Reviewing the Snow Mushroom Water Serum by Volition

The newly opened serum with the innovator card

Volition beauty recently sent me three products for the purpose of review.  While they did send the products to me, the reviews of them are my own opinions. As a quick note, the links included in this post are for the Volition website and while I highly recommend visiting their site to anyone interested in finding out more about their products or the company (and they are a really interesting company) Volitionbeauty.com only ships to US and Canada. If you are not in either the US or Canada, @cultbeauty ships Volition Beauty worldwide, and @meccamaxima / @meccacosmetica ship to Australia and New Zealand.

Snow Mushroom Water Serum|Free Shipping, Free Returns & Free Sampling

When testing skin care, I tend to rotate products in one at a time and let my skin get used to them before swapping out any other elements to my skin care.   The first product I added in of the three I was sent was the Prismatic Lumnizing Shield with SPF 50, mostly because I needed a sunscreen I would actually wear. It is billed as the sunscreen for people who hate sunscreen (which is me) and is a fantastic product that has gotten me into the habit of actually wearing sunscreen daily. The link above will take you to the fill post if you are interested. 

The second product I rotated in was the Snow Mushroom Water Serum and then a week later I added the Celery Green Cream.  So next week I will be posting the Celery Green Cream Review after using it for a full month.

For those that are unfamiliar with Volition Skincare. They produce clean, cruelty free, vegan skincare.   In addition they produce crowdsourced items.  So if you have an idea for a product, you fill out the form and send it to them.  They then ask the community what they think of the idea.  If it is approved, then they set a team of specialists to work turning the idea into a product. 

I thought this idea was interesting when I came across it the first time.  I have to say that having tried some of the products produced thorough this system, I am even more impressed by it.  I love that each product comes with a innovator card, letting you know who came up with the skin care idea.  The Snow Mushroom Water Serum was thought up by Keidy. And what is the serum supposed to do?

According to the site…

Snow Mushroom. It’s nature’s sponge. It holds nearly 500 times its weight in water. It’s the wonder ingredient in this hydrating face serum that delivers a surge of moisture as it naturally minimizes the appearance of pores.

Now I am the first to admit, I love a good serum.  I will also say, I love mushrooms.  I love all sorts of mushrooms and for a while I was even growing my own blue oyster mushrooms.  (mostly because I could never find them at my local grocery). I was a little skeptical about them in my skin care though.  However, I am all for minimizing the appearance of my pores.

However it isn’t just the snow mushroom that makes up this serum.  It has some help.

  • Snow Mushroom: Delivers hydration and helps improve moisture retention.
  • Marine Water: Helps detoxify skin, reduce shine, and minimize the appearance of pores.
  • Watermelon and Apple Extracts: Excellent sources of Vitamins C and A; visibly brighten the look of skin.
  • Lentil Extract: Rich in Vitamin B5; Helps to soothe and smooth the skin while helping retain moisture resulting in the appearance of softer, clearer, firmer-looking skin.

Full Ingredients: Tremella Fuciformis (Mushroom) Extract, Propanediol, Glycerin, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sea Water, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Water, Pentylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, N-Prolyl Palmitoyl Tripeptide-56 Acetate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate, Diheptyl Succinate, Xanthan Gum, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Sodium Carbomer, Ethylhexylglycerin.

volitionbeauty.com

As you can see there are a lot of good ingredients listed.  My skin loves vitamin C and it is often in my serums. I’ve never thought of lentils as a skin car ingredient but I do have a favorite recipe that uses both lentils and mushrooms so I find it oddly comforting to see them paired together here. (and yes I realize that makes little scientific sense, but it is still true)

Before I used this serum I took a look at the reviews. I like to kind of see if there are any problems I should look out for when trying a new product out. Plus I also like to find out whose reviews closely match mine so I can compare with other products.  The reviews were overwhelmingly positive.  I lifted a skeptical eyebrow and continued on. Given how positive the reviews were however, I was very much hoping my experience was as positive because it sounded fantastic in a Liz Lemon -I want to go to there – kind of way.

And yes, the first thing I did was open the bottle to take a sniff. 

Cause it’s me and you know that’s what I am gonna do. 

I was expecting a kind of earthy mushroom funk. I will say there is a slight underlying earthy note, but it doesn’t come right out and say I am mushroom come smell the funk.

Which is fine.  I may love the smell of sautéed mushrooms, but I wasn’t too certain of how I would feel about the scent in my skin care. While it does have that base earthiness, the serum just smells fresh and clean.  Maybe it is just because they used the snow mushroom water.

Or because they weren’t sautéing them.

I know that the Snow Mushroom Water is one ingredient, as opposed to water pairing with serum, however this serum has a very thin ‘water-like’ consistency. It is extremely light weight.  If you fear heavy pore clogging serums, then lean in this direction.  It feels extremely light on the skin and I had no trouble with any clogged pores while using it.

A small amount covered my face neck and decollete with no problem.  After applying it though, I did need to wait a minute before moving on with the rest of my skin care.  It wasn’t terribly long. 

I generally found if I applied it, and then brushed my teeth, then by the time I finished with my mouthwash rinse, my skin was ready for the moisturizer. If I didn’t wait then the two products mixed and both took longer to settle in. Since I had to brush my teeth anyway, it wasn’t a hardship to wait.

I used this serum twice a day for a full thirty days as part of my trial.  I applied it in the morning and in the evening.  After thirty days I am exactly halfway through the bottle.  So It is a fair estimate that the bottle will last two months. 

For me this is good to know because I will so be ordering a replacement bottle when this runs low and I need to know when to order it.  I really enjoyed this serum.  While it is light weight on the skin, it really does a heavyweight’s job. My skin felt hydrated and refreshed.

The pores on my cheeks and nose were reduced enough that I actually used a non-pore filling primer and  my skin still looked smooth.  I  also noticed a reduction in the fine lines at the corners of my eyes.  The skin was plump enough with retained moisture that they were less noticeable.  I stopped using my eye cream while using this serum for my trial because I wanted to make sure it was this product doing the line filling and not a combo effort. 

It was definitely the Snow Mushroom Water Serum.

closed

My only criticism of this product, and it is a slight one, has to do with the packaging.  It is in a lovely frosted glass bottle with a nice rose gold cap.  When you turn the cap the top pops up and operates the dropper inside.  All of this is fabulous.  It worked really well and it was easy to tell when the bottle was opened or fully closed.

open

  The only drawback I had was that the entire cap is smooth.  While opening it is no problem, closing it involves either hands still slick with left over serum after I’ve massaged it into my skin or hands slick from washing them post application. (yes I dry my hands but they are still slightly slick) There were a couple of times I almost dropped the glass bottle.  If the lid had just a little bit of texture to it, I would be less worried about dropping it with slick hands.  

I know I could just wait until I reach the end of my skin care regimen and my hands are clean and dry, but I don’t like leaving products open too long after I use them.  Plus, I recently had to bid an untimely farewell to one of my favorite concealers because I forgot to recap it. So it is sort of on my mind.  But with this I really was worried about dropping the glass bottle. 

While I’m sure it is shatter resistant, I wouldn’t want to risk losing even a single drop.  I may have to set this aside to try out new skin care items, but I know this is one that I will consistently return to use when I am not testing things out or need a break between tests. At the moment I am considering easing out of using it so that should my next trial not go as smoothly, I will have product remaining to repair whatever damage it does. It is a fantastic formula and The Volition Snow Mushroom Water Serum will remain on my favorites list for a long time to come.


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The Empties Bin: June 2020

The products I’ve used up this month

Welcome to the end of the month and a review of the empties bin.  This month I managed to clear out several items that just needed a little push to be used up.  I have makeup, skincare, and bath products this time, so it is going to be a little all over the place. There are links to the products mentioned. The links aren’t affiliate codes, but as everyone is having Fourth of July Sales starting up I added links to the relevant sites. The sale links are affiliate links and should you click on them and purchase something then I may earn a small commission which goes towards hosting this website. If that makes you uncomfortable in any way, feel free to avoid the links. Oh, and the one different link is for the Verb Hair mask. It takes you to a previous review I wrote of the product.

Thet the review of the empties begin!

We’ll start with makeup.  The first two items in this category were not so much used up as rendered useless.  The first of these is the ELF Camo Concealer, which sadly I left uncapped for too long.  It was getting low on product though so the loss wasn’t too great.  It is a good product and one that I will be purchasing again, probably in multiple shades.

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The second item that wasn’t entirely used up is my Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed powder.  I had a very thin layer of product with a lot of pan showing and I thought I could stretch it to last one more week.  Unfortunately, I knocked it into the sink where the remaining product shattered and landed in a toothpaste smear. So note to self, do not balance delicate powder on the edge of the sink after just brushing teeth.

As it has been one of the standbys in my makeup bag for a long time, I will be repurchasing it at some point.  Because it is such a go-to item for me I am refraining from purchasing a replacement right away as I want to try other products and  if I do replace it I will just end up falling back into the habit of using it again.

In this month’s empties there are two empty primers, one old familiar and one that was new to me.  The old familiar was the NYX Pore Filler.  It is one of those reliable formulas that works well under a variety of makeup.  It has a slight tint to it and has been compared to the Benefit Porefessional.

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I’ve bought it several times and I’m sure it will make a return visit to my dressing table and makeup bag at some point, but like my Rimmel powder, I am going to be holding off repurchasing it for a while.  It occurred to me when I was using the last of it that this was the only NYX primer I have ever tried. I know they have many others.  I recently tried the NYX Bare With Me Foundation and I liked it enough that I think I might try the primer from that line as well next time I make a NYX purchase, stepping away from one of my old faves to try something new from the brand.

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The second primer in my empties bin this month was a sample sized primer from Peter Thomas Roth called Skin to Die For. While I wouldn’t go that far, I really liked the way this primer felt on my skin.  It was pore filling and mattifying.  It has a slight tint to it and I found I could wear it alone with just powder on days when I didn’t feel like wearing a lot of makeup.  It gave my skin a very healthy look to it but made it look like I wasn’t wearing anything. A full size is currently sitting in my shopping cart as I try to figure out what other products I want to order with it. I know I’ll have to use up at least one more primer in my dressing table before I open it for use, but if the full size performs like the sample, then I can see it very quickly becoming a staple.

Finally, rounding out the makeup category, I have a sample sized Smashbox Liquid lip.  It is in the Shade Stepping out and it is one I would order again.  I find the Smashbox formula to be a comfortable one to wear.  It wasn’t too drying but it did dry down enough to stay on my lips without leaving lip prints everywhere. 

The only reason that I am not immediately purchasing a full size is that it is in a neutral color and at the moment I seem to be awash with neutrals. I have a couple that are already well loved so I might pick an older one and focus on using it up, but I want to clear out a few more neutrals before adding to their number.  I suspect though that when I do order this, I will order several different shades because it is a good formula.

I know thus far it sounds as though I am in love with everything I try, but I’m afraid that with the end of the makeup, the love fest is going to slow down for a while. 

The next product in my empties bin is the Tula Skin Care Purifying Face Cleanser.  It is rare that I don’t like a cleanser, but I have to say, I did not like this one.  I will say it did take off my makeup reasonably well, but the scent of it is highly perfumed and it is not a perfume I enjoy. 

It smells as though you spilled a bottle of Jean Nate on some lavender sachets and then put them in a tightly sealed bag for a month.  It is a super intense scent that I just don’t care for.  In addition it left a slightly waxy feel to my skin. 

Since I tend to use a balm or oil to first remove my makeup and then this sort of cleanser as my second cleanse, having it leave a residue was not good.  I know everyone seems to rave about Tula Skincare but this cleanser was not for me.  I do have the eye balm from this month’s Boxycharm to try so maybe I will have better luck with it. This cleanser is a hard pass for me.

Next in the empties is the 111 Skin Vitamin C Brightening Booster. This wasn’t a bad product.  It has a pleasant scent, absorbs well into the skin and did have a brightening effect.  I enjoyed using it.  However I have tried other Vitamin C serums that I like better. It is good, but not good enough to justify the price point.  It is one of those products that I would be happy to see appear in one of my subscription boxes, but I probably wouldn’t repurchase on my own.

Something I am on the fence about is the Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm.  It works really well and leaves my skin super soft. 

However if I plan to use it to take off my eye make up I have to take my contacts out first.  I had a little wash into my eyes when I was washing my face and the oil clouded my contacts.  I tried cleaning them but I finally had to concede defeat, the oil wasn’t going anywhere. 

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I wear disposable contacts so it wasn’t a big deal, but when using this cleanser it was something I had to remember. That and the fact that is smells a bit like Vick’s vapor rub are the only downsides.  It was a wonderful cleanser and if you don’t wear contacts I would highly recommend it.  If you do wear contacts, then just be aware of your eyes.

One thing I have no reservations about repurchasing is the Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Facial pads. I would buy these again in a heartbeat.

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They were a very gentle exfoliate that I could use twice daily with no issues at all. The scent was fantastic and the pads were never too wet.  Sometimes to ensure the pre moistened pads don’t t dry out companies soak the pads so you practically have to wring them out before use.  These had just the right amount of serum.  When I reached the bottom, the bottom of the jar was damp but not swimming in left over product and at no point did the product dry out.  I really enjoyed using them and will be purchasing them again in the future.

This month I have two empty tubes of hand cream.  One from Skylar which was a Hydrating Body lotion in the scent Capri and the other  is from Cela and is the Crème de la Crème crème supreme. They were both good hand creams.

I prefer the Cela formula slightly over the Skylar, but neither really made my must reorder list.  They are both good, but I prefer both the Library of Flowers and the Pistache formulas for hand cream. Those two I generally keep reordering. 

The Skylar and the Cela I would use if they were there, but I probably wouldn’t reorder. While this is the only Cela product I’ve tried I have tried other Skylar products before and liked them.  I actually like Skylar perfume very much, in fact, I like the scent of the Capri hand lotion enough I will be looking to see if they have a perfume in that scent.  I’m just not a fan of the cream formula.

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I have two empty bath products this month as we finish out the broad skin care category. The first is the OGXBeauty Pure and Simple Coconut Coffee Scrub and Wash.  The scent was nice.  The coconut and coffee blended together to create a scent that was sweet and more vanilla with coffee undertones than anything else.  Still it is a nice scent. 

While the coconut oil did leave my skin super soft, the exfoliating scrub part didn’t always mix well.  Sometimes I’d squeeze the product out and get almost no exfoliation, other times it was like damp sand. 

I tried squeezing and shaking and turning it upside down to sit for a while.  Nothing really helped.  It was always hit or miss as to whether I was getting any sort of exfoliation or not.  It was a nice wash but I probably wouldn’t get this product again.

Also in the bath time category is the Unfiltered Raw Sugar Salt Soak in the scent watermelon and pink cactus.  This was an impulse buy because I was out of my Kneipps bath salts. While it smells nice in the jar, once added to the water, it loses all scent.  It did make my skin feel nice after my bath, which I appreciated, but for me, part of the pleasure of luxuriating in a bath is scent related.

I liked that it worked well, but I wanted more scent. Or at least some.  While it was nice to try something new, in this case my old standby of Kneipps is what I’m going back to.  I’ll still try others, but I’m going to keep my classics on hand.

The last category we have is hair. I have three items in this category of empties and I saved it for last so I could end this post on a high note.  Because all three are utterly fantastic fantastic.   Two of these products are hair masks.  The first is VERB Manage+Restore Hydrating Mask.  I wrote a post about this earlier (the link will take you to it).  The short version of the post was that it was fabulous.  There was nothing I did not like about this mask.

My conundrum is that shortly after I finished this sample I started a trial with another hair mask.  It is the Naturelab Tokyo Perfect Repair Treatment mask.  It too is fantastic. 

NatureLab Tokyo’s PERFECT REPAIR Treatment Masque

It smells like a high end salon in the best possible way and it gave my hair shine and body.  I had no tangles and my hair looked wonderful. The only complaint I have is with the packaging.  As it comes in a jar, it is a little messy to scoop out.  It is hard to open with wet fingers and I tended to take more than I wanted.  I still adore the product, I just wanted a container that was a little more manageable with wet hands and portion control.

So now I want both masks.  Verb and Naturelab Tokyo.

I also want to try out the shampoo and conditioner from each as well.  At the moment I have several other hair masks to try so I am putting off ordering until I’ve gone through them all.  All but one is a sample size, so it won’t be too long a wait, but it does give me more time to make my selections.  Both Verb and NatureLab Tokyo have set the bar really high though.  I suspect I will end up getting both and then rotating them because quite frankly they are both phenomenal.  

The final item in my empties is a product I have already ordered again.  It is the Klorane Dry Shampoo.  While I like the IGK for massively grungy hair, the Klorane is my standby. 

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This is the dry shampoo I use every other day and the one by which I judge dry shampoos. On the nights I don’t wash my hair, I apply it liberally before bed, go to sleep and in the morning brush my hair.  My hair looks clean and fabulous. There is a little white cast when first applied (I have dark hair) but that soon dissipated by either letting it sit overnight or running a brush through. It is a standard in my hair care arsenal and one that will be bought again and again. In fact, I already have it’s replacement sitting in my bathroom.

So there you have June’s empties. There were some good, some bad and a few mediocre. I find I really like doing this empties review.  It forces me to actually look at the products I have finished and assess my opinion of them now that they are not new and shiny, their productive life complete.   I find it a good assessment.  I hope you find it useful as well.


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Sunday Riley Skincare Review

The Line up: Good Genes, Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream Martian Matifying Toner, CEO cleansing Oil and CEO Vitamin C Brightening Serum

Quite a while ago I picked up a jar of the Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream to try out.  I believe it might have been one of the first moisturizer reviews I posted on this site.  While there were pros and cons (as with any product) I liked it enough to purchase a backup to have on hand.  In fact, I liked it enough to start speculating about other Sunday Riley Products. 

A couple of them I tried really small samples sized of, but there wasn’t enough product to let me get a good feel for them  Plus, it was long enough ago that I couldn’t actually remember much about them. So I started to acquire a few of the products and I decided that I would test them with the CEO Cream to see not only how the products worked alone but as part of a skin care regime.

For this trial there are five products I chose to work with.  The first is the CEO Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream that I previously tried and purchased a second time.  To go with it, I added two other items from the CEO Vitamin C line (because I really like Vitamin C and they were add ons for Ipsy so the cost was less prohibitive).  These are the C+E Micro-dissolve cleansing oil and the brightening serum. To this trio I added the Good Genes All in one Lactic Acid Treatment and the Martian Matifying Melting Water-Gel Toner.

Start of the trial skin

I eased into this skin care trial with the moisturizer.  I started with it partially because I already knew how my skin reacted to it and I like to phase in products so my skin doesn’t completely freak out with an entirely new regime every time I do a new trial.

I finished the moisturizer I was using before but was still using three products from Elemis (the Foaming Face Wash, the cleansing Balm makeup remover and the resurfacing pads, I already posted a review of the Face Wash and reviews of the other products will be coming soon). 

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After a few days of adjusting to the moisturizer, I put my Elemis cleansing Balm away and rotated in the CEO Micro-dissolve Cleansing oil. I kept the foaming face wash from Elemis because I like to double cleanse and I didn’t pick up a second Sunday Riley Cleanser.  (I thought I ordered one and it turns out I got distracted and didn’t check to see if it was in the cart, oops). 

I finished up the 111Skin Vitamin C Brightening Booster that I was testing a few days later and rotated in the Sunday Riley one.  A few days later I set aside the Elemis resurfacing pads and brought in the Good Genes and Martian toner.  There was no freak out skin-wise (other than external stress) and my trial began. 

Since I already tested the moisturizer, I made notes on this trial and then went over my previous review.  I am going to link the CEO Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream here rather than going over it too much a second time as there really was no change.  I like the cream and will more than likely pick it up again at some point. I adjusted the use with some of the other products, but I’ll cover that when I reach that point.

So first to rotate in was the cleansing oil.  What are the claims of the Cleansing oil?  As you would expect, it is pretty straight forward.

A wet or dry cleansing oil that dissolves pore-clogging debris, excess oil, and micro-pollution particles, revealing a fresh, bright, and calm complexion. Instantly dissolve and remove makeup (even water-resistant eye makeup), pore-clogging debris, excess oil, and micro-pollution for a perfectly, thoroughly cleansed complexion. With gentle white willow bark and lime pearl extracts—rich in beta hydroxy acid (BHA) and alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) —C.E.O. C + E Micro-Dissolve Cleansing Oil gently refreshes the skin, while turmeric and vitamin C provide antioxidant-rich, calming skin support, for a clean, healthy-looking, and smooth complexion.

I’m pretty sure most cleansing oils have similar blurbs on their product pages.  My only concern was that to get the info about the product, I had to go to the Lovely Skin site. In general that isn’t a problem, because I really like the Lovely Skin site and tend to visit a lot. An extra excuse is not a problem.  The problem is that I couldn’t find the information on the Sunday Riley official site. In my experience that usually doesn’t bode well.  Typically it means a discontinuation of a product.  I could be wrong though.

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The cleansing oil is a decent cleansing oil.  It melted even water proof mascara off with no harsh rubbing required.  With mascara I had to do a second swipe under the eyes to remove the last raccoon like markings, but again there was no harsh rubbing.  The oil didn’t break me out and it wasn’t too heavy on the skin.  However, it is not a standalone product, at least not for me.  When using this I had to double cleanse. Rinsing off the product with just water left an oily film covering my face. 

With this oil I found that I could apply it and then jump into the shower.  Once I was finished with my shower I would be completely sans make up, but still feel the need of a quick face wash.  In fact after a few days of using this product, I just started keeping it in the shower. It has a pump that kept the water out so it was actually the perfect solution. 

It is a decent cleansing oil, but I don’t know if I would repurchase it.  It does its job well, but I didn’t notice anything extra enough to draw me back to it instead of another product. I will continue to use it until I use it up, but there are other cleansing oils I actually like better.

Next we move on to the CEO Vitamin C Brightening serum. This one was not only listed on the Sunday Riley Site, but it is listed among their best sellers.  It is…

C.E.O. Brightening Serum, powered by 15% advanced Vitamin C, is targeted to quickly fight the look of dullness, dark spots, and discolorations at the source, while diminishing the signs of aging. Skin looks and feels firmer and plumper, as youthful skin bounce and even-tone are restored.

C.E.O. Brightening Serum uses a sophisticated, ultra-powerful form of Vitamin C called THD Ascorbate. Both highly stable and oil-soluble, THD Ascorbate rapidly absorbs into the skin for visible anti-aging benefits, including visual improvement in loss of firmness, the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and dark spots and dullness.

This hydrating antioxidant formula instantly illuminates the complexion with bright radiance, while phytosterols help to reduce the look of skin sensitivity. Saccharide Isomerate extract diminishes the appearance of pores and reinforces the skin’s moisture barrier for a skin-smoothing glow. Rapidly brighten the appearance of the skin and boost vital skin bounce, in a flash!

I have to say, I can easily see why it is a favorite.  Personally, I really liked it.  Instead of being liquid like most serums it is a cream formula.  The recommended amount is two to three pumps of product, but I found that one pump’s worth was plenty for my face in the morning with maybe a little more at night.  And I was happy that the pump is the sort that allows you to only depress it half way so you can more easily regulate how much product being used.  I find it less wasteful that way.  Now my skin does really well with most vitamin C products, but I have to say I was a big fan of this one.  It absorbed really well and although this may be wishful thinking, I did notice the fine lines appearing around my eyes weren’t as prominent after the first week of use (I used this for thirty days for the trial). 

Incidentally, I did look up THD Ascorbate (Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate ) in case you are wondering.  It is just a slightly modified version of Vitamin C that has been tweaked so that the skin absorbs it more easily. And absorb it did.  Not only will I be using this ti the last creamy drop, but I will be repurchasing it at some point. Truthefully this was the highlight of the skincare test. Other products are good, this was excellent. So for the CEO line, at least the products I’ve tried, two out of three are things I would repurchase.  Not a bad average.  But how do you feel about Martians?

I found the Martian Mattifying melting Water-gel toner to be very interesting. Unfortunately, I have no official product information because it has been discontinued.  I find this to be a shame as I liked it for my oily days.  If I knew I was going to be sweating outside or having hormonal break outs, then using this in the morning really helped my skin. 

It is also a fun green slime texture. It worked well on the days I needed it, but it wasn’t an everyday sort of product for me.  I suspect it was too much for most people to use every days.  If you are looking to dry out oily skin for a bit and happen to come across this, it isn’t a bad thing to try.  I’ll keep using it until it is gone, but alas it is discontinued and no more.

This finally brings us to the Good Genes All in one Lactic Acid Treatment. I doubt this will ever be discontinued as everyone I’ve talked to seems to find this a skin care holy grail.  It made me very eager to try it. So first what does this best seller do?

Clean, purified glycolic acid deeply exfoliates and repairs the look of dull, congested, and sun damaged skin for a visibly radiant, healthier-looking complexion.

Containing clean, ultra-pure, formaldehyde-free glycolic acid, to revitalize the appearance of dull, congested, and sun damaged skin, without compromising on what matters to you most: safety, quality, and fast results. Good Genes Glycolic penetrates the surface of the skin with tiny glycolic acid molecules, sinking deeper into the skin than other forms of AHA, to break apart pore-clogging debris and repair the look of sun-damaged, congested, wrinkled, or dull skin. With just one use, instant radiance and skin clarity are visibly boosted. Balanced with fermented prickly pear extract, perfect for sensitive skin, to soothe and calm the complexion, along with skin-purifying lemongrass extract.

After my recent sunburn episode, I was happy to try some repair work.  And I love exfoliators in general. So I was all in.  Again two to three pumps are recommended and you are only supposed to use this once a day.  The above picture shows one pump, which is all I ended up needing tocover my face.

For me, this replaced my night cream during the trial. 

Sort of.

It took me a few days to sort things out.  First, I want to address the one day claim.  I will say that the sun damaged parts of my face did show almost immediate improvement.  My face took less damage than my legs, but it still spent too much time accidentally baking. So I will have to give them that. 

The scent took a little getting used to as well.  For me it has the exact same scent as some of the cleaning products used in a building I once worked in.  It was an old building with wooden floors and the scent is a cross between floor polish and an herbal based disinfectant.  It’s not a negative as it is actually a nicely astringent scent, but to me that is what it smelled like. It is heavy on the lemongrass and I think that paired with the astringency was what triggered the memory.  Luckily the scent dissipated so I didn’t have dreams about my old office.

But again, that’s just me. Certainly no one else mentioned it smelling like a cleaning product.

It took me a while to adjust to using this product because it is not quite a night cream, but it is really hard to apply a moisturizer over it.  Things get very greasy quickly and I felt like I over did it.  The problem was that if I didn’t apply moisturizer, my skin felt a little too dry the next morning.

The best way I found to deal with this product was to wash my face and apply the Good Genes to my skin an hour or two prior to actually getting ready for bed.  (I like to read before going to sleep as a means to quiet my brain, so I did all of my pre bed routine (sans moisturizer) before reading, leaving the Good Genes on top of the skin and then just before bed, I went into the bathroom and did a quick moisturizer application before actually going to sleep. 

For me this worked really well.

end of trial skin

I will say that because my skin was sun damaged, I saw more of an effect than I might have otherwise seen.  It worked well, and I am glad I used it at the time I did, however I am not terribly familiar with chemical exfoliates.  I tend to go for the more physical variety.  I am starting to try out the chemical ones more though so I might be switching camps. 

So while I liked the product, I think I want to try a few more products, specifically Lactic Acid based before I commit to repurchasing it. 

In other words it was good, but it wasn’t so over the top good that I feel I must keep it on hand at all times.  Which, from the reviews I’ve read and seen, tends to be the reaction.  Perhaps when trying others I will find they fall far short of this and I will realize everyone else was right about the Good Genes.

I am very glad I did try this though as it is so beloved by so many people and it is nice to know the standard. For now though, I am sticking with, a good product, but I want to try others as my personal assessment.

So that was my Sunday Riley trial. Two items that I will repurchase repeatedly, one that isn’t really worth bothering with, one discontinued and one still to be determined. All in all an interesting mix.  I’m actually rather surprised to see the split. Everyone I talked to either loved or hated Sunday Riley products. There were very few inbetween. As there were many other products they offer that I find interesting, I am sure it will not be my last Sunday Riley test.  I suspect I will go to reorder the serum and find something I want to try.  But that is for another day.  For now, there is still a world of skin care out there for me to try. There are so many excellent brands I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Now I just have to figure out what I want to try next.


Below I’m posting three of my favorite skin care sites should anyone be looking to expand their skin care boundaries.

Give dad a gift he'll remember this Father's Day with the LovelySkin Father's Day Gift Guide.





Annmarie SkinCare Review

The line up for the the two week Annmarie Skincare Trial

For the past two weeks I’ve been testing out various Annmarie Skincare Products.  They very kindly sent over samples for me to review.  I have to say it was very interesting to test out not one, but an entire series of products from the same company at the same time.  In case you haven’t heard of Annmarie Skincare, according to their website

We carefully select organic and wildcrafted ingredients — including herbs and plant extracts — to meet the highest standards of quality and effectiveness for your skin and body. We carefully audit our sources to ensure that they continue to meet our standards of purity and sustainability. 

I’m a big fan of their commitment to sustainability and was thrilled to be able to try out their products. Before I get into the individual products, let me go over the regime I’ve been following during the trial.

First up was the Aloe Herb Cleanser which I used twice daily, once in the morning and once at night. There was also the Anti-Aging Serum which I also used twice daily after cleansing. As AnnMarie Skincare provided me with two types of facial oil, I used the Herbal Facial Oil for the first week and the Anti-Aging oil for the second week.  The oil I applied twice daily as well, applying it to my skin after the serum was given a little time to sink in. 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I used the Ayurvedic Facial Scrub.  The final element to this skin care trial were the face masks.  Two masks were provided.  The first week I used the Illuminating Pearl Mask Monday , Wednesday and Friday and the second week I used the Purifying Mud Mask for the same three day system.

The only item I didn’t have with this line was a moisturizer so I used the Purlisse Blue Lotus Moisturizer since I knew how it performed from an earlier trial of the product.

Over all, I really enjoyed these products and I think they worked really well together.  Individually there are some that I liked better than others. So let’s get into the individual products .

First up is the Aloe Herb Cleanser. It is an herb infused facial cream cleanser that smells of lemon verbena.  Seriously, the scent alone is worth buying the product.  It is a wonderful aroma to wake up to and equally pleasant to take off the day.  But a cleanser isn’t just about scent, no matter how scent oriented I am.  According to the product page…

The cleanser is creamy but doesn’t really foam up. It does however work well and smell amazing.

Cleanse and lift excess oil with this pH-balanced, aloe vera-based cream cleanser. Infused with beautifying herbs and a light blend of natural oils containing essential fatty acids, to keep your skin naturally hydrated. Gently removes makeup and impurities without drying or leaving any residue. Leaves your skin feeling nourished, soft and beautiful.

I have to say, my skin felt nourished and soft with no residue left behind.  It isn’t the greatest at removing mascara, but it took down all other makeup with no problems.  And then I did a quick clean-up of the raccoon eyes with the Makeup Eraser easy peasy. Since most cleansers have some issues with mascara, I’m willing to give it a pass on that, especially because of the scent.

Next up, was the Anti-aging Serum.  Again this is a product I really liked. The sample vial had just enough product to last for the two week test.  I took the eye dropper from an empty bottle of serum and used three drops of the serum for each application.  It covered my face well, absorbed quickly and smelled deliciously herbal.  I couldn’t identify any particular herbal scent but it is very herbal-ly smelling. I was very sad when the bottle was empty. I actually upended the bottle and tapped it on my hand to get the very last drops out of it befire I finally had to admit that it was empty.  On the product page…

This versatile, aloe vera-based serum provides active nutrients for all skin types, firming and tightening the appearance of aging skin. Hyaluronic acid hydrates, while the herbal extracts buddleja davidii and edelweiss protect skin from environmental stressors. Life everlasting flowers soothe and refresh.

Perhaps I couldn’t identify the herbs by scent because I am unfamiliar with how most of the ones listed actually smell on their own.  Either way I did see an improvement in my skin’s texture and while my fine lines weren’t magically erased, they didn’t get any larger and my skin had a healthy glow to it.

The anti-aging oil

Next up we come to the oil and I have to admit, I had a little bit of a problem with the oils. The scent of both the Herbal Facial Oil and the Anti Aging oil are sharply herbal, but despite the two oils smelling different from each other they both have a slight medicinal scent to their aromas that I didn’t find all that appealing.  Perhaps it is the willow bark. In addition, they both have a slightly thick texture to them that I didn’t particularly care for. It is purely a textural issue as both products performed well. 

The Herbal Facial Oil is…Specially formulated with cleansing botanicals, white willow bark and neem, this delicate herbal blend helps unclog pores and balances natural oils. Lightly moisturizing with a fast-absorbing grapeseed oil base. Leaves skin soft and smooth for a bright and beautiful complexion.

While the Anti Aging Oil is described as… This luxurious, herb-infused formula delivers intense moisture to keep dry and mature skin supple and dewy. Antioxidant-rich seed oils — chia, goji berry, and broccoli — firm and tighten, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Jojoba oil resembles your skin’s natural oil, softening and conditioning mature skin. Your skin vibrates in perfect harmony.

When applying them I had to think ’this is good for me’ before I applied them. And they were good for my skin, even if I wasn’t the biggest fan of the scent or texture.  My complexion is smooth and bright, my skin clear and kind of glowy. They really work well, but that scent and texture really threw me.

The scrub comes as a powder, which I like but it is a little too gentle a scrub for me.

The Ayurvedic Facial Scrub is designed for sensitive skin and is a very mild exfoliate.  The product page describes it as…

This fragrant Indian herbal treatment with horsetail and fenugreek seeds exfoliates and softens. Mineral-rich Rhassoul clay from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco absorbs excess oil. This gentle but powerful treatment leaves skin revitalized, fresh and alive.

It has a similar scent to the Purifying Mud Mask, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since it has some of the same ingredients.  Like the mud mask, it comes as a dry powder that you mix with a little bit of water to turn into a paste. The process made me feel like a mad scientist when I used it.  It is a decent exfoliator and if you have sensitive skin, I can see this being perfect for you.  It left my skin feeling fresh, but I personally prefer a slightly more exfoliating exfoliator. It was fun to mix though and I enjoyed playing around with the consistency.

I reviewed both the Illuminating Pearl Mask and the Purifying Mud Mask in separate posts so I’ll just link those reviews instead of going into great depth here ( Previous in depth reviews: PEARL and MUD), but to sum up both posts; I loved the face masks. The Illuminating Pearl Mask left my skin glowing and the Purifying Mud Mask left me feeling deep down clean.  Personally, I prefer the Purifying Mud Mask, but I tend to lean towards more pore cleansing masks in general.  Both are good and well worth trying out.

Of the products I used during this trial I have to say the Aloe Herb Cleanse, the Anti-aging Serum and the two masks were the absolute best and they are products I will be adding to my list of products to purchase. I loved how they performed and how they made my skin feel.

While the Ayurvedic Facial Scrub is not my absolute favorite, I have a couple of friends with sensitive skin who I will definitely recommend it to as I think it would be more up their alley than mine. 

I think I would have to pass on the facial oils.  Although they did lovely things for my skin, I just don’t think I could take the texture of them long term. I think if I purchased them, I would look for reasons not to use the oil.  In all fairness though, my mother actually uses the Herbal Facial Oil for oily skin and she absolutely loves it. It is one of the few facial oils she can use that doesn’t leave her feeling greasy. Since a little goes a long way, and I was using two separate oils, I have some left over.  She has already staked a claim on them and they will be leaving my bathroom and going straight to hers where they will be used and well loved.

Over all I really liked this trial and I loved the way my skin looked and felt.  I found some products that I really liked and will be ordering and some that just weren’t for me. It’s always good when a brand that has such a good ethos also has good products and I was very pleased with Annmarie Skincare.

Soothe Sample Pack from Annmarie Organic Skincare, is it worth it?

The sample pack with the three serums added in

I am a sucker for samples.  I love them  If I can try something before I buy it then generally I am all in whether it is a tiny spoon of ice cream before I commit to a cone or a face cream I have never tried before, trying it before I commit makes me a happy camper.  I find this especially true with skin care, especially if I am just getting to know about the company. 

Sample Kit with free Skin Detox Guide

Annmarie Organic Skin Care sells a starter sample pack for about $10.  With this sample pack you get a sample of their cleanser, a facial oil and they send you three samples of their bestselling signature serums.  And if you are thinking, why would I pay for samples, don’t.  The sample kit comes with a $10 coupon that you can use towards a future purchase should you decide you like the products.

How could I not be interested?

Especially when I started looking into their website and products. Not only are they natural and organic but they are heavily into sustainability. All of which made me more interested to try them.. After all how can you not love something called ‘Wild crafted’?

There are several different kind of kits available and they are labeled via skin concern: Balance for normal to combination skin, Purity for oily skin, Restore for dry or Mature Skin and Soothe for sensitive skin.

The container is collapsible paper and the packets are stiff paper that doesn’t fall over and drip product everywhere

The company very kindly sent over the Soothe Sample kit for me to review. They also sent over samples of additional products so while this is a review of their sample kit and a first impressions of the products, I will be able to do my full two week review after using the products for two weeks.

Actually what is nice is they sent samples of their cleanser, serum, facial oil, face scrub and two types of masks so that for the duration of the trial I can use only their products which I really appreciate.

 So to The Soothe Sample kit.  It includes a sample of their Aloe Herb Cleanser and the Herbal Facial oil for sensitive skin.  The three serums that came with the kit are the Citrus Stem Cell Serum, the Probiotic serum and the anti-aging serum. 

Right off the bat I have to say that I love that the packaging is paper, easily collapsible and recyclable.  I also like that they provide a website link for further instructions. 

By following the link and going to the Sooth kit I find that…

This herb-infused, mildly formulated sample duo includes our Aloe Herb Cleanser which gently lifts away impurities, while our Herbal Facial Oil for Sensitive Skin delivers essential oil free, lightweight moisture to keep skin calm and at ease.

At Annmarie Skincare, we handcraft skin care, using organic and wildcrafted ingredients, that promises beautiful, glowing skin.

The directions suggest using the cleanser and following up with the oil.  Nothing strange about that, but it doesn’t mention the serums.  I believe that the serum is supposed to come between the two.  Because they left out the serums I decided to try the duo without the serum in between first and then get to the serums later.

These are very much sample packets and I had two concerns when opening them.  Concern one was that there would be very little in the packet.  Concern to would be that there would be a lot in the packet.  If you’ve ever used little sample packs often having them for more than one use gets messy.  You open them, use them once and then set them aside to use the remainder later and they leak all over the sink and make a mess.

While these packets did have more than one use in them.  The paper packet is designed in such a way that the top, if you tear it right, only exposes a little hole for the product to come out of and the paper is also designed to stand upright.  The way it is folded on the bottom means that it won’t slump over and spill everywhere.

I know it is kind of a silly thing to be excited about, but I really was excited about this.  (it’s the little things in life right? Plus it shows they really thought about things, which I appreciate).

So that you aren’t flying blind on product usage, they provide a website link to explain more about the products in your kit so you don’t have to navigate their main website looking for it and they don’t wast paper printing details out.

But packaging means nothing if you don’t try the products. 

My first run was with the cleanser and facial oil.  The cleanser smells like lemon verbena which is one of my all-time favorite herbs in the garden.  It is in face what summer smells like in my mind because my Mom used to use it in her homemade bug spray.  Whatever mix she concocted (I do not have the recipe) had loads of lemon verbena in it and we were hosed down with it to keep us bite free. It worked pretty well actually.

While I adored the scent of the cleanser, I also really enjoyed using it.  It took very little to wash my face and the small packet managed to stretch to four face washes, so I got two days’ worth of use out of it. It took off my makeup, although it needed a little extra help with the mascara (but that is one of the reasons I keep a Makeup Eraser around).  Quite frankly the scent makes me perfectly content to let the mascara slide. Most cleansers have issues with it and not all of them smell as good or leave my skin actually feeling conditioned. Seriously, it felt good enough that I really didn’t want to put anything else on my skin.

But I did.

The Herb Facial oil came next.  It smelled like oil with some indefinable herbs infused into it.  It was thicker and more viscus than I expected and only a drop or two was actually needed. Going on the skin it felt kind of sticky, but after applying, I gave it a moment to do its thing and it absorbed well.  I finished with a light moisturizer and was very happy with the results.

Later I tried the serums and they too contained enough product for multiple tests. The Citrus Stem Cell serum smelled slightly citrusy but mostly herb and the other two just smelled very herby. My nose couldn’t pick out any distinct herbs but the probiotic serum did smell slightly sharper than then the Anti-Aging serum.

While there was enough product in this sample kit to get a good feel for the products, there was not enough to see any type of results. Luckily the folks at Annmarie were kind enough to send other larger samples that I can try for the duration of a full trial.  I will have to report back after using them, but I have to say given my initial exposure, I have a very good feeling about them.  My initial impressions are all pretty good.  Thus far the only slight negative was the slight stickiness to the Herb Facial Oil. And even that goes away pretty quickly leaving the skin soothed and nourished.

While I eagerly jump into the trial of the skin care regime, this post was more about the sample packets and whether or not it is worth the initial $10.  I have to say I think it is.  There are two days’ worth of products in the packet and three separate serums to try so you can see what works well with your skin.  It is enough to see your initial reactions to the products and to learn if they are right for you. Personally, I really like sample kits of skin care products and I think the fact that it comes with a $10 off coupon is just the cherry on top. I’ll be back in a few weeks to let you know how the products work over time.

I have a good feeling about this one.


sample kit

The Serum and the Sheet, Its the Friday Face Mask

Today’s sheet mask and the serum of the same name

Welcome to the Friday Face mask. Today I decided to go with the Sweet Chef Kale + Vitamin B fresh Pressed Sheet mask (retail $3.50 per mask). It came in my IPSY Ultimate box for February (the box review will be posted Monday).

The reason I decided to use this one today was because I wanted to do a comparison. Last month I received the Sweet Chef Kale + Vitamin B Serum in an IPSY box and I still have a little of the serum left.

If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. It is a great serum. The thin dropper is probably going to drive me mad, but the product is good. With sheet masks I always wonder if the serum is the same as the serum applied to the sheet.

The Serum is on the left and the serum from the mask on the right, not only is there a clear visual difference but the scent is not the same. The sheet seems to be a thinned out version.

In this case, I don’t think it is. The serum is slightly different in color and smells a little different. It does not smell as fresh and green as the bottled serum. It still smelled nice, but it didn’t have the same intensely green scent. I was hoping they were the same as IPSY sent a three pack of masks, Ginger and Beet being the other two, and I figured it would let me know if I wanted to purchase and try those serums.
But this is about the Kale mask. So first the claims…

The Sweet Chef Kale + Vitamin B Fresh Pressed Sheet Mask dishes ultimate hydration for selfie-approved results. Superfood kale and vitamin B are combined to calm, nourish, and moisturize skin, serving up an instantly hydrated and glowing complexion.

Pretty standard as far as claims go, so I ripped open the package and unfolded the mask. The sheet mask is a bit different than other masks. It is thicker and more cloth like and really molds to the skin. It didn’t slip or curl and I believe it is biodegradable, which I really like. It stayed in place and was quite refreshing to wear. The serum absorbed well and instead of rested I felt rather invigorated after taking my twenty minute Friday afternoon mask break.

The sheet mask on and yes, I realize I look like a very poorly dressed bank robber. with strange facial tattoos. For those concerned, the writing and Kale image are on the sheet, not me. And I have not turned to a life of crime.

I really enjoyed this mask even if it wasn’t the same as the bottled serum. Since I liked both of them I am hoping that I will like the other two sheet masks. If I do, I think I would probably enjoy those serums as well since it seems like the serum in the bottle is a super amped up version of what is on the mask. As I am trying to work through my stack of sheet masks, I probably would only use them as an indication of my like or dislike for the serum rather than purchasing them individually.

Now invigorated from by break, I am going back to work to see if I can close out a few things before I start getting ready for valentine’s dinner. Tonight is a candle lit dinner for two at Chez Moi. The chocolate mousse is already chilling in the fridge and the lamb chops and veggie sides won’t take that long to complete. I just have to move the stack of junk mail from the table and I will be set. I just have one last editing job to clear from my slate and then I will begin. I hope everyone out there has a great Valentines night as well.


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Finally, a Kale I love.

Sweet Chef Kale + Vitamin B Serum Shot

One of the things I love about subscription boxes is that occasionally they send to me something I would never actually pick up for myself.  Because it is then in my house, most of the time I feel compelled to try it.  That was the case with this Sweet Chef Kale + Vitamin B shot (serum) (retail $20) that came in my January IPSY subscription box.

Now I know a lot of you out there love kale. And I cast no shade in your direction. Power to you. Go on loving kale.

I will come right out and say it, I am not a fan. As a kid I remember seeing it on my plate and having my grandmother lean in and say, ‘Don’t eat that, it’s just for decoration.’ It was the green background to a scoop of chicken salad, nothing more. In the garden it wasn’t planted with the vegetables, it was planted as a green backdrop to some of the more delicate flowers.

So they would shine.

To be honest, when I was little I thought kale was toxic, like rhubarb leaves.

Then its super food nature took it from being the inedible backdrop to center stage.  It began appearing everywhere from green juice to the chip bowl. Personally, I think taking on the potato is more or less trying to punch out of its weight class, but again, I’m not a fan. Spinach is my go to green leaf. And I love spinach with a nearly Popeye-esqe attachment.

But that is beside the point.  This time, kale came to me and it came not on the dinner plate, but in the skin care realm. 

Interesting invasion technique. Of course I had to try it. So first we look at the product page where it states…

Fan of green juice? Now you can use it on your face! The Sweet Chef Kale + Vitamin B Serum Shot is milky essence jam-packed with cult-favorite kale. This crunchy veggie is rich in nutrients and antioxidants to hydrate while vitamin B soothes. Bouncy, hydrated skin is always in.

It is a little thicker than many other serums I’ve tried but is absorbs well

The three active ingredients touted are Kale, Vitamin B and Aloe Barbadensis flower extract, all of which are known for anti-inflammatory skin soothing and moisturizing properties.

All in all, not a bad trio to have in a serum.  So I uncapped the lid and as always took a sniff, because you know I have to smell everything.  I swear if anyone wanted to knock me out it would be super easy.  But as I am not on anyone’s hit list I feel pretty safe at the moment. 

So the serum.  Well, it smells green. I know, sometimes my colors and scents get mixed up, so I’ll do my best to explain.  I know the bottle is tinted light green and the serum itself is a pale minty green, but the scent of it is a deep rich growing green. I’m guessing that’s the Kale, but it is the scent you get when you cut most of the iron rich salad greens in the garden in the high summer. (Incidentally most of the best salad greens don’t like high summer, but we have a patch of yard that is so over grown from overhead tree limbs that we can grow spring greens after spring has technically ended.  That shadowy cool green on a hot summer’s day is sort of infused into this green)

Because of the scent I expected the serum to be darker. In addition to being paler, it is thicker than I expected as well.  It is not quite thick enough to be a cream, but it is thicker than other serums. 

This did cause one problem.  The serum is dispensed via dropper.  The dropper is a shade on the thin side and the serum is a shade on the thick side.  The serum clings to the sides of the bottle so it makes it a bit difficult for the dropper to pick up the serum.  To solve this I took the dropper out, put my thumb over the opening, shook it a bit like a glass ketchup bottle and then put the dropper back in.  The shaking jiggled the serum off the sides and back into the center so the dropped could pick it up.  If you do this with the dropper in, then the dropper creates a hollow in the center so it is pointless.  You have to take the dropper out for it to work. A little extra step, yes.  Worth it? Oh yeah.

The green dropper is from the Sweet Chef Kale shot and the other is from more liquid serum for size comparison.

Despite the extra shaking, I really like this serum.  The scent is a good wake me up smell and the serum is wonderfully hydrating.  It absorbs into the skin really well and doesn’t slow me down in the morning and really sooths the skin.  Because of the smell, I also feel really healthy after I’ve applied it.  To be honest, except for the slight shaking required by the thickness of the serum, I have no negatives. It is a great product with a decent price, and in addition if I forget to re-order, it is also sold at Target so I can just pick up a replacement when I run out.  Truthfully, I will be picking up a replacement when I run out.  I will also be looking into the other serums in this line to see if they are as good.

Finally, a use for Kale I actually like. I knew it would come eventually. I suppose I have joined its legion of fans. I’m still not giving up my spinach, but kale skincare I think I can get behind.


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Skincare Review: Dermelect Self-Esteem

Recently Dermelect very nicely provided me with two of their products to review.  Both are in their Self-Esteem line of skin care and are designed to work in tandem.  The first is the Self-Esteem Beauty Sleep Serum and the second is the Self-Esteem Neck Firming Lift. 

The Self-Esteem Beauty Sleep Serum (retail $42) contains one fluid ounce of product.  The product itself weighed in at 2.5 ounces. So basic math tells us that the glass bottle weighs 1.5 ounces. I love when the math is straightforward.  As with all of my skin care trials, I used the product for two weeks.  At the end of the two weeks the bottle of serum weighed in at 2.25 ounces. Since I know the glass didn’t get any lighter, that means that in two weeks I used 0.25 ounces of the serum.  A simple extrapolation means that the entire bottle of serum, used at this level would last about eight weeks. 

For me the eight week length of serum is more or less compatible with other serums I’ve tried. I actually expected it to be a little less to be honest as it is designed to be used on the neck and face. While I try to use most serums in the same way, I often forget the neck.  I think the difference is because it is designed to be used at night rather than both the night and the day.  I’m guessing the surface area of face and neck once a day versus just face twice a day evens out. Anyway, what that means in terms of cost is that it breaks down to 56 days of use with $0.75 per day for this product.

But a product is only good if it works and to see if it works it is necessary to see what it is supposed to do.  According to the website:

Dual function facial + décolleté overnight serum utilizes three types of concentrated amino-acids to target the appearance of fine lines, wrinkling and large pores resulting in a brighter, more even-looking complexion. Fine lines, dark age spots, clogged pores and wrinkles are all telltale signs of aging, photo-aging and unhealthy skin. Self-Esteem Beauty Sleep Serum is a highly concentrated, anti-aging, exfoliator that stimulates collagen-building cell activity while working to help reduce wrinkling.

The recommended application was to apply from the hairline, over the face neck and décolleté (upper chest area) every evening before bed so it can soak in while you sleep.

The serum is a tannish color and to me smells a bit like toast

So knowing the use and the expected results, I opened the bottle.  The serum is a tannish brown and when I took a sniff I found it had a scent that to me smells a bit like toast. I know that sounds strange, but I tried to think of what else it could smell like but kept coming up with ‘vaguely toasted’. I personally liked the scent. I also have no idea what produces the scent.  Nowhere in the listed ingredients is ‘toast’ listed. L. Ascorbic, glycolic and Salicylic Acids yes.  Toast, no.

So I liked the smell and I applied the serum.. It applied well and to my relief the color disappeared as soon as it was on the skin.  There was no staining from the color.  It absorbed fast, my skin drinking it in.  I was also worried about it getting on the pillow, but it was fully absorbed before I headed off to bed so that was not even an issue. 

Since this serum is part of a two part plan to work on helping skin fight time, I’ll switch to the second part of the pair at this point and then put my reactions afterwards.

The second part of the plan is the Self-Esteem Neck Firming Lift cream. Upon arrival it weighed in at 2.75 ounces with a product amount listed as 2 ounces of product.  While the serum comes in a glass bottle, the cream comes in a plastic jar. At the end of the two week trial the jar weighed in at an even 2 ounces. So the jar weighs 0.75 ounces and two weeks of use took 0.75 ounces of product so the cream should last a little over 6 weeks. As it too covered face, neck and upper chest, it worked over a lot of skin real estate so to speak. With a retail of $45 spread over six weeks (42 days) it means that the cream ends up costing about $1.07 per day for the cream.

The cream in the jar is a plain white with almost no discernible scent to it.

And it’s claims:

A comprehensive blend of ingredients combine to help hydrate and streamline the appearance of the delicate skin of the neck, lower jaw, cheeks and chin area. Non-greasy formula- for all skin types.

When I opened the jar I took a sniff, wondering if this too would smell of toast.  It did not.  It was a white cream that smelled of absolutely nothing. A sniff let me know it was some sort of face cream, but that’s it.  This cream is meant to be applied in the morning over the face and neck.

As it claims it is not greasy at all and it tends to absorb fast as well so there was little delay in continuing my morning routine.  It did leave my skin looking shiny, not in a greasy way but more in a really clean way, if that makes any sense.  My skin looked dull when I first applied it, the cream was absorbed and my skin looked like I had nothing on. Personally, I am okay with my skin looking clean even after I apply moisturizer. In addition, my skin did feel hydrated.

So serum at night and cream in the morning. Now that I had my recommended application, I started my trial.  During the two weeks I did notice that there was a plumping and smoothing of the fine lines on my face, particularly around the sides of my mouth. I’m fairly certain the one line on my forehead is carved daily by my facial expressions and can’t be touched by anything short of an injectable filler, but truthfully it doesn’t bother me. I will say neither it or any other lines on my face deepened during the trial. To be honest I think a six month trial would be needed to really test the deepening of those lines though.

My skin at the end of the trial. I know different side of the face, but it had the same issues. I still have the lines, but there is less sagging under the eyes, a better skin tone and no clogged pores (I tend to get them along my orbital bone on both sides. Still no product on skin, I just forgot to pull my bangs back.
Not the greatest shot, but this picture was taken before I started the trial. if you look closely, you can see a few clogged pores along the orbital bone as well as some lines upon my face. I had no products on my skin at the time I took the pic.

I did notice that my skin looked more even and I wasn’t getting as many clogged pores (those odd little bumps under the skin that look like they want to be pimples but just can’t put in the effort of fully erupting) as before.

While the line on my forehead doesn’t bother me, the skin on my neck does. As I’ve lost weight my neck skin goes through these odd cycles of sagging and then slowly shrinking back. It’s like my skin has to readjust to the body it covers. (which I suppose is exactly what is going on) While the rest of my body is more or less taking the adjustments in stride, mostly because I am going with the slow and steady weight loss and not losing a ton of weight all at once, the skin of my neck shows the adjustments. 

Incidentally I tried to get pictures of my neck but the shadows in both the before and after photo obscured everything. To try and get the photo without the shadows I had to lan back and that strained my neck in both, making it look really strange. I need to pick up a light that isn’t an overhead light for these sorts of before and after photos in the future. Trust me, it is on my list.

I have to say, despite the lack of picture, the neck is where this duo really shines.  I can study the fine lines of my face with a magnified mirror and debate effects on them for ages, but with my neck and décolleté I noticed the effect within two or three days.  The skin on my neck and jaw line was less saggy looking and not as loose. The Self-esteem Beauty Sleep serum I can see using on my face and neck repeatedly.  The cream was an okay moisturizer, but not my favorite.  It is called a neck firming lift though and that is what it does. 

Personally, I want to hoard it simply to use on my lower jaw, neck and upper chest. I will use some other product for my face.  This is for my neck.  It’s like that lunch you leave in the office fridge where you know if you don’t write your name on it someone else will take it because it looks better than what they brought.  This cream is marked neck and now that my trial is done, it is not sharing with the face.

It will last longer and go where it is needed.  I have to also add, I really like having something specifically detailed in my skin care regime for my neck.  While I know my current issues are due to dieting and weight loss, I know the sagging skin issue is not going to go away over time and will just continue. Having something there reminds me to take care of my neck and not forget it when attempting to fight the signs of aging.

So the final judgement, would I use this again?  Yes.  I would use the serum as an all over (face, neck and décolleté) nightly serum, but I would restrict the use of the Self-esteem Neck Firming Lift cream to my neck. I understand why the directions call for it to be used for the whole face, but like I said, my neck is no longer sharing. I would get this solely for use on my neck. I am so glad I now know this cream exists.


Daily Deal

Reviewing the Blue Lotus Line

The Blue Lotus Line from Pur-lisse (well most of it anyway)

Around the time the weather finally decided that summer was more than likely over (it seemed very lothe to commit to such a sentiment this year) and it would start shifting between warmer and cooler temperatures, more or less indiscriminately, I tried the Ble Lotus Balancing moisturizer from Pur-lisse. The moisturizer really impressed me with the way it worked during those transitional temperatures and I wanted to give it a try when the fluctuations were a little less severe.

Since I already reviewed the moisturizer I was just going to test it on my own and then add my findings to a second chances posting at a later date. Sometimes I find that first impressions aren’t always accurate and I like to give products a second chance before I make my final decision on them. However I decided that if I was going to be retesting the moisturizer I might as well look at the other products in the Blue Lotus line.

Deciding this I added the Blue Lotus Seed Mud mask and exfoliator, the Balancing Serum and the Blue Lotus 4 in 1 Eye-Adore serum to my trial, thus making it more of a test of the line rather than just a test of the moisturizer. While they are all part of a Korean multi-step skin care program, I will admit, I have never officially tried the ten step skin care regime.

My personal regime (currently) has several steps in it and I tend to vary them based on what I actually feel I need at the moment. I might try something more directly in line with the ten steps at a later date, especially as I keep finding really nice products that are more or less designed to fit into that system. The working theory is that if I like the products I might like the system. But that is something for another time.

As I was trying the line, I went with deluxe sample sizes for these products rather than purchasing the full sized versions. I figure if I liked the products, I could always pick up the full sized versions later. This being said, while I used the products for two weeks, I didn’t do the weigh in at the beginning to see if I could plan out how long they would last.

Now on to the products.

I will start with the Blue Lotus Seed Mud Mask and Exfoliator (full size retails for $48). Mostly I am starting with this because it comes earlier in my routine than the others. The claims for this product according to the website:

Just a thin layer is needed.

Improve texture and tightness of your skin in just 10 minutes! Blue Lotus extract is a powerful antioxidant known for it’s anti-inflammatory benefits. White Clay tightens skin & purifies pores, Bamboo improves skin texture, Ginger detoxifies, Mushroom extract helps to brightening skin tone, White Tea soothes skin, amd Rice Bran Water improves skin texture.

Now that I knew what to expect I tried it on. I applied a thin layer to the skin, massaging it a little to get the exfoliating benefits. The mask itself has very little scent, it just smells clean if that makes any sense. In fact none of these products has much of a scent to them. Clean and like cream are all of the scent descriptions I have for any of the products in this line. While the mask felt a little bumpy when applied to the skin so that I knew it wasn’t just a straightforward mud mask, the exfoliation granules (which I’m guessing are the seeds) was very gentle. So gentle in fact I at first doubted they would do much. But After massaging, I let the layer sit on the skin for the recommended ten minutes.

As it sat the product made my skin feel cool, but not tingly. This is something I tend to feel with almost all clay based masks so I was sort of expecting it. At the end of ten minutes, the mask felt like it tightened as well as dried, but not overly so. I returned to the bathroom, and more importantly the sink, to wash it off. Given that it had clay in it, I suspected I would have to use a brush to loosen it before it would be removed as it did dry to a thin but solid layer over my skin. Such things were not needed as a simple splash of water, rehydrated it enough to simply loosen and wash off. I have never had a clay based mask wash off so easily before.

For a moment I thought I did something wrong.

And yes I reread the back of the bottle, I didn’t do anything wrong as it turns out. It just washes off easily. I dried my face and looked at my skin. It was soft and smooth, but not overly dried. As gentle as the exfoliant was in this product, I could really feel the difference after using it.

Feeling pleased with this step, I moved on to the Brightening serum (full sized retails for $65). According to the website:

Blue Lotus extract is a powerhouse antioxidant with anti-inflammatory benefits known to combat against free radical damage. Lupine Peptides promote a luminous complexion. Vitamin C & Alpha Arbutin brightens & evens skin tone. Neem and Prune extracts fades away hyper~pigmentation & sun damage. Avocado Oil & natural Squalene nurtures sensitive skin.

Okay I’ll admit, while I really like all of the other ingredients, I had to look up Neem. Apparently Neem extract is made from Neem leaves (I know you are in awe of my investigative skills, no?). Neem is also another term for Indian Lilac. That at least I had heard of. When looking further I found the plant is used medicinally to treat all sorts of disorders from stomach ulcers to leprosy. It can also be used to soften skin, which is I’m guessing the effect here.

Mostly because I don’t have leprosy.

And my skin felt soft.

Moving on, the serum surprised me when I put some in my hand as I expected it to be like most serums with a somewhat loose almost gel like consistency. This is white and has a cream like consistency. In fact i thought I picked up the cream by mistake and reread the bottle to be certain. Nope, it was the serum.

It applied well and only a little dab (about pea sized) was needed for the face and neck (I am still looking for the perfect neck cream but for now I am just trying to remember to apply products down the neck. With each few pounds lost, my neck skin sags and then firms back up so I like to encourage it to firm up quickly, things no one tells you about weight loss right?) If you don’t extend your serum down the neck then just use a little less.

I found the serum absorbed well and was the perfect post mask treatment for my skin. I know I shouldn’t find it surprising that two products from the same line work well together, but they do. It was soothing and smooth and as I continued to use the product over the course of my trial I did notice a bit of brightening to the skin. My skin tends to react really well to Vitamin C so I’m guessing that was part of it.

While I couldn’t find the full sized version listed, the travel sized contains a lot of product and will last quite a while.

Next in line was the Blue Lotus 4 in 1 Eye Adore serum. I chose this because I was looking for a really good eye cream and have yet to find one I am truly satisfied with. Like I mentioned above, I am testing the travel sized or deluxe sample sized version of these products. when I wwent to look up this cream on the main site, I found the full sized version missing. The travel size is listed however (retail $33) and the only information listed on the page is ‘ Transform your under eye for a smoother look‘. There are reviews posted, but not much else listed for the product. I’m not entirely certain why, but I will keep looking, mainly because I really liked this product.

One of the issues I have with a lot of eye creams is that they tend to clog my pores and give me a small row of sub-surface acne around the eye area. As I’m already fighting time to slow down the appearance of wrinkles I don’t need to add fighting acne to the list of concerns for that delicate skin. Maybe because it is a serum instead of an eye cream it did not cause any problems for me. It does have a cream like consistency to it rather than a serum one though. Like the other products in this line, it has virtually no scent to it and only a small amount of the product is needed. I will certainly be using up ever drop of this serum and more than any other in this line, I will be repurchasing it. Even if I can’t find a full sized version, I am okay with the travel size. It has a thin nozzle that dispenses a small amount of product and keeps the rest secure from the air. while I’d like to find a full sized, mostly to cut down on packaging waste, it is good enough I will cut down waste elsewhere to justify the travel size.

Finally we return to where we started, with the Blue Lotus Balancing Moisturizer (retail $45). Like the rest of the line it has a clean almost non existent scent and very little of the product is actually needed. To use in the day time, I use just a little bit less and to use at night, I used just a little bit more, but the difference was really the difference between an early snow pea and a full sized garden one. On the website the product claims:

Blue Lotus extract is a powerhouse antioxidant with anti-inflammatory benefits known to combat against free radical damage.White Tea offers anti-bacterial and skin soothing abilities. Vitamin E prevents premature aging and improves skin texture. French Marine Plants help retain moisture and promote skin radiance.

Over all not that different from the rest of the line in claims really. While I have no way of testing the protection against free radicals, I can say that my skin felt smooth and hydrated through out the trial and at no point felt greasy. I had no break outs from these products and while I don’t have a big sensitivity to scent, I appreciate that no scent was actually added to the products and I think that a person who is sensitive to added scents would find this relatively easy to use.

I am pleased with how the moisturizer performed when the temperatures aren’t yo-yoing all over the place. While the Blue Lotus Balancing Moisturizer was at the top of my list for transition moths, it has now joined my top five moisturizers and it is one I will repurchase. I also found that I really liked the rest of the line as well. The brightening serum makes the top five list as well, while the eye serum, despite my difficulty in locating a full sized version actually is at the top of my eye products list. The mud mask and exfoliator is also in my top fives. During this trial I used it twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays and I will continue doing so until this product is gone. It is a great mask and an excellent, but gentle exfoliator.

Over all I found myself really impressed with this product line and while some of the products do lean on the more expensive side, the cost is not outrageously expensive and is a very good value for the money. while I tested travel sized versions rather than the full sized ones, very little product is actually needed from each of them. At the end of the trial and two weeks of continuous use, I still have plenty of product left.I think the full sized versions would last long enough to justify their price. Way to go Purlisse.

While I did purchase these products on my own, I do have some affiliate codes you can use to access posted below. I do receive a small compensation if you use the codes towards purchasing, but even if you don’t use the codes, I’d recommend checking them out as the products are really good. I think the Milk sale posted below where you get a free Blue Lotus Product with purchase runs through January 11th.

Save on the original pur~lisse collection, check out our last chance sale at purlisse.com

Get Free Shipping on purchases of $50 or more ($75 in Canada) at purlisse.com

Milk Day 2020

A few of my favorite things in 2019

A few of my favorite things from 2019

The end of the year approaches and thoughts naturally turn towards review.  In my mind I find events and decisions, both good and bad, thrown into sharp focus as I evaluate what I learned and what I want to revise about my life as I move into the new year. Should I try out more new walking trails in the area, should I attempt that weird machine in the gym that no one ever seems to use, should I try and make blancmange from scratch?

As is also natural, I also find myself thinking over not only the various products I’ve tried out, but the subscription services I’ve tried as well.  Some I will continue to use, others, I might allow to lapse.

The one subscription service that has never let me down deserves mention in this list of a few favorite things.  And that is Scentbox.

During this year I have had a subscription for a single monthly supply of perfume and I have increased it to two perfumes to try per month.  I have liked some and disliked others. There was one perfume sent to me where an allergic reaction caused me to test the return and exchange policy for the company. I put the subscription on hold for a month and then resumed. I have sent them questions and received prompt and complete answers. At every turn they either met or exceeded all of my expectations and so that is why, despite having several subscriptions that I really enjoy, Scentbox gets the list as one of my favorites for 2019.

My favorite perfume this year, found via scentbox

One of my favorite perfumes also came to me from ScentBox so I will move on to that as my next favorite. That perfume is Eau de Cartier by Cartier. It is soft, subtly and sophisticated.  The scent has become my current favorite for a night out.  I have yet to find a day scent I am willing to stick with as consistently, but perhaps that will come in 2020. I will certainly continue trying out new scents. Perhaps I will find a day time fragrance and perhaps I will find a night time one I like just a much if not more than Eau de Cartier, but at the moment, it is the unrivaled champion of the year.

For facial exfoliators, I have to give this year to Skin and Co’s Face Gommage. This was a surprise to me as I tried out quite a few this year and each time the new product was beaten by last year’s favorite Scrubatomic by Soap and Glory. I was certain nothing would come close to beating it, but in my December IPSY, this product arrived and I have to say it beat out Scrubatomic to take the 2019 exfoliator crown.

(Here she is its Miss Exfoliator – insert cheesy crooning lounge singer voice here please, thank you)

current favorite mask and primer

Balancing between exfoliator and mask, is the Pomegranate Resurfacing Mask from Korres.  While it is somewhat exfoliating, I’m putting it in the mask category of favorites.  It is a quick five minute mask that not only leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth but fresh feeling and looking.  Also from this pomegranate line by Korres comes my favorite moisturizer of the year.  The Pomegranate balancing moisturizer is one of the better moisturizers I tried this year.

The only time I had issues with it were in the transition weeks when the weather was switching.  Then I was torn between whether or not I was applying too much or too little.  For the transition times for moisturizer, I have to hand it to Purlisse Blue Lotus Moisturizer. This product rode those weather changes well and is one I will try again when winter begins to fade.

Before I completely leave exfoliators behind, I want to say one of the lip exfoliators I really enjoyed using this year was the ELF Sweet Cherry lip scrub.  It comes in a tube that looks like lipstick and is super easy to apply.  It is less messy than many other lip scrubs and works really well on dry winter lips.

ELF lip exfoliator in sweet cherry

As far as toners go, Thayers Facial Toner in Rose Petal is my current favorite. It feels nice on the skin, doesn’t smell like witch hazel and helps the pores on my nose look smaller.  It also got me an ‘I told you witch hazel was fabulous’ from some of my older family members when I went home over the holidays, but I won’t hold against the Thayers. I do still want to know who stole my bottle while I was home this year though. I took a bottle home with me at thanksgiving and it was mysteriously gone when I repacked to leave.

Clearly, it wasn’t just my favorite.

One final skin care item I have to mention is the Kypris Antioxidant dew serum. I love everything about this serum.  I love the scent, I love the way it absorbs into my skin and I love the way it makes my skin feel.  I will not only be using this product going into 2020, but I will be looking at others they produce to try out.  Hopefully other items work just as well. I can’t wait to find out.

To be honest, despite trying out numerous makeup products this year, as I review the year only three really stand out to me.  The first is the Yensa Essential Glow primer.  Not only is it a great primer under makeup but this summer when it was so hot that foundation was a laughable concept as it would either sweat right off or stay in place and cause massive breakouts from clogged pores, this was my favorite daily option. It has a slight tint to it and helps even up skin tone, but is light enough not to cause break outs.  As such there were many days where I wore it with no foundation at all.  As soon as it ran out, I immediately repurchased it and will be keeping it around.

The second item that stands out is the Trestique color+contour stick.  It is a cream bronzer, which I never thought I would like, but it blends out beautifully and stays put all day.  It is handy for travel as it is in a rather small container, and it comes with its own brush so a separate one doesn’t need to be packed. It is a great formula, just be advised that the magnet in the magnetic cap is pretty strong and will cause it to link up with any other metal object in the makeup bag.  It is a great help in retrieving earrings from the bottom of the bag, so there is that.

The third makeup item that I felt worth mentioning in my favorites of 2019 is the Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara. I like the wand, I like the formula and of the multitude of mascaras that have come my way this year, it stands atop the pile as my favorite.

In the category of hair care, I have several leave in conditioner that I like and many different shampoos.  The product that stands out the most to me is the Beauty Protector protect and oil.  It is an Argan oil hair product that smells absolutely divine both in the bottle and in the hair. I think it stands out to me as I never thought I’d actually like a hair oil.  Surprisingly, this is very light weight and not at all greasy. I have long and somewhat thick hair and need only a tiny dab for my whole head.  It is great for taming flyaways, but I have found that if I rub a little on my hands and then rub it into the ends of my hair, I tend to get fewer split ends. Maybe it is just providing the ends with a little extra protection, but I really like it and plan to keep using it and to possibly give other hair oils more of a try in the future.

Finally, we come to https://www.amazon.com/Smith-Cult-Nail-Lacquer-Dear/dp/B00YSGSZ3GSmith and Cult Nail Lacquer. Not only is it a great nail polish that lasts quite a while without chipping, but I want to specifically mention the Doe My Dear shade.  It is a nice cool toned shade that is neutral without being beige.  It has almost a blueish cast to it and is great for daily wear.  It is also useful as a base for more jazzy gem stones or glitter polish as it serves as a nice backdrop to the shine.

I know there isn’t an item for every category of face, hair and body care, nor is there a favorite for every type of makeup product, but to be honest, not every category had a favorite this year. I tried many products in many categories and these are the things that stand out to me as I look back over the year. Perhaps 2020 will be the year of the eyeshadow or the face powder or even the foundation. 

Actually, as my favorite foundation was discontinued, 2020 may end up being the year of the great foundation quest. (begin the heroic dragon slaying music! I’ll go find my noble steed and makeup wipes.)

I’m not entirely certain what next year will hold, what trends will take hold or pass me by completely. Finding out is half the fun anyway.  I can tell you though, if glitter encrusted lips make a return, I will be passing this time.  I don’t mind flecks of glitter in my lipstick or gloss, but that fully packed on glitter lip from a few years ago, never again. My last attempt at trying it ended with glitter in my teeth that took two days, a tube of toothpaste and most of a bottle of mouthwash to finally remove. And it never looked quite right so I don’t even have one awesome picture from the ordeal. I had to replace my tooth brush, but on certain nights, I still think one of my back molars gleams. Beyond that, I look forward to trying all the new things this year brings to me.


Affiliate Codes: I may receive some compensation for the use of the below codes towards a purchase. (note: the above links are just general links from the product sites and I don’t receive anything from them should you wish to click on those instead.)

BLUE LOTUS BALANCING MOISTURIZER [More]

Price: $45.00
Sale: $45.00

KYPRIS Antioxidant Dew is a lightweight, multi-action moisturiser with intense hydratio… [More]

Price: £69.00