Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Somme Institute Mobile Travel Kit ($85.00) is the best way to try out Somme Institute’s 5-Step System without breaking the bank (plus, it is TSA compliant). The kit includes their Nourishing Cleanser, Transport, Serum, A-Bomb, and Double Defense products.

To get to where they are today, they evaluated and tracked ingredient efficacy in over 3,000 products from drugstore to private label to determine what works and what doesn’t. During their research, they used ultra violet photography to see skin damage not visible to the human eye. Their system uses technology called MDT5 (Molecular Dispersion Technology), which is supposed to allow the products to get into the deepest layers of your skin. MDT5 is a blend of six vitamins (A, C, E, D, B3, and B5).

Of the five products, I recently tried the Double Defense Day Moisture SPF30 alongisde with their Eye cream. The Somme Institute has caught me at a good skin week (well, month), so my results can never be shown to be dramatic. However, I have noticed a bit of wrinkling beneath my eyes though (which I have to say a big SAY WHAT? to), so I started using the Eye cream twice daily (AM and PM) on my under eye area. With consistent use, the line started to minimize and not appear as deep as it originally was. Though, stopping the routine has seen not a total reversion, but some.

I also used the Double Defense Day Moisture SPF30 each morning, and I liked it for its lightweight texture and the fact that is waterproof. It has both UVA and UVB broad-spectrum protection, which is a total must for me. You also know that I prefer my moisturizer to have SPF in it, thereby eliminating an additional product. I love me a good multi-tasking product!

I haven’t been able to use the actual 3-step core system nor the complete 5-step system, so my results don’t speak very loudly about the line either way. At the moment, I’m not too tempted to try a whole new system (because my skin has been behaving), but if it starts acting up again, I think I might go this route.

To read more for yourself, check out www.sommeinstitute.com.

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Last week, when I shared with you what I kept in my shower, I briefly told you of the merits of MAC’s Volcanic Ash Exfoliator ($19.00). It’s such a great product that it deserves its own, official review. Volcanic Ash is both a foaming and exfoliating scrub, which makes it different from the typical exfoliator (most do not have any foaming action). The exfoliants the product use are the volcanic ash and sugar crystals. The volcanic ash is from the island of Vanuatu, and it contains minerals and sulfur from “deep within the earth.”

While all that fancy-speak may or may not be marketing (or some combination of marketing and truth), one usage and the results speak for themselves. The exfoliators dissolve as you gently massage it into your skin, and when you add a little more water, the cleanser will foam up. I personally like that they dissolve, because it helps you time your cleansing; plus, you don’t get little grains or beads stuck on your face post-use. The only downside of the product is that it is a messy/dirty product in the sense that it is black ash that you put on your skin, so it’ll turn your face a dirty gray/black. This in turn makes it difficult to wash over the sink sometimes. I tend to use mine in the shower, because then I don’t have to worry about dirtying up my sink area. It’s really a minor point, because after a few usages, you get pretty good at rinsing and not making a mess.

I love this product so much, I wish I could use it everyday, but alas, you are only supposed to use it one to three times per week. You can use this product on your face or body, which makes it a multi-tasker. To be honest, I love it too much (and it’s sold out everywhere near me), I save it for my face. It’s a good-size tub of product (4.5 oz), but if I started using it for my body, I’d go through it much too fast. I really hope MAC brings this back and makes it permanent–it could be such a cult product, I know it.

Bottom line, this stuff makes your face feel soft as buttery silk. Get it if you can get your hands on it! (C’mon, $19? It’s a total steal!)

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Olivella

The first time I wrote about Olivella, I had tried their Moisturizer Oil. This time I want to tell you about their Cleansing Tissues ($7.50/pack of 30), which are make-up removing towelettes. I know a few of you using the Oil Cleansing Method, so this might be an option for those who need a quick and easy method from time to time. I always advocate getting a package of makeup removing wipes to anyone who has lazy days–days where you don’t want to spend the time to properly remove your makeup. Wipes make it easy, and they make it ridiculously quick. You can do it while you’re promptly passing out on your bed at 1AM. Not only that, but they’re portable, so you can take them with you whenever you’re heading to your girlfriend’s place for the night.

Olivella’s Cleansing Tissues feel remarkably gentle on skin. A lot of times I want to use a wipe, because I get lazy, but then I don’t like how some of them feel on my skin. This is not the case with Olivella. They feel soft while you use them, and they leave your skin feeling refreshed and clean. There’s not much of a scent, either, which most wipes do have. The wipes contain 100% virgin olive oil (part of the philosophy of Olivella), which has proven to be incredibly beneficial to skin. Plus, I know there are quite a few international readers–Olivella is based in Italy, so they have a much larger distribution than some other brands I have reviewed.

So, not only are these better than the cheap drugstore ones I have laying around, they aren’t expensive. You get thirty in a package, and the price is $7.50–that’s 25 cents a wipe. I can afford that! By the way, makeup removing wipes are also fabulous for quickly cleaning brushes in-between applications; they’re so multi-functional, so they definitely have a place in my limited bathroom space!

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I will be the first to admit that I am not a toner person. In fact, I didn’t even know what toner did until I started this blog! Since then, I have learned that adding a toner to your skincare system can be more beneficial than you think. Toners are used to help balance the pH level of your skin after you’ve cleansed it. They also help add moisture so long as they are alcohol-free, when used before applying your moisturizer.

If you’ve been a long-time reader, one of my favorite products is Renee Rouleau’s AHA/BHA Cleanser–it is an absolute staple in my skincare routine, and I would not give this up! (And gah!, I’m almost out!) I recently tried out Renee Rouleau’s Balancing Skin Tonic ($30.50), which is designed for oily/problem skin. RR has six different types of toners formulated for various skin types, which is great because it lets you customize your skincare system a bit more (who doesn’t want that?). The Balancing Skin Tonic helps to reduce acne-related bacteria, manage oiliness, and calm the skin–plus, it’s alcohol-free, so it shouldn’t dry out your skin like some other toners might.

I’ve been trying to include toner in my morning and evening routine, especially when I’ve been wearing a lot of makeup. So far so good. I’m really enjoying the Balancing Skin Tonic after I’ve used my AHA/BHA Cleanser, because it helps make my skin feel moist and refreshed. I also like that it helps take off any last bits of makeup I might have missed during the cleansing process. Best of all? This toner doesn’t dry out my skin (which, now that I’m more beauty-smart, I know is the result of its alcohol-free-ness!).

Now, while I adore my RR cleanser to bits, I can’t say that the toner has miraculously changed my skin or anything. It feels lighter than some other toners I’ve tried, and it does work well when I’ve applied moisturizer while this is still damp on my face (it’s a tip they give you). Maybe I’m not experienced enough in the vast world of toners to determine what makes an amazing toner stand out amongst the rest. What I can say is I think this is a good product, and it does its job–restores my skin’s pH level (assumedly, lol, no pH testing strips here…) and reduces acne-related bacteria.

Find your perfect Renee Realeau Toner at www.reneerouleau.com!

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Alima Cosmetics is an all-mineral makeup brand. In their introduction, they state that their products are free of irritants and are 100% natural, thus suitable for all skin types and shades. One of the great things about Alima is that they even have a 101 section for beginners. When you have a brand that is solely about mineral makeup, the selection is much larger–this is something I really liked. I also like that they provide ingredient lists to their products that aren’t buried within the site. Also, when you look at swatches, they have some of the better swatches I have seen overall–the colors seem fairly accurate and true-to-color.

Some products I enjoyed:

Satin Matte Foundation ($18.95) is a lightweight loose mineral foundation that gives decent coverage for a powder foundation. It also has titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (which are both SPF ingredients), while the mica minimizes lines and imperfections. The finish is matte, which is makes it more suitable to normal-to-oily skinned users, but I didn’t find this too drying or even too matte that it wouldn’t work on those with slightly dry skin.

For those of you who like more traditional cosmetics and may not feel like hitching your wagon to the mineral makeup trend, there are still great ways to enjoy it that don’t include replacing your liquid foundations and foundation brushes! I really liked their Illuminating Shimmer Powders ($14.00), because they’re super finely milled highlighters that look so natural and glowy. My favorite was Nectar, described as a “luscious apricot-gold.” There’s about nine different ones to choose from–ranging from very light (Luna) to bronze (Cafe).

Need a face primer? Alima has you covered with their Balancing Primer Powder ($14.00), which helps your mineral foundation stay on better throughout the day–especially if your face gets oily.  They also have Color Balancing Powders ($14.00) to fix certain problems or cancel out pigmentation in the skin (like redness).

Other products you may be interested in: Mineral Finishing Powder ($14.00), Luminous Shimmer Blush ($14.00), Satin Matte Blush ($14.00), Pearluster Eyeshadow ($8.50), and their brushes (varies in price).

What could they improve on? Nothing really. I suppose wanting to be able to see everything in-person, before you buy, is a dream. Besides, you can get samples of just about everything for no more than $1.00, which makes trying the brand infinitely easier.

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Make Up For Ever HD Powder ($30.00) recently launched this past May, and it is a translucent finishing powder that is meant to work on all skin tones. It can be worn over foundation to set or alone, and it gives what MUFE calls a “soft focus” effect to the skin. It uses ultra fine, spherical micro-particles that are made up of 100% mineral silica powder. If that confuses you, just know that they reflect natural and artifical light, softening lines and imperfections on the screen and in person.

Break out your buffer brush (182, I love you), like MUFE’s Kabuki Brush ($39.00), which will be available this August, and buff this powder into your skin. A little goes a long way, so you can stretch your value as well as keep your skin feeling lightweight. I prefer using this over my foundation, as it seems to give me a better appearance thusly. I am somewhat reminded of MAC’s Invisible Set. HD Powder does seem to help my foundation look good throughout the day, and it doesn’t let it settle into my fine lines as easily.

What do you think of makeup designed for HD? Do you feel like it makes a difference?