Copyright © 2004 Kleinman.com Inc. and Cosmetic Connection. All rights reserved.


January 14, 2004

Greetings from the Cosmetic Report newsletter! We hope you enjoy our straightforward approach to beauty products and trends. If you've been searching for real women's experiences and advice on beauty and wellness, that's what Cosmetic Connection is all about. Our panel of reviewers are consumers just like you who face the same issues and challenges, and look to the beauty industry to help solve them. Thanks for reading!

Denise is a 28-year old paralegal from Phoenix, Arizona. Denise has long strawberry-blonde hair and blue-green eyes, and a super fair complexion with combination skin. Her skin does not tend to break out very often. Denise is still looking for the "perfect" cleansing regimen, and having fun looking!

Clarins Bright Plus
I recently had the pleasure of trying out Clarins new Bright Plus line of products. These are some of the latest gems in the "skin brightening" trend of cosmetics. Curious as I am, I did some reading up on the trend. I found that whitening skincare lines originated in Asia, and were eventually evolved into brightening products for Western complexions. The underlying concept is that if your complexion is lighter and fresher, you need less makeup. Clarins Bright Plus line includes its patented Lock-Around System, which is a complex of raspberry extract and a highly stable vitamin C derivative. This complex is clinically proven to reduce the appearance of freckles, sun damage and age spots. But how did it work in "real life," you ask?

The first product that I used from Clarins Bright Plus line every day is the Total Brightening Serum ($55), which is a concentrated mixture of extracts of raspberry, mandarin and grapefruit, as well as vitamin C. I use it morning and evening right before moisturizing, and I have absolutely noticed a difference in the clarity and texture of my skin.

The daytime moisturizer in the Bright Plus line is the Hydrating Brightening Lotion - SPF 20 ($50). This is a great oil-free day lotion that moisturizes perfectly and also mattifies my skin. It contains Japanese Mandarin and Grapefruit to gently exfoliate and brighten dark areas, as well as Gentian to soothe my sometimes finicky complexion. This is a great all-around daytime moisturizer, even without the added brightening benefits.

Target Zone Brightening Corrector ($30) is a roll-on concentrate of Clarins' Lock-Around System. It is designed for on-the-spot correction of problem areas. I did not find it to be very useful, but to be honest, I did not have any specific areas of concern that I was trying to treat. Also, it didn't take me long to drop this tube (which I thought was metal) into the sink, where it shattered into a million pieces. All in all, not a very practical product by my standards, but that is the only bummer that I found in the Bright Plus line.

Repairing Brightening Night Cream ($55) is a rich, emollient night cream - a little bit goes a long way. This potent cream contains a high concentration of Clarins' patented brightening ingredients so that they can sink into the epidermis overnight, when it is most receptive to treatment. I use it every night, and wake up with beautiful, smooth, clear skin.

As a whole, I really love the Clarins Bright Plus line of products. And honestly, this is coming from someone who never realized that my skin needed brightening! I have noticed a remarkable improvement in my complexion over the 6 weeks that I've been using these products. I will definitely buy the Hydrating Brightening Lotion and the Night Cream again when these bottles are gone. You can read more about all of Clarins products at clarins.com. The Bright Plus line is available for purchase at most fine department stores, including Nordstrom and Saks, as well as on gloss.com.

Benefit Lyin' Eyes Concealer ($18)
Of all of the products in my makeup bag, a good concealer is one of the most important on a daily basis. I try to wear as little foundation as possible (partially because I haven't fallen in love with any one foundation yet), so I do a lot of dabbing and blending with concealer. Normally I use a creamy concealer in a pot and apply it with a concealer brush. Benefit's new Lyin' Eyes concealer eliminates the need for a separate brush and product. A couple of clicks of this handy little wand dishes just the right amount of creamy concealer into the brush to camouflage any facial flaws that may be so bold as to show themselves. I tried 02, which is the medium shade, and it's a tad dark on my winter pale skin, but would be a good match for most medium skin tones. Lyin' Eyes is a medium coverage concealer, and it wears very well - no creasing at all. I've found that the convenient wand is perfect to carry in my bag for touch-ups during the day. Benefit has come out with another great product in this one! You can pick up Lyin' Eyes for yourself by visiting benefitcosmetics.com or at Nordstrom and select Dillards department stores.

Garden Botanika Calming 3-Step Skin Care Regimen
After my first experience with Garden Botanika's products, I was sure that the line was too intense for my sensitive combination skin. Boy, am I glad that I gave Garden Botanika another shot! I recently tried GB's Calming 3-Step Skin Care Regiment, and I am a HUGE fan. My skin feels healthy and fantastic, without a hint of irritation. This finicky-skin pleasing trio consists of the following products:

Calming Creamy Cleanser ($16)
Now, I know what you're thinking - Denise does not like creamy cleansers! And no, as a general rule, I do not usually choose lotion-based cleansers. Garden Botanika's Calming Creamy Cleanser, however, is an exception to this rule. This cleanser is fantastic - it gently dissolves even my tough eye makeup, and leaves my skin soft, soothed, and very clean. It contains antioxidant-rich white tea extract, soothing chamomile extract, and mimosa extract to calm fussy skin.

Calming Facial Tonic ($17)
The second step in Garden Botanika's calming line is Calming Facial Tonic. To me, toner is an essential part of my cleansing regimen. It may be more of a psychological thing than anything else - I have an uncontrollable need to remove all traces of yuck and cleanser residue from my face before moisturizing. GB's Calming Facial Tonic has the line's wonderful citrusy scent, with no harshness at all. It is packed full of soothing botanicals and topped off with a moisture-sustaining Glycerin polymer to attract much-needed moisture to the skin. Even the mildest toner sets off a bit of tingling on the most sensitive areas of my face like the sides of my nose, but I had little to no sensitivity to GB's calming tonic. My face simply felt clean, soothed and ready for step three!

Calming Moisture Cream ($19)
The final - and my favorite - step in this line is the Calming Moisture Cream. I have only one word for this cream - SOOTHING!! I can't believe how happy it has made my skin. I have made a habit of slathering this fabulous moisturizer all over my face to soothe and protect it from the elements. Any slight redness or irritation that my skin is exhibiting is immediately calmed by the comforting botanicals including white tea, mimosa, and Canadian Willowherb, just to name a few. GB's Calming Moisture Cream also contains a Provitamin B Complex to keep skin hydrated and healthy. Don't forget to layer an oil-free sunscreen over this moisturizer for daytime, as it contains no sunscreen.

Garden Botanika's Calming 3-Step Skin Care Regimen has made a believer out of me. This line will soothe and improve even the most fussy of complexions. And I continue to be impressed by GB's reasonable prices, especially given the high-quality ingredients that go into their products. These three products are definitely staples in my beauty regimen. Thanks for making a fabulous skin care regimen just for me, Garden Botanika!

You can check out the whole line of Garden Botanika products on gardenbotanika.com or in select Nordstrom stores.

Kristen is 28 years old and from a Texas town just east of Houston. Kristen frequently makes trips to Houston for cosmetics and skincare and the people at the Laura Mercier counter and the Sephora store know her by name. She has combination skin that is exacerbated in the summer (due to the extreme humidity in Texas) and normal to dry in the winter. She is acne prone with redness around the nose and chin and a handful of red acne scars, which she is always looking for something to even those out. Kristen has large, almond-shaped blue/green eyes that she considers to be her best feature.

Rodan and Fields
I'd never heard of this line before I had the opportunity to try out the Clean regime, which is designed for those of us with blackheads and pores filled with who knows what. The thing that caught my eye was the blackhead extractor, which promises to literally suck out the nasty stuff in your pores with a suction device. Believe me when I tell you I couldn't wait until I got my hands on this thing. I couldn't wait until I saw my blackheads surrender to the vacuum of the extractor. Also included in the set is a prepping product to disinfect the skin and remove any clogging on the surface. After you apply this to the area you want to treat, you use the extractor to clean the pores. To use, you first attach the disposable extraction tip to the suction head of the extractor, which is designed to enclose the area for proper suctioning. The directions say to not apply to one area for more than 2 seconds at a time, but can be repeated 2-3 times more if needed. The suction is not very forceful; rather it's very gentle, so I found that it didn't even work on the easy pores, much less any difficult ones. After this extraction step, you apply the anti-pruritic lotion, which is to soothe and calm the treated area. Since my skin wasn't irritated after the suctioning because it didn't work, I did find an alternate use for this lotion - after tweezing my eyebrows, and after using those Biore pore strips that actually do clean out the pores. I really, really, really wanted this set to work for me. I think I would have gotten a lot of satisfaction my watching my pores come clean by the extractor, but it simply didn't work. This set isn't cheap, either - at $115, tkae my advice and go get a facial treatment or buy a whole bunch of those Biore strips instead.

You can see this set and other items from this line at rodanandfields.com.

Benefit Dear John Face Cream
While Benefit definitely has some fun cosmetics of which I own a lot of, I've not had a whole lot of success with their face creams and this one is no exception. I found that it didn't blend in easily and it never felt like it settled into my skin. It was a bit too thick for my combination, yet sometimes normal skin. Even when my skin was drier than usual, I still didn't like it. I think I'll stick to their cosmetics.

You can see the entire line of their other goodies and this cream at benefitcosmetics.com or Sephora.com.

L'Oreal Refinish Micro-Dermabrasion Kit
I really appreciate the fact that some drugstore companies are trying to provide skincare products that rival, or even exceed, those of their department store counterparts. While we all know that L'Oreal has their hands in a whole lot of department and boutique lines (such as Lancome and Kerastase), it's nice to see them reaching out more to the average consumer. For approximately $24, you can get this pretty nice duo consisting of an exfoliator and a post-treatment moisturizer. You apply the Gentle Micro-Dermabrasion Exfoliator to clean, damp skin and gently rub for 1 to 2 minutes and rinse with cool water. Pat dry, then apply the Post-Treatment Protective Moisturizer to sooth and protect the skin after the exfoliation. The exfoliator is not the softest one I've used, so be easy with it and certainly don't use it past the 2 minutes. It can be rough. After using it, but before applying the moisturizer, it didn’t make my skin very smooth, rather it felt more like when you've cleaned your face so much it feels "squeaky clean." It was a bit tight. The moisturizer is the star of this set. With its light and creamy texture, it makes my face feel super smooth. It's definitely my moisturizer of choice right now and I've really been looking for one. I am looking for this to be sold alone (hint, hint), because I think it would fly off the shelves. While I wasn't too impressed with the exfoliator alone, combined with the moisturizer the set worked great. I fear that the exfoliator will be too much for those of you with sensitive skin. Good luck.

Since straight, smooth hair is high on my list of beauty priorities, I tried out the Pureology Super Straight Shampoo, Super Straight Conditioner, and Super Straight Relaxing Serum. The shampoo did a good job of cleansing my hair. The conditioner left no tangles and was easy to brush. My hair was pretty soft after using the conditioner. After washing, I used the Relaxing Serum. It has a thick consistency, so apply as you need it. I found that if I used too much, it would make my hair greasy. When I finally got it right, it did a good job of sealing my hair down to prevent flyaways and make it more humidity-resistant. I can't say anything about the color-protection properties, though, as my hair pretty much looks like it always does, but then I've never found a hair care product that delivers in that department.

You can purchase Pureology at diamondbeauty.com or hairproductstogo.com, just to name a couple. I shop at diamondbeauty.com, so I can speak for them being a good retailer, but don't know about the other.

We hope you enjoyed this issue of The Cosmetic Report!



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