What's On My Face Today

I picked up the blush while I was in Chicago last month. I was there for a conference so I was staying downtown, at a hotel on Michigan Avenue. The Walgreens there had one of those beauty departments that looked like it belonged in a department store, so I couldn't resist poking around. I'd never heard of the Girlactik brand before - it looks like they're an L.A. brand starting to get some traction at stores around the United States. I'll be keeping an eye out for more of their products because I love this blush.

The color looks fairly muted in the pan, but it's a bright pink on the skin. I tend to look for cool, bright pinks because of the way blush colors oxidize on me. The experience differs depending on what foundation/powder I'm wearing, but in general anything with a hint of a warm tone to it goes orange by day's end. You can see from the swatch that the pink looks a lot more natural once it's blended, and it stays rosy on me for at least eight hours. The texture is smooth and it blends so beautifully.

Unfortunately it looks like the shade I have, 'Havana', isn't available through their web site anymore. I might give 'Milan' a try next.

Unblended vs. blended, under bright lights

In the pan, where it does not appear to be as bright


And this is the reason I can't swatch on my inner wrist

Comparisons: Cleansing Balms

What is a cleansing balm and why would you use it?

A cleansing balm is a kind of cleanser that breaks down makeup and acts like a magnet for dirt, lifting both away without drying out your complexion. It has similar properties to a cleansing oil. In fact, a balm is basically an emulsion - oil and other liquids blended into a thick cream. When applied, a balm should break down into an oil.

Cleansing balms are appropriate for any age or skin type, but they can be especially useful for older skin during the winter when your complexion is likely to be dehydrated. They're less messy than oils, and frankly, I think they have a more luxurious feel.

Balms can be used on their own, simply massaged into the skin and then wiped away. They came to my attention, though, when I started reading about the Korean double cleanse.

What is a double cleanse and why should you do it?

Korean products have been flourishing in the skincare market for the last few years, and so have the stories about the famous (or infamous?) 10- and 12-step regimens. I'm not ready to commit that much time, but it has made me realize that I could have been doing more for my skin than I was.

My compromise has been to start doing the double cleanse - a two step process that involves using an oil-based product followed by a foam. The oil or balm locks onto anything oil-based - sebum, makeup, pollutants - and draws it out of your pores. Then the foam clears other debris such as sweat and dirt.

I've been doing it for about six months, and my pores look smaller, my skin is always radiant, and I made it through the winter without any noticeable dryness.

On that note, here are a few of the brands I've tried and what I thought about them:

Blood Orange Cleansing Balm
Brand: 100 Percent Pure
Price: $38.00 for 3 ounces / $12.66 per oz.

Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm
Brand: Clinique
Price: $29.50 for 3.8 ounces / $7.76 per oz.
Both of these products have been really effective. The Blood Orange balm is the best I've used, but it's a little spendy so I've only repurchased it once. It has a smooth texture and a very pleasant fragrance, though, so I think it's worth it if you're willing to pay the extra money. The Clinique balm is just as good, though. It costs slightly less and is unscented, so if fragrance bothers you, this is the one I'd recommend.

Cleansing Oil-in-Balm
Brand: Sephora
Price: $18.00 for 3.04 ounces / $5.92 per oz.
This Sephora brand balm is really just okay. The texture is waxy and thick, like a paste - it doesn't melt away into an oil as readily as some of the other balms I've tried. That said, it still gets the job done. Since it doesn't melt well, it doesn't rinse off that easily, but if you're doing a double cleanse and following up with a foam, that's not really an issue. It does certainly lift the grime away - I just finished a jar, and my skin has continued to look great. It did its job. The balm does smell slightly of baby powder, which I happened to like. So it's a good product for the price point.

Coconut Oil Cleansing Balm
Brand: YesTo
Price: $10.99 for 4 ounces / $2.74 per oz.
This YesTo balm is not something I could recommend. It has almost the consistency of straight-up coconut oil, but with a slightly gritty feel. I had a hard time rinsing the oil away, even with a foam cleanser follow-up - it just wanted to cling to my skin. I used it three or four times and then got rid of it. This is just speculation, but I think that if I had kept using it my pores would have gotten pretty clogged. I don't like to predict something like that without evidence, but I didn't want to risk a breakout.

A few other balms I'd like to try:

Nourishing Cleansing Balm for the Face
Brand: Diptyque
Price: $65.00 for 3.5 ounces / $18.57 per oz.

Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm
Brand: Farmacy
Price: $34.00 for 3.2 ounces / $10.63 per oz.

Refreshing Cleansing Oil Balm with Apple Seed
Brand: Innisfree
Price: $17.00 for 2.7 ounces / $6.30 per oz.

Review: Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

If I'm being honest, I'd probably call the Laneige "Lip Sleeping Mask" a glorified lip balm. After all, it doesn't do much more than protect and soften lips overnight -- but it does that really well.

I got this as a sample just when I needed it most - in the dead of winter, when my lips were dry and chapped. I've been wearing it every night since, and I've been waking up with soft, smooth lips every morning. I even use it sometimes in the morning as a base under lipstick (especially helpful if I'm going to wearing a matte).

What I love most about this lip product is the texture. It feels a lot like Vaseline, but there is no petrolatum in it. That should be good news to anyone who's sensitive to petroleum jelly - I am, and if I tried to leave Vaseline on my lips overnight, I'd wake up with itching and irritation.

The mask protects as well as a petroleum jelly product, though. Its combination of waxes and butters - plus sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid) - locks in moisture. It also stays put through the night - I typically wake up with a thin film still on my lips.

The jar comes with a cute little rubber spatula (which I immediately threw in a drawer). A little goes a long way, so I expect my full-sized jar to last until next winter (in fact I still have the sample jar - it lives in my travel kit).

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask