Monday, June 15, 2015

Red Hots: Some Favorite Products This Summer

There are a few things that are relatively new to me, but that I've been completely obsessed with lately.

The first are 2 lip colors. Kevyn Aucoin's Matte Lip Color in Eternal, a beautiful rich red with a pink undertone, and Tom Ford's Lip Lacquer in Lost Cherry, an opaque bright red creme with both warm and pink undertones. I don't usually wear these together (though you can; they go beautifully together). I just don't usually buy matte lipsticks to put gloss over them. The point is enjoy that gorgeous velvet texture.

Another thing I've been loving is SK II's Stempower Cream.

I have to start off by saying that I am not the biggest fan of SK II's Facial Treatment Essence. I've used 2 full bottles before and it's a good anti-oxidant but there is almost no reason for it to cost the amount it does for yeast ferment extract when there are tons of other antioxidant lotions - and indeed, other yeast ferments - that do pretty much the same thing and not cost nearly as much.

But I felt it was time to revisit the brand and bought a jar of the Stempower Cream when I saw some on sale at Sasa last month. The jar sat in its box for awhile until last week. I had used Glamglow's new Mud to Foam cleansers and come out in red, raw rashes all over my face. There were so many tiny blisters my skin felt like sandpaper. It was sore, it was itching, and after a whole week of applying Medik8 serum to try and calm it down, it was not as raw, but still tight and bumpy and starting to peel.

I slapped on Stempower Cream for 2 nights not because I was expecting it to soothe my skin but just because I suddenly remembered I'd yet to try it, and it calmed my skin down. Pronto.

I was shocked because I hadn't even read any product copy or gone online to look at what the product claims are. I expected it to have hydrating and antioxidant properties like every other SK II cream, but I was not expecting it to soothe and calm my reactive skin so rapidly.

Another skincare line that has impressed me within a few days (albeit without the dramatic results) is Astalift's cult favorite Jelly Aquarysta and Cream.

I've loved the Light Analyzing Foundation for some time, and decided to try the skincare as well. The must-try is Jelly Aquarysta, an Astaxanthin- and ceramide-laden pre-serum skin treatment that goes on over clean skin before any toner or serum.

The product comes in a light jelly form with an accompanying spatula that you scoop out to use. It's quite an interesting jelly-to-liquid texture. And the product is actually quite fluid because in about a minute the surface of the jelly flattens and smooth back out.

If you didn't know, Astaxanthin has about 6000 times the potency of Vitamin C, 800 times that of CoQ10, and 550 times stronger than Vitamin E. That's why I always pay attention to Astaxanthin formulas in skincare.

Aside from that, the Light Analyzing Foundation has been updated and renamed to Astalift Lighting Perfection Moist Pure Liquid. It's got the same sun protection and skin protecting ingredients as the skincare, but the formula is a little smoother and easier to blend out. The original formula had great coverage, and does look great in different lights, but it can sometimes look a little too thick and be quite visible on top of the skin if it's not blended out extremely well.

But the texture of the new formula is much more to my liking. It's lighter and blends easier, but none of the coverage is sacrificed. I actually tried a sachet of foundation and liked it so much that I went right back the next day to buy a bottle.

The Light Analyzing Concealer is an interesting product I'm trying out for the first time too.

The brand only has ONE shade. And it's made with the same light reflecting technology in the foundation. What I can tell you is this works more like a solid version of light-reflecting pens a la YSL Touche Eclat. It's not a concealer that will cover hardcore blemishes unless your skin tone is an exact match. This is better as a highlighter pen, and I would stroke it on the bridge of the nose, on top of cheekbones, and to brighten hollows around the eyes after a proper concealer, just the way I would use a more liquid highlighter pen after concealer.

It's definitely an option if you're not a fan of liquid highlighting pens that melt off concealer and foundation underneath, although I would wonder if those with darker skin tones would be able to use it at all. Astalift is a Japanese brand, and at NC25, I'm using the 2nd darkest shade in the range. So it's most definitely designed for paler skin tones.

Lastly on my instant-rave list is Living Proof's Prime Style Extender Spray.
The original Prime style extender came in a squeeze tube and what it is is a styling cream that you massage into your damp hair all the way from roots to tips after washing. Then after that you apply other leave-in products and style as you normally would.

The brand's proprietary ingredient, and the second-most concentrated ingredient in this formula after water, is a molecule called OFPMA (octafluoropentyl methacrylate, if you're curious), which repels oil and dirt, but is very lightweight and does not weight hair down. Essentially it helps your style to last much longer through the day. I like to use it around my roots, especially around the fringe area, because that's the section that gets touched the most through the day when you tuck it behind your ear or move it away from your face, and then becomes limp, stringy and greasy quicker than anything else.

When I tried Prime for the first time, I was amazed that my fringe didn't get greasy for hours and hours and hours. And then when I saw they'd come out with a spray version which is even lighter for fine hair, that was a god-send for me. I have very fine hair and it has a tendency to be very limp and to feel greasy quite quickly, so I never let ANY conditioning product near my scalp. Ever. Except if I'm using a specific scalp treatment to stimulate hair growth or to prevent or treat the occasional bout of dandruff.

This though, I spritz it around the top of my head and massage in around my roots and scalp once I come out of the shower. There is zero residue, no stiffness, nothing. It dries and feels like clean, soft hair for the whole day, and oddly enough it feels like my scalp is less oily throughout the day as well. I love the mattifying and volumizing effect of hair powders, but I don't love the tacky, sticky, stiff feel. This has pretty much eliminated my need for hair powders because most of the time I just want my hair to look and feel clean.

If you live in a hot climate and you hate it when your hair gets greasy and stringy after a few hours, this is definitely one to check out.


  1. I love this post Candice. It's so comprehensive. I wear reds 365 days a year no matter the weather. The KA looks wonderful!
    Now I am quite intrigued by Aftalift. The jelly sounds divine and my skin is once again behaving poorly :(
    Happy week!

    1. Ah sorry to hear about your skin behaving poorly! It's so annoying not knowing what you did and how you can make it better isn't it? :/
      Yeah I cannot imagine not having red... it's such a gorgeous color!


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