Soap & Glory The Ultimelt Hot Cloth Cleanser

soap & glory ultimelt hot cloth cleanserWalgreens/Duane Reade is really killing it with beauty sales lately. I’m excited they’ve brought Soap & Glory over from the UK, because I would stock up on every trip to London and now I don’t have to! Even better, the entire Soap & Glory range is on buy one get one 50% off right now. My favorite from their line is The Ultimelt Hot Cloth Cleanser ($14), which comes in the best packaging ever – like a giant toothpaste tube, super easy for dispensing. It is a great morning cleanser, makeup remover, or second cleanse at night. I tend to choose something more basic and boring to remove makeup, because I save ‘the good stuff’ for a second cleanse that will actually work on my skin. But still, you could use this to take off makeup, and then cleanse with it again for round two. I’m going to restock on that, plus grab the Soap & Glory Beauty Sleep Accelerator ($18), a hydrating cream that gets rave reviews all over the web.

I used to be really into Soap & Glory’s body products, like The Righteous Butter ($15 for a 10+ ounce tub that will last you AGES) and Hand Food ($4). But you know how sometimes, you absolutely love a fragrance until one day you can’t stand it? Maybe it’s just me, but it happens sometimes, and that happened to me with the ‘original pink’ scent of their body products. It still smells nice to me; I just got burned out after using it so much. But the body products are very rich and hydrating, so definitely check them out – especially with colder, more dehydrating temperatures upon us in the western hemisphere. (Note: Soap & Glory is a brand of body products I like to give to the young ladies in my life, and they love it, so bear that in mind with winter holidays coming up so quickly.)

Cetaphil vs. Yes To Carrots Cleansers

friends don't let friends use cetaphil

I’m an unabashed Caroline Hirons devotée: Her straightforward reviews and brilliant routines (see cheat sheet here) have made a huge difference in my skin. She’s also quite funny and open, which I always admire in a person. Please follow her if you do not already.

I was thrilled to see Caroline has finally posted reviews of two Cetaphil products, the cleanser and moisturizer. If you can’t be bothered to click through and read, let me tell you the bottom line: Don’t use these, there are many products out there in the same price range that are much better and won’t harm your skin as these can. If you think, “Well, I use Cetaphil and my skin’s fine,” think of the long term and how your face might suffer.

yes to carrots yes to tomatoes yes to cucumbers cleansersI was pleased to see Caroline recommend Yes To Carrots Daily Cream Facial Cleanser – as discussed previously on this blog – as an alternative to Cetaphil cleanser. I discovered this a couple of weeks ago and loved it so much I have gifted it to three friends. (Alekza, Devorah, and Robin – let me know how you get on with this!) Cleansers can be a bit joyless when they’re basic, but this one is a real pleasure to use. Get it on Amazon for less than $6 and free Prime shipping.

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Power Serum

vichy aqualia thermal serumThank you all so much for the kind comments, emails, and Facebook messages about the blog. I’m so glad you’re finding it useful and fun. What’s interesting is how many of you are asking me for the same kinds of products: decent hydrators, spot faders, and serums that won’t bankrupt you.

It is on the latter point that I now write. If you’re looking for an affordable, effective serum, please do your best to get hold of Vichy Aqualia Thermal.

Those of you who follow European beauty bloggers likely know all about Aqualia Thermal. It’s a relatively inexpensive (under $40), oil-free serum that’s noted for being superb at instant hydration. Honestly, I’ve heard so many promises about serums that my expectations were pretty low. Also, it’s rare to find an impressive serum for less than $50. I was sure I’d be underwhelmed and say so here.

I’m happy to report that this stuff really surprised me. It’s a water-based formula rather than a gel, and has a very wet, smooth texture. Just a tiny bit plumps up my skin and hydrates beautifully. If your skin is oily rather than dry, you probably won’t even need to use moisturizer with this; I use one at night, but not during the day. If you’re suffering any dehydration at all, Aqualia Thermal will make a difference in no time. I keep reaching for it in preference over much more pricey serums, which says a lot. I’m not a fan of the packaging, but that hardly matters when the product is so excellent. This is mid-range/budget skincare that feels expensive.

You can try before you buy, too, because every Walgreens and Duane Reade stocking Vichy seems to have samples of it on hand – just ask. You can also find it on Amazon and at Ulta. Budget serums worth trying are few and far between, and this is definitely one of them. Check it out.

Note: This is not a sponsored post or ad. I genuinely like this product, acquired it myself, and use it on my own face.

Yes To: These Cleansers

yes to carrots yes to tomatoes yes to cucumbers cleansersI’m going to have to stop writing about cleansers so much, but clearly I’m obsessed. And there have been such great ones on sale this week! Case in point: these three from the Yes To range. I got them for $5.49 each in my local Walgreen’s, and was excited to test them out this weekend. They did not disappoint.

I’d file these all under ‘cheap and cheerful’: basic, enjoyable products that do the job and are pleasant to use. The Yes To Cucumbers Daily Gel Cleanser for sensitive skin is a near-dupe for my beloved Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, with a lovely cucumber scent. I’m wary of gel cleansers, as they can be drying, but this one was fine. Ditto the Yes To Tomatoes Daily Clarifying Cleanser, which lacks the 1% salicylic acid of the Yes To Tomatoes Acne Control Cleanser, and thus is less potentially drying. (I sometimes use the latter as a pre-shower, five minute mask, because just rinsing the salicylic acid straight down the drain means it won’t be able to heal any blemishes.)

My favorite was the Yes To Carrots Daily Cream Facial Cleanser. What a lush, emollient way to start or end the day! It’s mild, fragrance-free, melts into skin quite easily and rinses without much effort. Even Cosmetic Cop Paula Begoun loves it!

yes to cucumbers towelettes wipesWalgreens also has the Yes To Cucumbers Facial Towelettes on sale for $1.29 for 10 (or get 45 for $4.79). I am very anti-wipe in general, unless you’re on an airplane, camping, or otherwise have no access to running water. But I wanted something for before and after my tanning sessions, to wipe off makeup and then remove tanning lotion afterward. After using the wipe, I go over my skin with a hot, damp washcloth to remove residue. I have to say, these make my skin feel a bit uncomfortably tingly, but that might be an interaction with my serums or retinols. Either way, they’re fine as a stop-gap, but definitely don’t use them as an alternative to proper cleansing in the morning or at night.

AmLactin: Am Loving It

body lotion beauty blogThis blog has existed for less than a week and I’ve already talked about my hatred of applying body lotion twice. Some of you have told me you feel the same way. So let’s go over this again.

It’s just SUCH a drag. So much so that The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Beautifying Oil discussed previously has become my primary moisturizer for my legs and arms. It absorbs instantly.

But, having talked to friends about it, I’m not alone in realizing the skin on our bodies often doesn’t have the same texture all over. I’ve never suffered from keratosis pilaris, the very commonplace affliction that makes the dermis (usually on the upper arms) look and feel like chicken skin. Many of my friends have and do. Whether it’s the bottoms of our feet, elbows, knees, or elsewhere, skin needs more than merely washing and moisturizing can provide. Knowing the benefits of using daily chemical exfoliation on the skin on my face, I really wanted to do it for the rest of my body.

sunday riley disrobe discontinuedSo I experimented last year with Disrobe, a $65 (I KNOW) body lotion by Sunday Riley, maker of my beloved Good Genes serum. Drawn in by the promise of lactic acid exfoliation and yeast extract to promote fresh new skin growth, I bought a bottle of Disrobe with my SpaceNK NDulge points. Ultimately, I was let down not just by the results, but by the smell, which I can only describe as the faint whiff of souring milk into which a packet of brewer’s yeast has been dissolved. That is to say, not great. (Disrobe has now been discontinued.)

But then I was in Target and spotted AmLactin, an alpha-hydroxy moisturizing body lotion. With a whopping 12% lactic acid, pH-balanced for skin, I had to try it. Bonus: It’s cheap as chips. I now buy the two-packs on Amazon for next to nothing, and I actually use them up. This is due both to AmLactin’s efficacy and the fact that it comes in a pump. (I have a gigantic Muji bin full of high-end lotions in squeeze bottles, mostly untouched. I have had some of them, like my Prada body cream, for nearly 10 years. They have moved countries and continents with me, many times over. Will I ever throw them away? Nope.)

amlactinThe only “bad” thing about AmLactin is actually a feature for me: It’s totally unscented. While I’m usually drawn in by smell, this one lets me take care of my skin and leave the fragrance to my perfume. Since I cycle through one of 150 or so scents on a daily basis, I like not having to worry about a clash between lotion and eau de parfum. And compared to Disrobe, the lack of olfactory stimulation is a total godsend. Lots of people have skin reactions to fragrance, so this is a super-safe way to treat your skin for next to no money, without endangering it.

I have yet to try all the products in the AmLactin range, but am going to get right on that. In the meantime, you can buy the body lotion on Amazon or at Target and other pharmacies.

(Note: This is NOT a sponsored post or an ad. None of that here, just my own personal opinion on products I paid for with my own money.)

Nivea In-Shower Nourishing Body Lotion

Nivea In-Shower Nourishing Body LotionI brought Nivea In-Shower Nourishing Body Lotion back from London earlier this year, before I realized they actually sell it in the US under a slightly different name than the British version. For someone like me who hates applying lotion after my shower, it seemed like a miracle product. The concept: Put this all over your body in the shower, rinse off, and skip the tedious body moisturizing before you get dressed.

My hopes were cruelly dashed. I still needed to moisturize after my shower. This is one of the few products I have ever thrown in the trash without finishing. If you’re someone who doesn’t really care about the skin on your body being extremely soft and silky – like, say, a guy – this might work for you. Otherwise, skip it.

Beauty Sale Alert: Walgreens/Duane Reade August Bargains

Duane Reade Walgreens beauty haul
Today’s sale haul from Walgreens/DR

I’m so glad to have this blog to justify trips to the drugstore to check out the sales! My stash is overrun with luxury products, and I really want to find more budget treasures – for myself and my friends. It’s a sacrifice to do all this shopping, but I’m just selfless like that.

My local Duane Reade (owned by Walgreens, and has the same sales) was full of beauty steals today. My real hair splurge is on conditioners and styling products, and I save on shampoo as much as possible. They have Organix (OGX) on sale for buy one, get one half-price. I also get to try this Batiste dry shampoo for blondes for a big discount; it’s only $5.99 for a huge bottle right now. And I was thrilled to get Simple Hydrating Cleansing Oil for buy one, get one half-off. This is a great makeup remover, no nasty mineral oil to be found! (Neutrogena is also on sale; alas, their cleansing oil lists mineral oil as the first ingredient. Oh well.)

Check out their current beauty sales, many of which are only in effect for another week or less. (Use the menu on the left side of the page to drill down into specific beauty categories.) Happy shopping – and let me know if you buy anything!

(Note: This is not an ad or a sponsored post. Too bad I have to clarify that, but you know how the blogging world is these days…)