Monday, June 6th, 2011

Kiehl's Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+
Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+

Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+

Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+ ($34.00 for 1.7 fl. oz. or $56.00 for 4.2 fl. oz.) is described as “oil-free, ultra-lightweight” while using a “patented photo-stabilized technology with long-lasting broad-spectrum protection” against both UVA and UVB rays. Kiehl’s recommends layering over your moisturizer for optimal protection. It contains Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (15%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (5%), and Oxybenzone (6%).

The consistency of this is most definitely fluid, and I recommended shaking well prior to use to ensure proper consistency, which is still thin and runny–much like milk but slightly thicker. The thinner consistency allows for easy application, as it spreads well and evenly across the face and doesn’t require five minutes of massaging it into skin to avoid any white casts or streaks, as some thicker and higher SPF products might.

I loved how non-greasy and quick-absorbing this sunscreen was.  It doesn’t leave behind a heavy shine at all–mostly semi-matte to slightly natural in the dry down. It does smell somewhat like sunscreen when applied, but I found the scent faded within a few minutes and didn’t linger throughout the day. When I initially tried this last year, I thought it was breaking me out, so I immediately stopped using it, but I re-initiated testing a couple of weeks ago to great success (and no breakouts), so I’m relieved and pleased to have found a new sunscreen for summer–even if it is still rather gloomy here in June!

See more photos! Continue reading →

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion
Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion

Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion SPF 15 PA++ ($28.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) is a new moisturizer from Benefit’s b.right! Radiant Skincare line. It’s designed to be lightweight while being oil-free. This moisturizer does have SPF 15 in it, and it uses chemical sunscreens (Octinoxate, Avobenzone, Octocrylene, and Sulisobenzone).

my skin type: I have normal-to-dry skin that tends to be drier in the winter months but more normal during the rest of the year. I have minor breakouts with the occasional cystic acne spot that seem to be related to hormones/stress (and not typically products). I have some fine lines around my eyes but am not currently concerned about anti-aging (beyond religious use of sunscreen and generally taking care of my skin).

It is a simple moisturizer–it hydrates without leaving behind any greasiness, and it dries down within a few minutes so a semi-matte finish. The consistency is very thin–think a lightweight lotion–and a bit watery, though not runny. It’s housed in a glass bottle with a “cork” (not actually made out of cork) cap that you pull off to reveal a pump dispenser.

Unlike Stay Don’t Stray, which killed me with its pump, this pump works marvelously. I find I use anywhere from five to six pumps per use. What I like about pumps is you can figure out how many you need and be consistent with your usage–plus it’s more hygienic.  The glass bottle is lovely without being too heavy.

I’ve been using this for about four weeks, but I’m too sensitive to the scent of the product to continue using it personally. It has a very strong floral scent with some sweetness. To me, it is the scent I smell when I know my allergies are going to go haywire. I catch whiffs of it throughout the day and find it a little cloying. I’m not normally that sensitive to scents in products, and I wouldn’t consider my nose an excellent sensory device either–but I still detect this hours later. It seems to turn more sickeningly sweet as the day goes on. Scent is immensely personal, and for those who prefer subtle to no fragrance in their skin care, I would avoid this. For those who don’t mind scented skincare, it’s still worth checking out and deciding whether it’s a scent you enjoy or not.

good for: I would recommend it to normal-to-oily skin types, because it is such a lightweight moisturizer that it’s not going to provide enough hydratoin for drier skin types. I noticed that on my drier days (when I started using it, which was closer to winter), it didn’t quite seem like enough, but it was usually just fine.

final thoughts: Despite finding it unsuitable to me personally, I don’t think taking away points for scent (just because the scent doesn’t appeal to me) would be a fair assessment of the product. I’ve disclaimed it, my feelings on the fragrance, and it’s something personal enough that individual users will have to determine how that factor weighs in. It’s a nice lightweight moisturizer that spreads easily, moisturizes well on normal-to-oily skin types without feeling heavy or greasy.

where to buy: Sephora

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Supergoop! Sunscreen Swipes
Supergoop! Sunscreen Swipes

Sunscreens: Supergoop! Sunscreen Swipes

Supergoop! SPF30 Sunscreen Swipes ($10.00 for 8 wipes, $34.00 for 40 wipes) are ultra convenient wipes loaded with sunscreen to ensure that you are never without sun protection.  I like these for their convenience, and if you carry around a big bag, they are great to stash in (the travel-size pouch, in particular) for any impromptu day-trips.  The formula is lightweight, non-sticky, and absorbs so, so quickly.  If you’re familiar with makeup removing wipes, these are very similar–just moistened with sunscreen.  It also includes green tea extract to help calm the skin.   There is no distinct fragrance really, just a vague, subtle smell of sunscreen but it’s very, very light and only apparent when I sniff the wipe itself.  I would still opt to use regular sunscreen (less waste, more affordable), but the convenience of these is worth having a pack or two for those on-the-go moments or when you’re running really, really late and can’t wait for your normal sunscreen to sink in.

ingredients: Water (Aqua), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Diethylhexyl 2,6-Naphthalate (Sunscreen Stabilizer), Acrylates/C12-22 Alkyl Methacrylate Copolymer (Waterproofing), C14-22 Alcohols, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Palmitate), Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenoxyethanol (Preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (Plant Derived Preservative), Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Helianthus Annuus (Hybrid Sunflower) Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Plant Derived), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Paeonia Albifora Flower (White Tea) Extract, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid (Naturally Derived). Active Ingredient: Homosalate (10%), Octocrylene (2.8%), Zinc Oxide (2%), Ensulizole (2%)

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: Super, super convenient!  If you’re someone who has trouble applying sunscreen (greasy, doesn’t dry down quick enough, etc.), you might want to try these to get you into the habit.  They also work well for reapplication during the day.  I have also heard from friends that these are excellent for children (Supergoop! says these are appropriate for ages 6 months and up).

where to buy: Sephora

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Chanel Energizing Multi-Protection Cream SPF 15
Chanel Energizing Multi-Protection Cream SPF 15

Chanl Beaute Initiale — Is it love?

Chanel Energizing Multi-Protection Cream SPF 15 ($75.00 for 0.1.7 oz.) is a quick-absorbing moisturizer with a cream consistency but the feeling and behavior of a lotion. It is designed to be used daily to “keep early signs of age and fatigue at bay.”

I wanted to try this particular moisturizer, because I really enjoyed Chanel’s Ultra Correction Lift Day Cream SPF 15 ($150.00 for 1.7 oz.). Chanel has several different product families available in skincare, and Beaute Initiale seems to be their “entry-level” range. It also seemed like it would be a good fit for my skin and aging concerns (more about preventation than reversal at this time). Hydramax + Active seems like another alternative for getting your foot in Chanel’s skincare.

My Skin: I’m 24 years-old with some fine lines around my eyes, slight but noticeable lip lines when I smile. 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 that seem to be more hormone or stress related than anything else.

There were so many things I loved about this cream, but it just doesn’t work with my skin type (normal-to-dry). I need more moisture, and I found my skin felt parched after a couple of hours after using this. I think those with oily skin  (but I would still recommend the Fluid for very oily skin types) could definitely consider this as an option for a daytime moisturizer. The cream dries down very quickly, within a few minutes, which is something I always keep an eye on when it comes to creams. Nobody wants to wait thirty minutes for their moisturizer to absorb!

It also spreads very evenly and well without leaving any streaks of white–it feels and looks like a cream, but the way it evens out so quickly makes it seem more like a gel. It dries down to a semi-matte, smooth finish. It is scented, but I found it pleasant–a fresh floral that didn’t feel heavy. I loved using it and wearing it for two to three hours, but for my skin, I need something heavier.

I’m not entirely sure why this isn’t sufficient, because I don’t have particularly dry skin, and there is a Fluid version (which I imagine is lighter and designed for oilier skin types). It is listed as a cream, so it should be heavier and more suitable for drier skin types, but it does not seem to be hydrating enough for my normal-to-dry skin, let alone dry skin.

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

  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend trying a sample of this for normal-to-oily and oily skin types. If you are oily or very oily, you may consider using the Fluid version, which comes in a pump and may be lighter (but I haven’t tried it myself).

AVAILABILITY: Nordtsrom

See more photos! Continue reading →

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Korres Watermelon SPF 30

Sunkissed Without the Risk: Korres Watermelon Sunscreen

Just in time for summer vacations, I’ve been roadtesting several face sunscreens over the past couple of months, and the first one I want to talk about is Korres Watermelon Sunscreen SPF 30 ($28.00 for 1.69 oz.), which contains the active ingredients Octocrylene, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Titanium Dioxide, and Zinc Oxide. (Learn more about sunscreen basics.)

Is it a broad spectrum SPF?

Yes! It includes active ingredients that cover the entire spectrum of UVA and UVB (290-400nm).

  • UVA Protection: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide
  • UVB Protection: Octocrylene, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide

Ingredients: Aqua, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Butylene Glycol, Isocetyl stearoyl stearate, Dipentaerythrityl hexacaprylate/hexacaprate, Isononyl isononanoate, Isodecyl neopentanoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Coco-Glucoside,Tribehenin PEG-20 esters, Tridecyl Salicylate, Acrylates/C12-22 Alkylmethacrylate Copolymer, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit, Callophyllum Inophylum Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Behenyl Alcohol, Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Isostearic Acid, Citrullus Lanatus (Melon) Extract, Glycerine, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Palmitoylproline, Magnesium palmitoyl Glutamate, Sodium Palmitoyl Sarcosinate, Parfum, Phenoxyethanol, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Silica, Sodium Benzoate, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Zinc Sulfate, Alumina.

After testing so many sunscreens these past several weeks, I’ve actually grown surprised at how few exclude silicone-based ingredients, so it is a nice to see Korres eliminate the silicones in this product! This sunscreen didn’t break me out, and it didn’t aggravate my skin whatsoever, but it wasn’t particularly comfortable to wear. It has a thicker texture, which makes it feel a bit heavy on skin initially, but I didn’t find it heavy overall.

It takes a solid fifteen to twenty minutes to absorb, but even then, it’s still a bit greasy and even a little sticky. I don’t think those with oily skin types would find this suitable for their skin, and those with drier skin types may find the greasiness is not very noticeable. However, with my normal-to-dry skin, I did have noticeable greasiness and a slight tackiness to the finish.

It doesn’t smell like sunscreen, though, and it has more of a watermelon scent that does a good job of masking it. I also didn’t get a white cast on my medium skin tone, which is always important to me, and it was easy to rub into skin (so it didn’t look white), but it just took awhile for it to fully sink in. Between the slow absorption time and the residual tacky/greasy feeling, it’s definitely not a favorite sunscreen, especially if you intend to wear makeup over it.

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

  • Product: 22/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you don’t mind a little tackiness and are on the hunt for a silicone-free sunscreen, Korres Watermelon SPF 30 may be worth looking into.

Availability: Sephora

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

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