Friday, September 30, 2011

Great Complexion for A Great Day Off: La Roche Posay UVIDEA XL Melt-In Cream (SPF 50+++)

Can't be bothered to wear a full-on makeup, but still want something to perk up your complexion over weekends? MAC Skin Enhancer has been my fave (see review HERE), but it can't hide my dull complexion well enough under cool white light that beauty counters and some boutiques like to install. I hate it when the white spotlights reveal my blemishes and dullness like X-ray - what a holiday spoiler!!! La Roche Posay Melt-In Cream rescues me from my embarrassment and allows me to enjoy a foundation-free day off.

The Melt-In Cream is more tinted than it feels. So if you do your makeup in a room lit with warm lightings, you can easily get over-enthusiastic about layering it because of its sheer texture. As you can hopefully see from the picture, it really melts into your skin like you have just rubbed in some lightweight day moisturizer. La Roche Posay has actually launched a BB cream, but I personally find this more comfortable to wear. And for such a lightweight tinted cream, the coverage it offers is impressive. When I use it as a primer, I only have to sweep a bit of powder/compact foundation (at the moment, Christian Dior Diorskin Forever Compact - see review ) on the dull areas to make sure my complexion is brightened throughout the day. And yes, I did say a bit. At least for me, my face looked cakey on the few occasions that I didn't trust the Melt-in Cream enough! And in fact, using it alone can already give you an almost-porcelain complexion if your skin is already pretty good.

Partially rubbed in

Comparing to MAC Skin Enhancer, the Melt-In Cream is more hydrating and more spreadable. My makeup stays longer when I used it as a primer. It provides a broader spectrum of UV protection, good enough for a day of hangout. What's more, it's a godsend product for sensitive skin since it's fragrance-free, paraben-free, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic. And not to forget the great coverage that I mentioned...You can already tell that I'm ranking this higher than MAC Skin Enhancer. Honestly, it's really this great!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Basics of Dior Beaute Fall 2011: Diorskin Forever Fluid Foundation Flawless Perfection Fusion Wear Makeup SPF 25+++

I said I will test out Diorskin Forever Fluid Foundation when the weather cools down and I finally did so. The liquid foundation is as brilliant as the compact (see review HERE). The Forever foundation twins is by far the most lasting foundation I have ever worn.  Like the compact, it melts into a natural radiant glow after some time as if my skin is just nicely moisturized. Besides, I can see how this skincare-makeup hybrid maintains my skin's water-oil balance. Also like the compact, this fluid foundation saves me the trouble of midday retouches. I only need to blot the excess oil once or twice a day...or rather, when I remember to do so, and my makeup look will stay put for the entire day. What impresses me is, it is very sweat-proof, leaving no patches after patting dry my face!

In terms of coverage, though lightweight, I personally think that the fluid version provides a higher coverage than the compact without layering. You can layer it up for even better coverage, of course, but one thin layer is good enough to give me porcelain-like skin. I absolutely adore this Forever twins, although if I were to choose, I still prefer the compact as it is literally weightless.

Thanks to Forever, I will no longer look like a zombie at the end of the evening!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Taste of the Korean Skincare Secrets: Sulwhasoo Skin Clarifying Mask

I have heard a lot about Sulwhasoo since their gift packs were presented to the first ladies as a souvenir in the G20 Seoul Summit 2010. It is also visible how the brand is gaining its popularity here in Hong Kong. I see more and more ladies, ranging from mothers to those in their mid-20s or early-30s, raving about their products. To quench my curiosity, I purchased their Skin Clarifying Mask to get a taste of luxury Korean skincare.

Sulwahsoo products feature the use of Korean medicinal herbs. And after testing out the Skin Clarifying Mask, I realize it's nothing gimmicky. It really works! Unlike many of the clarifying masks on my shelf, it doesn't rely on kaolin (clay) to remove the excess oil and impurities on my skin. It's a gel peel-off mask, with a consistency thicker than honey, that is produced using traditional methods for preparing Korean medicine. Because of its thick consistency, it's not as spreadable as Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel, so I used more than I'd expected and that explains why it comes in a big 150ml tube. Honestly, I found the brownish gel a bit gross at the start...uhem, try to imagine it's honey or maple syrup...but look, it actually smells, it's honeyed ginger!

I could feel quite a strong pull on my face as it dried. After about 20 minutes, I could easily peel it off downward from my forehead as instructed. I found my complexion brighter and my pores more refined even in the next day. According to the Sulwhasoo Regime, it should be used after their Massage Cream and before any replenishing serums and moisturizers. I use it after Shiseido White Lucent Massage Cream and the Skin Clarifying Mask does a brilliant job in balancing and refining my skin after the facial massage. I reviewed Shiseido White Lucent Massage Cream (HERE) last month and I still adore it. I haven't used any sort of microdermabrasion since I began the Massage Cream a month ago. It's indeed a gentle alternative to skin exfoliants. My face is still smooth and clear. The outcome is even better when I pair it with this Sulwhasoo clarifying mask, which is noticeably more effective than Shiseido Revital Refining Mask (as is used in the Shiseido facial treatment session), and the price is more attractive too!  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Wonders of Grapes: Caudalie Toning Lotion

I'm again so much into the French pharmacy brands lately. Most of them, if not all, are great for sensitive skin and it is simply difficult to go wrong! I always think seeing the real French women (not celebs or models) on the streets of Paris is an excellent quality assurance of their skincare products. They demonstrate how beauty can come with great skin and minimal makeup. 

Other than Bioderma Cleansing Water, which has been my staple item, I have recently purchased a few items from Avene (see review HERE) which are like dreams for my horrifying skin breakouts. It healed and cleared my skin in less than 2 weeks. 

Another French brand that I'm obsessed with is Caudalie. I have reviewed the Vinoperfect Radiance Serum in the previous entry (HERE). Love it! Their Toning Lotion is also brilliant and quite a good buy indeed (unlike the Radiance Serum which is a bit pricey if it's not discounted). It carries this refreshing scent of green grapes and it's gentle enough for your eye area too. I will usually press the soaked cotton pad over my eyes for a few seconds to rehydrate this delicate area after wash. The amount of hydration it gives is just nice for combination skin like mine. It leaves my relatively dry cheeks soft and supple without making my oily T-zone sticky and shiny. More importantly, I don't have to worry about skin irritation or any sort of allergic reaction at all. It's alcohol-free, paraben-free and cruelty-free. And as with all Caudalie products, it contains this natural antioxidant, grape seed polyphenols, which makes this Toning Lotion hydrating and anti-aging. How nice! Believe it or not, I actually like it over some of my luxury toners. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Skincare Review for Acne-Prone, Sensitive Skin: Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum Complexion Correcting

I love this serum!!! One of the things I adore is that I can also apply it on my eye area, which allows me to skip my usual eye serum on the nights that I'm super exhausted and just want to get my skin prepped and zzzzzzzzzz. In this sense, it's like a 2-for-1 offer, isn't it?! The best part is, I get what I have paid for. I slept at 4a.m. on several occasions, but still my complexion looked brighter than I had expected the next morning. I realize it also managed to overcome the dullness brought by the strong medicated acne treatment I was using (and which failed to curb the horrible breakout) before purchasing Avene Cleanance Cream-Gel (see review HERE). This is a fantastic news because I now have a serum that can make me look better over my very depressive, blemished days. And since it's hypoallergenic, I can use it during my worst skin breakout with no worries at all. What's more, I think it also speeds up the recovery of my blemishes. My skin has stopped breaking out within days of beginning my new skincare regime with the new Avene purchases (HERE), and the spots are minimizing and fading out at a very desirable pace. It's been less than 2 weeks by now, and with only light makeup, my friends are hardly aware that I had just gone through one of my worst skin breakouts! 

Texture-wise, the Radiance Serum feels a bit sticky when I first apply it on my skin. I usually leave it for a few minutes before applying moisturizer to allow the serum to sink in. You will know when it's ready as it will feel noticeably less sticky. The stickiness actually owes to its hydrating property. Now that the weather is still humid, I only apply it on my blemishes and areas that require brightening, say the apples of my cheeks and my undereyes. But my guess is, I can use it over my entire face when the wintry weather sets in. 

Oh, one last thing. Don't forget that the serum contains a star ingredient, grape seed polyphenols, a natural, highly potent antioxidant that helps delay or slow down the skin aging process that we all detest. In other words, it's an antioxidant, hydrating, and brightening serum. It's great especially for acne-prone, sensitive skin and it's definitely a value-for-money product (even better if it comes in a gift pack!) that you should seriously consider including in your coming beauty haul.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Skincare Review for Acne-Prone Skin: Eau Thermale Avene Anti-blemish Trio

My skin has been hypersensitive since the beginning of August with exposure to a cocktail of acne-boosting factors (e.g. overexposure to the sun, skin allergy, stress, etc.). My latest skincare routine has included a handful of hypoallergenic products, which I will review in two separate entries. They have done magic to my irritated skin within days. I recommended Dermalogica Overnight Clearing gel (see review HERE) some weeks ago, but it's no longer enough to fight the battle. This is the second time my skin breaks out so badly in my 30 years of life. It's a hard battle indeed, but surprising the golden rule of thumb is: Go simple and mild! It doesn't only apply to what you apply after your facial wash, but also to what you use to wash.

I see a stark improvement in my skin condition after using 3 items from Eau Thermale Avene, one of the brands commonly recommended by dermatologists. 

1. Clean-Ac Cleansing Cream
I have combination-dry skin, which means my cheeks are rather dry even under this humid spring/summer weather. So I opted for this cleansing cream for better hydration. It is a misconception that the oily T-zone needs no hydration since it is actually oily because of dehydration! What makes this cleansing cream great for sensitive skin is that it's soapless! It's utterly gentle, but it can also remove sunscreen and grime without overstripping your skin. My skin feels clean and calm after the wash.

2. Cleanance K Cream-Gel
Thanks to the effectiveness of AHAs (glycolic acid and lactic acid) and BHA (salicylic acid), Cleanance K can exfoliate, hydrate, and balance the sebum-secretion of the affected areas. I have to stress that it is indeed very effective in treating acnes and blemishes. But I have one note of caution: Don't be greedy!!! Apply ONLY a thin layer to the affected areas as it may burn your skin if you layer too much! It may sting a bit even with a thin layer. My skin actually turned red when my pimples were really inflamed. The redness subsided after like 10 minutes...and I haven't experienced much stingy sensation and redness since the inflammation was treated after two nights of application. But in any cases, you do really need to spare that 10 minutes for the formula to sink in for better results anyway. I think this cream-gel is the crux of the entire skin rescue. My pimples were dried up, or at least partially dried, the next morning!

3. Clean-Ac Hydrating Cream
The moisturizer is specially formulated for blemish-prone sensitive skin. As it vouches, it does hydrate and soothe my irritated skin. It also instantly calms the stingy sensation brought by Cleanance K. It provides the nourishment and protection my blemished skin needs for recovery. The only thing is, it's apparently heavier than my usual moisturizers and I just can't make myself use it over my T-zone area (on which I'm still using Bioderma Sebium Pore Refiner - HERE). Other than this, it's a brilliant moisturizer, especially for the upcoming fall season. 

Overall, with these 3 Avene Products, my skin is now tamed, my face is clearing...everything's on the right track!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review of the New Hybrid: Dior Diorskin Forever Compact Flawless Perfection Fusion Wear Makeup SPF 25++

I'm given a sample set comprising of a radiant makeup base, a fluid foundation, and a compact foundation, all from the latest Fall/Winter 2011 collection of Dior Beaute. I have only tested out the compact foundation so far for several reasons that you may also like to consider when you are struggling with what to include in your beauty haul.

Firstly and honestly, I have been super lazy with my makeup lately as I'm rushing through the final stages of my research like a racing doggie. What's more, I personally find the UV protection offered by the makeup base (with SPF 20+) too low to withstand the invincible sunshine these days. And again, the horrible heat actually makes it easier for whatever you put on your face to clog your pores. The thought of wearing a primer, fluid foundation, and a powder finish seems to spurt up my body temperature! It's good to wear powder or compact foundation in sweltering weather as it is more likely to melt into a natural glowy finish that is not too sticky for your summer hangouts. Think I will save the makeup base and the fluid foundation for later when the weather gets cooler and more comfortable, hopefully toward the end of this month...Anywayz, so much of reasoning...

I am actually beginning to like Diorskin Forever Compact over my beloved Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk UV Compact (see reviews HERE and HERE), which I know I have been raving about. It comes in 6 shades and what I received is in Light Beige (020). I apply it with my Lily Lolo kabuki brush (buy HERE with free worldwide delivery) and it's perfect in terms of both the shade and finish. Like GA Lasting Silk, the shade blends perfectly with my natural complexion, and the texture is so sheer that it really gives the second-skin effect that it vouches. It's almost indistinguishable whether I'm wearing any makeup and I just look brightened! 

But what Diorskin Forever really outshines GA Lasting Silk are its coverage and its amazingly lasting quality. Although sheer, it provides a noticeably better coverage than GA Lasting Silk. If the latter gives me an even-toned, no-makeup complexion, Diorskin Forever gives me an even-toned, no-makeup-but-better complexion. A porcelain yet natural-looking finish. The best part is, the skincare serum infiltrated in the compact foundation seems to be really effective in maintaining the water-oil balance of my skin. Great for combination skin. It manages to stay put for 9 hours (that's the longest I have tried...may last even longer...) with only occasional oil-blotting around the T-zone. No patches, no streaks, no sliding - Hurray! 

It's truly a brilliant hybrid of makeup and skincare. It feels nothing, but looks perfect. I will definitely purchase the compact after finishing this generous sample palette. Oh for your information, the compact is quite pigmented. All I need is a few light strokes over my face and this little will go a long long long way. Over here, it's sold at HKD 440 (USD 56.50) and it's worth every penny.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Skincare Review: Bobbi Brown Brightening Gentle Cream Cleanser

Keeping your face well-cleansed is the first step to having baby soft and clear skin. Especially if you wear makeup almost every single day in a polluted environment, you will tend to be obsessed with products that can slough away the layer of the dirt, residues from the heap of beauty products we use, and the hideous dead skin cells that give you unwanted skin problems. But hang on, how many products in your daily skin care routine contains exfoliants, like glycolic acid??? If you are already doing regular exfoliation and using some sort of a resurfacing serum, it's very likely that you will only need a gentle cleanser...unless you work at a construction site (no offense!).

I'm currently using Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Facial Wash (see review HERE) and I adore it. But the fact is, I definitely don't need such a strong cleanser for my morning wash. It's simply too clean considered the minimal amount of dirt that will ever deposit on my skin overnight. Plus, on nights that I am doing facial treatments which usually include some sorts of exfoliation, say with Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel or Clinique Turnaround Facial Masque (see review HERE), and worse if I am topping it up with an exfoliating or resurfacing serum, the huge amount of exfoliators (e.g. glycolic acid) will haven take away too much from my skin if I begin the routine with a strong cleanser...With this, if you think yea, but still...Bobbi Brown Brightening Gentle Cream Cleanser could be a good option for you.

The good thing about Bobbi Brown Brightening Gentle Cream Cleanser is that it's gentle and it also removes makeup. Honestly, being a 'worshipper' of Bioderma Cleansing Water, I don't use any other makeup remover. But at least, it says I'm not as gentle as being nothing, if you so want to give your face a good wash in the morning. This pearly iridescent cream formula doesn't strip off your skin's natural moisture, neither will it add too much moisture to your skin. Everything's just nice! I use it in my morning wash and it's good enough to kick off the day. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Skincare Review: Lancome Genifique Youth Activating Eye Concentrate (vs. Bobbi Brown)

I have just finished two sachet samples of Lancome Genifique Eye Concentrate. Although  I can't physically see whether the Eye Concentrate has really boosted the production of my youth genes, the whole experience was great.

Like Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream, this Eye Concentrate could effectively plump up the fine lines under eyes (I'm a contact lens wearer) and keep my super dehydrated under eyes well-quenched the whole day. I'm not sure if it has really worked on my dark circles or it's simply the results of better-quality sleep. Although I slept at 2-3am for a few nights, I reckon my concealer seemed to be more able to cover up my dark circles than it used to. Hmm, is it sleep, the Eye Concentrate, or illusion??? 

On the whole, the Eye Concentrate is very similar to Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream. The major differences are that the Eye Concentrate is slightly smoother and noticeably more matt. It moisturizes my eye area well enough. Brilliant! Price-wise, both are about the same. Having compared the texture and quality, think it depends more on whether you happen to pass by a Bobbi Brown shop or a Lancome shop when you yearn for a new bottle of eye cream...and yes, if you have any particular loyalty toward a brand. Right now, I have added Genefique Eye Concentrate to my favorite list!
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