Holy Grail

Estee Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator

Since adolescence, I’ve suffered with hyperpigmentation. Like many women of color, my blemishes leave dark marks in their wake – which can take weeks, months and even years to fade. For forever, I’ve used foundations and highlighters to hide these dark spots. But I’ve recently come to a point in my life where I’m tired of masking the problem. As a busy mom, I don’t have the time or the energy it takes to put on a full face of makeup on a regular basis. Most days, I leave the house bare faced – save for some mascara and a couple swipes of gloss. Hyperpigmentation has undermined my self esteem for too long, so I decided it was time to heal, rather than conceal.

So last month, I added Estee Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator to my morning routine. And let me tell you…this additional step (which takes just 1 minute) has been life changing. First of all, the pearlescent serum imparts a radiant glow upon application – so even though the product actually takes about two weeks to start doing its thang, there are immediate perks.

And after just 10 days, I started to notice that my skin looked more even toned, luminous and smoother. The formula is lightweight and smells dreamy, so putting it on is a refreshing A.M. experience. And after a month, I am much more confident showing my bare skin to the world because my dark marks are starting to see the light.

I’m not usually the best at being consistent with skin care because, as you know, I test a lot of products. But this one is so simple and yields such amazing results that I actually look forward to putting it on. Because Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator targets the dark marks (as well as redness, acne marks, sun spots and other discolorations), you don’t have to worry about it lightening the other areas of your face. And the oil-free formula is proven gentle and effective for all ethnicities. Just be sure to use an SPF product on your face every day, to prevent the marks from darkening up again.

I can’t recommend Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator enough. It’s become my holy grail – and if you buy it and try it, you’ll understand why. I’m also anxious to try the Idealist Cooling Eye Illuminator.

*A sample was provided by the brand for review.

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Gold ‘N Hot 1875 Watt Foldable Handle Travel Dryer

To get my relaxed hair poker straight after shampooing, I rely on a comb/pik attachment when blow drying. I own a “universal” pik attachment that fits perfectly on my beloved Conair Infiniti Pro, which is fine 99% of the time. But a full-sized dryer is a bit bulky to travel with, especially when you’re a chronic overpacker like myself.

Problem is that most travel hair dryers have a wide barrel that isn’t compatible with pik attachments. For what seems like forever, I’ve searched for a travel dryer that comes with a pik attachment – to no avail. After endlessly searching in stores and trolling the Internet, it got to a point that looking for travel dryer with a comb attachment became – to steal a phrase from Cher Horowitz – “as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.”

But a few weeks ago, my pik attachment prayers were answered. While browsing around Folica.com, I came across the Gold ‘N Hot 1875 Watt Foldable Handle Travel Dryer. Folica.com sent me a sample to review and take on my trip to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami this past weekend (more on that later) – and after using it, I can tell you that it is exactly what I’ve been searching for all of this time. In fact, this travel dryer is so fabulous that you could use it as your regular dryer.

Unlike many travel dryers which are just glorified fans blowing hot air on your hair, the Gold ‘N Hot 1875 Watt Foldable Handle Travel Dryer has all the power of a full-size dryer but in a lightweight, foldable model complete with concentrator and comb attachments! Two speed and heat settings along with tourmaline conditioning and worldwide dual voltage ensure that you have perfectly styled hair no matter where you travel. And how cute is the giraffe motif on the sides of the dryer?

Whether or not you use a pik attachment, the Gold ‘N Hot 1875 Watt Foldable Handle Travel Dryer is an excellent buy. And did I mention that Folica.com has it marked down from $50 to just $29.99? Bottom line: this travel dryer blows the competition away.

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Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel

is a concentrated, soap-free, foaming gel designed to thoroughly remove impurities without disturbing the skin’s natural moisture balance. It contains no artificial fragrance or color and is ideal for all skin types. In a word, it’s perfect. If you’ve ever wished for soft skin and a clear complexion, this is your genie in a bottle (no rubbing required).

It’s very gentle on the skin, yet super effective at removing dirt, grime and even makeup. Special Gel Cleanser feels like a dream when you apply it to your skin – like silk, or something equally smooth and luxurious. If I had to compare it so something you might be familiar with, I’d say it’s akin to a high-end Cetaphil. I loved this product from the day I started using it, back in late 2010. But I didn’t realize how much my skin loved this cleanser until I started testing other cleansers last month and my skin straight up rebelled. Breakouts re-appeared and it completely dried out. Since then, my skin has been on a strict Dermalogica diet and I’ve seen improvement every day.

An 8.4 oz bottle of this good stuff costs $33, which sounds like a lot for a face cleanser. But – believe me – it’s worth every penny. Special Cleansing Gel is special, indeed.

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Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm


How obsessed am I with Clinique’s new Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm? All eight shades have taken up permanent residency in the makeup bag I keep in my purse. These clever crayons (think of them as perfect hybrid of a lipstick and a gloss) moisturize with mango and shea butters while adding a hint of color and subtle sheen. Plus they never need a sharpener because they swivel up from the bottom – like a traditional balm.

Each of the shades is so ultra-flattering that you could buy any one of them – sight unseen – and it would look absolutely perfect on your pucker.

From left to right: Graped-Up, Super Strawberry, Woppin’ Watermelon, Chunky Cherry,
Mega Melon, Fuller Fig, Whole Lotta Honey, Richer Raisin

Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balms are available at Sephora, Clinique counters and clinique.com.

*Samples were provided by the brand for review.

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