Kiehl's Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter

You know that saying about the definition of idiocy - how it's epitomized by doing the same thing multiple times and expecting different results?. Well, I can now officially announce that in the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of "idiot" is going to be accompanied by a picture of the Kiehl's logo superimposed on my stupid mug. The number of times I've given them my money for a product that doesn't work is absolutely ridiculous. Finally I am saying NO MORE!

It all started out so innocently (cue video montage of me running through a field of wildflowers in the morning dew). I was drawn to the packaging and the quaint "apothecary approach" to skincare. Plus, every interview in every magazine and blog raved about their products, and, well, the collective beauty consciousness was right about Embryolisse, so why not about Kiehl's?

Well, I still can't understand why people rave about them. The only explanation I can think of is that maybe some things were reformulated after L'Oreal bought them in 2000, and the "indie magic" is now gone from the brand. Their most famous product, the Creme De Corps, felt just like my $3 Palmer's. The Panthenol Protein Moisturizing Face Cream sat on my face and never soaked in, leaving my skin just as dry as before once I'd washed it off. My hair was coarse and strawlike - everything but silky - no matter how many different ways I tried applying Heat-Protective Silk Straightening Cream. The overpowering rotten eucalyptus smell of the Ultimate Strength Hand Salve made me die a little inside. And as for this body butter, it too has a fatal flaw.

At first glance, it looked really promising. The whipped texture isn't something we see too often, and promised to bring heavy-duty moisturization without the heaviness of some traditional body butters. The design is to die for and it even smelled expensive: warm and sophisticated, like coconut milk. And indeed, when I use this on my hands and feet, it leaves them feeling luxuriously velvety. The problem comes whenever I try to apply it anywhere else, like you would expect to do with a, yanno, BODY butter. No matter the condition, level of moisture, or temperature of my skin (yeah, I tested!), it starts balling up the second it hits my body. Seriously, it's disgusting to see and feel little yellow linty things rolling around on your skin. And frankly, it's unacceptable for any product but for especially one this expensive.

Yet another "meh" product from Kiehl's. Seriously, I'm SO done this time. Seriously. I promise. I really mean it. Seriously. Well, maybe after I try those samples I still have of the Midnight Recovery Concentrate and Rosa Arctica face cream . . . oh dear.

Weleda Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash

I learned the hard way that Germans have a big thing for shower gel. My first time doing a foreign exchange here in high school, my host family gave me a tube of scented body wash for Easter and I was SO CONFUSED. I couldn't stop wondering if they thought I was stinky and the gift was some kind of hint for me to shower more often (and I shower every day already!). Fast forward several years and my former host sister sent me Weleda's Sea Buckthorn Body Wash for Christmas. Turns out it's just another cultural quirk - shower products are a popular gift here and there are shelves and shelves of them at every drugstore and cosmetics retailer. That stereotype of Germans being really, really, really clean? Yeah, it's pretty much the whole truth.

I brought this with me to Germany this semester, figuring that hey, Weleda's a German company and I might as well really get in the spirit of living here! Plus it's labeled as creamy and moisturizing and I knew my dry skin was going to need all the help it could get battling the cold weather.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that sea buckthorn oil can help with keratosis pilaris and eczema, but there's really not enough pure ingredient in this product to make a difference. The main oil is sesame oil, and sea buckthorn is way at the bottom of the list of ingredients. Weleda's Sea Buckthorn Body Oil, which I've tried before and loved, is a much better choice for those looking to heal seriously dry or scaly skin.

This is a likable, well-made product, but not anything too special. Lathers well, leaves skin soft but clean, and has a refreshing herbal citrus scent. I didn't notice any decrease in general skin dryness, though, and I don't think it's outstanding enough to be worth the relatively higher price than your standard drugstore gel. The tube itself is great quality and I like the bright, cheery label (although the 12-year-old boy in me giggled at that "stimulating!" claim), so props to Weleda for not skimping on the packaging.

 If using products that label themselves "natural" is important to you, or you're in love with this particular scent, then the Sea Buckthorn Body Wash is a good bet. As for me, I'm going to have fun finishing my tube, but I don't feel any need to repurchase.

Weleda Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash is $10.41 on Amazon or $9.22 at iHerb ($5 off your first purchase with my referral code: BEH289). 

Avène Hydrance Optimale UV (Legere/Light)

Generally, I'm the opposite of a brand snob. I love trying anything and everything and the more variety the better. The sole exception to that mentality is Avène, because everything I've tried from this French skincare brand has been outstanding. Simple, effective products with a touch of luxury, designed for sensitive skin . . . yes, this would definitely be my desert-island skincare range.

My introduction to the brand was the Hydrance Optimale UV, a daytime moisturizer with added sun protection. I was truly blown away by how good it was. It's discouraging, but in a way I don't ever expect products to do what they claim - I'm always reading reviews and researching beauty purchases online before I buy. But I've come to truly trust Avène, and that's not something I say lightly.

In fact, I've put off writing this review for a while because I knew it would take a long time and I wanted to do the product justice. There are just so many good things to say about it! Finally I just decided to pound out a list.

1. Even using the full recommended amount (1/4 tsp for the face alone), it dries to a satin finish. No stickiness and no shininess. You won't even need to set with powder unless you're very oily, but it's not so matte that applying makeup on top becomes a problem. For those with extremely dry skin, it also comes in Riche.
2. With an SPF of 20 and PPD of around 8, this is good enough for everyday incidental sun exposure.
3. So many "sunscreen/moisturizer-type" products lean too far to one side. Hydrance Optimale is a perfect balance between protection and hydration.
4. I've slept in this while camping (don't judge me, running water was 15 minutes away!) and had no breakouts or irritation the following day.
5. Avène sunscreens are some of the only ones that don't sting when I apply them around the eye area, or even when they get in the eyes accidentally.
6. The smell is pleasant but light, and causes no problems for my sensitive skin. Possibly due to the soothing effects of the famous Avène thermal water, my face actually feels calmer after application.
7. I quite like the packaging, and a tube usually lasts at least three to four months with liberal daily use.

The only downside is that it is a bit pricy. In the U.S. it's around $25 here but in Germany it works out to around $20. The expense is worth it though, and I'm going to repurchase before I go back home. Considering that the drugstore Neutrogena sunscreens that practically burn my face off are $12, I'd rather shell out the extra eight bucks and get a seriously superior cream. The best sunscreen, after all, is the one you like enough to use every day.

A note to anyone interested in purchasing: I bought mine in Europe, where the full product name is Hydrance Optimale UV. In the US, it's called Hydrance Optimale SPF 25. It's important to note the "UV" or "SPF" in the name when you're buying, because Avene also makes sunscreen-free versions both the Legere and Riche, and it's easy to order the wrong product by mistake!

Chanel Le Vernis - Rouge Fatal #487

I have a love-hate relationship with Chanel polishes, especially the reds. It's faintly ridiculous to pay $26.00 for a branded product with an average brush and a hit-or-miss formula. But on the other hand, when Chanel gets the colors right, they are absolutely incomparable. Unbelievably pigmented, unique yet classic shades that draw compliments wherever you go. 

Today I'm wearing Rouge Fatal (#487), a limited edition release from fall 2010. Rouge Fatal is one of my "special occasion polishes" that I always throw in my suitcase when going on vacation - you can see how scratched and well-traveled the cap is!  The intense pigmentation makes it almost like a dye rather than a laquer. That fully-opaque mani in the picture above? That's a one-coater. I usually do two coats just because I like it a little darker, but one is definitely enough if you're short on time.

I have two Chanel reds and I love them dearly. Both were gifts and the memories they bring whenever I look at my hands always make me smile. I'm definitely not going to start a dedicated Chanel collection anytime soon, but some of the colors are simply so special that it's worth putting up with the downsides just to have them on your fingernails.

Boots Amazon Forest Brazil Nut & Vanilla Body Butter

Target’s really stepped it up in the beauty department over the last few years. It’s not only that most beauty and skincare items are significantly discounted, they’ve also got a tidy selection of exclusive brands. One of the largest ranges of products they carry is the house line from Boots, the UK drugstore staple. Why is it that foreign products seem so much more exotic and interesting than our own boring old Olay and Eucerin standbys? I mean, logically I know that it’s just a standard drugstore brand in Britain, but somehow it just seems different.

The scent is the reason I originally bought this; it’s deliciously foody - nutty and vanilla-y with a hint of cookie dough. I also appreciate that it doesn’t have that plastic smell that so many drugstore lotions are cursed with. In terms of moisturizing capabilities, it’s a bit richer than your average lotion, but definitely not a heavy-duty cream.  Although it’s thick, the cream sinks in easily and the smell is not overpowering. The texture is a bit odd and not like any body butter I’ve used before - almost like creamy Jello, as bizarre as that sounds.

I’m not sure I’d repurchase this just because I’m always trying new lotions and creams, but it’s a solid, widely-available body butter for a decent price. And the scent really is practically edible (there’s even a warning on the back that “THIS IS NOT A FOOD”, in case we’re tempted to taste)!

Boots Body Butter is $9.99 for 6.6 oz (200 ml) at Target in-store and on sale online here for $5.99 at Boots USA

Labello Soft Rose Tinted Lip Balm

Writing about disappointing products is just never as much fun as raving about a new favorite. But as we product junkies know, the nature of the addiction is that some things just fail to satisfy that craving. And Labello's attempt at a rose-tinted lip balm is a big fat failure.

First, it's completely insufficient in its basic role as a lip care product. The balm itself is waxy, hard, and left my lips looking and feeling dryer than before I put it on. I'm 20 years old, for goodness sake, my lips shouldn't have THAT many wrinkles.

Additionally, the touted "tint" is nowhere to be seen. I messed around with the lighting while taking these with my DSLR and still couldn't get the giant swatch in the middle of my arm (at least, I think that's where it felt like it's not like I could see it after I applied it) to show up:

This will be easier for some of you to skip, since Labello is only sold in Europe (although the Nivea Lip Care sticks in the U.S. have near-identical formulas and are produced by the same parent company). And even if it's staring you right in the face in the drugstore, skipping it is still the right choice.
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