C.E.O.

I've been a huge fan of Sunday Riley since I first tried her products and with my recent obsession with Vitamin C (I've tried like 6 different Vitamin C serums in the past year) I HAD to get my hands on the C.E.O. range.  I've been using it for over 2 months and have loved the results.

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C.E.O. C + E antiOxidant Protect + Repair Moisturizer $65- It's call C.E.O. because it contains Vitamin C 5% (in the very stable, oil soluble form of THD Ascorbate) to brighten dark spots, prevent skin aging, boost collagen, and give anti-oxidant protection.  Exopolysaccharides - Comes from French Polynesian, these protect the skin from micropollution particles. Lastly is has Lime Pearl Extract for its AHA exfoliating benefits and Bisabolol derived from Chamomile to calm and smooth skin.  I love a cream with some texture to it, I started using this when it wasn't quite hot out and it made the perfect day cream, hydrating but not too heavy, as it got to humid and hot summer days I switched to using it at night and something lighter during the day.  Great all skin type cream, but oily skin may prefer it in the winter or evenings.

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It's rare that I have a serum last longer than the face cream I start at the same time, but I'm still using C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum $85 and the cream is empty (I do tend to over use products and bring them all the way down to my chest).  The Serum contains the same Vitamin C at the C.E.O. Cream, only they use it at 15% for even more brightening action.  A Phytosterol Complex from soybeans helps reduce redness and skin sensitivity, making this a great Vitamin C for sensitive skin.  Saccharide Isomerate Extract helps with pore size, skin texture, and reinforces skins moisture barrier.  It also contains Glycolic Acid to mildly exfoliate and boost cellular turnover.  I found it interesting the Glycolic Acid also keeps the Ph of the formula balanced to stabilize the high percent of Vitamin C.  One pump goes a long way, which I loved because I normally kill a serum in 2 months or less.

After using these 2 products my skin definitely looks brighter, my pores have been non-existant, I've been in the sun quite a bit (with SPF) so I haven't seen my dark spots fade a lot, but I've been really happy with the results I have seen.  If you're looking for a glow, to even out your skin tone, and prevent future damage, definitely give the C.E.O. line a try. Available exclusively at Sephora and Sephora.com

Micro-needling

9/25 Session Update

Since I love to switch out what products I use, here's what I used on my most recent micro needling session.  

1. I prepped my skin by scrubbing with the Dr Lancer Polish, this is hands down the BEST granular scrub you'll ever you.
2. Numb 520 to numb before needling. One other super exciting thing I found was a double use for my silicone mask, I use it to keep sheet masks in place, but it also holds down the plastic wrap over my numbing cream, which ALWAYS falls off. 
3. You can get a micro needling pen similar to mine off Amazon, or you can go through the hassle of ordering off Alibaba.com (though it takes a bit of back and forth)
4. Amore Pacific's new Vintage Single Extract Essence & Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Firming Serum to prep and give glide to the pen.  Also my skin has been dry as shit, so that Resveratrol Lift Serum is packed with Hyaluronic Acid to plump skin.
5. My skin has been pretty good lately, so I don't want to do an intense treatment after this session.  I'm using the Caudalie Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence as a first step its mild Glycolic exfoliating benefits.
6. I'm jumping back on the Perricone Thio:Plex, this did wonders after my last micro needling session, so I think its time for round 2.  Its also gone down to $89!  I pray its not being discontinued cause this is my JAM
7. Topping my treatment with SkinMedica TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream to calm my skin
8. Can't forget my current 2 eye products, the Biossance Squalene + Peptide Eye Gel and Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Eye Cream, both have been treating my eyes good and not giving me an adverse reaction (my eyes have been all kinds of sensitive lately...)
9. Ending with some retinol.  I haven't been using retinoids much this summer due to so much time spent in the sun, so I'm keeping it easy and using my go to A313 to intensify my entire treatment.  Always a favorite!

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I've always thought face tattoos aren't the best investment, but microneedling or mesotherapy, has been my obsession for the past year.  By request from everyone I know, here's the what, why, and how to's on my current favorite anti-aging treatment.

Let me preface this post by saying, I am not a licensed esthetician, dermatologist, or even a nurse.  I'm just an beauty industry veteran with a passion for staying young and willing to do whatever it takes.  All the information provided is based on my research and educated opinion, so take caution with this procedure

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What is microneedling?  It's the process of puncturing the skin with a tattoo gun-like device at 0.1mm-2.5mm.  This is beneficial in 2 ways. 1. These punctures act like an irrigation system on the skin, creating pore-like holes that active skincare ingredients can penetrate deeper through, allowing them to treat the deeper layers of the skin where that they can't normally reach.  2.  These punctures are small injuries (that don't scar) so your body goes into repair mode, boosting collagen and plumping the skin, similar to how a laser works, just a different aggressor.  People see reduced acne scars, smoother texture, fine lines and wrinkles plumped out, and promote hair growth (I'm always sure to hit my eyebrows and hairline)

Microneedling vs Dermaroller - Microneedling goes straight down into the skin creating holes parallel to your pores, the creates less visible damage and is easy to heal. Dermarollers go in at an angle and can damage the skin.  Dermarollers are also difficult to sanitize, Microneedling uses 1 time use disposable needles.

How to use.

  1. I like to make sure there's no dead skin that can get in the way of the needles, so a gentle scrub or clay mask work great to make the skin smooth. I also use retinol products every day leading up to and at least 5 days after the procedure, this makes sure skin is its smoothest.
  2. This isn't the most pleasant feeling, it's like a tattoo all over your face. For anything over 0.5mm, I recommend numbing with lidocaine prior to treatment.  I use the LMK 4% lidocaine which can be purchased OTC at your local pharmacy.  Price ranges $30-$65 for a tube.  (I also just purchased Numb 520 from Amazon, it's way cheaper and 5% lidocaine and it works great) Applying a medium layer all over the face and cover with plastic wrap for 20-30min. You want the face VERY numb, especially the forehead, with the bone just beneath it, that part hurts the worst.
  3. After you've rinsed that off (please remember you can't feel your face, the product is probably off, it just feels weird) I clean the skin off with alcohol, you don't want any bacteria on the skin prior that could get into the holes.
  4. I like to put a treatment on the skin, depending on your concern, 1 to get the first boost into the openings 2 to give a slip to the gun to make the pen glide easier.  I usually use a hyaluronic acid serum and/or Vitamin C serum
  5. Now you're ready for the fun part.  Choose a needle , either 9, 12, or 36 prong.  Only do the 36 needle if you're ready to have a very red face for a few days.  Your pen should have a range from .25mm-2.0mm or 2.5mm.  You can go as high as 2.5mm on the face (forehead, cheeks, temples, chin, jaw, neck) .25-.5mm on the eyes and nose (be careful, men who have thicker skin can usually handle .5mm, women may .25mm especially on the nose) and .25mm on the lips.  I do not recommend needling the eye lids.  The deeper you go, the better the results you will have, but also the longer the down time.  If you start bleeding, you're doing it right.  My forehead will typically bleed at 2.0-2.5mm, if you find you're not bleeding, especially on the cheeks, try holding the skin taut.  You can do the 2.0-2.5 every 8 weeks, 1.0mm every 4 weeks, and .25-.5mm every 2 weeks.  I like to do the intense treatment every 8 weeks, and do the .25-.5mm at the 4 week mark before a mask, aha peel, and retinol.  Gliding the pen over the skin can be a little difficult at high lengths, so a stamping method may be needed, especially on the forehead, you don't want to feel the skin pull.
  6. Your face will be red and may be a bit bloody, take toner on a cotton pad and clean up the skin.  Follow with your active treatment - Vitamin C for brightening, Hyaluronic Acid to plump and hydrate, and/or Peptides for firming.  You may also chose to do a sheet mask and/or mild AHA peel, which will go super deep, so be ready for your skin to start peeling after a few days.
  7. Always follow your treatment with retinol, it just works.  Your skin will be red and irritated for 2-5 days but after that you get this "holy shit" glow that makes all that pain worth it

I've seen med spas charge from $500-$1000 per session for microneedling, doing it at home is way more cost effective, but please use caution! I don't want anyone stabbing their eyeball with a 2.5mm needle or getting an infection from reusing needles.

Where to buy

There are a lot of microneedling pens on the market, I have one similar to this one, but there are plenty out there.  Just be sure to get one that has a rechargeable battery, no body wants to deal with a cord.  Be sure to also get needles from the same manufacturer to make sure they fit your gun.  Please, never reuse needles, that's gross.

Prep Serums
I like something with a nice slip so the pen can easily glide.  Lately I've been using my essence, Dr Ci Labo VC100 Essence, it has amino acids, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, and a nice slip that lasts, making it easy to glide the pen over your skin.

After Treatments

- Brightening
If your main concern is brightening, stick with a Vitamin C serum over after your treatment, as of lately, my favorite has been the Skin Medica Vitamin C + E Complex $58, I didn't love the silicone texture at first, but the results make it worth it.  For added brightening, use the Dr. Jart Brightening Solutions Mask $9 right after needling, before your serums, that mask kicks ass.

- Hyaluronic Acid
If your main concern is hydration and plumping out fine lines, go with a Hyaluronic Acid treatment.  I'm loving the Kate Somerville DermalQuench Liquid Lift $95 and Dr Perricone Hyalo Plasma $135.  Boost up with a hydrating sheet mask directly after your treatment, I love the SK-II Facial Treatment Sheet Masks $17, $95, or $135, they kinda do everything and just make you look perfect.

- Peptides

One of my absolute favorite serums is the Skin Medica TNS Essential Serum $150-281 depending on where you buy it.  It's dual pumps contain "Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media" on one side (allegedly baby foreskin stem cells) and a bunch of antioxidants and peptides on the other.  If you can afford this Serum, it's definitely one of the ultimate anti-aging products, I ❤️❤️❤️ it.

- AHA Peels

Korres Wild Rose Petal Peel is an amazing 2 step peel that exfoliates and brightens with AHAs and Vitamin C.  I've used this one the most after my microneedling treatments and as a weekly treatment, its one of my all time favorites.

- Retinol

Minimum 5 days prior to and 5 days after microneedling, you should be using a retinol.  If you have sensitive skin, yes you will peel a ton and have dry irritated skin, but isn't it worth it for the results after?  If you have a Rx tretinoid, use that, if not, these are a few of the retinols I use.

Skin Medica has 3 strengths in their Retinol Complex - .25 for sensitive skin, .5 for more tolerant skin, 1.0 for those of us who use everything on the face and have no problems.  This is one of my favorite you can buy without a prescription.

A313 $33 is still probably my favorite, even more so than prescription.  I love the thick texture of this French Vitamin A cream, and usually apply it as the last step in my PM routine, it always gives great results, especially for the low price point.

After my treatment tomorrow night I will be trying out the Dr Perricone Thio-Plex Intensive 2 Step Brightening System $145 which is an all over mask and overnight spot treatment to brighten the skin.  I've been meaning to try it and what better time than the new year! For my eyes I'm gonna to use the new Murad Eye Lift Firming Treatment, I got some samples as Sephora 100 point perks and I've loved the results!

A Mask A Day...

My favorite part of my skincare routine is masking. It's fun, gives instant results, and makes a very forgiving selfie. When I heard L'Oreal was making 3 new clay based masks, I said oh hell yeah, sign me up! I mean, at $13 each, buying all 3 is still cheaper than any of my other masks. I tested them all out for you and have been pleasantly surprised.

As soon as I saw they were out, I checked out the ingredients online and was so happy to see they didn't have titanium dioxide. TD is the most widely used mineral sunscreen, and is also used to make skincare products have a white colour. When used in masks it doesn't do a damn thing except act as a cheap filler. As much as I love my inexpensive Korean brands, so many of them use it, probably why I haven't found a Korean clay mask I love.

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Purify & Mattify Treatment Mask - Designed to unclog pores and keep this shine free, this green mask contain 3 clays to draw out impurities and eucalyptus to soothe skin.  Out of the 3 masks this was my least favorite.  Did I notice a big different? No. Will I try it again? Definitely, but it will have to go back to the end of my mask queue.

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Detox & Brightening Mask - After reading the ingredients on all the masks, this mask contains the highest concentrate of the 3 clays.  Charcoal gives this mask it's jet black colour and pulls out dirt and impurities leaving skin super smooth.  This is my favorite of the 3 masks, my face looked super bright and felt hella fresh, my pores were noticeably clearer.  I think I only left it on for 10min, next time I'll leave it on for 15-20.  Great to use before a night out or to recover from a long night out.

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Exfoliate & Refining Treatment Mask - Again we have the 3 clays, Kaolin, Moroccan Lava Clay, and Montmorillonite plus Red Algae to refine.  This mask has more of a grit to it than the other masks, provided by Apricot Seed Powder.  After its dried on the skin 10-15min, splash the face with water and massage to get extra exfoliation.  A great alternative to traditional scrubs, who doesn't love a multi-tasker??

For drugstore masks, even compared to high end masks, these are definitely great products, a total win for L'Oreal.  I'm hoping that they do well and L'Oreal continues to grow their masking category, I'll be the first in line to grab the next ones.  Which is your favorite?

New Product Review

Been a bit crazy with the new job, but I’ve added some great new products to my skincare routine that I’m sure you’re just dying to hear about.

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Dior Capture Total Le Sérum $165-$225 4/5 Stars– Now I haven’t used Dior skincare since I used the No Age range 3,000 years ago (it smelled like nana and I loved it), and I was a little hesitate to use Dior skincare as they are known for using a lot of fragrance.  The active ingredient is Longozo of Madagascar Extract, the Dior Researchers have boosted the Longoza extract enhancing its properties, making is capable of synchronizing cells, including stem cells, in every layer of the skin. Dior reports say that when used twice a day for a month, 92% of users noticed fine lines and wrinkles smoothed, 88% noticed facial features were firmer, and 92% said their skin reflected light better.  Now I don’t know how a serum can turn my face into a light reflective prism, but I’m into it.  I’ve been using Le Sérum for 2 months now and while I thought I would hate it, I really really like it.  It absorbs easily after my essence and doesn’t have a strong fragrance.  My skin is noticeably smoother and is definitely glowing, so maybe it does turn skin into a prism…

Odacité Green Tea-Lemongrass Serum Concentrate $39 – I just started using this guy 2 weeks ago and I LOVE the smell!  I had previously used the Wild Carrot-Vital Glow which I really liked, so I’m just as excited about this one.  This serum only has 2 ingredients, Camellia seed oil (Green Tea) and Lemongrass oil.  Green Tea is a powerful anti-oxidant great for protection and adding radiance, Lemongrass has tightening properties and also helps refine sluggish, lackluster skin.  I mix 3 drops in with my moisturizer in the morning, now if you don’t like the smell of Lemongrass, you won’t like this, I however love the smell of Lemongrass.  I did lightly notice the smell throughout the day, which was invigorating.  I’ve definitely seen it perking up my skin as I’ve been crazy tired lately.

Kate Somerville CytoCell Dark Circle Eye Cream $75 3.5/5 Stars – This eye cream has a huge cult following and I had been hearing about it for so long I just hand to get some.  Its an all in one anti-aging eye cream with a focus on fighting dark circles.  It contains 2 peptides to refresh, hydrate, and smooth, plus Vitamin C and Light Diffusing Pearls to brighten the eye area.  I find it funny that on the Kate Somerville website they list 4 user studies, none of them mentioning dark circles (I mean, it’s a Dark Circle eye cream…) then I look to the Sephora website and see they do have a user result but its only 60% of users that said is dramatically reduced the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.  Dark Circles are one of the hardest concerns to treat, probably why there is such a low number.  I’ve been using this for just over a month, and I have noticed my eyes looking brighter, it definitely hydrates instantly and with the smallest amount.  I give it a 3.5 because I've noticed more of a difference in hydration and firmness than dark circles, and that's really what I wanted out of it.  I do really like it though.

Boscia Sake Balm $46 3/5 Stars– The texture on this one is just the coolest.  It’s this weird gel that bounces back into place like a memory foam mattress (If you ever used the Mizon Returning Starfish Cream, its similar to that).  This lightweight balm contains Sake, which is loaded with antioxidants to help with loss of water, radiance, hyper-pigmentation, and pretty much every other skin concern.  Glycolic Acid helps with texture, fine lines, and hyper-pigmentation.  Vitamin C to help brighten and protect the skin, as well as boosting collagen.  Lastly a botanical blend of Jojoba Leaf and Willowherb to fight free radicals and help with inflammation.  I’m on week 3 of using this every morning, I like that its so light weight, making it great for layer with other products, but I can’t help but feel it’s a bit too light weight for dry LA weather.  The texture definitely makes it ideal for combo to oily skin, but I feel drier skin types probably won’t love it.  To see results from the actives in this, it usually takes a little time, so I plan on finishing the jar to see if it can fade some of my sun damage.

Skin Medica Retinol 1.0 $93 – Retinol is one of the only ingredients proven to fight fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and improve texture, so everyone needs one.  I recently finished a tube of my favorite A313 and decided to give the SkinMedica a try.  Going from using an Rx strength retinol to OTC strength, I’ve definitely noticed less irritation, but I’m still getting similar smoothing results.  Skin Medica makes their retinol in 3 strengths, .25, .5, and 1.0, so if you’re not use to using a retinol product, definitely start on the lower end; Start by using it every 3 nights working your way up to every night.  The nights I haven’t used this I see why I definitely need to keep using a retinol, its smoothes out the texture of the skin and helps sloth off the dead skin so my cleanser can remove it all in the AM.  If you’re in the market, I definitely recommend the SkinMedica Retinol range.

4 Week Before & After

4 Week Before & After

Elizabeth Arden-Prevage-Clinical Lash + Brow Serum $100 – So I may not be the best at taking before and afters (getting the same lighting is so hard!) but you can see by the photo of week 1 vs week 4 that there’s definitely an improvement in length of the lashes and thickness of the brows.  Being that I tweezed the fuck out of my brows as a young gay, they just don’t grow anymore, that arch is permanent.  I won’t say that I noticed a lot of new hairs in my brows, but they look MUCH thicker than they did before.  My brows normally disappear in photos with a flash, but now I can actually see them!  My lashes also are much fuller.  I’ll definitely continue to use it, I’m happy with the results.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Sleeping Cream $38 – I’m slowly becoming more and more obsessed with First Aid Beauty.  The brand is really clean, meaning no harsh chemicals, no parabens, colourants and the such.  I was always under the impression that the products were designed for the most sensitive of skin (which they are) and that they wouldn’t be active enough for someone wanting more.  This has definitely proved that theory wrong.  I’m so obsessed with this Sleeping Cream, and its only $38, seriously??  It has peptides to boost collagen, ingredients to firm and improve elasticity, as well as Hyaluronic Acid, Colloidal Oatmeal, plant butters, and waxes for tons of hydration.  The texture is creamy, but not heavy, and the hydrating and calming ingredients make it ideal for anyone using retinols, chemical peels, or with sensitive skin.  Give is a try, and experience some of the other products in their range (I’m loving the Vitamin Hydrating Mist right now as well!)

Under The Sheets

It's not secret I have an obsession with Korean skincare, they just really know what's up.  The biggest Korean skincare trend to make it stateside is sheet masks.  I may have gone a bit overboard on ordering sheet masks from Korea and buy them at every store I can find them in, but these quick fixes are such a fun supplement to your skincare routine.  It's nice having a variety so you can pick one according to your current skin concern.  Here are just a few I've been using recently.

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I am all about brightening.  I want all that sun damage I caused in the tanning bed to fade faster than its popping up.  The Innisfree intensive Ampoules Mask [vita C] is one of my new favorites.  I ordered it a quiet a few month ago but just recently used it.  It contains a Vitamin C Ampoule (fancy name for serum) that you apply first, then lay the sheet mask over top.  My skin was glowing the next day, exactly what I needed after my recent travels and lack of sleep. 4/5 Stars available at innisfreeworld.com for $4

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If you're a skincare junkie, Facebooks creepy algorithms have taken notice and you've seen the ads for the Orgaid Organic Sheet Mask.  If I see an offer for free beauty products you know I'll be the first one on board.  They apparently knew how obsessed I am and sent me 2 sheet masks (on different days) so I mean, I had to write a review.  Upon opening the mask I though it was going to rip the mask apart accident Because they don't put the clear divider in there, probably more eco friendly, but it was sturdy and highly saturated in formula. I left it on about 20 minutes, it still hadn't dried at all, but I was hungry and wanted a snack.  It definitely left my skin feeling super hydrated, but I didn't really notice any other benefits.  4/5 stars, great for anyone looking for a boost in hydration and like clean and organic products. $7.99 for 1 and $38.50 for a pack of 6 at Orgaid.com or on Amazon.com

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When I think of donkeys, the first thing I think about is most definitely not their milk.  Thankfully the Koreans have other opinions on the matter.  When a super nice girl I met on New Years (thank Eunice!) messaged me that she wanted to send me some Donkey Milk sheet masks, I obviously was over the top excited.  Now I can't read Korean for the details on these, but I'll tell you they feel like happiness and dreams.  The serum has a very milky texture and stay moist on the sheet for longer than my attention span will allow Otto stay on.  It left my skin feeling super soft and hydrated. 5/5 Stars $WhoKnows, available from your super cool Korean friend.

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Now if you don't want to play games and want some serious results, then you need to turn to the gold standard in sheet masks, Knesko Skin.  First let me tell you about the founder Lejla Cas, if you ever meet her while she is in a spa selling, you'll buy everything she tells you too.  She's stunning, has flawless skin, a soothing accent, and the most calming demeanor, she could tell me eating gravel off the 405 would get rid of dark circles and I'd believe her, but I doubt she would.  Her masks are free of junk ingredients and packed full of actives.  There Diamond Radiance and Nanogold Repair masks for both eyes and face.  These masks are amazing after a chemical peel or for an intense boost to your routine.  They soothe, repair, firm, lift, hydrate, help with puffiness and dark circles, you name it.  At $150 for a 4 pack of masks and $60 for 6ct eye, these masks aren't exactly your impulse purchase, but maybe the fact that I give them a 6/5 stars and that they're amazing will make you run out and grab them.  Available at high end spas such as Canyon Ranch and Four Seasons, Nigels Beauty Emporium In North Hollywood, and KneskoSkin.com