Monday, October 31, 2011

Change of Seasons Skincare Essential: Bioderma Hydrabio Mask

It's too late if you only begin prepping your skin when the brutal cold weather sets in. Act now! Although the sea of luxury facial treatment products could be utterly alluring, the back-to-basics are, in fact, equally brilliant.

My all-time fave is Bioderma Hydrabio Mask. I personally think it's a mask you should always own despite the number of luxury alternatives you have added to your skincare compartment. Why so? Because it's literally an all-time facial mask! It's almost the only facial mask you can use under any skin conditions. Plus, it can be used as a quick fix, part of your regular regimen, a massaging agent or an overnight mask...and above all, as frequently as is needed. I like to leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes, then tissue off the excess. It leaves my skin supple and baby soft without a tinge of grease. My pores are instantly refined since the skin cells are well-quenched. What more do you want? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fruit for Your Skin: Caudalie Grape Water

There are two things I will reach for whenever I get bored with my writing - Clinique All About Eyes Serum (preferably chilled! - HERE) and Caudalie Grape Water. I'd purchased Shu Uemura Depsea Water Facial Mist and Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray, but none managed to grasp my attention and all ended up sitting on my desk, almost untouched. Caudalie Grape Water is the first spritzer I have ever thought of using amid my work. With 2 out of its 3 simple ingredients being natural extracts of grape, I don't feel like I'm loading my face with chemicals at all. Instead, it feels more like pumping nutrients into my tired skin. What I like most is that the hydration it gives is just nice for a midday spritz. It doesn't feel greasy, sticky, or at the other extreme, too watery. And because it comes in an aerosol bottle, the mist is so fine that you really don't need to pat it in after spraying, as is noted on the bottle. I however think that it's not hydrating enough to be used as a toner after wash. But that's fine. It's very affordable (HKD69 or USD9 for 100ml) and it also comes in a cute little 50ml bottle which you can easily pop into your handbag. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Makeup Review: Laura Mercier Mineral Pressed Powder SPF 15

I have actually purchased Laura Mercier Pressed Powder a long while ago, but the review has been sitting in my Draft folder as I constantly get overwhelmed by other beauty products...I personally think that wearing mineral makeup requires a quite a bit of adjustment if you are experienced with using 'normal' makeup products. The major difference I notice between mineral foundation and the regular ones is, you need very little mineral foundation to create the same makeup look you do with your regular foundation. While the mineral option could be wallet-friendlier in this sense, I will actually advise novice users of mineral makeup products to test out the items before they really wear it for a dinner or date. Another thing to note is, if you are switching to mineral makeup because of your sensitive skin, it's best if you can go for a makeup trial session before your purchase since some ingredients in mineral products, such as bismuth and mica, may also cause skin irritation (read more about mineral makeup and skin irritations by WebMD HERE).

One of the popular brands you may begin with is Laura Mercier. I realize their Mineral Pressed Powder has won quite some attention and applause online. Like most other mineral foundations, the finely-milled powder is very pigmented and it glides on effortlessly. It gives a refined, velvety finish with your pores swiped out in a flash. One important tip for choosing the shade - Always go one or two shades darker! Mineral foundations usually look much lighter on your skin. While my complexion lies somewhere between Porcelain and Nude for Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, the Mineral Pressed powder in Real Sand is way too fair for me (though recommended by the LM makeup artist...). So makeup trial is utterly important!!!

Despite the above rather positive comments, I don't like it! The downside of LM Mineral Pressed Powder is that it's not as water-resistant and lasting as it vouches. Here, I'm not so greedy as to talking about swimming with my makeup on, but simply a hangout on a sunny day. For me, it melted after like 3 hours, leaving patches after dapping dry my skin. The powder also settled into my laugh lines, very badly...a nightmare indeed...I also tried using it on very-moisturized skin, but apparently it didn't work for me either. I have combination skin and I'm 30. It's of course possible that the powder may last longer on normal or younger skin. So again, makeup trial!!!

Although Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (HERE) has been a staple item in my makeup kit, I kinda regret purchasing their Mineral Pressed Powder. To reduce wastage, I brush it on my neck from time to time when the weather is hot and my naked neck may end up looking darker than my well-groomed face.

My verdict - If you are fine with regular makeup products, I still find Diorskin Forever the best (see my review HERE)!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Essence of Korean Beauty: Sulwhasoo First Care Serum

I begin to look forward to my facial wash every morning and evening because of Sulwhasoo First Care Serum. My skin texture has visibly improved - softer, more refined and more radiant in the morning - after using it for a month. It really feels like it's restoring my skin texture from inside out.

For best results, there are two tricks you should take note of. 

1. Unlike all the other serums, they actually advise you to use it right after your facial wash (yes, it isn't a toner!) if you don't apply your toner with cotton pads. But you do, you should then use it after toning your skin as per normal. The rule of the thumb: Don't wipe it off! 

2. Another trick is to rub two pumps of the serum at the center of your palms before wiping it in upward and outward motions over your face. This will warm up the serum and promote absorption.

The serum looks like maple syrup and smells herbal since it's made of Korean medicinal herbs. The scent won't linger around after application, so no worries. Unlike many other Sulwhasoo products, it won't be too moisturizing for younger skin. Although it does hydrate your skin, its major function is to regulate your skin and promote the absorption, and therefore the effects, of the beauty products you use in your skincare regime. In the spring/summer months, you may consider whether you want to top it up with another hydrating serum, but you will definitely need to do so in the fall/winter months. The serum can seep into your skin in a flash and the difference it makes will be noticeable in days.

Price-wise, it's may look pricey at the first glance - HKD600 (USD77) for 60ml - and for your information, it's almost half the price in Korea! But if you are already using serums like Lancome Blanc Expert Melanolyser (HKD680/30ml - read about it HERE) or Shiseido White Lucent Spot Targeting Serum (HKD760/30ml - see review HERE), First Care Serum doesn't really burn a big hole in your wallet after all.

According to their sales representative, you may get some bumps or even pimples when you first begin using the serum as the ingredients help detoxify your skin. But your skin texture will significantly improve after that. To avoid another skin breakout, I began with one pump, not over the entire face, but only somewhere close to my jaws. I gradually move on to one and a half pump, then two, to allow more time for my skin to accept the formula. I'm very delighted so far. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Budgety Rescue Remedy to Desensitize and Restore Your Skin

If you ever bother to read the ingredient list of your beauty products, you should have noticed that glycerin or glycerol always appears as one of the first ingredients. But what exactly is glycerin? Glycerin is a thick sweet-tasting liquid derived from animal fats or sugar. When diluted with water, it works wonder for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin...oh, cracked lips too! While some people are allergic to natural essential oils, glycerin can actually soothe such allergic reactions and strengthen your skin's natural barrier by restoring its moisture balance.
I once unknowingly applied something very wrong on my face for days and my skin became embarrasingly red and irritated. I spread a generous layer of glycerin over my face with damp hands, massaged a bit and left it overnight (it's water-soluble, so no worries about staining your pillowcase!). The result was amazing. The skin irritation was calmed and the redness had almost subsided completely the next morning. That's no exaggeration! I repeated the regime for a few nights and it worked like a magic potion, really. I could hang out with my head up on the third day! The entire rescue regime is chemical-free, gimmick-free and cheap. You can easily get a bottle of pure glycerin from the drugstore across the road at a very attractive price.
Apart from using it as an overnight mask, it's an excellent massaging agent when your skin is fatigue, irritated or dehydrated. Spread it over your face with damp hands, gently massage it in for 3-5 minutes in circular motion, and tissue off the excess. Unlike some massage creams in the market (including those of luxury brands), glycerin leaves your skin soft and supple with zero stickiness and skin irritation. Over time, it builds up your skin's natural defense mechanism, making it healthier and less vulnerable to climatic changes and allergens...Of course, that's given that you are diligent with the regime. Oh by the way, since it's multi-purpose like a much cheaper version of Nuxe Multi-Purpose Dry Oil, I enjoy rubbing the excess on my hands and hair ends. So to speak, no wastage at all. What better deal do you want?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Great Primer for Combo Skin: Shiseido Maquillage Sherbet Base

I should have reviewed this loooooong ago because I'd finished three bottles of it before I began falling for tinted primers and BB creams. It's a fun, refreshing, and pretty effective primer with a yummy name. If you are looking for a makeup primer that can control facial oil and keep your face feeling fresh the whole day, this one is for you.

I love the fluffy sherbet-like (or soufflé if you'd prefer) texture that melts into my skin instantly, leaving a smooth and mattified canvas for makeup. The minty scent and cooling sensation really perk me up too. The sale representative at Shiseido said it helps maintain the temperature of my skin under 25˚C, so the pores will be smaller and the skin less oily. Apparently, I didn't technically measure the temperature of my face, but all I know is that the gentle cooling sensation does last for quite a while. It did a pretty good job in oil-control and my makeup stayed pretty long. Although it was launched as part of Maquillage Summer Collection last year, I actually think the Sherbet Base is a brilliant makeup primer for combination skin all year round. I still use it from time to time when my skin (especially the T-zone) feels sticky and yucky.

Now that I'm obsessed with La Roche Posay Melt-In Cream (see review HERE) which gives me both SPF protection and light coverage, I sometimes wear the Sherbet Base underneath and finish with only MAC Blot Powder (see review HERE). The three items are pretty much enough to leave my face matt and even-toned for a no-makeup makeup look. With a bit of blush or bronzer, plus two swipes of Dior Addict in Nude (333) (see review HERE), I'm good to go!

As with all Shiseido products, I haven't experienced any allergic reactions or tingly sensations using it, not even over pimples. The only drawbacks are that it doesn't provide any SPF protection and it can't correct skin tone. But if these are not your concerns, you should really consider grabbing a bottle today!  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Makeup Review: Rouge Dior Voluptuous Care Lipcolor in Zemire Amber (539) vs. Chanel Lipsticks

As the weather is finally becoming drier, I was attempted to purchase Dior Rouge de Serum, more or less because of the word serum. But the makeup artist at Dior Beauty told me that the serum has actually diluted the pigments in the lipstick and the color will look lighter on the lips than how it appears in itself. So to speak, the coral that I spotted probably won't stand out against my rather dark lip undertone. Too bad...To help me overcome the disappointment, he tested out Rouge Dior in Zemire Amber (539) on my lips.

As you can see from the swatches (or can you???), it's almost identical to Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Liberte (46), but more intense. For your information, the swatch of Zemire Amber (539) was only done with one stroke. And it's definitely more orangey than Rouge Allure in Désinvolte (86). So how is Zemire Amber (539) different from Rouge Coco Shine in Liberte (46)? Rouge Dior in Zemire Amber (539) stays longer and although my low-quality swatches look pretty similar, Zemire Amber is a relatively bold coral on my lips. It feels as rich as Rouge Allure, but looks more sheeny; yet less slippery and glossy than Coco Shine. The shade matches the latest makeup trend which draws substantial focus to the luscious pouts.

From left: Coco Shine in Liberte (46), Rouge Dior in Zemire Amber (539) & Rouge Allure in Désinvolte (86)

The golden rule for a trendy makeup look this fall is to sync the colors you wear, say wearing blush and lipcolor of the same shade. The matching blush for Zemire Amber is Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in Calypso Coral (01). But if you find that too heavy, NARS Blush in Deep Throat will also be a perfect match. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Eye Cream Review: Elemis Pro-Intense Eye and Lip Contour Cream

Looking for a new eye cream to switch to? I have been using Elemis Pro-Intense Eye and Lip Contour Cream for...the past few weeks, and the effect is so far so good. Although it's a rich anti-aging formula, it absorbs very easily without a tiny bit of stickiness. Honestly, it's not the most moisturizing eye cream I have used, but it's done a fair job in quenching my dehydrated eye area.

It contains active plant stem cells which is supposed to redensify the delicate skin around my eyes (I don't need any lip cream at the moment) and iron out the fine lines to make it firmer and plumper. For sure, the results are not as obvious as what scientists can see from the petri dishes. I can feel a bit of tightness after applying it. And at a closer look, my undereye area does look smoother without makeup, and my concealer glides on more easily. Yes, the formula is great to go under makeup. The only thing is, if you're looking for one that can reduce your dark circles, I haven't seen any improvements in my seasoned pair of dark circles so far. And if you're looking for one that's really moisturizing, I bet this is not for you. I actually think that Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream (vs. Chanel Precision Ultra Correction Lift HERE) and Lancome Genefique Eye Concentrate (HERE) can do a better job in this regard.

As with all Elemis products, it could be quite a good buy when it comes in a gift pack. I purchased mine (HERE) as part of the All About Eyes pack that includes also the Absolute Eye Serum and Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser, which are still on my to-be-tested list. Another tip is to look out for the sales at Lookfantastic. They offer very attractive price slashes from time to time. And if you still find the deal painful, the good news is I only need half a pump for both eyes. Hope it soothes your pain then!  
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