Aveda Skin Care Review

Aveda is a brand I’ve circled around for more than two decades.

Every five years or so, I come back to Aveda, but I never stay loyal.

There are just too many other good beauty brands out there for my fickle heart.

Two weeks ago I had some time to kill before a work dinner and stopped into the Aveda Experience Center, which is conveniently located across the street from my new office.

Did I mention my new office is in a dangerous location, one that is perilously close to fine retail offerings?

To be honest, I’ve never been particularly impressed by Aveda’s skin care line. While I generally love how Aveda products smell, when it comes to efficacy, I don’t want flower extracts, I want ALL THE CHEMICALS that science can deliver to magically make me look ten years younger. 

But there was something appealing about Aveda’s new Tulasara line that captured my attention.

This brush first caught my eye:

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This soft brush exfoliates dead skin cells at the surface and preps skin for further treatments. It’s meant to dry brush clean skin and then be followed by this pleasant smelling oil.

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It’s a bit complicated, but Aveda describes using these two products together to create a “Radiant Awakening Ritual” (see the video here) that makes skin glow.

The brush is first swept across the face, neck and upper chest in upward circular motions for a minute, then downward strokes are done to cover the same surfaces. This is followed by application of the above oil, which is massaged into the skin for a minute and then allowed to soak in for four minutes before the skin is cleansed with your regular cleanser.

If you’re puzzled, so was I, and if you’re keeping track, this is now adding a whole extra step to skin care, including making the face oily and then washing said oil off.

For the record, I can get behind the idea that the brush may be gently exfoliating, and while the oil smells pleasant, I haven’t noticed any amazing glow. I’ve been trying to use this in the morning, when my skin is basically clean from the night before. After the oil step, I am using one of my regular cleansers (not Aveda) in the shower to wash my face.

I still love my Bliss toner for general use, but since I was in such an Aveda mood, I also picked up this toner-ish product as a post-cleansing step:

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Two more Tulasara products are rounding out this regimen. The first is this concentrate:

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The texture is ok, maybe a touch sticky but I am also probably using too much at any given time. Of all the products, this one smells the most like kitchen spices. The smell reminds me of these cumin roasted carrots I made over the weekend. 

The final step is this rich moisturizing cream:

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Aveda describes this as an overnight masque, but honestly, it’s like a rich moisturizer that could be used for everyday wear if you have dry skin. The smell is more pleasant than the serum above and I’ve been using it as moisturizer. The Aveda employee who helped me at the Experience Center mentioned this was perfectly fine to do, but he cautioned that this doesn’t have SPF in it. Good to know.

Was this the end of my Aveda spree? Unfortunately, no. I also bought a bunch of hair stuff, which I will review at a later time.

However, they did give me a free head massage, two cups of tea, and a deluxe size bottle of Rosemary Mint concentrate for being such a great customer that day at the new Aveda Experience Center!

While I’m still waiting for an amazing glow and transformation, I have pretty low expectations for these products and am enjoying them for what they are, namely great smelling lotions/potions/elixirs that promise a Zen-ish lifestyle to which I aspire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Surprising Place to Get a Great Deal on Bliss Products

During an early Saturday morning bout of insomnia – really, this is getting to be too, too much, waking up routinely at 2 A.M. and not being able to return to sleep until after 5 A.M. – I discovered the following:

  • There’s nothing good on T.V. during these hours. I ended up mindlessly watching two episodes of a show called “Four Weddings,” where four brides attend and snarkily judge each others’ weddings, points are given and a winner ultimately is selected to receive a free honeymoon “trip to paradise.” It’s not worth your time, even at 4 A.M.
  • I am remarkably thirsty in the middle of the night, and La Croix water really hits the spot.
  • Few of your friends will be active on Facebook, and if they are, that really makes you wonder why they are up in the middle of the night. Of course they are feeling the same way about you.
  • And, drumroll: there is a surprisingly good place to get great deals on Bliss products: Kohl’s.

Kohl’s is not a place where I usually shop. I don’t mind the brands they sell, but there is something about how they display their merchandise that makes me find it hard to browse. Also, I despise the giant mesh tote bags that customers are supposed to use to hold their merchandise (do they even still have these?), and checkout has historically been a nightmare.

So I don’t go there. Ever.

I’m not sure how I even stumbled upon the fact that Kohls.com sells Bliss products, but boy, do they ever.

Right now Bliss products on the Kohl’s site at typically more than half off retail. Because Bliss is considered a prestige brand, the products aren’t eligible for further discounts – and endless sales seems to be another thing Kohl’s does All.The.Time. – but the regular prices are already too good to pass up.

Here’s what I bought:

That’s Incredi-‘Peel’ glycolic resurfacing pads. These are $49 at Bliss and only $22.05 at Kohl’s. I bought two boxes since this was such a steal.

Clog Dissolving Cleansing Milk. $28 at Bliss; $12.60 at Kohl’s. I already have one new one waiting in my bathroom cupboard, so I just ordered one of these.

Daily Detoxifying Facial Toner. Another steal: $11.70 versus $26. Again, I doubled up.

While the range of products is extensive, Kohl’s does not carry my favorite Bliss product, Peeling Groovy Serum. Unfortunately, I think Peeling Groovy’s days are numbered, since this is not readily available at Bliss, either.

Kohl’s even offers Bliss cosmetics, which are hard to find. I tried them last year and wasn’t overly impressed by the quality, but I am pretty loyal to Bobbi Brown in the make-up department.

If you’re curious about Bliss or already loyal, check out these deals ASAP, since I’m not sure how long they’ll last.

 

 

 

 

 

Micellar Water Review

I finally got around to trying micellar water, only about two years after it became A Thing.

If you’re late to the party like I am, micellar water is a facial cleanser composed of microscopic balls of oil suspended in water. The consistency is watery, not at all like the two-phase eye makeup removers that require shaking to combine before use.

Last summer I was really happy with the skincare routine I was using, which consisted mostly of Bliss products.

I ran out of toner, though, and instead of ordering more (especially since Bliss isn’t running any current promotions), I decided to check out the skincare aisle at Target.

Micellar water caught my eye, especially this one, which was billed as both a cleanser and a toner. It’s Pacifica Cactus Water Micellar Tonic, which retails for $11.99.

My first impression was that I did not enjoy the scent, which is soap-y in an unpleasant way. So far, I’ve used this product three ways: to take a first pass at getting makeup off before using a second cleanser to finish the job; as a better-than-nothing one step process on a night when I was too lazy to do anything else; and as a last step, after cleansing, much like I would have normally done with a straight-up toner.

As I mentioned above, the texture is watery, not at all oily, and while it seems to get some makeup off, it doesn’t leave my skin seeming or feeling clean enough on its own. When I used it as a last step, it did not leave my skin feeling sticky or soapy, which is a plus. I still like the Bliss toner better.

I also purchased this Garnier micellar water in a 3 ounce travel size:

Considering that this was only $3.49, the investment was small. I tossed it into my toiletry kit and used it several times last week when I was staying in a hotel during the workweek.

Everything I said above about the Pacifica micellar water applies to this one, too. The scent gets a grade of D- in my book, and it did a terrible job of trying (and failing) to remove the Bobbi Brown cream shadow stick I was wearing as eyeliner, although to be fair this is billed as a long-wear product and acts accordingly. I also seemed to need a lot of the micellar water with each use. I’m already down a quarter of the bottle and it’s been less than a week.

Final verdict: I’m not impressed with micellar water. It’s an ok product as a middle step, and maybe I should consider it as something quick to swipe across my face before a workout (hey, it’s better than nothing), but it doesn’t seem like the one-and-done miracle worker I was hoping to find.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Cosmetics Kit – Update

Well, I never found my perfectly curated set of travel cosmetics, and in the end, I had to replace it all.

I was harboring a secret fantasy up until yesterday that I’d left them at a hotel where I don’t stay often, and that all I’d have to do is go back there and ask if they were in the Lost and Found.

I did.

They weren’t.

I was able to replace everything but my favorite travel item – a Bobbi Brown palette with corrector, concealer, foundation and powder – was no longer available from QVC (or Bobbi Brown, or anywhere for that matter), although I found one from another seller on Amazon.

The rest I ordered directly from Bobbi Brown.

I absolutely love getting new make up, especially unboxing all of the tiny packages, so it was a real treat to find this package waiting for me last Friday.

Here’s the haul:

Bobbi generously included many free samples, so what I got was considerably more than I’d ordered. Score!

I re-purposed an old bag from Aerin Cosmetics for my new stash.

Aerin also makes some great palettes, although they are more for color than skin correction.

Here is the “Weekday palette,” which retails for $70.

Aerin Beauty is seriously hard to find in stores, but I’ve always liked everything I’ve tried. The gold packaging is also super luxe; all of the compacts close with a really satisfying click. 

I also recently tried Glossier for the first time.

This brand has so much buzz; I’ve checked it out several times but never found something that hit the tipping point for buying.

After watching several YouTube Glossier reviews and tutorials, I finally decided to try their Generation G matte lipstick. 

Picking a color wasn’t easy, even with helpful videos on Glossier’s site showing the colors in action.

“Like” was a color described as your-lips-but-better, and that seemed to be a good bet. “Crush” initially seemed too bright but many reviews said the color is really subtle and buildable, so I ordered them both.

Although this normally wouldn’t have caught my eye, one reviewer mentioned the heavenly lavender scent of Priming Moisturizer Rich, which was enough for me to put it in my basket. 

The final two items I ordered were Milky Jelly cleanser and a highlighter known as the “Haloscope.” 

My thoughts on Glossier:

  • The matte lipsticks are so-so. I’m not crazy about the formula and “Like” is practically invisible on me. “Crush” can bleed and get unattractively clumped on any dry areas, leading to a patchy look. The two colors mixed together seem to provide the best results.
  • The Priming Moisturizer Rich is terrific. It’s heavy, but that’s exactly what my skin needs in this cold weather. It sinks in quickly and the scent is really nice. At $35, it’s also a relative bargain for moisturizer of this quality.
  • Full disclosure: I haven’t tried the Milky Jelly Cleanser yet. I just didn’t get around to it.
  • The Haloscope provides a really pretty glow without too much sparkle, but I often forget to put it on. I didn’t like it enough for it to make my travel kit.

My one complaint – and this is in direct contrast to the super luxe packaging from Aerin – is that Glossier’s packaging seems cheap, especially the matte lipsticks.

The plastic tubes are thin, don’t close well and definitely lack a satisfying click with closure.

They remind me of a gift-with-purchase lipstick freebie, in terms of quality.

 

 

 

 

 

Goop Perfume

So, Gwyneth Paltrow now makes perfume.

I think I’ve overall been very gracious with my opinion of GP, who I still admire as a tastemaker and style icon.

Where she completely loses me is with her crazy ideas about steaming your vagina, among other quackery. To this, the gynecologist in me cannot abide.

But I still get her weekly Goop e-newsletter, which is usually clicked right to the trash but caught my eye this time.

Introducing Goop fragrance:

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From the website:

We’ve crafted a sophisticated and sexy fragrance that’s non-toxic—made with natural essences to entrance, heal, and transform.

Here’s a description of the scent:

A perfume of cypress smoke, snow, sensual quiet.

What? Sensual quiet? That is just so odd.

A small vial of the perfume oil is $165 and the candles are $72.

Warning: these fragrances also claim to be Edition 01, which implies we will be subjected to more in the future.

Please let me know if you try these! I’m going to pass for now.

 

Body Shop’s New Face Masks

When I was in high school in the late 1980s (this hurts to type), the Body Shop was an extremely cool brand.

It was eco-friendly (a huge novelty back then).

It was British ( = exotic in my small town Midwestern eyes).

It was a company run by a woman (yay).

And it sold a lot of things that smelled really, really good.

Since we didn’t have a store in our town (and this is waaaay before online shopping), having Body Shop products was a certain status symbol among my high school peers. It meant you’d gone somewhere interesting enough to have a Body Shop store and you had enough disposable cash to spend it there.

It was the shower gel and body lotion equivalent of wearing a Benetton rugby.

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Photo via Google Image

By the time I hit college, there were a lot of competing brands in the beauty market and the Body Shop lost some appeal. I wanted L’Occitane. I wanted Bobbi Brown. I wanted whatever In Style magazine told me to want.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like the Body Shop anymore, it was that other things caught my magpie-like attention.

When we moved from Texas back to the Midwest eight years ago, I started killing a lot of time in the Minneapolis airport while traveling (this is overall a terrific airport, IMHO, although now you’ll find me more often in the Delta lounge than the retail outlets).

Right past security in Terminal One, there’s a Body Shop store and they always seem to have a sign in the window that pulls me in. I’ve been a big fan of their body butters for years, and I have to also give special mention to their hand sanitizers since they manage to smell un-like hand sanitizer, i.e. good.

Recently I got sucked in with the promise of new holiday merchandise and discovered the Body Shop’s new face masks.

img_0897There are five to choose from:

  • Himalayan charcoal purifying glow mask
  • Chinese ginseng and rice clarifying polish mask
  • Ethiopian honey deep nourishing mask
  • British rose fresh plumping mask
  • Amazonian acai energizing radiance mask

What I really loved about them was the brush ($15) recommended for application. Here’s a close up of the bristles:

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I love any moment where skin care products are applied with a brush during facials, so this got my attention.

I purchased the rose and honey masks and a brush. They included a helpful brochure on ways to mix masks for targeted treatments.

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The masks retail for $28 each but some are being combined as sets for holiday gifts. You can get the rose and charcoal masks (but alas, no brush, you have to buy that separately) for $39. The combo is here. This set plus a brush would make a great holiday gift for a spa lover.

P.S. The Body Shop also has a lot of cool holiday gift sets and advent calendars featuring items with both their signature scents (like my favorite, strawberry) or their limited edition holiday ones (spiced apple, vanilla chai and frosted berries).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobbi Brown Party Prep Set

Bobbi Brown already released her 2016 Holiday Gift Guide.

This Party Prep Set is a particularly good deal:

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Screenshot from Bobbibrown.com

What’s included:

  • Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm (1.0 oz./ 30ml) Full size!
  • Mini Radiance Boost Mask (15ml)
  • Lip Balm SPF 15 (.5oz/ 15g) Full size!
  • Mini Extra Hand Cream (15ml)
  • Hydrating Eye Cream (6ml)

Considering that the Extra Illuminating Balm ($65) and Lip Balm ($22) are both products I use every day, their combined cost alone makes this set a deal at $85. Overall, these items have a value of $141. Get yours now!