Beauty

Perfume Divorce 


I’m contemplating on leaving her.  She and I were high school sweethearts (met her at the tender age of 16).  At the time, she was voluptuous, glamorous, worldly, and oh so feminine.  We traveled the world together, went through great times, tough times, scary times, three bad jobs, one good job, two pregnancies, two beautiful kids, and here we are today.  

Now, I find her a bit stale and sweet at the same time (is that honeysuckle I smell?  I don’t think I’ve ever been a honeysuckle [or anything that smells sweet] person).  Clingy.  And generic.  There’s no “there there” anymore.  Perhaps, I’m the one who’s changed–I read somewhere that our skin’s pH (which helps determine how perfume smells on our skin) changes as we age.  Could my skin be having a mid-life crisis (nevermind the wisps of lines that seem to have appeared out of nowhere)?  In any event, I’ve started having dalliances here and there (just samples sent from Saks, Jo Malone, and Kat Burki).  Nothing serious.  Everything smells so one-dimensional these days.  That’s the younger generation for you.  Last night, I spotted a couple potential dates online:  “Ikat Jasmine” and “Iris Meadow”.  They sound young, fun, and sexy.  I opted for the standard shipping option (which usually takes about a week for delivery).  I’m desirous but not enough to pay for overnight shipping.  Besides, anticipation makes for greater excitment.  More shall be revealed soon…

Kat Burki & Biologique Recherche

In my continued quest for a holy grail skincare regimen and turning my bathroom into a spa, I’ve finally tried Biologique Recherché and Kat Burki.  Biologique Recherché is probably the cultiest of cult favorites and Kat Burki is one of the new kids on the block (although an American brand and made in the USA, it’s quite popular in the UK).  So without further ado:

(1)  Biologique Recherché Lait VIP O2–This is an exfoliating milk cleanser that contains lactic acid and niacinamide as two of its star ingredients (full list of ingredients may be found on all sites that sell BR).  I like this cleanser.  Gentle feel yet powerful exfoliation and can be used daily.  However, there are so many other cleansers on the market that does the same thing.  This is my favorite item from the line (which isn’t saying much).

(2)  Biologique Recherché Masque Vivant–This is a clarifying and brightening mask that purifies with yeast and also contains niacinamide.  Smells like Vegamite and beef bullion.  After using SK-II (which also uses yeast as a star ingredient), I haven’t been crazy about the whole yeast concept.  I’m 36, a mother of two, and have Asian skin that is combination (oily T-zone and normal to dry cheeks).  Apparently, the only response my skin has to yeast (in skincare lines) is itchiness and redness (all temporary, thank goodness).

(3)  Biologique Recherché P50 Lotion (No Phenol Version)–This is an exfoliating toner that has received much hype (just Google this product and you’ll find tons of reviews).  There are several versions of this toner (original, normal without phenol, sensitive skin, and mature skin).  I chose to use the version without phenol because of my two little ones as there’s been some controversy on the safety of its use.  This is BR’s star product and I have to say that I’m disappointed.  Perhaps it’s my skin type (and its reaction to the ingredients) and although it did provide excellent exfoliation, my face is itchy and red after every use (I’d hate to imagine what the phenol formula is like).

(4)  Biologique Recherché Crème Dermopurifante–This is a balancing and brightening moisturizer that has yeast and niacinamide as two of its star ingredients (starting to see a pattern here?).  It’s supposed to be mattifying and purge/clarify your skin of excess sebum as well as balance the pH of your skin.  So far, I have found that it does none of the above for my skin.  However, I’m willing to give it a chance by using it as a day treatment during downtime (as a mask for when my little boy is napping).

(5)  Kat Burki Vitamin C Nourishing Cleansing Balm–This is a cleansing balm that features Vitamin C and several cold pressed fruit oils as its star ingredients.  Even though I have combination skin (and I think this is more suitable for dry skin), I love it.  I love it so much that it has earned a permanent place in my skincare routine.  Results were immediate (skin was brighter and softer).  Yes, it’s essentially an expensive oil cleanser (great for removing makeup and sunscreen).  But it has the added benefit of brightening your skin (with 15% Vitamin C) and making it super soft.  To get a bang for your buck, I recommend using this as both an oil cleanser and a mask (your skin will thank you)–I massage it onto my face to remove any sunscreen or makeup, keep it on my face for about 20 minutes before rinsing it off, and then use a foam cleanser to remove any oily residue.  If you wear (a lot of) makeup daily (as I did when I was single), this may not be an economical product as you’d have to tissue off the first application and then reapply for the mask part of the regimen.  But since I only wear makeup on special occasions now, this balm is all I need to remove dirt, grime, and sunscreen from my face (having two kids under the age of 2 will do this to you).  And a little goes a long way.  Bottom line:  This product converted me into a Kat Burki lover.

(6)  Kat Burki Vitamin C Intensive Face Cream–This is a brightening moisturizer that uses 15 % Vitamin C and various cold pressed fruit oils as its star ingredients.  Some say that it’s too light to be used as a night cream but I say it’s perfect (again, I have combination skin with an oily T-zone).  It does not contain SPF and can be used day and/or night.  A fantastic moisturizer and may have just replaced my precious Crème de La Mer (gasp!).

My only complaint about the two Kat Burki products is the packaging–the consistency of both is such that they can and should be used with pumps (it would also be more sanitary and, thus, prolong shelf life).  Yes, the glass jars are pretty to look at but glass bottles with pumps would be more practical and user friendly.

As for stores, there are several that sell BR and Kat Burki but none offer free returns (except Nordstrom).  Plus, returns are only accepted for unopened items (except Nordstrom).  How would one know if a product irritates his/her skin without trying it first?  Not being able to return the BR products annoys me (since the line is only sold at spas and boutiques).  Glad it’s a moot point with the Kat Burki products (since they work fantastically on my skin).  For those who would like to try a line or product but also want the protection of being able to return items inappropriate for your skin, I recommend shopping at Nordstrom (as the store offers free returns, no questions asked).  Yes, I am an affiliate seller of Nordstrom but don’t shop there just because of that; shop there because you’re protected with your purchases no matter what (as long as you save your receipts).  To get the most value for your purchase (of any skincare/cosmetic line), buy the products you’d like to try from Nordstrom.  Then (after knowing what works for you), buy the products from their respective companies’ stores/websites (which tend to have more special offers/promotions/samples of the brand).

Review of AmorePacific (Cleanser & Exfoliator)

AmorePacific is fast becoming a household name in the West.  As Korea’s version of Estee Lauder, AmorePacific invented the cushion foundation and has several other award-winning products in its line.  I tried two items and here are my thoughts:

(1)  AmorePacific Treatment Foam Cleanser–With a combination of vitamin C, lactose, and fruit extracts, this cleanser buffs away fine lines and dead skin cells.  Good for normal to dry skin.

(2)  AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel–Hands down, this is the best exfoliator I have ever used in my life.  Ingredients include lactose and various plant and fruit extracts.  The beauty of this product is that not only does it exfoliate well, it is also extremely gentle as it is a powder (turn to foam with water) formula.  Great for all skin types.

Since I have acne-prone skin, the cleanser (although an excellent one) doesn’t make it to my permanent skincare line-up.  Perhaps it’s the acidity (which would make it more suitable for those with normal to dry skin).  The exfoliator (or peel) is definitely a keeper.

Review of SK-II

In my quest for the perfect post-partum and anti-aging skincare routine, I made a pit stop:  SK-II.  This Japanese skincare line has a cult following and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  Drum roll…

(1)  SK-II Treatment Cleanser–This is truly an anti-aging cleanser (no ifs, ands, or buts).  The Pitera (SK-II’s power ingredient) immediately firms and treats fine lines.  The slight tingling reaffirms this.  Great for those with normal or dry skin.

(2)  SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion–Great toner for most skin types.  The Pitera (in all SK-II products) treats fine lines and spots while the lactic acid exfoliates and sloughs off dead skin cells.  Of the entire line, this is my favorite.

(3)  SK-II Cellumination Mask-In Lotion–This can be used as a toner and/or a mask (by itself or via a cloth sheet mask).  SK-II Cellumination products are designed to brighten skin tone and diminish spots.  The product definitely brightened my skin tone after a few uses but didn’t appear to have any other benefits.  Best for those with normal or dry skin.

(4)  SK-II Facial Treatment Essence–This serum is what put the brand on the map.  With the most concentration of Pitera of all SK-II products, the serum attacks lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone with just a few swipes of a cotton ball.  Wonderful for those with normal or dry skin.

(5)  SK-II Essential Power Eye Cream–If your skin is normal or dry and you can only buy one eye cream, this is it.  Armed with Pitera, this cream firms, tightens, treats, and moisturizes–it’s an all-in-one.

All in all, SK-II is a fantastic anti-aging line and is best for those with normal to dry skin.  Unfortunately, I have oily skin during the spring and summer months and combination skin during the fall and winter months.  If you’re acne-prone like I am, the Pitera (and perhaps all the acidity in the line) will likely exacerbate pimples and blackheads.

And so my search continues…

Only Skin Deep?

I have a confession: since I’ve had Max (a little over eight months ago), I’ve not been wearing sunscreen (or makeup, for that matter).  The reason?  I don’t want to expose my baby to harmful chemicals.  Of course, the chemicals in question aren’t harmful to me but with Max being so young, I don’t want to take any chances of his skin absorbing anything that could have adverse effects on his health.  And so my quest for more “natural” skincare begins…

Lip Service

hydrastick

Since I’ve run out of my trusty La Mer lip balm, I’ve decided to give Mustela’s Hydra-Stick a try.  This, my friends, is great for both mama and baby.  Lightweight, creamy, and, best of all, works to keeps lips and cheeks soft (plus, it’s hypoallergenic).  Surprisingly, it’s a bit more creamy than the La Mer balm.  Max was getting little flakes of dry skin on his cheeks and the Hydra-Stick took care of it straight away.  Verdict:  perfect for dry winter skin and/or chapped lips and/or cheeks.

Pregnancy Must-Haves

hautemama

It occurred to me last night that I should come up with a list of pregnancy must-haves to help those who might need some (fashion and beauty) tips.  Of course, every pregnancy (and woman) is different so bear in mind that these are things that have helped me through the third trimester (to get the best deals and selection, start shopping as soon as you start trying to get pregnant; but keep all tags/receipts until after you get pregnant):

(1)  Maternity clothes and shoes.  No need to go crazy here–just a few pieces to put into rotation are fine.  Suggestions include a couple pairs of leggings (great for every day and for all seasons), two to three wrap dresses (easy to wear and, again, for all seasons), hosiery (for fall and winter months), cocktail dress (nothing too fancy–just something to wear for more formal occasions [i.e., weddings, holiday parties, etc.]), rain jacket/windbreaker, winter coat (for fall and winter months), nursing tanks/camisoles (again, great for every day and for all seasons), and comfortable shoes (Nordstrom.com has an excellent selection of wide sizes).

(2)  Maternity underwear.  Bras (go without saying) are definite must-haves.  If you don’t want to stretch out your pre-pregnancy underwear, get maternity panties ASAP (you’ll need them before you realize you do).

(3)  New skincare routine.  Since the first trimester, my skin has gone into overdrive in terms of oil-production.  It’s high school all over, again.  Whether your skin  is changing for the better or worse (oilier or drier), it’s time to re-evaluate and change your skincare routine.  Basics include a cleanser fit for your skin type NOW (versus pre-pregnancy), toner, moisturizer (if you need it), and SPF protection.  My favorites include Dr. Weil’s Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Cleanser, Christian Dior’s Toning Lotion with Velvet Peony Extract, La Mer Moisturizing Cream (yes, it’s pricey, but a little goes a long way; there’s something about that sea kelp formula that WORKS), and Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector SPF 42 (great for all seasons–if you have dry skin, you can use moisturizer underneath).  Also, your nails will likely grow quite fast so keep a good set of nail clippers on hand.

(4)  Prenatal Vitamins.  This one is self-explanatory.  Of course, use per your doctor’s instructions/directions.  Same goes for your diet.

(5)   Aromatherapy.  Have a scent and/or scents on hand to relax you (especially if you’re prone to pregnancy blues, anxiety, and/or depression).  Whether it’s candles, perfume, lotion, soaps, and/or shampoo, it’s nice to have something that smells pleasant around you.  My favorites include Origins Smoothing Souffle (body cream that smells like mint), pine cones, and  Nature’s Own Essence Peppermint Essential Oil.

(6)  The book, What to Expect: The First Year (Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway).  Even if you already have other baby books, this is a great resource that offers some interesting perspectives.

(7)  Simple and/or streamlined makeup routine.  Even though I’m less of a makeup fiend than I was during pre-pregnancy, it still helps to have a set of go-to items for days when I want to glam it up a bit (but not take two hours to get ready).  The three main areas that need coverage are face, eyes, and lips.  Basics include a foundation, mascara or false lashes, and lipstick or gloss.  If you’re blessed with flawless skin, all you need on your face (in place of foundation and/or powder) is a good SPF (and maybe moisturizer).  My favorites include Christian Dior’s Airflash Spray Foundation (pricey but a little goes a long way; wear a shower cap and apply with your fingers to get the most natural look; great if you want an air brushed and I-just-walked-out-of-a-magazine look [with every little effort]), Ardell’s Natural Lashes (Demi Wispies), Bobbi Brown’s Long Wear Gel Eyeliner (favorite colors are Caviar, Espresso, and Ivy Shimmer), Estee Lauder’s Automatic Brow Pencil Duo, and Christian Dior’s lipstick and fluid stick (CD’s selection of color is amazing; this stuff glides on and has a subtle shimmer; there’s something for everyone).  If you need makeup brushes, nothing compares to Chanel’s brush line.  Nothing.

(8)  Jewelry and/or accessories.  At a time when you’re feeling nostalgic for your pre-pregnancy clothes (and shoes), I find that there’s nothing that some makeup, nail polish, and/or jewelry can’t fix (and, cake, too–but that’s another topic).  A simple but eye-catching piece of jewelry can do wonders for your outfit (and your mood).  If you’re shopping for jewelry, try to look for something that you would consider passing down to your child and/or children.  This makes wearing (and buying) jewelry all the more meaningful (not to mention fashionable).

Hard as Nails

nailpolish

So I tried but just couldn’t keep away.  I missed wearing nail polish and decided to get some formaldehyde-free top and base coats and painted my toe nails (my current top and base coats are not formaldehyde-free [and have been shown to cause birth defects in rats], which is why I took a hiatus from painting my nails).  I hate to admit it but I think the days of my painting my finger nails are over–it’s just not practical with my being pregnant and taking care of a newborn come December.  Ahhh…  Sure miss the smell and look of shiny red nails.  Speaking of nail polish, Christian Louboutin (my favorite shoe maker from my pre-pregnancy days) recently came out with his own nail polish line.  Is it worth it?  Many say yes (according to the reviews) but I think I’ll wait to see if I can get it as a gift ;).

Finally scheduled my hair appointment for Saturday.  My ends have been screaming at me for having put off getting my hair cut (my hair dresser will be disappointed when she sees me).  Restocked my favorite conditioner (at the moment, it’s Ojon Damage Reverse Conditioner).  Ounce for ounce, it’s less expensive than brands like Pureology and Kerastase (which I absolutely love) but works just as well.

We’re going to a wedding next week.  Hence, the haircut and painted toe nails (plus, I really missed wearing nail polish).  As for the outfit I’ll be wearing to the wedding, that is still in the works.  Funny how being pregnant makes for a more difficult selection process in terms of dressing up.  For those who are also pregnant, A Pea in the Pod (or Destination Maternity) is having a BUY-ONE-GET-ONE-FREE special on its sale items.  Not too shabby.

Hand Job

lamerhand

Everyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with the brand, La Mer.  It’s just an all-around good skincare line.  Yes, it’s a splurge but, for people with sensitive skin, so worth it.  My favorite product, as of late, has been the Hand Treatment.  Since the beginning of my pregnancy, my skin has been a bit dry and the Hand Treatment has done wonders in terms of smoothing and calming my swollen hands and arms.

Lipstick Jungle

cdlipstick

Even though it’s still mid-summer (and despite the fact that I’m pregnant), when it comes to fashion and beauty, I always make an effort to think ahead.  Since I’ve stopped painting my nails (due to the birth-defect-causing chemicals in my favorite brand of nail polish), I’ve started shopping for my fall and winter lipstick.  Right now, I’m wearing gloss.  And everyone (who wears lipstick and glosses regularly) knows that gloss is just not going to cut it during the dead of winter.  My favorite has always been CD’s lipstick collection–specifically, the Extreme Collection.  What I love about CD’s lipsticks is that they glide on and have a very subtle shimmer to them (and also include some of the best colors on the market).