Saturday, September 12th, 2009

It’s a Toner, Not a Lotion (Part 2): NARS Hydrating Freshening Lotion

NARS Hydrating Freshening Lotion ($36.00 for 6.7 fl. oz.) is a water-based toner with a gel-like consistency designed to hydrate skin as well as gently exfoliate it.

When I was at NARS a few months ago, the artist was telling me about this magical toner that was really great for acne-prone skin. I was a bit skeptical, but every so often, an artist manages to convince me to buy something I had no intentions of getting, so that’s how I wound up with NARS’ Hydrating Freshening Lotion. Like the Clarins’ Super Restorative Wake-Up Lotion, “Lotion” means toner. It’s easy to use: just pump once onto a cotton pad and then use it on your face to remove any dirt and build-up.

One of the reasons I bought this was to help hydrate and exfoliate dry patches prior to applying foundation. It actually does seem to help hydrate and remove some of the flakiness on my dry patches and keeps the skin looking natural and radiant. This also helps to make sure I’ve gotten every last bit of dirt, makeup, and cleanser off of my face before I apply my moisturizer. (Seriously, the amount of gunk this product removes reminds me of the blackhead strips by Biore!)

Though a bit pricey, one bottle should last you a few months, if not more, depending on how often and how much you use per application. I find need about two pumps for face and neck on a cotton pad per application, so I expect to finish my bottle in the next month or so. I do believe Shiseido (which owns NARS) also makes a similar product, so if you’re a Shiseido fan, you may want to look in their line.

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation:  NARS’ skincare is underrated, in my opinion, because they really do have a solid line of skincare products that have never done me wrong–including the Hydrating Freshening Lotion!

Availability: Nordstrom

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Lather Up: Chanel Mousse Exfoliante Purete

Chanel Mousse Exfoliante Purete ($45.00 for 5 oz.) is a creamy cleanser/extremely mild exfoliant that cleanses, controls oil, and lightly exfoliates without ever missing a beat. If the name as you a little confused, the English version is Exfoliating Cleansing Foam Purity + Anti-Pollution.

Don’t let the sticker price fool you, this product does its job amazingly well and one tube will last you at least six months, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it lasted longer. It took me several tries to figure out just how little I needed–no more than a pea-size amount for face and neck. It foams up with little water and goes on thickly (but doesn’t feel heavy). All I know is I didn’t expect to fall in love with a Chanel cleanser, but I definitely did! This has quickly become a Temptalia household staple.

There are small exfoliating beads in this product, and I really do mean small. They’re small and sparse enough to make it incredibly mild in exfoliation, so you can easily use this product once or twice a day (AM/PM). It smells clean, that’s the only way I can describe it, and really does an excellent job at leaving my face clean.

It’s not the best at removing more lasting makeup like eyeliner and mascara and will leave a few traces behind, but I find most cleansers to do this (particularly since I don’t want to exfoliate my eyelids or anything!). Whenever I wear heavy eye or lip makeup, I use a separate makeup remover to handle those before I get into the facial cleansing anyway, so for me, it’s not a make or break point.

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you want a cleanser that feels luxurious AND delivers and still holds value… consider Chanel’s latest addition to the Precision skincare line-up.

Availability: Nordstrom

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Clarisonic MIA

Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System

Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System ($149.00) is the latest launch from Clarisonic. It is a miniature-sized version of the original Clarisonic, and it is also $45 cheaper. It’s also available in pink.

You may wonder how this possibly can be part of Money Saving Mondays… because I know the Clarisonic can be a hefty investment for some who really want it, this does offer you a way to get it for less. It is also just as effective as the original, more expensive Clarisonic, so it represents true savings.

First, Clarisonic has a really useful comparison chart for the four models: Mia, Classic, PLUS, and PRO. The Clarisonic Mia is about an inch and a half to two inches smaller the the original,and it doesn’t feel as bulky. The Mia comes with a pLink charger whereas the Classic used a cradle charger, which makes it a lot more compact. The Mia brush head is the same size as the Classic, so you don’t lose anything in how well it cleans or the area it cleans.

Surprisingly, the Mia feels heavier compared to the Classic, but not by much (note that neither are, by any means, heavy). When you opt for the Mia, you have only a single speed setting, whereas the Classic provided you with two. Since I’ve used the Classic forever now, I can say that it’s not a big deal, and it wouldn’t surprise me if you didn’t even know you had two speeds on yours! The Mia also only lasts twenty minutes on a full charge compared to the Classic which lasts thirty minutes. Again, this is not really an essential difference to me; twenty minutes is still ten or so uses, which is plenty on a single charge.

I recommend you read my original review for the Clarisonic to get a more in-depth look at why I really love the cleansing system and recommended it even at $195. In brief, it is an easy, efficient way of cleansing the skin. It helps with skin turnover and keeps my skin clearer and smoother looking overall. I’m not often sold on advertising claims, but the Clarisonic is one beauty gadget I can’t live without!

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Packaging: 9/10

Recommendation: If you want to get your skin its best shape, the Clarisonic can help. It gives skin a softer, smoother appearance while deep cleansing every time you use it without irritating even sensitive skin. If $145 is still out of your budget, consider looking out for F&F sales at Sephora where you can save another 10-15%. Or put it on your wish list!

Availability: Sephora

See size comparison photoContinue reading →

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Parched Skin? Clinique’s Maximum Hydrator to the Rescue!

Clinique Maximum Hydrator ($27.00) is a moisturizer designed as part of their men’s skincare line. Gender aside, this is a fantastic moisturizer, and it’s actually one I’ve repurchased–for myself, not the boyfriend! This is an excellent moisturizer for those with normal to dry skin, because it is incredibly hydrating, and if you have oily skin, it may be too much for you. It is a gel-based formula, though, so it doesn’t feel heavy.

Maximum Hydrator is a multi-purpose product that is supposed to be used both in the morning and the evening. For men, it is touted as a post-shave product to help soften and plump up the skin. Here are the ingredients Clinique wants us to know about:

  • Aloe Leaf Water helps restore optimal moisture levels within skin while soothing dehydrated skin.
  • Moisture-binding polysaccarides (sugars) Trehalose and Sorbitol work along with Sodium Hyaluronate to help skin retain moisture and maintain important natural performances.
  • Palmitoyl Oligopeptide signals skin to stimulate the natural development of collagen.
  • Glycerin, a powerful humectant, helps attract and secure moisture to skin’s surface for immediate comfort.
  • Green Tea Extract and Sea Whip help soothe and protect delicate skin from potential damage from daily irritants.
  • Vitamin E helps fight damage caused by free radicals while Cucumber Extract soothes and de-puffs eye area skin.
  • Caffeine works as an anti-irritant to help soothe and calm easily distressed skin.
  • A blend of 3 different weights of Dimethicone provides improved slip, cushion, and a comfortable end-feel to the product while helping skin retain surface hydration.
  • PhytofixTM , a specially formulated blend of Sunflower Seed Cake, Barley, and Cucumber Fruit Extract, supplies skin with a powerful capacity for barrier repair for improved long-term hydration.

Whether you’re a woman or a man or a woman shopping for your hubby, this is a slam-dunk moisturizing choice. It helped soothe my painfully dry skin from my trip to New York back in February. It was gentle enough not to aggravate my existing breakouts nor cause additional ones. It was hydrating, fragrance-free, and absorbed quickly. You get a good amount for your money, and each jar lasts me about two months if I use it just once a day (I usually use mine at night, though sometimes I use it in the morning, too).

The only downside to this product is that it doesn’t come with any SPF, which is something I think would be a nice addition, because most men in my life aren’t going to be vigilant enough to use a separate moisturizer and SPF–they are too lazy and need an all-in-one kind of product.  The packaging isn’t phenomenal, and I do prefer creams/moisturizers in airless pump containers, but the packaging is simple and no-fuss, so it’s functional.

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: Dry skin? Sensitive skin? Definitely give this a shot–try asking for a sample next time you’re near a Clinique counter. This is one of my favorite moisturizers, and it is one that I’ve gone back to when other moisturizers aren’t working for me. This is a definite must-have for me during the winter, too, when my skin gets quite parched.

Availability: Nordstrom, Clinique, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora.com

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

It’s a Toner, Not a Lotion: Clarins’ Super Restorative Wake-Up Lotion

Clarins Super Restorative Wake-Up Lotion ($40.00 for 4.2 oz.) is indeed a toner. I must admit that I had to read the product’s tip sheet before realizing it was a toner and not a moisturizer. (Hey, I associate the term “lotion” with moisturizer, what can I say?) I will even go so far as to admit that I used this a few times as a lotion, but I am happy to report it did not cause any ill effects (e.g. breakouts). Funny enough, my skin didn’t feel like it even missed a moisturizer!

Which leads me to tell you that this is an excellent, non-drying, non-irritating toner that works well to re-energize the skin with the slight cooling nature of the product. The toner is a gel-based toner, rather than a liquid toner. Clarins recommends applying it with a cotton ball with “light, tapping movements,” and I’d say that’s a fair technique. You can substitute cotton balls with cotton pads or sheets as well.

Whenever I’m reviewing a product, I like to see what a company says about their products and what ingredients they tout as amazing, just because it helps keep me aware of what the product is supposed to do. Clarins lists the primary ingredients in the product as well as what they’re designed to do–something I like. Perhaps not always entirely believable, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

  • Pueraria Lobata – helps boost cell activity and collagen production, while soothing the skin.
  • Green coffee extract – rich in caffeine, energizes skin, helping it look more vital and radiant.
  • Ginseng root – reinforces energizing action of caffeine, adds vitality.
  • Oat Sugars, extracted from the plant’s seeds, work as a natural skin-tightening agent, and help smooth appearance of imperfections on skin’s surface.
  • Hibiscus extract – remove excess dry skin cells and brightens skin.
  • Butcher’s Broom (Ruscus) – helps eliminates toxins and reduce puffiness.

When applied, the product does feel a bit sticky, but it absorbs/fades within a few minutes, so it’s not a major concern for me, but it is a mild annoyance. My skin does feel clean and refreshed after using this product, and this toner is more about tapping it on than wiping away anything. I think this product is suitable for those with sensitive skin, but those with extremely sensitive skin may not find this suitable. It’s lightweight, goes on easily, and doesn’t leave skin feeling dry or tight.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: Easy to use and effective are two great ways to describe Clarin’s Wake-Up Lotion (aka Toner!). It doesn’t strip skin of its natural oils or leave behind tightness (often confused with “clean”), which is something I consider a must-have in any toning or skincare product. The value is so-so, with $40 being a steep investment for a toner, but the bottle is large enough to give you approximately two months’ of use, perhaps more. It’s a good, solid toner, and Clarins’ fans will enjoy it.

Availability: Clarins, Nordstrom.com, Sephora.com

Anyone else try out this Clarins’ toner? Thoughts?

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Gel Cleansing with Darphin

Darphin Cleansing Foam Gel with Water Lily ($38.00 for 4.2 oz.) is a soft, gentle gel-based cleanser with an incredibly light floral scent. It looks nearly colorless when squeezed out of the tube and applied to face. It’s easy to use–just dampen face with a bit of water, then massage the cleanser all of your face to cleanse. It is a water-based cleanser designed to work even on the most sensitive skin without adding redness.

I’ve actually stuck with this cleanser for a few weeks now, because I find it so effective at cleansing, but also because it doesn’t irritate my skin or cause any breakouts. It seems to lift and remove the majority of makeup and dirt build-up from my day without much fuss, and my skin never feels tight or stripped after using. Even when I follow-up with my toner, very little residue is left behind–mostly around my hairline, which is where I always miss cleansing (I fear getting it in my hair) anyway.

Although it is a bit pricey, it doesn’t hold decent value, as a tube should last you between two and three months. (I’m into my second month now, and I haven’t even used close to half — maybe a third or so.) I imagine if you use this twice daily you should see about two months’ worth out of each tube. This cleanser is also easy to travel with, because you can squeeze what you need into a travel bottle, too.

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If you have sensitive or easily irritated skin, consider Darphin’s new gel cleanser. Soft, mild, and gentle are all perfect descriptors of this daily cleansing product.

Availability: Beauty.com, Darphin.com

Have you tried Darphin’s latest Cleansing Foam Gel? Yay or nay?