Summer sun care update

My sunscreen of choice has shifted a bit over the past couple of years. I’ve got some strong and updated opinions kicking around, so I figured I’d weigh in and give a little update since it’s just now FINALLY summer-like here in Seattle! (Apologies to any of you who could have used this info in, like, May, what with the heat wave and all. We write what we know, and all I know is that it’s totally cloudy and overcast where I live right now.)

DEVITA. I still love me some Devita body block,  but my concerns remain about it being less apt at protecting (since the particles are soooo micronized and since the formulation is more like a lotion and doesn’t seem to stay on your skin in hot weather). So I like to mix this with other sunscreens, or use it when I know I won’t be out for long. What I still love is that it doesn’t make my pores feel clogged like many other mineral sunscreens do. It does still sting my eyes a tiny bit even if I just use it near but not right next to them—no one I’ve talked to knows why this happens, but it goes away after a bit so overall the benefits outweigh the ouch or inconvenience. Just wait a few minutes before you put on mascara! (Note: you’re welcome to spend too much on their facial formulation, but the body block is nearly identical and is much better value for your money.)


BURNOUT. The lovely ladies at EDS also turned me on to Burnout. I’ve tried their kids’ formulation. While it’s a bit dry, it doesn’t look as white as it comes out in the tube and its dryness is great at keeping oil at bay in the summer heat. I like to mix it with some Devita to thin it out and make it a bit more transparent. Sometimes I also mix in a little argan oil (I get mine from Garden of Wisdom, but this seems like a better deal) to try to make it more moisturizing. I recently used up the last of this tube (took me FOREVER, in a good way, and it stayed fresh ’til the end) so I’m about to order their sensitive formulation to see how that goes. I’ll update if there are any significant differences in how the sensitive stuff (blue writing and cap) seems in comparison.

O HUI. Back in the day I posted about O Hui’s compact powder sunblock, and I still love that stuff but only for REALLY intense sun days. The fancy little compact broke (waaah!) and the pale creamy off-white color does give me a very slight ghostly cast, so I only use it when I need extra protection and I also know my face will be sweaty/shiny—I brush this on instead of normal loose powder, and I use a short-handled very soft synthetic kabuki brush. Incidentally, O Hui seems like it’s getting a little easier to find online—but the only Amazon product I see that’s a powder sunblock is this one, which is described as being “white.” So no thanks. Still, seems like others will be able to share in my O Hui summer joy soon!

photo9

MYCHELLE (BOO!). I was on a recent trip to Dallas when I was forced to pick up a tube of MyChelle’s facial sunblock at Whole Foods. They’ve reformulated this at least once (and probably more like 3x; WTF) since I last tried it, and it’s much worse now—it clogs my pores horrendously. I’ve been using it up anyway, but this blog post has finally inspired me to click through to check out on my Amazon order so I can get some better sun care reinforcements in, stat. The new(est) MyChelle is dry, chalky, and generally sticky-feeling without being sufficiently moisturizing. Like Burnout but without the benefits. It seems to protect well, but yech—I plan to use this as a body block and/or husband block (he won’t know better unless he reads this post, heh—the proof is in the comment, honey!) to use it up since it’s also quite pricey. Weirdly, this actually looks cheaper on MyChelle’s site than on Amazon’s. Either way, avoid!


Upcoming: ELTA & NIA24. Lastly (I swear), I recently received some exciting sunscreen samples. My awesome mother-in-law stayed with us for the past week, and she brought me a sample of Elta sunscreen that her fancy DC dermatologist swears by. The stuff is nice and chemical-free just like I like, but it’s also tinted so it hopefully doesn’t give that chalky cast (or WAY too dark and orange a cast, *ahem, Dr. Perricone*). So I’m excited to try that out soon! I also got a small vial of NIA 24’s sunscreen from the Amazon vendor who sold me my magical Peter Thomas Roth pads. I’ve heard good things about NIA24’s sun formulation but I keep giving away my samples to more excited skincare nerds—no longer! This one’s mine! (And I promise to tell you all about it soon.)

Aaaanyway, I hope you lovelies are all surviving the heat wave one way or another. Stay protected out there!

Branching out from my usual sources

I’m a big Sephora fan, no doubt. I’ve also enjoyed shopping for beauty products at Nordstrom, and of course I get some of my stuff from EDS and my hippie-dippier ingredients from Mountain Rose and Nature’s Gift. But lately I’ve found that shopping at bigger retailers is surprisingly un-scary! I was eyeing my go-to eye cream online, and there were no good shipping deals from the manufacturer’s site or QVC where they often sell their stuff. But Amazon had a great deal! I emailed the seller just to be sure, and they confirmed that it was a fresh shipment, too. So I went for it and was very pleased with the price point. (Go here if you want a similarly great deal.)

And just last month, on a trip to Texas, I lent a friend some Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Correction pads to calm her breakout—her skin had freaked out in the humid Dallas climate. She loved them so much she asked me for a referral, and when I Googled them, the Amazon price was way lower than the Sephora price! AND the Amazon shipping was free.

Look, some of you lovelies know I used to work for Amazon. But I worked in Kindle, and thought of them primarily as a tech company plus a place to, like, research for the best headphones and flash drives. I don’t actually order through them all that often for more “normal” items. But I’m totally going to start checking them for skincare deals, and I’ll be watching my lil’ widget to see what kinds of products it starts suggesting. (If it doesn’t get smarter soon I’ll have to hard-code it to offer y’all up beauty deals.) I think as my tastes mainstream a bit more, I’ll start to find better and better deals from the big A.

And lest it not be said, those complexion pads are GREAT for acne, and also help with wrinkles and age spots! Just be careful not to overdo it, or you’ll get mad flaky and dry—you may wanna start with the sensitive formula and work your way up to the full thing.

 

EDITED TO ADD: I actually received a totally gross-looking shipment of these pads. The top foil was punctured and the product was clearly contaminated, even though it’s largely alcohol based. However, I wrote the seller to complain and they immediately refunded my money, without me having to harass them or send the product back or anything. I was then able to salvage what seems to be clean and safe to use product—it really was just the top seal that was disgusting. So overall, even though I wouldn’t expect it to show up like that from Sephora, I had a good skincare shopping experience with this Amazon seller, so I’ll be trying that out again soon for sunblock.

Holy lashes, Batman!

Remember my Great Mascara Review from last year? Yeah, now that I found my Holy Grail Mascara, I thought I was all done with that noise. Well sadly, my HG is starting to bug my eyes lately — might be the lack of humidity now that heaters are going on everywhere — and I think I need to switch to a gentler formula for my overtaxed peepers.  After all, I DO spend all day staring at tiny text in an MMO in a de-humidified office.

Through absolutely no intention or efforts, I have wound up with the following generous sample tubes from Nordies and Sephora over the past few months (left to right), which I figured I might as well review briefly. None of these formulations are waterproof, so I wasn’t surprised that none of these were a huge hit, but what the heck!

One thing is for certain — the tiny, thin brushes from my Clinique Lash Power Mascara and my Smashbox Lash Detailer Mascara are way better for my peepers, so I’ve washed and saved those. Any new HG mascara will likely only be HG when applied with one of these phenomenal brushes!


Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara — Meh. Hard to apply and rubs/flakes off really easily. It was super dry and sticky-like to get on, like the (sealed in a bag) tube was old and dried out. Niiiice.

Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For — Spiky ouchy brush, meh formulation, will still keep brush for use w/ other mascaras but not to be used at base of lashes. Owie!

Lancôme Defincils — Sometimes I like this, but I don’t care for this stuff most days. It goes on very spindly/separatey, without enough volume — as I’ve mentioned before, this looks weird on my superlong and weirdly-pointing lashes. Makes them look lanky, anorexic and confused — bad in both teens and eyelashes, turns out. If I use the superskinny Clinique brush, it looks better, but still not amazing. It does give great separation with few clumps though.

Sephora plain ole mascara — Immediately leaked all over my undereye when I ate spicy food and teared up a tiny bit (no actual crying). Also weird fibrous flakiness. Ew.

Smashbox Lash DNA x2 — Meh, dry formula, and the stupid brush doesn’t allow for precise application so you smear it everywhere. Does separate nicely and get fringe-y when applied w/ Lash Detailer mascara brush (part of Beauty Breakthroughs kit). But for a mascara that isn’t waterproof, this stuff sure is hard to remove! Harder than most waterproof mascaras!

Shiseido Perfect Mascara — Has the same icky glue-like smell as the long-lasting Too Faced Lash Injection, but this stuff also rubs off if you change your shirt. Pass! And what a stuck-up name, haha.

Clinique High Impact Mascara x2 — Meh. This stuff is fine, not phenomenal, just fine. Goes on fine, comes off fine, doesn’t stay amazingly long but then none of these non-waterproof ones do.

Lancôme Hypnose Drama — This stuff is just fine, not amazing. Annoying abnormal brush and slightly dry/clump-inducing formulation. Meh. 

Estée Lauder Sumptuous — This is supposed to be volumizing? It’s one of those length and separation but no volume mascaras that makes my eyes look FREAKY. Great for Halloween though!

Buxom Lashes — This stuff is also with a mean ouchy spiky brush, which makes it mega-hard to apply to the lash base. Applied with a skinny Clinique brush it looks fine, but otherwise, pass. Also, it seems to uncurl my curled lashes quicker than any other formulation!

And home sick on school pictures day, Smashbox Bionic Mascara. Ick. Just as tacky, thick, clumpy, and eye-goober-forming as I remember it.

So yeah, no big winners here, but not a shock given that these were all non-waterproof freebies. Back to the drawing board — curse my sensitive peepers!

Powdered sunblock upgrade!

A few years back we had a blazing summer, and I got really into the idea of powdered sunblock. I tried a slew of brands (Peter Thomas RothBare EscentualsShiseido and Colorescience) but didn’t care for any of the  packaging or formulations. I even tried buying my own synthetic non-scratchy powder-dispensing brush that I could theoretically wash, but it was too big to fit in any makeup bags, and I tried making my own powder but I used the wrong zinc and it was all whitish… DIY fail. (Been meaning to go back to the drawing board, but no dice yet.)

Enter O HUI! My friend and fellow beauty bloggerette MeanJean gave me her compact, since she’s heading back to Korea soon and can replace it easily. This stuff is fab! The powder leaves only a very slight whitish cast that goes away almost immediately — it’s replaced Make Up For Ever as my everyday finishing powder, since I can kill two beauty birds with one puff.

Plus, this is the cleverest compact I’ve ever found. All the pictures I can find online show a totally different packaging than the one I have, so you have to bear with my silly iPhone home-shot image. It’s got the powder, then this plastic screen that flips closed (to protect the powder from the puff if you get it all sweaty/greasy wiping it on your skin) and then a  cavity for the puff and THEN the mirror. Thus, it can’t get all powdergunked, so it stays shiny and clean.  And it came with a really nice latex-y round puffish thing as well as a sealed spare.

I just love the stuff — I’m going to see if my local Asian supermarket carries it! I do wish I could find an ingredients list in English, but it’s been treating my skin so nicely that I’m honestly not that bothered, if you can believe it. Hooray for a skincare victory after many months of duds!

Chicken skin begone!

Look Ma, no bumps!In recent years, I’ve started to notice keratosis pilaris on my upper arms, and a teensy bit on my tush and the backs of my thighs. The latter two don’t matter AS much, since my hubby thinks my skin is smooth is butter (and it IS compared to his). But I really wanted to eradicate the arm stuff before my wedding!

For years I’ve used the blemish-clearing formulation of  St. Ives Apricot Scrub as a body scrub, in conjunction with a foaming shower gel and waffle scrub gloves and some DIY skin oil immediately after. That quadruple-combo usually helped, but only if I was REALLY regular with scrubbing and moisturizing, which I generally am not.

So I bought Diana Yvonne Lactic Acid 10% gel and Fruit Acid gel 15% combo, plus KP Duty by DermaDoctor and Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Correction Pads.

Combining the above-mentioned products really did the trick. I eased in, using part skin oil and part one of the gels, and I would kind of try to homogenize them in my hands first and then apply. I would sometimes use straight KP, sometimes mix KP and a gel, sometimes wipe arms down w/ pad when I couldn’t shower. It all really helped!

My arms were lovely and bump-free for the big day, and not nearly as discolored/blotchy as the KP used to make them look. The Diana Yvonne products were fab — not chock full of propylene glycol like so many other AHA/BHA formulas. I now just do a little bit of any one of the above when I think of it or notice the stuff coming back!

If I could do it over again, I wouldn’t bother with the KP Duty. Pretty pricey and kind of stinky. I’ll use it now that I have it, but the Diana Yvonne was better bang for my buck.

Freebie Fest, Part 2

Wow — Sephora’s recent VIB Swag Bag was quite the freebie for me. Many of the items included are things I’ll actually use*,  which is rare for me with freebies. There was even a replacement for an existing product of mine! It was nice not to have to spend the $50 minimum for free shipping online, too — my local store often runs out of bonuses way early, but not this time.

PLUS, all my wedding skincare remedies qualified me for a free Skincare Challenge full-size product, and they finally had something I wanted — and I’ve been wanting to switch to a different moisturizer anyway as of late. Never seen a philosophy Skincare Challenge reward on their site before, so this was a pleasant surprise.

And lastly, I still have a crazy high number of points to redeem, so I’m due for another freebie soon! But none of the 500-point bonuses have appealed to me lately. Maybe I’ll just wind up stocking up on a zillion different $100-point perks instead…

*Like Phytodefrisant, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, Urban Decay Stardust shadow in a purpley color, and a replacement for my trial-size Smashbox Photo-Op Under Eye Brightener that I like to carry in my purse for loooong days (like this one). Quite the bonus bag!

Powder power

Okay, I’ve talked about making a DIY version of a powder product before, but now I HAVE to do it! Check out Peter Thomas Roth’s two new sunscreens.  The first is an SPF 30 formulation that’s specifically meant for oily and/or problem skin, and it contains such additions as salicylic acid and “willow bark extract” (ahem: same damn thing, PTR), as well as the old standard antioxidant cocktail.

However, the new stuff ALSO contains powdered dimethicone, which we all know I’m not a fan of.  And can you blame me?  The stuff blocks pores like none other, so I don’t exactly consider it a wonder ingredient for a product that’s designed to alleviate oily skin and acne.  (Perhaps there’s something I don’t know here — maybe dimethicone in powder form is less comedogenic.)

The second new tube contains the same antioxidants and sunscreen ingredients (albeit in higher concentration), and no salicylic acid. And they’ve somehow packed butylene glycol in there.  But BOTH new versions contain bismuth oxychloride, which is a real bummer — it’s known to make some people break out in an irritated, bumpy red rash.  No thank you!

The old stuff I still have a tube of contains silica and the Antioxidant Trifecta, but no dimethicone or bismuth oxychloride.  It also has significantly less titanium dioxide (and less zinc oxide as well), and it’s WAY too dark for my skin tone so it’s pretty obvious.  I tested these two new ones on my hand at Sephora and they both seemed a bit paler, but it was tricky to tell.  However, the ingredient list in the old stuff is much shorter, which of course makes me happy.

Honestly, since they still share the same crappy packaging with the coarse, shed-prone brush and the cap that comes unscrewed, I’ll probably just concoct my own and put it in a synthetic dispensing brush that I found online.  I will update if and when I get around to actually seeing this through… now I just need some free time to clear out our storage closet!