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!

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.)

OGX Hydrate + Repair Argan Oil of Morocco Miracle In Shower Oil

OGX Hydrate + Repair Argan Oil of Morocco Miracle In Shower OilFirst of all, there’s no “miracle” in this oil, but it is pretty wonderful. I’ve been using it for a few weeks as a boost to conditioners that aren’t quite deep conditioning masks, and it always leaves my hair extra-shiny. I also recently discovered that it’s a fabulous dry oil for the body, absorbing instantly. If you have dry hair, you might also want to add a couple of drops to your shampoo. It’s yet another OGX hair product I find worthwhile, as I use their shampoos regularly. More good news: The entire line is on a buy one get one 50% off offer in Walgreens/Duane Reade (which also has a new, free Beauty Enthusiast program that gives you bonus loyalty points, beauty coupons, and other perks when you register). Stock up now!

Pixi by Petra Discount Code + What to Buy

pixi glow tonic in skincare routineIf you follow my daily skincare routines on Instagram, you might have noticed that I use Pixi Glow Tonic as my exfoliant on many mornings. It’s a cult favorite among beauty bloggers and those who read them, and I am not immune to falling for products that are already a thing. I started using Glow Tonic in January 2015 and haven’t looked back. It’s a great, mild, beautifully fragrant glycolic exfoliant with ginseng. You can use it twice a day if you want – that’s how gentle it is.

Pixi products feel and smell expensive, and they are effective. But the packaging is pretty basic, so it’s in a mid-range for pricing. My local Target carries Pixi, and the beauty rep there told me last time that they can’t even keep it in stock. That‘s how popular this European brand has become in the US, and it’s largely due to the influence of beauty bloggers.

I hit my local Target today with the hope of picking up the Glow Mud Cleanser and the Glow Mud Mask. Both were sold out, as were the large sizes of Glow Tonic. So huge thanks to my friend Marie Domingo for letting me know about Pixi’s 20% off friends and family event, now on through September. I used the code grateful4you and saved $11 on my order (shipping is free). What did I buy?

  • Best of Bright – a perfect gift set for me, with the Glow Mud Cleanser and Glow Mud Mask, plus a mini Glow Tonic, for only $22.
  • Glow Tonic To Go – 60 pre-soaked pads for only $18; perfect for travel.
  • Hydrating Milky Mist – a hyaluronic acid-packed mist that Marie told me she loves; I cannot pass up a good mist, and it’s only $15, so had to have it

I’ll report back on the products that are new to me. In the meantime, if you’re new to the world of chemical exfoliating or just looking for a fantastic, mild acid to start your day, use the discount code grateful4you to try out Pixi Glow Tonic for yourself before the end of September. (If you’re still using grainy scrubs or ‘microdermabrasion’ cleansers, please do your skin a favor and switch to a chemical exfoliator. You’ll never regret it.)

TIME-SENSITIVE New Observer Column!

sephora saleGuys, I don’t use all-caps lightly, okay? But you need to check out my latest Observer column before midnight tonight. That’s when one of the most insanely beneficial beauty bonuses from Sephora expires. Do not miss out on this! (In addition to the products listed in my column, you can also use my recommended beauty products page as a cheat sheet for what to buy.)

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.

In Memoriam: Mourning Makeup and Skincare

tarte brow kit discontinuedSometime in the early 1990s, I rolled my eyes when I read one magazine writer’s lament about Calvin Klein discontinuing their Parma Rose lipstick. The #firstworldproblems hashtag didn’t exist then, but I would have loved it in that moment of teenage sanctimony. Guess who wasn’t rolling her eyes five years later when Tarte discontinued her beloved brow kit, the Swiss Army knife of eyebrows? #legitemergency

A similar horror took hold of my soul when I discovered that the soothing yet effective macadamia cleansing milk I’d gotten deeply discounted on had been discontinued. I felt my blood run cold when the penny dropped: It had been on clearance because they were killing it. I took this very personally.


YSL Rouge Personnel 17 - Sensual Fig lipstick

Is there anything as superficial that inspires as much genuine hope as a brand new lipstick? I loved how YSL embossed their logo into this one, which I bought exactly 10 years ago on a much-needed shopping stop while driving from Marseilles to a village in Provence. That’s where and when I took this photo, on a hillside in the French Alps. It was the perfect place, the perfect day, with the perfect people – and the most perfect, promising, pristine lipstick.

I agree with Wilfred Bion that hope is toxic; yes, hope of heaven steals lives away. But in this case YSL delivered. Rouge Personnel 17 – also known as the shade Sensuous Fig – was that rare lipstick that suited anyone. (I had no idea about the Sensuous Fig moniker until I started writing this post. That house in the French Alps had dozens of fig trees on its grounds, and I ate my breakfast directly from them every morning we spent there.)

And now? It’s gone. The bullet pictured above was stolen when I was mugged in London – a final straw that compelled me to move back to the US after many years in the UK. To add insult to injury, YSL then discontinued the color. Ça me soûle!

It’s only lipstick, and I have replaced it with roughly 200 others in the 10 years that have elapsed. But I still would love to have that one.

I always love to hear about the products people have loved and lost. If there’s one you still remember with sorrow, tell me about it. You don’t have to go through this alone.

pour out liquor gif