Belif is a skincare brand sold in the U.S. through Sephora. Based on natural ingredients, the brand bases its formulas on ancient traditions combined with modern knowledge. A few months ago, I began to wonder whether my toner was too harsh. Still, I wanted something strong enough to wisp away any last remaining mascara and makeup after using my oil cleanser and Clarisonic. Here is a bit about the company’s philosophy (click to enlarge):
Today I found myself just near City Pharma at 26 Rue Four, 75006, Paris. Beauty lovers may recall that this is the destination recommended by the lovely Lisa Eldridge in her video describing her favorite French skincare. The last time that I ventured near City Pharma, it had just been filled with two (!) busloads of French shoppers. European shops are not famed for their generous aisles, and the crowd made it impossible to browse. However, today the streets nearby looked relatively quiet, and so I braved through the doorway to see what I could find. Please come with me so you can see it too.
After reading this recent review of Buly 1803 in The New York Times, I decided to stop by their shop at 6 rue Bonaparte, Paris, on my way to the Musee D’Orsay. It’s very easy to find, the tiny shop is just around the corner from Dries Von Noten’s shop. The shop is small, friendly, and offers a wonderfully unique and extremely worthwhile experience.
Are we all ready to learn new things about base products? Between some of the water-based BB’s, serums, and other new formulations, MAC has introduced its MAC Lightful C 2-in-1 Serum and Tint ($60). This is a niche-product that is targeted to help with radiance and eliminating dark spots and pigmentation. For purposes of this review, I ask that you place your knowledge of foundations to the side for a bit. At the end, I’ll compare this to foundation, and why the word “tint” is used in the product name instead. MAC 2-in-1 Serum and Tint is available at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and other MAC sources.
Drunk Elephant is an emerging skin care line started by Tiffany Masterson, who worked in the beauty industry but found few products that both worked well and minimized the amount of toxins, fragrances, and harmful ingredients.
“One of my motivations in developing Drunk Elephant was to minimize my children’s exposure to toxic chemicals, hormone-mimicking fragrances and natural allergic sensitizers that we as consumers do not understand well enough. I was also attracted to the concept of having healthy skin that ages naturally and gracefully.”
The shift from in-store retail to online allows companies to specialize in ways that I’ve never thought possible. Recently, I successfully obtained prescription glasses online from Warby Parker (yes, they offer standard, true progressive, and prescription sunglasses now). I liked the at-home try-on service, and quality of the frames and optics are quite good. They’ll also re-do if there’s a problem. I’ve also ordered “custom created for my very own specific ears” earphones from Normal. Basically, Normal uses 3-d printing technology to make earbuds that do not fall out and don’t “leak” sound, because they are made for your very specific nooks and crannies.
I decided to take the another online-leap to try Pocketderm, which offers dermatologist-prescribed skin treatments online for acne and for anti-aging. Although I do see a dermatologist locally and in-person, many do not. Whether because such visits are not paid by insurance, and can be quite expensive out-of-pocket, I suspect that many order prescription treatments from sources outside the U.S. I’ve never been sure whether to trust such sources, because they are outside the jurisdiction of the F.D.A. I was curious to see how an online-retail U.S. source of retin-A variants might work. Let the experiment begin!
The site’s focus is very narrow–anti-aging and acne. That’s it. Full stop. It does not perform the services that a dermatologist typically would, like checking your skin for any other conditions or concerns. Here’s the process:
- The site asks you for your state, and matches you with a dermatologist licensed to practice there. From there, the site asks you a series of questions.
- Because I don’t have acne, but I do have a daughter Liz’s age, I chose the anti-aging side of things. The site asks about specific anti-aging concerns, including fine lines, texture, discoloration, and the like. It also asked about previous experience with retin-A type products (both over-the-counter and prescription), to learn more about your specific skin.
- In addition, the site asks you to submit several pictures of yourself without makeup (arghhh! scary concept for me!) so that the doctor can see the state of your actual skin.
I answered the questions, got over myself and uploaded some iPhone pictures, and checked boxes indicating that I needed help with all three concerns–fine lines, discoloration, and texture. I received a mix of three main ingredients–Tretinoin, vitamin C and niacinamade. Inactive ingredients are listed on the website (water, glycerin, aloe vera leaf juice, PEG-100 myristate, sweet almond seed oil, methyl paraben, propyl paraben, tocopheryl acetate).
I also received a lovely little set of freebie samples for sun protection (any retin A products, including Tretinoin, makes skin more sun-sensitive and so should be used only at night. Although you should always wear sunscreen, you really, really need to when using a retin-A product).
I’ve been using this for the past week. Although I can tell that the Tretinoin is making my skin more sensitive and pink in the mornings, it hasn’t been overly harsh. The texture has improved, as you might expect. From here, I’ve received a follow-through email or two to check in for any questions or problems.
The company didn’t know that I am a blogger. Nonetheless, I received my first month one-month supply free (pictured above) via an email offer, after I registered at the site. I’m told that using this link will give you the first month free as well (crossing fingers that it works, although the site won’t let you get far into the process without inputting credit card information). After that, Pocket Derm charges $49.95 for a three month supply (presumably, a larger container than my one-month supply). You can have the active ingredients adjusted by emailing your assigned dermatologist. The website states that the subscription can be cancelled any time (I haven’t tried to cancel yet, because I actually like the service).
Overall, I thought this was a successful experiment. I was glad to be working with a U.S. dermatologist, and to know that the supply source was reliable and FDA-regulated. So, I liked the trust factor of the operation. Of course, I still kept my appointment with my dermatologist next week, because Pocket Derm is such a niche product offering. Note that this is a consumer review and not a professional recommendation. Decisions about medical care are intensely personal, and I am not qualified to assess the effectiveness of these products, the qualifications of the dermatologists, or how they may affect you and your skin.
The Pocket Derm-Warby Parker model does open up possibilities, I think, for the beauty industry. I’m crossing my fingers that custom-created foundations, mascaras with growth-enhacing ingredients, and precisely-tailored under-eye care is on some mad genius website-creators desk for our future.
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Most salicylic acid products are on the drug store shelves, and are fairly inexpensive, harsh, and can sometimes ball up or move in strange ways when worn under makeup. With MAC Prep + Prime Blemish Control Gel ($22/ 0.5 oz), MAC tries to elevate this humble (but effective) acne medicine that makes it wearable under foundation and less painful to use. This is available at all MAC sources, including Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and Nordstrom.
Since the product was released, this item has been a bit of a skin-saver for me. It’s gentle–its active ingredient is 1% salicylic acid. By comparison, Clean + Clear from the drugstore is 2%, the same amount of product (0.5 ounces for both), and about half the price.
MAC’s is not as irritating and seems just as effective. Unless I’ve just exfoliated or used a retinol product the night before, I don’t have the stinging sensation with MAC that drugstore salicylic acid products leave (there’s no “yow!” unless my skin is irritated). I’ve worn MAC’s version over my usual skincare, and under sunscreen and foundation all the live-long day to keep clogged pores and reduce breakouts. According to the line, “Heals blemishes and helps prevent future breakouts, while soothing and calming the skin to promote further healing. Infused with acne-fighting salicylic acid, this lightweight, oil-free formula is suitable for all skin types and wears perfectly on its own, under makeup or for simple touch-ups.” Additional ingredients:
Here is how MAC’s Blemish Control looks on the back of my hand. Keep in mind, this is a skincare product, not a primer (despite the “Prep + Prime” in the name, this is skincare that is a “Prep,” and not a “Prime”). So feel free to use a separate primer if you use one. If you are fighting acne, this is definitely worth a look. This is available at all MAC sources, including Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and Nordstrom.
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Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Serum ($110) has become a staple lately for my skincare routine. This light serum seems to lift, hydrate, plump and revitalize my skin from the first application, and the effect gets even better over time. Chanel has partnered with a research company, and worked for five years to develop skincare based on micro-fluidics, which re-engineers fluids at the microscopic level. The result gives the product powerful efficacy with an ultra light, elegant, Chanel-worthy feeling. This serum is currently available at Chanel online, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macys, Bloomingdales and other Chanel sources.
This serum is extremely easy to use. Just a pump or two before applying sunscreen (one can use other serums underneath). If you would like extra hydration, you can use an additional moisturizer. Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Serum is a moisturizing serum, and does add hydration, so you will likely need less (or lighter) moisturizers when using this formula.
Patented micro-droplet technology delivers the purest form of Camellia Oil Extract, exclusive* new Camellia Alba OFA, to infuse skin with exceptional hydrating and plumping power.
CAMELLIA ALBA PFA:
This remarkably pure HYDRA BEAUTY ingredient, created by Chanel scientists, stimulates skin’s natural ability to restore and retain moisture for a smooth, radiant appearance.
BLUE GINGER PFA:
To protect the benefits of Camellia Alba PFA, Chanel revealed one of nature’s most powerful anti-oxidants, Blue Ginger PFA. This exceptional ingredient acts as an environmental shield, blocking and neutralizing free radicals to help reinforce the complexion.
I love companies that push research and innovation forward, especially when the results are this good. As with all skincare, results will vary. However, the reviews for this have been very positive, so I thought it was important to report mine.
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MAC has reformulated its Lightful line to incorporate Vitamin C into these brightening products. Because Vitamin C has been clinically proven to benefit skin, I couldn’t resist trying out a few products to see how they feel. This is not uber-luxury skincare, or even luxury skincare in my opinion. But I’ve had surprisingly good results with the Marine Bright formula in the past, and who doesn’t love some good bang for their buck in the mid-price category? I decided to try out the new MAC Lightful C Softening Lotion ($35), the Vibrancy Eye cream ($35), the Lightful C Marine-Bright Formula Essence ($44), and the MAC Lightful C Marine Bright Formula Moisture Cream ($44). The full line is available at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and other MAC sources (except for an SPF 30 tinted cream, which is due to become available this April and, just like Magnum in Zoolander, will blow us all away).
I’ve used the prior version of the MAC Softening Lotion, and can confirm that this MAC Lightful C Marine-Bright Formula Softening Lotion provides the same toning, softening effect on the skin to leave it feeling soft, woken-up, and baby-fresh. This is one of those products that you think you’ll never use and then, when your glowing skin looks back at you in the mirror, you realize that it does, in fact, make a daily difference.
I splash a little bit of this clear, water-like liquid on, using fingers or a cotton pad, to get the effect. This is a softening toner–a separate cleanser is necessary to truly clean the skin.
I have to admit I’m a fan of spray toners, and this top is designed to splash or swipe on. Still, I appreciate the no-spill guard.
Ingredients (click to enlarge):
For me the magic item in the collection is the Mac Lightful C Marine Bright Essence. I had good luck using the former version to fade darker marks/spots. I’m delighted with the addition of Vitamin C to the line. The non-sticky texture that absorbs quickly is the same.
Nice no-spill, locking, travel-friendly packaging.
Ingredients (click to enlarge):
I took a chance and ordered the MAC Lightful C Marine Bright Formula Moisture Creme. I’m happy with my current stock of moisturizers, but I find a mid-priced gel moisturizer hard to resist. The problem with having oily skin (and now combination skin) most of my life is that I tended to avoid moisturizers as too heavy and adding “too much glow” toward the end of the day.
After I discovered the lightweight, fast-absorbing properties of gel moisturizers, my skin is much more balanced and doesn’t over-produce oil anymore. If anyone is in the same boat, this MAC is a nice one to try because of the addition of Vitamin C and the lightweight feel. It absorbs, is very lightweight, and doesn’t add “glow” to already oily skin.
This is housed in a lightweight plastic jar. The texture of this product is much lighter and featherweight compared to Estee Lauder’s Enlighten Moisturizer.
I find that NARS Aqua Gel Luminous Oil-Free Moisturizer and Chanel Hydra Beauty Gel Creme (Liz’s favorite) give a more noticeable moisturizing effect. By comparison, MAC’s is lighter in texture. Ingredients for the MAC Lightful C:
Finally, I ordered the MAC Lightful C Vibrancy Eye. This one-half ounce product has a sorbet texture in a pump-top container. It’s very pleasant to use, sinks in instantly, and gives an immediate moisturizing and de-puffing effect. I’ve been using on my winter-stressed, wind-burned eye area and it’s vastly improved since last Friday when I began.
My personal favorites in this group are the Vibrancy Eye and the Essence, however hopefully I’ve put in enough information to give you a sense of which might work for you. The full line is available at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and other MAC sources.
In other news, I’m loving my little sample of Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Serum Intense ($110) and am placing an order for the full-sized as soon as I hit “publish” on this post. It’s giving me a smoothness and glow that’s both immediate and improving with every day that goes by. Although I’ll do a full review soon, here’s a quick picture of the sample (check out your local Nordstrom, gorgeous! That’s where I found mine) and the ingredient list.
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This L’Occitane Immortelle 28 Day Divine Renewal Skin Program ($130) is set to release this week on February 19th. I’ve been fortunate to try out the full program over the past month. Here’s my report, and a chance to win a set of your own. As with the other L’Occitane Immortelle Divine products, this set is based on the immortelle flower from the island of Corsica, which is know for its extraordinary longevity. The line distilled its active ingredients into an essential oil that forms the foundation of this skincare set.
Week 1 – Gentle exfoliation to even skin-tone, make it smoother and more luminous
Week 2 – Hydration & Nutrition: The skin seems nourished and moisturized
Week 3 – Balance: to strengthen and ready the skin for the final week
Week 4 – Renewal: For radiance, rebalance, and smoother texture
I used one vial per day, working my way through each week’s benefits before moving forward to the next. Formulas are held in easy-to-use, daily, single-use doses. I applied each vial, allowed it to soak in for a few minutes. Each “week” has a slightly different scent, and all smelled heavenly to me. I love the natural beauty of L’Occitane products–they add a touch of luxury and remind me of the beauty of the French countryside.
Because these vials are in a lightweight plastic pod, I was able to break off the right number, and place them into my bag for travel to a West Coast conference during the middle of my treatment regime. So convenient!
Each of the little oil vials is marked with the appropriate week (can you see the little “1’s”?) so even though I was traveling and moving into my new addition, I could keep track of my progress. The first week’s exfoliating regime felt wonderful. The oils really do melt into the skin, and feel very luxurious. However, I could tell that they had an exfoliating effect when I examined my skin first thing in the morning. Also, I was able to continue to use my other skin care products over these little serums, and still got all of the benefits of the L’Occitane regime.
The second week’s regime was very rich and moisturizing. It’s perfect if you have drier skin, or would like a little mid-winter boost, these are amazing. They felt especially good after the exfoliation from the week before, like they are rebuilding the skin in all the right ways. I can absolutely see why these are sold as an integrated system.
The third week–for balance–feels very calming. It gave me beautiful, smooth, glowing skin every morning. I’m really enjoying the nightly ritual and lovely scent of this set. It’s easy to use, you just break off the one you want, fold down the top until the top is broken, and squeeze the liquid out. For me, I found enough in each vial to do the face, neck, and hands.
Having gone through the entire cycle of the set, my skin looks firmer, smoother, more even-toned, and more youthful. I really like the result, especially as this time of year I start looking for ways to renew my skin for the coming spring. This elegantly formulated box of solutions was perfect. Ingredients (click to enlarge):
All in all, a gorgeous, good-for-you luxury treat, and highly recommended. This is now up for sale on L’Occitane’s website. If you’d like a chance to win your own, please feel free to enter the drawing below. The winner will be sent their own Immortelle 28-Day Divine Renewal Skin Program directly from L’Occitane. To enter, you must leave a blog comment. You can also get extra points for following @cafemakeup on twitter, and also for tweeting about the giveaway (once per day maximum). Bon chance!
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Thanks for reading, gorgeous! This was sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. This post contains an affiliate link (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup)