Monthly Archives: May 2014

Perfumes and why I like to wear them in solitude

“I wear perfume even when I’m alone.” -Elizabeth Taylor

Ah, the most famous perfume related quote aside the one from Marilyn Monroe. For me, it used to ring true, but is getting closer to the end of “I wear perfume only when I’m alone.”

I don’t wear perfume out often because it’s intrusive. I don’t enjoy smelling what other people wear. Most of the time it’s as if the wearer poured half a bottle on their clothes. It gives them character, sure, but unless it’s Lanvin Arpège I’m probably going to stay at least ten meters away. I don’t want to inflict the same suffering on anyone. Even if I limit myself to one spritz on the pulse point, I’m sure there are people who dislike a fragrance that I enjoy.

Moreover, I don’t like it when I discover someone who shares my scent. Rationally I get it, billions of people own the same bottles that I do, I am hardly the solo customer of a fragrance. Emotionally, I am selfishly possessive of scents I own—why are you stealing what’s mine! It’s like going to a party and realizing the woman next to you wears the same cocktail dress which you spent hours picking out. This sentiment is surprising, considering how I love recommending my favorite skincare products to others.

Also, though, wearing perfume has become an “alone time” thing for me. I like to spend time in solitude, I’d be terrible if I’m around people 24/7. It’s nice to spritz something on to mark the transition, it’s like saying “Yeah, now it’s just me now.”

These days I’m starting to associate scents with a particular mood. It’s become a sort of routine now, One for times when I need some chicken soup for the soul—warm, spicy, comforting. One for times when I want to cut myself off from everyone, and feel beautiful. One for times when I need to kick all distractions and set to work.

I have always been such an olfactory-driven person. It’s just something about scents that can connect at the emotional level, something so basic that the rational mind cannot touch. Maybe I will wear them out, but now I’m guarding my perfumes like Gollum—My Preciousssss!

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Guerlain Success Age Splendid Deep-Action Oil-Serum

Guerlain Success Age Splendid Deep-Action Oil-Serum 02Guerlain Success Age Splendid Deep-Action Oil-Serum 01

“Created using a sensual and supremely resilient flower, Intense Magnolia Concentrate imparts a youthful look to your skin and reawakens your skin’s original beauty. It helps to make up for the slow-down of the skin’s fundamental processes, which occurs at menopause, for deep-down restructuring and an anti-slackening action. Intensely nourished, the skin is fuller and regains bounce and resilience. Facial contours are re-shaped and re-sculpted. Highly concentrated, this product benefits from a silky texture.”

Before anything else, lets talk about expectations. I will not blame a company for using exaggerated claims in marketing. After all, that’s how everyone sells things, don’t they? Promise to do something extraordinary in marketing, the ads fulfills our (the consumers’) desire, and we flock to snap it up in a marketing induced fog. When it didn’t work as we expected it to, who can we blame but ourselves for not cutting through that fog?

Of course, it’s a different case with false claims, where a company may be subject to civil liability/criminal penalty. Most of the time though, advertisers still find ways to trick us in ways that are illegal but unenforceable. We can only learn to recognize their gimmicks and see past the flowery language to identify what we want out of the product when we purchase it.

So, with the Success Age Splendid Deep-Action Oil-Serum, I did not expect it to diminish my lines, give me a youthful glow or contour my facial structure. I did expect it to provide an additional layer of barrier and prevent loss of moisture when my skin was in a terribly dehydrated state.

Guerlain Success Age Splendid Deep-Action Oil-Serum 02

  • The texture is heavy, but easily absorbed even with another layer of watery serum underneath.
  • I do prefer its texture as an oil-serum than a facial oil, because I can actually wear this out in the daytime.
  • Even with BB cream layered on, it doesn’t run as much as I had anticipated, and the make up didn’t turn patchy.
  • The fragrance is not as intense as I had expected from a Guerlain product.

Of course it doesn’t live up to its claims of anti-aging and facial contouring. But come on, do we honestly expect any product to do that?

After trying out all the Guerlain skincare products, I can say I’m not going to purchase any more from the skincare segment. I still have a few more products from them and I will finish, but I can get better elsewhere at a fraction of the price.

Hanyul vs. Sooryehan: The Rival Balms

The Rival Balms 01

Sometimes I can’t help but feel as though BB creams and tinted moisturizers are not really make up. It is for young people to dabble and experiment with before graduating to primers and foundations. Well, I’ve recently purchased my first foundation (my interest in make up came far too late), but BB creams are still very satisfying and convenient to use. It is only my second one aside from the Lancôme UV Expert GN-Shield BB Base & Make Up Base (read review), so I do not know BB creams well enough to do quality reviews and make comparisons.

Hanyul Rich Effect BB Cream SPF50+/PA+++

First off, the color is a great match for my skin. However, there is only two choices of color, in the lighter 21 or darker 23. It is likely not going to be suitable for people with pink skin undertone. It has really good coverage, and sometimes using this on my under-eye area is sufficient.

The texture mousse-like, and not as runny and easy to spread like the Lancôme. I ended up spending a lot of time dabbing and blending the Hanyul BB cream until I got used to it. Lately, I’ve enjoyed blending it out using the Ecotools Bamboo Foundation Brush and the Real Techniques Stippling Brush, just to reduce the additional hassle of washing my hands after spending so much time blending. 

Once the BB cream settles into the skin, it doesn’t budge. Even when I dab my sweaty self with tissue paper, very little color came off. I was used to seeing streaks of color browning stains while using Lancome, and assumed it is the same for all BB creams, so this is a lovely surprise.

R: Hanyul L: Sooryehan

R: Hanyul L: Sooryehan

Sooryehan Hyo Fermented BB Cream SPF30/PA++

This has a much more neutral color, which I was originally quite happy about—until I wore it out. When applied to skin, the BB cream is almost grey-looking. Even though my skin is fair and I normally go for the lightest shade when trying on make up, there is something about this BB cream that just makes me took a little more dead and unnatural, like I’ve gone overboard with sunblock and failed to blend it out properly. I don’t find this as good as the Hanyul BB cream for coverage, but it is equally good in terms of texture and lasting power.

I find that in this BB cream the thing I dislike about BB creams in general is demonstrated—the lack of a good color match. Sooryehan Hyo BB Cream comes only in one color, and to say it would transform its color to fit everyone’s skin color is too much of a stretch. It likes the Hanyul BB cream seem almost lovely in comparison.

The title refers to AmorePacific (which owns Hanyul) and LG (which owns Sooryehan). The two big corporations constantly fighting for market share at different cosmetic segments (or maybe not, but that is the impression I get). I am more familiar with brands under AmorePacific thought it is time to branch out a little. Unfortunately, both my experiences with Sooryehan has not been all that great. Great, time to try out other LG brands then.

Crème de la Crème

Paul & Joe Beaute Moisturizing Foundation Primer N 01

Paul & Joe Beaute Moisturizing Foundation Primer N 02

Paul & Joe Beaute Moisturizing Foundation Primer N 03

I have Paul & Joe Beaute Moisturizing Foundation Primer N in shade 03 Crème, the lightest shade available. This gives almost zero coverage and is devoid of shimmer. The texture is liquid, and acts more like a lotion. It is highly moisturizing and does not contain that much silicone. So if you are concerned about pore refining, stay away from this one, it doesn’t fill out your pores! But if you need a bit of hydration boost, grab it, it is fantastic.

I have previously swatched the shade 02 Miel, which is totally not my skin color. The general feeling I get is that shade 03 is a lot more watery than 02. Maybe it is because 01 and 02 provide more coverage, while 03 is translucent, so formulation is a little different.

My BB cream and foundations looks brighter when I use this, but not longer, because darn those Korean BB creams last really long. The dehydration lines however are reduced at the end of the day, courtesy of the moisturizing properties of the primer. If you only own emollient moisturizers that cannot be worn under make up, light primers like this will help with the hydration.

A small nitpick is the lack of sun protection, making it impossible to be worn on its own. Otherwise, this is great stuff.

The Essential Vitamin

La Roche-Posay Redermic C & Redermic C Eye

I do have a fondness for French pharmacie brands, possibly because I’ve been watching too much Lisa Eldridge, maybe also the fact that they have a reputation to be highly effective. La Roche-Posay is one French brand that I am more familiar with.

The products claim to visibly plumps the skin and visibly reduce wrinkles. Both contain “fragmented hyaluronic acid”, traditionally found in injectable fillers. It is supposed to hold up to 1000x its weight in water, creating a plumping effect. It also contains “5% pure vitamin C” an antioxidant.

I don’t feel any distinction between the two products, despite one being an overall facial moisturizer and the other being an eye cream. You can easily switch them up, and so the Redermic C works out to be a better deal overall for dollar-per-ml.

I left both products in the fridge after I realized how easily the tube contents were oxidized. The very first day after opening the product, I observed orangish residue gathering around the tube lid. Better be safe than sorry, into the fridge it goes. I enjoy using these two products, but mostly as a weekly treatment like retinol than a daily moisturizer. On days when my skin looks particularly dull from the lack of rest, I’ll slather both of these on. 

Unlike some of the other moisturizers, that I have used, it is excellent at hydration and I don’t need to apply an additional layer of sleep mask.

The texture in particular is a lot more enjoyable than other vitamin C products that I’ve tried before, particularly Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate. the La Roche-Posay has a lot less silicones and film-formers. But I doubt I’d purchase these again, the price tag is pretty hefty.

The Orchid Royalty

Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Mask 01

I purchased the Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Mask for my lovely Mom when it was on sale, but she had problem finishing it. Naturally I had to help out. I should stop buying her skincare stuff, even though she’s happy to start using them, I always end up having the finish all the products since she loses interest halfway.

The product claims are pretty tempting: The skin looks smooth and radiant, as if filled with energy; it is plump and elastic. The complexion is even-toned and velvet-soft.”

The application guideline is very ritualistic and enjoyable:

  1. Apply the product in circular movements (the mask came with a brush, but I have misplaced it and now rely on a spatular)
  2. Smooth your fingertips from the forehead to the ears. Perform3 smoothing movements from the corners of the lips to the nose, ears and to the jawline.
  3. Press down 3 times on the muscle attachment points indicated.
  4. Gently smooth the backs of your fingers along the contours of the face. Smooth the entire forehead. 3 times.

Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Mask 02

The product claims to contain orchid butter and Imperial Orchid Molecular Extract, to deliver anti-aging benefits. I can only say, the mask feels like money. It’s highly emollient and rich, and I can imagine it being fantastic for people with dry skin. There’s a slight brightening effect immediately after application, but I’m pretty sure the effect is cosmetic. My skin responded well to the product over a month of usage, but it didn’t work out for my Mom, as she popped out whiteheads every time she uses it.

It does improve the texture of the skin, diminishing the appearance of my dehydration lines i.e. pre-wrinkles. For my Mom’s wrinkles, it didn’t do anything at all.

Of all the Guerlain products that I have tried, I like this the most. I’d probably repurchase if I have money to throw around, but I don’t, so bye-bye it is.

Review: Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask

Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask

Ah. Paula. While I enjoy referring to her Beautypedia website, I hesitate to rely on her articles because of the blatant conflict of interest that is her own product line. No matter that now, I purchased the Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask a year ago and I think it is appropriate for me review now. The product claims to:

  • Be suitable for normal, dry, very dry skin
  • Suitable for anti-aging, eczema, extra sensitive skin, redness, rosacea, wrinkles
  • Rich cream repairs dry skin, smooths wrinkles and fine lines
  • Leaves your skin looking radiant
  • Calms redness and flaky skin

This is a product that I’m really undecided about, even though I’m close to finishing a tube. The product dispenses as a creamy, thick cream, then dries down to a transparent layer on the skin, like a layer of wax. I try to touch my face, but the feeling is quite curious. It may crack around the lips where there’s most movement, and looks like a patch of dried and cracked earth on my skin. The next morning my skin feels hydrated, like any decent moisturizer.

The mask however is fantastic when used on damaged skin, like blistering or peeling from the sun. It tingles, but it doesn’t hurt. I was glad I had this on hand when I was suffering from terrible skin earlier in the year.

In addition, the mask helps to reduce appearance of wrinkles (though it never claims to do so). When applied in a thick layer, facial movement is restricted, and thus it is close to impossible to raise eyebrows and frown. It works like the frownies, actually, by restricting muscle movement to relax appearance of wrinkles. The effect is purely temporary, though.

I’ve experimented this on half my face above my serum, and on the other half I applied my regular moisturizer. The next morning I saw no discernible difference between both sides of my face. To be fair, I should have applied the mask on half my face when I was peeling like a snake from the sun, but then putting a product to the test wasn’t my priority then, resting my skin was.

Repurchase? Maybe, I don’t know. While it is a good product to have on hand when sunburns/dry spells happen, they occur about once a year. Is it worth it?