Orange Creme

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The Mario Badescu salon has been a New York institution since it was founded in 1967. Many celebrities swear by their products, including Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow, Patti Hansen, and Jennifer Aniston. Yet when I lived and worked in New York, I never purchased any of their products. I never made the pilgrimage to the salon, though I would often peruse the Badescu counter at Henri Bendel’s. It wasn’t until I moved to Massachusetts that I decided to try their products. Ten years later, I have rediscovered how wonderful the Mario Badescu line is after a recent trip to Nordstrom’s. In my continuing quest for the perfect cleanser, the sales associate recommended the Orange Cleansing Soap from Mario Badescu for my dry skin type. For a mere $12 (and how often can one leave Nordstrom’s after only spending $12?) I decided to give it a go.

The Orange Cleansing Soap is a non-lathering cleanser, but it breaks down easily on a wet face so it’s more water-soluble than heavier cream or lotion cleansers. It bills itself as being mildly exfoliating, due to the orange extract, but I don’t see any evidence of much exfoliation when I use it. It is, however, a gentle but thorough cleanser that removes dirt and makeup well. And the best part is that it is completely non-drying. My face feels incredibly soft after I use it.

My skin has changed a lot since I first tried the Mario Badescu line ten years ago. Back then, I was battling chronic adult acne, and I tried a couple of different Badescu cleansers that, in hindsight, might have been too harsh for my skin. The Orange Cleansing Soap is not one of the “star” cleansers of the Badescu line, compared to the more highly touted Seaweed Cleansing Soap or Glycolic Foaming Cleanser, but it’s an unsung hero, and one of the hidden jewels of the line. This might possibly be my “holy grail” of cleansers.

Mario Badescu products are available online from www.mariobadescu.com and Nordstrom’s.

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Lucky No. 7

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Spring is only four days away, but the temperature outside today was in the low twenties. Add to that a very gusty wind, and my face is feeling weather-beaten. In my constant search for a cleanser that won’t strip my skin, I’ve switched from foaming cleansers to lotions, milks, and creams. As mild as they are, however, most of them still require water to remove them. I was even using cold cream with a warm washcloth in an attempt to keep my skin soft. While it worked, I have started to wonder if I should stop using water on my face altogether.

Contrary to popular belief, water can dry out your skin. It’s surprising, since water has a pH of 7 and is thus neither an acid nor a base, but is neutral. So how can something that’s neutral be potentially harmful? After splashing your face with water, the water evaporates. As it evaporates, it strips your skin of its natural oils. I have heard of people with skin so sensitive that they can’t wash their face with water at all, but those people are extreme cases. For most of us, it’s okay to wash your face with water, between one and three times a day, depending on how your skin reacts. If you wash with water more frequently than that, however, you run the risk of drying out your skin. This winter my skin has been looking dull, and I’ve developed redness in my cheeks that aren’t due to rosacea. I suspect it’s a combination of the cold weather and the drying effects of washing my face.

I recently purchased No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm – Dry/Very Dry Skin ($8.49) by Boots, the renowned British drugstore chain. In the past I’ve tried their Radiance Boosting Hot Cloth Cleanser, but that, too, requires removing it with water. Plus, it was very thick and highly fragranced. When I think of the words “cleansing balm,” I think of a thick, translucent waxy or petroleum-jelly-type substance, but the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm is like a cold cream in a tube. It is meant to be wiped off rather than rinsed off. That’s why it appealed to me. It’s not as thick as cold cream, but it’s thick enough to spread all over your face and work it in. I find I only need to use a small dollop, and as I work it into my skin it melts and spreads evenly to cover my entire face. Then I wipe it off with a tissue. Unlike cold creams and heavier cream cleansers that need to be removed with a tissue, the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm doesn’t make the tissue disintegrate while I’m using it. I only need one tissue to completely remove the cleansing balm. Sure, tissues are the cheapest commodity in a skin care regimen, but it’s nice not to have one fall apart into a shredded, goopy mess as I’m using it. The No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm removes most makeup, but I did have to remove my mascara first with a cleansing water as it doesn’t completely remove eye makeup.

Unlike most cold creams, which contain mineral oil, water, and beeswax, the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm contains glycerin, which in high amounts serves as a humectant to attracts water to the skin. Glycerin is the third ingredient in the list of ingredients for the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm. The No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm also contains cocoa butter – a natural moisturizer – and ceramides, which protect skin against moisture loss.

After I cleanse my face with the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm my skin looks fresh and glowing. The cleansing balm has a fragrance, but it’s light and pleasant and doesn’t linger. I really enjoy using it to cleanse my face twice a day. The added bonus of using it is that it only takes about a minute for me to cleanse my face, which has drastically cut down the time I spend on my beauty regimen in the morning. Which gives me more time to enjoy my coffee before I leave for work. Soft, glowing skin and less time spent in the bathroom each morning? Win/win!

Boots No. 7 products can be found at Target and Ulta, or online at www.boots.com.


Soy Joy

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One summer day when I was in junior high, I went to Six Flags Great Adventure with a group of my friends. It was a friend’s birthday party, and six of us girls piled into her mother’s car for the two-hour trip from Long Island to New Jersey. I had never been on a roller coaster before, but something possessed me to go on Rolling Thunder, which at the time boasted that it was the tallest roller coaster in the world. What was I thinking? Inevitably, I got physically ill later in the day. I chalked it up to Rolling Thunder, but I was wrong. It turns out that this was the day I came down with chicken pox.

Aveeno is a beauty brand that has been around for over 60 years. The company was initially renowned for their oatmeal products, including the powdered oatmeal bath that my mother gave me to use to help alleviate the itching from the chicken pox. Aveeno has made a name for itself for effective, reasonably priced products based on the concept of Active Naturals – natural ingredients that deliver real skin care benefits. In 2004 they branched out into skin care with their soy-based Positively Radiant line of facial care products, followed by the Clear Complexion line for Acne and the Ultra-Calming line for sensitive skin. I’ve been using Aveeno’s oatmeal-based Moisturizing Bar on and off for years, and recently switched back to it because I wanted to wash my face with something gentle and non-drying that lathered, but not too much. I decided to try an Aveeno moisturizer to go with it.

The Aveeno Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream ($16.99) is a silky cream with a unique consistency. It’s lighter than a typical face cream, but it’s not whipped and it’s not a mousse. I guess the best comparison I could make is that it’s sort of like a custard. It contains Aveeno’s Total Soy complex and vitamin B3. Soy is used as an ingredient in many skin care products because of its multiple benefits for the skin. According to soylife.com, soy helps reduce discoloration by evening out the appearance of pigments within the skin’s surface. It’s also high in vitamin E to promote healing and regeneration, and it’s high in fatty acids to help moisturize collagen below the skin. It also contains lecithin to maintain the elasticity of the skin and help prevent fine lines and premature aging. So basically, soy is good stuff.

In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that the main reason I decided to try Aveeno products again was their Positively Radiant ad campaign with Jennifer Aniston. They knew what they were doing when they chose her to be the new face of their skin care line. She exudes a sense of natural beauty and down-to-earth modesty that is perhaps lacking among many celebrities these days. After seeing a commercial with Jennifer for the Positively Radiant day lotion, I felt compelled to run to my nearest CVS and purchase a Positively Radiant moisturizer. I chose the night cream because it doesn’t have added sunscreen, so I could use it both day and night (I get my sun protection from a BB cream with sunscreen in it). So if I use Positively Radiant products, will I have skin like Jennifer Aniston?

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The Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream promises you’ll see results in the appearance of your skin in as little as four weeks. I don’t have a problem with hyperpigmentation, although I do have those pesky freckles that have plagued me since childhood. But I feel as I get older that my skin has been looking a little dull lately. I’ve only been using the Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream for one week, but already I can see results, maybe not so much how my skin looks but how it feels. This night cream makes my face feel softer than any other face cream I’ve tried. Despite its odd consistency, it absorbs quickly into my skin. It moisturizes well, although I do use it after applying a facial oil to my skin because my skin is very dry. But the combination of a facial oil with the Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream works like a charm to soften and moisturize my face. My face looks healthy and glowing. I’m impressed! Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream has a light fragrance that I find pleasant but not overpowering. There have been beauty products that I liked but couldn’t use because they were too heavily fragranced, but for me the fragrance of the Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream is refreshing and reminds me of spring, which I really need during this long, cold winter.

Aveeno’s Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream is available in drugstores nationwide, or at www.aveeno.com.

Soy also


When Hope Is Too Much

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I’ve been using Philosophy products on and off for years, ever since the line first debuted in 1996. At that time I was battling chronic adult acne and I was using the original Hope in a Jar. But my skin has changed in the last few years. It’s become drier. Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar isn’t rich enough for me anymore. So I went to my local Nordstrom’s with the intention of trying the Hope In A Jar Therapeutic Moisturizer For Dry Sensitive Skin ($40). The sales associate took a jar off the shelf and rang me up. My total was $50 plus tax. I was surprised because I thought the HIAJ for Dry Skin was less expensive than that, but I thought maybe the price had gone up. It wasn’t until I got home with my purchase that I discovered that the sales associate had made a mistake. She grabbed the wrong jar of moisturizer. Instead of purchasing Hope In A Jar Therapeutic Moisturizer For Dry Sensitive Skin, I had purchased When Hope is Not Enough Replenishing Cream ($50). Rather than going back to the mall to exchange it, I decided to keep it. I’ve used about half a jar already, and I don’t think I will be purchasing it again.

When Hope is Not Enough Replenishing Cream is “An intensively emollient moisturizer designed to quench, protect, and restore even the driest of skin.” The consistency is like that of stale custard. It’s very thick, and I have to actually pinch a small piece of it to get it out of the jar. You’re supposed to warm it between your fingers so that it melts into an oil, and then press it into your skin, much like Creme de la Mer. Although this moisturizer is very highly rated on websites like Sephora and QVC, I personally find the method in which I have to apply it so inconvenient that I actually hate using it. Even though I warm it between my fingers like the directions say to, not all of it melts. I find I’m pressing the oil, plus little bits of undissolved “stale custard” into my face. Then some of it pills up and rolls off. It goes on very greasy, but it does absorb into my skin fairly quickly. However, I don’t notice any miraculous results, and I can’t stand the overwhelmingly floral fragrance. I was using WHINE as my nighttime moisturizer, with Take a Deep Breath (which I love) as my day cream. But if I go back to the Philosophy counter, next time I’ll purchase the Hope In A Jar Therapeutic Moisturizer For Dry Sensitive Skin and make sure I get the right one.

Have you ever purchased a product, only to find that you were given the wrong one?

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“Hope in a Jar for Dry, Sensitive Skin” looks just like “When Hope is Not Enough.” Can you see how the sales associate made a mistake?


Angelic Face Cleanser

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I’ve been a fan of L’Occitane en Provence, or L’Occitane, as they now call themselves, for many years. I love their large shea butter soaps and their green tea perfume, but I’ve never tried their facial care products. So when I decided I was bored with my current skin care regimen and was looking for a new brand to try, I bought their Angelica Gel Cleanser.

I went into the Prudential Center’s L’Occitane shop on a busy Saturday. The sales assistant was very helpful. She recommended the Angelica cleanser when I asked her what to use on skin that’s dry, but can break out. I’ve been using it for several weeks. and I can’t help but feel that I have overlooked L’Occitane’s skin care products for too long, and that perhaps they are my HG skin care line.

The Angelica cleanser is meant for drier skin types, though I think normal or normal-to-oily types can benefit from it too. I bought it even though I was a bit skeptical that it really was for dry skin, since I’m a little wary of gel cleansers. However I’m happy to report that although it lathers, it’s a low lather, so it doesn’t create mounds of foam that could dry out the skin. I use it with my Clarisonic and I couldn’t be happier about the way my skin looks. The one very, very minor issue I have is the fragrance: it smells like freshly cut grass. I was worried that it might exacerbate my allergies, but it doesn’t. It just smells like it would!

I follow the Angelica gel cleanser with some Josie Maran Argan Oil and the L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Cream, which I also bought when I bought the Angelica cleanser, and which I will review separately. The Angelica line also includes a toner, an exfoliating gel, moisturizing cream and lotion, and a mask.


The Twelve Wicked Beautiful Days of Christmas – Day Six

Steamcream’s holiday-themed collectible tin this year is called Joy to the World. It depicts a festive Christmas stocking overflowing with gifts. The price is 12 pounds, 95 pence in British currency, but Steamcream ships to the United States so American fans can restock their supply as well.


June MyGlam Review

Yesterday I received my first Glam Bag from MyGlam. I’ve been reading a lot of negative posts from bloggers about MyGlam (some of them call it MyScam). They’re complaining of glam bags that were never received, or items with sticker labels on them that when you peeled them off, revealed the tube to be from a different product. Nonetheless I took the plunge. I was pleasantly surprised by what I received.

    NYX Round Lipstick in “Georgia”
    philosophy take a deep breath oil-free energizing oxygen gel cream moisturizer
    Living Proof (no frizz) Nourishing Style Cream
    Marbella Permanent Eyeliner Pen

First of all, the products do indeed come in a glam bag. Mine was a sparkly gold case. Sure, it’s inexpensive vinyl, but I could definitely use it for something else. This month’s theme is “Out All Night.” Although I only received four products, they were mostly full-sized or travel-sized.

Philosophy’s “Take a Deep Breath” is an oil-free energizing oxygen gel-cream moisturizer. Sounds great, doesn’t it? I like it, but I’m deciding whether it’s enough for my skin. I typically don’t like gel-creams because they’re not moisturizing enough for my dry skin. But it’s summer, and maybe I could do with a lighter moisturizer. When I used it last night it felt like I could have used a little more moisture, but when I woke up this morning my skin felt great. I will definitely use up this sample and decide if I want to buy the full size. I just might.

I also like the NYX lipstick. I’ve never tried a NYX product before, although I get a kick out of the fact that the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race receives a year’s supply of NYX cosmetics as one of the prizes. The lipstick is a full size, not a sample, and the shade is called “Georgia” – a shimmery pale pink. It’s pretty, but it reminds me of the shade of Lip Quencher lipstick my mom wore in the Seventies and Eighties before Chapstick discontinued them (I think the shade was Icicle Rose.). So it looks a little old-ladyish, but it feels super-moisturizing and lasted through my morning coffee. I might keep using it, and I would definitely try another shade of NYX Round Lipstick.

The Marbella Permanent Eye Liner pen is a black liquid pen eyeliner that seems pretty permanent. It’s also full-sized. I haven’t worn it yet, but I drew a line on my hand with it this morning. Then I washed my face as usual, and the liner was still there, just a little faded. That was five hours ago and I can still see it. I have no doubt that it will last all day when I wear it on my eyelid.

I have previously used No Frizz Straight-Making Style Treatment by Living Proof. I don’t know if their Nourishing Style Cream is the same product, but the No Frizz Straight-Making Style Treatment seems to have been replaced by the Nourishing style Cream on Living Proof’s website. The old name was a mouthful, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they simplified it. In any event, I was excited to get a generous sample of it. I use it more in the summer on humid, rainy days, as my hair becomes a frizzy mess in bad weather. This “sample” is 2 ounces, which Sephora used to sell as a travel-size.

June is the first month that I’ve received both a Birchbox and a Glam Bag. If I had to choose which one was better, I’d have to go with the Glam Bag. Although I received fewer samples, there were more full-sized or travel-sided items, and all of them were items I could actually use. These generous samples are well worth the $10 a month I pay for the subscription. Now all I have to do is wait for my Glossybox subscription to kick in, as I’m currently on their waiting list. Then I can truly determine which monthly sample beauty box is the best.