Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Sephora Sun Kit

Trial & Error is Easy with Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit

Every year, Sephora puts out a Sun Safety Kit ($25.00), which includes a whole platter of trial-sized sunscreens to try. What I really like about it is it gives you an opportunity to find the right sunscreen for you–not just the SPF level, but the consistency, finish, and how it feels on skin. The kit also contains a pink makeup bag and UVSunSense UV monitoring bracelets (2).  It’s a great way to try out various sunscreens without forking over a ton of money to buy full-sizes or deal with returns.  They’re also travel-friendly, so you can take ‘em with you for short trips, too.

Though I noted it where applicable, I know my skin reacts poorly with high concentrations of silicone, so I did not test those sunscreens on my face and only on my arm.  So while my skin may react one way, and I may be overly cautious by avoiding products altogether that contain it high-up on the ingredient list, your skin is inevitably different from mine–that is to say, don’t write off a product merely because it breaks my skin out.  For instance, I’ve worn both Shiseido’s SPF 55 and Neutrogena’s Dry Touch during previous summers and never thought they were acne-causing culprits.   I also regularly wear Make Up For Ever’s HD Foundation, which also contains dimethicone and other silicones.  Like many things in life, it may be about finding the right balance or mix–aka not layering on a sunscreen, primer, and foundation that all have it!

This year’s kit includes:

  • Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15 (0.14 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), octisalate (3.0%), and oxybenzone (2.0%). The full-size contains 0.5 oz. and retails for $67. It’s a lightweight cream that absorbs and dries down quickly, and it doesn’t feel greasy on the lid, but still provides all-day hydration for the eye area.
  • DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew UV Moisturizer SPF 15 (0.23 oz.) contains avobenzone (2.0%), ensulizole (1.0%), octisalte (4.0%), and octocrylene (1.25%). The full-size contains 1.7 oz. and retails for $40. I couldn’t test this one on my face, as it uses dimethicone (aka Temptalia’s nemesis) quite a bit. Instead, I tested it on my arm — it has a very lightweight, smooth consistency and dries down quickly. It has a soft finish that’s not greasy but not totally matte, but I did notice the “sunscreen” scent, which may put some off.
  • Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in Lemon and Chamomile (0.10 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%) and avobenzone (3.0%). It’s a thicker lip balm in a squeeze-tube, but it’s very, very hydrating with a cooling sensation from the mint. I can apply this before I go to bed (around 10pm), and even at 5am, I can still feel a little left on my lips. (Normally, nothing is left on my lips!) The full size is $7.00 for 0.25 oz.
  • Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Defense Lotion SPF 30 (0.25 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), octisalate (5.0%), meradimate (5.0%), oxybenzone (3.5%), and avobenzone (1.0%). The full size contains 1.7 oz. and retails for $42.00. It’s a nice non-greasy formula that applies easily, but it takes about five to ten minutes to sink in and absorb fully.
  • Kate Somerville Protect SPF 55 Serum Sunscreen (0.16 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), oxybenzone (6.0%), octisalate (5.0%), and avobenzone (3.0%). It also has titanium dioxide in the ingredient list. The full size contains 2.0 oz. and retails for $45.00. It’s lightweight, doesn’t leave behind any greasy or sticky feel, and absorbs quickly. I really liked that this was scent-free, too.
  • Clarins Delectable Self Tanning Mousse SPF 15 (0.27 oz.) has a whipped cream texture that’s designed to give skin a natural, gradual tan. I couldn’t find any active ingredient (sunscreen) for this one, though. I did not try this one (I don’t use self-tanners myself!). The full-size includes 4.2 oz. for $42.00.
  • Cover FX BritePrep FX SPF 50 (0.16 oz.) contains octocrylene (9.0%), octinoxate (7.5%), oxybenzone (3.0%), and titanium dioxide (1.5%). The full-size contains 1.0 oz. for $45.00. It’s lightweight and absobs quickly. I did notice that a good shake or two of the product was necessary to make sure everything was as it should be, though. I think this is more suitable to dry to normal skin, but oily skin may find it feels just a tad greasy.
  • Bliss Best of Skintentions Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 (0.34 oz.) contains avobenzone (3.0%), homosalate (8%), and oxybenzone (3.5%). It has a very lightweight despite its thicker consistency, and it absorbs quickly. It has a smooth, velvety finish. It does have dimethicone in it, so I didn’t test it on my face, just my arm. There’s a light lemon-y citrus scent to it, but it doesn’t linger once its on the face.
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 60 PA+++ (0.23 oz.) contains zinc oxide (16.3%), octinoxate (7.4%), and ensulizole (2.0%). The full-size contains 3.3 oz. for $39.00. It is designed for the face and body, but to be honest, given the amount in this product and the price tag, I would go with a more affordable body SPF (it’s recommended you use 1 oz. for your entire body — aka 1/3 of the bottle here). It has a thin, liquid-y consistency, and it feels a lot like the original SPF 55 version but doesn’t dry down to the same near-matte finish for me. I think it’s better for normal to dry skin, but those with oily skin may find it a little greasy. I used to use Shiseido’s suncare very, very often, but after discovering that their formulations contain dimethicone, I’ve been more hesitant to start using it again on my face. Argh!
  • Ole Henriksen Herbal Day Cream SPF 15 (0.25 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), oxybenzone (2.0%), meridamate (3.0%). It has a lightweight feel and absorbs quickly once applied. It also has a herbal-ish kind of scent, which isn’t off-putting and doesn’t linger.
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer SPF 15 (0.25 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%) and octisalate (5.0%). I only saw the “To Go” size on Sephora, which is 0.5 oz. for $17.00. I didn’t try it on my face (dimethicone–can you see why this is frustrating? it’s in everything!), but on my arm, and it has a lightweight texture and absorbs in about thirty seconds to a minute. It does feel very smooth and not at all greasy or thick. However, I think in order to use this as sun protection, you’d really just have to use way more than is necessary for a primer.
  • Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Multi-Tasking Face SPF 20 (0.02 oz.) contains zinc oxide (20%). The full-size contains 0.08 oz. for $18. Summer Bisque was a surprisingly good match for my skin tone (NC25-ish), though a little on the darker side. As far as a SPF product goes, I definitely prefer a cream/lotion rather than in makeup (whether it’s foundation, powder, primer, concealer, etc.). Since this is a concealer base, I just think it’s a nice addition, but it doesn’t substitute for a face sunscreen.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you’re still in the market for that perfect sunscreen, this kit is one way to trial several without having to purchase full-sizes.

AvailabilitySephora

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Amorepacific Natural Protector

AmorePacific Natural Protector SPF 30/PA+++ ($65.00 for 2 oz.) is a non-greasy, broad-spectrum moisturizing sunscreen that’s great if you have no aversion to heavily fragranced skincare.

I could only use this for an hour before I had to remove it. It wasn’t that the fragrance was unpleasant, but the particular scent is very floral, and I couldn’t stop sneezing and my eyes wouldn’t quit itching. It pretty much set off an allergy attack for me, and as much as I wanted to test this product for at least a full day for how well it would wear during the day, I just couldn’t.

In general, fragrance in products happens more often than not, and I don’t find myself particularly sensitive skin-wise to products with it in it. I’ve never encountered a skincare product this heavily scented, though. Typically, I’ll notice a subtle scent when I sniff directly from the jar, but the scent doesn’t linger once applied to skin. Completely the opposite here — it was lingering and noticeable, not just to me, but my boyfriend. (Yes, I totally made him smell my face!)

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearyl Dimethicone, C12- 15 Alkyl Benzoate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Caprylyl Carbonate, Titanium Dioxide, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Glyceryl Stearate, Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Alcohol, Silica, Sodium Hyaluronate, Beta-Glucan, Tricholoma Matsutake Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Phyllostachis Bambusoides Juice, Hydrolyzed Ginseng Saponins, PEG-100 Stearate, PEG-40 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Aluminum Stearate, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Glycerin, Polyacrylate-13, Alumina, Polyisobutene, Zincoxide, Polysorbate 20, Dimethicone, Myristic Acid, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Propylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, CI77491, CI77492, Fragrance.

On the upside, it dries to a lovely velvety smooth finish. It’s not a dry matte, but it’s that velvety matte kind of feeling. I loved that it applied smoothly and easily, and it didn’t feel greasy for even a second. This is the result of the silicone in it (dimethicone), so if you’re sensitive to silicone-based products, you may want to skip this one.  I really wish I didn’t break out something awful when using products with dimethicone anywhere near the top half of a list. (I’ve noticed that I can handle smaller quantities of it, say towards the end of an ingredient list, but it can’t be a significant part of the product.)  However, if you’re not, it’s a great way to keep oily skin under control and give you a lovely matte looking finish.

The sunscreen ingredients are:   ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (aka octinoxcate) (7.0%), titanium dioxide (19.9%), and zinc oxide (0.025%).  The titanium dioxide and zinc oxide cover the full spectrum of UVA and UVB.  Octinoxate covers the UVB spectrum.  (See our Sunscreen 101 post.)

It’s a real shame! If it wasn’t so heavily scented, it has all the makings to be a really great sunscreen overall. Because I really couldn’t give it a good wear test, I’m not going to give this product a rating. I do believe the scent is way too heavy, and there’s no real benefit or possible reason for it to smell stronger than a perfumed body lotion.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Chanel Ultra Correction Lift Day Cream SPF 15

Chanel Ultra Correction Lift Day Cream SPF 15

Chanel Ultra Correction Lift Day Cream SPF 15 ($150.00 for 1.7 oz.) is a rich, luxurious anti-aging cream designed to be used during the day time, and the texture and name suggest its better for normal to dry skin rather than oily skin. Chanel’s description of this moisturizer is all about the elemi PFA, which “stimulates the production of tensin, improving the quality of skin’s collagen and elastin fibers, and helping to improve their bonds within the skin to create a firm supportive network.” The description goes on to say that the cream is “luxuriously textured and delicately scented, delivers a very soft, matte finish, with ultimate comfort, for a visible lifting effect.”

Chanel has a whole website dedicated to the Ultra Correction Lift line, which includes more information about the ingredients, science behind the line, and all that good stuff. The line also includes Day Fluid SPF 15 (lighter weight moisturizer) ($150.00 for 1.7 oz.), Total Eye Lift ($100.00 for 15 grams), Lips & Contour ($85.00 for 15 grams), Night Cream ($165.00 for 50 grams), and Concentrate ($165.00 for 1 oz.).

My Skin: I’m 23 years-old with some fine lines around my eyes, slight but noticeable lip lines when I smile, and a nasty canyon ever-deepening on my forehead. My skin type is normal-to-dry in the fall/winter and mostly normal in the spring/summer. I am acne-prone and suffer from minor breakouts but generally nothing major.

My general feeling for this day cream is, “I LOVE IT!” but I don’t know if I’d shell out $150 quite yet for it–I think I want to explore more of Chanel’s skincare line-up before committing, you know? It’s only the second Chanel skincare product I’ve tried (the other being their Exfoliating Mousse), so I think I’m going to look into trying some of their other products before making any hasty decisions.  Besides, can you really imagine me committing?

It feels absolutely heavenly on skin. It’s rich, but it doesn’t have the negative characteristics often associated with heavier, richer creams. It has that rich, luxe texture that’s instantly hydrating and soothing, but it absorbs in under a minute. I’ve never encountered such a rich-in-texture cream that soaks in that quickly!  As far as sun protection goes, it contains Avobenzone (3%), which covers the UVA spectrum, and Octinoxate (7.5%)., which covers the UVB spectrum.  (See our Sunscreen 101 post for more.)

Not only is it incredibly hydrating without being greasy or heavy, it holds up throughout the day–it actually has really helped keep my skin from getting oily towards the end of the day (mostly in the t-zone).  I’ve noticed that some of my fine lines seem to be less prevalent, too.  I only notice them when I’ve gotten less than four hours of sleep, and then I just look ragged, period (ha!).  This is actually the first time I’ve ever noticed a moisturizer doing anything visibly apparent on the subtle signs of aging I have. It does have a near-matte finish–it’s feels lightweight and has a soft, matte finish that’s soft, smooth, and not at all shiny or greasy.

I’ve been using it since late March, and I just finished the jar yesterday. (I also found out that the boyfriend has been stealing some periodically!) It’s important to me to look at the value of a product, not just the price tag–all in all, 1.7 oz. of the day cream lasted for about 2.5 months worth of daily application (just in the morning, since it has SPF). I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: if you find the skin care products that work for you and they’re pricey, I really think the investment is worth it (as long as it doesn’t leave you on the street, of course–everything in moderation with a dose of common sense!).

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  Based on my experience, it’s definitely worth looking into and grabbing a sample, if you’re able to, at your local Chanel counter.  I think it is best suited for dry and normal skin.

Availability: Chanel, Nordstrom

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Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Soap & Glory Off Your Face Cleansing Cloths

Makeup Removing Wipes: Soap & Glory Style

Soap & Glory Off Your Face Cleansing Cloths ($6.99 for 25 or $0.28/cloth) are slowly becoming one of my favorite makeup removing wipes! Each sheet is well-saturated but not overly so, and the cloth itself is soft and thick enough not to fray or pull when used. It has a slight floral scent, but it’s subtle and I don’t find that it lingers for long. What I like most about these sheets is how refreshing they are. While they’ll get off the majority of your makeup (but may struggle with the most long-lasting products, like MAC Liquidlasts), I really love these for a face wipe-down post-gym, because they have no sticky residue or leave your skin feeling parched.

Ingredients: Amyl Cinnamal, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Glucosamine HCL, Algae Extract, Urea, Polyquaternium-37, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, PPG-1 Trideceth-6, Ceteareth-12, Benzoic Acid,Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Parfum (Fragrance), Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium ydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Aqua (Water)

The branded packaging is cute, and I like that it has the plastic flip top — it makes keeping your wipes moist way easier than if it simply had a sticker flap. By the by, if your wipes (of any brand) ever dry out, put a little water (maybe 1-2 oz.), close it up, turn it upside down, and wait a day. I’ve been known to forget to close a package or two, and this technique always saves me from having to throw them away! (And yes, they work just as well as they always did!)

My still reigning favorite for all stubborn makeup are MAC Wipes (slightly cheaper, when bought in bulk — $0.26 each), but I think these are better for my post-workout needs, as they feel a little more refreshing. For swatching and removing swatches, I’ll stick with my MAC Wipes as they remove even stubborn makeup quite well.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you can track these down (always sold out at Target; plus Soap & Glory is moving out of Target–said they’ll be in other doors in the U.S. in the fall, but no real word yet…), they’re definitely worth a try.  They remove makeup well without leaving behind any sticky residue–instead, they leave you feeling clean and refreshed!

Availability: Soap & Glory

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Friday, June 4th, 2010

Philosophy Hope In a Jar

The Tech Guy Shaun, aka The Tech Guy, aka my boyfriend, continues to enjoy his romp here on Temptalia! He’s twenty-seven with normal-to-dry skin and suffers from no more acne (much to my envy!).  I couldn’t take Hope In a Jar (too greasy!), so I passed it onto poor, poor Shaun…

Shaun enjoys long walks on the beach, vegging out on the couch watching chick flicks, and cuddling with Mellan. Or maybe not! He handles all the behind-the-scenes action here at Temptalia, from tech support to server woes to being my shoulder to cry on.

LET THERE BE… SHAUN! Yes, it’s me–the tech guy–and my ego has continued to grow enormously. I now find it hard to manage standard doorways, so I have to have Christine insult me a few times to lessen my ego enough to get through the door. She enjoys this, so it’s win-win!  Christine also found out about my ExoliKate fiasco and put alcohol into my contact solution. Touché, Christine… Touché.

If you don’t believe in aliens or extra terrestrial life, then you probably haven’t taken a look at the gelatinous ooze that is Philosophy Hope In A Jar SPF 20 ($18.00). It is the oddest form of life I’ve ever come across. I don’t know whether to eat it, wipe it on my face, or take it to the CIA for testing. This stuff is bizarre.

When you first open up the jar, you kind of think you’ve been duped: whatever was supposed to be in this thing had obviously passed its prime. I asked Christine and she said that nothing was wrong with it and told me to take out the trash. I proceeded to stick my tongue out at her and told her to take out the trash herself! She then kicked me in the shin, and I then hobbled to take the trash out.

After a week of shin icing, I slowly gathered up the courage to take another look under the cap of the Hope In a Jar. It still looked the same. I jiggled the container, and it almost jiggled its way out at me causing me to drop it and run out of the room. I came back to see if it had eaten its way out of the bathroom and on its way to torment Tokyo, but it was still there… Waiting… Biding its time…

I finally touched this part-liquid, part-solid form, and it felt weirder than you can imagine. It felt like what you think Flubber would feel like. Anyone remember Flubber? No? Darn you kids!

You touch this stuff, and it kind of feels like a solid mass. You don’t really understand how you are supposed to use it. Eventually you realize you can pierce it so it becomes more of a cream. It’s hard not to take too much because you have to grope at it to get it to unlock from its solid form. Once you get pass the initial shock and rub it on your face you come to find that it’s a solid moisturizer. I tend to prefer moisturizers that dry quickly and this is not one of those. I assume this could have something to do with the SPF that is added, or the fact that it is a living organism and it doesn’t want to be absorbed into your skin. Whatever the case, it takes a good deal of working into the skin before it fully absorbs.

The other odd thing about this moisturizer is that it apparently, uhh… Bleeds? And the blood is… Yellow… I don’t know what it is, but I eventually opened it up and noticed a yellowish liquid in the jar. If this is not more proof that this form is alive, then I don’t know what is.

Recommendation: This does a good job moisturizing, but getting a guy to sit there and rub his face for a few minutes to get it to absorb thoroughly might be difficult. Having a moisturizer with added SPF is always a plus, though.

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Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Kate Somerville

Oh, ExfoliKate, How I Love Thee!

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($85.00 for 2 oz., $175.00 for 5 oz.) is something I’ve been wanting to write about but have no real idea about how to go about doing it.  I just don’t know how to explain WHY I love this product so much, and it’s not exactly something you can easily show. I also struggle with what to say in regards to this product, because I love it, and it’s not cheap. While I worry about any recommendations I may make (I worry that you’ll hate what I loved!), I stress out over bigger ticket items in particular!  Anyway…

The product itself is a thin, green-tinged (think seaweed, perhaps–moss? anchovy paste… no!) mixture of enzymes and acids (which is kind of redundant, but whatever).  This is not a scrub–this is like a cleanser meets mask meets scrub.  To apply, you squeeze out about a pea to nickel-sized dollop onto fingers, then gently apply in circular motions to damp skin.  Let it sit for about thirty seconds (based on your tolerance), and then rinse off, towel dry, and enjoy the pretty glow it leaves behind.   I don’t think you need much, but considering the price tag, I still find myself ensuring I don’t over-use.  (Though my boyfriend suffers no such affliction!)  It’s meant to be used once or twice a week, depending on your skin’s needs.  I usually use it twice a week myself.

I love the ridiculously soft feel of my skin post-ExfoliKate.  It’s so, so smooth.  It’s not dry, tight, or red after using it, and it’s not rough against my skin at all.  I know that ExfoliKate also comes in a Gentle formula for those with more sensitive skin, but I really didn’t feel much tingling (from the enzymes!) even from the get-go.  When I had my boyfriend try it for the first time, he felt the tingling much, much more than I, but after two or three uses, he didn’t seem to have any issues with it.  My skin looks and feels renewed and refreshed after each use.

One itsy-bitsy tube has lasted me about four months (I bought my first tube back in October ’09 but didn’t start using it right away), but I’ve definitely had lapses where I’ve only used it once a week or less… but then again, the boyfriend has definitely used more than copious amounts in the time I’ve had it in the bathroom!  All in all, I do think the 2 oz. tube lasts a good while, so it won’t be as if you’ll run through a single tube in a month or even two.   Not to say it’s cheap stuff, though!

There is one thing I have learned after having acne-prone skin for several years now–good skincare is worth it.  If you find something that works, it’s probably worth sticking to, rather than hunting for something cheaper and just as effective.  That’s just my motto nowadays; it’s worth the investment in my skin.  A good product doesn’t have to be expensive, either, but if it is and it works (and obviously, you’ve tried more than just that!), I see no reason to go elsewhere.  Once you find a solid skincare routine, you can plan to stock-up during sale events or triple points or whatever.

I like that it’s really easy to use, and you don’t have to set aside a large chunk of time to get a nice, enzyme-based exfoliation session in.  I love masks and all those kinds of products, but too often I completely forget about using them, but I always have a few minutes to spare for quick and effective exfoliation.    The packaging is simple, but I’ve found it works.  It dispenses product without a fuss–you don’t have to worry about getting too much out–and it’s pretty hygienic.  I could see that a pump might work better, but given my recent experience pump-packaging, it’d likely dispense way too much.  And this isn’t a product I want to waste a single drop of!

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 30/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 5/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: I am always hesitant to recommend anyone to shell out so much for so little product, even if I’ve experienced good results with it. If you can, I’d definitely try a sample OR purchase from a retailer with a solid return/exchange policy in case you really don’t get any magic out of it. I still can’t commit to buying the big daddy size, though I’ve purchased this product twice now.

Availability: Sephora

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