a brief interlude

I'm leaving soon for a short trip to Florence and Venice, and will be traveling until next Monday. I've been to Venice several years ago, but never to Florence. I won't be blogging, but will almost certainly have internet access and would love to hear any of your recommendations for things to do, see, or eat in the area!

Bioderma Crèaline H2O vs. Etat Pur Micellar Cleansing Water

Everyone who's remotely interested in the beauty industry has heard of Bioderma's Crèaline (also known as Sensibio) micellar water. Models and makeup artists alike rave about its ability to thoroughly remove makeup without irritating sensitized skin. I like it, although it's not quite an HG, and haven't decided whether to buy a large bottle before I go home (if I have room in my suitcase!). When the new skincare range Etat Pur came out with their own micellar solution, the fact that it's owned by the same parent company as Bioderma meant that comparisons between the two were inevitable. I purchased a small bottle of Crèaline for travel a few months ago, and got a sample of the Micellar Cleansing Water in my Etat Pur order, so I decided to conduct a test!It's not really fair to compare the containers, because the Bioderma was a product for sale and Etat Pur's was just a sample. I'll just say that I very much like the Crèaline bottle - it's a cute shape, sturdily built, and also has a little dip in the cap that makes it perfect for putting some on a cotton swab without pouring it all over your hand. I will probably decant another makeup remover into this bottle when I've finished it, just to use for travel.The Crèaline I have is unscented (there is also a fragranced version), and while the Etat Pur does have a scent, it is extremely light and barely noticeable. Neither caused any reaction on my sensitive facial skin or eyes.
I first applied a variety of products to my arm, making sure to use the most tenacious makeup I own, and let everything set for ten minutes.

1. Maybelline The Falsies waterproof mascara.
2. L'Oreal Visible Lift foundation.
3. Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner in Espresso Ink.
4. Navy blue eyeshadow from Sleek's Bad Girl palette, applied over Urban Decay Primer Potion.
5. Revlon Colorstay eyeliner in Brown.
6. L'Oreal liquid eyeliner in Carbon Black.
7. L'Oreal Infallible cream eyeshadow in Permanent Khaki, applied over E.L.F. Eyelid Primer.
8. Lancome Effacernes waterproof concealer.

I then soaked one cotton pad with Crèaline and the other with Etat Pur's cleansing water, and ran them down my arm. The top swipe is the Etat Pur and the bottom is Bioderma. The above photo is of the first pass. You can see that the Crèaline was slightly better at removing the liquid liner and the Infallible cream eyeshadow. Although it's not really visible in this picture, Etat Pur's micellar also left much more residue from the foundation than Bioderma's.

After the second swipe (in the same direction and location as the first), the winner was clear. Unlike the Etat Pur, Bioderma Crèaline had almost completely removed the mascara, foundation, powder eyeshadow, liquid eyeliner, cream eyeshadow, and concealer. It had also removed more of the gel and pencil eyeliners than Etat Pur's micellar water.

Oh, and serious props to the Revlon Colorstay eyeliner. This was my arm after a vigorous scrubbing with bar soap and water. I am impressed!



Etat Pur's Micellar Cleansing Water is £6.40/€6.80 (around $8.30 USD) for 190 ml. The company currently only ships to Europe. Bioderma Crèaline varies in price depending on your location and the size you buy, but at it's cheapest it's around $18 for two 500ml bottles (although currently out of stock) at LeGuideSante or €18 at  EasyParapharmacie. I paid around €4 for this mini bottle at a pharmacie in France. A simple Google search will bring up retailers that ship to your area.

p.s. I had some problems when formatting this post in Blogger - if it looks "off" to anyone, please let me know!

Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation

It's surprisingly hard to find warm-toned foundations that also come in very light shades. L'Oreal is the only drugstore line that I've found to offer shades that suit me, and their formulations often aren't the most sophisticated. Chanel also makes pale yellow foundations, but at $50 per bottle it's not something I can really afford to use every day! While searching for something to fill the gaping hole between those two extremes, I came across French company Bourjois's star foundation, Healthy Mix. (by the way, the rumor that Chanel and Bourjois cosmetics are the same thing is different packaging is untrue; they are merely owned by the same parent corporation run by the Wertheimer brothers. There's a fascinating New York Times article about the Wertheimers, Chanel, and Bourjois here).

Although I had to make an educated guess and order online, the lightest shade #51 (Light Vanilla) was a great match. I've applied it with both a buffing brush and my fingers and gotten very natural, even results either way. It's a solidly medium-coverage foundation, but can be sheered out or mixed with moisturizer for a minimal look. Building up more than two coats doesn't increase the coverage any further, though, and you will definitely need concealer for large blemishes. Because it's warm-toned, I found Healthy Mix to be especially good at neutralizing redness around my cheeks and nose. I haven't ever worn it for 16 hours, but have never had problems with fading on my combo-dry skin. And the light, creamy liquid texture would easily work for anyone with moderately dry to moderately oily skin. In fact, I think one of the main reasons this foundation is so popular is because it's appropriate for a wide range of skin types and tones.

There are a few downsides, though, of varying importance. The least offensive is the apricot scent; it's not bad per say, but it's very strong and it does linger. I'm not too bothered by it, but if you're sensitive to smells or to added fragrance in cosmetics, be careful with this one. The packaging is cheap plastic, gets smudgy very easily, and still looks slightly dirty no matter how much I clean it. I've also had some issues with the pump, although I'm not sure if I just happened to get a faulty one. Sometimes it won't dispense any product and I'll think I've run out (since you can't really see how much is left), but then the next day it will be working again. Also, be warned that if you're very cool-toned, this is a neutral foundation that leans very heavily yellow, so it might not be the best match for you. 

There's another negative aspect to Healthy Mix, although like the other downsides it's not a fatal flaw, just something to be worked around. This is not a foundation you can apply and then forget about. It takes ten or fifteen minutes to set or oxidize or whatever you want to call it once you've put it on. At first it looks extremely pale, yellow, and cakey, but then it becomes practically invisible on the skin after a quarter of an hour. It's bizarre - I've tried quite a few foundations over the years but never experienced this before.  

I tried to show this in the picture below of a pump of foundation followed by three swatches. I waited about five minutes after dispensing the liquid to take the photo. As you can see, the dot and the thicker swatch look much lighter and warmer than my skin. The thinner middle swatch matches better, but still isn't perfect. Whereas the third swatch, which was the most sheered out of all, is barely visible after being warmed by the skin.

Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation (30ml) is $11.45 at eChemist and is usually available at ASOS, although it's out of stock at the moment. Technically it's available in 8 shades, but the darker shades are harder to find anywhere except eBay if you're not in England, France, or another country where Bourjois is sold in-store.

Jason Natural Pure Beauty Oil

It's terrible, but I find myself procrastinating on writing about the products I love most, purely because of the amount of time and consideration a comprehensive review will take. I did it with Avène Hydrance Optimale UV and I've done it again with Jason Natural's 5000 IU Vitamin E oil. I'm a skin-and-body-oil fanatic already, but this stuff is my first and most abiding love.

Like I did with the Avene, I'm merely going to write a bare-bones list of the main reasons I worship Jason's Beauty Oil. Just remember that these are the facts and the superlatives and squealing "I LOVE YOU!"s are a given.

1. It's an antioxidant-rich blend of sunflower, safflower, rice bran, apricot, avocado, and wheat germ oils, with a healthy dose of vitamin E to boot. I've tried both avocado and almond oil straight before and had good luck, so their presence in the mix is a big plus!

2. The marzipan-cherry smell is delicious but not overly enduring if you want to wear any other scents.

3. You never feel greasy wearing it. It's not quite a dry oil, but still absorbs more quickly than, for example, coconut or mineral oil. Jason also makes higher IU (or International Unit, a measure of the potency of vitamins) oils, which I own, but they're too thick to be used as anything but localized treatments and are unscented.

4. Unlike many body oils, this is just as fabulous used on my face as on the rest of me. I've had only good results and no breakouts or irritation. However, vitamin E oils can be very clogging for some, so I would strongly encourage anyone to patch test it for a few days just to be safe.

5. Talk about a multi-tasking product! Here's the full run-down of everything I've used this particular oil for, and all with great success: moisturizing my body and face, makeup removal, oil precleansing, healing fresh scars, fading old scars, rescuing chapped lips, reducing irritation from a heat rash, as a cuticle oil, as an overnight treatment for rough hands and feet, and on the ends of my hair. 

6. I want to speak to the effect on scars especially, because this oil has made a much-needed difference in my skin. Add 12 years of not-very-talented soccer playing to a bad case of keratosis pilaris and the resultant picking, and you get a lot of scars. As silly as it is, I've been self-conscious of my upper arms and knees for years because they are literally a different color than the rest of my skin from the scarring. Using vitamin E oil - I've only ever tried Jason, so can't say if another brand would produce the same results - in conjunction with exfoliants and sun protection on the affected areas has visibly lightened and faded the marks. My knees only look strange when I'm cold now, and even then it's not noticeable to anyone but myself. My arms were worse to start with, but they too are smoother and have less hyperpigmentation. I really will buy this stuff forever. 

7. High quality, but still affordable and easy to find. I order from iHerb because it's cheapest there, at $6.08 for 4 oz/118 ml,  and I usually buy two or three bottles at a time ($5 off your first purchase with my referral code, BEH289). It's widely available elsewhere online, at $7.86 from Amazon and $8.45 from drugstore.com. I've seen it in-store at health food stores, Whole Foods and any Bed Bath & Beyond with a health and beauty section.

Giovanni L.A. Hold Hair Spritz

I originally bought this Giovanni hairspray because my mom recommended it, and she is infinitely better at doing hair than I will ever be. Actually, I think she bought it for me. And I guess technically it's a "hair spritz", since Giovanni is an eco-conscious brand and doesn't make aerosol products. The chic packaging (especially for the drugstore!) is recyclable, well-made, and won't look tacky on your bathroom counter. I also appreciate that it's easy to see how much you have left. I am pretty low-maintenance in this department, so I won't embarrass myself by pretending to know anything more than the basics of hair products. I use a little hairspray on a clean E.L.F. mascara wand every day to tame flyways and baby hairs around my hairline, and for that purpose, this stuff is great. I've also used it occasionally to hold a curl, and would describe it as a "soft hold" spray. The fine mist maintains the hair's shape without crunchiness, and you can easily brush it out the next day. The "maximum hold" claim Giovanni makes is relative - the hair spritz lacks the tenacity of heavy-duty aerosol sprays, but as far as "natural" options go, this is about as good as it gets. After all, this probably is going to be the maximum amount of hold you're going to get from such an earth-friendly product. Giovanni L.A. Hold Hair Spritz is $6.11 at iHerb ($5 off your first purchase with my referral code: BEH289), $7.95 on Giovanni's website, $8.49 at drugstore.com, and usually between $8 and $9 in-store at CVS and Whole Foods.

Cattier Paris Pink Clay Mask for Sensitive Skin

I want to preface this post by saying two things:

1. It is very, very unlike me to privately - let alone publicly - form an opinion on a product that I haven't thoroughly and repeatedly used. However, the instant results from this mask are making me break that rule today.

2. This review includes a pretty gross close-up picture of the mask in action. Please navigate away from this page now if you are squeamish, or if you are currently eating strawberry yogurt. 

Clay masks have been off my radar for a few years, ever since some futile experiments with drugstore variations and a brutal encounter with the famous Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask (my skin couldn't handle the menthol). I do have some sebaceous filaments on my nose, but my skin is normally combo-dry so they're not too visible. When I remember, I use BHA and Mario Badescu Silver Powder to minimize them, but most of the time I just don't bother. Obsessing over skin is no healthier than neglecting it, and frankly a few small dark specks on my nose were the least of my skincare problems!

I threw this Cattier Argile Rose Masque in my EasyParapharmacie basket last week because it was rated #1 on beaute-test.com (the top French product review site), is made for sensitive skin, and because the humidity in Germany right now is turning my formerly parched face into an oily, sweaty mess. I wasn't expecting anything special, just hoping for a little purifying action. I thought the ingredients - kaolin clay, aloe vera, shea butter, some stabilizers, and a bit of lactic acid - looked good, plus it was under 4 euros, so what the heck. Peppermint oil is also included, but happily I can neither smell nor feel it.

Starting with the basics, the Masque Argile's texture is very well-formulated. It's thin, easy to spread, and dries and works quickly. I also appreciated how easy it was to rinse off. So many masks are so hard to remove that they inflame the skin they just treated! It smells like clay, but hey, that makes sense. The "rose" in the name refers to the color, not the scent. The important thing is that neither my rosacea nor the other sensitive bits of my face suffered any irritation during or after use.

Five minutes after I slathered the pink goo all over my face, I happened to glance in the bathroom mirror and did a double-take. When I first applied the mask, it was a smooth, even layer on my skin. But in the mirror, I saw this:

As disgusting as it is, all of those spots were from the oil and gunk being pulled out of my pores - gunk that I didn't even know was in there! I certainly hadn't seen it with my naked eye. And this was just after 5 minutes! More and more dots kept appearing as the full fifteen minutes went by. A stubborn clog on my upper lip was also flattened out. When I rinsed the mask off, I thought some pink clay was still trapped in my pores because they were all flesh-colored, but when I swiped a damp cotton pad over my nose it came away clean.  Six hours later, I can definitely confirm those were just clear pores!

I'm just thrilled to have found this cheap little gem that's gentle but so effective at the same time. I've used several products that have reduced the appearance of visible pores, but - until now - never found one that eradicated them  completely (at least for now). Of course, I've still got to use the mask a few more times before I give it HG status, but for now I'm content to bask in the heady glow of my infatuation.

The only downside is that it's tricky to get ahold of if you're not in Europe. Cattier is a common drugstore brand in France, and the rest of Europe can order their whole line of products online from EasyParapharmacie without paying an unfair amount for shipping. LeGuideSante also lists it on their site, but they're out of stock currently. Their shipping isn't bad either within Europe, but although they do ship to the rest of the world, the rates are exorbitant. I've ordered from both companies and been satisfied with my purchases. 
Update: the amazing MUA member becky129 has found the pink clay mask on Amazon for $14.00 for 100ml!

Deborah Lippmann Wicked Game

deborah lippmann wicked game nail polish swatchMy apologies for the obscene number of pictures in this post....I had a seriously hard time trying to capture Wicked Game on camera! And to be fair, one or two photos just aren't enough to show the huge range of colors that this iridescent duochrome contains. It's not at all the type of color that usually attracts me, but for some reason wearing this makes me ok with the fact that my fingertips look like little space beetles.
deborah lippmann wicked game nail polish
deborah lippmann wicked game nail polish swatch
deborah lippmann wicked game nail polish swatchThis is my first Lippmann polish and I'm really impressed by the quality. Frosty, metallic polishes like this often show every imperfection on the nail surface, but Wicked Game's excellent formula minimizes that. I do use a basecoat, but I do that with all my polishes no matter what. Wicked Game is very thin but also quite opaque, so I only have to use two coats. The thin layers means that it's seriously chip-proof. I get less tipwear with this polish than I do with any other brand, and no big chips. It's spendy at $16, and I'd never buy a trendy collection at that price point (I bought this two years ago with a gift card). But I must admit that if Lippmann comes out with one of my all-time favorite colors in this same great formula, I'm going to be tempted to splurge.
deborah lippmann wicked game nail polish swatch
deborah lippmann wicked game nail polish swatch
deborah lippmann wicked game nail polish swatch
Deborah Lippmann Wicked Game is $13.04 on Amazon, and $16 online on her website as well as in-store at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Barney's New York, and Neiman Marcus. 

Mario Badescu Silver Powder

This is a fantastic little treatment for anyone battling oiliness and clogged pores, but especially for those of us who have those problems on top of already sensitive skin! Unlike BHA, the usual fix for skin congestion, it's a simple powder mask with only 3 ingredients. No irritation, and it works much more gently than chemical exfoliants.I don't have oily skin, but I do have sebaceous filaments on my nose and large pores on my cheeks. As we all know, there's no way to permanently shrink pores, but keeping them clean makes them appear smaller. Mario Badescu's Silver Powder absorbs oil and sebum that's gotten stuck in the pores, leaving a clean canvas behind. It's rather strange-looking at first, but quite easy to use. I tip a small amount into the cap, to avoid wetting the rest of the product, and then dip a warm (the warmth is important, I find it helps to loosen oil on the skin and really makes a difference in the effectiveness of the treatment), damp cotton round into the cap. The powder turns into a thick paste on the pad, which I then swipe over my t-zone, focusing on the nose and chin. After fifteen or twenty minutes, I splash water on my face to remove most of the mask, and then use a toner to get rid of the rest.I find that using the Silver Powder once a week really makes my nose and chin area less congested, not only on the day of but for several days after too. Now, tough clogs are still going to need some sort of acid to really come out, but a weekly treatment like this one is a great help. And if you're frustrated by blackheads or sebaceous filaments this is a great preventative measure. One other notable thing about this product is the tremendous value. The cost-per-use is absolutely minuscule. It's not expensive to start with, but you get so much for your money too! I've used my pot at least 25 times in the past year since I bought it and you can see how I've barely made a dent. Yet another reason to appreciate Mario Badescu (have I mentioned that you can fill out a personalized questionnaire online and they'll send you a whole bag of free samples personalized for your skin type?).Mario Badescu Silver Powder is $12 for 1 oz. at their website and Amazon.com, as well as in-store at Ulta, or Nordstrom.

Yes To Blueberries Eye Firming Treatment

I'm mildly embarrassed at how long it took me to figure out that Yes to Blueberries was actually another manifestation of the more well-known Yes to Carrots brand, just with a different star ingredient. I didn't actually know that when I grabbed this from the clearance bin at Bed Bath and Beyond in L.A. (Side note - if your BB&B is one of the lucky few with a health and beauty section, go IMMEDIATELY! They stock absolutely everything and discount all of it. It's like a massive professional beauty supply store up in there.) I've tried and liked a few basic moisturizers from Yes to Carrots, and this eye cream fits into the general impression I had of the brand: very simple, relatively effective products with great packaging.
For the purpose that I bought it - gently refreshing the eye area - the Eye Firming Treatment is perfectly nice. Right out of the pump it looks like a rich cream, but it emulsifies a bit when it hits your skin, making the texture comfortably light and easy to spread without tugging on the delicate eye area. Still, it packs a nice moisturizing punch without being rich enough to cause milia. I love when creams come in well-made pumps or tubes rather than jars - way more hygienic! Yes to Blueberries has certainly succeeded in making a product that's a level above other drugstore eye treatments in overall quality.So, as a straightforward eye cream I'd give it a thumbs up. But let's face it, the anti-aging claims that Yes to Blueberries make here are absolutely ridiculous. There's no "age refreshing" going on, and not one bit of firming. I've got fine wrinkles under my eyes from wearing contacts, and they're unchanged after several months of use. The botanical ingredients are impressively high up on the ingredient list, and the first component is blueberry water, a supposed antioxidant, but they're all just for moisturizing. None of the "actives" that really fight aging are present here. If you have dry skin and don't use a similar product already, just moisturizing your undereye area will make it appear brighter and smoother. And indeed, if you're only looking for a simple, mild eye cream, this is definitely a nice option. But if you're expecting the radical anti-aging effects that Yes to Blueberries is advertising, I think you're going to be disappointed.Yes To Blueberries Age Refresh Eye Firming Treatment is usually $19.99 in-store at drugstores/BB&B/Target, but is available for $15.26 on Amazon. For international buyers, it's also on ASOS but is marked up more than 50%.

Sneak Peak at my Etat Pur Goodies!

etat pur skincare samples micellar apigenin
My mini Etat Pur haul came in the mail yesterday and I'm excited to start trying stuff out! It's very unlike me to buy skincare that I haven't researched and read lots about - and Etat Pur is a new line so there's relatively little objective information out there. I justified my purchase with the knowledge that I'll be back in the U.S. in six weeks and Etat Pur only ships to a few countries in Europe. This way, if I fall in love with anything I'll have ample time to order a backup before I go back home.

Has anyone else heard the buzz around Etat Pur (made by the same company that's responsible for Bioderma and Institut Esthederm)?
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