Monday, January 13, 2014

Product Reviews of My Holiday Gifts

Hope everyone had great holidays (yes that is a picture of my pink Christmas tree!).  Naturally, my friends and family opted for beauty products for my Christmas gifts, and I was super excited to receive them!  I got some really nice products that I'd like to share with you.  By now, I've finally had the opportunity to try all of them: 

1.  Ole Henriksen 3 Little Wonders ($70 at Sephora)
My cousin, Laura, got me this cute little set.  Ole Henriksen is one of my favorite skincare brands.  The products are toxin-free, feel nice, and work really well.  The set contains a mini sized Invigorating Night Gel, Total Truth Vitamin C Collagen Booster, and Sheer Transformation.  The collagen booster is one of my favorite serums because it is oil-free, lightweight, soothes and moisturizes skin, and has a light citrus scent.  This particular serum is a general anti-aging treatment, using potent vitamin C to target collagen production, fine lines and wrinkles, and radiance.  Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant to protect your complexion against environmental damage and aiding in cell repair when your sleep.  It certainly leaves me skin looking brighter when I wake up in the morning.  You can follow up the serum with the Night Gel or the Sheer Transformation.  With nourishing algae and AHA to smooth and renew skin, the Night Gel is a light-weight gel that you can use as a moisturizer.  Although it absorbs really nicely and leaves skin supple, it's definitely better for those with oily skin and in the summer.  It doesn't provide enough moisture for drier skin.  In fact, I tried it on my dry winter skin the other night, and my skin still felt taunt when I woke up in the morning.  I will try it again when the weather gets a little warmer.  Definitely a cool product, but ideal for certain skin types.  Lastly, the Sheer Transformation contains ingredients like licorice and sugar cane extracts to fade dark spots and even complexion.  Although it's a little early to tell how well it brightens, it is very silky and fast absorbing...maybe a little too light for super dry skin types but perfect for me! 

2.  Birchbox 12 Month Subscription ($110 on
My cousin, Natalie, got me a Birchbox subscription.  If you haven't heard, subscription boxes have gained a lot of attention in the beauty world, and they're perfect for beauty addicts like me.  Basically, you can fill out a profile online that details your product preferences and purchase a subscription.  Every month, a customized box of deluxe samples will be delivered to you and give you the option to purchase the products that you really like.  Birchbox is currently the biggest player in beauty boxes.  One quality that I really like about Birchbox is the product selection that they have...fragrance, body care, face care, cosmetics, nail polish...prestige brands, mass brands, natural brands.  It's really an opportunity to discover great products that you wouldn't have ordinarily found on your own.  And it makes a unique and exciting gift!

3.  Brookstone Lighted Travel Mirror ($40 at Brookstone)
I always travel with a travel mirror (since hotels often don't have a good one).  My Aunt Nancy got me this one from Brookstone.  The design is really effective.  It folds up in way that's very compact and protects against breakage during travel.  It opens into a magnified mirror on top and a regular mirror on the bottom.  My favorite part is that it has a bright light that's allows you to see every pore on your face clearly.  

4.  AHAVA Bright & Merry Blue Holiday Ornament Set ($10 in department stores)
AHAVA is an affordable Israeli skincare company with products that contain minerals from the Dead Sea.  This ornament set comes with a travel-sized Mineral Hand Cream and Mineral Body Lotion. AHAVA is toxin-free and features minerals from the dead sea to nourish, moisturize, and repair skin.  The body lotion has a higher viscosity than the hand cream, but both products have a smooth formula that instantly hydrates skin.  The powerful ingredients work to heal dry skin and keep moisture locked into your skin for the rest of the day.  Overall, AHAVA moisturizers help keep your skin feeling soft and looking healthy in this dry winter weather. 

5.  L'Occitane Travel Size Shea Butter Hand Cream ($12 at Sephora)
It wouldn't be Christmas without a L'Occitane hand cream from my Aunt Stella.  L'Occitane makes my favorite hand creams.  Formulated with shea butter for deep, lasting moisture, these creams are non-greasy/sticky.  The thick formula melts into skin to keep hands soft throughout the day.  They come in a variety of different floral scents.  Sometimes, I find that floral scents can be too strong and overwhelming, but these are light and pleasant.  I always keep one of these in my purse to reapply throughout the day.

6.  Illuminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase ($60 at Neiman Marcus)
As we know, consistent pulling on your skin can support signs of aging.  Many magazines and experts claim that sleeping with the back of your head against the pillow (rather than your face) is the best way to prevent pillow wrinkles.  But many of us - myself included - are pretty adamant about sleeping on our sides or stomach.  My Aunt Alice got me this lovely pillowcase with copper ions to aid in skin renewal and help firm skin as you sleep.  The best part is that it feels silky and comfortable, helping me get my beauty sleep ;)

7.  Ciate Mini Mani Month ($41 at Sephora)
My Aunt Susan gave me this cute and fun gift set.  The set comes with 18 polishes in a variety of different colors in addition to decorative glitter, caviar pearls, and sequins.  The formula stays on pretty well (which helps solidify caviar pearl pieces) and dries quickly.  The only downside to that is that it is a little difficult to remove.  I really like the Hoopla, which is a pretty pale pink shade.  With so many nail colors and accessories, you have unlimited ways to express yourself.  Surely a creative and easy way to spice up your manicure!  

8.  Bobbi Brown Limited Edition Smokey-Warm Eyeshadow Palette ($49 in department stores)
Hands down Bobbi Brown makes the most gorgeous palettes (especially around the
holidays), so I was happy to open this one on Christmas morning.  In particular, the eyeshadow palettes generally contain exciting but natural looking colors.  And the color combinations work for most women.  This smokey warm palette comes with colors like "Antique Gold," which is a really neutral looking gold color as well as warm brown shades.  Plus, it comes with black and white eyeshadows and a 2-sided brush (a liner brush on one end and shadow brush on the other).  Since the shadows are really pigmented and stay on incredibly well, I even use the darker colors as eyeliners.  Voila, you have a shadow for your lid, crease, and brown bone as well as a highlighter and liner. 

9. npw Nail Polish Remover Pads ($1.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond)
These pads were the perfect stocking stuffer.  They do the job of a nail polish remover, but in a much more convenient way.  First, the pads are already saturated in remover, which saves you some work.  Second, the 25 pads come in a convenient 2-inch wide circular disk...much more compact and spill-proof than a bottle of Cutex.  And most importantly, no nasty smell!  These pads have a pleasant, fruity smell.  Even though they're acetone and alcohol-free, they remove polish just as well as a regular remover does.    

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