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!

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Plank’s Cor Soap ($125.00) is something that sort of makes me go, “WHAT?!” because $125 for a 120-gram bar of soap? It is a facial soap, but it is designed to basically do everything in your skincare regimen: revives, plumps, tones, balances, deep cleans, and heals surface skin. To apply, massage gently into skin for one minute, and then keep the foam on for three to four minutes. According to Plank, one bar of Cor soap will last you six months, and if it truly does it all, then it’s not such a bad concept. The product contains silver, silica, collagen, chitosan, and sericin as its main ingredients, which are micronized in such a way that they are bettle able to penetrate the layers of the skin. Cor soap’s pH is supposed to be similar to the natural pH of skin, so it should be good for all skin types.

Silver helps destroy bacteria while also speeding up growth and repair of skin cells. Silica helps get everything to the dermis layer of the skin. Four types of collagen are found in Cor soap, including marine collagen, which gets into the dermis layer of the skin. Chitosan is a natural fiber that helps to even out skin tone as well as help with cell regeneration. Sericin is a soluble protein from silk that’s moisture-binding and film-forming, it helps form a protective film to lock in moisturizer and give protection against the sun.

I used Cor for two weeks, and it didn’t cause me any additional skin problems. I also found that it helped keep my skin moisturized throughout the day, and it lathered and foamed nicely in the shower. However, like soaps in general, it gives me this squeaky clean kind of feeling on the skin. I can’t really describe it, but I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about… skin isn’t necessarily tight so much as that if you attempt to run your hand across it, it gets stuck or jagged. Anyway, I hate that feeling, which is why I use body washes and not soaps! So for me, this is a personal preference, and I can’t see myself opting for this. I also don’t feel right just using one product–I feel like I need more, whether or not that’s really true is an entirely different story.

Here is one great thing, though. You can give Cor a chance by picking up a sample size that should last you two weeks or so, and it’s only $12! Now, at $12, it makes it worth giving it a shot to see if it can replace all of your cleansers, toners, etc.  Learn more or purchase at www.plankdesigns.com.

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Simply Flawless O2 Anti-Aging Moisturizing Creme ($39.95) is a facial cream that utilizes Simply Flawless’ patented Oxygen Complex that contains RejuvenOx (TM) PFD. Basically, it is an oxygen molecule that has been shown to be able to permeate the skin layers to the lower layers. Many skin products are topical and tend to sit on the surface of the skin, so you don’t actually get nearly as many of the nutrients and whatnot as you could be using.

It comes in a pump container, which means no light gets in it and no worries about contaminating it with your fingers. You only need one or two pumps to moisturizer the entire face, which makes the product last you a decent amount of time. Even though it looks little, the 1.7 oz you get is about on par with many other mid to high end moisturizers. It is a concentrated cream, so a little is all you need; there’s no reason to pile it on, which means it should last you awhile.  It can also be used both AM and PM, making it a multi-tasking product (but make sure you have a separate sunscreen product then!).

I liked that there was no real scent to this–a lot of fragrance-free products smell clinical, but this is fairly odorless. It also absorbs pretty quickly, and this is always an important factor to me, because I hate waiting for things to dry (anything!). It felt gentle on my skin, and I liked the way my skin looked and felt two weeks later–smooth, fresh, and soft.

You can learn more at www.simplyflawlesso2.com.

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Karin Herzog Vita-A-Kombi 1 ($52.00) is a product that boasts 1% of pure oxygen and Vitamin A, which is a patented combination by Dr. Herzog. This cream is meant to be used both morning and night, and it does a whole slew of things. It promotes healing, increases cell regeneration, minimizes pores, detoxifies, hydrates, diminishes lines and wrinkles, and desensitizes sensitive skin.

I was using increased amounts of acne medications, and predictably, they made my skin more sensitive. There were few creams that I could use without feeling like my face was on fire. Vita-A-Kombi 1 was one of them, and even better, it can be used both morning and night. It is a fairly thick cream, and it does take some time (5 to 10 minutes) to sink into your skin. It is best applied with a light layer all over the face, but without rubbing it too much into the skin; instead, just let it absorb naturally. My skin looked refreshed, and it felt so soft.

My only complaint was that every time I used this, my boyfriend told me I smelled like old lady. So I ended up wearing this mostly at night, rather than day, because I didn’t want people thinking I smelled like “old lady.”  Otherwise, the results were right in line with what I expected, and my skin was happy to use it for a few weeks!

The Karin Herzog line was the first to stabilize and deliver pure oxygen in cream form. The brand manufacturers their products in Switzerland, doesn’t conduct animal testing, and products are hypo-allergenic.  Learn more at www.karinherzogus.com.