Cult Beauty Bonuses + Exchange Rate Savings: Oskia + Kypris + Alpha-H

cult beauty oskia offerIt’s a good time to be spending dollars with UK retailers. The exchange rate favors we Americans very much right now. So of course I had to check out what kind of deals can currently be had from my favorite British niche retailer, Cult Beauty.

My first destination on any shopping site is usually the sale page. Cult Beauty doesn’t have one of those, but it does have an Offers section where you can see the bonus gifts and other special deals that are currently on. There are lots of offers for fabulous, premium brands, but I was immediately drawn to the Oskia bonus: a free full-size Micro Exfoliating Balm with an Oskia purchase of £45 or more. I’ve long felt left out of the Oskia love-fest in the beauty world, so was thrilled to see this.

I ended up getting the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel, a cleanser to which thousands of starry-eyed posts have been devoted in recent years. I also plumped for the Oskia Perfect Cleanser, which lives up to its name according to reviews from Makeup Alley and Caroline Hirons.

kypris moonlight catalystAnother line I’ve been dying to try is Kypris. I was going to suck it up and invest in the Kypris Moonlight Catalyst (I covet the bottle almost as much as what’s inside!) but it’s still sold out, so I had to settle for joining the waiting list. I was able to get Kypris 1,000 Roses, though, so I’m pretty chuffed about that.

Finally, I restocked on Alpha-H Liquid Gold, an overnight glycolic treatment I rather enjoy. You only use it a couple of times a week maximum, so a small bottle lasts ages, and it’s fantastic for resurfacing skin and encouraging cell turnover while you sleep. Bonus: On those nights when the thought of spending a whole five minutes on my skincare routine is simply exhausting, I can cleanse, swipe my face with Liquid Gold, and I’m done. You don’t put anything on top of Liquid Gold, so it makes for the most abbreviated PM routine possible.

All in all, I got five stellar products for $150 – including free shipping from the UK. Not bad! If you’ve ever been intrigued by some of these cult brands or are just looking for a fun, more affordable online European beauty shopping spree on high-end brands that might normally be prohibitively expensive, definitely check out Cult Beauty. Another extra discount: When you sign up for a Cult Beauty account, you get 15% off your first order with the promo code YOU15, for even more savings. Go forth and shop!

What’s In Your Hands-Off Box?

One of the great joys of my life is introducing my friejackie danicki perfumends to new beauty products. I don’t just mean on this blog and in emails and emoji-filled texts: I love nothing more than shoving a bottle of something in a friend’s hands and imploring her (or him) to try it. When people come stay with me, I beg them not to pack toiletries. “I have everything! You can try new stuff! It will be so fun!” It’s all very selfish; just another way for me to feed my obsession.

That said, I get nervous when children come to stay. My friends’ two young daughters recently visited me from England. One day, I came home to Hannah and Jessica asking if I could tell how they’d vastly improved my bedroom. “Notice anything different?” My heart sank. I had roughly 100 fragrances on my bureau, painstakingly arranged based on beauty, frequency of use, and seasonality.

Had.

jackie danicki beauty blog
Fourth row at Matilda on Broadway with Hannah and Jessica – thanks, P!

Hannah and Jessica had wanted to smell all of my scents, and very sweetly put the bottles back in an order that made the most sense to them. One of my earliest memories is racing into my grandmother’s bedroom to examine and sample her perfumes. So I was moved by how much mine had entranced these girls, whom I have loved since the day they were born.

But I had been scarred for life remembering the time a friend’s three-year-old daughter dumped a huge bottle of her Jo Malone bath oil into the tub. Since then, I always make sure to clear the bathroom of any products too precious to be touched by reckless little hands. Here’s the box from the most recent pre-arrival clear-out:

Algenist, Philip B, Hotel Costes, Roger & Gallet, Davines, Peter Thomas Roth, Sunday Riley, Kate Somerville, The Sanctuary

  1. Algenist Genius Melting Cleanser: Stupendous, one of my favorite cleansers of all time. Feels and smells like a chocolate-scented, buttery dream.
  2. Philip B Oud Royal Forever Shine Conditioner: I use this primarily for the smell, which sticks to my hair and makes my entire day wonderfully fragrant. Even the amortized cost is depressing. I keep reordering it anyway.
  3. Hôtel Costes shower gel: My favorite hotel in the world makes my favorite shower gel in the world. I used to have to bring it back from the actual hotel in Paris, but now the legendary CO Bigelow and Aedes, within spitting distance of one another in the West Village, carry most of the Hôtel Costes range of fragranced products.
  4. Roger & Gallet L’Homme Sport shower gel: This is one of my favorite men’s fragrances, which isn’t quite the same coming from the eau de cologne as it is from the shower gel. I pick it up in Paris, where it’s affordable. You can get it (for a much higher price than in France) at the venerable Clyde’s on Madison Avenue. I gave a full bottle of this to my friend’s 15-year-old son, telling him, “Steve, the fact that I’m giving you this is a sign of how much I want you to be happy. It’s going to make all the girls love you as much as I do.” He didn’t need the help, but it didn’t hurt.
  5. Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Cleansing Butter: There’s gold in it. I love it. Not for kids.
  6. Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm: Its blue color (artificially achieved, as I understand it) is entrancing. I’m sure children would love smearing it everywhere. At $50 per pot, I cannot allow this.
  7. Davines Oi Conditioner: This demands an entire blog post, and I will write one. Its price would be scandalous if it weren’t so effective. As Caroline Hirons puts it, this conditioner and the accompanying Oi All In One Milk are like taking your hair to the hospital. If you have color-treated or otherwise dry hair, you need these in your life.
  8. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate: Somehow I have accrued several full tubes of this around the house. I prefer my chemical exfoliators in the form of acid pads and the like, so I don’t use ExfoliKate very often. But I still wouldn’t like to see its algae-green, cinnamon-scented contents squirted all over my shower walls.
  9. Davines Your Hair Assistant Prep Rich Balm: Davines = spendy. Demands a lock and key (or an old Amazon box tossed under my bed).
  10. Sanctuary Spa 2 Day Moisture Shower Oil: I take at least two showers a day, so this hyper-emollient shower oil I bring back from London twice a year helps protect my skin from my really bad, moisture-depleting habit. Plus it smells of the exotic holiday in Morocco that I’m still waiting to take.

I say all this because I’m dying to know: What would be in YOUR hands-off box? What are your most protected, beloved products? If you’d keep them away from kids for anything other than safety reasons, I clearly need to know about this stuff. Email me, comment here or on Instagram, or tell me on Facebook!

 

Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel

Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel With Marula OilThis is one of those cleansers you never want to be without once you’ve tried it. In fact, I first used this at a friend’s house in Europe. I loved it so much, I ordered my own while I was still there, so it would be waiting for me when I got back to the US. It’s a keeper – the kind you hoard back-ups of, just in case. (Just in case of what, I’m not sure. But better safe than sorry.)

Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel is not cheap. Like I keep saying, cleansers are where you can save money and reallocate that budget to your serum. But this is a totally justifiable, practical indulgence. It is far more than just a mild cleanser with a heavenly smell. Thanks to the unique gel-to-oil formulation, it also has a luxurious, silken texture and provides extra hydration. If I were to go on a show like Survivor and was allowed only ONE beauty product, I could take this cleanser and my skin probably wouldn’t miss moisturizer too much. My face would feel clean and supple, and I bet yours would too, unless you’re extremely dry.

The good news is, we’re not on Survivor, so you don’t have to make such an awful choice. Get this anyway.

Note: This is not a sponsored post or ad. I bought this product and have used it for months.

SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum: Hall of Famer Now Discounted

skinmedica tns essential serumIt’s almost painful to write this post, because I really hate to tell you that a product costing nearly $300 an ounce is truly worth the money. But I can’t lie: It totally is. And right now you can get it for 25% off, so that’s something.

I discovered SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum in 2011. I’d had an expensive photo-facial with my high school best friend, Karri, but wasn’t thrilled with the results. When I complained to the manager of the facility where I got the treatment, she offered to send me a free bottle of this serum. Karri had seriously considered buying it when we went for our photo-facials, as a longtime nurse in a cosmetic surgeon’s office and a SkinMedica fan. She ultimately decided not to invest, so I was thrilled to try this serum gratis.

And then I got addicted to it, at the princely sum of $281 an ounce.

Pretty Woman expensive gif

There are some annoyances about TNS Essential Serum. First, it’s only one ounce, but comes in a huge bottle (and an even bigger box). Second, the two complementary fluids that comprise this product don’t dispense easily out of the dual-opening. I always turn the bottle upside down and whack it about 30 times to ensure equal amounts of serum come out of both holes simultaneously. Third, the smell is not wonderful. But in my experience, some of the best products have the least appealing smells. Lastly, once you realize how beneficial it is, you feel locked into spending a ton of money for the rest of your life on this one product. That’s kinda boring in a world with dozens of new serums launching on a daily basis.

That said, this stuff delivers near-instant results. For years, I had been plagued by a very strange sort of heat rash on my forehead during extremely hot, humid weather. These near-microscopic bumps weren’t red or otherwise visible to anyone but me (there’s a reason I avoid magnifying mirrors these days), but I knew they were there and it bothered me. This serum eliminated them completely within a few days. They never came back, even as I have switched to other serums as a result of constant product testing.

When any product delivers immediately apparent results, it’s exciting to imagine what the long-term benefits might be. As with any product, both short-term and future results may vary. But I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending TNS Essential Serum, as much as it might hurt your wallet – especially if you have struggled to find a serum that works for you. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the Caroline Hirons beauty investment scale, which recommends putting the bulk of your spend toward a high-tech serum. It’s not like I’m suggesting you spend $300 on a cleanser.

Right now, the investment should hurt a little less: Dermstore, a great retail outlet for premium skincare, has some HUGE discounts available on awesome brands. Get 25% off all SkinMedica with code SKINMEDICA25. Make the most of the discount code if you’re tempted to try this serum, and you can also use it on my favorite SPF. Let me know how you get on; I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

This is not a sponsored post or ad. I truly love this stuff.

SPF Battle: Chanel Vs. SkinMedica

chanel spf essentiel beauty blogHere’s the thing about SPF: You cannot be conservative with how much you use, because proper coverage is key. And if you’re spending upwards of $55 per ounce for your SPF, you’re probably going to be a bit stingy when applying it. So I’m not a huge fan of pricey sun protection in general. But I was intrigued by Chanel UV Essentiel, because Caroline Hirons raved about it in a recent video.

It just goes to show, once again, that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for you. This product has a lovely, silky texture. But on my oily skin, it leaves just a bit too much shine. If you have a drier or more mature skin, this might be just the luxury SPF you’re looking for. But make sure you don’t skimp when you apply it, or else you’re really wasting your money. (Go check it out in person first, and I think you’ll be surprised at how teeny a one-ounce bottle really is. This one will fit in the palm of your hand.)

skinmedica daily physical defense broad spectrum sunscreen spf 30My very favorite SPF is SkinMedica Daily Physical Defense Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30+, which comes in at a reasonable price and leaves NO shine, white-cast, or other annoying residue. Every dermatologist I’ve spoken to has vouched for it, and it’s recommended for its effectiveness by the Skin Cancer Foundation. You really cannot go wrong with any SkinMedica product, and I point you toward this SPF without hesitation.

Eve Lom Morning Time Cleanser: My Secret Weapon

eve lom morning time cleanser beauty blogI’m not a fan of the iconic Eve Lom original cleanser, mostly because I resent being asked to pay heaps of money for a product pumped full of yucky mineral oil. But I respect Eve hugely for how she revolutionized the industry’s approach to cleansing, and I absolutely love many of her other formulations. Primary among them is the Eve Lom Morning Time Cleanser, which I always have in both full-sized and travel-sized versions.

As a cleanser, this is as blissful as it gets: a creamy balm that melts into skin and rinses away easily with a hot, damp washcloth. Your skin will look instantly vibrant and glowing, and be left soft and residue-free, yet not tight or dry. While this is called Morning Time Cleanser, and is indeed an exceedingly pleasant way to wake up, I also frequently use it as a second cleanse after removing makeup with an oil or other makeup remover. So I can confirm that it ends the day quite nicely as well.

tel aviv beach
If you burn at the beach, you’re gonna need this balm

But where this product really justifies its price tag is in the double-duty it pulls as a calming balm. I was on holiday in Israel last year when I made the horrific, amateurish error of sunbathing in Tel Aviv after using alpha-hydroxy acids, vitamin C serum, and retinol on my skin the night before. The skin on my neck became painfully inflamed, red, and unevenly textured. I freaked out. Out of desperation, I applied a thin layer of Morning Time Cleanser to the affected area. Within minutes, the skin wasn’t on fire, the red had died down, and I woke up in the morning with a smooth neck. Since then, this has been my go-to skin soother whenever I go a bit heavy with the retinols or have any other irritation. (Pommade Divine, which is supposed to calm and heal upset skin, always makes it worse.)

So now I always travel with a mini Morning Time Cleanser, and frequently start and end my day with a face full of it. A tiny bit goes a very long way, so I have yet to finish my full-sized tube even after a year of ownership. This is an investment well worth making, and is suitable for all skin types. Get it here with free shipping.

Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Face Mask

dr andrew weil origins mega mushroom skin relief maskI don’t have “sensitive skin.” (That term is another rant for another blog post.) Fact is, anybody can react to any single ingredient or combination of ingredients. Even water doesn’t agree with many skins. But typically, the skin on my face doesn’t react very often.

So you can imagine my alarm when I first applied this “relief” mask and felt more than a tingle. It really stung. I was hesitant to wipe the stuff off, since it’s not cheap. The intensity did die down a bit, but I was happy when 10 minutes had elapsed and it was time to rinse.

What did I do during that 10 minutes? Google reviews of this product. I was amazed to read so many from people claiming this actually CALMED their skin when it was irritated. Check out this ingredients list!

Water, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Water, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Water, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Butylene Glycol, Yeast Extract, Squalane, PEG-100 Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate, Tribehenin, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Hypsizygus Ulmarius Mycelium Extract, Ganoderma Lucidum (Reishi Mushroom) Extract, Cordyceps Sinensis (Mushroom) Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Ocimum Sanctum (Holy Basil) Leaf Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Phyllostachys Nigra (Bamboo) Leaf Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil, Boswellia Carterii (Olibanum) Oil, Limonene, Linalool, Citronellol, Silybum Marianum Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Menyanthes Trifoliata (Buckbean) Leaf Extract, Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, Sucrose, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Asparagopsis Armata Extract, Kaolin, Cladosiphon Okamuranus Extract, Behenyl Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Sorbitol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Trehalose, Algae Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Sterols, Charcoal Powder, Phytosphingosine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Potassium Carbomer, Carbomer, Hexylene Glycol, Dextrin, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol

If your skin tends to react or be “sensitive,” you probably already know that products with as few ingredients as possible are the least risky. It boggles my mind that Dr. Andrew Weil, a clever man to be sure, can stuff a “relief” mask with this many fragrant irritants and charge ~$40 for it. And it makes me question just how authentic all those online reviews are. (I also think the mushroom thing is kinda dorky and not really authenticated by existing studies. It’s a bit woo-woo for me until there’s some scientific evidence that these fungi are special.)

That said, what sets my face on fire might feel like a soothing balm to you. You can buy deluxe blister pack samples of this from Sephora to try it out – they provide a generous amount, and you can get at least three applications out of one. Try it for yourself if you’re curious. I decided to trial this mask when my skin wasn’t acting up, just so I could compare and contrast when the time came that I needed some actual relief and could put it to the test. Needless to say, I won’t be using it again even on the calmest skin, let alone on a flare-up.

There is one product I can rely upon to calm my skin when I do something stupid like sunbathe after using copious amounts of alpha-hydroxy acds and retinols. True story: I did that in Israel last year, which is how I discovered this solution. I’ve written a post that’s scheduled to go live this weekend with all the details. Stay tuned.

Note: I paid for this product myself. This is obviously not an ad or a sponsored post.