Cosmetics

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).

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).

Posts Update

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Funny how I go to Whole Foods for one thing (milk) and come out with ten other things (including pumpkin pie, banana loaf, guacamole, etc.).  I  even made a point to eat before my trip.  Such is the marketing genius of the grocery store.

My first real attempt at alleviating some of my back pains–just purchased the Belly Bandit Support Belt (along with another tube of CD lipstick). Will update and provide a review once I get it.

Now that I’m settled in at WordPress.org (from WordPress.com), I’d like to make the following resolutions for this blog going forward:  (1)  More reviews (restaurants, hotels, and baby/mommy gear, etc.),  (2) More poems (this is a favorite, I know, for most of you and me),  and (3) More recipes/food ideas.