we ♥ Kiehl’s

On January 22, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve enjoyed Kiehl’s skincare for many years now. I picked up a number of their holiday sets as gifts recently and it made me realize what a solid position they occupy in my arsenal; many of the products are in my current routine and I don’t hesitate to recommend them. A brand that uses excellent natural ingredients to create no-fuss, reliable products, Kiehl’s rarely misses for me. They are not the most exciting products in most cases but still, there they are, again and again. There are many other skincare brands I use and enjoy, and it takes a lot to stand out to me beyond one or two products, especially in multiple skincare categories, but Kiehl’s does this easily. Their formulas also avoid parabens, mineral oil, alcohol, and silicones, which I appreciate.

Kiehl's skincare

At the moment I am really enjoying their:

Ultra Facial Toner – a fairly viscous, milky lotion, this is really satisfying to put on dry skin. It has just enough texture to be easy to apply with your hands (without running through your fingers) and is a great step after cleansing and before a treatment or serum. It’s hard to explain, but you know how sometimes you put on a moisturizer and it doesn’t seem to really do anything? This isn’t like that. I also really like their Clearly Corrective toner, and I plan to try the Rare Earth one stat.

Midnight Recovery Eye – A pleasant eye cream that absorbs promptly and invisibly, and feels nourishing. I don’t have dark circle issues, really, and to a certain extent I don’t know how much an eye cream could help me if I did, but I do believe in moisturizing the skin, and it seems logical to use creams formulated for the delicate area around the eye (though it’s hard to know what to believe as far as whether or not their various promises can be trusted – I seem to sort of arbitrarily believe or disbelieve on a case by case basis). The most compelling reason for using an eye cream for me is that it ensures that I moisturize that area carefully and consciously. Also, I like the act of it. I’m not that fussy about eye creams but I do like to use one morning and night, and I really like this one.

Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser – I love this cleanser. Love. It has a light clay/cream texture that provides extremely gentle but distinct exfoliation. Smells earthy in that wonderful way clay does, and leaves my skin feeling like I’ve just done a mini-mask. The tube in the photo is nearly empty and I will be repurchasing. I also really like the Rare Earth Cleansing Masque when I am in a proper mask mood, a thick yet creamy clay that goes on super smooth.

Super Multi-Corrective Cream – This is a new one for me and my current night cream. It has a slightly unfortunate scent of oversteeped herbal tea you don’t want to drink but that doesn’t linger, and I really like the consistency, a somewhat transparent, glossy cream (teetering on the edge of being gel-like) that absorbs into the skin quickly and effortlessly. Actually the texture/behavior reminds me a lot of the Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation moisturizer that it is replacing on my vanity, which maybe I liked a tiny bit more? It’s a bit too early to say. Evidently it is firming and “correcting” my wrinkles as well… We’ll see about that, but it is moisturizing nicely, which is the job at hand. I am not remotely loyal to moisturizers.

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MAC Russian Red

On January 11, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

A classic blue-toned, Madonna red, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this lipstick fail to suit. MAC Russian Red is a cult favorite for good reason, an excellent matte formula (many level the accusation that MAC mattes are drying, and this can be the case, but it has never been an issue for me with Russian Red) that works on any skin tone. It’s been on MAC’s bestseller list, and often at the top, since it launched in the 80s.

Ah, it’s from the 80s, no wonder I like it so well.

There are many reds I love (need a new post on favorite reds, I see), and many I love from MAC (again a topic deserving of its own post), but I return to Russian Red again and again.

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the color purple

On January 9, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

Allow me to introduce you to the OFRA liquid lipstick in Queens. Such a beautiful winter shade.

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Slaying.

This formula could be a touch more opaque but I like it. Quite a few YouTube reviewers have been recommending these OFRA liquid lipsticks, which are available in dozens of colors. I need to use a lip pencil with darker liquid lipsticks to keep things neat, here MAC Currant lip pencil (which is so good), but this is a creamy consistency I like, similar to the NYX soft matte lip creams but with what seems to be better longevity (and unlike, say, the ColourPop liquid lipsticks, which, while good value, are a little too wet to compete with my favorite Stila and Kat Von D formulas).

I really like dark shades like this worn with an otherwise [nearly] bare face. Dark eyebrows a possibility, but keeping them untouched here makes the look even more severe, even bordering on extreme/editorial, in a way that I find appealing.

What do we think of this septum ring? This is fake, to experiment, and arguably to have both the nosering and the septum ring would be too much…but it is not feeling like too much to me. It is feeling like love. They seem to be trending at the moment but I have always liked them. That is, ever since I met Bollywood, a solid 13 years ago now.

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Jumping from deep blackberry to amethyst, these are the stunning Zoe Cope Megalos Geode earrings. Available in other stones/colors as well. Beautiful, contemporary design and not too heavy. The desire to showcase them inspired this fauxhawk-merged-with-french twist hair situation.

Ofra liquid lipstick in Queens

Zara parka, Zara herringbone scarf, Koh Gen Do Aqua FoundationTom Ford blush in Love Lust + MAC blush in Love Rush, Guerlain 4 Seasons Terracotta bronzer, Jose Maran Argan Enlightenment Illuminizer (amazing, straight metallic gold).

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la belle Chanel

On January 6, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve picked up a few Chanel skincare items over the past few months and have been really pleased with them. I ought to be pleased given the price tags [relatively reasonable representatives from the brand in this case, toners and cleansers being far below moisturizers and serums in the pricing heirarchy] but I am certainly not the type to convince myself that I like something because it was expensive. It is rather under that much more scrutiny. Chanel rarely disappoints, though, and the success of the skincare has made me want to reach for the other products I have from the brand. A great product is the best marketing.

Chanel skincare

I picked up the Brightening Moisture Lotion, one of the thin, slightly viscous beauty water toner-type products that are booming thanks to the Korean beauty trend. They make all manner of promises but I am particularly vulnerable to brightening formulas, weak in the face of my stubborn hyperpigmentation. If you don’t believe in toner this sort of product will have little interest for you, but I quite like this step, whether it’s a clarifying toner, an exfoliating treatment, an all-purpose skincare cocktail, or whatever.

[Ahem, I use all of these.]

These moisturizing formulas have the appeal of instantly plumping (I am seriously thinking of rehydrated raisins here) and moisturizing. I usually wait a few moments between patting these on—I only use cotton pads for the exfoliating or clarifying styles and otherwise avoid wasting product—and applying a serum or moisturizer. It can be difficult to put my finger on but I really like the effect these have. My skin seems subtly brighter and healthier, better hydrated. Better, that is, than with moisturizer alone. They often smell nice and are refreshing to apply. This Brightening Moisture lotion has a slight viscosity I like (too much like water and the product can be messy to use), and is similar to the Algenist Genius White Brightening Moisture Softener, which I also really like but the Chanel lotion smells better.

Chanel skincare

Chanel products smell uniformly excellent. Not all the same, by any means, but all excellent (Aveda also does this well, and Guerlain). Could be too floral or just too strong for some, and if you have fragrance sensitivities approach with care, but I really enjoy their style. It’s vaguely floral, even vaguely old-fashioned in some cases, or just not modern, and feels grown up and expensive. A fair bit of the price tag is the fragrance, I am sure.

I am also liking the Gommage Microperlé Eclat Maximum Radiance Exfoliator, a gentle scrub with non-threatening microbeads. Not my favorite exfoliator, a much more complicated subject I’ll go into later, but a pleasant everyday option. The beads aren’t so gentle and diluted that they feel useless and they aren’t so harsh or concentrated as to feel they could do damage to the skin. Also, it’s pink! And it smells good. I really only recommend this if you are in the mood to spend money or be…fancy.* A sentiment that applies across the board here; that’s Chanel for you.

*If you do want to be fancy, I highly recommend Chanel as a first stop. If you haven’t tried anything from the brand and want to dip your toes in, a lipstick (Rouge Coco Shine!) or nail polish is a great place to start.

The Base Lumière Illuminating Makeup Base I picked up as a primer/perfector to wear as an alternative to foundation, though it also makes a good base. So pleased with the finish on this, natural while being slightly mattifying yet also slightly illuminating. This kind of stealth skin upgrade is exactly what I want. The gel formula doesn’t always cooperate with water-based moisturizers and serums, so watch how you layer. Some trial and error needed. Same goes for the Base Lumière Universelle, a formula that couldn’t play nice with some of my must have skincare and had to go back.

Chanel skincare

Also shown, clockwise: Rouge Allure lipstick in Coromandel, Illusion D’Ombre in Rouge Noir (LE), Le Blush Crème de Chanel in Fantastic, perfume in Sycomore, Les 4 Ombres eyeshadow palette in Tissé Mademoiselle, Rouge Allure lipstick in Elegante.

My skincare is all over the place brandwise and pricewise, and I have favorite brands but nothing I would call outright loyalty or anything like exclusivity. Loyalty to products, yes, sometimes, but to brands not especially. I do welcome a few luxury items into my skincare routine, though. Just one can really elevate the whole ceremony. Have you tried any Chanel skincare? Any recommendations?

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happy holidays!

On December 25, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Sugar cookies

Happy holidays! Sorry no posts lately, I’ve been working mad overtime. Hoping to be more diligent in the new year.

I did find a little time to make some sugar cookies…

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