to pamper / lip balm review, part 1 non-tinted (french pharmacy, l’occitane, yu-be, elizabeth arden)

It’s time for a massive lip balm review. I have lip balm lying around at various places at home and work. It was surprisingly easy to corral all of them. Lip balm is an essential – especially during the dry, winter weather and when traveling – and it’s painful to be without it. And now I tend to stock up since the mister frequently loses or forgets his. This review is split into two parts: part 1 (non-tinted) and part 2 (tinted).

Part 1: Non-Tinted Lip Balms


Continue reading “to pamper / lip balm review, part 1 non-tinted (french pharmacy, l’occitane, yu-be, elizabeth arden)”

to pamper / my skincare routine

My skin is finally back to a point where I’m fairly satisfied with it! For a while, it felt inflamed and had pesky bumps. The 30s brings more skin trouble than my teens.

These products are currently in my rotation. I am a product junkie who loves the low-end as much as the high-end. Some of these have been blogged before… In addition to these products, I attribute the state of my skin to (1) sleep (2) humidifier and (3) less stress. I love to layer on a bunch of items before I go to bed because that’s when your skin is regenerating! If you’re applying serum, you need a heavier moisturizer on top to seal everything in.

Top row:

  • Somme Institute Transport Pads ($58) – Night – This is my favorite glycolic acid product, hands down for drawing impurities to the surface. There are promotions at least once an year for 100 pads for the price of 50. These last me a while. I keep surplus in the fridge. I also make a point to not use glycolic acid every day – it’s more like a few days in a row every 1-2 weeks. Your skin has to recover. Note that glycolic acid is an exfoliant, so don’t overdo it by using manually exfoliating or using the Clarisonic and using a glycolic acid product. I also avoid using it during the day since it reacts to sunlight.
  • Renee Rouleau Anti-Cyst Treatment ($39.50) – Night – Pricey, yes, but super effective at getting rid of cystic bumps on the chin. I mention a few RR products here. I hate paying for shipping so I tend to order a few items every time I place an order. They also have a F&F event over the summer for 15% off.
  • Renee Rouleau Vitamin C&E Treatment ($62.50) – Day – Antioxidants protect your skin and help maximize your sunscreen. I layer this on after my toner and before my moisturizer with sunscreen every morning. It is pricey, but it has lasted me a while and I like the packaging (to keep stabilized ingredients fresh). I may explore over antioxidant options after I’m done with this.
  • Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser ($11.99) – All Day – This is my favorite gentle cleanser and the most effective cleanser I’ve ever used. It lasts forever and is a great drugstore buy! It doesn’t fully remove my waterproof mascara from Asia… that’s the only downside.
  • Thayers Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel with Organic Aloe Vera Formula Toner, Rose Petal ($7.99) – Morning – After I shower in the morning, I take a RR toning cloth, squirt some of this on there and run it over my face and decolletage. It smells divine and provides an additional layer of moisture.
  • Renee Rouleau Toning Cloths ($12.50) – Morning – I like the size of the lint-free cloths. I use them on most days (especially in the winter when I need to seal in more moisture to counteract the office air), but a box has lasted a while.

Bottom row:

  • Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè ($16-28) – Morning – I got this in Paris where it’s way cheaper. It is a lightweight cream that has a cult following for its use as a makeup primer. I have combination skin and only apply this on my cheeks after I put this on after my sunscreen. I do the rest of my makeup while it settles. My blush has great staying power.
  • Homeoplasmine ($21) – All Day – I also got this in Paris where it is way cheaper. I had one cold this season and to prevent my nose from becoming chapped from the tissues, I smeared this all over it as well as on my lips. What a lifesaver! If you have a local chemist with imported goods, see if they sell it for a better price than Amazon.
  • Squalane Oil ($16) – Night – I read about squalane on a blog somewhere. Occasionally, I go to bed with this as the final layer on my face. It does not break me out. It’s not the cheapest but a little lasts a long time. I wake up looking dewy. There are other brands out there. I’m not particularly loyal to this one.
  • BHA Clarifying Serum ($44.50) – Night – Lactic, Glycolic and Salicylic Acid. I use this occasionally when I’m not using the Somme pads.
  • Johnson & Johnson Clear & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer ($6.59) – Night – I only wear this at night because it doesn’t have SPF. I love the lightweight texture of this moisturizer. I used to use it very often and it always reminds me of my 2006 trip to China (another happy skin memory and pre-TSA liquid screening days).
  • Fresh Crème Ancienne Eye Cream ($95) – Night – Everyone needs a good eye cream… remember, apply with your pinky using a light touch, outside in.

I will confess that sometimes I fall asleep at night without washing my face – at least a few nights of the week. I tried two Korean products the other night that were SUPER fun for blackheads. I will post a review after a few uses. I’ve also been reading up on collagen.

What are you using?

to pamper / the french pharmacy (round 1) & shu uemura

When I travel, I love to visit local establishments like drugstores, supermarkets, etc. I’ve wanted to try products from French pharmacies for ages, but never got around to actually shopping at one until this trip. There are plenty of pharmacies around, but most are tiny and don’t carry everything. I bookmarked the St. Germain City Pharma from British makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge. I like one-stop shops and needed a few things for India as well.

We visited City Pharma yesterday during the rain. It is massive and looks to be a Chinese tourist bus destination. They even have Chinese speaking staff! There are fully staffed pharmacy counters upstairs. Prices are extremely reasonable and they have lots of value sets. I had trouble finding a few items and had to flag someone down each time to ask. It helps to point to a picture. It is very close to Cafe de Flore (wiki), in case you need to rest your feet after a shopping trip.

My purchases were inspired by GOOP and good old Googling (hey, MUA now has an app!). I haven’t tried everything yet, so more reviews will happen some time in the future. I still have a few more things to flag down! Everything except the Avibon was available on the shelf. Avibon is behind the counter on the 2F. I wasn’t planning on buying Caudalie, but the prices are cheaper here as well and I have been curious about a few of their items.

  • I recently started using and love the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè and purposely didn’t bring it on the trip. It works beautifully as a primer and to lock in moisture.
    • In the US, a 30 ml (1.0 fl oz) tube costs $16. At City Pharma, it cost 17.89e (~$24) for two 75 ml (2.6 fl oz) tubes.
    • You can find this in the US online at Embryolisse, Ricky’s NYC (slightly cheaper!), Amazon, or Beautyhabit.
  • I did not feel like lugging bottles of the Bioderma Crealine water, so I grabbed a pack of the wipes. I typically use cleansing oil to remove makeup. The wipe was refreshing but did not fully remove the kohl eyeliner I had on yesterday. I rarely wear e/l.
    • I can’t find the wipes online in the US, but you can find the water at Amazon.

We also stopped by the Shu Uemura boutique on 176 St Germain Blvd. The US is boutique-less and I still prefer to buy things like concealer in person. The SA says they may cut the US e-store. I hope not! I’m big on SU concealer and picked up the pro gel cealer (which I’m still getting the hang of) and the cover crayon. The pro gel cealer looks like it may have a tighter finish than the nobara cream cover stick foundation or the point concealers (this one isn’t sold in the US) I currently use. The light end of the cover crayon is also good for highlighting and lining the lips. I also forgot my brow pencil and grabbed another one – the stone gray hard formula pencil is seriously the best and so natural. The SA also mentioned there is a mechanical version of this pencil, but it sounds like it has a greasier finish. Plus, refills would be hard to get since they don’t sell this item online in the US!