Tag: Sephora

Samples Soliloquy #1

Soliloquy noun \sə-ˈli-lə-kwē\

: a long, usually serious speech that a character in a play makes to an audience and that reveals the character’s thoughts

I decided to start a series in which I (finally) review the (copious amounts of) samples I’ve procured from Sephora (among other places), so it seemed a fitting title. 🙂

DSC_1491 Finding a good use for my empty Birchbox boxes. 😉

(In order to keep track of all my samples, I’ve started to write the names on the top in Sharpie and then using Scotch tape on top to keep it from smearing. I figure if I ever buy the full size, I can refill the sample size and use it for traveling.)

I’m going to use my first entry to discuss the collection of skincare items that, along with the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil, I credit for helping to clear up my face after the Liz Earle Incident. Which means, yes, I like them, and, yes, I would purchase the full-size items. (And intend to!)

I’ve read about Ren Skincare everywhere, so when I saw that Sephora had the whole line, I grabbed a few items to try. And, boy, am I glad I did.

DSC_1492 The heroes of the day.

My first pick was the Ren Hydra Calm Cleansing Milk. I specifically chose this because it’s for sensitive skin and I thought my skin was upset enough as it was. I chose this over the gel since, as I’ve said, everything I’m reading these days is saying that any kind of gel or foaming cleanser is bad for you. So I started using this after taking off my makeup with Bioderma Crealine H2O. It smells nice, it feels gentle on the skin—almost like you’re not even putting anything on your skin, which is good for upset skin—and then using the muslin cloth from the Liz Earle kit and hot water to remove it. I put the hot cloth over my face for a few seconds, and then I gently scrub wipe off.

Once things started to clear up after using the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil, I introduced the Ren ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. I didn’t want to overstrip or overdry my skin with the clay, so I only used that at night, and continued with the Hydra Calm in the morning. But I have to say that this feels plenty milky as well. It does smell clay-like, and I also remove it with the muslin cloth and hot water.

After that, I used the Ren Resurfacing AHA Concentrate. This is to help brighten and clear your complexion, with acidic exfoliators. This is especially good for helping to get rid of the marks that zits leave on your face. Which I know firsthand.

Then I use the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil. On top of that, I’ve been using the Ren ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Night Serum. This helps treat the pimples and also helps with the redness and marks. (You only use the Resurfacing AHA Concentrate for 7 days at a time, so this works in the interim.) It’s amazing to wake up in the morning and literally see that your skin looks better.

(I’ve had a deluxe-sized sample of the Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask for a while, so I’ve thrown that in once a week as well to help fade the red marks and discoloration. [I did not receive this one from Sephora. I don’t even remember where it came from!] Especially since Lisa Eldridge mentioned her love of lactic acid treatments for exfoliation.)

Then, rounding out the sample saviors, is Origins Make A Difference Plus + Rejuvenating Treatment (the oil-free one). I mentioned I was liking the Ole Henriksen Vitamin Plus moisturizer sample I got, but the Origins pulled ahead in the end. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’ve gotten samples of this about 7 times now, since I can’t be without it. It feels so nice on the skin, it feels perfectly hydrated, and it smells amazing. I don’t get over oily from using it, and my skin has really turned around over the last few weeks. (Although I do find that if I use the acid exfoliators during the day, it does overstimulate the oil production in my skin, and I get oilier, so I don’t use it during the day.)

These are just in place of those things I was previously using. I’m still using the same toners. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just go back to my old cleansing routine after the Liz Earle didn’t work out. I am, too, but I am trying to take to heart the urging not to use foaming/gel cleansers, and both of the ones I was using fell under that category. Also, this stuff has really been working and I haven’t paid for it (yet). :p So…

And now my skin is looking so much better and I’m grateful.

Next time, I’ll discuss some of the makeup samples I’ve gotten.

Have you tried any of these products? Are you sampling anything from Sephora lately?

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New Holy Grail product alert: Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil

I don’t say things like this lightly. If something becomes a Holy Grail product for me, it’s because it’s been tried and true and complete surpassed any expectations I may have had. And I have to try something out for a while, at least 2 weeks, before I can render any verdict on a product.

No one was more surprised than I was. My skin was a mess after my Liz Earle experience, and I needed something to help with the breakouts. Did I ever in my life think that for my oily, acne-prone that thing would be…an oil?!

In a word, no.

1258669_fpx And then you walked into my life.
(Please forgive the non-original photography. My work schedule is kicking my ass.)

I don’t even remember how I came across the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil as an option for treating a breakout, but I’m so glad I did.

Naturally, I was skeptical, so a sample was procured from Sephora. (Not easily, either! Despite it being listed as being in stock in many stores, I had to go to three on the list before I found it!) I took it home and used it at night.

And woke up and saw a NOTICEABLE improvement in my poor, broken out skin. FROM AN OIL. When everything else had failed to make a dent. So let’s just say, I went back out and quickly procured another sample from Sephora.

Clarins call this a purifying treatment oil, and they say it hydrates, tones and balances oily skin types. I don’t know how an oil can do that, but it’s true, it does. Its blend of Rosewood, Geranium and Lotus extracts are supposed to tighten pores and refine the skin texture, while Hazelnut Oil softens, soothes and seals in moisture to minimize the appearance of fine lines. (Or so they say. We’ll see if I keep looking this young. 😉 )

It does have a strong smell, that I’ve read some people don’t like, but I quite do like the scent.

I’ve been using it since then and my skin has continued to improve. I even dab a tiny bit on just my pimples in the morning to keep up the healing (but I’d be afraid to have the oil all over my face…although, it might be okay. One of you try it, first. 😉 ).

And, as the biggest mark of my esteem, I have actually invested in purchasing it. (Yes! I bought something! But I had a discount voucher. So there.)

So Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil officially has the SheDreamsInPerfectFrench stamp of approval! And if you’re having skin problems, I highly recommend it.

Have you tried this? What did you think?

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While the cats are away…

There is nothing nicer than going into Manhattan on a holiday weekend when everyone else has gone home to see their families. (Sorry, transplants, but it’s true. :p )

We didn’t even have this in mind, when Rose and I decided to hit all the high-end department stores for some window shopping. (Yes, I like to torture myself, okay?)

We started with Henri Bendel (“Bendel’s”), since it opened earliest. The early bird gets the empty store, apparently!

Next we meandered up 5th Avenue to Bergdorf Goodman.

DSC_1472And I said, well that’s the one thing we’ve got…

DSC_1473Where else do you find huge snowlakes in the sky, other than Fifth Avenue?

DSC_1477Central Park in the distance…

DSC_1478The Plaza. Only Trump would get construction tarp that matches the facade!

And, of course, there were the Bergdorf windows.

DSC_1474

DSC_1475

DSC_1479

DSC_1476

We headed downstairs to bask in the glory of their beauty basement. Rose was color matched for the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer (sadly, she’s a mix of 2 shades, which is not wallet friendly at all!) and I fell in love with, and quickly walked away from, a Killian scent.

Also, as an afterthought, we passed by the Creed counter, and I sprayed a tester card with Acqua Fiorentina, at Rose’s urging. Stuck it in my pocket and forgot about it. I pulled it out a few hours later and OH MY GOD, THIS NEEDS TO BE MINE. (See? I just can’t stick to one scent.)

Next up was Barneys, where I expertly avoided the Serge Lutens counter for fear of temptation, completely ignored the Surratt counter out of self-defense, and stopped to drool at the MAKE counter. They have the prettiest shades of bright, colorful eyeshadow!

I went to be color matched at the Sunday Riley counter for their Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer, which was mentioned in this tutorial. For future reference. And was sat down and completely made over. By a woman with the most beautiful skin I have ever seen. (If she is using Sunday Riley products, then I should be, too. Which of course means I’m in big trouble, because those things are expensive.)

The primer is often just used as a foundation, and I do confess my skin looked great with just that. And despite it not being matte and despite her adding some Juno Transformative Lipid Serum (dry) oil on top, my skin was not an oily mess by the end of the day. Not as matte as I’m used to, but definitely an acceptable alternative.

Then we were on our way.

DSC_1480Roosevelt Island Tram in the distance.

DSC_1481I haven’t seen a street vendor selling roasted chestnuts since I was little!!

Some beverages followed, in turn followed by my second viewing of the weekend of Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I hated the first movie. Hated it. But despite certain gripes* about this one, I really loved it. Have you seen it? What did you think?

DSC_1482Times Square. Pretty to look at, terrible to walk through!

DSC_1483Do you?

DSC_1484Peek-a-boo!

Then I hit up Sephora for some samples, because a day in the city is nothing without my samples. Two locations provided a motherlode of goodness. Which is good, since my skin is still recovering from the Liz Earle debacle.

I was thinking of doing a write-up of the samples I’ve been trying and my verdicts. Any interest?

Have you tried any of those brands? Any favorite products?

What did you do this weekend?

I’m going to cut my Catching Fire thoughts for any possible spoilers. 😉

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Review: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish – Unluckiest of the lucky ones

I know that it’s been a while since I received the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser Starter Kit that I won through Birchbloggers. You may or may not have been wondering about my review. Well, it’s finally ready.

Excited? 😉

Before I go any further, I do need to say that I feel truly thankful (heh, get it?) for having won this to try. It’s very hard writing a blog when you can’t afford new products to review. That’s probably why I took it as far as I did to really be able to give you a fair assessment.

The Liz Earle cleansing system works in two parts. The first step is the cream cleanser. Free from mineral oil, it contains naturally active ingredients, including eucalyptus and cocoa butter. It’s supposed to be a gentle cleanser, suited to all skin types, that still removes even the most stubborn of makeup. The second step is polishing with the muslin cloth. A gentle way to exfoliate your skin, it makes for a really lovely regimen.

Everything I’ve been reading about skin care lately has said to use cream-based cleansers, even if you have oily skin. Any cleanser that foams is supposed to be the devil. So this system definitely fits the bill.

Reviewing a cult product like this, one that has won over 90 beauty awards, one that so many people consider a holy grail product, you feel a certain burden of responsibility.

DSC_1289It’s just such a lovely system. Look at it.

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Mini haul: Shopping Sephora’s VIB 20% off sale

Yes, you read that correctly. I bought something. (I haven’t been as good, in general, as I’ve made myself out to be, anyway. :p But I have been so restrained, I don’t know where it’s come from.) Well, with 20% off and store credit, how could I not get something?!

The problem was really more what not to get. There are so many things in my “loves,” and it’s the best time to buy.

But I was good. I was so good. I only bought 2 things that I actually needed.

DSC_1303I mean, really, I ONLY BOUGHT TWO THINGS.

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It’s here! It’s here!

You may remember that I was supremely disappointed not to have gotten the Liz Earle sample in my October Birchbox. (In case you’re not familiar with it, Birchbox is a monthly subscription service where, for just $10 a month, you receive a box full of deluxe-sized and travel-sized samples. You receive Birchbox points for every purchase you make and every review your write, which can be redeemed in their store. Get your own here.)

My friend Rose  went on and on about her delight that these products were now available in the US, and she did get the sample. So did another friend of mine. And Lisa Eldridge recommends the products.

AND I HAVE NO MONEY AND CAN’T BUY IT AND DIDN’T GET IT IN MY BIRCHBOX.

So, basically, my life sucked. Right? Wrong!!

I had joined Birchbloggers, who, right after this all happened, had a giveaway of the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser Starter Kit. And the planets must have aligned (or they were doing damage control because I expressed my disappointment), because I was chosen as a winner! Serendipity!

And it took 3/4 of a month to get to me, but IT’S FINALLY HERE!!

DSC_1250How darling is the packaging??

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Les Cinq Petites Choses #3

Voici 5 choses que j’ai aimées récemment. Here are five things I’ve been loving lately.

1. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock, because I only just recently discovered Lisa Eldridge, an amazing and accomplished makeup artist. I know, I know, you’re all scoffing at me. But better late than never?

And I adore her. We even have similar skin issues and similar coloring (though she has those gorgeous hazel eyes).

I’m not sure if her tutorial videos have seen me through insomnia or if they’ve caused my insomnia since I stay up way too late watching them. (And then I want all the things she uses! This is how I found out about Face Lace.)

But, in particular, I adore the look she uses in this video.

2. After reading about Tom Ford’s Black Orchid fragrance here and here, I was curious enough to go to Sephora and get a sample. It’s touted as a unisex fragrance, and when I sampled it on a card at the Tom Ford counter first, the person helping me told me that Brad Pitt wears it.

I have not worn a unisex fragrance since CK One came out and EVERYONE wore it. And I was young and foolish then. So I was skeptical.

And I have to say, I’m won over. And yet still skeptical. Black Orchid goes on smelling gorgeously fruity. And it dries down to a lovely spice. But a very masculine spice. (I suppose that’s how it works as a unisex fragrance?) I had my brother smell it, and he said it smelled like a men’s scent.

But maybe that’s why I liked it? Hey, if you don’t have a man in your life to smell, just smell yourself instead? 😉

Black OrchidThat bottle. Is sexy.

3. I was lucky enough to discover Rosaspina Vintage when they still had pieces from their summer collection left. All the clothing is designed by the lovely Ale from Turin, handmade by her mother, and sourced from her grandmother’s vintage textile collection. It is the most amazing history for your clothing to have.

In the ensuing days, I’ve been dying over the hints of the Autumn/Winter 2013 collection to come.  Yesterday, it went on sale. And I think I am officially dead from the amazingness. I literally want everything. But if I have to pick a few favorites, these are them.

rosaspinavintage_aw13_cape5The ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ cape in Burnt Orange. I want this so badly it hurts. (The ‘Briar Rose’ pinafore in Floral is also available.)

rosaspinavintage_aw13_dress5I loved every color of this dress. Here, the ‘Gretel’ dress in Mist.

rosaspinavintage_aw13_skirt5This skirt was in my cart. My cart advanced to Paypal. I looked at the price again and reminded myself that I have no money. I cried.

rosaspinavintage_aw13_skirt6It’s so beautiful, it hurts to look at it. The ‘Gerda’ skirt in Chestnut. (The ‘Little Matchgirl’ blouse in Scarlet is also available.)

Sadly, because they are hand made and mostly one-of-a-kind, the skirt will be gone by the time I am working again and can afford to buy it. It breaks my heart.

4. Reading The Penny Rose, I couldn’t help but notice the amazing illustration in their logo. I obviously had to dig around and see if they mentioned who it was by and, of course, they did.

Jessica Durrant‘s work has been seen at Target, One Kings Lane, QVC.com, Glamour.com, and many others. But you don’t need to be a corporation or institution to be lucky enough to have a piece of her gorgeous art. Etsy to the rescue, once again! And, once again, I want everything.

Jessica DurantSeriously. I wonder how much she charges. I need a logo…

5. I am not exaggerating when I say this last thing is a godsend. How many times have you (assuming you are a beauty enthusiast) wanted to try a new foundation, only to be faced with the fact that you have no idea which color to pick? Sometimes that’s not a problem, ie, when you are able to go into a store and try it on. But what if they don’t sell it at a store near you? Or what if you go into the store and no one is available to help you? (This happened to me. More than once.)

That’s where Findation comes in. Plug in the shades of the brands and specific foundations that you know you where, and it populates a list of what your shade would be in countless others. They have a huge array of brands and foundations listed. You’re sure to find something that you want on the list.

Findation

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not yet tested how accurate it is, so don’t blame me if it’s not exactly right. But I’m pretty sure something came up on my list that I had tried on once, in the right shade.

I’m excited to test it out, though!

What do you think of my 5 things? What have you been loving lately?

The skin I’m in—My basic skincare regimen dissected

Someone asked me to do a post (someone asked me to do a post!!) on my basic daily beauty routine, so I thought I would start with my skincare.

My oily skin has been the bane of my existence since I was a teenager. My favorite joke about my skin is that there is enough oil on my face when I wake up in the morning to solve the energy crisis. (There really is.) When women talk about wanting a foundation that makes them look “dewy,” I know that with me, all I have to do is put on foundation and wait an hour and POOF! Dewy.

Much like my perfume-buying habits, I’ve been through practically every oily skin line of skincare trying to find the holy grail of mattifying moisturizer (or cleanser or toner). My conclusion: There is no such thing. The companies will claim to eliminate all your shine, but if you’re as oily as I am, you’re always going to be a little bit shiny. The thing that you can work on, though, is how shiny you’re going to be.

I feel like I need to state that one of the problems with taking care of oily skin is that in an attempt to eliminate oil, we sometimes strip away too much oil. Doing what? Causing your skin to produce more oil to compensate. So don’t forget: some oil good, too much oil bad. I use moisturizer even at night, even though it seems counter intuitive.

I had a fantastic run from March to April this year, where by the end of the work day, I just had a slight sheen, and just needed to dab a bit before going out. I had started a new skincare regimen and also discovered a new line of foundation (that I’ll talk about in the follow up to this post).  What was the magic combination, you’re wondering?

DSC_0999Clockwise from left: Lush Ultrabland, Tea Tree Water, Grease Lightning, Enzymion, Fresh Farmacy Soap

I have friends in Scotland who are big believers in Lush, so I decided to go in and buy a skincare system and see how it worked. The routine was, take my eye makeup off, then use Ultrabland to take the makeup off the rest of my face. This step was something new to me. I had never taken my makeup off my face before cleansing, or, double cleansing. It feels completely counter intuitive to put Ultrabland on oily skin, because it feels oily (and is in fact made with essential oils), but seeing how much dirt came off my face when I used the Tea Tree Water on a cotton pad to take it off, I was amazed. I also did not break out more because of it, and rationalized that it was probably good to be putting some oil back into my face (see factoid above). The Tea Tree Water smells fresh, feels refreshing, and is really a great product. The person who helped me told me she even sprays it on her face during the day to help mattify and refresh her skin (I haven’t tried that for fear of my mascara running, heh).

Next step was to wash my face with the Fresh Farmacy Soap. She chose this cleanser because I do have some pimples, but don’t need an exfoliating cleanser since I use a Clarisonic Mia brush. Fresh Farmacy is made with calamine, so it’s the same color as the old mosquito bite remedy. You can smell it, too. It kind of feels medicinal, but in a good way.  At night I (still) use a prescription retinol on my face, generic Retin-A. During the day, I uses Grease Lightning for oil and pimples. Then I used Avibon (which is a French skincare secret: pure vitamin A retinol, used by French women to keep wrinkles at bay) under my eyes and whatever eye cream in the morning I was using at the time (probably some sample I got), and then moisturized with Enzymion. I’ve heard that they do demos of this moisturizer on people’s hands, showing how it sucks up oil. I’m sure it does, and like I said, it worked really well for a spell. It smells citrusy and fresh, which is especially nice in the morning.

In April, I went to Spain for a week and a half, and I don’t know if it was the traveling, the change in regimen while I was away, or the changing of the season, but when I got back, my skin did not respond to this routine as well. Quel disappointment! So what’s a beauty product addict to do? Go find some more, of course!

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Review: Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream – Battle of the Liquid Lipsticks Part III

The subject: Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream in Sancerre

So we’ve covered both Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar as well as  MAC Lipmix. Now it’s time for Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream,

I feel like my blog has become an Ode to Bite Beauty. But it’s with good reason! (And, no, they’re not paying me, I swear!) All the lip products from the Toronto-based company are made from food-grade ingredients, and each lipstick contains the amount of Resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red wine, found in five glasses of wine. So they’re good for you, as well. And I pretty much wear their Line and Define Lip Primer under everything. Including this!

Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream Sancerre Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream in Sancerre

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Review: OCC Lip Tar – Battle of the Liquid Lipsticks Part I

Happy Thursday!! I hope you’re ready to rumble!

The subject: OCC Lip Tar in Strumpet

I’ve recently added to my lipstick collection 3 different kinds of lipstick that come in a liquid form: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar, Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream, and MAC Lipmix. Since I’ve already gone on in depth about Bite Beauty and also mentioned MAC, I thought I would start with the OCC Lip Tar.

DSC_0866OCC Lip Tar in Strumpet

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