Monday, June 27, 2016

Tatcha Radiant Deep Brightening Serum

[Product was provided by PR for review. Opinions are my own; no affiliate links.]

Right, so, the elephant in the room: at $185 for 1.7 oz, Tatcha's Radiant Deep Brightening Serum is really only of consideration if you are comfortable at that general price point for skincare. Tatcha's beautiful line is the epitome of luxury. Some of their items have lower price points (< $100), and I do have some favorites (like the Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder), but this one is on another level. I, personally, am not able to drop this much money on skincare on the regular, and that is something to consider, but I'll discuss its other merits.

It's a serum that is intended to target hyper pigmentation, dark spots, and uneven skin tone, using all of the usual suspects (licorice, rice extract, silk extract, and Tatcha's HADASEI-3 anti-aging complex). A lot of other products on the market are similar in goal, at a variety of price points (I've tried many: Clinique's Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, Deciem WhiteRX Activated Serum, Shiseido White Lucent line, Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector).
I do love that their travel sizes have the same luxe, functional packaging, and provide more affordable ways to trial products.

Does this work better than others I've tried? Not necessarily. There is a noticeable lightning of dark spots with use - nothing drastic, but that's to be expected. Where it does deliver, though, is on the claim of being "non-irritating" and "non-sensitizing." Many spot correctors, just by the nature of the active ingredients necessary, tend to be drying or can irritate skin. Tatcha's version is quite gentle - I didn't notice itching or dryness in the morning (I use products like this at night), and I have had problems like that in the past, most noticeably with Shiseido's (which also isn't cheap).

I used up a travel size version, which lasted a fair amount of time, but right now I'm back to Deciem WhiteRX, which is ok. I may go back to Clinique. Bottom line? Tatcha's serum is nice.  I didn't see a dramatic change, but there weren't a lot of negative side effects, either. If this is a price point you're comfortable with, it's worthy of consideration. If not, I'm sure we'll find something else.

Tatcha can be purchased at Sephora and on their own website.

Do you have a brightening/spot correcting serum in your arsenal to recommend? Let me know!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Surfing for a Summer Scent

[Products marked * were provided by PR for review. Everything else was purchased by me. No affiliate links.]

I know, I have enough perfume for several lifetimes. But every summer, I try to find something light and refreshing - and fail. I'm well stocked in creamy, coconut/jasmine scents (Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum, Sweet Anthem Juliet, even body products like NUXE Huile Prodigieuse*), and I wear the beautiful Diptyque Eau Duelle year round, but I want something invigorating and cool.

Tricky, because I don't typically like marine aquatics (they make me nauseous), old-school citrus cologne spritzers, or fresh linen scents. What I'm looking for in my "summer easy breezy" is icy herbs - mint, basil, rosemary, or something of the like - that stay spritzy without being fizzy. But I'm willing to dabble in other combinations. Here are some I explored, and what I'm eyeing.

Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia edp
Image source: Sephora
It's a popular one, although I was initially predisposed to dislike it because every dude-bro in high school and college wore Acqua di Gio. I have a sample and like it, but don't love it. I wish it had more mint - I was actually surprised to see that listed as a note. It's a summery scent that is fresh without evoking dryer sheets or other household cleaning agents. I typically dislike spritzy lemon scents, but this one is ok. It's a brown sugar (that borders on a bit too synthetic smelling) that nevertheless stays crisp with a splash of lemon, like lemon sweet tea without the tea, if that makes any sense. It's also not overtly floral, which I appreciate. Maybe if it were a touch less cavity-inducing, and mintier...ah, well. Also, did you know they launched an Air di Gioia and Sun di Gioia?
notes: mint, brown sugar, lemon, jasmine, peony, pink pepper, cedar wood, labdanum

Laura Mercier Tea Menthe Citron edt
Image source: Nordstrom
The name of this makes no sense to me, since "menthe citron" is French, but they smashed that with the English word for tea, rather than the French one. Ok, whatever. I was initially really excited about this launch, because I LIKE tea and mint. But, no. Why do we always feel the need to dump lemons in everything? And why do we promise mint and never deliver? I smelled this in store and it just smells like lemon, with that abrasive citrusy "green tea" note that is so common and that I hate. Why do green tea perfumes always just smell like citrus?
notes: green tea, cardamom, mint, cedarwood, lemon
image source: Sephora
(Actually, Maison Margiela Replica Tea Escape smells like earthy matcha, which is what I personally want out of a green tea note. Sadly, it's 1. too earthy for summer, and 2. I think it's one of those scents that I love on paper, but would smell like absolute rubbish on my skin. I have an inkling that it would translate to a different kind of eau de pee on me. BUT, if you too have been on the hunt for elusive matcha, this is it.
notes: citrus notes, bergamot, green tea, sambac jasmine, crisped rice)

L'Occitane Thé Vert & Bigarade edt
image source: L'Occitane
Yes, I know, I just said that I don't like citrusy spritzers or the "fresh" brand of green tea, but this one isn't bad. I had a mini splash bottle that I put in a Travalo, and it's almost gone. It is a touch too astringent and very fleeting, but I like the bigarade combination much better than tea + lemon - it gives it a spicy edge that is much preferred. I would't buy it again, though.
notes: sparkling citrus notes, bitter orange, green tea

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine
image source: Sephora
I reviewed this (link above). It's still the best, most genuine orange note ever. But it is a little too grounded, woodsy, and spicy to be a reckless summer scent.
notes: Blood Orange, Bitter Orange, Jasmine, Geranium, Amber Woods, Tonka Beans, Sandalwood.

Firebird Bath & Body Black Tea and Mint, perfume oil
image source: Firebird
Firebird is an indie company that used to be Flourish, many years ago, and that's actually when I purchased my sample of Black Tea and Mint. I still love it - it's a linear black tea and mint (novel!), delicious but not oversweet. It's iced black tea, not a Southern Sweet Tea. And, thank goodness, no damned lemons to be found. This is the mint I've been craving! In general I suppose mint is just intended to freshen blends up, rather than be featured prominently, but I want to smell like a mint leaf. The only problem is that it's an oil, with minimal sillage, and while I love the zingy feeling of peppermint massage oils, sometimes it's nice not to have to apply something directly to skin. Still, I find myself reaching for my sample over and over, and might purchase a full bottle this summer ($10, at Firebird, which I just learned is local to me).
notes: mint leaves, iced black tea, sugar

Comme de Garçons Series 5 Sherbet: Peppermint edt
image source: Lucky Scent
I ordered a sample of this and was sad. It's too sweet and creamy. Like those crinkle-wrapped peppermint candies you used to get after dinner at old steakhouses. Le sigh.
notes: curly mint, peppermint, bay rose, white pepper, cardamom, amber, white musk

Right, now here's what I'm looking at. 
summer scent

L-R: Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca, L'Artisan Fou d'Absinthe, Heeley Menthe Fraiche, Ayala Moriel Musk Malabi, Comme de Garçons Play: Green, Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Anisia Bella

The Heeley and Ayala Moriel are prohibitively expensive for a summer scent, and I suspect that even though I want to love a creamy, rice pudding custard perfume, Musk Malabi would probably make me nauseous. Heeley's Menthe Fraiche sounds perfect, but is reportedly fleeting.

Fou d'Absinthe will probably suck on me, since L'Artisan is hit or miss for me and I've had more misses, and Anisia Bella has been discontinued (though I'm contemplating a tester bottle on Beauty Encounter. Has anyone purchased there before?). Herba Fresca sounds refreshing, but the citrus makes me pause, and Guerlain prices for an edt I am not sure I'll love...I'm hedging. Finally, CdG Series Play: Green could be bright and green, but...vetiver. I eye you suspiciously, vetiver.

And I can never write a short, pithy perfume post. I apologize. If you have thoughts on any of the above, let me know. What are you wearing this summer?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Sessions VII

(I'm not sure why I picked Roman numerals, because I can't really count past twenty or so with them, HA. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, I guess. As always, no affiliate links - just trying to be helpful or show you what I'm talking about).

Happy Father's Day!

Today has been relaxing, even though it was full of chores. We got up when we wanted to (ok, when Dennison wanted us to), had an indulgent Sunday breakfast (homemade biscuits, eggs, bacon), and then tackled our chores. We finished the cleaning by 1 PM and then hung out with the dogs outside, called my dad, and am now chilling inside where it's clean and cool.


Image source:
Sister Sable. I'm just a little bit into it, so I haven't developed an opinion yet. It's modern fantasy, and seems to be more of the ultra-ruthless plots-within-plots-within-plots type, which isn't usually my favorite, but I felt like branching out. The last book I finished was David Mitchell's Slade House, which I was quite annoyed over, in the end (spoilers in the review). I haven't had time to read again until very recently, and my to-read list just keeps growing.

Image source: Nordstrom
Earrings! I just bought the cutest Kate Spade ice cream cones studs (above), because they were on sale. Also on the wishlist, some Kendra Scott statement earrings, classic Gorjana hoops, large House of Harlow sunbursts in white, and these Verge earrings from Favor Jewelry. With a pixie, the easiest way to dress up is to put on fabulous earrings.

#trashyTuesday. We had wings, beer and fries. What did you have? This week, it may be pizza.


Image source
The Night Manager. It takes me a while to get through suspense thrillers, because heavy stuff isn't my usual cup of tea. But S is a fan of Le Carré novels and I am a fan of Tom Hiddleston, so it is win-win. Hugh Laurie is also chillingly great - the whole cast is, really. Definitely recommend. We're on Episode 3/6.

A Hatchery box. Has anyone tried it? I've never paid for a beauty subscription box and am not interested, but I love trying indie and artisanal food.

On the Highline.
Another trip to NYC! We're going for our anniversary, in October, with the dedicated purpose of EATING ALL THE THINGS. We really enjoyed staying in an AirBnb during Memorial Day Weekend (and I fell in love with a cat), but for our anniversary, we're prolly splurge on a hotel and massages, that sort of thing.
For more NYC photos, check out my Instagram feed.

Links I loved:
- This just made me smile. (I love HONY). This was the other one that I loved this past week. We need more folks like her.
- Now that we're settled in and I've been reunited with my KitchenAid stand mixer, I'm moving through the baking list again! I made apricot financiers and plan on making lemon blueberry doughnuts this week.
- I bought some Dot&Dot Travel cubes and folders, do organize our carry-on bags when we travel. I hope they get in before we leave for Seattle in two weeks! I know I'm an adult...when I get excited about organizational items.
- This one is older, but I loved it SO MUCH. Technology is so cool now, you guys! Tracks snowy owls down to the METER.

What's new with everyone? Drop me a line! Share your news and links! <3

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I Came Around: The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

[Product was purchased by me. There are no affiliate links in this post.]
Ok, so we're clear: I rolled my eyes at this product, but now I love it.


Great. Let's move on.

(I am ever so gracious, I know - it's one of my best features).

Seriously, though, when it first came out, I believe (correct me if I'm wrong, please) that it was touted as SUPER LE BUY NOW BUY BUY. And then, a very short time later, it was released with much fanfare as a permanent item. I understand that this is a business and they are presumably responding to high demand, but...the whole thing was really quick. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, and I suppose this just serves as a personal reminder to ignore LE marketing schemes.

With that said, I wasn't interested when the single Ambient Lighting Powders first came out, either, because at the time I though that finishing powders should be translucent (so as not to mess up your meticulously matched foundation). As you can see, I've come to appreciate something with a bit of color to it.

I bought this palette because it features three shades: Dim Light, Incandescent Light (exclusive to this palette), and Radiant Light. Since I'm on the paler side, I can use Dim Light pretty liberally without experiencing any shade change. Radiant Light can be dusted all over my face lightly to bring some warmth (and match a tan), and then concentrated in certain areas to act as more of a bronzer. Incandescent Light is a highlighter; it's beautifully, subtly shimmery, but it does have some sparkle to it. Doesn't bother me, because it's not excessive, but it's there.
Thus, the beauty of it, to me, is that it's an all-in-one - I don't have to have a separate bronzer or highlighter. This only works if you fall in a certain range of skin tones, though. The powders themselves are easy to apply and deliver on glow, though it did take me a while to really appreciate it. Initially after purchasing, I was really confused - I have dry skin, yet the powders seemed to cake up when applied, and I didn't understand the raves. After a few months of use (I bought this in...October 2015?), and playing around with application methods, I'm finally at the point where I would buy another one if I ever used up the shades - which I use pretty equally. If you are using it as a setting powder, you definitely want your face to be completely dry (after foundation, concealer, etc.) before applying, or it will cake up. I think you also want a sparser brush rather than a very dense one. I use a big fluffy brush to apply Dim Light and Radiant Light, and a smaller brush for the highlight.

Most of my recent FOTD photos feature it, but it's really hard to feature a "before" and "after" photo. I tried. But it's the kind of thing that really needs to be tried in person, I think. And I don't think everyone needs a setting powder. I just felt like my skin was dull, and needed something to help soften flaws and add a glow. If that's what you're in the market for, I'd recommend giving this a shot, or one of the singles, if you don't need the multitasker palette (and price tag). This is $62; I purchased mine at Sephora.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Part of the Routine: NUXE Nourishing Day Cream Rêve de Miel

[Product was provided by PR for review. This is not a sponsored post, and there are no affiliate links.]

This is a day moisturizer for dry and sensitive skin, and I do think it will be too rich for those with oily skin. It's a thick cream that is surprisingly easy to apply - it melts easily into skin without much effort; I don't feel like I'm rubbing any more vigorously than when I apply a liquid or something with a more fluid texture.

As I said in my Instagram post about my AM skincare routine, this is my daily moisturizer, and I will repurchase it when I run out. It really feels like it's keeping my face hydrated throughout the day; at the end of the day, when I wash my face, it still feels smooth and soft, which is a strong contrast to the sandpaper face I've been dealing with prior to incorporating this into my routine. With such a rich texture, I was afraid that my face would be an oil slick or really greasy, but nope. Somehow it all just sinks in, and my skin feels like happy skin, rather than skin + a layer of product. I'm really happy with it.
Thick texture, but easy to apply. I use a spatula to scoop some out.

It contains some oils (coconut, rice, macadamia, sunflower, safflower) and glycerin, which is a humectant. It also contains the namesake beeswax and honey combo. Full ingredients list here.

The one thing I don't like? The really strong scent, which is supposed to be orange blossom. It's strong, and lingers a bit. I would prefer it to be unscented, but I can deal. All in all: THUMBS UP.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Something for the Short-Haired (and Lazy): Renpure Solutions Cleansing Conditioner

Emphasis on the "lazy." I love everything about this product, and already have a backup waiting (although I'm trying the lavender version for the next go around). 
I picked it up because I got tired of fussing with separate shampoo and conditioner. My hair isn't very needy and I'm very lazy; I just wanted a decent 2-in-1 that didn't feel heavy, and that could cleanse my hair of the products I use to tame the fluffy Medusa in the AM. This caught my eye because of two things: "rosemary mint" (I love Aveda's iconic version of that scent combo), and the "clarifying conditioner" label.

It delivers on both counts. The scent is satisfyingly fresh and herbal and very subtle. I experimented with use and found that the best thing for me, is to wet hair thoroughly, then gently massage in two successive pumps, one at a time. (By "massage," I mean gently running my fingers and palms through my hair. The bottle claims that vigorous scrubbing can damage hair, and I guess that kind of makes sense. This product doesn't lather.) If I do two pumps at once, I feel like I don't get an even distribution. I leave it in my hair, finish the rest of my shower, and then rinse well at the end. I've noticed that my hair no longer ever feels like it retains that heavy post-conditioner film, never becomes greasy, yet still feels clean without being stripped of shine and moisture. So yes, "clarifying conditioner" is accurate. 

I don't think it would be great for long hair, as you'd have to use a lot of product and spend a lot of time massaging it into your hair. And, hilariously enough, S is not on board. I thought he'd be all for it, since hey, one product instead of two! But he suspiciously tried it once, declared that it was "too complicated" because it was "too simple" (he'd rather lather, rinse, and then smear conditioner everywhere, I guess). So, ok, not for everyone. But, totally recommended if you have short, low-maintenance hair! I bought mine at Target, and it usually runs $9-14.