Monday, September 21, 2009
FALL CORNUCOPIA OF PRODUCT REVIEWS & RECOMMENDATIONS
INTRO: With autumn’s chill and the crunch of falling leaves fast approaching, I figured it was the perfect time to offer reviews and recommendations of products in what’s become a tradition for me. I’ve been very busy these past few months putting these products through their rigors, as it were, testing them, waiting for reactions, results, etc. Many of these products may not be available in traditional brick and mortar stores, but are available online, or at select spas. Many of these products would also be ideal for an at-home beauty regimen or spa experience. If not already in your retail area, consider adding some of these lines to further offer your guests options and alternatives to consider for their additional purchases. And, with the holiday gift-giving season fast approaching, what better time than now to consider special gift sets for your discerning guests, or for yourself.
METHOD: Depending on quantity, I tried using products anywhere from one to two weeks in order to gauge efficacies (especially the skincare and those promoting lash growth; the later I used for at least four weeks). Nearly all products reviewed were enjoyable, easy to use, and delivered some form of transitory result. The few products I found a bit unpleasant usually had something to do with the product aroma, which didn’t necessarily nullify efficacy. Some of the products reviewed also included food related, where most items would be ideal in a spa cuisine setting, or as part of a healthy eating approach at home. Taste, after all is part of the sensory experience. A sensory-driven experience, which is what spas are supposed to based on, should engage most, if not all of the senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight and even aspects of equilibrium and intuition; the latter two being related to body, mind, spirit connection. Following are my takes on a comprehensive array of products.
Darphin: Stimulskin Plus Rejuvenating Lifting Serum, Stimulskin Plus Divine Lifting Cream, and 8-Flower Nectar ~ I loved all of these results-driven anti-aging products. My skin’s texture (face and neck), hydration level and elasticity were noticeably improved after using these products for only a few days; fine lines were also diminished. Other enjoyable aspects of using these products included the luxurious feel of each product, and the extraordinarily beautiful botanical aromas. I used the Lifting Serum and Lifting Cream in the morning; for the evening, I used the Nectar as a base, followed by the other two products. My aging skin was definitely revitalized. Some of the ingredients in the Serum include polypeptides, collagen, rosemary, and avocado oil; in the Cream, extracts of green tea, chamomile, mulberry, and grape, vitamin C and E; in the Nectar, there are eight pure essential oils, including Everlasting, Iris, Jasmine, Lavender, Neroli, Patchouli, Rose and Ylang Ylang, with the latter one the most predominant. BTW, Darphin recently announced its decision to no longer sell its products in upscale retail stores like Neiman Marcus and will only be available at select spas, or online. No spas in my area currently offer Darphin’s extravagant “Divine 8-Flower Lifting Facial”; I would’ve loved experiencing this treatment as part of reviewing these three products. For more information, go to www.darphin.com.
Pevonia Myoxy Caviar: Timeless Balm Cleanser, Repair Lotion, Repair Serum, and Repair Cream ~ All of these products are high performing, results-driven and geared to minimize the effects of aging; they were gentle, quickly absorbing, non-tacky and had a silky texture; hydration levels remained throughout the day, while diminishing wrinkles; anti-aging ingredients include caviar extract, pearl, marine collagen, hibiscus esculentus, and polypeptides; product aromas were lovely. I enjoyed all of these products and noticed that my skin’s texture was more refined, and looked healthier; hydration levels remained throughout the day. For more information, go to www.pevonia.com.
Decleor Hydra Floral: Flower Nectar Moisturizing Cream, Flower Dew Moisturizing Eye Gel Cream, and Flower Essence Moisturizing Mask ~ This perennial favorite targets normal to dry skin types (and even aging skin, like mine) and has been reformulated and made even better than before. The formulation includes ingredients like mint and orange blossom aromatic water, codium (sea algae) and wild pansy. The codium and wild pansy are natural “aquaporins” that circulate and deliver water to the skin on a continual basis, aiding in moisture retention. The results were visible; my skin always felt hydrated; product texture was silky with lovely subtle floral aromas. For more information, go to www.decleor.com.
Arbonne: NutriMinC: Hydrating Face Wash, Balancing Toner, Day & Night Facial Serum, Daily Cream, Night Cream, Facial Scrub and Deep Pore Cleansing Mask ~ Although not a large quantity of product to review, overall these anti-aging products were gentle, non-irritating and maintained their hydration levels. The products I didn’t like, because of a pronounced chemical aroma, were the Balancing Toner and Day & Night Serum; the other products all had a faint orange aroma. For more information, go to www.puresafeandbeneficial.myarbonne.com, or www.arbonne.com.
reLastin: Skin Revitalizer and Ultra Emollient ~ Behind the science of reLastin is a proprietary (patent-pending) formulation, “Zinc Firming Complex”, which is said to increase the cellular production of elastin, which is naturally lost as part of the aging process; the product also promises to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, while improving levels of hydration and moisture retention. Originally, I was using the Skin Revitalizer in the morning because it had a lighter consistency, and the Ultra Emollient for my nighttime regimen, due a denser consistency. Initially, both products were applied to the face, neck and décolleté. I noticed the Skin Revitalizer had a tendency to dry my skin (it also had a sour and chemical aroma), while the Ultra Emollient didn’t. Once I switched using the Ultra Emollient for day and night, the hydration level improved. I didn’t notice much improvement in fine line minimization on my face (especially my forehead); however, skin texture and line minimization to the neck area and décolleté have occurred. For more information, go to www.relastin.com.
Lamas Beauty: Organic Citrus-C Facial Cleanser (All Skin Types) ~ Dense consistency and minimal lather, even after wetting the skin. Non-pump bottle made it hard to dispense, due to product density. Product rinsed off thoroughly without leaving any residue; non-irritating and didn’t leave skin feeling dry or taut. If you like the aroma of oranges in things besides the real fruit, you’ll enjoy this product. For more information, go to www.lamasbeauty.com.
Avalon Organics Facial Cleansing Gel: Lavender (Sensitive Skin) ~ Pump bottle made it easy to dispense. High lathering action; rinsed off thoroughly without leaving any residue; didn’t irritate or leave skin feeling dry or taut. I loved the wonderful aroma of lavender in this product. For more information, go to www.avalonorganics.com.
Talika: Eyebrow Lipocils, Eyelash Lipocils, Eyelash Conditioning Cream, Lash Extender and Lash Conditioning Cleanser ~ I enjoyed using these products. Products were gentle and non-irritating; over time, the lashes and eyebrows became conditioned, with no breakage; the cleanser was thorough and gently removed eyeshadow and mascara effortlessly. The only product I was a bit skittish using was the Lash Extender; this is applied immediately after an application of mascara and then followed with another coating of mascara; I can be a bit pokey and having to finesse holding a magnifying mirror with one hand and the applicators with the other, let’s just say I can be a bit of a bumbler. That said, these products are a great addition to eyelash and eyebrow treatment and definitely condition and maintain. For more information, go to www.talika.com.
Pevonia: Eye Makeup Remover, C Évolutive Eye Gel and Évolutive Eye Cream ~ These three products are super gentle and high performing, delivering results. I especially enjoyed the Eye Gel in the morning and then the Eye Cream in the evening; the products were non-irritating, quickly absorbed and didn't leave any tacky residue or feel. Makeup Remover gently removed without any tugging and didn’t leave any residue of color or mascara; also non-irritating. For more information, go to www.pevonia.com.
reLastin Eye Silk ~ The morning’s application of the gel-like consistency to the delicate under eye area gave the skin a very smooth and hydrated feel; however, as the hours went by, I looked in the mirror and noticed that the area appeared drier and my fine lines more pronounced; the evening’s application was a repeat, although I eventually added another eye cream over this product to maximize hydration. For more information, go to www.relastin.com.
RevitaLash ~ The innovator of lash growth stimulators also produced results within four weeks. Out of all three “like” products, I thought the applicator brush for this one was designed better and was the easiest to use and control the application of product to just the base line where the lashes grew. Overall, I think nothing can replace a great mascara that has a terrific applicator brush to make your lashes look more stunning, versus not wearing any mascara (of course, false eyelashes are another option). Even after new growth results, the product will require faithfulness and diligence and a nightly routine of applying the product to maintain and extend any additional growth. I sometimes run out of these things, even for products like this. For more information, go to www.revitalash.com.
DermaLash ~ This lash growth stimulator also produced results within four weeks. My lashes were never dark or thick; my hair color, now mostly gray, used to be what was referred to as dishwater blonde. The results this product produced were a slight improvement to the puniness of my lashes, although lash color didn’t darken. I think DNA trumps any of these products. If you’ve lost something over the years and then get it back, it will revert back to what you had before it was lost, not what you never had to begin with. Results diminished slowly once product use was discontinued. This product is also available in colors, for use as an eyeliner; I tried the one in Plum, which was a complementary color for me; nice to have if you forget to do the nightly routine. Again, I lack the discipline to maintain a nightly routine, but can see myself at least trying this approach. For more information, go to www.dermaquestinc.com.
neuLash ~ Another “oomph-those-skimpy-lash” growth stimulator products. The first few nights I used this product along the lash growth line, I noticed a bit of tearing and after three days, a dark line forming on the eyelid, so I discontinued use of the product along my lash line, and instead, opted to use it on my eyebrows, which is another suggested use for the product. The few areas where my brows were sparse received nightly applications of the product; I also swept the applicator lightly over the entire brow area. Fullness and new growth on the sparse areas was noticeable within four weeks. Would also require nightly continuation of product as a form of maintenance. For more information, go to www.neulash.com.
BODY & HAND ~ THOSE OTHER SKIN RELATED PARTS
McEvoy Ranch 80 Acre Organic Body Care: Verde Hand & Body Wash, Verde Body Balm, Verde Olive Oil Soap, and Verde Hand & Body Lotion ~ These are all outstanding products that deliver results and are gentle to the skin and non-irritating. The aroma is extraordinary and although I’ve never been to an olive ranch, I can well imagine how walking through the groves has the same fresh cut luscious green aroma as these products. The Lotion is quickly absorbed and leaves skin hydrated for hours. I especially loved the Body Balm and used it on those areas prone to dryness, including the cuticles; very emollient. I would love for McEvoy to develop a perfume in this fragrance; it would be stunning. For more information, go to www.mcevoyranch.com.
Inspire by Dionis: Smart Three in One Shampoo, Body Wash & Bubble Bath, Brave Sugar Scrub), and Brave Hand Therapy ~ Body care for the young at heart with motivational sayings and quotations on product packaging. The Three In One had a pleasant delicate floral scent; lathered and rinsed well, leaving no residue. The Sugar Scrub had a nice grapefruit aroma and was my favorite product; thorough exfoliation and didn’t leave my skin oily feeling. The Hand Therapy moisturized well and had a fruity aroma, but was a bit hard to squeeze out of its tube. For more information, go to www.dionissoap.com.
Argiletz: Red and Green Clay ~ Prized for properties that include remineralization and detoxification, natural clays have been used for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes for hundreds of years. Many health facilities all over the world continue using clays for these purposes. These clays are preservative and additive free and gentle on most skins. Clays can be used safely on the hair, face or body. Fresh and earthy aroma; non-irritating or drying; hint: never let clays dry and then remove; this is counter to the intended purpose of removing toxins, which may revert back into the skin as clay dries. For more information, go to www.sunclaytherapy.com, or www.argiletz.com.
Karawan Alep Soap: Olive Oil & Bay Tree Oil ~ This natural soap is prized for its gentle and effective cleansing capabilities, while providing natural hydration. The aroma is very earthy and the chunk of soap I used had a rustic shape, and reminiscent of a time when soap was painstakingly made in huge cauldrons over a blazing fire, put into forms and than left to dry for up to nine months. For more information, go to www.karawan.fr.
Jane Iredale: “Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining” Fall Collection ~ Never mind what the calendar may say. Jane Iredale always comes through with color palettes that are season-less with gorgeous colors that work well individually or blended with other colors from other seasonal palettes. In the Fall Collection, I especially loved the Silver Lining PurePressed Triple Eye Shadow compact with colors of Twilight Silver, Glistening Silver and Shimmering Charcoal; wear one or wear all three; the result is always impressive. The Silver Liquid Eye Liner was another winner; I usually have trouble controlling eyeliner applicators, but with her applicator’s design, it was easy to control and I felt like a pro. The Midnight Blue Pencil made eye lining easy and gentle, since this pencil was soft on the delicate eye area and didn’t tug at it. The multi-purpose Double Dazzle Dual Highlighter Pencil is a use anywhere product; one end is in Gilded Gold and the other in Glowing Copper; ideal for adding highlights or a subtle hint of color wherever needed. The Hazelnut PureGloss Lip for Lips is gorgeous; a hint of mint and ginger also adds a bit of plumping. Her products and colors always make it easy to get a look that is brilliant, flattering and never garish. For more information, go to www.janeiredale.com.
Arbonne: Virtual Illusion Makeup Primer ~ Although a small amount to review, I definitely enjoyed this colorless product, which dries matte. It not only primed my skin for color, but it evened-out the texture, making it very smooth and silky; the application of color was effortless; non-drying or irritating. For more information, go to www.puresafeandbeneficial.myarbonne.com, or www.arbonne.com.
AROMA & OTHER STUFF THAT SMELLS GOOD
Fleur d’ Amour Fragrance by Sylvie Beljanski ~ This lovely, light floral fragrance is a complex formulation that melds into a subtle floral; top notes of bergamot and black currant (Bourgeons de Cassis), with bergamot not at all discernable, quickly dried down to middle notes of lily, jasmine, peony and rose; the bottom notes were barely discernable (amber, musk, sandalwood and vanilla) in the dry down. The middle notes were more predominant than the top notes and to me gave it its characteristic subtle floral. For more information, go to www.fleurdamourbysylviebeljanski.com.
L’Occitane Certified Organic Lavender EDT ~ The first certified (EcoCert) organic product in this line where Provence-grown lavender is the predominant fragrance note; the dense formulation also includes notes of lemon, mint, white cotton, cedar and other aromatics. The fresh and crisp fragrance is very pleasant and subtle; dries down to a very subtle aroma. For more information, go to www.usa.loccitane.com.
L’Occitane Fig Tree Leaf Home Perfume Diffuser ~ A new entry in their Home Fragrance array, this product is very heady and aromatic; I’ve always loved Fig Tree Leaf, and the formulation is delightful, but the product evaporates too quickly, making for a very short lifespan. The square bottle design may be contributing to rapid evaporation, or the type of diffuser reeds used. Still, it’s a wonderfully aromatic new addition to their Home Fragrance product array. For more information, go to www.usa.loccitane.com.
L’Occitane Home Candles: Fig Tree Leaf and Provençal Landscape ~ Also new to their Home Fragrance array, these long-burning aromatic candles fill any space with a bit of the freshness and green of the Provençal countryside. Both fragrance versions were heady, without being cloying and were very subtle. The Fig Tree is intense and heady, while the Provençal is green and fresh. For more information, go to www.usa.loccitane.com.
McEvoy 80 Acres Verde Scented Soy Candle ~ This product is part of their prestigious home and body care array, and had a deliciously refreshing and green aroma; clean burning. Known for their certified organic estate olive oil, McEvoy 80 Acres has positioned itself by offering superior quality body care products in their array; they promote sustainability with an organic product that’s contained in 100% recycled packaging. For more information, go to www.mcevoyranch.com.
Aveda Chakra Balancing Body Mists ~ Seven individual body mists formulated for balancing each of the seven Chakras. Obviously a mist may not necessarily accomplish this, but the individual aromas are very pleasant and aromatherapeutic. Although not an expert in this field, I do feel that when certain Chakras are out of balance, one’s olfactory automatically draws them to the appropriately corresponding Chakra Balancing Body Mist, as if the intuitive aspect takes over, like a craving for something, with one’s preference dominating their selection; at least this is what I experienced. The mists are also suitable for spraying on bed linens, imparting a pleasantly faint aroma. Aveda spa locations do offer a Chakra Balancing Massage that utilizes these products. For more information, go to www.aveda.com.
Pevonia PevoVitale Vitamin Supplements: YouthRenew (Healthy Aging), ClariPlex (Healthy Complexion), LipoRefine (Smoother Skin), AccuMind (Mental Alertness), CircuLibrium (Optimal Circulation), and MenoLibrium (Peri-Menopause/Menopause) ~ Healthy skin and body care must also include aspects of nutrition, and these supplements target the specific areas of concern by feeding and replenishing the body with what it needs. I’ve taken all but the ClariPlex (which is recommended for those with problematic or oily skin), and have noticed that my appetite is diminished, although this isn’t one of the targeted results; still, I think that with the addition of these nutritional supplements regularly, and given my lifestyle and inconsistent eating habits, I’m getting a recharge of nutrients my body needs; overall, I feel better. Depending on a specific skincare regimen recommended by Pevonia, a recommendation of one or more of these supplements may also be suggested. For more information, go to www.pevonia.com.
CULINARY TIDBITS & TASTIES
Republic of Tea Acai Berry Glass Bottled Tea ~ This brewed and bottled version of super-antioxidant Brazilian Acai berry, with an herbal (Red Bush) rooibos base, is delightfully tasting and very healthy; delicious as is, which is unsweetened, adding a bit of Agave nectar and a squish of fresh lemon will rev up this refreshing new addition to the already impressive array of teas. For more information, go to www.republicoftea.com.
Evian Glass Bottled Waters: Natural Spring (Still) and Badoit Mineral (Sparkling) Waters ~ These new entries to the U.S. market are well established throughout Europe. The source for the Natural Spring water is Cachat Spring, France, and Badoit at Badoit Spring, France. I’ve always enjoyed the clean taste of Evian Natural Spring Water (blue plastic bottles and also their Brumisateur, mineral water spray). The glass containers are naturally 100% recyclable. These glass containers naturally preserve the fresh and clean taste of their waters, while also being very refreshing. For more information, go to http//:evian.com.
McEvoy Ranch Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil ~ Imported seedlings from Italy’s Tuscany region, brought here in 1991, were the beginnings of this estate’s olive groves and the basis of this outstanding “authentic” product. Prized by many top chefs for its clarity of taste and rich full bodied consistency, this estate grown and produced cold-pressed certified organic EVOO makes everything it’s used on taste exceptional; the product is the result of blending six different olive varieties grown on the estate. What results is a beautiful and delicate taste that is neither fruity nor bitter. I love this EVOO drizzled on my Caprese salad, garnished with my homegrown organic sweet basil. Delicious, for sure! For more information, go to www.mcevoyranch.com.
Hokto Organic Mushrooms ~ These aren't your ordinary dirt-grown mushroom varieties. These are organically and hygienically grown in a compostable growing medium on custom made growing forms. Each variety of White Beech, Brown Beech, King Trumpet and Maitake (Hen of the Woods) will delight the palate. As a mushroom purest, I find them at their peak flavor sautéed in a smidge of EVOO with a pinch of Sel de Mar and a light crank of peppercorns. Delicious to the point that other mushroom-types pale in comparison and you’ll switch your taste preferences. For more information, go to www.hokto-kinoko.com.
Mii Amo Spa Cookbook “A Journey of Taste” ~ I’ve never had the good fortune to experience this premier destination spa, but their first cookbook venture is a beautiful narrative of what it’s like being at Mii Amo. It’s also a must-have for any foodie. More than tantalizing recipes and beautiful images, the book’s introduction and a detailed outline of a day at the spa definitely transports the reader to the environs. The reward is a motivational peek into Mii Amo’s windows and how to embark on a life-long commitment to achieving a healthful lifestyle through intelligent eating. This is more than a beautiful tabletop book. Recipes are easy for any level of culinary accomplishment. For more information, go to www.miiamo.com.
CLOSING: I’ve been covering related topics involving the spa industry since the mid-1990s, including products and trends, and have tried to structure that coverage from the standpoint of being a consumer; coverage has also been non-advertorial. Since the mid-1990s, changes in these industries have brought about many extraordinary new products, ultimately benefiting the consumer. Whether it’s been to reformulate, refine, clarify, take advantage of new scientific or botanical breakthroughs, bringing about products that address specialty needs, ages, types and preferences (including sometimes finicky, easily bored, or even curious consumers), technology has led to the momentum of change and forward thinking by the gifted and talented.
I applaud all of the scientists, biologists, botanists, all of the other “ists”, and of course, the professionals who are dedicated to and passionate about their products and processes. Their collective goal always remains to provide the most safe and efficacious products, while meeting the unique and/or specific needs of their consumers. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these products and will take the time to explore the individual websites to learn more about the entire product range for each product line mentioned.
By Terry Herman
Terry Herman is a recognized expert in the spa industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In addition to writing and reviewing, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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