gold) version, that would be really nice. * Price - A nice large 250 ml bottle retails for around € 16. Also available in SPF 50 as well. * Tip - This is apparently, very similar to Garnier Ambre Solaire Golden Protect SPF30. However, the Garnier contains Monoi de Tahiti and coconut oil. Two of my favorite ingredients! So, I think I might have to give the Garnier a try sometime. Who knows, I might end up liking that one even more than this one ;) * Verdict - Overall, I am pleased with this sunscreen. I find this sunscreen to be well formulated and works well for me and at a fair price. I would repurchase, I think I'll try the SPF50 version next time.
Sunscreen -La Roche Posay - Anthelios SPF50+ Dry Touch Gel-Cream (PPD31)
ExpatBeauty 4/4/2013 12:19:00 PM
* Product - La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF50+ Dry Touch Gel-Cream (PPD31) * Review - I am a big fan of European sunscreens and I’m also an Anthelios devotee. My last bottle was the Dermo-Pediatrics Lait Velouté SPF 50+ (PPD39) which I really, really like. This time however, I wanted to try an Anthelios with a different texture and accordingly, this "new" gel-cream formula piqued my interest. Well, after a 2-week tropical beach vacation holiday and almost finishing up the bottle, I can give my review here. * Pluses: + Blends well and easily into an ultra dry finish, no white marks, no shine. The texture is similar to cream or liquid to powder foundations so while it goes on wet, it dries quickly. Ideal for combo or oily skin. + Cosmetically elegant and photographs nicely. No more greasy face photos! + Unscented + Sans parabens * Minuses: - Confusing whether it's really water-resistant or not? Online, it's claimed to be water-resistant and long-lasting. It also says so on original boxed packaging but nothing stated as such in the included leaflet or on the bottle itself. SPF is high but PPD rating could be higher. - In my experience, this is not very water-resistant nor long-lasting. I had to re-apply frequently after contact with water and perspiration. Even with frequent re-application, whilst I did not experience sunburn (thank goodness), I did get more color than usual on my face --- even though wide-brimmed hats are permanently on my head from from sun up to sun down. - Might be too drying for dry skin; my skin is normal but tends to be on the drier side and I did find this to be a bit on the dry side (hence, the name "dry touch"?) * Summary: I like the texture of this creamy gel-to-powder sunscreen though I did notice that if I didn't blend well or fast enough, it tends to dry and leave some powdery spots where I forgot to **blend, blend, blend** into my normal to dry skin. The key to this product is to work quickly! Also, whilst I found this to be cosmetically elegant and texturally nice, the level of protection just didn't seem enough for me. (Un)luckily for me, I tend to: (a) tan super easily and (b) get age spots super easily too. I really wish this were more water and sweat resistant like the Japanese sunscreens (which seem to wear like iron), then it would be great because I wouldn't have to worry about re-applying constantly after getting into and out of the water. I will continue to use up this bottle for my hands as I really like the texture and I think it will work very well for that. * Tip - Whatever sunscreen doesn't work on your face, use on your hands! Don't neglect to protect your hands from the sun ;) * Price - A 50 ml. tube retails for around € 16. Also available in SPF 30 as well. Available at all pharmacies and parapharmacies. * Verdict - Nice texture for a sunscreen, works alright and would probably be OK for most folks. But for me personally, it doesn't tick off all the boxes for what I'm looking for in a *super* sunscreen for the face. Not long-wearing and not water-resistant enough for me to wholly rely on it for use at the beach or for the pool or when the UV index is 8+. That being said however, this is probably more than enough protection for regular, day-to-day activities where the UV index is low to moderate (i.e., below 6 or 7).
Gels/Soaps -Yves Rocher - Monoi de Tahiti Lagoon Hair & Body Wash
ExpatBeauty 4/4/2013 11:37:00 AM
* Product - Monoi de Tahiti Lagoon Hair & Body Wash (Shampooing Douche des Lagons) * Review - This is rated as one of Yves Rocher's "best" rated products on the French version of MUA so I absolutely had to give this a try. I bought this along with the alcohol-free perfume of the same range. Like the fragrance, the scent is divine. This 2-in-1 hair & body wash is scented with Tiare flowers infused in coconut oil and its especially formulated to cleanly rinse away perspiration, sea salt and sunscreen. And yes, it does the job in spades! The cleansing agent is light and creamy and it doesn't strip my skin at all like many shower gels. I also have thick, long hair and it works very well as a shampoo though my hair does need extra moisturization after shampooing so I do always make sure to condition afterwards with a drop or two of Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse. This is a very convenient and affordable to travel with given its handy size. I never leave on holiday without this in my toiletry case. * Cons - Contains only 0.3% Monoi. * Price - Very affordable at only € 3 at regular price. It's often on sale at half-off for a 150ml bottle. One bottle is enough to last me for a two (2) week tropical beach holiday. * Verdict - Overall, I’m very happy with this product; it’s the perfect accompaniment to use with the Monoi de Tahiti alcohol-free perfume. Recommended for all your summer or beach holidays!
* Product - Monoi de Tahiti Eau Parfumante Sans Alcohol * Note about it being discontinued - This product is NOT discontinued everywhere! I don't know why this is listed as discontinued as it is not; it's definitely available here in Belgium and France all year-round. In-stores as well as online. No issues about availability of this product here. * Review - I was intrigued by the concept of a fragrance that does not contain alcohol and since this is well-regarded and well-rated on the French version of MUA, I decided to give it a try. Also, Yves Rocher often has 50% off sales here so I was able to buy this for cheaper than a cup of coffee! The scent is divine, very much like summer-in-a-bottle. It's reminiscent of the other great "summery" scents like my favorite, Nuxe Parfum Prodigieux. And the scent is more tropical and beach-y rather than sweet and sugary --- which is nice in my book. But the Nuxe parfum costs a lot more and is glass so it's not so convenient or practical to travel with. What I like about this is that it seems to be specifically made for travel: plastic bottle (unglamorous but safer on the beach or poolside), alcohol-free, and lightweight. And with all the goodness of a summery fragrance. It doesn't last long but as it is a "perfumed water", it's not intended to. * Cons - I noticed that if I apply too much, it tends to feel sticky on my skin. Not sure why? Maybe this was due to the hot and humid climate? Not sure. But it doesn't happen all the time so I guess I have to take care not to over-spritz. Also, the bottle leaked a little bit while in transit (i.e., in my beach bag, in my checked luggage) so I make sure to put it in a ziplock plastic bag just in case. Easy solution. * Price - Very affordable at only € 9,90 regular or often on sale at half-off for a 100ml spray bottle. * Verdict - Overall, I’m very happy with this product; it’s the perfect accompaniment to bring along for a beach holiday or to the pool. Recommended!
Styling Products -L'Oreal - Elnett Satin Lumiere Hairspray
ExpatBeauty 3/1/2013 12:29:00 PM
* Product: L'Oreal Elnett Satin Lumiere Hairspray * Product Claims - The legendary Elnett hairspray with light infusers which captures and diffuses the light through its micro-crystals for incomparable shine and brilliance. * My Hair - Long (past my shoulders), thick, and naturally wavy. * Review - The famous Elnett hair spray has a long history in my family as both my grandmother and mother used to use it way back in the day. I have fond memories growing up always seeing the Elnett hair spray bottle in the beauty powder room. So when I saw the newest Elnett products available, I thought I’d give this a try. As with the original Elnett, it has the unmistakable fragrance of Elnett. Also, the product is distributed in a fine mist and unlike so many hair sprays, it doesn’t have the texture of glue whatsoever. Hair is manageable. Brush-able, style-able. This is *not* the hair spray for helmet hair that doesn’t move! My hair looks nicely styled, not frozen or stiff. As for the light diffusing properties, I do notice that the micro light reflectors capture and diffuse light very nicely on my naturally long dark hair. What I love about this is that I no longer have to use an additional silicone-y shine serum on my hair to add shine and brilliance to my hair. This does it without weighing down my hair unnecessarily or making it look greasy. My hair looks shiny and glam! * Pros/Cons - It is perfumed and the fragrance is the same as the original Elnett hair spray. Either you like it or you don’t. * Tips - I am a fan of L’Oreal’s Elnett Heat Protection Spray for Curls to protect my hair from heat damage. I use both products to achieve that ultimate super sexy hair style! * Price - A 250 ml aerosol bottle retails for around € 5. Available at all drugstores. * Verdict - As a fan of the original Elnett hair spray, I’m quite pleased with this new addition to the range. I would happily repurchase.
* Product - L’Oreal Elnett Satin Heat Protection Styling Spray for Curls * Product Claims - Heat protectant spray that protects your hair up to 230C and specially adapted for use with hair dryers or heat stylers. Locks in the style for 3 days. Protects from frizz and humidity. * My Hair - Long (past my shoulders), thick, and naturally wavy. * Review - I must admit, this product first caught my eye due to its very pretty packaging. With its golden interior bottle encased in a clear bottle and clever safety lock trigger, it’s definitely the prettiest hair styling product in the drugstore. I try not to be easily tempted by packaging alone but sometimes, it’s hard to resist. Besides, this is specially formulated for curling hair. And it’s part of the famed Elnett range. So of course, I just *had* to try it. And boy am I glad that I did! Firstly, there's the fragrance. It’s the (in)famous Elnett scent which I remember fondly growing up. Both my grandmother and mother used to use Elnett hair spray way back in the day. In fact, my mom used to smuggle the original bottles of hair spray back from France before it was available in the US! Secondly, the product is lightweight and applies easily with a fine mist. Surprisingly, given that it’s a non-aerosol spray. The pump delivers a fine mist each and every time. It’s not sticky and it doesn’t weigh down my hair. Thirdly, this product promises added volume and it totally delivers --- in spades. I spray about 5-6 times throughout my damp just towel-dried hair, spraying from root to tip. I then comb through. I then blow-dry my head upside down with an ionic hair dryer with diffuser attached and I slowly dry my hair. Now dear MUA readers, this is where the magic happens: immediately, I notice that my hair has at least twice as much volume than before! In fact, I resemble the Lion Queen with my HUGE blow-dried hair! This spray really does wonders in the volumizing category! I then style with my favorite Remington T-Studio Pearl Curling Wand, aiming for that oh so sexy Victoria’s Angels runway look. And let me tell you, this really makes it all come together. For that super-sexy-VA-VA-VA-VOOM-supermodel-hair-that-will-not-stop, this is THE ultimate product. * Pros/Cons - It is perfumed and the fragrance is the same as L’Oreal’s Elnett Hair Spray. Either you like it or you don’t. Also, I don’t know about the 3-day claim by L’Oreal as I usually cannot wait 3-days to wash my hair. * Tip - I finish off my styling with a light mist of L’Oreal Elnett Satin Lumiere hairspray with micro-diffusing light for ultimate shine and glamour. With these styling products, my hair has very nice volume and sexy curls that lasts overnight. * Price - A 170 ml spray bottle retails for around € 8. A little pricey for a drugstore product. But given its great design and how well it works on my hair, it's worth it. * Verdict - I’m not often impressed by hair styling products but this is something that is worth writing home about and moreover, raving about here on MUA. I’m very happy with this product and no doubt about it, I will definitely repurchase.
* Product - Labello Pure & Natural Lait & Miel * Review - My local parapharmacie was all out of stock of my favorite Nuxe Rêve de Miel in stick format so as I was looking around at the drugstore, I happened to come across this little suprise by Labello. Labello lip balms are very popular here in Europe, well-regarded for good quality affordable lip balms. Labello is owned by Beiersdorf, the same German company that makes the Original Nivea Crème made in Hamburg, Germany. I was especially drawn to the “Pure & Natural” lip balm range since it contains no preservatives, no parabens, and is rich in antioxidants. And for the Lait & Miel (milk & honey) lip balm in particular, this contains certified organic shea butter and natural jojoba oil. I was also curious as to how it would compare to the Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm, my usual lip balm of choice. My thoughts as follows: * Color: Labello is creamy yellow. Nuxe Rêve de Miel is creamy white. Both are completely opaque. Both apply transparently on the lips. * Scent: Labello has a sweet honey with a touch of milk scent. Those who are very sensitive to scents might find this scent too strong. The scent of the Nuxe Rêve de Miel is more delicate and is not as strong. And to my nose at least, the Nuxe Rêve de Miel smells more like orange or citrus blossoms with a touch of honey. * Shape: Labello has a slightly rounded smooth tip. Nuxe Rêve de Miel has a smooth slanted tip (similar to that of a traditional lipstick). * Texture: Labello is smooth and leaves a slightly shiny finish. Nuxe Rêve de Miel is smooth and leaves more of a matte finish. * Moisturizing: Both are moisturizing and feel comfortably creamy on the lips, gliding on smoothly. There’s no waxiness, tackiness or stickiness whatsoever here. This feels very emollient on my lips, without feeling greasy or gross. I also noticed that I don't have to swipe as much of it on my lips or use as much product as I do usually with the Nuxe Rêve de Miel. * Net weight: Labello is 4.8g / 5.5 ml. Nuxe Rêve de Miel is 4g / 0.14 oz. * Price: Labello costs around 3 € (supermarket, drugstore). Nuxe Rêve de Miel costs around 6 € (pharmacie, parapharmacie). * Composition: Octyldodecanol, cera microcristallina, hydrogenated polydecene, cetyl palmitate, ricinus communis oil, polyisobutene, pentaerythrityl tetraisostearate, polyglyceryl-3 diisostearate, myristyl myristate, c20-40 alkyl stearate, cetearyl alcohol, bis-diglyceryl polyacyladipate-2, butyrospermum parkii butter, cera carnauba, glycerin, simmondsia chinensis oil, tocopheryl acetate, cera alba, mel, sine adipe lac, vitis vinifera seed oil, aqua, maltodextrin, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone, bht, linalool,benzyl salicylate, parfum, Cl 77492. 100% sans conservateur, sans paraben. * Verdict - This is a very nice lip balm and it feels great on my lips. For me, it performs just as well as the Nuxe Rêve de Miel and at a slightly lower price point (for slightly more product), I feel that it's good value for my money. And since I’m a big fan of milk and honey, the scent of this appeals to me very much. Personally, I find the scent to be really divine. Now, I'm keen on trying out the other varieties in Labello’s Pure & Natural range: the Camomile & Calendula, Mint & Mineral, and Olive & Citron. Overall, I’m very pleased with this drugstore discovery, I will definitely repurchase.
Lotions/ Creams -Avene - Cicalfate Creme reparatrice
ExpatBeauty 8/16/2012 11:45:00 AM
* Product - Avène Cicalfate * Product Claims - A skin restorative / repair cream that helps to speed the skin healing recovery process with anti-bacterial and healing properties. It can be used to help the skin heal from minor skin injuries such as cuts, scrapes, scratches, burns, cracked skin, chapping, abrasions, and post-treatment procedures such laser treatment, microdermabrasion, peeling, hair removal, tattoos, body piercing, etc. * Review - In France, healing creams known as “les crèmes cicatrisantes” are very popular as they are creams that are meant to treat the healing of injured skin tissue. The most popular here are Cicalfate (cream) by Avène and Cicaplast (ointment) by La Roche-Posay. Both contain zinc oxide are commonly recommended to treat mild to moderate skin irritations. I tested both in the pharmacie and Cicaplast has more of an ointment texture, reminiscent of Polysporin. Since I personally prefer a cream texture over a gel texture, I chose Avène Cicalfate. To me, Cicalfate feels more like a regular cream, since it is white and opaque but thankfully, it disappears after application and blending. What I like about this skin repair cream: (a) Repairs - Cicalfate contains Sucralfate in micronized form, Sucralfate is known in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and stress ulcers because it forms a protective barrier on the esophagus and the stomach against damage from acidity. In a topical skin treatment, Sucralfate helps to promote the restoration of the skin barrier and minimize skin irritation. It is an active and original repairer, quickly restoring skin comfort by promoting regeneration of injured skin. In addition, by binding to skin proteins, it forms a protective film on the affected surface. (b) Antibacterial - The combination of copper sulfate, zinc sulfate and zinc oxide concentrations work together effectively to fight against excessive development of germs while at the same time, helping to promote and maintain the skin in a healthy and optimal phase of restoration of the skin. (c) Soothing, anti-irritating - Cicalfate contains a large amount of Avène thermal water (45%), which is beneficial as it soothes sensitive, irritated, and reactive skin. (d) Other beneficial aspects - Cicalfate contains no fragrance and has no added preservatives. It is hypoallergenic and non-comedegenic. * Cons - While this can be used to treat burns, I find that Biafine Emulsion works much better and is more effective for burns in my experience. However, the size of this Cicalfate tube is much more compact and "travel friendly" than the Biafine ;) * Tips - Apply 1-2 times daily on the area to be treated (irritated or altered) cleansed and massage gently. Then spray a fine mist of Avène Thermal Water on affected area. Avène Thermal Water is really a must-have for those with sensitive skin. * Price - A 40 ml. tube retails for around 9 €. Available at all pharmacies and parapharmacies. * Verdict - I’ve used this for almost a year now and I find it indispensable as my go-to treatment for irritated acne, popped pimples (I know better but sometimes popping just can't be helped!), allergic reactions to cosmetic products, dermatitis, razor burns, etc. One tube lasts a long time so it's a great value for the money. I do consider Cicalfate to be an integral part of my medicine-skincare cabinet. Recommended.
* Product - Avène Denséal Crème * Review - Impressed with the Avène Eluage Crème Riche (with Rétinaldéhyde and Hyaluronic ingredients) for anti-aging for the face, I really wanted to try something similar as an anti-aging cream for my hands at night. Wrinkles, sun spots and age spots on hands always give away your true age and more often than not, we often neglect to care for our hands! A long time ago, Avène used to make Eluage Body Lotion but that’s long been discontinued. I thought of using Eluage on my hands too but I found that I was using it up too fast. Here in Belgium, it costs 33 € for a small 30 ml. tube, a bit too costly for a hand cream. Thankfully, the pharmacist was very helpful to suggest Avène Denséal Crème since it contains the same star anti-aging ingredients in both the Ystheal and Eluage ranges: Rétinaldéhyde and Hyaluronic Acid. At first glance, I would not have even considered Denséal Crème as a hand cream because well . . . it's not labeled as a "hand cream" you know? In addition, the box states that it “reduces the first cutaneous signs of dermatoporosis”. I remember standing there in the pharmacie/apotheek, thinking to myself, “What the heck is dermatoporosis?” Well after much research, I found out that dermatoporosis refers to a particular aging of skin which results in thinning, wrinkling, and bruising. And the leaflet technically indicates that this product is meant for use on areas of the body that’s been weakened by age, notably the forearms, hands and legs. Well, my hands are not thin, wrinkled or bruised. Not at all in the slightest. But, when it comes to skincare, sometimes you have to forget names and labels and marketing and just read the ingredients. And surprisingly, the ingredients in this product seems to tick off all the anti-aging boxes for me. Besides, the price is fair and affordable. In addition to nice ingredients, this cream is: (a) lightweight and (b) un-fragranced. No greasiness, no oilyness and does not leave my hands tacky whatsoever. Seems to absorb into the skin very quickly --- no darn greasy fingerprints on the iPad or the Kindle! It doesn’t have that same strong scent as the Eluage Crème Riche either which is a very nice surprise. I believe that it’s easier to prevent damage than to fix it after the damage has been done and I already protect my hands every day with sunscreen to prevent any unnecessary sun damage. Using this Denséal Crème on my hands at night should help maintain their present youthfulness even better. At least that's my hope! * Cons - None so far but I will update if any arise. This cream is pretty lightweight and my hands are normal --- so this might not be emollient enough for severely dry or chapped hands. * Packaging - a plastic tube with a fine point applicator. I guess this is supposed to impart a sort of "medicinal" or "clinical" characteristic to the cream? I'm not sure exactly? Honestly, it just reminds me of those ready-to-use cake or cookie icing tubes so every time I use it, I feel like I’m “icing” my hands with this cream. No kidding! On the plus side, it does prevent me from using too much or wasting too much product. I guess I just dislike the fact that it doesn't sit upright on the bathroom counter (a minor inconvenience/annoyance). * Denséal Crème Ingredients - Aqua, caprylic/capric triglyceride, parafine liquide, eau thermale avene, butylene glycol, Cyclomethicone, cetearyl alcohol, huile d'avocat (persea gratissima oil), sodium hyaluronate, acrylate C10-30, Alkyle acrylate crosspolymer, carbomer, methylparaben, dissodium EDTA, CI17200, retinal, sodium propylparaben, triethanolamine, xanthum gum. * Compare to the ingredients in the Avène Eluage Body Lotion (now discontinued) - Aqua, caprylic/capric triglyceride, squalane, paraffinum liquidum, Avene aqua, butylene glycol, cyclomethicone, cetearyl alcohol, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, BHT, butylparaben, carbomer, ceteareth-20, ceteareth-33, disodium EDTA, fragance, methylparaben, phenoxyethanol, CI 16035, retinal, sodium hyaluronate, triethanolamine, xanthan gum * Ingredients Comparison Analysis - Ingredients that were in the Avène Eluage Body but are not in the Denséal Crème include: squalene (antioxidant), BHT (preservative), butylparaben (preservative), cetereath-20 (surfactant emulsifier), cetereath-33 (surfactant emulsifier), fragrance, phenoxyethanol (preservative) and CI 16035 (pigment). Everything else, including the Rétinaldéhyde and Hyaluronic Acid are EXACTLY the same. So, I guess the lack of additional preservatives and surfactant emulsifiers and fragrance is not such a bad thing here? Moreover, the Denséal Crème contains avocado oil as an emollient which is nice (I'm a big fan of avocado oil anyways). The only pro-skin ingredient missing here is the antioxidant squalene . . . an antioxidant which may or may not make a major difference given it’s usage as a hand cream . . . * Price - 19 € for a 100 ml. tube or in other words, 190 € per liter. (Compare that to Avène Eluage Crème Riche which costs a whopping 1,100 € per liter.) * Verdict - So far, so good. I will update again with progress reports. ** NOV 2012 UPDATE ** - I've been using this for a few months now and so far, so good. It's not a hand cream in the traditional sense and now that the weather is getting colder, I supplement by slathering on some sweet almond oil or Nuxe Huile Prodigieux prior to applying this cream. That seems to do the trick. As for anti-aging goes, I do notice that despite spending a lot of time in the sun this summer, my hands have not suffered for that. And the random abrasions, knicks, cuts, and whatnot have not left lasting marks scars either. I do think that using this nightly has helped keep my hands from suffering too much (if that makes any sense). I will update again when I finish this up.
Scrubs -Unlisted Brand - Cattier Paris - White Argile Clay Scrub
ExpatBeauty 8/3/2012 8:08:00 AM
* Product - Cattier Paris White Argile Clay Scrub * Review - I was so impressed by Cattier’s Argile Rose Clay Mask for Sensitive Skin that I decided to try out their facial scrub with white Montmorillonite clay. Montmorillonite clay is very rich in manganese and it cleanses and purifies the skin very well. This product appeals to me because it contains no alcohol and no parabens. 99% of its ingredients are of natural origin and 38.4% of its ingredients are sourced from organic farming. This product is not tested on animals and they don’t use animal-derived raw materials either. It’s also certified natural and organic by ECOCERT Greenlife (a control and certification body approved by the French government). The texture of this opaque white clay scrub is similar to their clay masks, slightly thicker and with very small, fine exfoliating grains. I find this to be a very gentle-yet-efficient facial scrub. The grains are not at all rough or harsh. And given its non-aggressiveness, this may not be enough for those who prefer really hard or coarse facial scrubs. (This is not at all like those apricot seed / walnut shell scrubs.) There is a discrete fresh, almost minty scent which sort of reminds me of organic toothpaste. There are no strange uncomfortable tingly burning sensations, no adverse effects nor any irritations whatsoever. This rinses easily, no need to work hard at rinsing here. I use this once or twice a week for a nice and gentle exfoliation, to clear out my pores and to help refine my skin’s texture. And following the instructions, I follow up with either the Argile Rose Clay Mask or the green Montmorillonite clay mask by Cattier for a complete at-home spa facial experience. * How To Use - The directions indicate that for greater efficiency, apply to dry skin without any water and gently massage. So, I spread this onto clean and dry face and neck and then I gently massage. And if it feels too dry, I like to emulsify a little bit with a couple drops or a spritz or two of alcohol-free rosewater. I then rinse well with fresh, tepid water. * Cons - None really though I would prefer a flip-top cap rather than a twist-off cap. More convenient to open and close quickly. * Price - Very affordable at only 6 € for a 100 ml. / 3.38 fl. oz. tube. Sold at drugstores, pharmacies, parapharmacies and natural organic food shops (aka: Bio Shops here in Belgium). Even with regular weekly use, one tube lasts a long time. (And in France, this is even cheaper!) * Verdict - Overall, I’m very happy with this product; it’s the perfect accompaniment to the great Cattier clay facial masks. This scrub and the clay facial masks help keep my skin feeling nice, fresh and looking revitalized. Recommended!
Masks -Unlisted Brand - Cattier Paris - Argile Rose Clay Mask
ExpatBeauty 7/16/2012 11:20:00 AM
* My Skin - Normal, drier in the winter. Mild hormonal acne. * Product - Cattier Paris Argile Rose Mask for Sensitive Skin * Review - Cattier Paris is a natural and organic cosmetics company that specialises in natural and organic bath, body and beauty care. Their range for babies is similar to Mustela France. But it's also very well known for its ready-to-use clay masks. The key to Cattier is their montmorillonite clay from (where else?) Montmorillon, France. Montmorillonite clay is popular to treat acne, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, etc. Unlike any other beauty products, montmorillonite clay does not contain any kind of chemicals or artificial ingredients. And because it contains more than 50 different kinds of minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and silica, it definitely packs a detoxifying punch! The Argile Rose Clay Mask is named for its rose color since it’s a combination of ultra soft pink and white clay. (There are no rose flowers nor anything rose flower-related in this.) I bought this because I’m a big fan of clay masks and mud spa treatments as I find them beneficial for my skin. Clay masks gently remove dead skin cells, safely treat acne, repair damaged skin, and keep the skin hydrated. And unlike many clay masks on the market, the texture of this is smooth and light and stays on the skin without dripping whatsoever. It goes on easy, dries quickly and is effortless to remove. Not messy at all! It does smell like clay but that’s to be expected right? And since an at-home facial mask is easier (and cheaper!) than hopping on the next plane to the Dead Sea in Jordan and Israel or the Glen Ivy Hot Springs in California, this perfectly fits the bill for me here at home. * How To Use - I spread this onto clean and dry face, neck and all the way to my collarbones. I then wait at least 15 minutes. The instructions indicate not let it dry completely but honestly, this dries so fast that I prefer to let it rest on my skin for as long as I can or have time for. I remove with my favorite Luxury Facial Flannel from The Body Shop (a fabulous dupe for the luxe high-end Kanebo Sensai Sponge Chief). My skin feels cleansed, fresh and revitalized. And even though there is peppermint extract in the ingredients list, I cannot smell it nor can I feel it (no strange uncomfortable tingly burning sensations here). I have not experienced any adverse effects nor any irritations whatsoever. I do this face mask at least once per week. * Cons - None really though I would prefer a flip-top cap rather than a twist-off cap. Easier to put open and close. * Tips - Make sure you shake the tube well to homogenize the contents before applying as the contents have a tendency to separate and get "runny" during storage. * Ingredients - Aqua, kaolin, mentha piperita extract, butyrospermum parki, cetearyl alcohol, cetearyl glucoside, benzyl alcohol, perfume , lactic acid. * Price - Very affordable at under 5 € for a 100 ml. / 3.38 fl. oz. tube. Sold at drugstores, pharmacies, parapharmacies and natural organic food shops. Even with regular weekly use, one tube lasts a long time. * Verdict - I’m very happy with this nice, easy and affordable ready-to-use Argile Rose face mask by Cattier. In fact, I love it!