Beauty

La Crème by Cle de Peau

It goes without saying that nothing is more effective for your skin than what your dermatologist recommends for it.  With that said, it’s been my experience that one can have a very good skincare regimen using a combination of both prescribed products/methods and over-the-counter (OTC) items.  Allow me to present La Crème by Cle de Peau.

For those unfamiliar with the brand, Cle de Peau is Shiseido’s higher end line of skincare and cosmetics.  The Japanese brand and this particular product has a cult following and for good reason–the results are almost immediate.  The reason for this is because the primary active ingredient in La Crème is retinol ACE (in layman’s terms, it’s a lower dose of retinol plus vitamins and boosters to increase the speed of cell turnover).  Although prescription strength retinol is great for many people, for some (such as myself), it can be a bit strong and cause inflammation (and as another side effect, some hyperpigmentation).  This is why for some, OTC-strength is the way to go for including retinol in one’s skincare routine.

In terms of OTC anti-aging creams, Cle de Peau’s La Crème is the gold standard.  I have yet to experience a cream that performs as well as this one.  (Many of you know that I’m also a huge fan of La Mer’s Creme and I still am–but strictly as a moisturizing cream and something that I use to mix with my foundation when wearing makeup, not as a wrinkle cream.)  After a few hours of applying Le Crème, my skin is noticeably softer, clearer, and brighter.  I have been using this product for three months and it has become a permanent part of my skincare routine.  For those who are skeptical and aren’t willing to take the plunge for the full-size jar, Cle de Peau’s website sells the (limited edition) travel size.  You can also ask someone from the line’s counter at your local Nordstrom, Saks, or Neiman’s to give you a week’s sample.

Now, on to the good stuff (recommendations from my personal experience).  If you have normal to dry skin, use the product as directed–at night only (slather it on, go to sleep, and wake up to soft and bright skin).  If you have oily to combination skin, use it at nighttime and, maybe–assuming you are able to go without makeup and shield yourself from the sun, also use a small to moderate amount during the daytime for 2-3 days during the week.  Do not use it on the area around your eyes (even though it’s OTC, a lower dose of retinol can still irritate sensitive areas).  It also helps to properly prep your skin before application–I wash my face with a mild cleanser and use a NON-EXFOLIATING/NON-MEDICATED toner before applying La Crème (for those who don’t use toners, you can skip the second step).  This is important because you don’t want anything to undermine and/or interfere with the efficacy of the active ingredients in the cream.  You want the product to work by itself (preferably, without any allergic reactions and/or interference).

All women over the age of 30 need to allocate a portion of their budgets to skincare/maintenance.  It’s not a frivolous matter–it’s a necessity as one gets older.  Many department store products get a bad rap for being expensive but as someone who is a product fiend, I can confirm that there are some items that are worth their sticker prices and that a little bit of product can go a long way (depending on how much you use, a jar of La Crème can last you between 6 months to 1 year).  And, as I like to tell my husband, “It’s less expensive than plastic surgery.”

(FYI, I was not paid and/or compensated in any way for this review.)

Chanel Le Blanc Exfoliating Pre-Lotion

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You know the feeling of anticipation and excitement when you’re going on a first date with someone you’ve had a crush on for a while?  I get this feeling every time I try a much-raved about skincare product.  In the US, Chanel is known for its clothes, bags, and makeup.  But, in Asia, the company holds its own in the skincare arena.

If you’re over the age of 35, you know that exfoliation is a key part of maintaining a healthy complexion.  Most of us exfoliate in the shower or at the sink, moisturize, and call it a day.  Enter the Le Blanc Pre-Lotion Exfoliation Douce.  This continues the exfoliation process all day or all night (direction says to apply once per day) and is life-changing.  It has officially been added to my holy grail beauty lineup.  Unfortunately, it’s currently only sold in Asia so for those who live elsewhere, lobby your Chanel counters and get it stocked there!  (It would also be nice for me to be able to buy it in the States once we move back!)

Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.  Consistency is very watery but gel-like (I know that sounds like an oxymoron but bear with me)–think of an extremely fine/thin and runny gel-liquid.  Because it’s a “pre-lotion”, you’re supposed to apply this right before your toner–it’s the toner for your toner.  But since my skin is very sensitive and temperamental, I use it as a toner-alternative at night.  I use two liberal applications–first one with a wiping motion and the second one with a patting motion.  The first night impressed me.  Keep in mind that my skin is awful–I have lines, freckles, AND acne (what kind of sick joke is this, right?).  And although the product didn’t lighten my freckles and sun spots after the first night (nor did I expect it to), it did significantly soften my skin and give me a nice glow.  Not earth-shattering but I’ll take it.  After the second night, my face felt like a baby’s butt AND it glowed.  Getting one product to soften my bumpy skin is no easy task and this pre-lotion performs.  FYI, I also use the Le Blanc Healthy Light Creator Serum (not at the same time but during the day when I’m at home; I use the serum with a regular toner, which changes depending on my mood as there are several in my medicine cabinet).  So, there you have it–in a nutshell, I’m very happy with this product and every day my skin gets better from using it!

REVIEW: Behnaz Pure Rose Fragrance

Just received something I’ve been wanting to try for awhile–Behnaz Pure Rose Fragrance.  This water-based perfume (with no alcohol) is perfect for those who are looking for cleaner and non-toxic alternatives to traditional perfumes (especially mothers of small children).  Don’t get me wrong–I’m still a fan of traditional fragrances but, at this time (given the fact that my children are still so young), I would prefer to wear something less strong.

The Pure Rose is made primarily of distilled water and roses.  Because of this, you should not expect this fragrance to be strongly-scented, long-lasting or leave a “trail”.  Only you and someone in cuddle proximity will be able to smell this perfume.  I love that it’s made of real roses with no synthetic imitations–what has turned me off about ordinary rose perfumes is that they generally smell syrupy sweet or too citrus-y.  On my skin, it initially smelled a little powdery but then settled into a true rose scent.  Also, the texture is very watery but that is to be expected given its composition.  Another thing that I like about this perfume is that the packaging has the bottled date (expiration is six months).  This underscores the freshness and authenticity of the product.

The market has been long overdue for this type of product and moms of small children looking for cleaner and non-toxic fragrance options can rejoice!

Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Cleansing Foam

This is now officially my holy grail cleanser.  My skin is oily (T-zone) and combination and I’m prone to freckles and blackheads.  Those with acne-prone skin know how difficult it can be to find a cleanser that cleans, brightens, and doesn’t overdry.  Here are my observations:

(1) Low pH–A low pH cleanser is crucial to keeping bacteria at bay and is especially important for those with acne-prone skin.  Many cleansers (especially those for oily skin) have too high of a pH (the feeling of squeaky clean skin may be enticing but you pay for it afterwards because the skin then overproduces oil to compensate for the amount washed away in the cleansing process).  

(2) Foam–Foaming cleansers are generally prescribed for oil and combination skin and they’re abundant in the marketplace.  The problem with most low pH cleansers on the market is they don’t foam.  And the ones that do foam are often high pH formulas.  However, a cleanser that has both low pH and foaming action is a rarity and considered a unicorn in the skincare world.  

(3) Ginseng–As with most products in Sulwhasoo’s line, this cleanser has a medicinal scent due to its Chinese herb ingredient list with ginseng being the start ingredient.  Ginseng can brighten and even out skin tone, among other things.  

When I use this in the shower at night, I leave it on my face for at least five minutes before washing it off.  Although my freckles remain the same, the rest of my face is visually brighter.  The product cleanses thoroughly without drying out my skin and is suitable for most skin types.  

The last time I checked (about three months ago), this cleanser was unavailable in the US via department stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman’s, and Saks (even though the stores all carry the Sulwhasoo line).  Amazon and eBay sell it but a good rule of thumb is to avoid such sites for skincare due to numerous incidents of counterfeit and expired products.  For those in the US who wish to purchase this product, my advise would be to lobby the Sulwhasoo counter at your local department store, make a phone call to a major Korean department store and attempt to order it and have it shipped to you, or stock up (or get a friend to) on your next visit to Asia (as far as I know, this cleanser is widely available at all Sulwhasoo counters in department stores across Asia).  

Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Spot Treatment

Those familiar with the Sulwhasoo line know that its products are chock full of Chinese herbs with ginseng being the star ingredient.  The line is primarily aimed at those with dry and/or mature skin but a few of its products appeared to have my name on them.  Lets start with the Brightening Spot Treatment.

While it works wonderfully with acne scars, it does very little for freckles (which was my main motivation was buying this).  The product also doubles as a lightweight moisturizer and smells like ginseng and herbs (as with many Sulwhasoo products).  

Tony Moly Tea Tree Cleansing Water

Many of us are familiar with the benefits and convenience of using micellar water, especially for those who live in areas with hard tap water.  Now, a version with tea tree oil!  Although I still like to use a traditional foaming cleanser to wash my face in the morning and at night, I use this as a mid-day refresher (I only wear makeup on special occasions now so a few quick sweeps of this no-wash cleanser with a cotton pad does the trick).  The result is soft, clean, and refreshed skin that smells faintly of tea tree oil.  

Innisfree Blueberry Sun Cream

Hands down, this is the most lightweight sunscreen I have ever used.  Apply liberally before going out–the result is soft, fragrance-free, protected skin with no white cast.  Feels like water going on and washes off easily with a normal cleanser.  Some sunscreens double as makeup primers–this is not one of them.  This is perfect for no makeup days (which is about every day for me) and if you do wear makeup over this, give it ample time to dry beforehand.  

Innisfree (as well as Nature Republic) is South Korea’s version of Origins.  The company prides itself as being a proponent of skincare and makeup made with natural plant-based ingredients.  

Chantecaille


I’ve been a huge fan of aromatherapy since my first pregnancy.  These days, I can’t seem to get enough of rose and eucalyptus scents.  Since our master bathroom has been transformed into my spa at home, the skincare fiend in me has been trying a whirlwind of products.  Here are my current favorites (and, yes, Chantecaille’s the key word here):

(1). Chantecaille Rose de Mai Oil–What I love about this face oil is that it’s a dry oil.  It moisturizes without clogging pores and/or leaving your face sticky.  Rose oil also has antiseptic properties (which is good news for those prone to acne).

(2). Chantecaille Rose de Mai Cream–The scent is delicious.  Again, with similar properties as the oil, it’s worked beautifully with my acne-prone and combination skin.  I layer this on top of the oil during daytime for extra nourishment

(3). Chantecaille Vital Essence with Arbutin–One of the reasons why I love this line so much is because, unlike many of the other brands, I see results with this one.  This serum is fantastic.  As with all Chantecaille products, its base is rose water.  I love the retinol and arbutin combo to exfoliate and brighten skintone.  After the age of 30, (forget diamonds,) retinol is a girl’s best friend!

(4). Chantecaille Gardenia Emulsion–I layer this lightweight brightening lotion on top of the arbutin serum at night and the two have yielded great results for me. What I like best about this emulsion is that it’s lightweight and non-sticky.

(5). Chantecaille Rose, Rentinol & Vitamin C Hand Cream–This hand treatment yielded INSTANT results.  Since I’m rather OCD about washing my hands (having two small children will do that do you), I have stocked up on this miracle worker.  This item was my entree into the Chantecaille line and it was only because of this cream that I decided to give the rest of the line a try.  And what a pleasant surprise!

(6). Phyto Clarifying Detox Shampoo–For some reason, I tend to associate the smell of eucalyptus with spas.  I love a good clarifying shampoo and have tried several.  This is as good as any but I am absolutely in love with the scent!

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).