Friday, October 25th, 2013

Lush Holiday 2013
Lush Holiday 2013

For the holidays, Lush has plenty of offerings to tempt you. Here’s a quickie overview of some of the products I recently tried:

Melting Snowman ($5.95 for 2.1 oz.) is a bath melt, which are supposed to be used either in halves or wholes and tossed into the tub as you fill it with warm water. They’re supposed to add a hydrating element to your soak. He smells of chocolate, cinnamon, and orange. The “chocolate chip” eyes don’t fully melt and tend to float and smear on the tub (not so sexy to look at), and I did find myself needing to scrub those bits away post-bath. It’s definitely hydrating and makes the skin feel softer afterward.

Cinders ($4.95) is a bath bomb that also has “crackling vegan candies,” so you’ll actually hear it crackle and pop a bit once the majority of the bath bomb has fizzed away (about a minute). It smelled like spiced cider, not too sweet or too spicy, and it really was like splashing around in a vat of cider. You can hear the candies crackling here and there for about five to ten minutes. This was my favorite of the bath bombs I tried this season. It turned the water yellow, and I think this might have worked better if it turned the water orange or tangerine? in terms of aesthetics.

The Christmas Penguin ($7.45 for 3.5 oz.) is a bubble bar shaped like a penguin–and he’s a rather pricey bath bomb as a result! Crumble his little penguin body into a hot bath for some bubble action. When used, it will turn the bath water a light blue. It had a slightly tart, slightly sweet mix of citrus going on–a little fizzy and lemon-lime like.

Golden Wonder ($6.95 for 7.8 oz.) is a larger bath bomb that has a treat inside–if you shake it around, you’ll here something rattling inside. It’s golden and has gold glitter on the exterior, and it fizzes away in about a minute and a half. It had a very strong, somewhat synthetic, sweet orange. I didn’t love it–it didn’t give me a really fresh orange fragrance, more cloying and syrupy sweet. Spoiler alert: the portion inside is a vibrant turquoise-blue and did leave some bluish residue along my tub, so be sure to scrub and wash down accordingly.

Luxury LUSH Pud ($6.95 for 7 oz.) is supposed to be a lavender-scented bath bomb. When placed in a hot bath, it turned the water a muted, magenta pink with some foaminess. It took about two minutes for the entire bath bomb to fizzle away. It smelled like a mix of sweet vanilla and lavender.

Sandy Santa ($9.95 for 4.5 oz.) is a body buffer in the shape of Santa. It uses sand and sugar to exfoliate dead skin sells, plus it’s in solid form, so it also contains coconut oil and shea butter for softening and hydration. I wouldn’t say it hydrated all that much, and it really melts very, very quickly. I highly recommend breaking off just a small piece, going over the skin lightly, but then rubbing what you’ve melted off in with your hands, not the bar itself, as you’ll just waste most of it. It smelled primarily of orange oil with a little lemon, and for me, it read synthetic. Breaking him into pieces, I was able to get three scrubs worth of mostly legs and arms but not much else. I was surprised at the price point, given how few uses I was able to get out of him.

Let the Good Times Roll ($12.95 for 3.5 oz.) originally launched for the holidays but made it into the permanent range due to its popularity. It smells like incredibly sweet sugar cookies with a very, very subtle cinnamon spice. It contains maize flour and corn meal, so it is a gentle exofliator with fine bits that leave skin feeling soft but never raw, dry, or red. As a gentler exfoliant, I really liked it, and I’ve been feeling like there’s a void in exfoliators/scrubs in my routine lately, so this has been filling that void nicely. Of all the products I tried this holiday season, this was the only one I’d consider buying.

Celebrate ($29.95 for 7.7 oz.) smells of champagne and citrus–primarily orange–and has a slightly whipped consistency that makes it seem lighter than it is, but it is a rather rich product, because even after two hours of my legs dangling (open to the air!), my legs still felt greasy and slippery. I ended up toweling off what wasn’t absorbing so I could go to bed. I tried it again, and I used the smallest amount possible, and I still felt somewhat greasy after an hour. I would actually say it could make a nice massage lotion, since it never seems to really absorb, so there’s a lot of slip, which is great for massaging! I will also mention that my husband really didn’t like this scent–he found it overwhelming (and he can barely smell, I swear). Like his reaction is encompassed by this scenario: I take one step into his office, and then he says, “What is that smell?” with this face that says, “Please step back.” It had an almost medicinal quality to the orange/citrus in it for me.

The Glossover

product

Melting Snowman

The "chocolate chip" eyes don't fully melt and tend to float and smear on the tub (not so sexy to look at), and I did find myself needing to scrub those bits away post-bath. It's definitely hydrating and makes the skin feel softer afterward.

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Cinders

It smelled like spiced cider, not too sweet or too spicy, and it really was like splashing around in a vat of cider. You can hear the candies crackling here and there for about five to ten minutes. This was my favorite of the bath bombs I tried this season.

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The Christmas Penguin

Crumble his little penguin body into a hot bath for some bubble action. When used, it will turn the bath water light blue. It has a slightly tart, slightly sweet mix of citrus going on--a little fizzy and lemon-lime like.

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Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Pacifica Purify Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes
Pacifica Purify Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes

Pacifica Purify Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes ($6.00 for 30) are designed for gently cleansing skin and “[reviving] skin and [removing] dead cells.” Pacifica says they can be used to remove makeup, but “[they] do not use chemical solvants, [so] they will not remove the most water-proof make-up.” I appreciate the honesty there, though I did use it to remove regular makeup and felt it did an excellent job moving all bits and traces of my foundation, eye makeup (including mascara), and lipstick. None of what I’ve worn is really waterproof (except maybe eyeliner), so whether it has a place in your routine will depend on whether you want it to break down waterproof makeup, too.

Each wipe was extremely saturated with cleanser, even though the package had been sitting face-up so the first wipe was the top wipe, which was still saturated and wet. A lot of times, I store makeup wipes upside down so that the first wipe you remove has been on the bottom staying its most moist, but with these, I didn’t need to do that. I’ve been using these here and there for the past three weeks, and I’ve used a third of the amount in the package. These also had a harder, plastic “seal” over the resealable plastic flap, so they should stay wet.  They smell like lightly sweetened coconut, but the scent doesn’t linger.

At this price point ($0.20/each), they’re comparable or cheaper than wipes by brands like Aveeno ($0.28/each), Neutrogena ($0.28/each), and Almay ($0.24). Ponds has a value pack, which brings down the cost to $0.16. I normally use MAC’s Makeup Removing Wipes ($0.29/each), and I seriously have six 100-packs in my house at all times–they’re my go-to for removing swatches, but I can’t use them on my eyes often (on my cheeks and lips are fine), so I really like that I can use these all over.

Ingredients

Purified Water, Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin (vegetable), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Water, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract , Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Extract , Polysorbate 20, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance (all natural).

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Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash
Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash

Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash ($11.00 for 5.0 fl. oz.) is supposed to be a “gentle, sulfate-free foaming cleanser that removes daily toxins and makeup.” Skincare seems to be a new venture (well, beyond body creams) for Pacifica, which I’ve personally known primarily as a fragrance brand, so I didn’t have high expectations for this. I’ve been loving all things coconut-scented lately, though (it’s the summer–coconut always reminds me of warm summer days spent at the beach), so I figured I’d give it a try.

I actually quite love it! It has been surprisingly great as a cleanser, and even better? It’s very budget-friendly. It has a gel-like consistency that’s clear, but it lathers into a creamy, kind of milky-like, lather and really breaks down all bits and bobs of my makeup–even heavy eye makeup and mascara. I work it into my entire face, and I have no issues with my eyes burning, stinging, tearing, or clouding when using this. Every time I’ve used it, I’ve reveled at how remarkably gentle it is, and Muse, who is more discerning about her skincare than I am, felt the same way. My skin felt soft and clean but never stripped, tight, or dry. It smells primarily of coconut, but there’s a little citrus and zest to it.  The purity of the coconut, though, smells a lot like raw coconut oil to me.

Ingredients: purified water, cocomidopropyl betaine (coconut source), sodium cocoyl glutamate (coconut source), sodium cocoyl sulfoacetate (coconut source) sodium cocoamphoacetate, decyl glucoside (corn source), aloe barbadensis leaf juice, glycerin (vegetable), aloe barbadensis leaf juice, glycerin (vegetable), magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, glycol stearate, carica papaya extract, lemon bioflavanoids, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) water, citrus acid, tocopherol acetate, panthenol, NaPCA, allantoin, nori extract, garcinia mangostana peel extract (mangosteen), camelia sinensis leaf extract (white tea), sea algae extract, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, fragrance (all natural).

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Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

shu uemura Fresh Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil
shu uemura Fresh Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil

shu uemura Fresh Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil ($67.00 for 15.2 fl. oz.) is designed for combination to oily skin types as a cleansing oil that “effectively remove[s] make-up and ipurities … while maintaining the skin’s necessary moisture level.” It is “empowered with Sakura Complex” to “[minimize] pores by eliminating excess sebum and visibly [smoothe] the skin’s surface.” According to shu uemura, sakura leaf extract is “known to reduce inflammatory mediators that can cause skin redness” and “improve skin texture.” It also contains salicyclic acid and cherry extract. It is available year-round in a regularly pink-tinted bottle but has been relased in special packaging for the ob collection. It’s sold out (in this packaging) online, but if you are located where shu uemura is still sold in stores, you may find it locally.

I’m a big fan of shu uemura’s Cleansing Oils, and I hadn’t tried the Fresh Pore Clarifying formula yet. The last bottle I used was a limited edition bottle released with last holiday season’s wkw collection, which was the “White Recovery EX+ Brightening Cleansing Oil Advanced Formula” (which doesn’t seem to be available in regular packaging on the U.S. website). One giant bottle lasts me anywhere from four to six months. I didn’t love this one as much as the other formulas I’ve tried, because it is very thin–almost water-like in texture. The others were slightly thicker but not so thick that they felt oily or heavy, but this one is so thin that it took some getting used to. I needed to pump it into my hands over the sink, as it would leak through my fingers or pump beyond my hands and get onto the counter/in the sink. I just never noticed this as an issue with the two or three bottles I’ve used previously (different formulas, all cleansing oils). The formula has a very light floral scent that’s pretty muted.

Aside from the consistency/packaging issue, the formula worked well to break down and remove makeup, dirt, and whatever else happened to be on my face. I take two to three pumps and then massage and work it into my skin, and then I rinse my hands under water and then work the oil into a small lather. After that, I rinse my face with lukewarm water and pat dry. I never experience any oily residue, no squeaky clean/tight feeling, or have issues with my eyes clouding during the rinsing process. shu’s cleansing oils are definitely a go-to for me when I’m wearing a full face of makeup, because it gets it all off and I don’t need to follow-up with another cleanser.

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Friday, May 17th, 2013

Olay Fresh Effects Bead Me Up Exfoliating Cleanser
Olay Fresh Effects Bead Me Up Exfoliating Cleanser

Olay Fresh Effects Bead Me Up Exfoliating Cleanser ($7.99 for 6.5 fl. oz.) is supposed to be a foaming cleanser that contains microbeads to “gently purify and lift away dirt … [and] softly scrub your skin.” A couple of weeks ago, I grabbed this cleanser to try for an evening cleanser for light makeup days, and I wanted something more budget-friendly. I’ve only used it a handful of times, because every time I use it, it’s like spraying a bottle of perfume on my face (and in my mouth, because it’s so potent, I feel like I can taste it, even though I’m not putting it on my mouth!). It’s extremely high in fragrance; it’s a strong, floral scent. I can’t recall coming across anything that was this strong in fragrance, where I felt like I could taste it (but I know there was a moisturizer, by another brand, that was so heavily scented, I didn’t test it for long either).

The texture is a thick, creamy consistency that squeezes out of the tube.  It lathers and foams well, and the beads are there but not in a high concentration, so it is very gentle and seemed suitable to my skin on a regular basis. It didn’t leave my skin feeling stripped or “squeaky” clean, which I liked, and it was able to cleanse away daily dirt and grime–but it doesn’t work well on makeup. It left noticeable amounts of eyeliner, mascara, and medium-coverage foundation when I tried it when I did wear light makeup (I will note, though, that it doesn’t call out removing makeup, but since I know a lot of us like double-duty cleansers, it was still something I tried it with in case it did).  I can’t speak to any long-term effects, because it’s really not something I wanted to keep using.

Ingredients

Water, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Oxidized Polyethylene, PEG 200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, Sodium Myristoyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Acrylates Copolymer, PEG 7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Citric Acid, PEG 100, Titanium Dioxide, Fragrance, Lauric Acid, Polyquaternium 10, Disodium EDTA, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Niacinamide, Ascorbic Acid, BHT, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

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Wednesday, November 7th, 2012


NARS Gentle Cream Cleanser

A Truly Gentle Cleanser

NARS Gentle Cream Cleanser ($29.00 for 4.2 fl. oz.) is supposed to be a “gentle, non-drying cream cleanser with a luxurious lather designed to pamper the skin while washing away makeup and surface impurities.” NARS says it is best for normal, dry, and seasonally dry skin, and it is “synthetic fragrance, paraben, and alcohol” free.

I’ve been using this for the past two and a half months as my morning cleanser (though I have also used in the evenings on occasion). It’s lightweight, incredibly gentle, non-drying, and a little goes a long way. I don’t even think I’m half-way through the tube, even though I consistently use it every morning. It lathers up quickly, but it’s not at all drying. I tend to have normal-to-dry skin, which is more normal than not during the spring/fall, but it gets drier as we head into winter. What I like most about the cleanser is really how genuinely gentle it is; there’s no stinging or burning sensations if this gets into your eyes at all. It doesn’t cloud your eyes or anything like that either.

It cleans well, and for something marketed as “gentle,” it is surprisingly effective at removing makeup. It won’t get long-wearing products off fully, but it did break down my liquid foundation well.  I like how it leaves my skin post-cleanse, which is soft and supple–my skin never feels stripped or dried out. Given how long I’ve been using it, and how much is left, the price tag stretches out a bit.

I have one complaint, though, and for me, it’s enough to look for something else:  the packaging.  It looks sleek, and just looking at it, everything seems in order.  Using it, however, is another matter.  It leaks cleanser, mostly into the cap, but unscrewing the cap will leave you with half an inch of cleanser just sitting inside the cap.  More leaks out as you unscrew the cap, so then the cleanser runs over and down the sides.  A little goes a long way, and it’s hard to get just a little out, because it has such a fluid consistency.   I feel like a lot of cleanser has gotten washed down the drain as a result, and it keeps the tube perpetually slippery and sudsy.  It might be better with a pump or if you could stand it on the opposite side (the tapered end).

Bottom Line: I really enjoyed the cleanser itself, but the packaging made it hard to use and wasted product.