“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.” -Gwyneth Paltrow

Shiseido The Skincare Hydro-Nourishing Skin Softener

Image Courtesy of Me!

I have an amazing best friend who is as much of a beauty junkie as I am, if you can believe that. We can't shop together because all we do is enable each other. It's obscene. She recently went to the Shiseido counter to purchase an amazing sunscreen I recommended, and she loved it so much she gave me her Gift with Purchase. It was a little set of deluxe samples from Shiseido that included a Shiseido The Skincare Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam, Hydro-Nourishing Skin Softener, Night Moisture Recharge Enriched, and Purifying Mask in it. I, of course, was thrilled, as this gave me a chance to play with not just one but three products, all from one of my favorite lines!

Shiseido The Skincare Hydro-Nourishing Skin Softener

According to Shiseido, their Skin Softeners are not really toners. Rather, they function as a skin preparer for further treatments. The purpose of the skin softener is to add significant hydration to the outermost layers of the skin, which supposedly prepares the skin to receive its following products much more effectively. 

To be very honest with you, I was quite skeptical about these claims, as the bottle I got looked an awful lot like a toner. To me, it appeared to be just another step in my already rather overwhelming daily skincare regimen. However, being the dutiful blogger I am, I decided to give it a try. On to the review!

Surprisingly, I was impressed with this product. The texture of this softener is more viscous than your ordinary toner. In other words, it's a milky-looking liquid with a thicker consistency than I would expect...almost a watery gel. On application, the skin definitely feels soothed and softened, and moisturizer most certainly sinks in more effectively after using this. The fragrance is very, very slight. I find that when I use this under my moisturizer, my skin stays hydrated for longer throughout the day. I typically get tight, dry skin on my face late in the day when I'm exposed to the dryness of heated air this time of year...not so when I remember to use this. In fact, I've begun to use this as sparingly as possible in order to save the product while I contemplate (gasp!) purchasing one. That's how much it helps me during the day. 

Overall grade: A

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

Image Courtesy of Me

When I was in college, I could do whatever I wanted and my skin would never tell the tale. I could stay out all night, drink half a keg of beer, eat nothing but pizza for a week, and completely dehydrate myself, and my complexion would still be just as young and fresh and glowy as usual. And trust me when I say that all of those things really did occur, and I paid many a price for all of the stupid decisions of my youth, but my skin hung in there with me through it all. 

These days....not so much. These days, it shows up in my skin and across my face when I eat too much salt, forget to drink enough water, help myself to a second glass of wine, miss a few hours' sleep, or even worry too much. Which, frankly, just causes me to worry every evening about how bad I'm going to look tomorrow.  And unfortunately, the way my life has been going lately, I've not been looking my best recently. I've had a lot of stress at work, I have 3 daughters to raise and a husband whose job leaves him with little time at home to help, and a parent in the hospital for the last 3 months. Needless to say, I feel as if I've aged 5 years in the last 90 days. 

However, luckily for me, Clarins has thought about people in my situation, who desperately need a product to get them through the day and help them put their best face forward...literally. Also luckily for me, my best friend in the world also thought of me and gave me a deluxe sample to test out before purchasing...thanks, T!

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

Beauty Flash Balm is one of Clarins' stand-out products, and is reportedly used by "all" the makeup artists on the fashion runway circuit. I can actually see a need for that, because I'd imagine that those hard-partying models need a little boost in the morning, too. It seems that Kate Moss is the only human on the planet who can actually live like a rock star and still look like a model all the time. 

Beauty Flash Balm is a relatively thick cream consistency. It's packaged in a tube, has a slightly orangish-cream color and a mildly citrusy scent with vague overtones of various other essential oils. It is recommended that it be applied on top of moisturizer as the last step of your morning treatment regimen, to be followed immediately by makeup application. The method of application is the Clarins preferred method: apply a small amount of product to your fingertips and warm between both hands. Then gently press (don't rub) the Beauty Flash Balm  into the skin. 

So, what exactly does this stuff do? Well, my friends, let me tell you what it does--just about everything! It lifts, firms, softens, and soothes. It eliminates signs of fatigue. It calms the skin. It functions as a makeup primer and helps foundation last longer and appear more luminous. After I apply the Beauty Flash Balm, I usually give it about 5 minutes to perform its magic before I dare to look at myself again, and the difference is always amazing. My skin suddenly looks clearer, brighter, less fatigued. My eye area in particular always shows an amazing turnaround. 

I have heard from some people that it does not work well for them under makeup. Apparently, for some it tends to "pill" a little. However, never fear, you can still use this little miracle in a tube! On my best friend's recommendation, I tried applying it at night and sleeping in it, using it sort of as a masque. Voila! I awoke in the morning to rested, glowing skin. 

So, there it is. For you skincare sinners out there who like to toss back a few too many drinks once in awhile (or who forget to drink enough water on occasion), for those of you who, like me, live most of your life in a mild state of panic just because that's how your life is, for those of you who, for whatever reason, haven't slept a full night in a decade or so...this could very well be your solution. It isn't a facelift or laser therapy, but it's definitely worth a try! 

Grade: A-

Clarins Vital Light Day Cream

Hello, All!

Yes, after months and months away, I'm finally making a return from the depths of motherhood and full-time work. Amidst those two commitments and a family crisis, the blog took a backseat and I literally had NO time to write about anything, much less take photos, consider the merits of products, and come up with any sort of interesting review for you. So....hopefully the new year will bring a less hectic schedule and I'll be able to get back on track. 

Okay, explanations out of the way, here we go with the first new review of the season! 

I decided to start back with primarily skin care at this time for a number of reasons. First, it happens that I've mainly been purchasing skin care lately, so you get what you get and you don't pitch a fit, as they say. Second, and more importantly, it's been freakin' COLD outside! I'm down here in Atlanta, and we just had a white Christmas! First time since 1882! My kids were beside themselves, but as most of you know, when you can build a snowman outside, that's a pretty good sign that your skin is going to be out of whack. Which mine is. In a big way. I typically have very normal skin with virtually no breakouts...yes, I know how lucky I am. However, this time of year, it loses it's mind and becomes completely impossible to deal with. Flakes, tightness, redness, you name it, I have it. Then, to top it all off, since I have to layer on such heavy creams to combat all the other disasters going on across my face, I end up breaking out. I firmly believe that it is completely wrong that I should be 40 years old and battling wrinkles and zits at the same time, so every winter I head out and search, once again, for a cream that will solve all my problems without creating more. 

Clarins Vital Light Day Cream 

Clarins Vital Light Day Cream marketed as a "Comfort Cream", which to me seems a little redundant, seeing that the entire reason most of us buy creams is to have more comfortable (and, of course, beeeeuuuutiful) skin. However, I guess the folks at Clarins want everyone to know their Vital Light Day is especially comforting. Which, if you happen to get a good SA, you will hear all about. As a matter of fact, if you get a good SA (I was lucky enough to get a regional trainer), you will hear that there are all kinds of specific essential oils in Vital Light to target redness, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation. Specifically, Cochlearia officinalis and Waltheria work to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles and Spergularia extract minimizes melanin production. Together, these ingredients supposedly help skin radiate a "luminosity from within." I was told my skin would begin to resemble that of a child's over time. Well, hot damn! I'm in!

Okay, whatever. I used to work in high-end cosmetics sales, and I'm all too aware of the crap they'll spew at you to get you to spend $85 on a jar of cream. Needless to say, I was not overly impressed by the claims made over these supposedly magical herbal elixirs the trainer was telling me about for a couple of reasons, one being that I had never heard of them before, and it seemed to me that if they were "all that", we'd all know about it by now. However, what I did like (love, actually) was that although Vital Light Day is a very thick cream, it disappeared quickly into my skin, leaving it soft and velvety with a perfect base for makeup. It left my skin feeling moisturized and cushioned against the elements, yet it was extremely elegant. There is a very slight fragrance, but it is very fresh and clean and not overpowering in the least.

And my results? (Were you thinking we were never going to get there?) After a month of consistent use, I have to say that my skin actually is more luminous. I don't know if I would say it looks "lit from within," as I was promised, and it definitely doesn't resemble that of a child's (Bummer. I was reeeallly hoping they would rock my world and that crazy claim would turn out to be true.), but then again it's only been a month. What I can say is that my skin tone is much more even than it has been in years, the redness and flakiness has disappeared, the breakouts are virtually gone, and the texture is smoother and softer than ever, even though it's the middle of Winter. It's a very concentrated product, so I only need a bit to do the job. I've even started using it at night in conjunction with Huile Santal (more on that another day) because I like it so much. 

I will warn you that it does not have an SPF listed on the label, so for those of you who rely on your moisturizer to provide sunscreen protection, you're going to be in a pickle with this one. I, of course, model myself after Vampira, Queen of the  Pale, so I use SPF 55 every day, rain or shine, under my makeup anyway. Sun protection in a daily moisturizer is therefore neither here nor there to me. 

Overall, I'm giving this one an A. It's one of the best-performing creams I've ever run across, and one of the very few I've ever contemplated repurchasing, being the skin care hussy that I am. I plan to head out as soon as I can climb out from under the bills that Christmas wrought and get the night version. Maybe that one will truly bring back my 5-year-old self's youthful glow!

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