Friday, March 2, 2018

Oskia's Renaissance Mask: The Facial In a Jar With The Price Tag To Match

The past few months I've been on a huge skincare shopping spree and one of my favorite things to test out are face masks. I think I probably have 10 face masks (not counting sheet masks) right now. In my defense, some are mini size. Anyway, there are two simple reasons for this. I'm an impatient person and face masks often promise to deliver results in just 15 to 30 minutes. I also don't do a face mask everyday because I tend to forget so I make it a point to do them a few times a week as a little before-bed treat. One of the masks I've really enjoyed using lately is the Oskia Renaissance Mask which I purchased as part of the latest Cult Beauty Caroline Hirons Box.

Oskia is a luxury British skincare brand that I've heard about for years (their Renaissance Cleansing Gel is definitely on my "to try" list) but the Renaissance Mask is my first real foray into the line. You can find their products online at Barneys, Goop and Net A Porter but I highly recommend ordering from Cult Beauty because you don't have to pay sales tax and they subtract the VAT, making it even cheaper. The Renaissance Mask retails for $75 for 50ml (definitely one of my most expensive face masks per ounce) but on Cult Beauty you can get it for £42.50 (~$59) shipped. Still pricey but a little more manageable - every cent counts, right?

Enough about the pricing - let's get onto the mask itself. Oskia bills this as a mask for all skin types which will increase skin brightness and clarity through a combination of AHAs and enzymes. The mask is free from artificial fragrances, colorants, silicones, parabens, sulphates and proplylene glycol. It is made in the United Kingdom. The packaging is a straightforward glass jar with a twist-off plastic lid. Oskia provides a little plastic scoop to keep things sanity but, let's be honest, I just dip my fingers in the pot of goodness and slather the mask on my face.

This balmy pink mask feels heavenly when you apply it. It's thick and emollient but not oily at all. There's a faint rose scent which isn't bothersome to me at all. You're meant to apply a generous layer onto clean, dry skin in a circular massaging motion. When doing so, the mask transforms from a semi-translucent pink to a white color. After leaving it on for 10 to 15 minutes, rinse away with warm water and you're left with soft, supple and non-irritated skin.

I personally love that this mask is incredibly gentle because I can use it multiple times a week without worrying about possibly aggravating my skin or stripping it. But I can see how some might be disappointed if they're a fan of intense chemical exfoliating masks like the Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask (burned my skin like crazy within three seconds). I think the Oskia Renaissance Mask is a really luxe skincare treat for those with sensitive skin. I've gotten more drastic results from other acid products which is why I hesitate to say I'd repurchase this mask in a heartbeat. But it's definitely one I'd love to always have on hand because it is such a treat to use, much like the May Lindstrom Honey Mud Mask I waxed on and on about recently. Notice a trend here?

Have you tried Oskia skincare? If you have, I'd love to know your recommendations!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Everyday Makeup Rotation Feat. Artis, Sulwhasoo, Kevyn Aucoin and More

I realized the other day that I haven't blogged about makeup in a few months and that isn't for lack of new things to swatch and share. But given my preference for shades of champagne, tan and brown, there's nothing really exciting to show you. The current makeup trends revolve around products that I'm not really interested in for the most part - holographic highlighters, glittery eyeshadow, unicorn-themed items. Not my cup of tea, thank you. There's also the other side of the spectrum - the "cool girl" no-makeup-makeup look courtesy of brands like Glossier and Milk. I prefer this over the former category but I'm not really a less-is-more kind of person when it comes to makeup. I'm either rocking a bare face or several layers of product.

Anyway, all's that to say that I have some makeup things I want to rave about that aren't trendy at all but I think are still worthy of a place in my everyday routine. Let's get on with it!

I mentioned my Artis Oval 7 brush last year and though I really enjoyed it throughout 2017, I didn't pick up more because the price is too darn high. A few weeks ago there was an Artis sample sale (for those in NYC, keep an eye on 260 NYC) so I scored a few more brushes for bargain prices. I picked up the Oval 8 (pictured above) which is about double the size of the Oval 7 for only $16.75 (regular price $67) and a set of the Oval 3, Oval 6 and Linear 1 for $33.75 (regular price $105). I haven't washed the brushes in the trio yet but I've been alternating between the Oval 7 and 8, depending on which is clean, to apply my base makeup and they're both awesome. They're super soft and dense brushes so I can get really good coverage without having to apply several layers of product and my skin doesn't get irritated since there is no buffing. Highly recommend the Artis face brushes but wait for a sale or an amazing GWP at SpaceNK.

Since we're on the topic of bases let's talk about the Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion (I have shade 23) which I've been reaching for quite often in my cushion rotation. If you're not familiar with Sulwhasoo, it's the luxury brand under AmorePacific. I think of them as the Korean SKII which you can find at high-end department stores and Beautylish. I've heard of their Perfecting Cushion but balked at the $60 price (it comes with a refill so it's $ tag. I ended up finding it at Changi Airport in Singapore in a duo pack for a decent price so I took the risk of buying two of these without having tried it. I'm glad to say I like it a lot, especially for the dry season. This cushion can be built up to medium coverage and has a blurring effect on the skin. My pores look a lot less noticeable when I have this on. While it's still on the pale side, I like that this cushion doesn't run pink. It looks natural yet very polished and luminous.

I finally finished up my Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder which I've used for forever. Looking back at my blog history, I picked this up in the beginning half of 2014 so I've used this consistently for at least three and a half years! Crazy how long it takes to finish a loose powder. I've now switched over to the Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Loose Finishing Powder which I got on sale for $20. It looks like they're discontinuing this powder but you can still purchase it at Macys for now. Even though there are a few different shades of this powder, it's so finely milled that I find it hardly gives any coverage, which is not necessarily a bad thing when I'm already wearing a foundation with good coverage. I like this powder for smoothing out my skin and keeping everything in place, which it does.

I don't think I've ever featured the Kevyn Aucoin Contour Book Volume II on the blog which is insane considering how much I use this! This value-packed palette includes the brand's famous sculpting powder and candlelight highlight in both the cream and powder versions (and full size to boot). I love the cream and powder contours (but have been exclusively reaching for the powder version lately) because they have the perfect amount of coolness to give your face a realistic sculpt. The highlighters are also lovely but a bit more subdued and recently I've been on a more blingy highlighter kick. The four eyeshadows are really just a bonus in my eyes and the three darker shades make a lovely neutral eye combo. I've been reaching for this everyday I've worn makeup for the past month and brought this out to LA for a week-long work trip so I didn't need to pack a separate shadow palette. It's also a bargain at only $65 when the contour powder alone will set you back $44.

For blush it's been hard for me to put down the Clinique Cheek Pop in Nude Pop as you can tell from how much I've used it. For light skin tones you really can't go wrong with this shade (see a more true-to-color view of it and swatched here). I'm confident this is actually a blush I will finish at some point which would be a first for me.

When I want a more amped up highlight than what the Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight offers, I've been opting for the Dior Nude Air Luminizer Powder in 01. It seems like every blogger has some version of this highlighter and for good reason. The packaging and imprint on the powder is gorgeous and the shimmer is the perfect level of shine. The hard-pressed gelee formula means you never pick up too much excess product. Love on all fronts!

I subscribed to the Allure Beauty Box in January because every box contained a full size Sunday Riley serum but what really stole the show was the Beauty for Real I-Line 24-7 Eyeliner in Whiskey. I've never heard of this brand but this pencil eyeliner is phenomenal. It's creamy, pigmented and lasts all day on my eyes. It's also affordable at only $14 as well and if you purchase more than one on the Beauty for Real site, the price per liner is lower. Per the company's website, these are made in the U.S. and cruelty free.

I'm probably the last beauty blogger to get my hands on some of the By Terry Ombre Blackstar Stick Eyeshadows but I finally added them to my collection when Cult Beauty had the holiday trio on sale. I'm thrilled the trio featured three of the most popular and wearable shades: Bronze Moon, Misty Rock and Blond Opal. Given my inclination towards bronze and taupe shades I expected Bronze Moon and Misty Rock to be my favorites but it's actually been Blond Opal that I've been using the most so far. It's a lovely wash of champagne over the eyelids and it works well as a base for powder shadows. Now that I've tried the By Terry shadows I think they're essentially the same as the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eyeshadows but 1.5 times the price. So go for the Laura Mercier ones unless you can find the By Terry Ombre Blackstars at a discount.

I didn't feature some of my makeup routine essentials like undereye concealer, mascara, and eyebrow products because those have largely remained unchanged since my previous makeup routine updates. I'm hoping to do dedicated makeup product reviews with swatches and before-and-after photos soon so watch this space!

What's been on your makeup menu as of late? Are any of the products I featured ones you love as well?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Paris Beauty Haul: Biologique Recherche and CityPharma

It's already been a month since I was in Paris but I've been so busy with other things that I haven't even properly edited the majority of the photos I took whilst on vacation. Of course, no trip to France is complete without a few beauty buys. I will say I demonstrated pretty good restraint with regards to beauty purchases - I saved my funds for a very extravagant handbag purchase. When I told my boyfriend how much the bag was, he literally fell over in his seat laughing. But that's a whole other post for another time....

Back to the beauty bits - nowadays a lot of French pharmacy goods are available stateside so I skipped the heavy 500ml Bioderma bottles and went for a few select things I knew I would use.

I didn't even need a basket at CityPharma this time around - I only picked up three small things. I wanted an acne treatment from Avene because I'm a big fan of their TriAcnéal line. I've used a couple of different versions of the TriAcnéal lotion but this time I went for the TriAcnéal Expert (€10.98). Avene bills this as a night time moisturizer that targets blemishes, dark spots and aging. Pretty nifty for a cream just under $14, eh? I haven't tried this out yet but I'm really hopeful!

I also picked up a tube of La Roche Posay's Toleriane Moisturizer (€10.50), one of my holy grail skincare products. I love this moisturizer for it's no-nonsense and gentle formula. I would repurchase this all the time if it weren't for the fact that it's more than double the price here in the U.S. If you have finnicky combination oily skin, I highly recommend giving this moisturizer a try.

My last CityPharma purchase was not really planned but I vaguely remembered some bloggers recommending the La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 (€5.95) so I thought it wouldn't hurt to try for the price. I haven't had the chance to really use this yet but it seems like a pretty straightforward multi-purpose moisturizing cream for sensitive, irritated skin. If it's too rich for my face I plan on using this as a hand cream.

On the other side of the affordable French skincare spectrum we have Biologique Recherche. I've read about the brand's famous P50 toner for years but it's a hard brand to track down. So I made it a point to visit Biologique Recherche's spa on Champs Élysées to pick up two of their products at the top of my wishlist. Let me just say that the next time I'm in Paris I will be sure to make a spa appointment at their Champs Élysées location - the lobby is immaculate and you immediately feel zen just walking to the till. Unfortunately I only had time to pop in to shop - they have a full display with their product lineup in the lobby. I left with the Lotion P50 PIGM 400 (€57), the Mask Vivant (€48) and a generous number of small samples from the sales assistant. This is definitely a luxury skincare brand and I'm excited to report back on my experience with these products. I haven't tested the toner yet as I'm working through some other acid toners. I will say the Mask Vivant is as stinky as everyone says it is - it reminds me of Marmite which I absolutely hate. The verdict is out on whether it's worth the price and the smelly experience! I will say that for future Biologique Recherche purchases I'll be turning to Rescue Spa which is U.S. based and has comparable prices to France (Mask Vivant is still $10 cheaper in Paris with the exchange rate).

What are your favorite French beauty products? Anything I should have picked up whilst I was there?