Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Best of 2015: Skincare

-Peter Thomas Roth Mask-A-Holic Kit ($75) - 5 face masks including: cucumber gel mask, rose stem cell mask, 24K gold mask, irish moor mud mask and my personal favorite, pumpkin enzyme mask. Valued at $206, this is a steal.

-One Love Organics Vitamin C Brightening Facial Serum ($75) - I love this silky oil to brighten my skin. Vitamin C is great for repairing sun damage and evening out the skin. I also like this because it's organic.

-Uslu Airlines BIO Nail Polish Remover ($24) - I will never go back to using stinky acetone on my nails. This is my favorite polish remover ever. I wrote about it here.

-Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment ($105) - The lactic acid makes my skin brighter and clearer. I can tell the difference if I forget to use it.

-Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser ($38) - Smells like a creamsicle. It's all natural and free of soap, alcohol and detergents. This deep cleans quite well. If I wear a full face of makeup I will wash with this first and go over again with a cotton pad soaked in micellar water, and I don't get any leftover makeup on the pad.

-Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 ($42) - Now that it's cold out, this has come in extra handy. After I cleanse my skin,  I pat two to three drops of this on my face and neck before serum and moisturizer or oil. I like it because it's lightweight and it does a great job of smoothing and plumping.

-Sunday Riley Artemis Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil ($75) - I use this over Good Genes and it brightens, reduces redness, and balances out my combination skin.

-Tatcha Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35* ($68) - This is my new holy grail sunscreen. It's pricey, but I've never seen anything perform quite as well. I have combination skin with a pretty oily T-zone, and this smooths over the larger pores on my nose and doesn't get greasy throughout the day. The invisible, lightweight formula is perfect for using under makeup. It does not contain mineral oil, aminobenzoic acid, homosalate, oxybenzone or octinoxate.

-L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream ($12) - As a court reporter, I have to have a hand cream that absorbs quickly and isn't greasy at all or else my fingers will slide all over the place. L'Occitane makes my favorite ones, and they come in a variety of scents (my favorites are rose and almond).

-Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment ($7) - For blemishes or big pimples, I use this at night and by morning, my skin is clear.

-O.R.G. Skincare Mineral Peel Face with Brightening Agents ($44) - If I had to choose one thing that was my favorite of this year, it would be this. It's an all-natural enzyme exfoliant that removes dead skin. It's gentle enough to use every day. I also really like the Mineral Body Peel. There are few things as satisfying as sloughing all that dead skin off.

-Revival Body Care Grapefruit + Peppermint Natural Body Scrub ($19.95) - Revival body scrubs have quickly become favorites. There are under natural 5 ingredients in each scrub. The small amount of coconut oil leaves your skin super soft.

-Caudalie Divine Oil ($32) - I love to spray this dry oil on my slightly damp skin after a shower or bath. It absorbs quickly, allowing you to dress immediately. It can be used on the face and hair but I only use it on my body.

***Disclosure: Sample provided free of charge from a PR Company or brand for consideration. That did not change my opinion of those products. See disclosure for more info.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

August Favorites (a little late)

Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base ($48) - A subtle looking cream-gel bronzer that will keep you looking glow-y right into the fall. I like to use this all over or where the sun would naturally hit me. I like applying it with a kabuki brush.

Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet Smooth-Effect Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Sunscreen ($47) - When I was at the Chanel counter to buy the Soleil Tan, this foundation caught my eye. I do find that this oxidizes a bit, so after trying 40, I went back for 30 - beige, instead. I love the long lasting matte velvet finish, it's very natural looking and feels weightless. It has a slight floral scent, but it dissipates after a few seconds.

O.R.G. Skincare Mineral Peel Face with brightening agents ($44) - This is an all natural enzyme exfoliant that I am obsessed with. I've already used half of it. You spray it on your face, wait five seconds, then just start rubbing, and the dead skin pills up. It's gross but extremely satisfying. It makes your skin feel baby soft. I can't wait to get the body version. I highly recommend it.

NARS Dual Intensity Eye Shadow ($29) in Telesuto (brown with golden shimmer) and Pasiphae (shimmering peacock burgundy), I love both colors but Pasiphae is gorgeous. The shimmer is somewhat subtle but if you use a wet brush, you'll get a beautiful shimmery statement eye.

Clinique Just Browsing Brush On Styling Mousse ($17) - I picked this up at Sephora on a whim. I never thought I needed it but it turns out it's amazing! I usually draw in my brows but sometimes don't have the time. Brush this on and you'll have perfectly defined brows in 5 seconds. I use dark brown,

Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment ($105) - After trying the Artemis oil and loving it, I gave this a shot. It's a "radiance treatment" and mask. The first time I used it, I felt some burning so I removed it after a bit. I now use it daily before bed. One of the main ingredients is un-neutralized lactic acid, which is supposed to plump fine lines and renew skin. When you use a lot of acids on your face it's important to wear sunblock everyday. It can increase your susceptibility to the sun. I really like this. It's definitely brightened my skin. I recommend the brand, it's highly effective.

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Rosewater ($26) - I love blush. I can't get enough. This one is so cool! Love the cushion formula. The look is very subtle and glow-y and long lasting. I just use my fingers to blend.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

July Favorites

Becca X Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Pop ($38) is a soft white gold with peachy pink undertones. This is a very pigmented almost creamy powder that looks beautiful on all skin tones. For a beachy glow, I mix Nars Hot Sand Illuminator with my foundation, apply it all over, then add this powder where I want everything to pop. Absolutely love it.

Yves Saint Laurent Vernis À Lèvres Pop Water Glossy Stain Eau de Corail 203 ($36) is a bright peachy pink stain that feels like a gloss it's so moisturizing. It stains your lips nicely and lasts for a couple hours. It fades evenly. The color and formula make it worth the price tag for me.

Hourglass Ambient Bronzer in Luminous Bronze Light ($50) is slightly shimmery but it's very subtle. I contour with the Smashbox trio and then dust this all over with a big, fluffy brush. It makes your skin super luminous and blurs imperfections beautifully.

Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Mascara ($21) has been my mascara of choice for the past six months. A makeup artist friend recommended it. This stuff volumizes and lengthens lashes while tinting them deep black and it's actually good for your eyelashes.  The Amazonian clay hydrates and strengthens lashes and prevents fallout. Two coats makes it look like I'm wearing falsies. I never have any flaking or smudging on my lower lashes. My only gripe with this is that the big brush pulls out way too much product. I always use a paper towel to wipe the excess off. This is my second tube and I highly recommend it.

AERIN Waterlily Sun Eau de Parfum ($110) is a fresh, floral scent that is perfect for summer, or the end of summer, which I suppose it is now. It smells of bergamot, jasmine sambac and sweet musk. I get lots of compliments on it.

Lancome Shine Lover Vibrant Shine Lipstick in 340 ($25) is a bright pink, glossy moisturizing balm.
I watched Lisa Eldridge use it in a video and was sold. I like this formula and the packaging, but it's not very long lasting. I'm sure you could find a cheaper version that does the same thing. A hot pink Maybelline Baby Lips would do the job.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

My Too Long Korean Skincare Routine AM + PM

Disclaimer: I call this "Korean" because technically, I'm Korean, and there's a bunch of steps.

1. I don't wash my face with anything other than water.

2. Tone with Murad Hydrating Toner ($28). This helps even the Ph in your skin, which is good for my combination skin.

3. Pat 3 drops of Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 ($44) into skin. It's basically a lightweight moisturizing serum.

4. Moisturize and mattify with KORRES Pomegranate Balancing Cream-Gel Moisturizer ($34).

4. Protect with a facial sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. I'm working my way through the Sephora Sun Safety Kit, but a favorite is Kiehl's Superfluid UV Defense SPF 50 + ($38).

5. I've also been using Skinceuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50 ($30) around my eyes because I squint a lot and you can't be too careful when it comes to sun-care. I like this because it's lightly tinted.

6. If I am going to be outside I apply sunblock all over my body. PSA: sunblock is NOT good after a year. So get in the habit of buying a new one every summer! I've been loving organic Raw Elements
Sunscreen in SPF 30 (around $20).


1. Use an oil cleanser to breakdown sunscreen and makeup. I use a Shu Uemura cleanser, I think it's called fresh and costs around $30. This is an important step because a gel cleanser won't be able to break things like zinc and titanium dioxide down.

2. Cleanse again with either Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser ($36) or Cetaphil. I switch back and forth.

3. If I am lazy and skip the first steps, then I go over over my face with Sephora Collection Triple Action Cleansing Water ($12). I love this. It doesn't leave a weird film or residue. Great for the price!

4. Exfoliate and tone with First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads ($30). I switch it up with Dr. Dennis Gross's Alpha Beta Peels (do yourself a favor and just buy the 30 + 5 free for $88) once a week.

5. Dab Mizon Water Volume EX First Essence ($19) all over with a cotton pad. An essence is basically a hydrating liquid that helps your other skincare products absorb better.
6. Pat Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 ($44) into skin.

7. Pat on one of the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Clincial Concentrate Boosters ($58), I usually switch between the Radiance Booster and Purifying Booster, or mix them together.

8. If it's winter or I feel extra dry I will moisturize with a cream around the outside of my face because my skin is combo. I like First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($30) or Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Sleeping Cream ($38).

9. Dab the orbital area of the eyes with Sephora Collection Total Age Defy Cream for Eyes & Lips ($26). This is another good buy from the Sephora Collection. Very highly rated and great price.

10. Pat 4-5 drops of Sunday Riley Artemis Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil ($75) over the face.

11. I've been using the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask ($26), but it did definitely give me an allergic reaction a couple weeks into using it. I assume it's because the main ingredient is lanolin. If you have sensitive skin at all consider that. I continue to use it because I like the thickness and it was too late to return it but I don't think I'd buy it again.

My husband always gets in bed and waits for me to finish this ridiculous routine, often yelling from the bed, "What are you doing? What is taking so long?" So this list is often abbreviated in some forms. I certainly don't do every step every night. I do what I feel like doing and what I think my skin needs. Sometimes I do all the steps. It all depends on what you want.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

June Favorites

Sephora Collection Triple Action Cleansing Water is awesome. Pictured above is the 6.76 oz. bottle which costs $12. I've been really happy with all the things I've tried from this brand. This is no exception. I dislike cleansing cloths because I don't think they do anything. Now when you're sleepy you just soak a cotton ball with this solution and run it all over your face. It will remove all traces of long-wear foundation, eyeliner, and waterproof mascara. Most other micellar waters cost over $20, so this is great for $12. It's a 2-in-1 product because you don't need eye makeup remover.

Sunday Riley Artemis Hydroactive Cellular Facial Oil ($75) is a complexion balancing and brightening oil. After cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, I take 4-5 drops of this oil and pat it all over my face and neck. This really works well on my combination skin. I put it on at night and when I woke up to go to the bathroom, my face looked visibly brighter and less red. The one thing that sucks is that (I assume) the lemon ironbark or lemon myrtle essential oil is very strong. I don't think it's too bad but it's something to consider if you're sensitive to fragrance. I also like that it's vegan, cruelty free, and made in the USA.

Korres Pomegranate Balancing Cream-Gel Moisturizer ($34) is lightweight and pore-minimizing. In the summer I usually switch to a gel facial moisturizer as a cream is too heavy. This helps balance the skin and provide a matte finish. Salicylic acid gently exfoliates and hyaluronic acid adds moisture. This works nicely underneath makeup and sunscreen in the daytime. I'm satisfied with its ability to moisturize and mattify.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

SallyeAnder No-Bite-Me

The one awful thing about summertime is the bugs. I always get eaten alive by mosquitoes. I recall on my honeymoon to BVI, just laying inside and covering myself in OFF! every ten minutes. I was miserable.

DEET, which is a chemical found in most bug sprays, has been found dangerous to humans. It can cause neurological damage and once it's in the bloodstream can cause seizures and death. But the EPA says that as long as we use it as directed - it's fine. I don't necessarily believe everything I'm told, especially by the government.

I am hoping to get pregnant soon, so I've been thinking more about what I'm putting on and in my body. I read a couple instances where using DEET was implicated in complications in pregnant women. SallyeAnder No-Bite-Me ($14.95) is a DEET-free, natural preventative and after-bite treatment. It's a blend of 16 essential oils including Cedar, Mint, Lemongrass, and Geranium.

Just dot the cream on exposed skin and rub in for four hours of protection. I was introduced to this by a friend and I carry it with me in my purse during the summertime. I love it. It really works. It has a rather pungent scent but I have grown to like it. Safe for kids.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Fake a glow with N.V. Perricone No Bronzer Bronzer

As the days get longer and you spend more time outdoors, it's important to remember sun protection. And never, ever go to a tanning bed. This 27 year-old girl was recently in the news for sharing her graphic photos of the results of tanning all the time.

To fake a warm, natural looking tan I love N.V. Perricone No Bronzer Bronzer SPF 30 ($35.) You can add a few drops to your foundation or rub some between your fingertips and pat onto the face. The color it gives is very natural. There is no shimmer, it's quite matte. The lightweight liquid formula is easy to blend, and lives up to its name. It's easy to use and has quite a high rating on Sephora. Very highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Favorite Tools

I have used Anastasia Beverly Hills Tweezers ($28) for a good 8 years. I have tried Tweezerman and was disappointed. Seriously, no other tweezers can grab every teensy tiny hair like these and they will last you years, that's why I'm willing to pay $28. The only reason I had to get new ones was because I lost my old ones.

For my nails I use the Sephora Collection Crystal Nail File ($10). The best thing about this crystal file is that you can wash it and use it for years. I recommend keeping it in its hard case so you don't break it. I have.

I used Shu Uemura's eponymous eyelash curler for many years but wanted to find a cheaper alternative. I tried Shisheido and that one didn't work for me at all. It just didn't fit the shape of my eye correctly in any way. I finally found a winner from Tarte. I have bought two or three now because I love the cute handle designs they come out with. It's $19 and comes with a mini mascara.
I have a terrible habit of picking at my skin. I can't just leave anything alone, which is why I have some scarring. I used to use my fingers to squeeze blackheads around my nose, but this Tweezerman No-Slip Skin Care Tool ($12) works a lot better. I recommend steaming your face first, by draping a towel over your head over a bowl of boiling water, for a few minutes, which helps open up the pores.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Uslu Airlines BIO - a/k/a Best Nail Polish Remover EVER

I am not "green" by any means but I have started thinking more about the things I'm putting on or in my body. I am known to change my nail polish weekly so I figured it would make sense to find a nontoxic alternative to acetone and things like toulene, ethyl acetate and methanol, which are commonly found in non-acetone based removers.

Uslu Airlines BIO ($24) is water-based and uses gnomeic abraders (apparently invisible mini crystals) to peel or exfoliate rather than dissolve aggressively. First of all, this smells pretty good. No complaints. It's fruity. The heavy glass bottle comes with two rolls of cotton rounds. It only takes one round for both hands. Overall I love it. I highly recommend it to everyone.

You wet a cotton pad and then coat each nail. Go slow and wait for 30 seconds. Using the same cotton pad you just rub each nail and rinse with water. Other things you may want to know are: it's safe for pregnant women, dissolves polish without stripping your nails, it's not flammable, it's based on components from renewable raw materials and is biodegradable.

I purchased it from

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dr. Jart Ceramidin Oil Balm

Dr. Jart's Ceramidin Oil Balm ($35) is a multitasking oil that contains condensed ceramide and nine vegetable oils to provide hydration. It comes with a tiny little plastic scooper to remove the product. This solid balm immediately transforms to oil when you rub it in. It's so cool. It moisturizes without any greasy feel. I like to use it everywhere on my body after a bath and on my cuticles.

I love that this does not contain any petroleum products and is fragrance-free and cruelty-free unlike Aquaphor (mostly petroleum) and Elizabeth Arden's 8 Hour Cream (mostly petroleum and stinks.)
I highly recommend it. Dry skin drinks it up. Available at Sephora.

face candy grade: A+

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