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.

x

summer skincare favorites

On July 31, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

In the summer I am, like most, drawn to lighter skincare formulations. Here are my current favorites, for face rather than body this time, in the order I would apply them.

IMG_7189

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner

Key ingredients here are avocado and apricot kernel oil, and squalane, a botanical lipid that behaves much like skin lipids. This has a milk-like texture and a faint, aloe-ish scent. I like to pat this on with my fingers rather than involve a cotton pad. Wonderfully hydrating, the main idea being that you get some hydration going on before you try to seal that moisture in.

This is one of my favorite face products at the moment, up there with the Clarin’s Blue Orchid face oil. Picked up on a recommendation from Brit facialist Caroline Hirons, a great, straight talking resource. It’s a kind of serum/oil hybrid, a fantastic light liquid serum that has played well with everything I’ve layered over it. It smells like perfectly ripe peaches, sinks in promptly, leaves a healthy fed-ness behind. I plan to repurchase.

[OR]

Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil

The most expensive of the lot, but really nice. Really very, very nice.  A complex blend of superfood oils, basically it does everything.  A “blend of lightweight, fast absorbing oils extremely high in natural retinol, Omega-3, 6 & 9, essential amino acids, Vitamin C, UV shields, and natural anti-inflammatory agents for luminous skin. Anti-aging, antioxidant.” It doesn’t smell especially good (not bad, just vaguely herbal), and this is because they didn’t add anything (especially no essential oils, which can cause reactions in sensitive skin) to make it smell a particular way. Same story re: the healthy nourished effect mentioned with the REN serum. We’ll see how long it lasts before making any plan to repurchase, but I approve. Maybe I’ll talk about it more when I’ve used it a while longer.

Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum

Lisa Eldridge recommended this in a skincare video and I was curious to try it out. Clinique, for the record, has an awesome return policy, and you can try the product and still return if unsatisfied (others with great return policies: Sephora, Mario Badescu, Beauty.com, Ulta). I like it so far, but not sososo much that I wouldn’t switch it up when it’s gone.

(I like to use the REN serum in the morning and the Clinique at night)

Regenerist Luminous Tone Perfecting Cream Moisturizer

I’ve been using this for about 2 months. I don’t know. I can never tell if these things are helping with my pigmentation (my main skin issue at the moment). If I see a difference (and lately I do), there are always too many factors to determine which product deserves the credit. I’m inclined to chalk most of it up to the prescription retinol (if you have skin issues, step 1 is to see a dermatologist. For one thing, my prescription retinol is much, much cheaper than its over-the-counter equivalents) but active brightening ingredients here and there (and there, and there), don’t hurt. I figure. Nice creamy texture, not a bad price point. 

A solid moisturizing SPF [Always check for ‘UVA/UVB’ or ‘Broad Spectrum’ in the description] with some bonus skincare benefits. This is my budget option, and I’ve repurchased it a few times.

[OR]

Origins Mega-Bright SPF 30 Skin tone correcting oil-free moisturizer

Smells great, a light citrus scent, lovely texture, plays well with others. Not cheap, but really nice. Really nice but almost gone and I’m going to try this Murad Essential C one next, about which have heard no end of good things.

 N.B. I like these products but, of course, they may not work for you. Try first!

smell this: musk oil

On January 8, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

IMG_0040

 Musk is an ancient perfumery ingredient classically derived from muscone, the glandular secretion of the musk deer, though there are some less commercially viable alternatives from other animals (muskrats, snakes, turtles, beetles, ducks, crocodiles…). Nearly all current musks are created with synthetic muscone, the natural ingredient being now astronomically priced, though many are made with its close chemical relative civetone (which may be real or synthetic). Their common thread is the slightly sweet—think honey, not cane sugar—, slightly sour or even fecal odor of a living body, none too clean.

While there is a broad range, from the barbaric [imagine the unwashed warrior with diligently clubbed beast, who will now rest for a while on his bed of furs before the fire and dry the sweat from his copious chest hair. Imagine Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khän] to the clean, sweet animalic [imagine a freshly bathed kitten], I find musks I like in every register*. Most I have come across are somewhere in the middle: sweet and warm, spicy, possibly powdery, slightly soapy and/or floral. They tend to be spicy and enveloping, great for cold weather. My favorite thus far has to be Frederic Malle’s Musc Ravageur, a particularly refined musk (reading almost as an amber at times) with beautiful elements of winter spices like cinnamon and clove.

*A warning that musks, and especially musk oils, will be too cloying in their sweetness for many. And they are not for those who want to mask their body with an un-body-like smell (which I do not typically want to do). I urge you to smell them, though. They are one of those scents that people tend to experience with bizarre discrepancies, some people being virtually or totally anosmic to certain elements in the musk; picking up all sweetness or no sweetness, all fecal or no fecal.

I am not uniformly interested in oil as a vehicle for perfume but find it especially pleasant and effective for something so sweet and complementary to the skin as musk [N.B. a rollerball applicator is nice for perfume oils]. The oil renders the fragrance more persistent on the skin and seems appropriately intimate, oil gradually being absorbed into the skin seeming to me more intimate than a gradually evaporating alcohol spray. The oil is particularly amenable to layering, too. I can sometimes find musk too sweet, at which times I like to layer the oil with a bright floral (or just anything) to subtly alter its character.

I have two on rotation at the moment. The first is a natural Egyptian civet blend I found for few dollars on Amazon (there are dozens of similar ones, it seems). This is a soapy (as if you are smelling a bar of musk scented soap) floral with a mild musk element; light, powdery, feminine. A really excellent use of $5.99 to my mind. The second is C.O. Bigelow’s Perfume Oil in Musk, still largely clean but with the musk taking a more prominent role, the florals, spice, and powder muted. By ‘clean’ here I mean that the musk has been dolled up in such a way as to seem tame, domesticated, inoffensive. This is quite similar to Kiehl’s Musk Essence Oil, though that is a little sweeter and muskier, I think [discovered “in a vat labeled “Love Oil” in the late 50s” (!)]. Either makes a wonderful winter masculine.

details: what’s in my makeup bag?

On April 5, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

IMG_2583

I really like finding out what is in people’s bags and makeup bags–it can be so telling, and so instructive–so I’m going to show you the current contents of mine.

I carry my various cosmetic bits in this great Korean pencil case, which is partially obscured by the Visine but which reads ‘things I like to do?’, which things include, ‘listening to pop music?’, ‘shaping up myself?’, ‘fulfill my dreams?’, ‘making a good shape?’.

Compact and thought-provoking.

The things in the bag are not as relevant as the categories of the things: sunscreen, lip balm, lip tint and/or lipstick, eye cream, moisturizer…the items rotate but the categories are consistently represented.

What’s inside:

Maybelline Color Whisper in Cherry on Top – a bright pop of pink, effortless to apply, fairly moisturizing formula. Also doubles as a cheek tint. I think these and the Revlon Balmstains are my favorite of the sheer tints every brand seems to have come out with recently. Actually there would usually be a Revlon Balmstain in my bag…but it has proven that it cannot be trusted (the cap fell off). [I used to carry eyeliners but they have been likewise banished. Anyone making an eyeliner with a screw cap yet?]

Ole Henriksen Vitamin C sunscreen – trying to ingest, apply, and generally incorporate more Vitamin C. I just throw in whatever sunscreen samples I have on hand, but this is a particularly nice one.

e.l.f. Nourishing Cuticle Pen – amazing use of $1. I love this thing. I have several strategically placed throughout my environment.

Visine – for dry eyes or for taking down redness in the face.

nail clippers – these have proven useful in so many non-cosmetic circumstances, I always carry some in my bag.

Kiehl’s Lip Balm – OK, not great, but OK, and can double as an all-purpose ointment when needed.

Clinique Even Better dark spot corrector – what is this even doing in here? I don’t think this is working as well as the other products I have for the purpose, but…I’ll use up the sample.

Caudelie Premier Cru eye cream – really nice! Too expensive to tempt me in the full size, but nice.

Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate oil (decanted) – I put this on intensely dry patches of skin as needed, when moisturizer won’t cut it.

Kiss My Face ginger & mango lip balm, Nivea Olive Oil & Lemon lip balm – love them, as I’ve mentioned. Maybe it seems like there are a lot of lip balms here…that is true. I cannot argue with that.

MAC lipstick in Hug Me – a lovely pink nude that is my most worn MAC lipstick.

Oh, usually there is a hair tie and a hair pin in there as well.

Not much, right? You are wondering maybe where is the mascara, where the concealer? Where is all the makeup?

I make temporary additions if some event calls for them but really there is nothing that needs solving in the mid-day life of my face that cannot be solved with these items.

 

into: lip balm

On February 25, 2013 by theseventhsphinx
the stash

the stash

 

Ah. Lip balm. I have a thing for lip balm.

I love all formulas; waxes, ointments, creams, butters, oils…

I clearly don’t need any more lip balm, but I like to have options (options, options, everywhere) and I always want to try something new (and lip balms are a great way to reach the free shipping threshold…).

Some standouts:

Dior Crème de rose – the latest and most luxurious addition to the stash. Expensive but loving it. After all, nothing is too good for my lips, is how it goes in my mind.

Boots No. 7 Protect and Perfect lip cream – creamy and entirely non-oily, this feels like putting moisturizer on your lips, a lot like the much more expensive Clinique All About Lips, but I think better (and cheaper). In this same vein, many eye creams make great lip conditioners, and some inexpensive eye creams are cheaper than expensive lip conditioners…

L’Occitane shea butter – great multi-purpose skin conditioner. Especially long-lasting effects. This is one I keep by the bed.

Kiss My Face ginger and mango – this flavor is a favorite. I have a powerful affinity toward ginger. This is an especially buttery/soft and smooth stick formula that is great for winter, when a tiny bit of tugging can mean a cracked lip. The Yes to Carrots balm has a similar consistency, and neither is as waxy or firm as the standard Burt’s Bees.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve – it’s basically petroleum jelly with a nice fragrance (I also like the minted rose but do not like the Brambleberry), but I love petroleum jelly, and these ointment-like balms. I forgot to put Vaseline in the picture, but I use it all the time. These products don’t condition but sometimes protection is all that is needed. Aquaphor also good for this. I don’t find the Kiehl’s balm to be much different. I would also put the Murad lip care and  Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream in this category, though they are more nourishing and long-lasting than a plain petroleum jelly. They can all also be used to add shine to eyebrows, lashes, eyelids, cheekbones… versatility.

Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm – thick, entirely unique texture that requires a lot of working in, but conditions wonderfully. Expensive but…if you are obsessed with lip balm you will understand how one comes to own these things.

Dr. Lipp nipple balm – basically medical grade lanolin (which I also got some of, not pictured, and which, aside from smelling medicinal, works great), which is protecting and healing. Great for cracked, chapped situations. Note that it is extremely thick. The Molton Brown and Laura Mercier lip treatments (both nice if you can find them on sale…too expensive if not) are somewhere between Carmex and this in consistency.

Carmex – I am virtually never without Carmex. Smells medicinal, I know, and is possibly causing my addiction to lip balm…but I don’t care.

Nivea Olive Oil & Lemon lip care – this is a great stick formula. The texture is a lot like the pai bergamot lip balm, a hard oil that melts on contact and leaves a very thin slick on the lips. No tugging on the lips like with waxy formulas (the Mario Badescu lip balm is the same texture, but the scent is an awful species of herbal). I also like this kind of packaging a lot, and find it much cleaner than the standard chapstick tube. Sidenote that I don’t like the new Nivea lip butters at all, and find the flavors cheap and synthetic.

Korres lip butters – if you can find them on sale and choose a flavor you like (I don’t like a lot of them), the texture is gorgeous, and the tints are high quality (not patchy, surprising color payoff). This is the only product called a lip butter that I actually think is similar in texture to butter. These are superior, though, because they are less oily than butter (which I suppose you could use, but it would be a little Handmaiden’s Tale). I like the guava and wild rose flavors.

I’m really liking the cheapo Wet ‘n Wild juicy lip balm I just got, too. Actually one of the better tinted options I’ve used, though the pricier MAC lip conditioner is also excellent (Oh, they seem to have discontinued the tinted ones…fools).