a few summer essentials

On June 17, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

It’s finally summer proper here in Boston, which means it’s going to be miserably hot and humid in about 8 minutes. Isn’t it a little annoying how one is meant to be so happy about summer in our culture?* Autumn so superior, at least in the northeast, at least for this coat-lover.

*Actually, marketing-wise, we seem to meant to be thrilled about all of them in turn. But with summer it is especially egregious.

Well, summer has its good points. The rise in popularity of orange and coral beauty products has always been one of my favorite parts. Sunglasses. A thinly veiled excuse to get new lipstick. Late sunsets.

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Here are a few of my favorite things at the moment.

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Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Active Brightening Oil, Glossier Rose balm.com, Dior Glow Maximizing Primer

I made this little ceramic tumbler, by the way! Will have to tell you more about extracurricular activities…

Loving the Korres face oil, kind of an oddly old fashioned rose scent but I like it. A little pricey but not so much that I hesitate before slathering (key). I’m one of those people putting oil on under or in place of moisturizer, so I have different types for different skin moods. This is a great morning oil that sinks in and feels nourishing but light. Getting a solid dewy base by layering the Dior primer over top. The Avene Cleanance Expert moisturizer is the light daytime option when I want a gentle skirmish with my skin rather than an all-out battle. This tiresome skin. The Glossier balm is nice and moisturizing with a hardcore castor oil/beeswax base. This scent has a surprising hint of oud along with the rose that makes it quite strong, likely not everyone will enjoy that. This is a thick ointment/balm that reminds me a bit in texture of the beloved Bite Beauty agave lip mask, though the more nourishing Bite lip mask is better for overnight or treatment situations.

summer essentials

MAC lipstick in So Chaud, Cargo Blush in Laguna, Ray-Ban Clubmasters

So Chaud is fairly new and so has that sheen of novelty that makes me like it all the more. This is a lovely orange-red, distinctly orange but with enough red to anchor it and make it quite wearable. Matte but still really creamy and pleasant on. Fantastic summer color, I’ve been eyeing it for a few summers running now and not disappointed. Cargo Laguna is a deep, vibrant peachy coral. They aren’t much talked about but the Cargo blushes are excellent, if comically large.

I think we can blame the longing for Clubmasters on the completely beautiful Priyanka Chopra, the lead in Quantico, of which I saw just enough episodes to deeply consider this style. Then, shopping, I stumbled across completely gold ones! Not offered in the U.S.? Sorry, can’t find a link.

This is an old favorite, the current anthem. Along with the amazing new Justin Timberlake, which is just stuck in my head.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are another serious favorite. I always eat a good amount of these but I’m really outdoing myself these days, consuming astonishing volumes of citrus fruit and avocado.

x

 

 

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

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?

x

almond joy

On March 29, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

There is a definite pattern in my bodycare preferences…

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(and in my eating preferences, too)

It is almond and coconut all the way chez Sphinx, with only occasional forays into other bodywashes here and there (though, come to think of it, I have the Dove nourishing almond oil one, and their nourishing almond deodorant as well) or some alternate body lotion (I like Amlactin, and a number from L’Occitane, like…their almond one…and their almond oil body wash…). Even when I stray from the pure stuff, these ingredients are often in there somewhere.

There’s a definite appeal to raw ingredients, their flexibility and malleability. You can start mixing already complex products but I find the results much more hit or miss, have difficulties getting textures to blend the way I hope, and often, if I like the product, it seems unnecessary. [My sense that it doesn’t always work out, then, may be a result of messing around with products I didn’t especially like in the first place. Hm. By that point I’m convinced I can’t make them any worse, however, so I can really have at them. Example: a body scrub from The Body Shop that I didn’t find scrubby enough, added granulated sugar until I was satisfied. Problem solved.*]

*I have ruined some things, too, but it never serves to discourage future experiments.

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1. NOW Sweet Almond oil—there are other brands but some don’t smell very good, this one has the virtue of not smelling like much at all, absorbs nicely into the skin, acts brilliantly as a carrier for essential oils and perfumes, lovely on the hair as well. Mixes readily with other oils to create still more hair/body options. Edible. Really wouldn’t be without this.

2. Dr. Bronner’s Almond Castile soap—great all-purpose soap. I use it as a body wash and sometimes as a shampoo, and to wash makeup brushes. A touch of marzipan to the scent, which I don’t love but which doesn’t seem to linger. I prefer the peppermint scent (but not the rose one), and have been meaning to try the eucalyptus. Takes ages to finish a bottle. Maybe next year, eucalyptus.

3. Barlean’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil—there are tons of brands of coconut oil around, and most of them seem just fine. This one is especially good to eat, and I use it all over. In my hair as a leave-in or deep treatment, as a skin conditioner, to sautée vegetables, as an oil/butter substitute in various recipes, added to grains to flavor while cooking, just…to eat.

4. Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter—I’ve mentioned this before, and I don’t like it any less now. Has a bit of a chocolatey richness to it that makes it especially delicious. Very thick and moisturizing. Such  great value.

5. Sun Bum Coconut lip balm—think will be picking up some of SunBum’s sunscreen come summer. Smart branding, good, skin-friendly ingredients. Nice to find lip balms with a high SPF. This is cocoa butter, mainly, but with coconut scent, so it’s in.

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6. Raw almonds—I cannot begin to tell you how many raw almonds I consume.

7. Coconut flakes—anyone have a good recipe for coconut macarons? They are the kind of indulgence that is just appealing enough and just expensive enough to make me want to take matters into my own hands. I like coconut milk, too, and coconut water, certain brands of, and that So Delicious (that’s the brand, not my emphasis, though it is really good) coconut milk ice cream. The mint/chocolate one.

I really wish I had some of that now.

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.

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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!

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