Review: MAC Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm SPF 35

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I really want to love this product, but it’s just a big problem from application to its wearing power. Right now I am using it as a primer. I put MAC Studio Fix Fluid (I blended it with moisturizer to make it more hydrating and less coverage) on top. My face looks horrible. You can see all my pores. The other day I used it alone just as a tinted moisturizer, and it has the same effect. I don’t know what I am doing it wrong.

I usually use a Beauty Blender (aka a sponge) to apply it or my hands because the stuff doesn’t blend too well so I don’t want to spend 30 minutes using a brush. It’s kind of an arm workout trying to put it on.

No matter what I do, my pores look more noticeable. Also, it cakes around my nose and between my eyebrows and mouth. It seems as though any spot on my face that moves (smile lines etc), that’s where it likes to look flakey and cakey at.

The effect is immediate too. It’s not like it looks flakey 4 hours later. It looks shiny 4 hours later, but it looks flakey immediately. I even try to spray Fix + on it to fix it, doesn’t work. Also, the product is not as matte as I want it to be and knowing that the oil slick comes very soon after, I usually use MAC mineralize studio powder on top which doesn’t help the flakiness one bit.

I’ve tried using two different primers (Smashbox Photo Finish and MAC Prep+Prime Natural Radiance) and also using no primer with this. Either way, the results are horrible.

Only giving it two stars because it does look natural where it doesn’t flake and I like how moisturizing it can feel but it doesn’t look moisturizing because my skin looks flaky.

Also, this is not even a true BB cream. I feel played now since I realize that after buying it. There is no anti-aging ingredients or skin brightening. It’s basically a glorified tinted moisturizer/primer.

Discover Yoga’s Healing Power

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There are several medical conditions that can be improved by practicing yoga. It can be used to lessen the negative effects of infertility, lung disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, cancer, high blood pressure, and joint pain. The beneficial effects of yoga practices are well recognized not only by the yoga community but also by medical doctors.

One of the main elements that lead to an illness is stress. Being responsible for a huge number of sicknesses, this item, which we develop in our minds, can be reduced through a good usage of yoga techniques. Here are just some of the problems that are related to an over active stress response: depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, some types of diabetes mellitus, cardio-vascular disease, several autoimmune diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, reproductive problems, and an aggravated suppression of the immune system.

The response of the sympathetic nervous system can trigger stress in our metabolism. The reaction to various outside stimuli is also known as the “fight or flight” response – the mind and body, faced with an endangering or disturbing element, prepare for one of the two options. Physically, this is manifested through an instantaneous heart rate increase, together with a high ascent of blood pressure. Breathing gets shallow and the muscles tense in anticipation to the following action. Internally, this response reduces the blood flow to internal organs and processes that are not essential in that particular moment (such as digestion and elimination) are shut down. This state of increased awareness and readiness is beneficial on a short term, preparing our body to react to the outside interventions and stimuli. Both in a “fight” and in a “flight” situation, the body is physically and mentally prepared to act. The problem arises when long-term exposure to similar stress takes place. This “fight or flight” response is only meant to help on short periods of time – the longer it is activated the less resources will the body have to function normally.

There is a natural countermeasure for the “fight or flight” response. It is called the parasympathetic nervous system or the “relaxation response.” It is automatically activated when the elements that caused the stress are gone but it is also possible to increase its effects by breathing deeply and relaxing your muscles. By increasing the length of this process we allow our body to recover faster, enabling it to eliminate the harmful effects of stress in a prompt and efficient manner.

Yoga highlights the idea that by using breathing and relaxation techniques you can reduce the harmful effects of stress factors on your body. A lessened “fight or flight” response can also be achieved by looking at adverse factors as challenges rather than threats. This approach allows your mind to focus on finding a solution, rather than creating an abrupt response. Another concept employed by this technique is that of acting versus reacting, of taking initiative versus responding to outside factors.

The positive effects of yoga during a healing process are undeniable. However, these techniques should only be used as a form of support and the healing shouldn’t rely solely on them. The best results are achieved by combining yoga with traditional and modern medicine and by addressing a problem both from a mental and physical point of view.

Review: DHC Pore Cleansing Oil

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I purchased this because I liked the performance of the Pore Wash offered by DHC. Now, while I really can’t speak to the pore-reducing properties of this oil, it does leave my face as clean as a whistle, really soft and clear. Which says a lot for my oily and sometimes hormonally blemish-ridden skin.

The package looks nice, nothing extravagant. The oil is a thick, slippery liquid that should be massaged with dry hands on a dry face in order to work. That little bit is key. Then you can rinse off with lots of water. If you have oilier skin like me, you should probably follow up with a regular face wash or soap to take off any residue.

Pros: Removes makeup, even mascara, really well. When used as directed, does not leave face greasy whatsoever. Smells like grapefruit. Like other DHC products, one doesn’t need to use much, so it’s cost effective (mostly). Contains high quality oils such as olive, argan, avocado, coconut and some others that sound nice. No mineral oil, hooray.

Cons: Probably not awesome for people with really bad acne. And for the past week that I’ve used it, I can’t say I’ve seen a visible change in pore size. Maybe it needs more time?

Conclusion: If you’re into facial cleansing oils, this is superb/worth the £. Or if you’re tripped out by the idea of rubbing oil on your face (like me!) it’s still really gnarly.

Review: L’Occitane Essential Water

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L’Occitane is one of my favourite brands for a lot of different reasons.

Firstly, their fragrances are phenomenal products that I can wear for day, night, and during exercise sessions. Cherry Blossom, Pivoine Flora, and their Rose fragrances are all satisfying perfumes from their packaging to the actual natural scents that they release.
Secondly, their hand creams are better than eye cream on the lips. That may sound weird, but truly the ingredients they use to maintain that creamy texture is cleverly extracted into a tube.
And of course, their skin care, which roots their entire brand’s reputation.

Pricey stuff but unlike a lot of other brands, the products are made to last and do well on specific skin types, making a very diverse selection to choose from. Out of their skincare, their toners are my FAVOURITE. I haven’t tried any of their cleansers or many of their creams, so I cannot rate their toners being the best of the brand, but they’re truly amazing.

Now that I got the introduction out of the way…
PROS:
* tightening effect: amazing pore minimizing overtime.
* brightening effect in seconds: lasts overtime.
* helps remove some makeup, just like all their other toners (Shea Butter, especially).
* claims are all correct!: removes makeup? Residue, yes. Makes skin feel and look smooth and plump? Instantly and overtime. Purifying and mattifying? There is NO BETTER PRODUCT OUT THERE than this. Alcohol-free? Well… slightly drying, but that’s a good thing to know.

CONS:
* may dry out drier skin types (a good cream is required afterwards).
* slightly pricier and may not last you a very long time (full bottle, approx. 4 months).

Review: L’Occitane Divine Cream

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I first received several samples of the L’Occitane Divine Cream at the Newark International Airport boutique while looking for a cologne. I decided to use the cream and the sample of eye cream when I found out that I forgot to pack my regular moisturizer. The salesperson had given me at least 8 samples of each, so I was able to determine that this was a high quality cream that delivered results! It is thick and rich, yet goes on like liquid silk.

Also, there is a high skin cell turnover rate, i.e. you will get flaking while using the Divine Cream, but what is happening is that the layer of dead skin cells is melting off, leaving you with baby soft, new skin. I’ve found discolorations have literally disappeared, wrinkles have diminished significantly, my skin is firmer and just glows. I ended up purchasing the entire Divine series after several weeks of seeing the amazing results from this cream, and with each week that passes (and I remain consistent with my skincare regime), I see more improvement.

The scent is absolutely heavenly! I have never been a fan of any scent in a skin care product, but this cream is made from natural ingredients, and while getting the best results I believe I have gotten to date, I also receive some aromatherapy. :) So the conclusion is that my skin now feels like velvet, has increased elasticity, pores have almost disappeared, skin is firmer, discolorations diminished, plumper skin and a high rate of skin cell turnover. I am a customer for life.

Review: Pai Skin Care Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend

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I’ve been using this for 6 months and have already repurchased. I love this oil. One bottle has lasted 6 months with daily twice a day use. There’s still some left in the bottle, but I went ahead and repurchased since it [original bottle] has been exposed to air for half a year and doesn’t seem as effective as the fresh bottle. I order directly from Pai because I know I’m getting fresh product.

This rosehip seed/fruit oil blend is supposed to be high in trans-retinoic acid. Some say the amount is not enough to make a difference, but I politely disagree. In fact, I can’t use this under my eyes because it makes the skin there crepey. No amount of moisture or hydration layered over it helped until I stopped using it under my eyes. Perhaps it’s too strong for my under eye skin. It has evened out my skin tone by helping fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation faster than if I weren’t using it.

It heals acne marks faster. By this, I mean spots that are already on their way out, not active spots. It’s a dry oil, so it absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel oily once it’s absorbed. I have dehydrated skin, so it does not provide any moisture or hydration. Depending on how my skin is feeling, I sometimes have to layer a moisturizer over it. Is this a replacement for a retinoid? No, not at all IMO, but it’s nice to have if your skin can’t tolerate retinoids. It works well for me, so I’ll continue to repurchase.

Review: Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette

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This is one of my “work horse” products. It doesn’t look exciting or glamorous, but I use it at least four times per week. I LOVE this palette. Here’s why:

Packaging – Excellent
Sturdy but lightweight. The mirror is huge for the palette size. The case snaps firmly shut, and even takes a little extra pulling to open the first few times.

Price – Excellent
The math works out to a little over £3 per shadow – a bargain.

Quality – Excellent
These are soft, highly pigmented shades. Some don’t like UD matte shadows, claiming they are too dry. This isn’t a problem for me. If you are (understandably) gun-shy about this, swatch it in the store, or even dab some on your eyelid. I get that, for the price, you want it to be a palette that works with your skin.

Shadows – Amazing
Venus is a lovely shimmer highlighter with a slight yellow tint. In a pinch, I use it on my face as a highlighting powder, applying with my finger.
Foxy and W.O.S. (walk of shame) are good matte lid colors and blending shades, Foxy being warmer and W.O.S. being on the cool side. I use them both.
Naked 2 is a cooler matte tan, perfect for blending into the crease or softening darker shades. This is my favorite color in the palette.
Faint is a gorgeous matte milk chocolate brown. It blends well with most browns, and warms up the greyer ones (important for me, since I have yellow undertones – cool shades can make me look dead).
Crave is a beautiful matte black that can work alone, blended out into a grey, or crank up the depth of any shade you have. It’s also my go-to smokey eye black shade.

Less experienced/mature makeup lovers may look at this palette and go, “Boring!” But they aren’t seeing its incredible versatility and beauty. Naked 2 and Faint are great brow powders – throw on a bit of brow wax or Vaseline, gently fill in, and your brows will look shapely and neat. Taking this palette along on a trip means you already have your brow powder, highlight shade, and black in one small package.
More on versatility: Take any “scary” shade you might want to try – bright yellow, green, or red, for example. You can use Naked Basics to crank up the glam or make it wearable. One of my favorite ways to use this palette is to take a gorgeous warm shimmer shade (a Milani gel shadow, or my favorite, Coppering by MAC) and blend it into a wearable warm look with Foxy on the lid, Naked 2 in the crease, and a touch of Crave in the outer corner. Yesterday I deepened a purple look (MAC Haux and Cranberry) with Crave, and used Venus as a highlight.
For an elegant no-makeup look, use Foxy on your center and outer lid, Venus on the inner third including the corner, blend Naked 2 in your crease, and softly line with Faint.
The possibilities are endless.
I haven’t tried Naked Basics 2; as I said before, cool toned shadows aren’t flattering on me, but you cooler toned folks may find it as amazing as I find NB1. I use this so much more than my other Naked palettes, and ALWAYS use it to supplement them when I do.
This palette is varied without being overwhelming, and it will actually help you get more wear out of your other eyeshadows. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Review: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup

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 Holy grail foundation!!!! I am a foundation junkie, I love trying out new formulas and this is by far my favourite of all the ones I’ve tried. For me, it beats Kat Von D Lock It Tattoo Foundation, Laura Mercier Silk Creme, and Makeup Forever HD Foundation by a landslide.

This is perfect for those girls that need high coverage in their foundation and like to have a flawless face like myself. I suffer from a lot of acne scarring and hyperpigmentation, and this foundation covers everything beautifully. It lasts for a pretty reasonable amount of time, but it does get a bit oily after 7+ hours. I have oily-combo skin by the way, but I mostly suffer from oiliness in my T zone.

The problems I have with other high coverage foundations that the Double Wear doesn’t give me is it setting into my fine lines and pores, and feeling super heavy and cakey on my face. I use a damp Beauty Blender to apply this foundation and a translucent powder to set it. It also does not break me out and is scentless (I hate scented foundations). That’s why this foundation is a winner for me, and I always find myself going back to it.

I have purchased this product 3 times so far, and will continue to repurchase!! Only complaint I have is the packaging. It would be much easier if it came with a pump. But other than that, this foundation truly is a gem.

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