charcoal and black for beauty

Lately, I’ve been really curious about skin care products with charcoal or “black and sticky”.  It started off with a bottle of Boscia® Luminizing Black Mask that my friend from Sephora® gave me to check out.  It’s a peel off mask that is super messy and thick.  My bathroom sink ended up with a lot of black goo because you have to so much on in order to be able to actually peel it off (if not, it’s an even bigger mess to remove it).  My skin felt very soft afterwards, but there was a slight residue left on my face.  Verdict – it is not worth the mess.

These “black products” and those with charcoal are suppose to help with oily skin like mine and shrink pores.  The charcoal is suppose to make your face feel tingly as it helps your pores!  So, I decided to check some of these guys out:

From the same line as a the Luminizing mask, is Boscia®’s Detoxifying Black Cleanser.  It’s a face cleanser that warms and foams as you rub it into the skin.  The warming is a signaling that it’s active and does not activate with a brush.  There is a tingly feel at the end but I didn’t really feel like my skin was that clean.

A big winner, in my opinion, by Boscia® is their Charcoal Pore Pudding.  It’s a thick mud like mask that you leave on and wash off.  It’s messy but no where near as messy as their Luminizing peel off one.  I did feel the drying effect with skin tightening about 5 minutes after application.  Washing it off did make my sink turn a bit black, but WOW, did it clean my face!  It was like all the dirt and oil was completely sucked out of my face!  Make sure you use a serum afterwards.

Boscia®’s also got a Charcoal Pore Minimizing Hydrogel Mask, which is not messy at all.  My skin, however, felt wet and sticky after I took it off.  Since it is a gel mask, it did not dry up my face.  My skin did feel firmer afterwards but not clean.

Boscia® also makes Pore Purifying Black Strips.  You only put it over your nasal bridge but it did not leave the sticky residue as the gel mask.  My skin felt and looked the same before and after use, so not sure if it helped or not.

Boscia® makes Black Charcoal Cleansing Cloths as well.  They are not very moist and are completely dried out after one swipe around my face.  There is a mild tingle after use with only a minimal residue but my skin does not feel clean after use at all.

And finally, Boscia® also makes Black Charcoal Blotting Linens.  You can see little black flecks on each linen with a nice smoky smell.  It does give your skin a refreshing tingle with use as well as a good removal of the oil on your skin.

So besides Boscia®, what other brands at Sephora branch out into the charcoal world?

Peter Thomas Roth® makes an Irish Moor Mud Purifying Mask .  It’s a mask that is washed off after 10 minutes with warm water.  It does not completely dry and so my skin did not get the tightening effect with use.  But, it is a mess to wash off.  Not as messy as the Boscia® one but it leaves just as much residue.

Origins® makes a Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask that is thinner than a mud mask but no where as thick and gooey as the Boscia® Luminizing mask.  This does dry on your face within about 5 minutes but a mess to wash off.  It does, however, leave a nice clean but make sure to use a serum afterwards to keep from drying out.

Dr. Jart+® makes a Pore Minimalist Black Charcoal sheet mask that actually looks like a piece of black cloth.  It left my face with a tingly feeling from the charcoal and sucked out the oil as the mask dried out.  My skin felt more refreshed and clean than with Boscia®’s hydrogel one but drier – make sure to use a serum afterwards.

Peter Thomas Roth® also makes an Irish Moor Mud Purifying Cleanser from the same line as their mask.  This foams better with a brush but my skin did not feel clean afterwards.

Clinique® makes a City Block Purifying Charcoal Cleansing Gel that is not messy at all.  It gives an OK clean, about the same with and without a brush, but not a deep clean and no tingly feeling.

Sephora® makes Charcoal Exfoliating Wipes to “purify and detox”.  Unlike the Boscia® one, these wipes are very moist but leaves your face a little sticky afterwards.  The exfoliating part is a rough texture over one side of the wipe.  There is some tingling but it’s hard to notice against the residue it leaves on your face.

Sephora® also makes charcoal blotting papers.  It doesn’t have a odor like the Boscia® ones and you need to use a few to get all the oil off and to get a tingly feel on your face.

Do my pores feel smaller?  Does the tingly charcoal really clean out my pores?  Some products do and some don’t.  But Boscia®’s your best bet with the widest variety and range of products.

** Disclaimer – my skin is very oil and not sensitive to anything.  Try products at your own risk.

floral tops

Floral tops were the theme for this week.  Sometimes it is hard to mix and match patterns, but I think that is all the fun of getting ready in the morning.  Here are some of my favorite floral looks:

image  Top – Ted Baker, Handbag – Orla Kiely, Scarf – Diane Von Furstenburg, Shoes:  Tory Burch, Cuff:  Kate Spade

image  Top –  Anthropologie, Flip flops –  Tory Burch, Bag – Marc by Marc Jacobs, Bracelet – Tiffany and Co., Ring – Pandora

image  Top –  Anthropologie, Shoes/Handbag/Necklace – Tory Burch, Watch – Michael Kors, Bracelets – Alex and Ani

image  Top – Michael Kors, Bag – Longchamp, Shoes – Tory Burch, Watch – Kate Spade, Bangle – Alexis Bittar

image  Top – Halogen, Watch/bangle/bag – Kate Spade, Crystal inlet bangle – Nadri, Shoes – Tory Burch, Nail Polish- Butter London

image  Top and Cardigan – Anthropologie, Watch – Michael Kors, Bangle – Kate Spade, Shoes and Bag – Tory Burch

image  Top – Diane Von Furstenburg, Jeans – Hudson, Watch – Michael Kors, Scarf/bag/shoes – Kate Spade, Bangles – Alexis Bittar, Ring – Baublebar

image  Top – Anthropologie, Bag and scarf – Kate Spade, Shoes – Tory Burch, Bracelet – Tiffany and Co

exfoliating the day away

Last week, I blogged about some skin peels I had been testing out.  Even though I didn’t have any adverse reactions to those peels, they still do scare me a bit with all their tingling and, in some cases, a layer of skin actually peeling off.  Exfoliators, or scrubs, essentially achieve the same goal as a peel, and here are some thoughts on some that have come through my personal beauty bar:

Korres® Grapeseed Deep exfoliating scrub for oily skin – there are big sand granules in this that can be rough to the skin.  My skin is very oily, so I wasn’t so sensitive to the strength of the scrub.  There is a sweet smell to this creamy cleanser and I liked the polish it left.  Too much for everyday though – it was a bit rough for my skin if used a few days in a row but not bad for 2-3 times per week.

Korres® Kiwi Gentle exfoliating scrub for dry skin – this is the complete opposite of the Grapeseed scrub.  This one has small sand granules and very gentle to the skin.  Instead of a creamy texture to the cleanser, it is more of a gel and much thinner as you squeeze it out.  There is also a sweet smell to this, but like the Grapeseed, it is not overpowering.  For my oily skin, this is just ok.

Dr. Brandt Skincare® Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator – this is like fine sand in a thick cream.  There is a minty smell and tingly feel as you scrub it against your skin.  My skin felt refreshed and smooth afterwards.

Dr. Brand Skincare® PoreDermabrasion™ – this has a very fine sand in a cream with the same minty smell as the microdermabrasion.  My skin, however, didn’t feel as clean afterwards but it did feel polished and a bit firmer.

Murad® AHA/BHA exfoliating cleanser – this squeezes out as a thin white liquid that can be best described as a sandy milk.  The sand granules are not very concentrated, however, making it more of a cleanser.  My skin felt really clean and gently exfoliated afterwards.

Murad® Skin Smoothing polish – this is a thick, pink cream with small sand granules mixed in.  It is meant to tone and shrink pores, making my skin feel firmer afterwards.  It gives gentle clean and didn’t dry out my skin as much as some other “firming” cleansers or masks.

Kate Somerville Exfolikate® – this comes out like mud with granules in it.  The sand is very rough and the mud cleanser provides a really deep clean.  Definitely only use 2-3 times per week because it really sucks out all the oil and dirt in the pores, leaving my skin a little dry afterwards.

GlamGlow® Mud to Foam cleanser – I’ve talked about this before in my post GlamGlow (  This is similar to the Exfolikate® in it’s muddy and sandy appearance but I like it better.  There is more mud than sand in this and it really foams up as you work it against your skin.  It leaves my skin with a really good clean and I can use this daily without drying out.

Origins® Modern Friction – this is a thick cleanser with very small sand granules mixed in.  It doesn’t foam up too much and my skin felt more polished than really clean afterwards.  Because of that, I use this in tandem with Origins® Checks and Balances.  (see previous post “Cleaning with Origins”)

Origins® Ginzing™ Refreshing Scrub Cleanser  – I also talk about this in my previous post, “Cleaning with Origins”  (  This has exfoliating beads and not sand granules throughout and gives you more of a reenergizing effect with ginseng and caffeine.

Yu-Be® Foaming Skin Polish – this has big sand granules mixed into a creamy cleanser with a pretty good density.  I actually HATE the YuBe moisturizing skin cream because it smells like some nasty Chinese medicine.  This has a very slight floral smell and not offensive at all.  However, the clean is just OK and I would not choose this when there are so many other better exfoliators on the market.

Ole Henriksen® Walnut Complexion Scrub – this smells like almond abstract which, as a baker, I thought was great.  There are thick sand granules in this that almost seem to melt away as you are rubbing it against your face.  My skin had a really nice clean afterwards

Ole Henriksen® Truth Sugar Glow polishing mask – this had a weird orange smell, almost like rotten oranges.  You notice this smell right as you open the jar and lingered as it was on my face.  The mask dries pretty quickly, which I was grateful for given the smell.  The mask is washed off, leaving my skin very clean and polished but also very dry.  Make sure you follow this with their truth serum®.

Laura Mercier® Flawless skin face polish – this had standard sized sand and left my skin with a standard clean.  Didn’t really stand out to me and I wouldn’t go out of my way to use this long term.

REN® Jajoba Microbead Purifying facial polish – this also has a standard sand size and was not densely packed into the cleanser.  The “purifying” part of the name is a great way to describe how the cleanser really sucked all the oil and dirt out of my skin.  My skin was left feeling very dry but with a good clean, polish.  I definitely applied a serum after this one.

Just some of my thoughts, guys.  Remember, I have oily and nonsensitive skin.  Sample with caution.

experiementing with peels

I’ve talked quite a bit about masks in this blog but what about peels?  Initially, I was worried about peeling off a layer of skin but the concept is essentially the same as an exfoliator.  Here are are some that I have tried as a Sephora® VIB rouge member:

Korres® wild rose vitamin C petal peel – 2 step brightening and resurfacing system.  Step one was a jelly that dried in 30 seconds and step 2 was like a thick pink mousse like cream to wash your face.  Left skin very soft and clean.

Skin Inc® pure revival peel – a gel that is left on the skin and then rubbed off.  As I rubbed this off my face, I could see the layer of skin coming off with it.  I was surprised that this did not make me feel dry afterwards but there was a little bit of a residue that I had to wash off.  Otherwise, my skin felt great after – like all the grime has been peeled off my skin.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta® peel original formula – a 2 step wipe system.  The first was a “surface refiner” and the second was a “deeper treatment”.  I felt no difference before or after the peel.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta® ultra gentle daily peel – a step step wipe system.  Step 1 was to exfoliate and smooth, step 2 was to firm and life.  I actually felt more rejuvenated with this than with the original formula.  My skin felt more “clean” with step 1 than with the original formula and soft after step 2.

Dr. Dennis Gorss Alpha Beta® glow pad for face – the tingling was intense with this with a singular yellow colored pad with a sweet odor.  It was suppose to be self tanning but there no change in color with a 3 day trial.  I stopped at that point because the tingling was scary for me and I was worried about any type of allergic reaction.    Unfortunately, my face had a brown residue with each wash for days aftewards. 😦

Bliss That’s Incredi-peel – also a wipe for the face.  The tingling was intense and I used it before bed.  I didn’t feel any different in the morning and still woke up with my usual oily residue.

Peter Thomas Roth PROfessional Strength 40% Triple Acid Peel – this is a viscous liquid that is applied onto your face with a sponge pad.  It’s got salicylic acid, TCA, and glycolic acid.  As it goes on your face, it is immediately absorbed into your skin and creates a tingling sensation.  It stays on for about 2 minutes and then rinsed off.  I was a bit worried about all the acid in this and so I used a mild cleanser to wash off the peel.  Afterwards, my skin literally felt like all the grime of my face was peeled off.  A tad bit drying at the end and so, make sure to follow with a serum.

Just some of my thoughts, guys.  Remember, I have oily and nonsensitive skin.  Sample with caution.

GlamGlow Masks

I had talked about GLAMGLOW® products before the in the past.  Their Youthcleanse™ Daily Exfoliating Cleanser has always been one of my favorites.  It’s a mud to foam exfoliating cleanser that really does a good deep clean with gentle exfoliation.

But today, I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on their masks.


There are 6 of them:

Supermud™ clearing treatment, which is in a white container:  this is a dry and wash off mask.  It actually dries quite quickly, tightening as it hardens.  Washing off, it offers a good cleanse and appling a serum was helpful to keep my skin from drying out.

Gravitymud™ firming treatment, which is in a purple container:  this is a dry and peel off mask.  This applies on as a thick white goo and dries as a pearly white thick coat over your face.  It does take about 15-20 minutes to dry and, surprisingly, is not that hard to peel off.  My skin felt more soft than cleansed at the end.

Thirstymud™ hydrating treatment, which is in a blue container:  this is a wipe off mask.  Unlike the others, it does not dry first.  It is a sandy goo that felt a lot like the Fresh® Rose Face mask going on.  I loved this mask – it gently exfoliates as you wash it off and does not leave a tightening feeling because the mask didn’t have to harden first.

Youthmud™ tinglexfoliate treatment, which is in a black container:  this a dry and wash off mask.  This one is nice.  It dries after about 5 minutes or so, tightening as it hardens.  There are green leaf pieces, volcano pumice rock, and french sea clay that help exfoliate the skin as you wash it off.  My skin felt deep cleaned afterward and applying a serum after was helpful to keep my skin from drying out.

Powermud™ dualcleanse treatment, which is in a green container:  this is a dry and wash off mask.  The Powermud™ line is a mud to oil treatment.  Clay is a big part of this mask to help with the detoxing of your skin and an “oilixer™” kicks in as you wash it off to help keep your skin soft with cleaning.  This dries about as fast as the Youthmud™ but, because of the oil in the Powermud™, my skin was not left as dry afterwards.

Flashmud™ brightening treatment, which is in an orange container: this is a dry and wash off mask.  This is their “brightening” line and it does leave a tingle in your face as you wash it off.  Texture-wise, it is a milder form of the Youthmud™ – there is a white birch tea leave instead of green leaf with a combination of energizing ingredients and an sandlike texture to exfoliate.  It did not dry my skin out as the Youthmud™ and my face felt “fresh” afterwards.

I really like this brand.  I have oily skin and prone to blemishes but with regular use of these products, my skin has looked great!

Just some of my thoughts, guys.  Remember, I have oily and nonsensitive skin.  Sample with caution.


While last week was all about black with colored accessories, this week was all about stripes and lines.  Check out these looks!

image  Dress:  Anthropologie, bangles:  Alexis Bittar, Wedges:  Tory Burch, Bag:  Furla

image  Top, necklace and bangle:  Kate Spade, Shoes:  Tory Burch, Bag:  Lancel

image  Dress:  Anthropologie, Bangles:  Alex and Ani, Shoes:  Melissa, Bag:  Kate Spade

image  Top:  Anthropologie, Shoes:  Tory Burch, Handbag:  Marc by Marc Jacobs, Scarf:  Diane Von Furstenburg, Watch:  Kate Spade, Bangles:  Alexis Bittar

image  Top:  Anthropologie, Espadrilles:  Tory Burch, Watch:  Kate Spade, Crystal Bangle and bag:  Rebecca Minkoff, Bangle:  Alex and Ani

image  Dress:  Halogen; Bag, locket, and ring:  Anthropologie; Bangles:  Alexis Bittar, Sunglasses and sandals:  Tory Burch

black canvas

I love my colors but ended up wearing a lot of black last week.  It’s a perfect canvas for colors and patterns!  Here are my looks:

image  Dress: Anthropologie, Bag:  Kate Spade, Shoes: Tory Burch, Cuff: BaubleBar

image  Top:  Anthropologie, Shoes:  Marc by Marc Jacobs, Watch and Bangle: Kate Spade, Bag: Tory Burch

image  Dress:  Kate Spade, Shoes:  Tory Burch, Watch: Kate Spade, Leather bracelet: Pandora, Beaded bracelet: Tiffany and Co., Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs

image  Top:  Michael Kors, Flip Flops:  Tory Burch, Bag: Rebecca Minkoff, Bangles:  Alexis Bittar, Watch:  Kate Spade

image  Top:  Pop-up shop on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, Necklace/watch/bangles/handbag – Kate Spade, Shoes:  Melissa

I couldn’t resist some color by the end of the week, so I wore this top from Anthropologie:image  With accessories from Kate Spade!

double take

Sometimes, I can’t decide how to accessorize.  Like last Friday, when I put on all my rose gold bangles because I couldn’t decide which went best with my Tory Burch dress:


That’s what I love about fashion – you can mix and match what you have for different looks.  Like this dress I just got from Anthropologie:

image  Bag: Fendi; Watch:  Kate Spade; Shoes:  Camper; Bangles: Alexa and Ani

image  Bag:  Rebecca Minkoff;  Flip Flops:  Tory Burch; Watch:  Kate Spade; Bangles:  Alexa and Ani

Or this wicker bag from Kate Spade:

image  Bangles and shoes:  Tory Burch; Shoes:  Anthropologie

image  Bangle and Necklace:  Kate Spade; Wedges:  Tory Burch; Dress: Anthropologie

Each time you mix things up, it’s like you getting a whole new outfit.  Even Kate Middleton re-wears stuff from her closet!

colorful summer

It’s been a while since I posted some of my favorite fashion looks.  Here are some from the past couple of months:

image  Top: Diane von Furstenberg; Shoes and Bag:  Tory Burch; Watch: Kate Spade; Bangle and Ring:  Pandora

image  Dress:  Michael Kors; Cardigan: BCBG; Watch, Bag, and Sandals:  Kate Spade;  Stone bracelet: Kendra Scott; Bangles: Alexis Bittar

image  Dress:  Anthropologie;  Shoes:  Fit Flop; Necklace, bangles, ring:  Kate Spade; Bag:  Rebecca Minkoff;  Nail Polish: Marc Jacobs Beauty

image  Top:  Anthropolgie; Backpack:  Marc by Marc Jacobs; Bangles: Alex and Ani; Necklace:  Kate Spade; Shoes: Fit Flop

image  Dress:  Anthropologie; Shoes: Tory Burch; Bag: Burberry; Watch:  Kate Spade; Bangle and ring:  BaubleBar

image  Top:  Michael Kors; Shoes: Tory Burch; Nail polish:  Marc Jacobs Beauty; Bangles: Nadri and Alex&Ani;  Necklace:  BaubleBar; Coffee: Philz

image  Maxi Dress:  Alex and Ani; Necklace, cuff, purse:  Kate Spade; Shoes:  Tory Burch