Monthly Archives

July 2010


What’s In Your Beach Bag? Avene SPF 50 Emulsion

July 30, 2010

Recently, The New York Times ran a story that notes that U.S. sunscreen protection standards are based on those promulgated in 1978, which prevents many European sunscreens from being sold in the U.S. This includes an ingredient called Tinosorb M, which is particularly effective at blocking UVA rays.

If you are traveling in Europe, you may wish to look for Avene’s Emulsion line, a gel-based sunscreen that I find very effective in blocking the sun.

This sunscreen is relatively inexpensive–it sells for about 9 or 10 euros, which works out to around $12-15, depending on the exchange rate.  One of my favorites from their range is Avene Emulsion Very High Protection 50+, which has never caused any skin irritation or breakouts.  It works nicely under my liquid foundation, and seems very effective.

Ingredients (from’s website):  Avène Thermal Spring Water (Avene Aqua), Octocrylene, C-12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Disopropyl Adipate, Methylene Bis-BenzotriazolylTetramethylbutylphenol, Cyclomethicone, Water (Aqua), Titanium Dioxide, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, PVP/Eicosene Copolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Caprylyl Glycol, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Oil (Curcubita Pepo), Decyl Glucoside, Dimethiconol, Disodium EDTA, Fragance (Parfum), Glyceryl Behenate, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 60, Propylene Glycol, Silica, Sorbic Acid, Sorbitan Isostearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Tocopheryl Glucoside, Tribehenin, Xanthan Gum.

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What’s in Your Beach Bag? Elta MD Physical Sunscreen

July 30, 2010

When I explored physical sunscreens and found that Elta MD UV Physical SPF 41 ($27) works perfectly for most everyday sun coverage.  As an aside, if you have any dark scars or spotting on the skin, you should be extra careful about sun exposure.  I’ve noticed that physical sunscreens seem to do the best for me to keep flaws from becoming more pronounced from sun exposure.  UV Physical 41 has a slight tint that nearly matches my pale MAC NC15/Chanel Cameo-Ivoire skintone, so it gives slight coverage when it sinks in without leaving a white cast.  If you don’t like the tinted aspect, Elta MD makes several sunscreens, including a physical sunscreen with SPF 46 that goes on clear.

I find that this is a perfect grab-and-go when I am headed out the door to do errands, and works extremely well in giving me effective sun coverage.  There is zero greasy feel–this one goes on matte and stays that way.  It works well for extended exposure in strong sun.  I have had zero breakouts from this product–and I am quite breakout-prone and sometimes my skin is quite sensitive.   Very non-irritating.   It gives a mattifying effect and can be drying–this works really well for those with combo/oily skin, but those with dry skin should be careful.   My liquid foundations certainly look slight better without it (if you read this blog, you know that I have very high standards for makeup textures).  Elta MD’s clear SPF 46 is on my next-to-try list, hopefully that may be another good solution.

Elta MD Physical is widely available, including from the Dermstore online, where it has 90 reviews giving the product an average of five stars (not a paid link).  It’s also stocked in many dermatologist’s offices.  For $27, this is an extremely effective sunscreen that can protect against the harsh summer sun.

Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 9.0%, Titanium Dioxide 7.0%.

Inactive Ingredients: Alpha Tocopheryl, Aluminum Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Dimethicone/Methicone Copolymer, Hydrated Silica, Iodopropynl Butylcarbamate, Iron Oxide, Isopropyl Palmitate, Lecithin, Linoleic Acid, Octyl Stearate, Octyl Neopentanoate, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Perfluorononyl Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Polyacrylate-13/Polyisobutene/Polysorbate 20, Purified Water, Quercitin, Retinyl Palmitate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Selenite, Thioctic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane.

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What’s In Your Beach Bag? Institute Esthederm Photo Reverse

July 30, 2010

I am always on the hunt for something to completely block the sun.  I happen to enjoy when those in my life tell me that my skin looks glowing, or when someone expresses genuine shock when I tell them my actual age (well, not really enjoy that last one, but you get the picture).  I live on the West Coast of the U.S, where the sun can be unforgivingly bright for months at a time–we will not see clouds until September or October, I’m guessing.  When Lisa Eldridge’s Sun Screen video recommended Institute Estederm’s Photo Reverse (60 euros for 1.6 ounces) as the sunblock that she personally uses when she visits sunny Italy, I knew I had to try it.

Institut Esthederm is a French brand that began during the 1970’s and, according to their website, employs over 30 scientists to develop new products.  Their philosophy:

The skin is a living organ of the human body composed or cells that are programmed to regenerate for 120 years. Institut Esthederm’s research is based upon the conviction that cutaneous ageing is not inevitable, and accordingly all of Institut Esthederm’s producrts are developed to maintain the skin in its optimal state as it evolves. The skin is an active organ that has all the inner resources needed to be well-balanced. Institut Esthederm’s products are made from patented actives that specifically help re-educate the skin so that it can learn to power itself by restarting its life cycle. The skin is a fragile organ that is connected both to the body and to the affects its good functioning. Institut Esthederm products, made from tested, traceable and selected actives, act on the skin while respecting its particularities and its environment. This is cutaneous ecology.

As Eldridge’s video points out, Institut Esthederm does not have SPF ratings on its products.  Instead, Photo Reverse is advertised as “No Sun” product (the tube says simply, “Prohibited Sunlight”). According to the packaging, Photo Reverse “encourages the skin’s adaptation and protection against the sun” so I suppose SPF ratings do not really make sense for them.  Other products in Institute Esthederm’s line allow some sun exposure; Photo Reverse is said to block it all.

Formerly, I thought that only physical sunscreens were effective for blocking sun to prevent dark patches from getting darker.  I’ve been using Photo Reverse for a few weeks, and so far I love it.  It is a white liquid that disappears on the skin.  Although advertised as water and sweat resistant, Institut Esthederm recommends re-application every two hours.  Photo Reverse has a very emollient feel, it leaves my skin with a very moisturized glow. I’ve been using powder over it to knock it down.  It does sit well under either liquid or powder foundations, but leave a good 20 minutes after application before applying to let it sink into the skin.  It looks better on the skin that the physical sunscreen that I had been using.  If I am going to be poolside for an hour or more, I supplement my protection with an SPF-rated hat from Outdoor Research.

Results:  So far, so good.  No sun means no sun–my skin looks lighter and brighter since I started to use Photo Reverse.  This is the most effective sun screen that I have ever used, and yes I’ve used ones that are marked SPF 100.  Some darker patches look faded, although they are not completely gone.  I’m excited to keep using the product to see what happens.  I have confidence that if I am going to be out for a while, this will block the sun if anything can.

Where to buy:  Institute Ethederm seems to be sold everywhere in Paris, including Sephora, Galleries Lafayette department store, and little beauty shops sprinkled throughout the city.  I paid 60 euros for this at Galleries Lafayette.  I was unable to locate a U.S. source, although perhaps some of my readers have a spa or boutique nearby that carries it and can post hints in the comments. Other Instute Ethederm products can be shipped within the U.S. from other sources that I found through a Google search–for example, Cult Beauty ships worldwide.

Ingredients:  Water, Dicapryl Carbonate, Octocylene, Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl, Tetramethylbutylphenol, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Dipropylene Gycol, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triasine, Gyceril Stearate, Hydroxypropyl Dimethicone Behenate, PEG-100 Stearate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Palmaria Palmata Extract, Andrographis Panicaluta Leaf Extract, Artemia Extract, Carnosine, Algae Extract, Disodium Adenosine Triphosphate, Hexapeptide-2, Decyl Glucoside C20-22 Alkyl Phosphate, C20-22 Alcohols, Xanthan Gum, Gutylene Glycol, Propolene Glycol, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Discodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide.

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Almost August – Beach Day at Café Makeup

July 30, 2010

Today is the last weekend of July, and if you haven’t hit the beach or pool already–what are you waiting for?

In honor of all things sunny, I’m going to review three of my favorite sunscreens today.  By the afternoon, we’ll look at three.  In the meantime, tell me what type of sunscreen you prefer?

[poll id=”9″]

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Edward Bess Highlighter

Edward Bess – Afterglow All Over Seduction

July 29, 2010

Edward Bess makes a beautiful deep toned highlighter called All Over Seduction in Afterglow ($38).  Although I’ve gone most of my life with a few, for some reason I’ve bought more highlighters since I started this blog than I ever imagined.  Why?  I’ve noticed what a huge (yet subtle) difference they make.  The compact is small–again, an easy throw-in-your-bag size that gives your skin a beautiful glow.  Also, some of my summer makeup mattes my skin down too much (physical sunscreens, particularly).  Adding highlighter brings it back to life.

Since I originally reviewed Edward Bess’ All Over Seduction in Sunlight, I’ve found that I love the effect on my upper cheeks.  (Yes, you can dab it on your shoulders and anywhere else too).  The slightly warm tone and texture looks so natural and pretty, catching the light in a way that makes my skin look ultra-healthy.  As we move into later summer, I wanted to try Afterglow for a deeper, near-gold color that works well with bronzers.

This picture shows the color and texture difference with some of my other cream and liquid highlighters.  RMS Beauty’s Living Luminizer glows like a soft white pearl.  Edward Bess’ Sunlight brings has creamier tones.  Afterglow is shimmery light gold.  By comparison, the Soliel Tan de Chanel liquid highlighter is gold-toned, but has a brighter shimmer than Afterglow.  At least two Chanel’s makeup artists have recommended to me that Soleil Tan de Chanel can be used under foundation (or powder) to tone the texture down.  In contrast, Afterglow has a natural looking luminosity right out of the compact.  However, you can see that Afterglow is not too dark for my pale MAC NC15/Chanel Cameo – Ivoire (Intensity 1.o) skin.

To me, high end makeup is worth the price if you use it up, it looks pretty, natural and sophisticated.  Afterglow is definitely in that category.

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