SKIN | Mini Reviews – High-End Skincare

More sample reviews! Here is a selection of trial-size sachets and tubes I’ve collected, from higher-end beauty brands. Do they live up to the hype?

Well, you’d better read on!

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules: These made my face feel a strange combination of siliconey and oily. Unpleasant. They also weren’t too beneficial for my skin, but I think they would be for older skins. Repurchase? No.

Bobbi Brown EXTRA Repair Serum: This felt lovely, but I didn’t need it – I just liked using it. It made no difference to my skin, but I’m not the target clientele for this product. Repurchase? No, perhaps in 10 years.

Clarins Multi-Active Night Cream: This smells quite herby and while at first I didn’t like that aspect, it did grow on me. It was a good night cream, perhaps a little oilier feeling than I really like though. I would advise caution for sensitive-skinned people, because of that fragrance aspect. Repurchase? If I couldn’t get my preferred products, sure.

Clarins Multi-Active Day Cream: This is quite a nice all-rounder cream, suitable for most skins and pretty unreactive. It’s for these reasons I keep a tube of it in my makeup artist’s kit; but I want my moisturiser to be a little more targeted for my skin’s needs. Repurchase? Only for my kit.

Clarisonic Refreshing Gel Cleanser: Terrible. Awful. WAY too harsh. Repurchase? No, no no no no.

Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Cottonseed:
This is the ‘normal’ skin version of a previous favourite, the Foaming Cleanser with Shea Butter. Despite the name ‘foaming’, the shea butter version isn’t too stripping, but this one was. A bit too much for my dry skin, but for oilier complexions it’d work. Repurchase? No.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Night Cream:
This is really nice – thick and comforting, but not too emollient. It reminds me of my favourite, MAC Comfort Creme, but a little heavier on the dimethicone and a stranger scent. Repurchase? Maybe – but not if I can have my MAC one.

Shiseido Future Solution LX Cleansing Foam:
This is a little pot an ex-coworker gave me which had this cleanser in it. It was LOVELY, one of the only foam cleanser I’ve used that didn’t completely strip my skin. I think I preferred the Ibuki Gentle Cleanser a little more for my skin, but this is still a great product. Repurchase? No, just because I like the Ibuki one better.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Caplet Serum:
I’ve written about this in an empties before, when I used up the full size. It feels nice and is enticingly sparkly, but I doubt it actually does anything – I certainly haven’t seen a marked difference. Repurchase? I’ll use up the other minis I have, but won’t repurchase in the full size.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Eye Gel:
Eye gels are no replacement for creams, and this isn’t an exception. Unremarkable. Repurchase? No.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum: Oh, the famed miracle-serum. No idea if it’s actually intended for my skin, but it made it feel bloody lovely – constructive and hydrating, but not too oily. The same way my loved Clarins Double Serum makes my skin feel. Repurchase? Not unless I discover it has some benefits beyond what my Clarins one offers me, as that one is less expensive than ANR.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Moisture Cream SPF 30+: This was a struggle for me to finish, as I really don’t like SPF in my moisturiser. I’ll admit, I’m lazy with SPF, but I’d rather pull my socks up and use seperate SPF and moisturiser, instead of taking a lesser-quality moisturiser. This gave me a white cast, didn’t hydrate enough and felt incredibly thick. Repurchase? No – but if you have normal skin and like a moisturiser with SPF, this would be a good one.

Estée Lauder Take It Away Makeup Remover: I don’t know what it was about this, but it didn’t live up to the hype at all. As a makeup-removing lotion, it felt like it did fuck all – and I don’t wear anything near as hardcore as Double Wear, so how is this supposed to work? I am aware this was an old (4-5 years) tube of my mum’s, which may have been a factor, but yikes – I needed my standard double cleanse even after this. Repurchase? No, give me an oil/balm cleanser any day.

Lipidol Cleansing Face Oil: This was a tiny sachet I used up over a year ago so this review is relying on one use, with a dodgy-at-best memory. Bear with. I do remember being surprised; it was better than I had expected, but certainly not a huge game changer. It was too fragranced and liquidy for my liking – an oil cleanser shouldn’t be the consistency of water. Repurchase? Unlikely – I’d try it again, but I already have oil cleansers I do love.

Estée Lauder Idealist Pore Refining Serum: I first used this nearly 6 years ago in a sample size, and I loved it. My barely-ever-touched skin loved this silky, refining serum, and it inspired my first fascination with my skin. I remember washing my face, putting this on and moisturising – then admiring my face in the mirror. Ah, the seeds of my future obsession. Repurchase? If I could afford it and my pores were more of a problem (like when I don’t use A/BHAs), I would.

What sample/mini things have you tried or used lately?

January Favourites

I had a strange January; full of excitement, disappointment, busy days and boring days.  So, like a normal month.. but heightened. Regardless, I have more favourites than I have for the past few months, because I keep discovering pretty rad things – so here I am to boast about it.

Caitlin Moran – How to Be A Woman:
My best friend of going-on 6 years, Claris, gave me this wonderful book for Christmas. I’d long-heard of Caitlin Moran and had been meaning to read her books for a while, but Claris said she thought I’d especially love this one. Turns out I do, because Caitlin is exactly my kinda person. Witty, honest and utterly unabashed, she tells stories she’s lived that helped her recognise what it meant to be a woman for her. The stories seem at first a little random and other than being in chronological order, seem to just be entertaining anecdotes. But by the 3rd or 4th chapter, I began to see a pattern emerging – each chapter drawing to a close in a very natural way (compared to most narratives), and leaving me thinking “Oh, I remember when I had a similar experience..” and actually beginning to think about how different experiences helped develop and shape who I am as a woman. I think every lady should have a copy of this book, stat. No matter what, you’ll learn something – I even think my mum will like it.

Colourpop Super Shock Eyeshadow – Cat Nap:
As I may have previously mentioned, I’ve been trying to get a bit more wear out of my makeup by putting it on more often, and this kitten (haha.. geddit?) has made it a lot more fun for every day. My beautiful friend Sophie gave me this shadow for Christmas, and I do genuinely love it. It’s a little icier than most shimmery pinks I’ve seen or own, and I love the sparkly glimmer it adds to my eyes. It does fall down a little and wears off after about 4 hours, but I don’t mind because that’s about all the time I go out for most days.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick – Sand Dune (Mini):
I’ve had this cute lil’ fella rolling around in my makeup bag for a while now, and while I do use it every now and again (cream shadows are great for travel), it’s very much come into it’s own this month. Now I’m wearing a bit more makeup I’m really appreciating my fast/multi-use products, and this one fits right in. A medium matte brown, I can draw some all over my lid and blend for a nice light layer in a hurry; or if I’m feeling fancy I might pop a little in my crease and blend it out before chucking another colour on the main lid. It’s quick to apply, and once it dries down, lasts a FUCKING long time.. I’m telling you.

Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick – Blush:
On Boxing Day, I took myself to the Newmarket Life Pharmacy in the hope that the Elizabeth Arden counter would have my favourite lip balm on sale. They didn’t, but I needed it anyway. I got chatting to the counter girl (who I’m afraid I can’t remember the name of, but was probably the greatest person I interacted with all day), and she surprised me by letting me know that I qualified for the GWP, a full size of the Lip Protectant Stick I already know I bloody love. I was bloody stoked. It’s a tinted one, and it makes your lips a lovely ‘look-at-me-aren’t-I-beautiful’ pink, WHILE protecting them from the sun and hydrating them excellently. This is now attached to me permanently, until summer is over.

LUSH Bubbly Shower Gel:
Also scored in Boxing Day sales; I had originally planned to get the 250g size of this shower gel, but the sales assistants pointed out I could have twice as much shower gel for $6 more, so I took their advice and now I have the biggest bottle of shower gel I have personally ever seen. Good job though, because I love this scent. It’s the Celebrate scent, just like the body lotion and the Golden Wonder bath bomb, and it smells like orange Fanta when I use it in my hair. It never fails to make me feel super happy and sparkly, no matter the mood I was in previously – fitting, given it’s designed to smell of fruit and champagne!

REN Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial:
Mecca Newmarket didn’t have my Holy-Grail mask (the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal) in stock when I popped in, so I decided to try their relatively-new offering in the same line. Designed to gently but thoroughly chemically exfoliate your face overnight, it obviously has lower actives & acid levels – but it still works and you do get more product than the mask, so it all evens out. As it’s to be layered with serums and before moisturiser, it doesn’t dehydrate or injure the skin, just does it’s job and leaves your skin fresh when you cleanse in the morning. Perfect the night before a big day when I want to impress people I have crushes on by making my face look especially gorgeous.

Aesop Camellia Nut Hydrating Facial Cream:
I chatted a little about this in a brief round-up here, and when the Auckland Aesop store opened I knew I needed a jar of this in my life. The time finally came this month to wave goodbye to moisturisers of old, and crack this open. Upon first application, I was instantly reminded why I had been dreaming of this cream for near-on a year – it’s light, yet hydrates every patch of skin; protective but doesn’t leave a film on my upper dermis. Super soothing and not gluggy, I fucking adore this. I don’t use a lot either, because I don’t need to – yet another box ticked. This is how a high-end, quality moisturiser should make you feel.. in skin paradise.

Soap & Glory – The Righteous Butter (mini):
Another Sophie gift, that she must’ve read my mind to choose. I’ve been kicking myself since I left the UK over  years ago for not investing in more Soap & Glory bodycare, which hasn’t been helped by the constant praise I hear for it from my favourite UK bloggers. Soph gave me The Righteous Butter, a super-thick body butter ideal for very dry skin (hi, that’s me) and carries their signature Pink scent. I am so, so in love. This tiny tub has lasted 3 full-body applications (no small feat), and has at least one more in it. I am ordering more on Boots.com as we speak, because I never want to smell like anything that’s not sherbet again.

What were your favourites in January?

EMPTIES | December 2016

Over November and December, I used up a huge collection of products and barely even had to try for it – the empties blogger’s dream. Here they are!

Dr Hauschka Revitalising Mask:
Of all the products I grew to love when I was with Dr. Hauschka, this is my number one; my can’t-go-without-it product. Whenever something is a bit off with my skin (or the night/day before a big event) I slather this on and let it do it’s magic. It gently revitalises skin, with a result similar to that of harsher ‘revitalising’ products, but without harming my wussy skin.
Repurchase? It’s a little steep at $87 a pop, but this is definitely worth it.

LUSH Celebrate Lotion:
I first tried this when it came in a Christmas gift I received last year, and I tried to stretch it out as long as possible, but eventually gave in to the scent and used it all up. Definitely a favourite scent in the LUSH ranges.
Repurchase? I was hoping it’d be released in this year’s Christmas range, but alas. Come on, LUSH Kitchen!

Meiskin Mandarin Face Scrub:
This one has been in the cupboard a while – given to me by my friend Steph when we worked at Farmers. It is quite lovely though, it gives me an excellent scrub, on the level of a self-microderm kit! Unsure of the kind of beads in it, though.
Repurchase? I have just ordered another in their Boxing Day Sale!

Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara (mini):
A regular feature in my empties – nothing fluffs my lashes as beautifully as this magic formula.
Repurchase? As I always say when I use up one of these; Bobbi Brown – let me purchase minis of this, and I’ll buy them until I die.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads:
I bought these in order to incorporate an AHA/BHA product back into my daily routine. I do love them (a great low-level acid product), but I have to say I feel strange about using a pad a day and having to throw them out. Feels unnecessarily wasteful.
Repurchase? I’m looking a these as an option, but until I choose a product I’m using something else.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick:
This stuff is good. An offshoot of the Eight Hour Cream line, this is a hugely hydrating lip balm with SPF 15, in a stick form. Very handy and great during summer (especially as my skin gets drier).
Repurchase? Not any time soon – I was given (a tinted) one as a GWP recently.

Clarisonic Sensitive Facial Brush Head (not pictured):
Just like with toothbrushes, you’re recommended to change your Clarisonic brush head every 3 months. Also like with toothbrushes, I don’t – in fact, I think I change my toothbrush more often! In my defense, I rarely use my Clarisonic these days, and when it’s not in use I keep the brush head off the device, dry and tucked away in a sanitary place. This one is alright (it came with the body), but still a little harsh for my liking.
Repurchase? Not so long as I can get a gentler one.

Goodness Every Week Scrub:
I was super impressed with this, especially as I wasn’t a fan of Trilogy’s facial scrub (Goodness’s parent company). This gives me similar results as the Meiskin scrub, but is much easier to get and cheaper – winner! I also like that the scrubby bits are jojoba beads which are degradable and environmentally safe, but not jagged enough to ruin my skin.
Repurchase? It’s looking very likely!

Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion:
This came in a Black Box I was sent a few months ago, and I’m glad cause I’d been wanting to try it. Quite slippery, as it warns, but hydrating and protective on a budget.
Repurchase? Maybe in the future.

Bobbi Brown Radiance Boost Mask (mini):
I only used this up just the other night, and it was a lot finer than I’d expected for an exfoliating mask. Like the other two scrubs I’ve mentioned, it was a microderm-style scrub and I was very happy with it!
Repurchase? Probably not, as the other ones I’ve mentioned are significantly cheaper with similar results.

Trilogy Hydrating Mist Toner:
I really, really love this. I wouldn’t call it a toner at all, rather just a hydrating mist, but it’s beautiful and the scent reminds me of  on of my favourite places in the world. Excellent for hydrating my skin and cooling it down, as well as calming my mind.
Repurchase? Yes!

Clarins Double Serum:
Another frequent flyer on this blog, I’m a big fan of Double Serum. I swear it’s a good chunk of why my skin is behaving better these days.
Repurchase? Yep – though I’ve just started on a 50mL size.

Apples & Pears Beeswax Lip Balm:
It only took me two years, but I’ve finally finished one of the best lip balms I’ve ever used. It transforms into an almost oil-like texture that nourishes my lips significantly better than most products.
Repurchase? If only – Apples & Pears no longer exists. I have one more, though.

LUSH The Comforter Shower Cream:
The scent of LUSH’s famous Comforter bubble bar is beautiful – blackcurrants and clouds. They’ve replicated it in a shower cream format, and it’s only a touch less amazing than the original bar.
Repurchase? No need right now, but yes.

Bionsen Sensitive Stick Deodorant:
I prefer a stick formula to roll-on or (heaven forbid) spray deodorants, and the unisex scent of this one is pleasant but not strong. It’s not an antiperspirant, but still keeps me fresh all day. It also happens to be one of the only deodorants that doesn’t irritate my eczema. Thank heaven for it’s existence.
Repurchase? Yes! Almost due for another Boots order actually.

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Caplet Serum:
I’m not sure why this serum is in the Elizabeth Arden Ceramide range, because it’s not particularly hydrating. It is, however, VERY sparkly and alluring to look at. Not sure it did too much in terms of brightening my skin, though.
Repurchase? No.

Anatomicals Be Good With Your Hands In Bed Night-Time Hand Cream:
This was quite cheap and I used it up very quickly, but I tell you what – it’s great. Very hydrating, sinks in well and doesn’t leave a film on your hands. Not as good as my EA 8-Hour Treatment, but with a name like this (and a price point like that – $8), I’m not complaining.
Repurchase? Yes, if I can find it again!

Nivea Refreshing Facial Wash Gel:
I was expecting this gel cleanser to be very stripping and harsh, but it was surprisingly gentle and hydrating. Felt lovely on the skin, and was only $2.90.
Repurchase? Quite possibly, yes.

Thanks for reading! What about you? What have you used up from your stash lately?

EMPTIES | September 2016

This month I’ve done a strange flatlay, but I kind of love it. Despite being shot on a very rainy Sunday, it’s very season-appropriate – as Sophie would quote, “Plants Florals for Spring? Groundbreaking”. Let’s get to it.

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Dr Hauschka Night Serum
This is not actually empty, but it breaks me out and I’ve had it far too long. I was given it when I worked for Dr. Hauschka 18 months ago and as it’s not a product with traditional preservatives in it, it really needs to be chucked.
Repurchase? No – though the apple-blossom scent is nice.

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream
I like a light eye cream in the mornings to sit nicely under my makeup, and this is the best I’ve tried for that. I’ve written about it here previously.
Repurchase? Yes, unless my current one grows on me.

LUSH Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner
Magical stuff that you use like a wash-out hair conditioner, but on your body. This gives my skin heaps of moisture and an excellent scent.
Repurchase? Yes, when I have room.

Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Mascara – Transparent
As far as brow gels go, this is not a good one. It comes out of the tube with a weird film on the brush that leaves horrific globs on your eyebrows; the brush is a bobbly monstrosity and is difficult to manouver. No.
Repurchase? Definitely not.

Clarins Double Serum (not pictured)
I like this because it strengthens my skin and helps it heal, as well as working amazingly in conjunction with AHA/BHAs to improve skin texture.
Repurchase? Already halfway through another.

LUSH Honey I Washed the Kids Soap, approx 25g (not pictured)
I love the sweet and comforting scent of this, despite the exceptionally drying effect it has on my hands.
Repurchase? At some point.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation in 0 – Porcelain
This is my favourite everyday foundation – light but not too sheer, an excellent colour match and nicely blendable. There’s still some left in here, but it started smelling weird and was nearly done anyway.
Repurchase? On another bottle now!

Formula 10.06 So Totally Clean (Sensitive) (not pictured)
I’ve written about this and my affection for it numerous times here and here.
Repurchase? No – it’s near-impossible to find in NZ right now, so I’m trying a heavier acid toning product.

LUSH Layer Cake Soap, approx 15g (not pictured)
I got a sample of this with a LUSH Kitchen order and loved it – it was the red & purple colours, which have raspberry & blackcurranty scents (two of my favourite scent families). Not as drying as other soaps!
Repurchase? Quite possibly, but only if I got the same colours.

Dr. Hauschka Blackthorn Toning Body Oil
One of my favourite luxurious-as-fuck bathroom items – my skin never feels as smooth as when I’ve put this on. I don’t know if it tones, but then I try not to think about what is or isn’t toned on my body..
Repurchase? I have so many body moisturisers right now, but the second I can spare the cash, I will.

Ethique Oaty Delicious Shampoo/Body Wash Bar (not pictured)
This little mini came in my second sampler box, and I ended up loving it. Review due soon!
Repurchase? Yes – this will be my new shampoo soon, I expect.

LUSH Pink Peppermint Foot Lotion
Another not-quite finished product – I’m not a fan of anything to do with feet at the best of times, but the scent of this is that of a horribly medicinal, sweet milky-peppermint. Despite the arnica content, I just couldn’t get past the scent and the grease it left on me.
Repurchase? No.

Bionsen Sensitive Stick Deodorant
My favourite deodorant. It’s aluminium-free so it’s gentle and doesn’t hurt my armpits, even when I’ve been rude enough to shave them. My eczema patch doesn’t object to it and it has a clean, unisex scent.
Repurchase? Yep. This is one I have multiple backups of.

Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream Intensive Moisturising Hand Treatment
This is the thickest and silkiest hand cream in the world, that hydrates my hands and repairs them when they get dry and scaly (more often than I’d care to admit).
Repurchase? I’m holding off until the christmas sets with more of these cute tiny sizes come out, but yes.