to shop / that nordstrom anniversary sale, part 2

What I bought in the second round. The anniversary sale ends on Sunday.

(1) Fresh Eye Cream. I recently read that wrinkles take 6 years to surface. Maybe I should be more diligent with using eye cream (I have not been)… As I mentioned last time, the Nordstrom anniversary sale has a ton of beauty deals and gifts with purchase (gwp), which in my opinion is the best time to buy beauty products in lieu of a site-wide 20-25% off. I get really excited when you can stack gwps for a brand like Fresh since they normally are not that generous with deluxe samples. I got the Fresh Creme Ancienne eye cream, and with it came 7 minis (along with 5 beauty samples from Nordstrom).

  • The 5 minis on the left are auto-added with any $125+ Fresh purchase ($83 value).
  • The 2 minis on the right above the eye cream are through code DMFRESH (exp unknown) for a $50+ Fresh purchase ($60 value). If you don’t care for these minis, you can get an 17 piece sampler with code DEALMOON (exp unknown) with any beauty/fragrance purchase over $125. You can see its details once you add the code at checkout.

(2) Cubic zirconia stud earrings. I want a pair of diamond studs, but I’m not sure how much I want them. So, these are a low stress experiment to avoid a financial regret! They also come in other sizes.

(3) Gehwol foot cream. I love everything from this German brand.

to pamper / drunk elephant, tatcha, atopalm, fresh & sulwhasoo skincare reviews

I saved a lot of shopping for Q416 sales…

1. Atopalm

Atopalm is a Korean drugstore brand that was created by a doctor. Its star ingredient, MLE, is designed to repair the skin barrier and perfect for those with sensitive skin conditions or looking for clean moisture. I started using this line in December and I love the products I’ve tried — Moisturizing Skin Revitalizing Complex, Intense Moisturizing Cream, Moisturizing Eye Repair Serum, and Daytime Undermakeup Moisture Cream. I don’t wear these together but will apply a layer or two depending on the weather. It dries quickly, has a smooth texture, isn’t heavy or greasy, and layers beautifully under sunscreen.

  • Great for? Sensitive skin, skin barrier repair, and intense lightweight moisture with some anti-aging benefits.
  • How much? I got everything for 40% off in November. It was <$30 for most items, with the daytime cream being $12.
  • Where to buy? There are multiple outlets online (including Dermstore, Target, Peach & Lily), but I recommend purchasing from the Atopalm USA website, which has by far the best prices (30-40% off promotions).
  • Rebuy? Yes, and I like the complex and eye serum the most since it’s in a convenient airless pump container and they also contain anti-aging ingredients.

2. Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream, Lippe, and Babyfacial

Drunk Elephant introduced a new airless pump for their Lala Retro cream in December which made this much more enticing. Otherwise, I have to pause my routine to wash my hands with soap and dry them to stick my fingers into the tub. I got a deluxe sample of it and it was indeed very lightweight and moisturizing. I use a number of actives at night and I like to top ’em off with a heavy dose of moisture in the form of cream and/or oil. This has both.

  • Great for? Dry skin and cold weather. It has oils in it so I find the moisture to be more intense than a single Atopalm product. If you’re sensitive to oils, best to spot test first. I also find that DE products play very nicely with each other — this is especially the case for the Lala and the marula oil.
  • How much? $60 for 1.69 oz. I got it from Dermstore with a 25% off coupon.
  • Where to buy? Sephora.
  • Rebuy? Yes, I really like airless packaging and the grease-less feel.

Lippe is a simple lip balm. I got it through a set. It’s quite small (0.13 oz) but packs a punch — multiple antioxidant oils (marula, avocado, mongogo, and cranberry), shea butter, and peptides, sea fern algae for moisture.

  • Great for? Dry lips and maintaining good lips
  • How much? $22 for 0.13 oz. I got it from Dermstore in a value set with a 30% off coupon.
  • Where to buy? Sephora
  • Rebuy? Maybe. It’s a solid lip balm, but I also have a huge stockpile of lip balms.

TLC Sukari Babyfacial is DE’s newest product. It’s exclusive to the US and as of writing, exclusive to Sephora. It’s $80 and 1.69 oz so the biggest complaint you’ll hear about is the price. The Babyfacial is an at-home peel. I probably used more pumps than I cared to but it’s cheaper than going to a facialist for a peel. I don’t get facials regularly (less than annually), so that’s how I justify the money I spend on the numerous masks and skincare.

Despite having fairly resilient skin, I felt some tingling. I followed instructions and washed it off after 20 minutes and slathered marula oil on top. It also comes with a travel size marula oil. I experienced no redness. My skin was indeed baby soft. I will most likely use this once a week (on the weekend) for the first month or so. Since the product is so new, there are no reviews of long term use yet. If you try this, make sure your skin is dry (active ingredients penetrate wet skin much deeper and can cause harm) and space out any other AHA/retinol products so they are not back to back. June 2017 Update: Most likely using once every 3 weeks or so. With summer rolling around, I find my skin to be more sensitive given the increased sun exposure. I would avoid it in general if you know your sun exposure is or will be high!

  • Great for? Skin that isn’t too sensitive. Futurederm has a great review and explains why the chickpea flour may not be the best for those with dry skin.
  • How much? $80 for 1.69 oz
  • Where to buy? Sephora
  • Rebuy? Most likely. I love baby soft skin and hope some sun spots will fade. However there are so many other darn tempting products out there and I have only one face.

3. Tatcha The Essence

The essence step comes after the cleansing and toner. I previously used the Cremorlab essence but kind of stopped this step. Aside from hydration, I didn’t see a difference. When Tatcha started to market its new product, I was intrigued but wasn’t planning to spend $95 on a bottle of essence. But then they released its Lucky Bag promo and I gave in. (For the record, you had to spend $100 to get a Lucky Bag worth over $100. I got a full sized bottle of the Deep Hydration serum and a travel sized exfoliant cleanser in my Lucky Bag, worth over $100 as advertised.)

As expected from Tatcha, the packaging is gorgeous. I splash some essence on my face after cleansing and gently patting my face dry. The essence looks, feels, and smells like water, however it has a trio of superfoods (green tea, rice, algae) that produces lactic acid through natural fermentation. If you read up on Tatcha’s site, they describe the essence as soaking through layers of your skin so your subsequent steps can penetrate deeper and perform more effectively. After using this for a few weeks, I can say that Essence works really well to boost my other products and feels like a skin softener. Since it is a booster, the overall effect on your skin is dependent on the other products you use. Similarly, your skin is only as good as the worst product that you use. In the morning, I apply my DE Vitamin C day serum on my wet, essence soaked skin. I don’t always have time to wait for it to dry and the day serum is harmless. In the evening, if I’m putting on actives, I have to make sure the essence layer is dried or else the active may penetrate too deeply and damage the skin.

  • Great for? People who aren’t too lazy to perform multiple steps in the skincare routine. Good for all skin types.
  • How much? $95 for 5.1 oz. Tatcha has occasional promotions.
  • Where to buy? Tatcha, Sephora, or QVC. Through Feb 8, use code DMLUCKY for a Lucky Bag valued $100+ (examples).
  • Rebuy? Most likely unless a cheaper alternative presents itself.

4. Fresh Sugar Face Polish and Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask

I’m been using Fresh lip products for years but missed the boat on their facial products until I got my soy face cleanser/rose mask birthday gift from Sephora. (I didn’t love the cleanser but liked the rose mask.) Based on research, the Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask and Sugar Face Polish kept on coming out as the top two products I had to try. The mask is cooling and soothing — perfect after a peel (like Babyfacial or Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask) and smells like melons. I don’t use physical exfoliants often but will make an exception for the Sugar Face Polish. It will help your pores disappear. I use it after the Tatcha cleansing oil.

  • Great for? Mask is good for all skin types. Polish – stay away if you have sensitive skin.
  • How much? Mask is $92 for 3.3 oz, polish is $62 for 4.4 oz. Ouch? Yes, back to my point earlier on not getting facials. I tried using a mask brush with the mask but still prefer using my fingers due to its pudding texture. I wonder how long the mask will last with 1-2x/week use.
  • Where to buy? Nordstrom, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, or Barneys. Fresh has promos but they aren’t that great. I bought these from Nordstrom since they had a good GWP for Fresh and two other beauty gifts.
  • Rebuy? Definitely!

5. Sulwhasoo Clarifying Mask EX

I love the Overnight Vitalizing mask, which I often use as lotion in dry, cold weather. This Clarifying Mask is a gooey peel-off mask also full of Korean herbal ingredients. It is very gentle and somehow purifies without leaving your skin a dry mess. Sulwhasoo recently updated its masks to an EX version — I’m not sure how this compared to the non-EX version. I can’t tell the difference between Overnight Vitalizing EX and non-EX masks.

  • Great for? All skin types. Stay away if you hate herbal smells.
  • How much? $41 for 5 oz. Cheaper at duty-free in Asia.
  • Where to buy? Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus
  • Rebuy? Maybe. I have a lot of masks… variety is fun.

Images: Google

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 / durance, renee rouleau, fresh, & thayers

I took these pics back in December and forgot to blog about them.

I started developing cysts frequently last year. Renee Rouleau has quite a reputation and though her products are pricier, I took the plunge and never looked back. Her Anti-Cyst Treatment is a must for getting rid of those pesky spots. I have a stockpile of these because I need a constant supply when a cyst pops up.

I was better about eye products in my younger years and have slacked off. But, according to research, now is the time to get serious and stop slacking off! I had a Sephora credit and heard good things about the Fresh Creme Ancienne Eye Cream and picked it up during the annual F&F sale. This pot will last a while.

To lighten spots and for a full dose of antioxidants to fight free radicals, I’m half way through RR’s Vitamin C & E Complex. I use it as a serum in the morning before SPF.

I read a few skincare blogs and Renee’s is one of my favorites. She’s primarily explaining skincare and key anti-aging skincare ingredients, and then pushes products. Her products are only sold through her online shop or spa — and typically only has one sale event an year.

My Parisian friend’s apartment smells amazing and I had to ask her what her secret was. This began my descent into rose scented products. Durance is a Provence brand with natural home and skincare products. Their rose diffuser oil is divine. I wish I could enrobe myself in it 24/7. I have a few glass bottles with diffuser sticks lying around the apartment and love coming home to this smell. The only thing I haven’t figured out is how to make the oil last as long as my friend. Better diffuser bottle? Less sticks? I’ve tried samples of their other products but can’t figure out why they don’t make them in the rose scent if it’s so popular (that I just got a backorder from October fulfilled). If you’re in Paris, they have shops all over — one male friend was nice enough to bring me back a few bottles when I was about to run out :)

I don’t use toner really, but was doing research over the summer and came across Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner. The bottle is huge and will last a while. I don’t apply it every day, but when I do, I use Renee Rouleau’s Toning Cloths after I wash my face.