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Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Soothing Review
Cheap Thrills, Complexion, Skin Care, Sun Care - Comments Off - February 23rd, 2012

Since my cosmetics budget has been really reduced (boo!) I’ve been on the lookout for good drugstore products to feature on the blog. Everyone loves a great deal, right? With that in mind, I was pretty excited to try out the new skincare products from Neutrogena: Ultra Gentle Soothing Lotion SPF 15 and Ultra Gentle Soothing Cream. I R PLEASED!

The Ultra Gentle Soothing products are moisturizers formulated for sensitive skin. They contain ingredients that are supposed to calm redness and irritation, and decrease sensitivity of the skin by improving the moisture barrier. Now, I’m going to be upfront and say that I can’t speak to whether or not the product will address irritation because I don’t have irritated skin. I do get some blotchiness thanks to blemishes that want to pop up at various times of the month, and I can say these moisturizers definitely helped with that! What I am looking for specifically are products that don’t increase blemishes, or lead to excessively clogged pores. Neither of these moisturizers did that, so I give them two thumbs up!

Ultra Gentle Soothing Lotion SPF 15 is an oil-free daily moisturizer with sunscreen. It contains a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen to protect the skin and an allergy tested fragrance uniquely developed for sensitive skin. It also contains chamomile and feverfew plant extracts. Honesty time again: the plant extracts are pretty far down that list of ingredients, so I’m not sure that they’re all that potent or effective in this product. What the product DOES have going for it is a light, silky formula that absorbs quickly, and doesn’t make me a greaseball in an hour or two like so many sunscreen products do! I have yet to find an “all-natural” moisturizer with sunscreen that worked as well at controlling oil as the “conventional” products do. I like this one almost as much as I liked this Murad one I tried, and while it doesn’t have all the anti-aging stuff in it, it’s also A LOT CHEAPER. I figure it’s better to splurge on a good anti-aging serum to go UNDER the moisturizer and save on the moisturizer itself if I can’t afford to splurge on both! It’s $16.99 for a whopping 4 ounces, and you just can’t beat that with a stick. It does have fragrance, but it’s pretty light in my opinion. I’m a little surprised they didn’t leave it unfragranced, since it’s a sensitive formula, but I personally like a little smell in my product so I don’t find it objectionable. The lotion formula is also on the light side for moisturizing, so I suppose if you are VERY dry it might not be enough for your skin. My oily-combination skin finds it just right.

The Ultra Gentle Soothing Cream is a non-sunscreen cream formula. Ideally, you’d use this at night and the lotion for day – although if you’re very dry, you might prefer to use it day and night and apply a separate sunscreen for day. It has the same benefits as the lotion, minus the sunscreen. The first three ingredients are water, squalane, and glycerin which translates to moisturizer, moisturizer, and moisturizer! So, yeah. This cream is all about hydration, with a much thicker texture than the lotion – but no heaviness or greasiness about it. It’s too much for daytime use for me, but great for at night. I like to use a richer product at night, because I find it helps to balance oil production, and the extra hydration at night means I can use less during the day. I don’t care if I get the shinies while I’m asleep! The fragrance in this one seems a little bit stronger – it’s very cucumber-y. Overall, I really like this for a night cream.

I think both of these new moisturizers are good options for a drugstore product that won’t set you back a mint but WILL be effective – especially if your skin is on the sensitive side.

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Murad Anti-Aging Acne Starter Kit Review
Complexion, Reviews, Skin Care, Splurge Worthy, Sun Care - Comments (2) - October 28th, 2011

A while back, I was sent the Murad Anti-Aging Acne Starter Kit to review. I’ve been using the system regularly, and the verdict is in: I love it! It seems like I’m not alone in being concerned about the signs of aging (wrinkles, large pores, etc) but I’m still getting breakouts and have oily skin. The Murad Anti-Aging Acne line was created to address the concerns of women like me. The kit is composed of four items. It has the Time Release Acne Cleanser, Acne & Wrinkle Reducer, Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20, and the Acne Spot Treatment.

The Time Release Acne Cleanser ($30 for a full size) is a foaming cleanser with “encapsulated Salicylic Acid technology, provides a sustained release that continues to treat acne, even after rinsing.” It has a cooling feeling on the skin and doesn’t leave my face feeling like the desert. I like it, but I probably wouldn’t spring for a full-size, just because there are other cleansers I like that don’t cost as much. A little goes a long way, though, and I’m surprised at how long the travel-sized tube from the kit is lasting me. Admittedly, I only use it in the morning.

The Acne & Wrinkle Reducer ($58 for a full size) is AWESOME. This stuff is probably my favorite product in the line. It’s like my usual favorite Neutrogena 3 in 1 Treatment on steroids (although the cost is on steroids too!). It contains Murad’s Kombucha Collagen Defense™ which “stimulates collagen production and inhibits its breakdown to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” as well as salicylic acid, willow bark extract, and silver to fight the breakouts. It doesn’t dry my face out, it feels amazing, and I feel like it’s actually helping keep my skin young. Certainly my pores look smaller, to me. I’m budgeting for a full size of this product!

I also really like the Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20 ($46 for a full size). This is the first moisturizer that contains sunscreen that REALLY doesn’t make my skin look shiny by mid-day. Whoa! I’ll keep buying it just for that reason alone! I only use it in the morning (don’t need sunscreen at night!) and I just love how my skin responds to this moisturizer. No shinies, it plays nicely with both powder and liquid foundation, and my skin is protected from UV damage. WIN!

The Acne Spot Treatment contains sulfur to treat blemishes and some nice botanical ingredients to help with the redness and inflammation (licorice, oats, and allantoin). I don’t know if it helps blemishes heal any faster (I’m BAD and pick, I can’t help it!) but it feels good.

Overall, I recommend this set. It’s a great value, and a good way to try the Murad products. I’ve had fewer breakouts since I’ve been using it, and what blemishes I do get don’t seem to scar like they used to. Is it the End Of Acne As We Know It? No – I still got a cluster of pimples on my chin area due to my monthly visitor (thanks hormones!), but then NOTHING seems to prevent that. Hormones seem to overpower skincare products every time. But they healed up with no marks, and were limited to my chin – not all over my face. What I especially like is that these products address wrinkles AND acne – a lot of anti-aging products are just TOO EMOLLIENT for my skin. This collection is perfect for my skin concerns. Your mileage may vary, but it’s worth checking out!

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9 New Self-Tanners for Summer
Sun Care, Total Beauty - Comments Off - June 9th, 2011
9 New Self-Tanners for Summer

Get tan skin without risking melanoma

9 New Self-Tanners for Summer

This is a tanning article

These babies guarantee a natural sun-kissed sheen or a dark goddess tan without the aid of the sun or the risk of wrinkles. And this season’s newest options for bronzed skin are better than anything we’ve seen yet.

See products

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Suntegrity All Natural Moisturizing Face Protection SPF 30
Skin Care, Sun Care - Comments Off - December 1st, 2010

I know, it’s wintertime. You’re thinking, look at the clouds! I have a newsflash for you. UV rays can penetrate clouds. You still need sunscreen in the winter. Also, if you’re going to be doing any winter sports involving snow, sunscreen is especially important. Did you know that snow can reflect up to 85% of the sun’s rays? All that ice acts like a giant mirror!

Suntegrity All Natural Moisturizing Face Protection with SPF 30 is a nice option for anyone looking for a natural sunscreen product. It doesn’t contain Parabens, Petrochemicals, Phthalates, Propylene Glycol, Mineral Oils, Synthetic Dyes, Sulfates, Paba, Titanium Dioxide, Nano-Particles and Chemical UV Absorbers. It DOES contain antioxidants and broad-spectrum sunscreen from zinc oxide. It comes in a nice airless pump container, and works for all skin types.

I gave it a thorough test-drive, and it’s definitely a nice product. It’s moisturizing (especially nice since skin gets drier in the winter with indoor heating, etc) but not greasy and didn’t leave my face an oil slick. It played nicely under makeup, both mineral and liquid. It smells great, like citrus! I like the high SPF protection.

There are a few caveats. The product is really, really thick, so it does take a little effort to smooth it onto your skin. Because it’s a mineral sunscreen, there is an initial whitish cast, that I found went away after a few minutes. Also because it’s a mineral sunscreen, it does leave a sort of “feel” on the skin that some folks might find objectionable. I found the moisturizing adequate, but I think really dry skin types might need an extra moisturizer underneath.

All in all, if you are looking for a high quality sunscreen with natural ingredients, Suntegrity is a safe bet. I recommend it!

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Avon Anew Reversalist Skin Renewing System
Skin Care, Sun Care - Comments Off - July 9th, 2010

Avon continues to impress me with their anti-aging skincare. I gave the Anew Reversalist Day Renewal Cream SPF 25, Night Renewal Cream, and Illuminating Eye System a test drive and I’m pleased to report that I think they’re great!

The  Anew Reversalist Day Renewal Cream SPF 25 contains ingredients to lighten discolorations, firm the skin, and make it look smoother. It also has SPF 25 to protect your skin from further sun damage. The texture is light and not heavy or greasy at all, and works nicely under makeup. After several weeks of use, my skin definitely feels smoother!

The Night Renewal Cream is probably my favorite of the three. It contains ingredient that work with your skin’s natural repair processes to minimize fine lines and wrinkles. It also has glycolic acid in it, which exfoliates surface cells for smoother, softer skin. I love this stuff! With regular use I’ve noticed a reduction in blackheads and whiteheads (a near constant problem for me) and the wrinkle between my eyes is noticeably diminished.

The Illuminating Eye System consists of an eye cream and an sheer veil. The eye cream contains ingredients to reduce wrinkles and dark circles, and the sheer veil contains light-reflecting pigments that instantly brighten the eye area. I’m not sure my dark circles changed (nothing has worked, so far, they are genetic), but in general my eyes look younger and brighter when I use this. I love the sheer veil, it makes my concealer go on smoother.

Overall, I can confidently recommend Anew Reversalist products. I think with regular use (you have to be dedicated or you probably won’t see results, as with any skincare system) anyone will notice an improvement in their skin with these products. Good Job, Avon!

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Physicians Formula Healthy Wear SPF 50 Makeup
Complexion, Sun Care - Comments (7) - May 3rd, 2010

I love a good pressed powder foundation. A few years ago, that was all that I used – I was devoted to a Garden Botanika product, which has since been discontinued. Then I discovered some really good liquid foundations and tinted moisturizers, and that’s all I’ve used since. At least, until now. My pleasant experience with Pur Mineral’s product has led me on a quest to check out other pressed powders again. Physicians Formula Healthy Wear SPF 50 Powder Foundation is the first one I chose.

I picked one of these up at the drugstore in a buy-one-get-one-free deal: the foundation with the bronzer. I didn’t really need another bronzer, but I figured what the hey, it’s free! Guess what! I love it!

The powder foundation comes in a cute bright orange and pink compact, with a mirror and sponge included. You can apply it with the sponge or use a kabuki brush – the sponge gives a heavier application. The powder has a nice feel on the skin, doesn’t accentuate pores or fine lines like some powders do, and has a long wear to it. Because it’s a high SPF with zinc and titanium oxide, I do feel like it applies with a bit of a whitish cast at first, but this seems to go away after a few minutes. I’m using Translucent Light, the lightest shade. I’m not super-pale, but makeup in general tends to oxidize darker on me and using a lighter shade helps to correct that.

I really like this product! It blends perfectly on my skin. The color range is lacking shades for darker skintones, but anyone fair to medium should find a good fit. I really like that it is SPF 50. Wearing sunscreen consistently is the number one thing you can do to prevent the signs of aging in your skin – and I wanna stay looking young! If I can get sunscreen protection from a product I wear everyday anyway, bonus!!

A few words on the bronzer: the one I have is the second lightest shade, and I like it. Bronzer is tricky for me: not enough and it doesn’t show, too much and I look orange. I feel like this is a good formula and I like that the powder isn’t too soft. If it’s too soft,  it’s easy to pick up too much product on the brush. This one is nice and hard, so I’m less likely to over-do it on the first try (I hate that!). With my handy Eco-Tools bronzer brush (love this!) I can sweep this bronzer on in a big C shape (forehead, temples, cheeks) and it looks natural! This one doesn’t turn orange on me! Yay! So I definitely recommend the bronzer too.

Overall, I give both products two thumbs up. The foundation makes it very easy to wear high SPF broad-spectrum protection without any of the issues I often have with liquid sunscreens (greasiness, etc).

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Clarins Delicious Self-Tanning Cream
Body Care, Sun Care - Comments (10) - July 23rd, 2009

cb-delicioustanI finally had a chance to review another self tanner! I’ve been wanting to review Clarins Delicious Self-Tanning Cream since it came out, and finally took the plunge and bought a jar.

The cream is supposed to be lightly scented (and no objectionable “tanner” smell), have a light caramel color to aid with application, and be streak-free. It is also supposed to be a good moisturizer. I gave it a sniff ages ago at a Clarins counter and was favorably impressed with the scent (or lack thereof) but at $42 a jar it’s a bit on the splurgey side.

It’s summer however, and I’m feeling a bit on the splurgey side when it comes to combatting my very white legs. I don’t go tanning or lay out in the sun, so my chances of getting any color (at least on my legs) is pretty minimal, and that’s why I have tried the use tan tablets for this, since I read at the RioTan site about how effective they work for this. I do have some color on my arms because I’m not super-diligent with the sunscreen on my body (I know! Bad Claire!) so my arms get some color from driving about in the car. But the legs? White all the way, because if I’m running around outside where they’d get some sun, I do put on the ‘screen.

The Clarins product has definite pros and cons, in my opinion. First, it’s a big jar, so you’re going to be dipping your fingers in and scooping out product. It’s thick, but not thick enough that it’s not going to glop all over if you aren’t careful. Clarins helpfully includes a spatula, which I promptly lost. My fault, not theirs. But if you use some care, getting the product out of the jar and onto your skin isn’t that hard. It’s not a dealbreaker, but I prefer a tube. Clearly though, you can see it’s a jar, so it’s not like I couldn’t have guessed I wasn’t going to love it.

I had to do two applications to get a decent tan color. This could have been a problem with me, though, since I was a bit on the sparing side in the first application. I need to learn to use a heavier hand with the product, which will eliminate the need for two applications.

It takes FOREVER to dry, it seemed like. The Bella Bronze dries a LOT faster. I was not prepared for the 20-30 minute wait before my skin felt reasonably un-tacky to the touch. I got around it by doing my makeup and hair in my underpants while my legs dried, which is okay I guess in the summer, but definitely not going to be so great in the colder wintertime. The room with my makeup desk gets CHILLY. Timing FAIL! I think this will be a strictly warm weather product for that reason.

This is a nitpick, but it’s hard to screw the jar lid on properly. It wants to cross-thread. Again, not a deal-breaker, but annoying nonetheless.

On the plus side, the caramel color does indeed help you tell where you’ve spread it, although it’s pretty sheer. It’s better than nothing, though. It applies quite smoothly, and was easy to feel like I was getting a fairly even application. I applied a teensy amount of regular body lotion first on my knees and ankles, and didn’t have a problem with funny dark spots in those areas. The exception was a bit of an dark swipe on the top of one foot – the result of me not remembering the advice to do your feet last. The ankles and knees looked good!

The smell is definitely not objectionable at all. It is vaguely sweet, and overall definitely more pleasant than not. It doesn’t smell like anything in particular, despite the associations by color and name with chocolate. The color was a natural tan color on my skin, not overly orangey. Just a golden-y color, nice! The color takes about four days or so to fade, and faded pretty evenly – no funny splotchy patches.

It does strike me as a decent body moisturizer. Certainly I had no issues with my skin feeling dry for the rest of the day after applying

Overall, I think Bella Bronze edges out Clarins by a small margin. However, I do like the even application, the helpfulness of the caramel color, and the fact that I got a deeper color with just two applications. With enough practice, I could probably figure out about how much to use to get that color in a single application. So far, 2-3 minimum is needed with Bella Bronze, which I suspect is just a lighter formula in general. I give Clarins a solid one thumb up! (In case you’re wondering, one thumb up means I recommend it with a few reservations. Two thumbs would be a rec. with no reservations.

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Splurge-worthy: La Mer SPF 30 UV Protecting Fluid
Complexion, Skin Care, Splurge Worthy, Sun Care - Comments Off - July 1st, 2009

La Mer SPF 30I guess you could say I’ve been living under a rock for years, because I don’t know about La Mer. Okay, a few years ago I remember watching a program on VH1 in which they claimed J. Lo used this super-expensive Crème de la Mer all over her whole body, but that’s the extent of my previous knowledge of the brand.

Surprise! The Original Crème de la Mer actually has a very interesting story behind it. (Bear with me if you know all this already!) Aerospace physicist Dr. Max Huber formulated Crème de la Mer in an effort to heal chemical burns he sustained in an accident. After 12 years and 6,000 experiments, Dr. Huber perfected the art of bio-fermentation, blending a mix of sea kelp with an array of vitamins and minerals, oils of citrus, eucalyptus, wheat germ, alfalfa and sunflower. Then, something extraordinary was discovered–Crème de la Mer and its nutrient-rich Miracle Broth™. And just as Dr. Huber hoped, skin appeared dramatically smoother and miraculously improved and even the driest complexions were soothed on contact. (Info from

The Crème itself has a lovely thick texture. I’ve only been using my sample for a few nights, but I like how smooth and soft my skin feels in the morning. No breakouts cropping up, either. Because of the $$$$ price tag, before purchasing a jar, I would definitely investigate the other formulas (like the Cream Gel or the Oil Absorbing Lotion) to see if they are better suited to my more combination skin type than the Crème. On the other hand, I’m using so little at a time (it’s THAT thick and rich!) that it would take me a loooong time to use up a jar while still getting the benefits. My opinion of Crème de la Mer is one thumb up – only because of the price tag. If the money fairy dropped some serious cash in my pocket, I’d definitely purchase a jar ($130 for 1 oz.).

The other La Mer product I’ve been trying out is The SPF 30 UV Protecting Fluid – and this one is VERY splurge-worthy! The Protecting Fluid is made to be used every morning, to protect and hydrate the skin. It contains both UVA/UVB sunscreens (I don’t have an ingredient list so I’m not sure which specific ones) as well as “smart seaweeds” and minerals. Specifically, tourmaline and malachite to produce a “green light” that enhances anti-oxidant activity and combats redness. The formula has a lightweight feel on the skin, and makes an excellent makeup primer. You can use alone or combine with Crème de la Mer.

I am ALL OVER this moisturizing sunscreen. The lightweight feel is fantastic, and makeup goes on smoothly and stays put during the day. Especially in the summer, I don’t need a LOT of hydration during the day (especially if I’m using a tinted moisturizer as foundation) so it meets my skin’s hydration needs just fine by itself. No breakouts! It is a very fluid texture, so I’ve found application is easiest if I dispense some into my cupped palm, and then “paint” it on with a finger and smooth it across my face. At $65 for 1.4 oz. it’s still pricey, but definitely reasonable for someone looking for a high-quality anti-aging sunscreen. Two thumbs up!

If you are looking for a way to treat yourself this summer, check out Crème de la Mer!

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