hands

Santa Maria Novella Hand Cream

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image from Le Bon Marché

Santa Maria Novella has for a long time now, installed a big corner at the Bon Marche in Paris. If you would like to read about its history you can find it here. It used to be pretty hard to find unless you head to Italy but it seems they’ve really expanded during the last few years.

I’ve always wanted to try their products, especially their perfumes but given my collection at home I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. I picked this up as a gift for a very kind lady and thought I’d splurge on the same thing for myself since hand creams are something I use everyday.

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Back to the cream. This smells like lemon cookies. Not the Bath and Body Works type of lemon but a true zesty and juicy lemon. Absorbs super quickly into the hands and doesn’t leave a greasy film at all. If my hands were bone-dry the cream sinks in immediately; when used after washing I get to rub them in slightly longer. But it’s definitely one of the fastest absorbing hand creams I’ve used. My hands feel like they’re protected from the elements after application.

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I also tried the ‘Pasta di Mandorle’ which is an almond cream for hands and nails. It has a much thicker, heavier and greasier consistency targeted for really dry skin. It comes in a smaller jar but costs more per ml than the hand cream although you probably won’t be using much each time. It would be a nice cream to use at night just before bed in winter.

Ingredients:

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The only thing hindering a repurchase is of course the price.
Made in Italy, 100ml.

August + September Empties

AUGUST

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Shiseido Integrate gel liner in BK999 (0.28g) – Made in Germany
I bought this cos it seemed to be a favourite among Japanese beauty magazine readers. But the size of the nib is too big for my liking and unlike a pencil it can’t be sharpened. Also the performance is inconsistent – sometimes it smudges, sometimes no. Despite no change in the steps leading to or out prior.
Repurchase? Nope.

Kate slim gel pencil in BK-1 (0.12g) – Made in Japan
Now this is a liner I know I can count on. I took this with me on my holidays and with daily use it lasted around one month. This has less than half the product of the Integrate liner though.
Repurchase? Staple.

Here’s a comparison photo with nibs from different liners. The UD acts as your average, typical pencil liner. You can see the Integrate is just slightly slimmer than that. Visée is the thinnest (mentioned a few entries below). KATE and dejavu are the same in diameter. I’ll write about the Dejavu one eventually but lets just say for now that I don’t reach for it often despite it having the best staying power.

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Top-Bottom: Visée, dejavu fiberwig, KATE, Shiseido Integrate, UD24/7

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July Empties

Please bear with me – I’m playing catch-up with my empties post. Since there aren’t many from August those empties will be in the September post 🙂

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Banila Co Clean It Zero Purity for Sensitive skin (100ml) – Made in Korea ?
Lasted around three months, this is a cleansing balm for makeup removal. Like the Body Shop’s Camomile cleansing balm in idea, but with a better texture that instantly melts when you start rubbing so there’s no tugging or harsh rubbing involved. Very efficient at makeup removal, took everything off with no problem. My skin was never irritated nor felt dry afterwards either. A pleasure to use.
Repurchase? Yes, I have the regular version in maxi format to go.

IOPE Ultimate Hydro Cream (50ml) – Made in Korea
Cool upon application so it’s refreshing especially with a light, gel texture. Mildly scented with an aquatic type fragrance. Most importantly it does its job at moisturizing and my skin never felt dry. I really enjoyed this even if it’s not a one-of-a-kind product. IOPE isn’t readily available where I am so off the top of my head I would take a look at Laneige’s (obviously) water bank range, Biotherm, and even drugstore brands like No.7, L’oreal. I feel like I’ve seen similar products from these brands in the past before.
Repurchase? Yes if I come across it again.

Shiseido Medicated hand cream (100g) – Made in Japan
Bought this at the same time as the Kiss Me medicated (reviewed here), which now that I think about it is probably their attempt to make something like the Yu-Be cream. I found the Shiseido more effective. Texture-wise it’s not heavy but provides decent moisturizing. It’s got some kind of moisturizing beads in it. This is a medium strength hand cream I feel, and is not half bad at all. Good for those needing more oommph than a lotion but not anything heavy like the Yu-be. Yu-be is where I like my hand creams to be. The best thing I like about this though is the packaging – it comes in a jar but has a flip-lid opening/closing system so you won’t struggle screwing the cap back on with slippery moisturized hands afterwards. I might decant other creams into this jar …
Repurchase? Nah.

Steam Cream (75ml) – Made in Japan
Used and reviewed in the past. I’m using this as a hand and body moisturizer. It’s more hydrating than the L’Occitane lotions. You really have to like lavender to use this range.
Repurchase? I’ve still got two more jars of these.

Nature Republic Snail Solution 70 Eye Cream (20ml) – Made in Korea
This little tube took me forever to use up, more than six months I’m sure. It’s just a regular eye cream, run-of-the-mill, not better or worse than the average offerings. I felt I could use more hydration TBH but most eye creams like these I’ve tried deliver similar results (ie. not much) and I’ve found in my experience that you need to go to those in jars, and pay a little bit more to get more. Best eye cream (tube or jar) I’ve used those is the one from Astalift. Too bad it seems they’ve pulled out of everywhere outside of Asia.
Repurchase? No.

Kosé Fasio Powerful Curl Mascara Long (7g) – Made in Japan
I wasn’t particularly wowed by this mascara. And I’m starting to think there’s something about Fasio’s mascaras that doesn’t agree with me because my eyes get irritated when I use this. Same thing happened with the last Fasio mascara I used. It must be the fibers or something. I think I will stick with other brands.
Repurchase? No.

June Empties

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Bifesta Cleansing Express Eye Makeup Remover (145ml) – [can’t find the fabrication country]
Here’s a link to the official website in English. It contains moisturizing ingredients and vitamins. I’ve used this before. It’s a double-layer remover that you shake before use. Very efficient at removing all types of eye makeup.
Repurchase? I use oil makeup removers now (and double cleanse) so a separate remover is a little redundant in my regime. But I definitely recommend this remover.

Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 (150ml) – Made in France
You can read about my thoughts on the BR lotions here. This lasted me 3 months with twice daily use, so the same as P50V. I still have a backup bottle of this but I’m going to take a break from acids because of my IOPE bio essence – I feel I should use that as my first step after cleansing and thus it’s not ‘compatible’ with an acid toner. I don’t feel ‘right’ applying P50 after the essence. Anyway! This will be a chance to see what P50/Bio essence does.
Repurchase? TBD (more…)

April Empties

Been distracted from the blog lately, sorry. Expected more empties this month but a lot of the products held on. More for May then 🙂
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Kanebo suisai Beauty Clear Powder (0.4g x 32) – Made in Japan
The suisai powder is an enzyme-based powder cleanser. Almost all of the powder cleansers I’ve came across seem to be enzyme-based actually. The suisai is one of the first powder cleansers I’ve tried (I used fancl’s powder cleanser together with their entire skin care a lifetime ago, not sure if that’s enzyme-based as well though) and I’ve always enjoyed using it. This time round however, was the first time I’ve used a foaming net with it and what a game changer. I highly recommend getting one (mine is a cheap no-frills one from Muji) if you’re using powder cleansers. Instead of the low-foam paste I was used to seeing in the past, I got big, fluffy cushion-y clouds to wash my face with. It cleanses gently, face was soft and smooth and appeared brightened. The enzyme’s also supposed to help with blackheads, pores etc.
Now the suisai comes in individually packaged capsules. My box came with 32 but I believe you can get one with 14 or something. Each capsule contains 0.4g of product, so you get 12.8g total. This has a RRP of 2000 yen and is at the moment around 16 euros. I used this once a day in the evenings. If you were to use this twice a day you’d have finished the box in like 2 weeks.
Prices aside I also have a love-hate relationship with the capsules. I like that it’s pre-measured doses so you don’t struggle with how much powder to use (as I am now with my current powder cleanser). At the same time it’s a lot of waste.
Repurchase? As much as I love this it gets expensive. Unless you’re using this as a weekly special treat and/or you live in Japan and can bypass sellers and their premium on the net, I sadly think that’s the last I’ll see of suisai.

Kose Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil (230ml) – Made in Japan
Reviewed many times before. Best of budget oil makeup remover for me. Mineral oil based though for those concerned.
Repurchase? I have a backup bottle to go, but perhaps will venture out and try other brands after that just because I’m bored.

KIKO Vibrant Eye Pencil in #603 (1.2g) – Made in Italy (?)
603 is a warm dark brown with gold pearl finish. I really like this pencil: cheap, long-wearing, beautiful shade. KIKO has phased out the Vibrant eye pencils but I suspect it’s the Intense Colour Long-Lasting eyeliner in disguise.
Repurchase? Yes!

Shiseido Future Solution LX eye & lip cream (15ml) – Made in Japan
This has a thick texture and this one time as I was using this I finally understood why people say to pat on eye creams instead of rubbing it on – when you’re older the skin is thinner and not as taut; if you’re using a thicker product instead of a gel for example, it won’t glide on. If you don’t pat, you’re only going to pull your skin and potentially cause more fine lines.
Anyway, the skin under my eyes was particularly dry during a rough period and this cream nourished it and I felt it was sufficient on its own and didn’t need to add anything else. Having said that I didn’t see any results in terms of reducing fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles and the like though. However! It did wonders for me in another way – it healed my lips overnight where all my other intensive, thick lip balms failed. My lips were dry and the skin was flaking around the mouth and I applied this all over as a last attempt (it does says ‘eye and lip cream’) and to my great surprise, it worked.

If you’re using the Future Solution Total Regenerating Cream, you can skip this because in the leaflet included you’ll find under the ‘how to use’ section that they instruct you to apply the regenerating cream around the eye area as well. Which makes this cream redundant.
Repurchase? Much as I enjoyed the whole indulging experience, no. It didn’t do anything other than moisturize and at this price point I think I have a right to expect more. The Regenerating cream on the other hand is another story.

Shiseido Beauty Up Cotton (108pcs) – Made in Japan
I’ve moved on from the supermarket variety to Muji cotton pads last year and realised just how much product I wasted with the cheap supermarket ones – it absorbed the lotion but doesn’t seem to ‘release’ it when I pat it on my face, if you know what I mean. I found I use less lotion with Muji and get more out of the cotton. The Shiseido ones are even better. The pads are sturdy but very soft. Doesn’t leave fibers on the face at all. It’s just a pleasure to use.
Repurchase? Yes

Kiss Me Medicated Hand Cream (75g) – Made in Japan
Bought this because it looks like it means business. This smells like eucalyptus. As far as moisturizing goes, I’m afraid I need something more for my really dry and rough hands. My hands have deteriorated due to too many washing and using alcohol disinfectant and other random products etc at work. They are ruined and I need industrial strength stuff now.
Repurchase? No.

[May 17 2016 – added before-empty photo below]

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February Empties

Another month another bunch of minis! Let’s get those out of the way.

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L’Occitane Conditioner with 5 essential oils (35ml) – Made in France
This is for dry and damaged hair. Love this and the shampoo in this range. If I buy anything from L’Occitane I’d definitely buy these. Leaves my hair silky and smooth and has a nice inoffensive scent. This one has angelica, ylang ylang, lavender, geranium and sweet orange. ‘Helps nourish and restore capillary fiber’. ‘Cones heavy though! (second and third ingredient).

L’Occitane shower gel with 3 essential oils (35ml) – Made in France
Nice invigorating scent! Mint, pine and rosemary essential oils. It’s supposed to ‘leave a fresh sensation to the skin’ but I can’t remember if it had a particularly cooling effect.

L’Occitane Body Lotion with 3 essential oils (35ml) – Made in France
With lavender, tea tree and geranium oils (I start seeing them in the middle of the ingredients list, whereas they appear much higher on the list for the conditioner and shower gel). Being a lotion this doesn’t really satisfy my drier skin at the moment. I have used it in hotter months and enjoyed it more then. It’s very lightweight and quite thin in consistency. A light lotion. This smells similar to the shampoo/conditioner. First three ingreidents: water, grape seed oil, glycerin.

These samples from L’Occitane has a nice texture and consistency, nothing that comes out in big blobs (for shower and hair stuff) like some other samples I’ve tried.

Elemis ap@home Revitalise-me Hand & Body Lotion (50ml) – Made in the Czech Republic
It has almond oil to hydrate and ‘aromatic oils of thyme, basil and neroli to revitalise and invigorate the senses.’ This lotion is slightly thicker than the one from l’Occitane. Water is the first ingredient for both, but Elemis has Cetearyl alcohol as second ingredient followed by isopropryl palmitate; whereas l’Occitane has grape seed oil and glycerin as second and third.

Elemis ap@home Revitalise-me Conditioner (50ml) – Made in the Czech Republic
With camelia leaf and rosemary extracts. For hair products without SLS, SLES and silicones these ones from Elemis are rather well done.

I forgot to mention last time that the Elemis products (at least this sp@home range) are all paraben, SLS, SLES, DEA, mineral oils, artificial colours and silicones free.

thisworks reviving shower gel (30ml) – Made in China
The natural blend of energizing essential oils in these are bergamot and bitter orange. Nothing really special about these shower gels, very run of the mill. Scent is rather sharp, inoffensive but forgettable. The l’Occitane one smells a lot better.

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Last bunch of the month

Asprey Purple Water Shower Gel (35ml) – Made in China
Despite the prestigious looking packaging this is a very average and boring typical hotel supplied type of product. First three ingredients are water, SLS, cocamidopropyl betaine. Sharp lemony-smell, quite invigorating but perhaps best suited for summer.

thisworks balancing body lotion (30ml) – Made in China
I think with the thisworks stuff you really need to like the scent. First three ingredients are water, sweet almond oil and caprylic/capric triglyceride. Alcohol follows. Anyway. Forgettable.

Elemis sp@home Revitalise-me Shampoo (50ml) – Made in the Czech Republic
Wrote about this in last month’s empties.

Random note:
As it happened I got curious and from google found out that Asprey and Elemis have the same manufacturer – Pacific Direct, a huge company that licenses many brands and produce hotel amenities. It’s a one-stop shop, you can choose the packaging and so on. They have factories all over the world and stuff Asprey happened to be made in China while Elemis’ are made in the Czech Rep. The Elemis brand gets more care as you can see, but I suppose it’s normal because it’s also one of the few brands that really makes their business in skincare. Asprey makes jewelry.

Onto the full sized stuff! Lots to go through this month (this is not everything, there are more pictures below).

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Kose Medicated Sekkisei (360ml) – Made in Japan
A staple in my skincare. I started the bottle in October 2015 so this size lasted me 4.5 months with twice daily use. Not bad!
Repurchase? I have a bit of stock left, which when used in rotation with other lotions should see me until the end of the year. (more…)

Spring 2016 Purchases – Part 2

As promised the second part to my Spring hauls. This is mainly Japanese drugstore skincare and random stuff. I don’t think I ever wrote about where I get my stuff. I bought most of these from alpha beauty (not affiliated), it’s actually my first time buying from them and everything went smoothly. I find their prices reasonable but best of all shipping is free. Adam beauty was my go-to before but shipping isn’t free (it used to be in waaaay back when) and I realised that unless you live in HK you don’t get much of the savings advertised. Prices are similar to Alpha beauty, perhaps a few dollars more expensive depending on the product. They have a different selection though and Adam beauty appears to have a bigger range of the latest popular/hyped/cult stuff. A third website I know of is Good dealer. They tend to stock department store brands and usually have the latest releases. I’ve had good experiences purchasing from all of them.

Onto the stuff!

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