Roses to the Rescue

This past winter was a rough one: cold, dry and, well, cold and dry! My skin suffered like it’s never suffered before. Dry, scaly patches on my face and arms. It felt as though my skin was about 2 sizes too small from December to April. I went through lotion after lotion, trying anything that anyone promised would make my skin feel soft and hydrated. By the time Carla handed me a bottle of DHC Rose Treatment Oil, I wasn’t even reading labels. I slathered first, checked it out later.

DHC Rose Treatment Oil DHC’s skincare line is based upon the moisturizing and cleansing properties of olive oil. Their Rose Treatment Oil combines olive oil with aloe, mulberry and Bulgarian damask rose to revitalize, moisturize and soften skin. This light oil feels like a spa treatment – the , fresh rose scent; the way the oil sinks into the skin and instantly perks it right up. I use it on my face before putting on moisturizer, and occasionally apply it to my feet, elbows, anywhere that needs some extra TLC.

Now that the sun has come out and temperatures are on the rise, I wondered if I would have to retire my Rose Treatment Oil to the back of my beauty shelf. Would the oil suddenly be too much now that my skin is no longer chronically parched? Happily, no. It seems to have adapted to the changes in my skin’s moisture level and is still part of my skincare routine. My face is clear and softer than it’s ever been.

Caviar for Everyone

I’m kind of a no-baloney type of girl, which means I approach all beauty claims with a skeptical, “Oh, really?” attitude. Especially the ubiquitous “anti-aging” claim that pops up on packaging for everything from hand lotion to facial cleanser, nail polish to body scrubs. My baloney-barometer went into overdrive when I was given a bottle of Alterna Caviar Anti-aging Polishing Serum. How the heck is a hair serum going to stop my hair from aging? Does my hair age? What does that even mean?

Alterna Anti Aging Caviar Polishing Serum Little did I realize, caviar is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s are essential for (among other things) strong, healthy hair. As we age, our ability to retain omega 3 fatty acids decreases, leaving us with hair that is drier, more brittle and fragile. Alterna combines caviar with “smart silicones” to infuse the hair from the inside out.

My mom and I have been using the serum for a couple of months. My hair is regularly colored and tends toward the wavy/frizzy side. Mom’s is naturally gray and tends toward the coarse side. We both apply one pump of the serum to damp hair – I blow dry and Mom air dries. I’ve been able to forgo straightening lotion in favor of the caviar serum. My hair is soft and swingy. Mom’s air dried hair is touchable and soft. We both love it. And I’m not going to pretend that we don’t get a kick out of putting caviar on our hair. You know, ‘cause we’re all decadent like that.

BalmShelter Tinted Gloss

theBalm BalmShelter SPF Tinted Lip Gloss Carla’s not the only one loving a product from retro-cute line theBalm. I’ve been using BalmShelter Tinted Gloss SPF 17 for a few weeks and it’s quickly become my go-to gloss. When no other color seems right with my outfit or the rest of my makeup, BalmShelter in Girl Scout (a shimmery, sheer light caramel color) ties it all together.

The gloss applies very lightly; you can swipe just a hint of it or goop it on. Either way, you end up with the same delicate, natural look. Because the formula is so sheer, it layers over lipstick like a dream. I’m not a huge fan of the taste – it’s distinctly green apple Jolly Rancher – but that’s not enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of this gloss. And the fact that it coats my lips in color and SPF is tops in my book.

Beauty Sleuth

I think that brand licensing and diffusion lines are really confusing. Add onto that the new “grey” market in which mass merchants like Target are suddenly selling products usually found only in salons and upscale department stores (i.e. Bumble and Bumble, Kiehl’s, O.P.I), and it’s that much more difficult to understand what you’re buying these days. Is it the real deal? Expired product? Something completely different?

Kirkland Signature by Borghese Age-Defying Protective Moisture Lotion Such was the case when I started using a new moisturizer and began digging into the who/what/where, etc behind it. The cream in question is Kirkland Signature by Borghese Age Defying Protective Moisture Lotion SPF 15. I’m familar with Borghese. It’s an Italian beauty house with a longstanding reputation for deriving innovative formulas with products from the earth, and not testing on animals. So I was totally confused when I headed to their web site to read up on my new moisturizer only to find that the product was nowhere to be found. After a quick Google search, I was redirected to…Costco. Huh?

Kirkland Signature by Borghese is a partnership between low and high- a mingling of classes, if you will. According to Borghese, this line incorporates the same quality ingredients and formulations. But they are able to offer them exclusively to Costco customers at rock-bottom prices- up to 85% less than those of the Borghese products found at spas and Bloomingdales.

I’ve never used a moisturizer from Borghese before, so I can’t make a direct comparison to the one I’ve been using from Costco. It’s a good cream, unscented, goes on light and soaks in quickly. I think the formula would work best on women with slightly oily skin because it is so light. I have normal to dry skin and felt a little tightness after using the moisturizer. At $14.99, it’s on par with other drugstore favorites such as Dove face creams.

A few of the KS by Borghese products are available on Costco’s web site- although this moisturizer is not one of them. You can click here to find out if your local Costco carries it. If you’re a fan of Borghese and have tried the Kirkland Signature products, I’d love to hear what you think.

What's in Sara's Bag?

What's in Sara's Bag I hope you guys are loving this feature that Carla has going with taking a peak inside the bags of fellow bloggers and readers- I know I am!

In addition to blogging for Product Girl, I also have my own blog at Bombshell Beauty. Here’s what I lug around in my Kathy Van Zeeland bag – a few necessities, a few things even I was surprised to find, and a whole lot of lipgloss. Check it out…

What's in Sara's Bag

  • Old school planner because I’m a really tactile person (I like the whole pen and paper thing as opposed to a Blackberry).
  • Pink Motorola Razr.
  • Mead notebook for making lists and jotting down review ideas for Bombshell Beauty and Product Girl.
  • iPod Nano
  • Cocktail ring from Mark
  • Leather business card holder
  • Pile of receipts from a shopping trip this weekend
  • Target sunglasses
  • Watermelon flavored Dum Dum sucker
  • Savannah Bee Company’s Magnolia Hand Lotion

What's in Sara's Bag In my blue and white striped makeup bag (from Bath and Body Works), I carry an insane variety of lip gloss, including:

I carry a few other products, too:

  • Stila Eye Shadow in Kitten
  • Mark Eyemarker in Java
  • Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Bisque
  • Visine for Contacts
  • Bliss Manicure’s Best Friend

Long Lasting Hair Color

There are few better feelings than walking out of a hair salon, freshly cut and colored, with a bounce in your step commensurate to that in your hair. It’s an instant pick-me-up, but it can also be quite an investment. Highlights, low lights, all over color; whatever you do to your hair is an investment of time and money. And like any other investment, you should protect your hair color. Matrix’s professional line called Logics Color DNA System can help.

Logics Color Leave-In Conditioning Protector The line is pretty comprehensive, ranging from shampoos and conditioners to a variety of styling aids. The Logics brand claims that its Dual Net Affinity (DNA) technology creates a barrier between your hair and the elements (sun, wash and wear) to retain salon-fresh color. I’ve been using the Leave-in Conditioner Protector and Shine Illuminating Serum after every wash since coloring my hair three weeks ago.

The Leave-in Conditioner Protector is to be sprayed all over wet hair and then combed through. I really like it for a few reasons. It makes my hair feel incredibly soft, but it also provides a really light hold. I have a pretty loose hair style so I don’t use hair spray or mousse very often. This leave-in conditioner adds a little bit of texture to my hair that has really boosted the overall style. The scent is fresh and slightly floral.

Logics Color Shine Illuminating Serum I blow dry and flat iron my hair almost daily and have been looking for a product to cut down on potential heat damage. The Shine Illuminating Serum is a serious multi-tasker – it protects my fragile hair against UV and heat damage, controls frizz and adds a dose of glossy shine to the end product. I apply one pump of the clear serum to my wet hair before drying. After styling, I rub one more pump between my hands and run them through my hair. The serum’s scent contains a little more musk than the conditioner, but the two scents work well together.

And how’s my color look? I get a reddish brown base color with reddish gold highlights – red being the most difficult color to retain, of course – and the color is still vibrant. It’s usually faded a bit at this point, but so far so good. If I can extend the life of my color by even a few weeks, it’ll be worth it.

Love Me Some Tender Balm

I recently got my hands on a tube of Estee Lauder’s Tender Lip Balm in Tender Plum and I’ve been telling anyone who will listen how much I love this stuff. Love. It.

Estee Lauder Tender Lip Balm The Tender line is a balm/gloss hybrid. The focus here is on keeping your lips soft, smooth, and only faintly colored. The 6-shade collection (ranging from caramel to peach, with a few pinks and a clear in there for good measure) features an SPF of 15 and tastes so good. Even if you usually hate lip balm that has a discernable scent/taste- give this a try. It’s light and juicy. The tube itself is adorable; the size of an index finger, which makes for great portability.

Estee claims the balm improves lip moisturization by 28% and reduces flaking by 34%. While my results certainly aren’t clinical, I will say that my lips feel pretty moist and unflakey. Bottom line is that the Tender Balm looks good, it tastes good, it feels good – the trifecta of goodness. For $14, snag a tube for yourself wherever Estee Lauder is sold.

Get Instant Gratification

I understand that there’s a time and place for taking things slow- on a first date, cutting off 6 inches or more of hair, buying a house. But when it comes to perfect skin? I don’t wanna wait around for that. And Prescriptives gets that. In fact, they’ve named a product after me – Instant Gratification. This all-in-one micro dermabrasion-peel comes pretty freaking close (in my opinion) to replicating a professional treatment at home. Plus, it’s oil free and non-acnegenic – both good things.

Prescriptives Instant Gratification Skin Renewal Peel Slather a thick layer of the white scrub onto damp skin, rubbing it on with your finger tips. The product will warm up on your skin which feels incredibly luxurious. Relax with the mask on for about 5 minutes – your face will tingle and remain warm. Then re-wet your fingertips and massage for 30 seconds, focusing on any especially dry or uneven patches. You can use this mask once a week and follow it up with your usual skincare routine.

This skin renewal peel is ah-mazing. Seriously. I have sensitive skin, complete with a tendency toward mild rosacea flare ups whenever anything too abrasive comes near my face (or when I drink too much red wine). So I’m always on the look out for an exfoliant that won’t make my skin angry. Instant Gratification fits the bill – it’s an easy to use microdermabrasion scrub that whisks away tired skin cells, uncovering smooth, glowy skin underneath.

The only potential downside is the scent- while it is technically fragrance-free, there is still a somewhat evident medicinal smell. Doesn’t bother me, but if you’re sensitive to stuff like that, you might want to sniff at the counter before shelling out the $45.

Refine Your Skin

Women do a lot of things in the name of beauty that might otherwise seem crazy: burning off the top layer of skin to reveal smoother, undamaged skin underneath; mixing up homemade remedies to lighten freckles, treat acne, or improve radiance; or slathering on any number of creams and lotions to moisturize. So it was with a sense of adventure and a dubious, “Well, I’ll give it a try,” attitude that I started using DHC Olive Virgin Oil on my face.

DHC is the Japanese equivalent of Avon- a line of products that are sold primarily online and from a catalog. The company’s product line is founded on the natural benefits of olive oil. According to DHC, those benefits include neutralizing free radicals, creating a moisture barrier against the elements without clogging pores, and helping your skin naturally regulate moisture levels.

DHC Olive Virgin Oil Olive Virgin Oil looks exactly like, well, olive oil. According to DHC, this formula is derived of 100% certified organic Flor de Aceite which is one of the purest forms of olive oil available. According to one of my favorite sources for the real low down on beauty products, Beautypedia, there’s no difference between what you’ll find in this bottle and what is probably in your kitchen. Using olive oil as a moisturizer is not a new concept and, while I would not turn to my bottle of Bertolli brand EVOO for anything other than sauteing garlic, I somehow feel fine about the DHC Olive Virgin Oil. Go figure.

Olive Virgin Oil is recommended for all skin types, but if you’re prone to oil skin I might think twice. After cleansing, toning and moisturizing, I pump one dollop of oil onto my finger tips and then press them over my face. My cheeks are typically the driest so I concentrate the oil there. But I also smooth a little of it over my t-zone. Since that area is frequently greasy, this seemed very counter-intuitive. But instead of zits or irritation, I’m left with soft smooth skin. It looks fresh and radiant. True, it takes a few minutes for the oil to sink into my skin but that doesn’t really bother me.

If you’re looking for something to refine your skin’s texture and infuse it with a dose of moisture that lasts all day, give – DHC’s Olive Virgin Oil a try. Or save yourself the $38 and hit up your kitchen cupboard.

Lock and Roll

I’m not sure what the weather is like these days where you live, but in St. Paul, MN, we’re in for a month of rain followed by three of sweltering heat. While both are a nice break from the arctic blast known as winter, neither bode well for eye makeup. I’m in desperate need of eye shadow that doesn’t budge.

Tarte's Lock and Roll Creaseless Eyeshadow Duo I was given the chance to try out a product from Tarte, called Lock & Roll creasless eye shadow duo. Many of Tarte’s products are dual-ended which I personally love. Two products in one slim little package make my purse very happy. The instructions are simple- apply the cream eye shadow to your lids first, wait 10 seconds for it to set and then follow up with the shimmery, loose mineral-based shadow over it. The cream contains binding agents that work with the loose shadow to create a long-lasting look.

I really like this product- the cream base is enriched with Vitamin E so the formula slips over the lid without any pulling or tugging. The loose powder applied evenly, too, with very little drop-down. I tried Slate, a shimmery deep gray, which I would wear out at night. It was a little too pigmented and shimmery for a daytime look. Lock & Roll delivered on it’s promise- after a long night of cocktails and dancing with my girlfriends, my eye makeup was still in place. There are also new colors now, including Amethyst, Gunmetal, Patina, Quartz and Rose Gold.

I also love Tarte’s web site – under each product, you get a complete list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions for application. The instructions are, for me, key because some of Tarte’s products are pretty innovative. The web site breaks down any uncertainty you may feel about trying out something new. So smart.