I know sprays are often used as toners or makeup setters but this one is strictly special occasions-only for me. When the seasons are rapidly changing or when my usual regimen begins to irritate, I use nothing but this and an ointment from my dermatologist. I don't experience that often, but for a few short weeks when spring accelerates into summer, my skin gets crazy itchy. A thorough spray after the shower staves off dryness without causing further irritation, and even the light mineral scent is calming. Let the ointment do the rest of the work.
Treatments (Eye) -Laura Mercier - Flawless Skin Eye Serum
LibertyRose 5/10/2013 12:16:00 PM
Nothing special, and completely redundant given how effective the eye creams already are. A rare dud from LM's skincare line. The last product that I didn't like was the multi-vitamin serum.
This shows up more as fuchsia than coral on me, which is a huge letdown. On many blog swatches this looks like a shimmery peach, which is beautiful, but in reality the orange has all but disappeared. Instead, I got a cool tone and a hint of neon. Quite similar to the YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick #23 Corail Poetique, but is slightly pinker. Aside from the color, the lipstick is moisturizing, and the pigment is rich so that just one coat will suffice. I just wish it is the color that I hoped it would be. The packaging is exquisite, as the label's famous plaid pattern is not only on the container but also artfully embossed on the lipstick itself. But the scent is a turn-off. Burberry cosmetics have a unique powdery scent that takes some getting used to. I didn't mind it as much in the foundation or the blush, but somehow it feels too strong and lingering on a lipstick. Can't say I look forward to that.
A lot of MUAers agreed with me when I said Sara Happ's lip scrubs, however cute and tempting, are overrated. But I didn't mean lip exfoliators in general are overrated. Quite the opposite. On average lips need a good scrubbing more often than face, and that seems to be true regardless of weather. But I have come across no facial exfoliant, including the top-of-the-line kind, that works on the lips, not the least because it tastes lethal when I accidentally get bits of it in the mouth. Enter Hanaka, a Taiwanese drugstore brand that has concocted the sweetest-smelling lip product using strawberry and cotton candy for US$6 a pot. Being a scent snob, I didn't think much could be expected from $6, but this could easily pass for something The Body Shop would make. I am a fan! Effect-wise, it exfoliates well, but doesn't contain as much oil as Sara Happ's scrubs and can cause the lips to dry out. Nothing a quick application of balm can't fix though. Balms and lipsticks definitely apply better thanks to this.
Cleansers -Unlisted Brand - Hada Labo TAMAGOHADA Daily Foaming Wash
LibertyRose 4/29/2013 1:33:00 PM
As someone who thought Hada Labo's hyaluronic acid range is not only overrated but is in fact bad, I was pleasantly surprised by how good this one has turned out. Granted, it has nothing to do with hyaluronic acid and therefore gets none of the publicity, but after using it exclusively for four months I am quite happy with how effective it is. I started in the winter and did not find it to be overstripping (though I wouldn't describe it as "moisturizing" either), and now that the summer months are approaching I imagine it'll work even better. Its dense texture feels expensive and comparable to a department-store face wash. In fact, I don't see much difference between this and Kanebo's Dew Superior, which costs about eight times more. Very good value for the money.
Lip Treatments -Givenchy - Hydra Sparkling lip and cheek balm
LibertyRose 4/29/2013 12:24:00 PM
Products that are designed for both the cheeks and the lips never work that way for me. If it works on the lips, I find it too sticky as a blush. If it works as a blush, it is either too drying or not pigmented enough as a lipstick. But since I like the entire Givenchy hydra sparkling range, I'm willing to give this one a shot. And because it is part of a skincare range, I'm using it as such, despite the rosy tint. Rather unexceptionally, the multi-purpose claim of this product falls through, but where it does work (the cheeks), it works exceedingly well. My cheeks are always dry, which sets me on a lifelong quest for a pore-size reducer. When a standard facial moisturizer is not enough, I look for topical treatments. And this turns out to be the best cheek balm I have tried. It fills in the pores nicely and seals in the moisture, which stays secure overnight. Due to the sticky texture, I don't apply it every night, but when I do I am satisfied. I can nominate a handful of good lip balms any time of the day, but a good cheek balm is hard to come by. One pot looks to last me the better part of the year, and I am keen to repurchase once I run out.
Suqqu is an exclusive Japanese brand and, outside its native country, is only sold in select outlets in Thailand and the UK (Selfridges). The products are high-quality and elegantly packaged, usually advertised by exquisite but intelligent-looking Japanese (full-blooded, not half) models who are not trying to look like dolls. I don't recommend trying their products unless you are prepared for instant addiction. I'm fortunate that I get to be in the UK for an extended period of time during my post-bachelors studies, or I'd go crazy trying to hunt it down. The lipstick is the best starting point to the brand, along with the foundations. Housed in a sleek, skinny black tube with the brand name embossed in the same color, it is the creamiest formula I have ever come across, so much so that it just glides on. The color I have, EX04, which is limited edition for winter 2012, makes for the best nude lip. And because it is creamy enough, I don't even need a mirror when I apply. A light swipe and a gentle press of the lips achieve an even, natural coverage that the likes of Burberry and YSL aren't capable of. But the quality is reflected in the price. To give you perspective: one lipstick retails for £27, whereas for £31 you could get Armani's luminous silk foundation. The high price is however not the principal reason that I took one lippie away. The color range is rather limited and skews toward the mature--a lot of dark colors like red and crimson. After my limited edition runs out, I don't know if there is a permanent color that would suit me. If there is, I'm definitely up for it.
In Japan toners are labelled as lotions and lotions as emulsions, and this is one of the few expensive deep-moisturizing toners that delivers. Which is surprising, given the lightweight. While Kanebo and Shiseido are racing to lay claim on the thickest and densest formulas, Sofina doesn't compete in that regard. This toner is watery and not at all gel-like, and yet outperforms the heavier varieties. It feels similar to Nars' moisturizing toner, but is way more effective. I was satisfied with how quickly it sinks into the skin and helps it better absorb serums and lotions. And you only need little of this to work. The beautiful bottle which might or might not have been the reason for my purchase lasted a good eight months (160ml). Great cost-per-wear. However, despite the watery consistency, the toner does leave an annoying sticky feeling, so that makes a repurchase unlikely. Technically, a repurchase is also impossible, because Sofina has since simplified this range. When I bought mine, there were four options for varying degrees of dryness (IV is for very dry skin). Now there is only two. However, Sofina's dainty packaging appeals to me, and I will look for a reason to come back.
Not bad for the price, but I don't see it as a drugstore favorite that I'd come back to time and time again. Too boring. I'd rather get Smith's Rosebud Salve, which now comes in tube form as well.
You can't visit a department store in Asia and not get suckered into the cult of SKII. While most people begin with the facial treatment essence, the brand's famed anti-aging toner, my first purchase was the whitening spots specialist, which was a serum that promised to fade spots. I didn't believe anything short from laser could accomplish that, but I guess I felt like dropping more than US$100 to prove what I already knew. An entire 30ml bottle later, still there is no difference. The only things I learned in the process are that I absolutely detest the scent of SKII products and won't give them another chance, and that droppers are a thing of the past and we invented better dispensers for a reason.
I wouldn't associate StriVectin with the budget of a student (which was what I was when I bought this in London) but the universe was smiling upon me when Selfridges marked this scrub for £10. The sales associate assured me that it was not mis-marked, so that was exactly what I paid to walk home with it. I am willing to bet the price has since been changed. If not, well, I don't know if I'd recommend everyone to run out and get a tube. I agree with naming it a "retexturizing" scrub because smoothing out the skin is what it does well. After each application, the skin does feel especially tender. But the scrub's ability to clear out blackheads is disappointing, and blackheads are my main reason for wanting a scrub. Maybe my Eve Lom mask just set too high of a standard. Otherwise, pretty standard minty smell, and the texture of the beads is what you'd expect given the price. I do like that the tube itself has some sort of anti-mold coating that makes it look brand new at all times, but that's not enough to warrant a recommendation.
When the products that put you on the map are creams called "boob job" or "tummy tuck," it is hard for a habitual runner like me to not be skeptical. But I did a 180 on Rodial when the dragon's blood range came out. I didn't anticipate any brand to beat Korres when it comes to exotic ingredients, but Rodial might have done just that. I was definitely intrigued, though this is a leave-on mask and I had reservation about the formula. To be honest, every mask that has worked for me has to be laid on thick and washed off. Leave-on masks are convenient but often feel like pretend lotions, and this holds true even for offerings from my preferred brands such as Laura Mercier and Bioderma. But not only does this moisturize well, but it also visibly plumps the skin, which is miraculous for the endless London winters. Essentially, it is an overnight fix that does not clog pores. The smell is a tad boring for an exotic ingredient, but don't let that hold you back. And £35 for 50ml is almost affordable. Will make a great gift too. Looking forward to adding the eye gel to my collection.
Skincare - Body -Diptyque - Satin Oil for Body and Hair
LibertyRose 4/5/2013 9:46:00 AM
Such is the varied nuances of our body chemistry that the same scent can evoke different moods depending on where it is applied. I loved this in my hair, but disliked it on the body. The first oil from Diptyque, it of the famed candle maker, is a heady mix of jasmine, ylang ylang, and saffron. I say heady because while jasmine and ylang ylang suggest lightness, the resulting scent is bold and even woodsy. You will not confuse this with other scents, certainly not any celebrity fragrance of the week. But its boldness is the reason I can't use it liberally as an all-over body oil. I have long heard stories that some women get migraines from perceiving a strong scent. I thought that was an urban legend until I got one from applying this myself. A shame, because I am a body oil fiend. But I've since managed to enjoy this in small doses by applying it as a fragrance on my wrist, or as hair oil. It is not Kerastase, but it is nice to get use out of this large bottle.
Primer/ Corrector -Laura Mercier - Foundation Primer Radiance
LibertyRose 4/5/2013 9:11:00 AM
If you are new to LM's primers, you'd be amazed by this. It goes on smoothly, reduces the amount of foundation you need to apply by half, and makes it last. As far as priming is concerned, you can't ask for more. But if you've tried LM's primers and are no stranger to how well they work, then this one is a superfluous permutation. Compared to other LM primers, it is denser, tinted (though it goes on clear and does not distort the color of foundation), and packed with shimmer to achieve the supposed radiant effect. The shimmer doesn't affect priming, but gives an all-over glistening, Edward-Cullen-under-sunlight effect if the coverage worn is light like tinted moisturizer. Not a flattering look. Glistening and greasy are but separated by a fine line. Once you step up the coverage slightly, like mixing foundation with tinted moisturizer, the shimmer disappears. The end result is no dewier or more radiant. In that case, why not go with other versions of LM primers?
The lip balm is the star product from Malin + Goetz, and this exotic permutation deserves its own thread. A perennial favorite among fashion insiders, particularly the men, Malin + Goetz epitomizes pharma-chic but has that deliberate best-kept-secret appeal. I feel I see it featured more frequently in interior design publications than beauty magazines. Which is understandable, because the text-y packaging smartens up any bathroom. I was quite surprised to find out that it is an American brand; I would've guessed Scandinavian. The styles of Malin + Goetz and Kiehl's are undeniably similar, and so are their lip balms. Both are clear gels contained in skinny tubes, though I find Malin + Goetz to be far more tasteful in presentation and scent selection. While Kiehl's chooses somewhat common fruity scents, Malin + Goetz goes with mojito. Who wouldn't want a mojito-scented anything? To be fair, the actual balm is only comparable to the drink in terms of scent, which is minty and refreshing and light. As a moisturizer, it is as good as it gets, getting to the fundamentals and sealing it in with a generous coat of protection. It lasts throughout the night, and during the day you rarely need to re-apply. A mark of high quality, the balm is dense enough that it does not collapse as soon as squeezed out of the tube, and leaves no mess around the opening. The only thing I wish to do away with is the gloss-like shine. As much as some like their lip balm to double as a gloss, I wear matte lipsticks for work. Also, the balm bleeds a bit, so remember to dab the corners of your mouth. These are however not enough to deter me. I love owning a piece of Malin + Goetz, and will definitely repurchase.