6 Amazing & Hugely Effective Beauty Products

Over the years I’ve tried more beauty products than I am able to count, mainly because it’s been part of my job, and also because I’m a bit of a product junkie.  Although I prefer organic and/or vegan products, I find I have to use more active products to see visible results.  Most of the products listed here do not fall into the organic or vegan category, however, on a forthcoming post, I’ll share my go-to’s in this category.  This stated, I’d like to share with you the 6 most effective beauty products in my accoutrement, in no particular order.

I’ve been using this Foreo cleansing device for about 8 months, and it has many pros, starting with the fact it is made completely of silicone.  Silicone doesn’t harbour bacteria and also feels very gentle on the skin.  In fact, when I first used this device, I didn’t feel my skin had been properly cleansed.  Upon going over my skin with toner on a cotton pad, I realized there IMG_7014were no traces whatsoever of any debris.  After about one month, my skin became used to the type of cleansing the Foreo delivers.  The size of the Foreo makes it perfect for travel in the handy bag which accompanies it, and it only has to be charged twice per year.  It also has 8 settings and the backside allows for massaging moisturizer on to the skin.  The only very slight downside to this device is it does not time your cleansing routine.  It is also available for men in a more course version for their thicker skin.

Raw, African Black Soap is handmade in West Africa, and the ingredients can vary depending upon the region in which it is made, however, it is typically made with a blend of: plantain skin, cocoa pod powder, tropical honey, shea butter and virgin coconut oil.  This is it, no preservatives, artificial fragrance or colouring…au natural.  Black soap is a natural source of vitamin A & E and contains a high amount of glycerin,IMG_7023 which all help to strengthen yet keep the skin and hair soft.  Yes, it makes for an excellent shampoo, as well as shaving cream for men.  It also helps to heal acne and blemishes related, and many give it great reviews for addressing eczema and psoriasis.  I order my African black soap in bulk, it lasts for years if properly stored.

IMG_7020Cure Natural Aqua Gel is an exfoliant made in Japan.  This product is absolutely amazing!  It exfoliates the skin without the use of grains.  It contains softening agents, brighteners and most important of all you literally see the skin balling up and rolling off the face within seconds.  It’s made up of Ginkgo Biloba, Aloe Vera and other plant extracts, it should be used no more than twice per week…although enticing to use more.  I’m not sure how it works so effectively, given the fact, aside from the plant extracts, it contains activated hydrolyzed water, yet is free of acids which are most commonly used for effectively exfoliating the skin.  Whatever the case, it stands up to the claims, and is the number one selling exfoliant in Japan.

I’m a huge fan of oils and use them on my hair, face and body faithfully and have been for years.  A high quality essential oil most closely resembles sebum, which promotes healthier skin.  For the most part, most oils I’ve used have kept my skin super soft and have evenedIMG_7017 out the skin tone beautifully.  Själ Saphir Concentrate has done much more for my skin than my typical oils because of the anti-ageing benefits.  Because of an anti-ageing bioactive complex, it visibly diminishes fine lines and wrinkles by plumping and improving the elasticity of the skin.  This oil has worked wonders on my skin, used sparingly, it goes a long way.

This product is seriously magic in a bottle, the results are beyond astounding.  I saw results almost immediately upon my first application of Dr. Sebagh’s Supreme Maintenance Youth Serum.  In fact, this product has transformed my skin so IMG_7016drastically, I have no need for foundation, except for special occasions.  It has evened out and brightened my skin, diminished lines, minimized my pore size and greatly improved the overall texture.  Youth Serum gives a perpetual glow to the skin, and is one of the most common compliments I’ve received since using it.

Looks like this one is due to be replenished soon, lol…another one of my faithfuls.  RéVive Moisturizing Renewal Cream was created by Dr. Gregory Bays Brown to help burn victims heal more expeditiously.  Because of it’s huge success, a full line of skincare was spawned, to meet the needs of every skin type and demographic.  I use this cream over my Youth Serum every night and the combination is like a mini at-home surgical treatment.  The twoIMG_7035 main ingredients which garner guaranteed results within two weeks are glycolic acid, an organic exfoliant, and a highly active solution of EGF, an epidermal growth factor.  I won’t go into specifics about this ingredient, at the risk you’d be bored to tears, suffice it to state it is a brilliant addition in the ingredient line-up.  This product has been revamped and is now called Moisturizing Renewal Cream Hydrator and housed in a green jar.

So this is my list of personal favourite beauty products, which have honestly transformed my skin, of course a healthy diet and plenty of water play an integral role as well.  If you have favourites, please email me or let me know through chat, I’d love to check them out!

What’s In My Make-Up Bag You Ask?

One of the top questions I receive from readers is, “What’s in your make-up bag?”  I finally dumped it, pulled out my Canon and now present it to you, in all it’s glory…

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I’ll start with the round containers on the left…these are RMS products, one of my favourite lines because it is completely organic and made up of the best oils attainable.

1.)  The Living Luminizer in the light shade on the far left is my highlighter, I use it on the orbital bone for the perfect lifting effect

2.)  Seduce, the bronze shade underneath the LL is my shadow…goes on sheer, stays all day, blends beautifully

3.)  Sacred, the red pop of colour, is my blush shade…super sheer on the skin, can also be used on lips

4.)  Simply Vanilla above my blush is one of the best lip balms I’ve ever used, it can also be used to moisturize the skin

5.)  Last of all for my RMS collection is my concealer in “un”cover 44, which I use midday to touch up, it doesn’t cake or crease…brightens the eye area, and can be used as foundation

The grey tube is my Colour FX concealer, it’s chock-full of great ingredients, which hydrate & treat the eye area while concealing…

The clear wand is a great eye gloss by Rouge Bunny Rouge called Smithereens of the Star…it creates a beautiful sheen on the lid, and stays all day

My Perfekt Skin Perfection Gelin the blue tube, is my everyday go-to…it’s actually more of a treatment product.  It contains Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Vitamin A & E, as well as skin softening agents…it’s super light and looks like nothing on the face.  It improves the overall tone of the skin and hydrates.  It’s also non-transferable and you even have the green light to sleep in it!

In the white tube with the green top is my favourite mascara ever!  Lash Perfection Gel in Flash (Black), has ingredients which promote longer, healthier lashes…I’m amazed at the results I’ve seen in only a few months

Although I don’t often wear lipstick, I usually have an evening option in my bag, just in case I feel the urge to step it up a notch…which is rare.  Uslu Airlines Lipstick in Caracas is a beautiful, rich burgundy, it looks great on just about every skin tone, stays and is exceptionally creamy and rich

Next, in the silver packaging, is my Sumita Brow Filler by Ziba…it’s water-resistant, completely natural looking, and easy to apply…I stock up on them when they go on sale;)

For lips, I prefer gloss, I occasionally use MAC’s Chestnut lip pencil after applying Revlon ColourBurst Lip Balm Stain in Honey as my base, then Rouge Bunny Rouge 80 gloss over the stain

If I decide against gloss for the day, Rodin Lip Balm is great for keeping my lips conditioned & gives a touch of colour, however, as much as I love it, on the down-side, the packaging doesn’t hold up very well in my experience, and for the price it definitely should

Finally, my Trish McEvoy travel brush goes everywhere with me…great for powder, bronzer, blending, etc.  I’ve had this brush for over 10 years and it still looks like new…not even sure if it’s still being made

Whew!…so, there you have it…you asked, I answered…now you know what’s in my make-up bag…

xo

Clarisonic, The Must-Have For Flawless Skin

IMG_5296Many of you have probably heard of an amazing little skincare device called Clarisonic by now.  The company was founded in 2001 by the primary inventor of the Sonicare oral care system which uses similar technology.  It’s taken 12 years for me to jump on the Clarisonic bandwagon, as I am a huge skeptic when it comes to the results many of these products promise will be delivered.

Well, Clarisonic didn’t over promise and under deliver like many, but actually performed superiorly.  I’ve been using the product now for a solid two months and the results are astounding.  Although I must add, the first three weeks of use were brutal for me, as I had anticipated.  I knew the product would bring all the impurities deep down to the surface, however, I wasn’t expecting the extent of breakout I experienced.  In fact, I nearly came to the conclusion the Clarisonic may be too aggressive for my typically resilient skin, three weeks seemed like a life time to live with what looked like a face full of teen acne!  Remember though, no two skins are the same, you may or may not experience breakouts and the degree also varies…patience is definitely a virtue with this unit.

I’m happy to report, after my “lifetime” of acne, my skin took on a flawless, glowy, luminous appearance…not surprising since it cleans six times better than manual cleansing alone.  I receive compliments on my skin on a consistent basis since Clarisonic took residence on my vanity.

IMG_5308Clarisonic comes with a stand, or cradle, which doubles as a charger. I opted for the Pro model which has four different speeds, as well as a body setting…

IMG_5318and of course the makers of Clarisonic thought it through, and included an extender to allow for ease of use, I know super clever huh?

IMG_5311The Clarisonic simply snaps in like so, once you add the body brush, you’re ready for spa-like pampering.

IMG_5299I’d recommend Clarisonic to absolutely anyone… I use it at nighttime only, and keep it simple in the a.m. with a gentle manual cleansing.  When it’s time to recharge; the unit is smart enough to beep in a specific pattern to let you know.  Furthermore, if you visit the Clarisonic site you will often find the brush heads specially priced.  I usually stock up… my unit came with the sensitive brush, however my skin responds best to the normal brush and deep pore for more intensive cleansing.

There are several Clarisonic models to choose from, do your research, visit the site here and go for it. Each model comes with a guarantee so if you aren’t satisfied you can always return it… and no, I’m not being paid to plug, I spent my hard earned money and encourage you to do the same, I sincerely believe you won’t regret it;).

Meishoku Detclear Facial Peeling Gel With AHA & BHA

Eureka!  I have been eager to review this product since using it for the first time, subsequent to receiving it a few weeks ago, however, I held off so I’d be able to give valid feedback.  Meishoku Detclear Facial Peeling Gel has quickly made its way to my list of favourites.  It is made from fruit AHA and plant BHA, and is highly effective at sloughing off dead skin cells, and other impurities which sit on the skin’s surface.  After cleansing the skin, 2-3 pumps of the Detclear Facial Peeling Gel is applied and massaged into the skin, as this is done the product forms into little balls.  As a result, the skin is being gently exfoliated.  It’s almost like a mini microdermabrasion in a pump, the outcome is very impressive, leaving the skin silky smooth and prepared for the products which follow.

This product may not be for everyone, the consistency is quite different, it is somewhat watery and light in texture.  it seems completely ineffective when I am using it, I prefer a richer products, however, the results are quite evident immediately afterwards.   My skin is noticeably softer and smoother, I also have brighter since using this product a few weeks ago and the price point is quite reasonable.  The Meishoku Detclear Facial Peeling Gel is available through amazon.com and Mitsuwa market and definitely worthy of 5 stars!

$16.99- $21.99

Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Liquid Soap

Dr. Bronner’s soaps have been around since 1858, soap-making is simply in the blood of this family, as the tradition continues over 100 years after being birthed.  I have a great appreciation for organic and natural products like Dr. Bronner’s, as they are so effective on the skin without the addition of harsh sulfates and other ingredients proven to be unkind to the skin.  The only challenge is the packaging, like most natural products, is a bit bland.  However, transferring the product to more appealing packaging adds pizazz to your sink and vanity, while allowing you to keep those creative juices flowing.

It seems so much more sensible to pay less for natural, quality products that work, versus a small fortune for packaging and brand.  Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Liquid Soap is a staple in my cleansing routine, it can be used on the body, face and even for laundering since it is au naturale.  It is eco-friendly, refreshing, versatile and chock full of certified fair trade ingredients, as well as certified organic oils & essential oils.  This product is most economical at Trader Joe’s if there is one in your area, otherwise Whole Foods stocks it and of course it is available online.

drbronner.com

Five Faves

Today is the debut of “Five Faves” where I choose 5 of my favourite products, today the focus is on skin care.  The items are in no particular order since they are all favourites.  So without further ado, today’s five faves:

AFRICAN BLACK SOAP

This AMAZING soap is imported from Ghana in it’s raw form, and is completely natural.  It’s made from dried plantain skins, palm leaves, cocoa pod powder and kernel oil.  The plantain skins are largely responsible for the efficacy of this soap, as they contain vitamins A, E and iron.  In addition, cocoa pod powder has natural healing properties.  African Black Soap is an excellent remedy for acne, blemishes and hyperpigmentation.

It is offered in numerous quantities, I prefer ordering it in bulk for the value, since I know it works wonders on my skin.  Furthermore, it remains fresh when stored properly.  If you simply want to try it in a small quantity to test it first on your skin, try etsy.com where it’s sold for as little as $5 per bar. On a side note, when in use, it is best stored in a dry container, as it dissolves if left to sit in water.  Upon receiving it, I like to cut it into bars, wrap them individually in wax paper, then all of them collectively in saran wrap.  The portions not in use at the moment should be stored in a cool, dark area until ready for use.

African Black Soap is available through a litany of online vendors, I’ve ordered through both ebay.com and amazon.com with great success, just do your research on the vendor of your choosing.  The price ranges dramatically based on the quantity.

ORGANIC PURE EXTRA VIRGIN COCONUT OIL

Not only do I love coconut oil on toast in the morning, it is also an amazing skin care item.  I prefer to have one for the kitchen and a separate jar in my bathroom, as you might agree.  I won’t digress and cite all of the benefits of ingesting coconut oil, as well as using it as a hair conditioner, since the focus is skin care. I will revisit these benefits in a forthcoming post.

Coconut oil is a highly effective moisturizer, which can be used all over the body, however, I use it only on my face, as it may seep through clothing, although it washes right out in the laundry. It smooths the skin while protecting it from free radicals, which in turn helps to prevent the signs of aging.  In terms of packaging, many appreciate the appeal of great packaging.  I recommend simply transferring the product into a glass container more fitting for your sink area.

This product can be purchased online or from Whole Foods and a number of other healthy grocers.

CLINIQUE CLARIFYING LOTION

I typically receive looks of surprise, which I completely understand, when I suggest this product.  I remember hearing how Clinique Clarifying Lotions are strong enough to strip off nail polish.  I have never tested this, therefore, don’t know the validity, however, I do know it has been of great benefit for my skin.

Years ago I worked on an editorial shoot with an executive from Chanel Beaute, he raved about how this product is perfect for preparing the skin for everything to follow such as: moisturizer and foundation for us ladies.  He said he’d been using it for years despite his commitment to EVERYTHING Chanel, including the skin care of course.  He assured me this was the only exception, and with that, I was convinced.  I bought the Clarifying Lotion 2 for my combination skin, and haven’t turned back after a 5 year run thus far.  In fact, I was without it for several weeks a few months ago, and my skin didn’t like anything about it and neither did I.

Available at department stores nationwide                                                                                                                                                                                                                  6.7 0z- $12.50/13.5 oz- $21.00

SMITH’S ROSEBUD SALVE

This product is a cult classic, packaged in a cute little .8 oz tin, it was first launch in 1895, and has been going strong ever since.  I’ve seen a few copy cats surface lately, which bare a striking resemblance to this original, and anything other may not offer the same benefits.  This product addresses: chapped lips, stings, burns, minor skin irritations and diaper rash.  It also serves as an excellent moisturizer on the skin due to the many different essential oils contained in it.  Smith’s Rosebud Salve is also packaged in a tube, I prefer the consistency of the tin, although I’ve been told it is the same.

Available at Smith’s Rosebud Salve and Sephora $5-$6

QUEEN HELENE APRICOT NATURAL FACIAL SCRUB

Queen Helene products have had great longevity, as the company was established in 1930.  The Apricot Facial Scrub is natural and gentle on the skin, while being highly effective.  I’ve been using this product since my college days, and can attest to its effectiveness in sloughing off dead skin cells without being abrasive.  The skin feels baby soft after use, and on some skins it is gentle enough to be used everyday.  You will know if you fit into this category by starting with 2 days per week and increasing from there.  Your skin will respond accordingly if you seem to be overdoing it.

Queen Helene Apricot Facial Scrub is packaged in a 6 oz. tube and retails for approximately $8 depending upon where it is purchased.  Many beauty supply stores stock it, however, it is available online at this price point with free shipping.

 

Cleansing Oil: The Quest Toward Healthy Looking Skin

Every culture has something great to offer, and among my favourites is Asian.  Asian men and women have been using oil as part of their skin care regimen for several decades because of its remarkable benefits.  Cleansing oils serve as an excellent asset for every skin type, however, attempting to convince an oily skin of this is no small feat.  Oily skins, keep reading, your reformation is on the way!

So here’s the deal, our skin naturally produces oil to help it to remain moisturized and supple.  Unfortunately, because of misinformation, we strive to strip the skin of any traces of oil, which causes the largest organ in our body to work in overdrive to replenish the loss of oil.  This in turn causes the skin to over-compensate for the lack of moisture, thus producing more oil.

The reason skin issues begin to surface as a result, is because this over abundance of oil being produced, will eventually harden on the skin, trapping impurities underneath the skin’s surface.  When this happens breakouts are soon to follow.  For those with an oily skin a vicious cycle begins with them believing the culprit is their oily skin, when in fact, it has more to do with diet and fragrance or other harmful ingredients contained in their skin care.  Fragrance is the number one offender, so read the labels, even so-called “unscented” products may contain fragrance.

Aside from a healthy diet and plenty of water, a good cleansing oil should be a staple.  Oil breaks down oil, therefore, when you cleanse on a consistent basis with an oil cleanser first, you are essentially breaking down the oils causing debris to be embedded underneath the skin, and allowing the pores to be unobstructed.  Hence, allowing the skin to breath and clear of any breakouts and blemishes.  Following up with a natural, sulfate free cleanser is preferential for most people who use oil cleanser as the first step in their skin care regimen.

Two of my absolute favourite cleansing oils are: DHC ($20-$25) and Shu Uemura (starting at $30 and up). Shu Uemuracleansing oils are available in many different formulas. Both items are available online at the respective sites or on Amazon.