I’m back with a new batch of honest reviews, and I feel like I’m tackling some heavily hyped products in this installment. Eager to here your feedback and experiences with these widely endorsed beauty finds! The TL;DR is that my favorite new product discovery is Elta MD’s facial sunscreen, though there were a lot of very good products this go around!
+Clarins V-Facial Intensive Lift (currently on sale!). I’d had my eye on this mask since Courtney Grow listed it as a “requirement for women over 30.” I’d heard many other beauty enthusiasts rave about how it de-puffs and contours the face, so I was thrilled when Clarins generously gifted me my own tub to try. The results first baffled and then impressed me. For context, for years, I’ve been obsessed with Peter Thomas Roth’s Rose Stem Cell mask (basically sold out everywhere but here — I think they’ve discontinued it, sob), and I specifically like the way it leaves my skin feeling dewy, radiant, and deeply hydrated. My runner up long-time favorite mask is Origins Rose Clay Mask, which is a totally different experience — it hardens and tightens the skin and then you wipe off with warm water and your skin feels as soft as a baby’s bottom. But both masks leave me feeling like a glowing goddess, nearly trailed by a halo. So when I removed the Clarins mask after it’s appointed ten minutes, I felt confused. Where was the halo effect? I didn’t register the sensation I usually associate with masks — slightly tender, soft, glowing skin. However, I kid you not: my face looked almost chiseled?! There was a noticeable difference especially around my mouth and along my neckline — everything looked tauter, more streamlined. It immediately became my go-to face mask when going out in the evening or even getting ready for a daytime event. I will still use the rose stem cell at night (I like to sleep in it) but before a night out? Before applying makeup? Yes ma’am. Very impressed with this one-of-a-kind product! Strongly encourage you to try it, with the caveat noted above that it’s not so much a mask for radiant, glowing skin as it is for facial contouring and tightening.
+Saie Mascara. I was so excited about this clean mascara — I’ve had many readers and friends rave about it, whether or not they are clean beauty enthusiasts! It is definitely one of the best mascaras I’ve ever tried, and hands-down the best clean mascara I’ve ever used (better than Ilia, which I also thought was quite good — Saie is even better at lengthening and lifting). I actually tested one eye with the Saie and one with my ride-or-die Armani mascara and think they both deliver great results — only the Saie is more natural and does.not.clump, which I have to admit Armani does by comparison. I will absolutely be using this mascara until empty for day time. For night, I’ll probably still reach for the slightly-more-dramatic Armani. (Note that Armani is now available in a mini size if you want to test without the commitment of a full tube!)
+Elta MD Facial Sunscreen. Y’all were right. This is the best facial sunscreen out there, and that says a lot coming from a longtime devotee of La Roche Posay’s fluid sunscreen. Let me put it this way: I have a semi-strict one-in-one-out rule when it comes to beauty/cosmetics purchases in the same product category. I simply don’t have the space to hang on to ten different mascaras and four different moisturizers. (Manhattan living and the associated shortage of storage space has trained me to play beauty hardball: I use products until they are completely empty OR I chuck them/give them away to friends/siblings if I decide they aren’t for me.). When I was running low on LRP, I bought Elta and wanted to give it a little try after it first arrived, even though I still had a few days left of LRP. I cannot bring myself to wear those last few days of LRP — I only want the Elta! I am going to have to force myself to finish it the next few days prior to our move. Anyhow, it’s about the consistency — it absolutely glides on and is far less runny than LRP. The consistency makes me feel confident I’m covering every single square inch of my face — something about it makes you keenly aware of where you’ve applied it. And makeup lays beautifully on top of it. I’m officially a convert. I just discovered it on sale with free shipping for $28 here and ordered another bottle so I’m ready to go when I run out.
+Saie Glowy Super Gel Highlighter. I bought this highlighting gel primer after reading quite a bit of hype and it mainly made me realize I have already overbought in the “illuminating cosmetics” category. Do I need a highlighting primer when I’m already using multiple layers of serum (illuminating!), glowscreen, illuminating powder, and my favorite Westman Atelier highlight stick? The answer is, frankly, no. It just felt like another step. I did enjoy applying it as an added layer for my birthday dinner out — I mean, why not?! If I have the time and a special occasion ahead, I’ll take an extra little boost. It’s a nice consistency, easy to apply with fingers all over the face prior to applying tinted moisturizer/foundation, and not so shimmery that you feel like opalescent. A novelty/big-night-out purchase. Still, if you are looking for just one highlighting/illuminating tool, I would rec the Westman Atelier stick in clear over any other product in this category. It is a dream.
+Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm. I’ve written about this product a few times over the past few weeks, but wanted to reiterate my review here. This is a lovely, luxurious product. I look forward to removing my makeup with it on nights I’m feeling unharried and self-care-oriented. You slather this deliciously-scented balm all over your face and wipe away with a warm wet towel, and all of your makeup and any dirt/residue on your face absolutely melts off. You are left with lightly perfumed, hydrated, cleansed, glowing skin. It’s an elegant experience — so fetching, in fact, I sent a pot of it to my mother for mother’s day in the hopes that it would leave her feeling similarly pampered. My only hesitation with recommending this 100% is that I find it competes with the skincare regimen that has been working well for me since December 2020. Namely, if I use the balm, then I won’t use my Tata Harper regenerating cleanser, which I find very effective in balancing my skin and preventing breakouts. (I also love the scrubby texture of the cleanser.) I also feel as though applying either my retinoid or my glycolic acid pads (I alternate between these two most nights of the week, taking a break every now and then if my skin feels dry) negates the effect of the Elemis balm, almost stripping away the collagen/oils it imparts. In other words — great product, but not sure how to make it work with the other items I have found effective in my skincare regimen. For now, keeping it as a luxury experience for nights I need a little TLC.
+Clarins V-Shaping Facial Lift Eye Cream (also on sale!). Alongside the aforementioned face mask, Clarins also sent me their eye concentrate and serum from the same line. I am in love with the eye concentrate. It’s honestly like nothing I’ve ever tried before as an eye product. I love the metal applicator — so cooling to the touch, and deposits just the right amount of product! — and the product itself is a thin, clear gel. So many other eye products feel thick and buttery by contrast, and therefore become more difficult to layer under concealer. I truly find that this product tightens and de-puffs the eye area. There is still no eye product I’ve found that really does anything with dark circles to speak of, but I’ve given up on that front at this point and will take what I can get with regards to making my eye area look tightened and smooth. I did not really register much of a result from using the serum, though I will say I already use and love two other serums (the famous Clarins Double Serum and Drunk Elephant Vitamin C) and so part of me just had trouble figuring out how and when to fit it into my beauty routine. I would recommend Clarins’ Double Serum all day every day instead — that’s a hero product for me.
+French Girl Rose Lip Polish. How many rose products is too many rose products? Ha. My sister gave me this lip polish as a part of my birthday gift and it is delightful! I have been using it before dinners out so lipstick will stay on perfectly/will not flake. I follow it up with a healthy slather of Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream. A great addition to your summer beauty arsenal for dry lips or to prep your pout for a matte lip color.
+Slip Eye Mask (on sale). My sister also gifted me a Slip silk eye mask as a part of my birthday gift (#spoiled) and urged me to give it a try. She and her husband both sleep with these and insist they make for the best beauty sleep on earth. I have to say, I am seriously loving the slight compression this eye mask affords when I slip it on at night, and I am also intrigued by the brand’s assertion that the silk material “protects delicate skin from the tugging effects of tossing and turning.” I’ll take that! My only problem is that I wake up every morning and I have apparently at some point in the evening taken it off? I keep finding it on my floor. I’m not sure if I’m doing this subconsciously or if it just slides off my head? Ha! Anyway, I can see how it might become a relaxing part of my bedtime ritual — with the added benefit of deterring me from checking my phone or even registering when it might be going off. Will continue to test this over the next few weeks but wanted to toss in an early impression of its benefits and appeal.
+Supergoop Glowscreen. Another product I feel like I’ve written about 3,000 times already, but I am in love (!!!) with this illuminating, moisturizing SPF. I originally specifically bought it for mornings I run — perfect to slather on before heading out without applying any other makeup, as it offers a tiny bit of coverage/color correction and a nice amount of illumination in addition to SPF. However, I like it so much, I find that I blend it with my tinted moisturizer nearly every morning that I’m not going on a run, too! (I find I need more coverage than it provides, hence why I blend with another brand.) I love the illumination it affords — gleaming, sun-kissed, happy skin. Could not love this product more as either a stand-alone while playing sports/running/exercising or blended with other facial products for every day wear. Definitely (!) a favorite discovery this year.
The items I am currently testing for my next installment or that are sitting in my cart at the moment:
NEW WESTMAN ATELIER CHEEK STICK — I HAVE IT IN DOU DOU (J’ADORE — GIVES A WINONA-RYDER-FLUSHED-FROM-A-WINTER-SPRINT EFFECT TO MY CHEEKS) BUT WANT IT IN EITHER POPPET OR MINETTE
P.P.S. Musings on letting the time tick by.
P.P.P.S. I just re-read this post and some of its comments and I find myself weepy. What a year it’s been.