Monday, November 19, 2012

My Favorite Lip Treatments & Balms (Winter Skincare Series)

 “Hi Everyone, my name is Ree and I am addicted to Lip Balm” lol

I admit, I have way more lip balms than I need; you can find them all over my home, and I keep spares in every bag. I am always willing to try new ones, but there are three that I have purchased repeatedly (1) Dermalogica Lip Renewal Complex, (2) M.A.C. Lip Conditioner, and (3) L’Occitane Ultra Rich Lip Balm.
Before I describe these products and explain why they are my favorites, I would like to share my opinion on the difference between a lip balm and lip treatment. To me, a lip balm, be it a petroleum based or natural oil based product, is designed to create a protective shield against the elements and seal in moisture. A lip treatment goes beyond the benefits of a balm and contains ingredients that infuse nourishment as well as helps to heal irritation of lips. Of course, some balms also serves as lip treatments, but in my experience most are simply moisturizers.
1.      Dermalogica Lip Renewal Complex 1.75ml €30.45
This product was recommended to me two years ago by an esthetician in The Netherlands. She asked that I try out this new product she just got and let her know how I felt about it. So she gave me a few samples of the Renewal Lip Complex and I have been a loyal customer since then.

To me, this is way more than a balm; Renewal Lip Complex  is a lip treatment. I use this at nights before bed, and then again in morning. Although you can apply it throughout the day, I prefer not to, because I do not need to, plus this baby is not cheap so why waste it. Twice a day is enough to infuse enough nourishment to last all day. I also rarely use this during the warmer months, but absolutely will not be caught without it during the winter.
It has a subtle sweet-scent, goes on clear, and gives the lips a glossy appearance. It dries to a natural sheen, and is not sticky or runny, so you can wear it under lipsticks. As a sucker for good packaging, I find this silver, sleek tube quite appealing. The applicator is ingenious; the top is shaped like a lipstick and has 6 tiny openings. So you twist, a small amounts comes out, and you glide on the rich, nourishing treatment.

2.     L’Occitane Ultra Rich Lip Balm 5g €6.50
Like Renewal Lip Complex, my first sample of this product was free. I received  a tube (5g) during a promotion at a L’Occitane outlet last winter.  Since then I have bought two more tubes because I absolutely love this product.

Like the name implies, this is a rich, creamy balm that goes on smooth and coats the lips when applied. It protects the lips from cold, dry winter air, and with 10% Shea butter it is very moisturizing. It has a light sweet-scent like the other products in the Ultra Rich line.
Now let’s talk about the packing; it is designed as a solid stick in a twist tube. The tube is stark white and not at all stylish. Basically, it looks like a regular stick of lip balm (boring!). I think such a superb product deserves more attractive presentation.
Note. If your new tube has a hard, waxy top layer, simply scrape it off to get to the good stuff J
3.     M.A.C Lip Conditioner 15ml €15.00
M.A.C Lip Conditioner is my every season, any occasion lip balm. I use it all year-round and I have never ran out of this stuff since I first started using it. At first  it came in the form of a stick, I am not certain if it has been discontinued but I have not been able to find the stick for nearly two years.  I preferred the stick because it contained SPF but, the tube equally moisturizing.

The tube contains a sweet creamy balm that is very easy to smooth on. It gives a glossy finish and true to its word, conditions the lips. Also true is M.A.C’s claim that the Lip Conditioner is “not goopy” and I can attest that it is not sticky or icky like some cream balms. The packaging is simple, but sleek and effective. The slanted applicator makes for easy application.
I received a generous sample of the of the Lip Conditioner SPF 15 which comes in a 15ml container this summer at a M.A.C counter in El Corte Inglés, Barcelona. I used it throughout my vacation, loved it, and immediately went in search of it upon my return to Moscow. Unfortunately, it is not available here so I have been cherishing my little sample, saving it for my next sunny vacation.

Worth Mentioning …
  • L’Occitane Pure Shea Butter
I already mentioned this product in My Top 3 Body Butters post, but just in case you missed here is a brief description: L’Occitane Pure Shea Butter is a exactly what the name says; pure Shea butter. It’s quite thick yet quite easy to apply; simply warm it up with your hands. It can be used on the “face, lips, hair and body” (L’Occitane). This product has a very subtle, barely-there scent.  It is available in a handy 8ml tin for € 6.50.
  • A Wash Cloth
One method to help rid the lips of dead, dry skin and prepare your them to receive the full benefits of  emollients  in your lip balm or treatment is to use a damp wash cloth. I use a wash cloth about once a week (usually when I do a face mask application) to slough away dried skin from my lips. I simply wipe my lips with a damp wash cloth and the dead cells peel right off without irritating my lips. 
Be sure to catch the next blog post in this series, “My Secret Regimen for Super-Soft, Silky Skin”, due November 21st, 2012.
Thanks for reading,
xoxo Ree van D

Other Posts in the Winter Skincare Series:
“My Top 3 Shower Creams” Click HERE
“My Top 3 Body Butters” Click HERE
“My Favorite Hand and Foot Creams” Click HERE
“My Favorite Face Moisturizer” Click Here
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Monday, October 22, 2012

My Favorite Face Moisturizer

There is only one for me; Crème De La Mer!

Crème De La Mer Moisturizing Cream
I’ve raved about this product before, and will most likely continue to do so until I discover a worthy substitute.  Crème De La Mer is a thick, lightly-scented cream that hydrates the skin resulting in a healthy appearance. I can honestly say that since I started using this cream two years ago I have had no issues with dry patches on my face. I use it as a night cream primarily on my dry areas, but also as an allover moisturizer to rehydrate my skin after a deep cleansing mask.
I will make no attempts to justify the cost of this cream, but I can say that for me, it is worth every penny. The longer I use it, the less I need, so my 1 oz. bottle now lasts well over 10 months. I can assure you that I am not using this product because of the hype or its cult following, I use it for one reason only; it is the best face moisturizer I have ever tried.
I would love to recommend a cheaper alternative but every moisturizer I’ve tried prior to or since discovering La Mer has not delivered comparable results. 

Thanks for reading,
xoxo Ree van D
Be sure to catch the next blog post in this series, “My Favorite Lip Treatments & Balms”, due October 25th, 2012.

For “My Top 3 Shower Creams” Click HERE
For “My Top 3 Body Butters” Click HERE

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Favorite Hand and Foot Creams (Winter Skincare Series)

Two of the most hardworking parts of our body, our hands and feet, are sometimes the most ignored. It baffles me that so many people walk around with dry, calloused, ashy hands and feet when caring for these parts requires relatively minimal effort. All you have to do is exfoliate and moisturize.

Those who know me personally can attest to the fact that I have very soft hands. I do not have any special regimen or exclusive treatment; I simply keep them moisturized. Here are my current favorite hand creams:
1. L’Occitane Hand Cream
I love this stuff and strongly believe it deserves all the acclaim!
It has a delicate scent similar to that of the Ultra Rich line and with 20% Shea butter it is very moisturizing. My favorite thing about this hand cream is that it is non-greasy. It absorbs quickly and does not leave behind that greasy residue like so many other hands creams.
L'Occitane Hand  Cream

I have it in three sizes;
150ml €19: I keep this large tube around the house. I always reach for this after I have done the dishes or used cleaning detergents.
30ml €7: This one I keep in my handbag. It’s a good size to tote around or even to keep in your desk at work.
10ml: I received these tiny tubes from a business class goodie bag, but they are also available in the L’Occitane travel kit. They are just the perfect size to slip into your clutch.
2. Gamila Secret Hands 50ml € 25.95
This was given to me as gift November, 2011. My initial reaction was “oh how nice” and before even trying it I stuck it in a drawer and completely forgot about it. The truth is, I was quite satisfied with using the L’Occitane Hand Cream and as I had not heard of Gamila Secret prior to receiving this gift, I really did not give it much thought.
Gamila Secret Hands
Eventually I “rediscovered” it in the drawer, but could not find any reviews of this product so I did not know what to expect. I decided to give it a try and immediately fell in love with its sweet herbal scent. It’s very soothing, absorbs quickly, and as a bonus, it is an organic product.
Although they are hidden away most of the time our feet are still in need of a bit of loving too. This is particularly true during the winter when our heels are more prone to developing callouses, which when left untreated may lead to cracks. Not only are these symptoms unsightly, they may also cause discomfort. In most cases your regular body lotion or even rich body butter is not designed to combat the drying effects of winter.  Regular exfoliation coupled with a cream designed specifically for foot care is your best bet to prevent dry, cracked heels.
My new fave:
·         Gamila Secret Feet 100 ml € 30.95
I was so impressed with Gamila Secret Hands that I figured why not give “Feet” a try; it did not disappoint. It has a minty scent and when applied is quite refreshing and soothing; a great treat for tired feet at the end of the day. Like the Gamila Secret Hands, this too is an all-natural product.

Gamila Secret Feet

Worth mentioning …
·         The Body Shop No More Rough Stuff Foot Smoother
·         The Body Shop File A Foot
The Body Shop No More Rough Stuff Foot Smoother and File A Foot
I think everyone, male and female, should own a pumice stone. They are inexpensive and very easy to use. I use mine in the shower to quickly buff away any dry skin. I use the File A Foot during my in-home pedicures; leaves my feet oh so smooth.

Be sure to catch the next blog post in this series, “My Favorite Face Moisturizer ”, due October 22nd, 2012.
Thanks for reading,
xoxo Ree van D
For “My Top 3 Shower Creams” Click HERE
For “My Top 3 Body Butters” Click HERE

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Top 3 Body Butters (Winter Skincare Series)

I am obsessed with body butters. I use them all year round, but whereas I alternate between butters and lotions during the warmer months, I use only butters during the winter. Body butters are richer and creamier than lotions, thus providing added protection against winter dry skin.

There are heaps of good body butters out there so you can afford to be picky when trying to find the right one (or two, or three) for you. I recommend that you consider the following:
The Scent: You must love the way it smells because you are going to be wearing it quite often. Plus, applying your body butter can be a moment to relax your mind through aromatherapy as you pamper your skin.
The texture: Do you like it creamy or whipped? Thick or light? Certainly not runny, nor do you want it so hard that it does not melt easily from the warmth of your hands.
Permeability: A body butter should absorb quickly. If it does not, then it’s a waste of money because it just sits on top the skin and rubs off the minute your skin comes in contact with fabric.
Last, but arguably most important …
The Ingredients: Are the key ingredients suitable for your skin type and concerns? For instance, Shea butter to treat dry skin, Cocoa butter to reduce the appearance of blemishes, and chocolate for an even skin tone.

My Top Three Body Butters:
1.      L’Occitane Ultra Rich Body Cream  200 ml € 31
L’Occitane Ultra Rich Body Cream has a delicate, powdery scent. It is a thick cream that is easy to apply and quickly absorbed. Infused with 15% Shea butter it is the ideal treat for dry skin. I like using it in the evenings because the scent is quite calming so it helps to soothe my mind after a long day.

2.     Clinique Comfort Body Butter 200 ml €31
Clinique Deep Comfort Body Butter is great for those who do not like the scent of nut oils but still desire the moisturizing benefits of Shea butter. This light cream has a neutral, barely-there sent, which absorbs quickly and leaves the skin as smooth as silk. I always reach for this body butter when I do not want the scent of my body butter to detract from the scent of my perfume.

3.     Khiel’s 'Crème de Corps' Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter
“It’s so fluffy!” ~ Despicable Me
I may have saved the best for last. This is my favorite of the three. Khiel’s developed the perfect combination of soy, honey, and Shea butter into a product that does wonders for dry skin.  It has a rich, sweet fragrance with a light, fluffy texture. It absorbs quickly and nourishes the skin.

Sure my favorites are a bit on the pricey side, but this is a product I certainly do not want to skimp on, only the crème de la crème for my skin because it’s worth it. The effectiveness of your body butter can make or break your winter skincare regimen.

Worth Mentioning …
·         M.Y.O Body Butter
If you are veteran to DIY projects or just up for a fun experiment, Making Your Own Body Butter is an easy and inexpensive alternative. There are lots of recipes and tutorials available online to guide you through the process. It’s a fairly simple process of whipping together pure Shea butter with carrier oils, and essential oils. It is a great opportunity to customize the body butter to treat your skin concerns and create a scent you love.

·         L’Occitane Pure Shea Butter
L’Occitane Pure Shea Butter is a exactly what the name says; pure Shea butter. It’s quite thick yet easy to apply; simply warm it up with your hands. It can be used on the “face, lips, hair and body” (L’Occitane). This product has a very subtle, barely-there scent.

Be sure to catch the next blog post in this series, “My Favorite Hand & Foot Creams”, due October 15th, 2012.
Thanks for reading,
xoxo Ree van D

Kiehl's Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter

Clinique Deep Comfort Body Butter

L'Occitane Ultra Rich Body Cream
For “My Top 3 Shower Creams”Click HERE
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Monday, October 1, 2012

My Top 3 Shower Creams (Winter Skincare Series)

An effective winter skincare regimen begins in the shower. In our attempt to maintain good hygiene we strip our skin of its natural oils leaving it susceptible to the drying effects of hot water and cold dry air. Consequently, it is important to use a shower cleanser that helps to replenish some of the moisture lost in the shower. Personally, I prefer a creamy, soap-free shower cream infused with natural plant oils.

Here are my three favorites, which I have purchased over and over again.
The Body Shop Coconut Shower Cream, Shea Shower Cream, & Cocoa Butter Creamy Body Wash
     1.     The Body Shop Coconut Shower Cream 
     2.    The Body Shop Shea Shower Cream
     3.    The Body Shop Cocoa Butter Creamy Body Wash

Each has a sweet-nutty scent relating to the nut oil it contains. The creamy foam nourishes the skin while ridding it of impurities. I use these with a bath lily to help slough away dead cells and dirt. They retail for € 6 for 250 ml, so they will not break the bank.
Worth Mentioning …

L’Occitane Ultra Rich Shower Cream
L’Occitane Ultra Rich Shower Cream is equally as creamy and nourishing as my favorite Body Shop body cleansers. The reason it did not make my top 3 is because it is a tad bit expensive, particularly for someone like me who goes through a bottle so quickly. At €14 for 250 ml, more than double the price of the Body Shop shower creams, this will put a small dent in your pocket. However, I like variety so I do keep a bottle in stock to mix things up every now and then. I am keen to take advantage of sales to stock-up when possible.

Be sure to catch the next blog post in this series, “My Top 3 Body Butters”, due October 8th, 2012.

Thanks for reading,
xoxo Ree van D
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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Winter Essentials for Bath, Body, and Face Series

Winter is coming and with it cold dry winds, low humidity, and central heating; the perfect recipe for dry, itching, unsightly skin.  Luckily, there are amazing products and techniques available to help us winter-proof our skin.
In this series I will share my absolute must-haves for my winter skincare regimen. These products have helped me come through Moscow’s notorious long, bitter winters with soft, smooth, healthy skin.
So stay tuned during the month of October, 2012 for the following posts:
My Top 3 Creamy Body Wash
My Top 3 Body Butters
My Favorite Hand and Foot Creams
My Favorite Face Moisturizer  
My Favorite Lip Treatments & Balms
My Secret Regimen for Super-Soft, Silky Skin

Thanks for reading,
xoxo Ree van D
P.S. Click here to like my Facebook page  for updates on new and exciting blog posts!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

LUSH Catastrophe Cosmetic Face Mask

Lush Catastrophe Cosmetic

I must say I was rather impressed with this mask. Firstly, it has the must delectable scent of blueberries and powder (think Caldesene Powder). It is a rich grey paste, infused with blueberries (for anti-oxidants, vitamins, & minerals), Chamomile, Irish Moss, and Almond Oil (for soothing), and Calamine (for cleansing).

The first time I applied it I left it on for 10 minutes. My skin felt a tad bit tight when it was dry, but the mask was not hard or crusty, so it was quite comfortable. It was very easy to rinse off and left my skin soft and clean. I began using it twice a week; all over my face on Sundays and just on my t-zone on Wednesdays. I notices a reduction in my amount of oil around my t-zone area after the third use.
Lush Catastrophe Cosmetic

It smells great, is easy to apply and wash off, and more importantly it works ... So why did I stop using it?! The shelf-life...
Catastrophe Cosmetic is good for only four weeks. I bought it 1.5 weeks after it was made so I barely got to use it before it expired. Six applications were not enough to put a dent in the 75g jar. I was rather peeved that I had a full jar left and could do nothing but toss it away.
Made 26/03/12. Use by 23/04/12

LUSH is usually very good at delivering value for money because customers are, essentially, not paying for fancy packaging. But they missed the mark with this one. I will purchase this product again only if they find a way to extend the shelf life.

I think it is an effective product and would recommend it to individuals who suffer from breakouts and clogged pores.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Red Lipsticks for Women of Color

Last fall I did something risqué; I wore bright red lips, and loved it!!!
Wearing Koh Red

I guess I was apprehensive about wearing red lipstick because of how easy it is to get the look completely wrong, and I was not entirely sure how to get it right. After admiring Kerry Washington crimson ensemble with flawless makeup, and timeless red lips, I knew I had to try. So I did my research (Youtube) and gave it a whirl. Well, since then I have fallen head over 4inch heels in love with red lips.
Inspiration : Kerry Washington

It’s quick, surprisingly very easy, and screams confidence. Wearing red lipstick is one of the easiest ways to look like you spent an hour applying your makeup when you actually only spent 10 minutes. A bit of black eyeliner, mascara, and a touch of color on the cheeks is all that’s needed.

These are my fave three red lipsticks:

Bold Red Lips
For a bold, glossy finish I use KOH lipstick in RED! It’s is creamy so it goes on smooth. Be warned, it stains, so you need to apply a base prior to applying the lipstick to make removal a bit easier.
I apply my clear Barbra Cosmetics* Belweder lip balm
Line my lips with BH Cosmetics Waterproof Lipliner in Maven or Jordana Kohl Kajal Lipliner in Deep Purple or MAC Magenta. I find that using a dark purple liner gives a nice gradient of color, but a red liner works well too.
©       Use a lip brush to apply KOH RED!
©       I also apply just a touch of clear gloss

Matte Red Lips
For a matte, retro look I use MAC Ruby Woo. This is not moisturizing, so you need a good balm to use as a base.
©       I apply my clear Barbra Cosmetics* Belweder lip balm
©       Line my lips with BH Cosmetics Waterproof Lip Liner in Rouge or MAC Lip Pencil in Chestnut
©       Use a lip brush to apply MAC Ruby Woo

Plum Red Lips
Dark plum is especially flattering on darker skin tones. I use Black Opal Black Current to achieve a rich plum red look. I really like the color of this lipstick, but absolutely hate the way it smells. Fortunately, the scent does not linger.
©       I apply my clear Barbra Cosmetics* Belweder lip balm
©       Line my lips with Black Opal Precision Lip Definer in Black Cherry
©       Use a lip brush to apply Black Opal Black Current
©       I apply a smidge of Clinique Long Last Glosswear SPF15 in Mystic 18 to finish the look.

The Body Shop Blue Corn 3-in-1 Deep Cleansing Mask

For a brief moment I thought this was the one. The mask that would end my search for a product that would get rid of the impurities and leave my pores squeaky clean. But alas, it was not to be.

The mask is grey with a blue tint, grainy, and THICK. So thick that is a rather difficult to apply. Once applied, I felt a slight tingling, and thought, this must be working. Plus, it contains Koalin clay, an ingredient well-known for its cleansing and absorbent properties. So it has to work, right?!

It dried in the recommend 10 to 15 minutes. There was no mistaking whether or not I needed to wash it off because this thing dried as hard as concrete. It was very uncomfortable as I could feel it pulling my skin. The worst part is that I could not get it off! I tried warm water and a wash-cloth but it just would not rinse off. I could see little white spots of leftover mask all over my T-zone wear my pores are a bit enlarged.  I had to wash my face with a cleansing gel to remove the whitish residue left all over my face.

Despite these cons, I was still impressed with the refreshing, tingling sensation I got when I applied the mask (silly me), so I held out hope that it would help to  unclog the pores in my t-zone. I tried the mask 7 more times over a period of 4 weeks, but saw no improvements. Needless to say I had to accept defeat and toss this one aside.
I think this product would serve best as an exfoliator, but based on my experience, I would not recommend it as a deep cleansing mask for individuals with oily skin or enlarged pores