Box of Goodies from L’Occitane

Goodies from L'Occitane
Goodies from L’Occitane

Last week I ordered a few things from L’Occitane (lox-e-tan, in case you were wondering how to pronounce it) and when it arrived it felt almost as exciting as getting my first Glossybox (well, my anticipated excitement anyway).  I knew what I had ordered obviously, but really only one of the items was truly familiar to me because the others were things I was trying for the first time.  Plus, L’Occitane gives you a bundle of samples when you place an order online.  So, I got six samples that I was able to choose, plus a special seven day sample pack of another product.  All of this new stuff that I can’t wait to try out.

I’ve never tried L’Occitane really before, except for bath products at a few hotels, but on our recent flights back from Sydney to London the airline had given us a little hand cream from L’Occitane that I absolutely loved and think is perhaps the best one I’ve tried in years.  So naturally I had to get some once we returned to the UK.  That one thing was the whole reason I started looking at their website and browsing through the rest of the products to see if anything else caught my eye.  They were offering free shipping on orders over £40.00, so I was trying to get to that magic number with things that I might like.  As a result I took a gamble on four products that weren’t going to break the bank but seemed like they would be things that I would actually want too.  Here’s what I ordered:

  • Shea Butter Hand Cream,  £19.00
  • Shea Butter Date Bouquet Hand Cream, £4.80
  • Organic Certified Shea Butter Date Bouquet Lip Balm, £5.10
  • Beige Ballet Facecolour Cream Duo, £5.60
  • Envolée Lilas Duo Eyeshadow, £5.60
Date Bouquet Hand Cream & Lip Balm
Date Bouquet Hand Cream & Lip Balm

The hand cream and lip balm with the date scent/flavour is a limited edition item and it does smell as good as I had hoped.  The hand cream is basically the same as the big sized shea butter cream, just with a lovely sweet fruity smell.  The tube is just one ounce, so it is the perfect size to toss in even the smallest purse, or in your carry on luggage, so that you never have to suffer dry hands for a second.  The lip balm has turned out to be really great as well because it makes my lips feel super soft and hydrated but not sticky or oily, plus it too has that delicious sweet fruity smell and taste.  This is also perfect for in your purse or luggage because it is a reasonable 0.5 ounce size.  Both of the hand cream and lip balm are nice and creamy, without feeling heavy, so a little really does go a long way.  These items were on sale when I bought them, always the best time to purchase, so I saved  a bit on each one.  The hand cream was only £4.80 but is regularly £8.00 and the lip balm was only £5.10 but is regularly £8.50.

Beige Ballet Facecolour Cream Duo
Beige Ballet Facecolour Cream Duo

The other two new things that I tried were makeup and I didn’t even realize that L’Occitane did makeup of any kind, I thought they were just about the skin care.  However, the face colour, like a blush and highlighter, is lovely with a creamy feel that goes on smoothly and gives a really natural look to your cheeks.  I think you could use the darker colour for a nice soft bronzer or contouring.  And of course the pearly light colour is great for highlighting.  I used the darker shade as a blush and it looked lovely with my somewhat tan skin.  The lighter colour I used as a little bit of a highlighter on my cheeks but also on my brow bones.  They don’t mention it, however, I am sure you could use that darker shade for a lip colour as well, especially if you pair it with the lip balm to give it a bit of sheen.

Envolée Lilas Duo Eyeshadow
Envolée Lilas Duo Eyeshadow

I also like the eyeshadows, a lavender and a nude colour.  I have been wanting a light purple to try out and this was a great choice because it looks very soft and lovely on and helps to bring out the green tones in my hazel eyes.  I haven’t given either of these the full test yet by seeing how long they last, but so far so good.  I was just looking at the website and realized that I got these items on super sale price.  I paid £5.60 for each of them but now, post-sale pricing is back and they are £14.00 each.  I also love the little compacts that the makeup came in because they have a mirror and a magnetic closure that really does stay put, plus they have a very flat profile.  I can’t wait to give them a bit more of a try; I’ll be sure to let you know if I still like them as much after I’ve used them a while.

Shea Butter Hand Cream (it's awesome!)
Shea Butter Hand Cream (it’s awesome!)

But really, the shea butter hand cream was the main item I couldn’t wait to get my hands on, my very dry hands.  There’s only so long that my little tiny travel size tube could last, but luckily I got the replacement before I was totally out.  The shea butter hand cream contains 20% shea butter and feels so good on your hands and keeps them feeling soft and looking nourished.  The hand cream is rather thick and comes in a tube, like toothpaste, because of that thickness a little bit goes a long way.  Which is good because at nearly £20.00 for the 5.2 ounce tube you wouldn’t want to buy it if you had to use a whole bunch all the time.  The only negative I see is that the tube is metal and I imagine that once it gets down quite low it will be hard to get any more out.  I wasn’t sure why they were selling the “Magic Key” before, so I didn’t bother getting one, but I see now that you really probably do need something to squeeze the tube with more even pressure than you will get with your hand.  Of course, the cream is so completely wonderful I can easily overlook this little packaging issue.  Reviews all over, not just on the L’Occitane website, rave about this cream and once you try it you’ll know why.  Truly, the best at keeping my hands moisturized throughout the day out of all the lotions and creams I’ve tried over the years.  I also have a little rash problem that I’ve been getting from some medication I’m taking, which also dries out my skin terribly, and this is one of the only creams that keeps my hands feeling good and doesn’t aggravate the rash.  This is so good that I’m thinking I might have to try their foot cream as well to see if it can work the same wonders on my dry feet as well.

Now, of course, those are the things that I bought, but I also got lots of great samples too.  I love samples because they are the perfect way to try new things or things that you are unsure of without needing to commit to paying for a big size that you’ll be stuck with if you don’t like the product.  I think beauty product companies are so smart for giving these out when you shop in their stores or buy things online.  Oftentimes when you buy things online they’ll let you pick your own samples, which just makes them even better.

Six wonderful samples included with my order
Six wonderful samples included with my order

So here are the samples that I received with my order:

  • Volumising Shampoo Sample
  • Repairing Shampoo Sample
  • Repairing Conditioner Sample
  • Repairing Shine Mask Sample
  • Angelica Hydratation Cream Sample
  • Immortelle Divine Extract Sample
  • Divine Cream 7-Day Trial

I haven’t tried any of these samples yet but am really looking forward to trying them all after the great results I’ve had with my other items.  Sometimes I like to keep things like shampoo and conditioner samples for when I travel so that I can have decent with me and not have to depend on whatever the hotel has for their bathroom amenities.   However, I think I’ll give these a try sooner rather than later.  I really can’t wait to try out the mask but that will have to wait for some time when I haven’t just gotten a cut and had my colour done.

Divine Cream 7-Day Trial
Divine Cream 7-Day Trial

The Divine Cream 7-day Trial required a special promotional code, DIV7D, to be entered with the order.  This stuff sounds like a miracle cream for anti-ageing and I’m curious to see how I feel after the seven day trial.  It has gotten kudos and awards from Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, and the Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible.  Plus, lots of outstanding reviews on their website.  Here’s what they say on their website:

The Divine Cream features the combination of organic Immortelle and Myrtle essential oils:

  • Immortelle essential oil stimulates the production of collagens and improves skin microcirculation, and also helps to reduce damage caused by time and restore substance and vitality
  • Myrtle essential oil stimulates the action of the longevity protein to help increase cellular vitality and preserve the skin’s appearance.

The formula is enriched with plant oils that contain a high level of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, for a silky texture and supreme nourishment. Upon application, the sensation of well-being is immediate, while the skin feels wonderfully soothed.

So after reading that you can probably see why I’m eager to try this, right?  Clearly, it is a miracle product.  I especially looking forward to seeing how it comes through on promises to make my complexion more radiant and luminous while reducing any dark spots.  You can assure yourself that I will definitely be devoting a whole post to this trial.

As you can see, I got a lot of goodness from L’Occitane for my £40.00.  I was quite lucky and just happened to hit a time when they were having a very good sale on several items that appealed to me.  All in all, I ended up saving over £22.00 on the sale items, meaning that if I wouldn’t have bought when I did I would have had to part with 50% more of my precious beauty budget pounds.  Plus, I got free shipping for spending just £40.00 instead of the usual £59.00, saving me even more.  I really got lucky with the savings, and I feel even more fortunate that everything new that I tried, I actually like.

Keep Your Makeup Routine Cool When the Weather is HOT

It’s been abnormally hot here in London the last couple of weeks and that has definitely made it hard to keep my face and hair looking its best.  When it is this warm out (and in since air conditioning is a rare thing here) I find that I need to use all kinds of little tips and tricks to keep my cool and make sure my makeup doesn’t just melt off my face after two minutes on the Tube.  Hopefully, some of these will help you keep your cool this summer too.

  1. Put your skin care and liquid foundations in the fridge.  This is one of those tips that has been around for forever and really does help.  I put my facial moisturizer, eye cream,  and liquid foundation in the fridge for a cool treat for my face.  I tried putting my facial serum in there too but it seemed to have an adverse affect on the texture of the serum so it’s back on my shelf in ambient room temperatures.  I think I notice the benefit of the cold fridge temperature on my eye cream the most.  The coolness of the cream around my eye area seems to really help my eyes feel better and I think there’s a bit of puffiness reduction as well.  In general though, having all of these items be cold when I put them seems to help them go on a little better in the heat.
  2. Instead of using so many products on your face, try a BB cream or tinted moisturizer.  During hot weather, it is sometimes just too much to have layer after layer of products on your skin, so cheat and use just one or two layers instead.  There are a lot of BB creams on the market now, so you should have no problem finding one from your favourite brand or one that works for you.  Basically, a BB cream provides you with moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sun protection all in one little cream.  They have a whole host of benefits, actually, and they do vary a bit by the BB cream you choose.  I’ve tried a couple of different ones and haven’t yet hit on a BB cream that is right for me….yet.  So, I do the next best thing and make my own from my moisturizer which has sun protection, my liquid foundation, and a dab of primer.  To mix up my concoction I add the appropriate amounts to the back of my hand and mix them together then apply to my face.  For perfecting it on my face I use a brush, this also makes sure I get even coverage I think.  If you use a mineral makeup you can just add the powder and that will work as well.  Somehow it seems to work and keeps my face feeling a little fresher than if I layer everything up, maybe because I use a little less of everything when I pre-mix it.
  3. Blotting papers or a Kleenex are your friend.  No matter if you are oily or not, hot summer weather brings out the shininess in your skin and to combat that you can do a little blotting after you put on your foundation to help keep your face looking shine-free for longer.  After I apply my foundation I blot lightly with a Kleenex paying special attention to my forehead, upper lip and chin (the T zone) since they are most prone to shine.  Just don’t blot too much or too hard or you’ll undo all of your foundation work.  I’m not the kind of girl to buy blotting papers because I don’t have that big a problem with oiliness on my face, but if you do, I highly suggest getting some.  I’ve tried the ones from DHC and think they are great for the price, plus they are easy to keep in your purse.  But really, whether you use blotting papers or just a Kleenex (toilet paper in a pinch), you can use this little trick year round to de-shine and keep your foundation in place much longer during the day.
  4. Go light with the mascara and eyeliner.  Despite everything you try, you might still get a little “glowy” (or sweaty), in which case your mascara and eyeliner might not handle that too well.  I find that my eyeliner especially can really take a turn for the worse when I get hot.  I think the problem is that I use a pencil type of eyeliner which are wax based and well, you can see how that is going to be a problem.  I have heard that the liquid eyeliners are more likely to stay put, but I haven’t tried them.  I have a waterproof mascara that holds up pretty well when I’m sweaty, unless I forget and rub my eyes (yeah, that’s embarrassing).  However, I have another mascara that is not waterproof and will definitely leave my with racoon eyes if I forget and put that on when I’m going to be hot and sweaty.
  5. Generally, hot weather calls for light makeup.  This is just a personal preference, but I really feel like as the temperature goes up the amount of makeup I wear should go down.  This doesn’t mean you need to go out with a naked face, just avoid the overly made up face I think.  There’s nothing worse than that clumpy over lined and over mascaraed look when it is crazy hot outside.  And often it starts smudging off, no matter if it is waterproof or not.  And eye shadow is often in the same boat, especially if hot weather makes you get a little oily.  When I’m hot, I can fake like I’m cool as a cucumber by having a lightly done face that has a fresh look.

None of my tips are that ground breaking, but they might help you to stay a little cooler when the weather outside is decidedly not cool.  And if all else fails, go to the mall and do a little shopping because the mall is always well air conditioned.

Riemann P20: Sun Protection for Even the Palest Skin

Last year it was all about the Olympics here in London, and with all of the outdoor activities, it’s made me wonder what type of sunscreen these athletes wear.  All of the beach volleyball players seem to have nice tans with very little burning, except for a really pale German guy.   I have that type of skin, so I feel for him because it is hard to protect when you’re super pale and sweating.  Now that it is crazy hot in London this summer, and everyone wants to spend as much time as they can in the sun while its there, it’s got me thinking about sunscreen again.   But I’ve got the sunscreen answer for the German volleyball player or anyone else, super pale skin or not.

I found the best sunscreen a couple of years ago when we were going to Dubai.   Dave and I went to Dubai for a couple of weeks to celebrate our wedding anniversary .  We were looking for a place where we could laze around by the pool or ocean and just relax and soak up some sun.  And of course, with the soaking up of the sun you want to make sure you are protected.  We are far too pale (me especially) to be lounging around in the sun anywhere, especially someplace like Dubai, without decent sunscreen.  We knew we needed something good that would last throughout the day and we certainly needed it to last after getting in and out of the pool.  Luckily, we shop at Costco and saw this good deal on a sunscreen we hadn’t tried before, and hadn’t even heard of in the US, Riemann P20.  Since there were lots of people buying it, we thought that was a good sign, and picked some up too.  It turned out to be a great buy and has turned into my favourite sunscreen ever!

The Riemann sunscreen comes in either SPF10 or SPF20 with UVA and UVB protection; we chose the SPF20 (I did mention the paleness right).  While that isn’t as high a factor as an SPF45 or something, if you are smart about your sun exposure it will keep you safe but still allow you to get a bit of a tan, in a slow and controlled fashion.  What I really liked about this was that it doesn’t need constant thick reapplication every time you get in and out of the water or sweat a little.   We found that was definitely true and made for a much more enjoyable holiday.  It’s hard to enjoy your holiday lazing in the sun when you constantly have to be worried about reapplying your sunscreen.  The only problem I had with it coming off at all was due to friction from the straps on my sandals when I applied it to my feet and then walked to the beach and it rubbed off.  That lesson was learned in a day and I just added a bit to that area of my feet after we walked to the pool and I took my shoes off.

The Riemann sunscreen doesn’t have any added fragrance, colorants, or preservatives, so it doesn’t cause skin irritation like I sometimes get with the creamy sunscreens.  It goes on clear in kind of what seems like a thick oil with a slight alcohol-like smell, which might make you worried for your skin, but it dries in no time and doesn’t leave your skin feeling like you have much of anything on it;  it’s not oily, it’s not tight, and it isn’t irritated.  All you end up with is this seemingly invisible layer of protection against all of the bad rays from the sun.  We both find it very nice to have a sunscreen that dries so quickly without a yucky residue, white marks, or an unpleasant smell.  It’s even safe to use on your face (though as always, test it on a small area first just to make sure) and light enough that you won’t mind it or even notice it is on there.

The protection also lasts for 10 hours!  TEN HOURS!  And just to make sure, they tested it on volunteers.  We find that it truly does last all day even when in the pool for several hours or engaging in sweaty things like hiking or sports.  That first time when we used it I was a little worried about how long it would actually last but after two days, one of which I fell asleep in the sun, I realised it really did last and last and last and I didn’t even get a little pink, just a bit of a light tan.  If you knew me and my skin, you would know how monumental this is for me to end up with a tan.  I have that skin that usually just burns and then fades back to super pale.

After we got back from our trip I had a lovely tan and hadn’t gotten the bad burns like I’ve had when I’ve used sunscreen with a higher SPF.  Now I have noticed that there is a spray version of this sunscreen too available in SPF 15, SPF30, and SPF50.  I haven’t tried these because I have had bad luck with the sprays before, so now I prefer to just slather it on with my hands.  Of course, with my skin I probably should get the SPF30 spray. The prices for the P20 sunscreen can vary, of course, but lately it seems like the range is between £15.00 – £20.00 for a 200 ml bottle.  I noticed that Costco had it on my most recent visit and they almost always have the best deals on stuff like this.  They were selling a two pack of 200ml bottles of  the P20 SPF20 for £29.98 with VAT.  Or, you could get a single 20o ml bottle of the P20 SPF30 spray for £15.35.  But no matter where you buy it, this is a great sunscreen and one that I will always have in our sun protection arsenal now.

I Want an Artful Appearance

I used to have a very nonchalant attitude towards my beauty regime, but in the last few years, I have tried hard to make some changes.   However, I am still very much a work in progress.  Recently, I decided that I should write a blog to share the experience with anyone else that is having a similar mid-life style crisis, as well as to just keep track of things for myself too.  I’m planning on reviewing make up, as well as hair and skin care products, talking about various beauty tips, and maybe even about fashion (if I’m feeling really brave).

Why did I decide change was needed?

A little over three years ago my husband and I moved from Austin, Texas to London.  While t-shirts and a freshly cleaned face might have been all that I really needed in Austin, I certainly felt frumpy in London with the same look.  My closet used to be like a little piece of the Lands’ End catalog, but I quickly realized that it just didn’t work here in London.  Walking around in my new neighborhood I definitely stuck out as a tourist, even though I wasn’t one anymore!  So, I have started to slowly change my clothing style.  And then last year, I decided that I wasn’t getting any younger (um, 39 is a far cry from young, huh?) and needed to up my game when it came to how I treated my skin, not to mention my sad make up skills.  Like, I should start wearing some make up for starters on a regular basis.  I’ve always been fairly good about using decent cleansers and moisturizers, so my skincare was quite good already.  But you can always do better, right?  And of course, I’m at that age where I need to start getting quite familiar with the anti-ageing products too.

I’d love to have that casually elegant look that seems so effortless to some women.  How do they do that?  Is it hard work?  How do they manage to always keep their hair frizz free?  What’s the secret to having their make up look natural and glowing while still enhancing all the right parts?  And how do you get that style that looks elegant, sophisticated and stylish without looking like it took you hours in the wardrobe?

So, here I am at the age of 40, acting like a girl of 16 that is still trying to find the appropriate look for her make up and clothing.  I’m hoping that writing this blog will allow me to come to grips with my personal style and have that artful appearance that I’ve longed to have for years.