Brand Focus: REN

Another day, another skincare brand on my radar. I’ve been using different REN Skincare products for a good few years now, and so far, I have loved almost everything that I used. Aside from a face scrub (which I don’t enjoy in general), all of their products from cleansers to masks and serums have been lovely and definitely deserve an honorable mentions.

Now, it’s kind of hard to situate REN in a specific category in the skincare realm. They promise to offer only plant-based, non-synthetic ingredients but I don’t think their a strictly organic brand. Plus, the packaging and marketing invokes a highly technological and clinical feel to the products, ‘high-tech natural’, so to speak.

What I definitely know though, is that I love their products and really value them in my routine. If I am looking for a failsafe product that slots right into my skincare line-up, I look to REN.

REN Skincare

 

One of my favorite products so far has been the Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel, which is a gel to cream cleaner that refreshes and nourishes the skin without stripping it. I love this in the summertime as it is not to heavy and makes my skin feel fresh and clean.

In the winter months, I prefer a thicker formula cleanser and for this, I like to go back to the No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm. This is a thicker, oilier balm that feels super luxurious on the skin and comes with a lovely rose scent just like the gel cleanser. It leaves the face soft and nourished without any residue, so it’s a winner for me.

My all-time favorite and arguably their best-known product is the Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask. A chemical exfoliant, this leaves my face soft and clear by eating away at the dead skin cells that dull my complexion. This doesn’t irritate my skin, smells and fells lovely and makes my face look a lot clearer and brighter in a matter of 10 minutes.

Finally, their Vita Mineral Omega 3 Optimum Skin Serum Oil is a lovely penultimate step in my routine, especially when my skin is feeling dry and lackluster. It is more of an oil than a serum, so I definitely use this more in the colder months as it provides a hefty dose of hydration and feels extremely soothing on the skin.

Have you tried anything from REN before? How did you like it? For me, this brand is  real staple and one that I rely on for great skin without much hassle.

Bookshelf #12: Butcher’s Crossing

Have you ever put a but down and not known how you feel about it? That’s what happened to me when I finished John Williams’ Butcher’s Crossing.

Now, I am a huge John Williams fan and thoroughly enjoyed what probably is his best known work – Stoner. The language he uses is gorgeous. Concise but subtly poetic while to the point. I found this to be true with Butcher’s Crossing as well but still, it was an effort to work my way through this novel.

I think it was the subject matter most of all. A young man in a frontier town, corralling a group of cowboys to join him on his first buffalo hunt. The men make it through this grueling journey to return to a town changed irrevocably. It is interesting, thought-provoking and touching for sure, but Western settings have just never been my forte.

Still, the book managed to grip me completely in its second half when the men live through the life-threatening winter months after getting caught up in the abundance of buffalo to kill. It is a riveting story with moments of sheer terror and suspense that, after all, managed to stay with me for a good few days.

Once again, Williams managed to lure me in with a beautifully written and sharply constructed story that, had it been concerned with a more relatable subject matter (for me), might have become a favorite of mine.

Nevertheless, I found it a wonderful reading experience because it was a seldom case of conflicting feelings that made me think about the power of literature and confirmed, again, my love for the written word.

Garnier Hydra Bomb Sheet Mask

Since colder temperatures are just around the corner, I am stepping up my game skincare wise and looking for an extra dose of hydration every step of the way.

On a recent trip to the drugstore, I came across the Garnier SkinActive Hydra Bomb Sheet Mask, saturated with hyaluronic acid and pomegranate extract.

P1000651

The fact that I have found this at the drugstore means that sheet masks have well and truly made it into the mainstream of the western beauty market. I don’t know if the Hydra Bomb range is available worldwide, but in the European drugstore market, which is usually lagging sorely behind, this is a true innovation. I do believe that will social media, the trend turnover has become much quicker, so that new products enter the mass market sooner than ever.

And I have to say, Garnier have done a good job on this one. The mask is saturated nicely, but it is far from soppy or dripping wet. Actually it sits nicely on the face and molds to the contours well. The only thing that didn’t work for me was the opening for the mouth, which was a bit to narrow, but I guess that’s just my face.

The mask is to be left on the skin for 15 minutes and I could move around with it easily. It doesn’t tingle or itch (on me) and left my skin supple and plump. There was no redness anywhere but I did have to tissue off the residue since it was too much to massage into the skin.

At a drugstore price, this is definitely a little treat I will get for myself from time to time. While I usually rely on serums and oils for hydration, it is lovely to kick back and nourish the skin with a funny looking mask every once in a while.

Kiehl’s Hydrating Mist

The Kiehl’s Cactus Flower & Tibetan Ginseng Hydrating Mist is the latest offering in the long line of spray toners that seem to be flooding the market right now. Of course I couldn’t resist this one asI do enjoy a good Kiehl’s product and have loved integrating mists into my skincare routine.

P1000653

This spray is a lovely portable size with a reasonable price tag (for high end brands anyway) promising to ‘purify and hydrate the skin’. Now, it does contain alcohol, which isn’t ideal, but I haven’t experienced any dryness or burning sensation when using it.

The mist actually leaves the skin feeling nice and plump and leaves a gorgeous fresh and herbal scent that is heavy on the rosemary contained in the formula. The actual spray nozzle itself dispenses a very fine mist and is definitely one of the best I have tried.

Since I haven’t used this a whole ton, I can’t speak on the longterm skincare benefits, but the design of the bottle alone makes it worth using up and refilling or repurchasing. Again, I have found this a lovely addition to my routine and I will happily continue to use it, especially in these last warm days of summer.

Lush Big Shampoo

My love for Lush is no secret, partly because they are one of the few companies that has a well developed and thought out responsible recycling concept and partly because they are always a bit off-center and innovative with their products.

Case in point – Big Shampoo. This is one of the most unique hair cleansing products I have come across, formulated with a hefty amount of coarse sea salt that thoroughly cleans and volumizes the hair.

 

Lush Big

 

Now sea salt in hair products isn’t a new concept. It is supposed to texturize and add volume and bounce to the hair, but it usually comes in spray form that can leave the hair crunchy and matte. The delivery system with Big is as easy as it is effective as you simply scoop out the product and massage it into the hair in the shower. It is a strange sensation and you need to make sure you wash the salt out completely, but the result is very clean but nourished hair.

An additional bonus is the scent. It smells like a gorgeous fresh margarita that makes you crave a summery drink right away.

Since it is somewhat abrasive, I tend to reserve Big‘s use to once a week in lieu of a clarifying shampoo. It works great for that purpose and that way I don’t feel like I am overworking or stripping my scalp in the process.

PS: Please excuse the stock photo, but one downfall of the black tub Big Shampoo comes in is that it looks grubby almost right away. However, the lid of the tub closely very securely, so I have never had any issues with water getting into the product itself.

Music Monday #19

Last week, I was driving along in my car, listening to some of the records that have really shaped my youth. I truly believe that the favorite albums from your teenage years become formative of your music taste and make for the fondest of memories.

One of the records in the roster was Fall Out Boy’s From Under the Cork Tree, their 2005 sophomore album that became an instant favorite for me at age 17. While they are certainly no longer under the radar and have become one of the most prominent pop rock bands today, the completely opened up my world to witty, emo pop punk a good ten years ago.

Their lyrics might come across a lot more campy nowadays, but they still are beautifully tongue in cheek and warrant a good car singalong. Their song titles of course, used to be so long and convoluted that nobody could remember them, but after a quick check, here are my all-time favorites from that beautiful record – Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner, I‘ve Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song), and A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More ‘Touch Me’.

I would love to know, what are your formative records that you still love to listen to?

MAC Fix+

Settings sprays are definitely having a moment right now, and MAC Fix+ is the OG of this category.

On a recent peruse of the MAC counter, I must have felt a wave of nostalgia and purchased another bottle of this lovely spray.

P1000652

I quickly realized how much I love this product and how beautiful it makes my make-up look. The only think that somewhat bothers me is the delivery method. Compared to a lot of other (newer) setting sprays, the actual nozzle isn’t very sophisticated and could definitely deliver a finer, more even spray.

Other than that, Fix+ totally sticks to its claims. It takes away any cakiness that is left over by powders but does not compromise the longevity of the make-up at all. If anything, it is like a protective coat over the top that ensures the make-up to stay fresh longer.

I also like to use it throughout the day to freshen up again as it brings back a bit of glow when applied. The only thing, once again, is the spray that is a bit to forceful and can leave wet splotches on the face if you hold the bottle to close.

All in all, I still love and cherish Fix+ as much as I ever did and I am so glad it’s back in my collection. If you’re unsure about it, you can always pick up a travel size to try it out, which are so convenient for trips or a little handbag refresher.