Saturday, January 31, 2009

It Has Been a Good Month!

...Well, not so much with the economy and the lay-offs, but on a personal level, this month has been a memorable one for hubby and me for a few reasons:
- It marks the New Year :P
- It marks the Lunar New Year too, which usually falls in February.
- It marks our 7th year anniversary. We started dating 7 years ago, in the month of January :D
- Hubby passed his generals!!!
- I got my braces on. Not exactly cause for celebration, but this is a huge change to my foodie-wannabe life. Good bye crunchy goodness, hello goo...well, at least for a while...

So, what do we do to celebrate a good month but to go out and buy ourselves new toys?

Persol for hubby



Revo for me



Tadaa!!! New toy in action (prior to the braces).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Body Shop Shea Soap

The L'Occitane Shea Extra Gentle Soap Lavender didn't quite work out for the dry winter, so I went for The Body Shop Shea Soap instead. It might be better, it might not, who knows.



The bar is rather small and cute, and I like the scent a lot! Not as much as the L'Occitane Shea Extra Gentle Soap Milk, but it still smells better than a lot of soaps out there. For one, it doesn't smell quite like soap but rather lotion. And it's actually a little bit better, just a little, than the Super Mild Soap in terms of dryness. So until I can find something better for the winter, I think I will keep using these for now. In the mean time, I'm actively looking, kind of... :D

Monday, January 19, 2009

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Mild

Some how, through my various purchases with Clinique I came into possession of 2 huge 1.7 oz. GWP tubes of the Liquid Facial Soap - Mild. It was still summer then, and humid, so I thought I'd save these for the drier fall/winter. Sure enough, as soon as fall hit the Shiseido Benefiance Creamy Cleansing Foam became a bit too dry for my skin, and I was totally prepared with the Liquid Facial Soap.


***Picture from Clinique USA.

I was iffy about trying this cleanser at first, because, well, it's called Liquid Facial Soap, and I was always wary about putting anything soapy on my already dry face. And plus it was a clear liquid, so I had lots of doubts and thought it was totally reckless of me to try a new cleanser when my skin would be most dry and sensitive and I should be falling back to the safety of the tried-and-trues. But then I went ahead and tried the cleanser anyway...

Yes, it was so very reckless of me, but I guess sometimes, risks come with rewards (cliche, I know). The Liquid Facial Soap turned out to be very decent. Actually, I would say it's even better than the $30-a-bottle Kinerase Gentle Daily Cleanser. Yes, it's a clear liquid, and it's called Liquid Facial Soap, but it truly is as mild as it claims to be, and it has been performing well for my dry combination skin. Mind you, I wasn't excessive with how much I was using since a pea-size amount was enough for my face, so may be that's the reason why it hadn't dry out my skin like I thought it would. But still, the cleanser was much better than expected, not to mention it lasts for a long time too. The GWP tube I started using at the beginning of October '08 still hasn't ran out yet!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Super Mild Soap

I love the Super Mild Shampoo and Conditioner to death, so I used to buy this Bath Time Set in the past (I'm currently detouring to Tsubaki Shampoo and Conditioner, but will return to Super Mild very soon) that came with the shampoo, conditioner, and 6 bars of Super Mild Soaps. The thing is, back then I didn't care much for soaps in general, so I never paid these soaps any attention and kept giving them away as I was accumulating a thousand and one of them with each set I bought.



Since my interest in soaps grew significantly these past few months, I dug these soaps out from the linen closet and gave one of them a try. It was a decent soap, still a bit drying, but better than the L'Occitane Shea Extra Gentle Soap Lavender. It smelled great too, just like the shampoo and conditioner. Hubby likes it a lot, but then he likes almost every other soaps too, so I'm not sure if he's a reliable tester in the soap department. What counts though, is that his grandma (their main recipient) LOVES these soaps! She raves and raves about them, which partly led to my curiosity and eventually, usage.

My conclusion is that my skin is drier than an 85-yearold's! Hubby's grandma loves them, yet here they are frying my hands, WTF? Garr...another summer soap.

SkinLite Strawberry Yogurt Masque

Let's just say the SkinLite Strawberry Yogurt Masque singlehandedly restored my confidence in brand's wash-off masks. After repeatedly disappointing experiences with both the Hydrating Cucumber Masque and Green Tea Re-Energizing Masque, I didn't expect much at all. In fact, my thoughts were, urgh, it's going to be another pulpy mask. But thankfully I was utterly completely wrong.



The Strawberry Yogurt Masque was actually more, okay, a whole lot more, delicious than disgusting. Upon opening the package, I was wondering why I am going to put this yummy smelling goodness on my face and not in my mouth instead. It's texture was impressively creamy, unlike the light gel-cream Suki Strawberry Yogurt Pack, another decent wash-off mask I'm near finishing. And here's the part that seriously confused the foodie-wannabe in me - it smelled exactly, and I mean exactly, like the Strawberry Yoplait!

It was instant relief the moment I smoothed the mask on, very soothing and comfortable. It dried to a translucent film, and upon contact with water it puffed up in the same manner Avon Hydrofirming Drench Recovery Mask, only it was not gooey and was rather easy to rinse off. After rinsing, my face felt like I had just put on moisturizer and I didn't need anything else other than my eye cream. The mask was overall very pleasant, the texture, the scent, the moisturization, it was everything I wanted it to be!

Last but not least, it goes for only $1 each on Sasa.com! You bet I'm stocking up. Just did :D

Friday, January 16, 2009

DHC Olive Essentials Travel Set

I also bought this DHC Olive Essentials Travel Set specifically for my trip :) Actually, my trip was just an excuse for me to buy stuff, haven't you figured that out by now? :D And plus the set was being discontinued, so I got it for a ridiculous price LOL! That always helps, no?



The set came in a pearly translucent little travel bag that I'm using as a cosmetic bag instead.



It included convenient travel sizes for (form left to right) Deep Cleansing Oil, Mild Lotion, Olive Virgin Oil, and Mild Soap. I bought this set mainly for the Deep Cleansing Oil, so I haven't tried the others yet. Will review those later as I get to them.



The Deep Cleansing Oil, Mild Lotion, and the Olive Virgin Oil all came in nifty little pump bottles with caps, with the Olive Virgin Oil's bottle being glass and the other 2 plastic. The Mild Soap had its own casing too!



Naturally, the main attraction of the set to me was the packaging. If you ever use the full size Deep Cleansing Oil, you will know that pump bottle was not made for travel at all! It can be closed again after opening, but it does not have a cap, and it will leak. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to prevent it from leaking either. Trust me, I've tried. And getting cleansing oil all over your luggage is just a nasty case to clean up. So there, I'm perfectly justified in buying this set!



Look at the packaging, isn't it just the most perfect travel item? It's the right size, with a good pump that doesn't leak and a cap! The bottle looks small, but it holds enough cleansing oil to last me almost a month with almost daily use (because I skip DHC every 3rd night for OCM). It did well throughout my trip, and I was actually really glad I got it. I'd definitely recommend picking out a travel size from DHC Skincare (because this set is discontinued) for your trips if you use DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.

See my previous DHC Deep Cleansing Oil post.

L'Occitane Shea Extra Gentle Soap Lavender

Shea Extra Gentle Soap Lavender is another item I tried from the L'Occitane Getaway Treasures set, which also includes the Shea Ultra Rich Shampoo, Shea Ultra Rich Conditioner, Verbena Body Lotion, Verbena Shower Gel, Lavender Hand Cream, and Shea Extra Gentle Soap Milk (more reviews to come later).



I was never a fan of lavender. I didn't dislike it, but I never took interest with it either, just totally indifferent. But hubby loves lavender, so this kit was sort of the two birds with one stone thing :) We get to try the different goodies, but as a bonus, he gets the Lavender soap, and I get the Milk soap. Did I tell you I like the Milk soap? I LOVE that soap! Well, more like I love sniffing it, because I haven't tried it yet. Who knows, I might hate the soap itself, but I do love the smell.



Anyhoo...back to the Lavender soap :) According to the L'Occitane online store, it is 100% vegetable base and is enriched with shea butter. Hubby likes it a lot, but I think it's just okay. It feels nice, rinse well, and smells good, but it's a bit drying for my skin. It's definitely a good summer soap though, I think.



So over all, I'd buy it again if I can get it in a set and I can get that set on sale :D Otherwise, forget it. This 3.5 oz. here is $7, and a full size 8.8 oz. is $10, pretty darn expensive for just a bar of soap! There are plenty of other lovely and much less expensive soaps to try :P

Thursday, January 15, 2009

B&C Laboratories Lip & Moist Creams Part II

Another one of the goodies my sister brought me from Japan was the B&C Laboratories La France Lip & Moist Creams.



These creams are pear-shaped because they are supposed to smell like French Butter Pears! Let's just say I heartily welcome this set to the collection on my night stand. Who could resist those ridiculously cute packaging?





I normally dislike, okay, more like intensely dislike, any pear-scented lotion or cream because I just don't get along with the fragrance at all. It gives me headaches! I like the fruit, just not anything scented with it. That said, I LOVE this pear scent! It's so subtle, light, and simply delectable! I wanted to eat the stuff, seriously!


In comparison with the rest of the collection, the La France Moist Cream is on the light side, being just a dab thicker than the Kumomo chan Moist Cream but definitely much thinner than the Apuru chan and Mikan chan Moist Creams. However, being on the thinner side doesn't mean it's not as moisturizing. It is, and I use it on days when my alligator hands aren't as scaly (the alligator scales need intense treatment!). And the cream smells so good I couldn't stop sniffing my hand everytime I put some on :D


The La France Lip Cream is awesome! Again, in comparison to the rest it's on the thinner side, thicker than the Kumomo chan Lip Cream but definitely lighter than Apuru chan and Mikan chan Lip Creams. I'm pretty sure it's wax-based, but it doesn't feel waxy at all! If anything, I would compare the buttery texture to the Rosebud Perfume Company's Smith Minted Rose or Brambleberry Rose Lip Balms. May be it's the silicone? Either way, I love it! Very moisturizing with good lasting power. Definitely one of my favorites!

See my previous "B&C Laboratories Lip & Moist Creams" post.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

L'Occitane Verbena Shower Cream

Another thing I tried while I was in Colorado was the L'Occitane Verbena Shower Cream (the Verbena Shower Gel I took with me overseas, since it was too drying to use in Colorado). This shower cream belonged to another set - the L'Occitane Shea To Go Gift Set, which also includes the Shea Body Lotion, Shea Extra Gentle Soap Milk, 100% Pure Shea Butter .26 oz., and the Shea Hand Cream.


The main reason I picked this set was because I didn't bring my toiletries with me. So in Colorado, I was in desperate need of a hand cream, lotion, and something extra for my fingertips, cuticles, and all the dry patches that went rampage in that dry climate. This Shea To Go set fit the bill perfectly.


I got the set a couple of days after the Getaway Treasures set, so I don't quite remember the promotion that came with this set. It wasn't the same promotion, but it was still a deal nonetheless - I think I paid around $25 for the set, and the body lotion itself retailed for $9, the hand cream for $10, the shower cream for $8, the soap for $7, and the pure shea butter for $10.


Unfortunately, the Verbena Shower Cream proved to be yet another average body wash. Actually, I didn't like it as much as the shower gel, and it frustrated hubby to no end because it didn't foam very well and he loves bubbly body washes. The fragrance was better than the shower gel though, even when they're both supposed to smell the same. The shower cream's scent was more subtle, with a bit of milky cream touch to it. I guess that's why it's called shower cream LOL


So yeah, that's that for the shower cream. Now that I've tried a shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and a shower cream, I think they're all kind of...scam-y. They're all just average products, no better than something you could get at any drug store (not even the packaging!), and yet they retail for quadruple the price! I don't want to make a blanket statement that all L'Occitane hair care, bath and body stuff are scams, but my experience with these 4 products has been, umm, bleh. So I'll be staying faaaaar away...

Monday, January 12, 2009

L'Occitane Verbena Shower Gel

The L'Occitane Verbena Shower Gel is also from the L'Occitane Getaway Treasures set, which also includes the Shea Ultra Rich Shampoo, Shea Ultra Rich Conditioner, Verbena Body Lotion, Lavender Hand Cream, Shea Extra Gentle Soap Milk, and Shea Extra Gentle Soap Lavender (more reviews to come later).




Hmm...what can I say, this is your average body wash, nothing special here. Because it is a gel, I took it overseas with me to use in the humidity there. The verbena smells nice. The touch of citrus in it was refreshing, especially in the heat.


But again, $8 for 2.5 oz. of "average" body wash is just ridiculous, so my affair with the Verbena Shower Gel ends with my return from my trip, much like the shampoo and conditioner. I wouldn't really recommend this shower gel. There's really nothing special about it at all, except for the price, of course.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

L'Occitane Shea Ultra Rich Shampoo & Conditioner

Next up is the L'Occitane Shea Ultra Rich Shampoo & Conditioner from the L'Occitane Getaway Treasures set, which also includes the Verbena Body Lotion, Verbena Shower Gel, Lavender Hand Cream, Shea Extra Gentle Soap Milk, and Shea Extra Gentle Soap Lavender (reviews to come later).


They were having a promotion, buy the set for $35 and get 3 extra travel-sized items for free. It was a deal, considering the shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower gel, and the 2 soaps retailed for $7-8 each, the hand cream $10, and the travel-sized items $7-12 each. Am I a total sucker or what?


Still, the set was a good way for me to sample L'Occitane products and have something to use in the dry climate of Colorado, a short stop I made prior to my overseas trip. As you might know, Colorado is already a very dry place, add in my aligator skin and you have a disastrous combination! I didn't bring any toiletries with me (travel light!), so I promptly picked these us at a local boutique the day I landed in Denver :)


The shampoo and conditioner were as rich as their names promised, and then some. In fact, they were so rich, I ended up skipping the conditioner half of the time. The shampoo was enough to keep my hair moisturized. It wasn't comparable to my Camellia oil, but it was a decent substitute. It lathers nicely, not way too foamy but enough to keep me bubbly and happy. Both the shampoo and conditioner have subdued fragrance, nothing special but (thank goodness) not too strong either.




Over all, the shampoo and conditioner were nice to have in Colorado. Now that I'm back home, I'm back to my regular routine with my beloved Camellia oil, which is a whole lot nicer, not to mention a lot more affordable to keep up. Frankly, the shampoo and conditioner were okay, but I would never spend that much money on shampoos and conditioners that were just "okay." At least not when I can do much better with the Camellia oil for much less. I got my 60 mL bottle of 100% pure Camellia oil for $12.50 and even then, that's expensive and I could probably find it for cheaper if I would just bother to look. And a bottle lasts me AND hubby for about 3 months, and we use it for both our hair and bodies. The L'Occitane shampoo and conditioner, on the other hand, retails for $8 for a 2.5 oz. travel-size and $17 for 8.4 oz.. While you do the math, I'll just say no thanks.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

L'Occitane 100% Pure Shea Butter

After my so-so experience with the L'Occitane Shea Hand and Foot Creams, I got curious about the L'Occitane 100% Pure Shea Butter. So I got myself the smallest size, the tiny little 0.26 oz. tin, to try.


My first impression was that it smelled funny. And it felt hard and waxy, like very cold butter. The instructions say I need to warm it up in my palm first, which I did, but it didn't get much softer afterward. Hmm...sounds like another so-so experience... Another thing is that the shea butter was milky white and I've read that it was supposed to have a bit of a butter tint. A milk white color and hardness means the shea butter has been overly processed, during which it lost a large portion of its healing and moisturizing properties. Doh!


I use this shea butter primarily for my cracked cuticles, sand-paper fingertips, corners of the mouth that gets patchy and cracked (ouch!), and even my upper lip areas that got painful after a few times blowing my nose. Did I tell I have super dry skin? I did, right? Yeah. Luckily for me, the shea butter does a good job healing (see, it's supposed to heal!) the cracks and dryness on my skin. It takes a few days, but it does heal. Now I just really really wish it was softer so I could use it all over my hands and feet too. Until then, I got a couple more of the little tins to keep in my purse and at the office :D

In the mean time, I saw pure shea butter on sale at Ebay...Very tempting, indeed.

Friday, January 9, 2009

L'Occitane Shea Hand and Foot Cream

I think I was an alligator in my last life. How else would I explain my horribly dry skin? My hands and feet are always dry and parched, even in the midst of the hot and sticky summer. While away on vacation in 100% humidity, I still couldn't be without a hand cream, isn't that just crazy or what? What I'm saying is - get ready for an onslaught of L'Occitane reviews :D

I started with just 2 small tubes, 1 of L'Occitane Shea Hand Cream and 1 of L'Occitane Shea Foot Cream. I've seen L'Occitane stuff before, but they were always expensive and doesn't really interest me. L'Occitane is a lot more commercialized than they'd like to think. Just slapping on the label "Made in France" and the products somehow commands the prices they do? I don't think so. Still, those damn tempting promotions suckered me into buying. Sigh...I'm so...weak. And plus nothing else was working, so I totally, completely, caved. After the hand and foot cream came a bunch of stuff, the majority of which are from sets (a great way of trying a different variety of stuff, no?). But I'm going to start with just the hand and foot cream for now.

I tried the L'Occitane Shea Foot Cream first, using it nightly before going to bed. It absorbed quickly and moisturizing. And it had this minty sinus clearing herbal scent, which is really kind of strange - did they expect me to sniff my feet or something? Normally, hand creams would have that smell, not foot creams. I wasn't impressed with this foot cream, to be honest. I guess I'm just really jaded with my dry skin so I didn't expect much to begin with. It was moisturizing, but it was kind of a temporary fix and the next morning, my feet were back to being rough and dry again. I thought shea butter had some healing property and is meant to treat severe dry skin? And 15% shea butter is a good amount too! Oh well...a temporary fix is better than no fix. After I finish this small tube though, I'll probably move on to something else.



The L'Occitane Shea Hand Cream is better. For one thing, I like the scent much, MUCH, better. It's not a minty sinus soothing herbal scent, and I'm not exactly in favor on those scent anyway. Instead, it's a lovely and relaxing powdery milk scent, just like the L'Occitane Shea Extra Gentle Soap Milk. If you ever pass by a L'Occitane boutique, stop by and smell that soap. I keep a couple of the soaps in my linen closet, and the whole closet smells like it!

Anyways, back to the hand cream. It has a better texture than the foot cream, absorbing very quickly and not greasy at all. The down side is that it is also a temporary fix and my hand returns to its rough state the next morning. They don't want to heal my severely dry hand because then want me to keep using it, buying more when I run out, is that it? So the moral to the story is: this will work for now, and it will definitely work for the cooler spring and fall. But for the winter, I will need something more moisturizing that will leave lasting results, at least results that will last longer than just one night.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Asience Shampoo & Conditioner

When I was still in Japan, I saw the commercials for this Asience Shampoo and Conditioner repeated over and over (and over!) on TV. Unfortunately, the spokemodel was also Zhang Ziyi (she irritates me to no end, no offense to her fans...) so no matter how many times I saw the commercials, it just didn't do a thing for me. If anything, it deterred me from even having the slightest bit of curiosity in the products.

Asience Shampoo and Conditioner, from Kao, another Japanese pharmaceutial giant.

***Picture from TrueRenu.com.

Recently though, I got hooked on Camellia oil for hair and body, especially my hair, so I finally overcame my distaste for Zhang Ziyi and gave the shampoo and conditioner a try, because they have Camellia oil in them, of course! But it also helped that my sister brought a pair to me, for free, all the way from Japan :D My sister loves this shampoo and conditioner. She raved about how soft it made her hair and how silky her hair felt after the blow dry. How could I say no to that enthusiasm?

So I tried them, and oddly, I wasn't impressed. First off, it was waaaaay too perfumy. I mean, really really strongly perfumed. The fragrance wasn't offensive, just too much of it. And here I thought Shiseido Tsubaki was strong, woo wee! Other than that, the shampoo and conditioner themselves weren't bad. They were very moisturizing, perhaps too moisturizing even. They felt soft and they rinsed soft. My hair felt very soft afterwards, but they also got oily and greasy really quickly, and me being in a tropical environment with 100% humidity at the time didn't help at all! I read somewhere that Asience was meant for people with thick and coarse hair, so I guess it makes sense why my sister loves it so much. Her hair is not coarse, but it's much thicker than mine. I have fine hair, just lots of it :P

So yeah, Asience is not for me. In fact, when I finish up Tsubaki, I think I'm going to back to Super Mild.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

SkinFood Black Sugar Mask

SkinFood Black Sugar Mask was another product I took with me on my weeks long trip. I knew was going to be in a humid place, so I thought bringing a scrub along would be a good idea. After a long of heat and sweat, having something to scrub the grime off of my face would be refreshing.



I was really glad I'd brought this along actually! It worked well. The scrub was a thick dark brown sugar paste, and although the sugar grains were large, they were not overly scratchy. If anything, they melt away gradually in the moisture of the shower. Still, I was careful not to over exfoliate, so I only used this scrub every other 3rd night. Thank goodness it wasn't harsh for my skin either. My face felt super duper clean afterward, and my skin was nice and soft too.



The only surprise about this scrub, I would say, was the smell. I was expecting a sweet sugary scent (it was brown sugar, after all!), but instead I got a soapy scent. Totally completely unexpected, and kind of off-putting. I love brown sugar, so using it as a facial scrub sounded like a great idea to me. But a soapy scrub on my face? Umm...not so much.


***Pictures from SkinFood Korea.

Still, the scent was not enough to deter me from the scrub. So I would say this scrub is worth trying if you have the chance!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Avon Hydrofirming Drench Recovery Mask

I was super excited to try this Avon Hydrofirming Drench Recovery Mask when I first spotted it from the Avon catalogue. After all, I still use the Hydrofirming Eye Cream every morning, and although this may sound sarcastic, but who could resist that lovely splash of clear blue water on the white packaging? Seriously, I would totally put that on my face. I'm not joking!



Opening the package didn't disappoint me either. The clear pale blue gel inside had a citrusy soapy scent - it smelled really fresh! Applying the gel mask was easy too, because the gel was just thick enough to not slide around or drip. After 15 minutes or so, it dries down to a sticky clear layer as expected.

Going to rinse it off though, I got a bit of a surprise: the nice layer of gel puffs up into a thick layer of goo that just takes for freakin' ever to rinse off. It wasn't disgusting or anything, it just felt like I had dunk my head into goo. The results afterwards was meh too. Better the SkinLite wash-off masks, but not moisturizing enough. Come on, it's supposed to be hydrofirming drench recovery? May be drench in goo was more like it!

Good thing this was cheap. $.99 for a pack of 2, so about $.50 each. It wasn't a horrible wash-off mask, but it was nothing impressive either. I probably won't buy it again.

SkinLite Re-Energizing Green Tea Masque

SkinLite Re-Energizing Green Tea Masque is another pulpy mask, much like the Hydrating Cucumber Masque of the same brand. Perhaps they all are made that way? This doesn't bother me much though. What bothered me was the fact that this mask was only just a tad different than the cucumber one - its scent. It was supposed to smell like green tea, but it turned out to be more like the Bath & Body Works Citrus Lime & Verbena. It didn't smell bad, just that it didn't smell like green tea at all!



But yeah, there's no difference at all between this green tea and the cucumber mask - they both did nothing for me, unfortunately. This one felt just a touch, a touch, moisturizing than the cucumber, but that was hardly worth mentioning. Another waste of money...sigh...

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