Sponsored Beauty Review: Naruko Raw Job’s Tears Sheet Mask

NB: I was sent these masks by Naruko in return for writing a review, but all opinions are my own. My official statement about sponsorship offers is here.

A couple weeks ago, Rachel from Naruko offered to send me a few masks so that I could review them and see how I liked them. I’ve been intrigued by Naruko since seeing Jude’s posts on them, but I always got distracted by something shinier when I went to buy something from them. So I leapt at the opportunity. We had a little conversation about my skin type and concerns and one of the masks she suggested was the Raw Job’s Tears Supercritical CO2 Pore Minimizing and Brightening Mask. Say that one five times fast!

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Naruko is a Taiwanese company, founded by the preternaturally youthful and attractive Niuer, which focuses on creating products of superior effectiveness and quality control. They also happen to have products in a variety of price ranges, and using both scientifically-studied ingredients and more traditional botanical ingredients. I was particularly drawn to them because of their various floral lines. In fact, I’ve been eyeing products from their Rose line for ages because, well, I just love anything rose. They even make a Rose cushion blush that might make its way into my cart in future.

Now, I received the masks in record time and they just happened to come at time when I was plagued with spots from a hormonal swing, as well as just general stress and poor health habits during tech week for Pygmalion. So I jumped right in and used one of these masks on the Sunday after our second weekend of shows, which happened to be the weekend we had had four shows, a positive marathon compared to my usual community theatre experience. I had a large spot sprouting on the side of my chin. I figured at the very least, the coolness of a mask would calm it down.

Well, the first mask I tried didn’t really do much except generally soothe and hydrate my skin, but when I tried it again later in the week, when the spot had had a little time to run its course, I noticed an immediate reduction of the appearance of the remnants of this spot. So it’s a nice effect. I used the third mask they sent last night because I was PMSing pretty hard core and expecting some spots to appear, but they haven’t yet.

The essence is lightweight and not sticky and absorbs quickly after I’ve taken the mask off, but it stays pretty moist for 40 minutes or so. It smells lightly of apple juice to me, which is odd but not unpleasant. The fit isn’t bad — it basically fits my face with a little tenting around the bridge of the nose and gaps around the nose, but it’s stretchy enough to deal with the slightly small eye holes. All in all, a nice mask. I might repurchase this when I’ve run through my other stash of masks because it is nice for the occasional breakout. The pore care aspect of is something I usually rely on my Tosowoong Pure Propolis Mask for, but I find the essence in the Naruko Job’s Tears Mask to be lighter and possibly more in line with summer skin care.

This was a lovely introduction to Naruko, however, and I’m excited to try the other masks they’ve sent, as well as maybe branching out into the rest of their line.

Beauty Review: My New Favorite Multitasker

I never thought I would be one of those women who waxed rhapsodic about a toner. But here we are. I recently bought the Klairs Supple Preparation Toner on a whim because I needed a hydrating layer and had been investigating the “seven-skin” method, where you apply multiple layers of a hydrating toner to help plump up your skin without a heavy moisturizer. The Klairs toner was recommended often enough, I decided to give it a try.

Oh my.

This toner belies its humble name. Some people consider toner next to worthless, a throwback to a time when we believed that dousing our faces in drying alcohol would rid us of our skincare sins, or else a subtle insult to the power of our cleansers. In a world of double cleansing and avoidance of irritants, why would we still need the toner? It turns out that toners can be different things to different people, and to some people, a toner is a light, liquidy layer of hydration. Some women in Seoul even started patting in seven layers of toner on a humid summer day and skipping any other form of moisturizer, in favor of the light hydration of the toner.

So I tried the Klairs toner and found it not only hydrating (it has a slightly-more-viscous-than-water texture that feels like a cushion of hydration for your face), but also soothing and amazingly relaxing. It has a light lavender scent, but not the sickly sweet version of lavender some cosmetics have. This plays up the herbaceous, spicy notes of lavender. It smells like herbal medicine, almost, and brings down any redness I might have on my face. While it does have anti-acne plant extracts, I cannot honestly say if it really did much to heal my occasional spots, though the red, angry ones do seem maybe a bit less red and angry after I’ve applied it.

I love the texture. I almost always apply at least three layers of this, simply because I love putting on my face. It’s a bit of a hazard because I find myself going through the bottle rather quickly without trying. But the product absorbs so nicely and really does feel like it is prepping my skin to absorb whatever comes next, be it a serum, sheet mask, or my beloved Liquid Gold.

All in all, this is a bit more time than I would normally spend praising a toner, but this toner has been more than a toner to me. I use it as my intermediate hydrating step, morning and night, and have actually stopped using any other essences in addition to it. This is certainly a new go-to product for me, and I’m sure I will be repurchasing this sooner rather than later.

NB: I purchased this product with my own money and have been given no incentive, financial or otherwise, to review it here.

Shop Review: Beautibi

This is somewhat out of the ordinary for me, but I wanted to say a few words about a few recent purchases I made from the shop Beautibi. You see, usually when I make an order, I include a disclaimer saying that not only was I not compensated for the review, but it’s likely the company doesn’t even know about my blog or my review. But in this case, it’s possible Jen from Beautibi will see this review because we actually interact often enough that she’ll probably see this. Suffice to say that I haven’t been financially compensated and both of these orders were paid for by me.

Anyway, a little while ago, Jude at Fifty Shades of Snail posted about a giveaway of a Beautibi aNEW box. Now, I’m not big on beauty boxes, and I didn’t want to enter the giveaway, but looking at the box, it intrigued me. First of all, it included the Wishing U biocellulose masks, which are supposed to act like a hydrocolloid patch for your whole face, while also providing moisture and anti-aging benefits. Then, it included some travel-sized stuff from some brands that intrigued me. Including hair care. You guys, I love hair care! And the hair care is made with peat extract, which is just so appropriate for my upcoming Scottish honeymoon.

Finally, the thing that sold me was that, while the original box came with a full-sized BB, CC, or primer cream, Beautibi decided to offer the option of switching out color cosmetics for a peeling cream. I’ve never used a peeling gel or cream and I’ve been curious. So I decided to treat myself.

And then, seconds after submitting my order, I get an email: “Welcome to Beautibi, take 10% off your first order.” Oh. Well. Um. I just placed my first order, so how does this work?

So I went out on a limb and emailed them to ask if they could retroactively apply the discount. Well, not only did they respond and agree, they actually processed the refund so quickly, it came to me before the response that they were going to do that. No fuss. No muss. And since then, I’ve had some lovely interactions on Twitter and Instagram with them as well.

Well, after that lovely experience, I decided to splurge again and order during their St. Patrick’s Day sale. Beautibi has some brands that I don’t see everywhere, so I tried a brand of rubber masks that were new to me, as well as some garden-themed sheet masks, and an artisan perfume. It came packaged with the same lovely attention to detail, with speed that impressed even my Amazon-addicted self, and the same packet of whimsical confetti.

Beautibi is also nice because they carry a lot of Taiwanese brands, which are a bit less well-known than their Korean and Japanese sisters. I’ve been a fan of Taiwanese LoveMore masks for a while and I find the brands at Beautibi often walk a delicate line between being natural-leaning but without sacrificing science-led, effective ingredients. And the company often lists the pH of products, which is helpful for me.

I do believe Beautibi will have a longtime customer in me, next time I’m in need of a beauty pick-me-up.

Update: While this review was written with no ulterior motive, and the links in the main body of the review have not changed, I have since generated a Beautibi referral link. If you would like to support the blog, and get $5 off your first purchase, click here.

Beauty Review: The Gold Standard

I am going to start by saying that I know I am not doing anything ground-breaking by reviewing Stratia’s Liquid Gold. But I wanted to share my experiences with it, because I have tried a few ceramide products. But the bottom line is that I really like this product and I don’t see myself finding a replacement any time soon.

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Because I haven’t talked about my skincare routine for a while, here are the cliffs notes: I have combination dehydrated skin that I’m coming to realize is actually a bit sensitive. My skin hates soap, heavy plant butters, coconut oil, and cinnamon, and it loves low-pH cleansers, light hydration, high-linoleic oils, and ceramides. I started out with CeraVe PM as my ceramide fix, and later moved on to Rosette Ceramide Gel and finally CeraVe Baby Moisturizing Cream.

And then I decided to use Liquid Gold. At the time, the product mostly replaced three products in my routine: a niacinamide serum, a facial oil, and a ceramide cream. I’ve actually found myself reaching for my beloved Herbivore Phoenix oil less and less because Liquid Gold has the lovely nourishing plant oils, along with a healthy dose of niacinamide, hydration, and ceramides.

The cream itself is a lovely golden yellow color and has no discernible scent, other than the natural scent of the oils, which some people think smell fishy, but I just smell oil. It’s a creamy emulsion consistency, like a loose custard, which I find delightful, particularly together with the vivid color. Cosmetically, it is a joy to use. The sturdy, frosted-glass bottle looks lovely on my vanity, is distinctive enough that I can send Fiancé into the other room to get it for me with a 100% success rate, and the pump dispenses the perfect amount for the morning. In the evening, I use two pumps, although I sometimes add a thicker occlusive on top.

I use this product as either my last step in the morning before I put on sunscreen and makeup or as my last step in the evening, possibly before an occlusive or sleeping mask. When the air is not very dry, or when I’ve just used a sheet mask, I sometimes find it enough on its own. It applies smoothly, and leaves a satiny finish to my skin. There is a very slightly amount of stick, but just enough that my skin feels moist. It really does feel a bit like fresh mochi when I touch it!

Since I started using this product, the improvements to my skin have been subtle. Of course, from the first night I tried it, I woke up to glowing skin the next morning. But I’ve already made great strides by removing pore-clogging ingredients, switching to a low-pH cleanser, and adding layers of light hydration. That said, I still had some residual breakouts along my jawline, particularly around my time of the month. Well, last month, my monthly visitor was late, and because of that, and the fact that I hadn’t gotten even one spot convinced me that I was expecting. I mean, my skin was glowing. Of course, it was a false alarm, but the only thing that I had started recently enough to be the “culprit” would be this lovely healing emulsion.

If you are in the market for a light, hydrating and emollient, ceramide moisturizer, I suggest you take a look at Stratia Liquid Gold. It is worth at least a look, although it does contain some ingredients that give others pause. But I have found it to have made a great positive difference in my skin.

NB: I was not compensated in any way for this review or provided the product for review. I paid for this product with my own money.

Why I No Longer Seek out “Natural” Beauty Products

In November of 2015, about sixteen months ago, my morning routine was featured on the (apparently now-defunct) natural beauty blog “No More Dirty Looks.” At the time, I was using a heavily-DIY, all-natural routine, focusing on avoiding chemicals like parabens. Since then, I’ve obviously changed my tune and started using more man-made (and woman-made!) ingredients and products and stopped avoiding ingredients like parabens in favor of science-based ingredients. So I thought I’d use this post to talk a little bit about why I made the switch and why I no longer think it’s necessary to avoid the so-called “toxic” chemicals in our beauty products.

First, a little bit about my own personal story. I found natural/organic beauty through the organic and traditional foods movement. Several years ago, I decided to drastically overhaul how I ate in order to see if it would help my frequent migraine headaches. The good news is that it did! The bad news is that it meant making from scratch pretty much every scrap of food that went into my body. That’s a daunting task, and I did it with the help of food bloggers in the “real food” movement. And while I was busy putting only minimally-processed, organic food into my body, I started reading about how we also get exposed to “toxic chemicals” through the personal care products we use. Around the same time, I had a massive breakout of hives over my entire body for 36 hours. I tracked down the possible culprits and decided that the artificial fragrance had caused my reaction. So I started switching to an all-natural regimen of personal care.

At my crunchiest, I used homemade soap, apple cider vinegar, and organic oils to care for my face, body, and hair. I used crystal deodorant. I ate up articles by bloggers claiming to have found a scientific basis for avoiding parabens, phthalates, sulfates, fragrances, and a whole host of other ingredients. When I couldn’t use something made myself, I found the simplest, least-preserved brand at the organic market that I could. I even washed my hair with mud for a while. And I kept this up for years.

Finally, I realized that highly-alkaline soaps were not doing my skin or hair any favors. I think the first step was admitting that washing my hair with soap left it paradoxically greasy and dry. My hairdresser would refuse to touch my hair until he’d washed it with salon shampoo. And I was breaking out. I went from being a teenager and early-20-something with enviable skin to a spotty 30-something.

In a fit of pique, I became so frustrated with how my skin reacted to everything that I just stopped using anything at all but plain water on my face. That was when I started noticing that my skin was actually dry. I started doing different research, looking up hydrating skin, and eventually found the Skincare Addiction and Asian Beauty subreddits. There, I learned that I had probably dehydrated my skin from years of using alkaline cleansing products and only oils to moisturize. And a light bulb went on.

But in order to fully break away from my crunchy leanings, I had to convince myself that these chemicals I’d been avoiding for years were actually safe. Once I finally did, I felt embarrassed because the preponderance of scientific evidence is in favor of the safety of approved cosmetics ingredients, and I have a scientific background myself. Refusing to trust these researchers is akin to refusing to trust the science that claims vaccines are safe and necessary or that human-driven climate change is a major factor in our environment. If I trusted the science in one place, I needed to learn to trust the science in this place.

Of course, there are bloggers with science backgrounds doing the good work of trying to counter the scare-mongering people who perpetuate this fear of “chemicals.” And that really helped. But I also did my own looking around. And even now, when I find myself falling into old habits of worrying about a skin care ingredient, I do a search and try to limit myself to scientific publications. And since I know a little bit about scientific publication, I try to look up the journals these things are published in, to ensure I’m getting good sources.

But that’s not to say I’ve completely abandoned everything I gained from being an organic beauty aficionado. I still use natural oils on my face. I still DIY my own products, when I can’t find a commercial product that I like. And I still am wary of fragrance in skin care. I’m still aware of my ingredients, but I know that I could have a problem from any ingredient, not just the ones with unfamiliar chemical names.

And that’s the real crux of why I no longer consider myself a natural skin care person. I’ve found some natural ingredients that cause me much worse problems than any scary-sounding chemical ever has. As an example, I’m going to go back to that story about breaking out in hives. I noticed that the initial reaction happened in the exact pattern that I use when putting soap on my body. I looked at the bar of soap I was using and, sure enough, “fragrance” was one of the ingredients. Now, I’m friends with the lady who makes the soap, so I shot her a quick email. She verified that, yes, she used artificial sandalwood fragrance because of cost and environmental concerns with sandalwood oil. Well, I thought to myself, that must be the problem!

There was a jasmine perfume she sold that I loved, so when I was done “detoxing,” I added that back in first, to make sure it didn’t cause a problem. And it didn’t. Oh well, I thought, the jasmine fragrance oil and the sandalwood fragrance oil must have different constituents. But then, I started making my own soaps and she shared her fragrance supplier’s website with me. Well, knowing that the sandalwood fragrance made me react and the jasmine didn’t, I figured I could go to the data sheets for each fragrance and look at what different components they had.

And they had exactly the same fragrant compounds in them. From a chemical standpoint, there wasn’t a difference. So if I had reacted to one, why didn’t I react to another?

Then, I went back to the soap ingredient list and looked again. One of the essential oils was cinnamon essential oil. Now, cinnamon is intensely irritating and has to be used carefully. I had actually had a less-severe skin reaction to a product with cinnamon in it after my hives situation. So after all that, after years of being chemically-avoidant, it was probably a natural essential oil that had caused my reaction.

So the lesson here is that anything can cause a reaction, be it natural or synthesized. Be aware of your personal care products, but know that approved chemicals became approved through a lengthy research process, and distrusting that research may not leave you with the best products to work with.

The Weekend Deep Cleanse

Lately, my weekend evenings have been uneventful and quiet, which gives me more time to really treat my skin. I do always try to reserve Sunday evenings for home time, so I can make some healthy food and do my weekly skincare deep cleanse. This weekend, I managed to fall asleep without doing my routine on Saturday night (naughty, I know, but at least I wasn’t wearing makeup!), so I decided to do my deep cleanse in the morning to make up for the negligence the night before.

The weekend deep cleanse starts the same way that the regular evening cleanse starts: I go in with grease. That is to say, I start with an oil or balm cleanser. Lately, I’ve been too lazy to put together a new batch of my homemade cleansing balm, so I’m using up a bottle of Simple Hydrating Cleansing Oil in the meantime. It’s grapeseed-based and unfancy and works for my purposes.

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Here’s where I shake things up. After thoroughly emulsifying and rinsing my cleansing oil off with warm water, I pat dry and apply a clay mask. I like to apply a clay mask between cleansing steps for two reasons: 1.) I can use my second cleanser to remove bits of mask, so I don’t need to scrub everything off with a washcloth and aggravate my skin, and 2.) clay is often high pH and I like to use my low-pH second cleanser to help balance my skin out a bit so I don’t get tight skin. So I smear on a relatively generous layer of Cattier Green Clay Mask.

I love this clay. I’ve used a lot of clays, from mix-it-yourself powders to Korean clay mousse in a can, and Cattier is hands-down my favorite. It might be the only clay mask I’ve actually repurchased in the last several years. It’s just green clay mixed with water and humectant solvents, with some preservatives thrown in to keep it from getting nasty. It’s less messy than mixing my own, and less irritating and drying than any other clay mask I’ve used. I daub myself with green mud and then go downstairs to terrify Fiancé and TweedCat (and also watch a YouTube video maybe) for ten minutes. I rinse it off after ten minutes so that the mask doesn’t completely dry. This allows the clay to suck out impurities, but it doesn’t irritate my skin, and I find that I can rinse the mask completely by splashing with warm water and I don’t have to resort to the use of a cloth.

After the clay, I follow up with my second cleanser (currently Glossier’s Milky Jelly), and then pat dry. But wait, the deep cleanse is not over yet. I like to follow up with a toner, essence, and sheet mask whenever I do a clay mask because clay can be drying and I wouldn’t want to dehydrate my already princess-diva skin. So I slapped on a LoveMore Pearl Barley and Milk mask and relaxed for twenty minutes this weekend. If I have more time, I might luxuriate with an Evercos mask. If I’m going to an audition or party later on, I might opt for a LoveMore Snow Lotus mask. And if my skin is being a pissy little baby, I might go for Tosowoong Pure Propolis. Whichever I choose, hydration is the first order of business, which is the primary feature of any sheet mask, in my opinion.

Cleansed and essence-d to within an inch of my skin’s life, I finish off with a squirt of a light emulsion for the daytime (currently Stratia Liquid Gold, review forthcoming) or a cream at night. So far, I haven’t seen too many repercussions of my Saturday neglect, so I think it’s working.

NB: All products mentioned were bought by me and paid for by me with no incentive to review them.

Beauty Review: Battle of the Deciem Brands, The Ordinary Buffet vs. Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age Serum

So I’ve been procrastinating writing a review of The Ordinary’s Buffet serum for a while now. Originally, I was just lazy. But then, I decided to try switching to the Hylamide’s SubQ Anti-Age serum. When I started using it, I thought maybe I’d hold my review of Buffet until I had an opinion of SubQ, since Deciem holds up SubQ as a more potent version of Buffet.

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I’ve only tried two other products from each range: Hylamide’s C25 Booster serum and Hydra-Density Mist, and The Ordinary’s Niacinamide + Zinc serum and Hyaluronic Acid + B5 serum. Of the serums, I find that Hylamide’s serums have a more sophisticated texture, in general, though I like The Ordinary’s focus on simple, one- or two-main-ingredient products so you can mix and match exactly what you want. I’ve had a problem in the past with some serums just offering too much, leading me to skip a serum that looks interesting because one of the other ingredients is unwanted. But “Buffet” is a different beast for The Ordinary. As per the company’s description, the name implies a comparison to an all-you-can-eat restaurant. But even this many-in-one formula remains relatively uncomplicated. It’s peptides and hyaluronic acid in several weights. In essence, this is what SubQ Anti-Age is as well.

The main difference in description is that SubQ Anti-Age is marketed specifically as an alternative to retinol products for anti-aging. This intrigued me, as I’ve been striving to avoid retinols and retinoids in my skin care routine as something I would have to give up if Fiancé and I decide to have a child. Why find something that works a miracle with my skin if I’m going to have to give it up for a year in the future? No, there’s plenty of time for me to experiment with non-retinol products now and save the retinoids for when I’m older.

So on to my own experiences. Buffet was the first serum I tried. As I’ve mentioned before, I have one relatively pronounced forehead line that serves as my yardstick for the efficacy of my skin care routine. I’m reasonably sure that nothing short of fillers or Botox would remove it entirely, but levels of hydration and effective chemical exfoliation will reduce its prominence. I found Buffet to be a perfectly adequate hydrator. It reduced the prominence of my forehead line enough that I felt like it was doing something. But I find find the texture a bit uncomfortably sticky. This is not a serum I would use during the day.

Enter SubQ. At first drop, the texture is much more pleasant. It sinks in quickly with much less stickiness. I actually find it absorbs so quickly that I had to play a bit with how I apply it. At first my skin drank it up so quickly, that I had to apply six drops directly to my face and pat it in in zones to get it spread out before it was sucked in. As I’ve used it over the last several weeks, I’ve found my skin a little less desperate to absorb it. That alone suggests that it’s doing something.

But then, this happened: I was sitting at our Sunday morning coffee date with fiancé and he stopped looking at his phone and started studying my face. I grew increasingly self-conscious and mildly annoyed and asked him what he was doing. “I was noticing how you have no lines on your forehead when I have a lot of lines on my forehead,” he said. Hmmm, I thought. I looked in my hand mirror and noticed that, indeed, my forehead line had faded to near obscurity. Given that I am nearly three years older than he is, it’s likely that any difference in our skin is down to genetics and good skin care. After that I started looking and noticed that I was regularly seeing less and less of my line. So I definitely find SubQ more effective than Buffet and to me it is worth the extra price.

So there is my comparison. I like the Deciem brands because their products seem to be well-formulated and price seems to correlate with activity, but even the lower-priced products are a good quality, well-thought-out product.

NB: I purchased both of these products with my own money and have been given no incentive to review them. None of the links are affiliate links.

Beauty Review: Herbivore Phoenix Regenerating Facial Oil

…or “Several Hundred Words about a Completely Frivolous and yet Marvelous Skin Care Purchase.”

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Hello, lovelies! It’s Monday and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to talk about this beautiful facial oil, which I love. But I would like to start out this review by admitting that this was a completely frivolous purchase and even though I love it, I will probably not be repurchasing it, as I have a new skin care love (which will get its own review possibly next week). Also, as this isn’t a beauty blog, per se, this will not be a terribly useful review of the product as an anti-aging product.

So. This oil. Look at it. It’s just so beautiful, from the color to the simple-yet-elegant packaging, to the whole experience. I have to say, my favorite thing about it is the scent. It smells absolutely gorgeous. Like a garden boudoir full of flowers, which is absurd because a garden boudoir would not be very private, now would it? Perhaps if you had very tall fences…

But I digress. I bought this facial oil while in the market for something a bit fancier than my standard rose hip seed oil. Something with a bit of scent to it, but without artificial fragrance. Something with a blend of oils. And, because I am a bit silly, something in a beautiful bottle that would grace the top of my vanity with its loveliness.

I had a Sephora account and an embarrassing level of spending in 2016 already, so this was one of the things I bought to push me over the edge once more into premium membership territory. My spending will have to calm down eventually, but last December was not that time. And I did buy my mother Estee Lauder for Christmas, so I’m not entirely selfish.

Anyway, the label appeal of this oil is the blend of exotic oils, including my beloved rose hip oil, with very, very little in the way of filler (the closest to a “filler oil” would be the jojoba that is second on the ingredient list), plus CoQ10 (a rather expensive antioxidant) and some floral essential oils. The scent is a blend of rose and neroli oils, which lends it that sexy floral experience. And because the oils are mostly high-linoleic oils, they absorb quickly and are less likely to exacerbate any breakouts I might be dealing with.

I have to say, I find the experience of this oil lovely. My preferred way of using it was to apply 6-8 drops in the palm of my hand, warm it briefly, and then press and massage it into my skin before applying my night cream. It doesn’t lend itself much to massage, as it does absorb very, very quickly, but it is just a lovely texture. And I did notice that I had a much more pronounced “glow” the next morning after using this than from rose hip oil alone.

My other favorite use for this (and likely the continuing use, as I’ve replaced it in my evening routine) is to apply it before taking the train downtown for my early-morning barre class. Before barre, I like to wash my face, apply vitamin C serum, but then I don’t use sunscreen, as it is still dark outside until after I’ve left the gym. So I apply 3-5 drops to steel my face against the cold. Plus, I tend to tent my hands over my nose before applying it to inhale the beautiful fragrance.

And I suppose that is all that can reasonably be said about this oil. It is lovely, but if you’re not in the market for a splurge, there are other ways to get your oily glow on. But if you are in the market, it is a lovely floral experience.

NB: I purchased this with my own funds and was not provided any incentive to review it, favorably or otherwise.

Beauty Review: Hylamide Hydra-Density Mist

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Disclaimer: I generally don’t get sent products for review, but I feel the need to disclose that this was provided to me free of charge by Deciem. Not for a review, but because I literally placed an order the day before it was released and was annoyed because they don’t ever give any estimate as to when they’re going to release things. I complained on Instagram and they contacted me for the order number and threw this in with my order. When it got to me, I realized they hadn’t charged me for it. Thanks, Deciem!

Alright, so this is another Deciem product, from their mid-range skincare brand Hylamide. I got this Hydra Density Mist on a whim (and for free, as per the story above) because Caroline Hirons always talks about spray-hydrating and I thought a nice moderately-priced hydrating mist would be a good addition to my morning skin care. And I started using it and basically just felt very “meh” about it.

So I resolved not to repurchase when I ran out. And then I started getting lazy about using it. And then I realized that it was actually doing something.

It’s really subtle, but I find this mist really brings a little burst of hydration to my relatively-uncomplicated morning routine. In the morning, I wash in the shower, Glow Tonic, Vitamin C serum, and sunscreen. This fits in between Vitamin C and sunscreen, and it gives a nice refresh to my skin after I’ve let my vitamin C serum sit for a bit.

This is not an exciting product. It’s not scented at all, nor does it really make a huge difference in my overall skin. But I just feel like my skin looks a bit better when I use it versus when I don’t. And that was enough that I actually bought a new bottle of it in my last Hylamide order. So that’s my endorsement: got to try it for free, but shelled out to replace it. It’s not going to do any miracles, but it will hydrate your face. Make sure and put something over it, though, to keep the hydration in.

And that’s really all I have to say about it.

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How I Prioritize Skin Care When Life Gets Hectic

Right now, I’m in rehearsal for a play that rehearses three weeknights per week, plus I work a full-time job with a more-then-one-hour commute each way. It’s basically easier to think about how much time I spend in my house (and awake) than how much time I spend away from home. So even though I don’t have children, my life has gotten pretty hectic for me.

Yet, I’ve been striving to maintain my somewhat-complicated skin care routine because it really gives me results I need to maintain a decent level of positive self-image. Having a giant spot does nothing for my mood. So today I thought I’d talk a little bit about how I’ve planned, designed, and schedule my personal routine to make it possible to maintain, even when life doesn’t allow a leisurely few hours for doing my toilette.

First of all, I try to focus more on inactive steps to see where I can fit skin care in while I do other things. In the morning, I’m making tea, making meals for the day, dressing, and checking emails. I try to make the actual time I spend at my vanity brief and use the time doing other things to let steps sit. So I’ll put on my vitamin C serum, and then go make my lunch, for example. Or I’ll apply sunscreen before I get dressed and do my hair to give it time to settle in before I do my makeup.

In the evening, I do have one serious-active step that needs to sit for at least 20 minutes for optimal effectiveness, but I’ve found that my skin is actually happier if I limit that product to three times a week, so I try to choose nights when I’m not coming home at 10 p.m. from rehearsal. And I generally save special skin treatments like masks for the weekend, particularly Sunday night when I try not to have anything else going on. I once had a director who wanted to have rehearsal Sunday nights and it totally threw me off.

Finally, my secret weapon is that I’ve designed my skin care routine so that I have a minimum acceptable routine. If it’s really late at night and I need to just get to bed, I can cleanse my skin and slap on some cream in a few minutes, so I do that. And if I’m up super-early and don’t need to be somewhere with a full face of makeup, I know I can splash with water and throw on sunscreen. I’ve chosen products that work for that. It’s not something I’d maintain long term. But once in a while, I let myself off the hook. As long as I wash my face before bed. Of course.