Friday, February 24, 2017

Review: Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm with Rosewood


If you want to try a luxurious, wonderfully scented and remarkably effective cleanser, you would be hard-pressed to go awry with this one from Darphin.  It is hideously expensive - $45 for a 40 ml pot. However, I have enjoyed using it so much, I have no doubt that I'll be buying more.
The balm is a kind of waxy cream texture. It smells like nothing else I've sniffed - an herbal, woodsy blend of marula oil, sage, ylang, and rosewood. The ingredients are nothing too magical; mostly, they are a blend of glycerin and oils that solidify at room temperature. I find that they combine to great effect, though. To use this, I scoop out a nickel-sized dab and rub between wet palms. You'll find it starts to emulsify immediately. I then massage all over my face.  I use this as a second cleanser.  It works as a first cleanser/make-up remover, but I have to use an amount that makes me shudder.  As a second cleanser, it is lovely at picking up any stray oil cleanser that remains on my skin and making it feel perfectly clean and toned.  No tightness, no irritation, no residue.  I bought mine at Space NK, but they appear to have discontinued Darphin in the meantime (why???).  Your best bet to try this now would probably be to purchase from Darphin directly.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review: Sephora Rose Face Mask


My sampling experiences with the Sephora sheet mask line have not been particularly positive, but I really liked this one in Rose. It purports to have a moisturizing and brightening effect on the skin, and my skin found it quite soothing. When I chose to use it, I had a few small spots of what I thought might be emergent pimples around my lips. I was initially tempted to do a clarifying mask, but on closer examination I thought they might be a product of stressed skin rather than hormones or clogged pores. I used the Rose mask and then went to bed. In the morning, my spots were gone and my skin looked nicely hydrated. I'm puzzled, though, because when I look at the ingredients, I don't see anything exceptional in this one. The rose extract that gives this mask its name is almost last on the ingredients list, which means there is hardly any of it in there. It has something called mushroom extract higher on the list but I hesitate to give all credit to something so mysterious. What I suspect happened here is that my skin happened to really need the glycerin and water that predominates in all of the Sephora masks, so it just worked out well in this instance.
That said, if I were going to buy any of the Sephora masks I've tried again, the Rose would have to be the one. They are only $6, after all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: Klorane Desert Date Shampoo


I am not terribly impressed with this shampoo by Klorane. It's marketed as being very gentle, for dry damaged hair. They tout the desert date as a key ingredient because it has fatty acids and proteins that purport to repair damaged hair. And I will give them this, it's fairly high on the ingredient list. However, you know what is higher?  Sodium Laurel Sulfate, which many people with dry hair find stripping and harsh. I'm about halfway through the bottle and since I started using it, my hair has gotten noticeably drier and frizzier. On top of that, I don't think it cleanses very well because I am finding my shampoos don't last as long as they have with other products.  A 6.7 oz bottle cost me $15 - and I don't recommend you spend your hard-earned dollars on this at all.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Review: Dr. Dennis Gross Firming Peptide Milk


I'm really taking a second look at the Dr. Dennis Gross skincare line lately. They are no-nonsense, serious products with reasonable, mid-range prices and no-fuss, practical packaging. I'm now 3/4 of the way through this bottle of Firming Peptide Milk and really like it. It is chock full of skin-improving ingredients and after using it for a few months every morning, I have seen a marked improvement in skin elasticity. I apply it after my toner and follow with moisturizer and sunscreen. Note that sunscreen is NOT optional with this because it has RETINOL in it. They don't exactly advertise this but it's clear on the ingredient list. Using retinol without sunscreen is a recipe for skin damage, so buyer beware. Otherwise, the ingredients are an interesting mix of man-made scientifically proven skin improvers and more experimental natural ingredients. In addition to the tetrapeptides that help a lot with skin firmness, you have botanical extracts like arnica, cucumber, radish, resveratrol, and coconut water. These may help - they may not. The only extra I'd like to add to the Firming Peptide Milk is a nice antioxidant brew. Otherwise, it's just about perfect.  Retail price is $65 and a full bottle should last you several months with daily use.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Review: Costes 2 Eau de Toilette


This light, fluffy fragrance has Olivia Giacobetti written all over it. It's the second in the Hotel Costes fragrance line and is a far cry from its airy, sandalwood and lavender sibling, the original Costes. The black bottle is a bit misleading. It is in no way dark or severe.  Costes 2 opens with a dispersed cloud of vanilla benzoin.  Sniff a little deeper and you encounter a subtle cinnamon edge. Let it dry down a bit and you will find the most delicate use of gaiac I have ever encountered. There is purportedly rose and orange blossom in here, but I've yet to find them. Costes 2 is a great choice if you want a gourmand that won't make you smell like actual food. Its only flaw is that in making it so ethereal, Giacobetti necessarily sacrifices longevity. You will probably find respritzing is necessary after a few hours. At $80 for a 50 ml bottle, it's pretty reasonably priced for a niche perfume.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Review: Sephora Pomegranate Sheet Mask


I just had an epic work week and my skin was as dull and tired as the rest of me, so, this pomegranate mask with its purported energizing qualities seemed just the thing. Pomegranates are chock full of antioxidants, which are just the thing for tired skin. In terms of other stuff, it has the same filler ingredients as the other masks in the line, including water, glycerin, castor oil, and aloe vera juice. What they add to this one to make it "awakening" is the pomegranate extract, a mushroom extract, and goldenrod extract. Unfortunately, the distinctive ingredients in these masks tend to fall in the middle or at the end of the ingredients list, which leads me to suspect they really aren't adding much to change the effect each mask will have on your skin.  I saw no difference at all with this one, other than a bit more hydration from all of the water and glycerin that my skin was exposed to.

I am a little over halfway through my journey through Sephora's house line of sheet masks, and it's difficult to muster the enthusiasm to continue through the ones I've not yet tried.  (I've already sampled AlgaeAvocado, and Lotus.)  I still have Orchid and Rose to go. Here's hoping they are better than the others.  These retail for $6 each at Sephora.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Review: Algenist Gentle Rejuvenating Cleanser


This cleanser by Algenist has been around for a while and is pretty popular, but this was my first foray with it. My verdict is that it's not a great fit for my needs but I think for someone with very dry skin it might be a hit. It is a thick, creamy, pearly white substance that feels kind of gummy. It's hard to spread and does not emulsify, so you need to use a lot of it to totally cover your face. I was hoping its clinginess might mean it's good at removing makeup but I do not find that to be the case. I definitely need to use makeup remover or double cleanse with this one. On the plus side, it leaves my skin feeling hydrated and not stripped at all. In addition to the algae compound touted on the label, it has witch hazel and mild acids to aid in cleansing.  It costs $28. I'd say give it a go if you do not rely on your cleanser to remove your makeup or sunscreen and if your skin is dry and easily irritated. This should be gentle and soothing on it.