Apr 132014

Paula's Choice Resist C15 Super Booster1

I was pleasantly surprised at the effectiveness of Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster Serum ($45/0.67 oz). I’ve used several vitamin C serums in my day, because of all of the claims that skincare companies make, this ingredient is one that has been shown to make a difference in the brightness and texture of skin. Some are excellent but rather expensive. Paula’s Choice makes this option, which made a progressively better difference in my skin over a one-to-four week trial, at a comparatively low price point. If this catches your eye, you might register your email at Paula’s Choice website because the site runs percentage discounts (most frequently around holiday weekends).

Paula's Choice Resist C15 Super Booster2

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster is a very light, colorless serum that absorbs quickly. I’m about one-third way through my first bottle, which I’ve been using consistently since mid-February.I use two drops morning and evening, and after the first week began to notice that my skin looked better. By now, I’m noticing an overall better texture, and more even coloring.

Paula's Choice Resist C15 Super Booster3

Overall, I’d highly recommend Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster Serum. The combination of the effectiveness and the price point make this an excellent skin care choice.

From Paula’s Choice website:

Key Ingredients: ferulic acid, acetyl octapeptide-3, glycerin, panthenol, tocopherol, sodium hyaluronate, ascorbic acid

Product Ingredients:
Water, Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C/antioxidant), Ethoxydiglycol (slip agent/penetration enhancer), PPG-26 Buteth-26 (emulsifier), PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (thickener), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Ferulic Acid (antioxidant), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-repairing ingredient), Acetyl Octapeptide-3 (cell-communicating ingredient), Glycerin (skin-repairing ingredient), Panthenol (skin conditioning agent), Sodium Metabisulfite (stabilizer/antioxidant), Triethanolamine (pH adjuster), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

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Apr 132014

Shiseido Cleansing Oil

Over the past weeks, I’ve been busy packing and organizing for a cross-country move. Last week, roughly a dozen women-hours was dedicated to packing up a vault of makeup. If you’d like to learn more about how we proceeded, drop me a comment and I’m happy to post about it. There are currently about nine boxes of skincare, haircare, and makeup ready for the first phase of my move, which means moving out of my current home and to a transition property, at the end of April. Whew!

In the meantime, I’ve been rolling through my file of photographs and realized that I have many skincare items that I’ve tested and not yet reviewed. There always seems to be a reason–well, one more week of testing? Am I certain that one made me break out?–that seems to get in the way. But as they say, sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the enemy of progress and so I thought I’d post several today to provide my thoughts to anyone interested.

First up is Shiseido’s Ultimate Cleansing Oil ($25/5 ounces), a lovely and effective oil cleanser from a skincare master. Although my go-to for years has been Shu Uemura, I was determined to find alternatives since Shu left U.S. counters. This was an extremely gentle and effective product, housed in a plastic pump-topped bottle.

Shiseido Cleansing Oil 2

This clear, colorless, softly scented oil was a pleasure to use, and it worked very well. As confirmed by a glance at my white Clarisonic bristles after use, Shiseido’s oil cleanser seems to me to be equally effective to Shu’s offering. It’s excellent. My only complaint was the size of the bottle–I wish that Shiseido offered an extra-large size (at a proportional price point, of course). This bottle lasted roughly 3-4 months of twice-daily use. Ingredient list (click to enlarge):

Shiseiodo Cleansing oil ingredients

Shiseido’s Ultimate Cleansing Oil is available at Sephora, Nordstrom, Saks, and Barneys New York

This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup)


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Feb 282014

Bite lip products01 copy

This is a quick little post to highlight some lip products that I’ve been enjoying from Bite Beauty. A relative newcomer in the beauty world, they’ve been generating some good buzz.  Still, I wasn’t sure whether I’d love them too. I’ve been intrigued by their display at Sephora, and thought that my winter-battered lips could benefit from their TLC.

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Few lipsticks last for hours on me, and some more emollient formulas certainly benefit from having a good base to help their staying power. The Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer ($22.00) was a good problem solver. The product comes housed in a matte dark gray tube.

Bite lip products03

The product is clear and does not cause the lipstick to color shift. The tip is pointed, so that you can get a good sharp line (there’s a sharpener in the back to keep the point fresh). There is a slight mint scent, which fades after a few minutes.

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Ingredient list (click to enlarge):


Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer does deliver. It probably doubled my wear time, and had a slightly moisturizing formula that is kind to lips. It has a slightly tacky, matte feel that allows lipstick to grip and hold on longer. I liked the easy packaging, and the easy twist-up formula that allows the product to be used quickly and easily during quick day-to-night changes.

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I thought that the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask ($26) was extraordinary. This rich conditioner was both pleasant and transformative in its effect. It’s a youth-giver for dehydrated lips, delivering a clear satin-glow that makes lips looks beautifully healthy.

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This comes in a sealed tube, similar to a small toothpaste tube. The product is clear, and can be used under lipstick (some matte formulas really need something). This has a very slightly sweet taste that lasts for a bit, but it’s subtle and sort of pleasant. For what it’s worth, I find this tube formula is more friendly to bringing along in a makeup bag (compared to pots, which seem to have lids that can loosen and cause all kinds of shenanigans inside a bag). Ingredient list (click to enlarge):


Overall, I found both Bite Beauty products impressive. The Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask gave me the most impressive results, although the Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer is a good practical product that fills a good niche–that is, for a clear, pleasant, primer that can form a good base for lipsticks.

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Jan 182014

NARS Pore Perfecter1

NARS is adding to its Pro-Prime line, which has already brought us some lovely facial primers and a highly effective eye primer. New to the line is NARS Pro-Prime Instant Line & Pore Perfector ($28/0.05 oz.). Do you have large pores on your cheeks that prevent you from wearing shimmery blushes?  Well, now you don’t. This small tube acts as a “magic wand” to provide a smooth, pore-less finish. With a bit of time, this product also minimizes very fine lines.

NARS Pore Perfecter2

According to NARS, this new “targeted primer features an advanced, lightweight formula that smoothes and preps skin in a single stroke, creating the ideal canvas for makeup application.

Line and pore-filling microspheres with hyaluronic acid instantly smooth and provide a gentle plumping effect to fine lines

Spherical Line Smoothing Powder visibly reduces the appearance of wrinkles to create a seamless look. The spherical shape and innovative optical technology reflect light evenly to brighten the dark areas within wrinkles

The angular stick format provides artistic precision and convenience for touch-ups, while the non-greasy formula absorbs oil and mattes out shine without drying the skin.

Vitamins A, C and E help provide antioxidant protection. Dermatologist & ophthalmologist tested.”

Notice, although the effect of this primer is temporary, there are some anti-oxidants also provides some skin-care benefits. This product has a highly effective, magic wand quality against pores. Now you see them, now you don’t. The pore-elminating effect is immediateMy one request is to increase the size of the tube, because after I saw how wonderful this made my skin look I sort of wanted to use it over my entire body. I sort of wanted to take a bath in it, actually. However, to help manage your expectations, the tube is small–about the same size as a NARS Pure Matte Lipstick.

NARS Pore Perfecter3

Here is a comparison of two images on which I used the product on my arm. Both images are the same, but with one I’ve outlined the area where the primer is applied (no photoshopping):

Before and after nars pore perfector

Another with the same format. These are the same unretouched image, but one has the area marked where the NARS Pore Perfector has been used:

NARS Pore Perfector before and after 3 NARS also intends this product to be a line-filler. As you can see from these images, the tiny lines on my hand are arm are, in fact, softened and in some cases erased. As you might expect, this does not eliminate deep creases and expression lines, for which you would typically go to a dermatologist for an injectable or surgery. Also, the results for fine lines take a bit more time to appear–I would give it a full minute, or even five minutes, for the product to warm and work. I tried to do a little experiment on the bottom part of some fingers to show you. I’m not sure how successful this experiment is, but I thought it best to post it.

nars before and after

 Overall, I applaud NARS for the pore-reducing and line-softening properties of this effective primer. NARS Pore Perfector is another well-formulated, workhorse product from this innovative line.

NARS Cosmetics sent this product to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).

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Jan 102014
Josie Moran Argan Oil Light1

The Ingredient List

As with so many across the U.S., northern California was hit with some drying, cold weather over the past several days. Combined with wind and dry, indoor heat, my skin seemed to have lost some glow. To combat this, I gently exfoliate and moisturize. To mix things up, I also picked up a travel size Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light ($14/ 0.5 oz.) during a quick trip to Sephora this week.

Josie Moran Argan Oil Light3 copy

Like everyone, I’ve seen testimonials to Josie Maran’s products on the shopping channel but other than pausing to hear words like “cold pressed” and “Moroccan” I never really engaged with the brand. However, I do love facial oils–they usually absorb quickly and can be very effective on all skin types (including oily skin). Oils really do transform the skin. I’ve recently become interested in argan specifically, and so I thought it worth a small investment to pick up a bottle.

Josie Moran Argan Oil Light2

I applied two drops to my winter-burned face when I got home from the store, and was really surprised how well my skin responded to this oil. As long as I don’t apply more than 2-3 drops, I don’t have any “oily” feeling on the skin after it absorbs (usually, less than a minute).  My skin glowed, and kept glowing. This really did transform my skin into a glowing, alive, brighter version of myself. I’ve been using Josie Maran Argan Oil Light since Tuesday, and I absolutely love it. Although it looked a bit parched and dull on Monday before trying this oil, by now it looks brighter, more alive, and younger. No clogged pores, no breakouts. I usually work a little into my cuticles as well. Not bad for $14.

Josie Moran Argan Oil Light4

This oil comes in a small glass bottle with a dropper. Personally, my experience with airlines and glass has not been very positive, so I consider this “travel-friendly” size “carry-on only.” This is the first Josie Maran product that I’ve ever tried, but I was stunned at the quick and consistent results that I’ve gotten over the past few days. I really love it.

Josie Moran Argan Oil Light6

The closest similar product that I’m currently using is Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate ($46/1.0 oz). The effect on my skin from using either is comparable, although I’d give an edge to Josie Maran’s Light Argan for its brightening properties and the ability to wear under foundation during the day. I like how the Kiehl’s smells. The Josie Maran light is nearly scent-free (there is a very slight scent that I can detect if I stick the stopper very close to my nose which I’m assuming is the argan oil itself–this fades quickly on application).

Josie Moran Argan Oil Light8

Overall, I was stunned to get these unexpectedly positive results. I’m continuing to use this under my foundation, and until the weather clears to a gentler mode I’m going to keep doing so. If your skin is feeling the effects of this extreme weather, you’ll definitely want to get it glowing again. For the low price point, Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light is well worth a look.

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