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!

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.

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.