Battle of the Titans-Honolulu, Hawaii Make Up Landscape

Or at least the make up counters.

In the last 6 months, Ala Moana Center, Honolulu, Hawaii’s version of America’s Greatest Mall, has opened two major contenders in the battle for the beauty budget dollar.

Prior to the holidays, Bloomingdales opened in all of its splendor. I never went into post holiday, cuz, I really don’t like crowds.

Post holiday, Nords opened in the same wing of the mall.

Kiehls is slated to open soon-a company store stand alone near L’Occitane.

I’ve always been pretty lazy about traversing the entire mall-and now everything I want is located on one side.

Like a sailboat with the heavy contenders sitting on the same side, beauty mavens, the elite is all on the west side of the mall.

Nords opened in a brand new, much larger space–the beauty department is almost designed like Sephora with rows of cosmetic lines in separate corridors.  Nords also has the deluxe samples for sale-in center stations.

One thing I like is their “try it” stations-hey, on Friday night I don’t remember the name exactly, but brands have the GWP or other products set out in the center stations for people to try and play with. I like that.

It’s a wunderland.

Nords also boasts the first Charlotte Tilbury counter-known for the makeup artist turned entrepreneur-her eye shadow palettes are gorgeous-soft and silky powders. The make up artists are pretty knowledgeable and wear the make up product well-

I think it’s owned by Goop(sunscreen) but there is a running water wash basin-which I greatly appreciate so I can wash my hands of the products instead of just using alcohol or Purell.

Bloomingdales is pretty awesome and I love the calm atmosphere-read-less busy. I appreciate this fact, tho of course it is very hard for salespeople. The store itself is wonderful, a high shine new cousin to SFO’s store. The marketing people need to get busy cuz, as gorgeous as the store is, there is a perception issue.

Nords and Bloomingdales are pretty much parallel in pricing and offerings-but somehow people think B is much pricier.

Nay, B is the same as Nords-B just offers trendier labels in clothing. But cosmetics-the prices are the same.

Take a walk to the west-side-it’s really worth it.

And if you happen to live in K-town meaning Kahala or vicinity, check out Anela, who is heading up Macy’s Kahala’s new cosmetic headquarters with Urban Decay, Smashbox, Anastasia, Philosophy and more, products to offer. Anela is a make up artist who I met at BOSS Beauty Supply, the headquarters for beautiful hair. She’s very chill and very knowledgable-give her a visit.

K

PEP PEP PEP…errrr Clinique Pep Start Eye

Just like the jingle-I’m lovin it!

But I wasn’t loving the fact that the Estee Lauder Advanced Time Zone eye cream I was using suddenly changed their formula without warning.  Either that or the stock at Macy’s Windward was so old that the eye cream muushed into something thinner than the Crisco like thickness I love in my moisturizer and eye cream.

So, off I go in search of a new eye cream that has the magical stick to it ness of Crisco.

Crisco?

Well, if you’re a younger person you probably have no idea what the thick, white, magical crisp making chicken aka shortening of which I speak.

Just picture something THICK-maybe p butter is a better example.

Anyway.

I had seen Clinique’s new Pep Start eye cream somewhere in a magazine maybe Allure-and thought I’d check it out at the Clinique counter.

Cliinique counter no more!  clq_ZH4801_402x464
What?

The new product is sold only at Sephora or clinique.com!

Ok-that’s cool cuz I have a sephora gift card anyway. So the next time I was at the mall I checked it out.

The packaging is a bright vitamin C orange tube, with a sphere shaped tip where the product comes out. I figure this is so, if you want, you can squeeze some up and apply the product right from the tube.

Ok in theory, but one could potentially contaminate the product in the tube with whatever cream, serum or whatever you previously applied to your skin.

So, I apply with fingertips-squirt a little of the thick product on the tips, rub to warm and pat all around the eyes.

I so totally ignore the make up counter directions to pat only on the orbital (eye socket) bones.

I have to tell you that this product delivers the claim that is directly addresses puffiness.

In the morning, I’ve dabbed on moisturizer first thing for years. But have noticed that my eyes are a little puffier.

So, first thing in the am I have added Pep Smart to my regimen.

By the time I am off, my puffs look pretty good.

Plus, I like the way the cream moisturizes for most of the day.

It wears well under concealer too.

Thing is, I spoke to the Clinique area rep and asked her why they don’t sell it at other retailers. Her explanation was that sometimes Clinique is testing a product and limits distribution, and later if the product proves popular, distributes everywhere.

Another explanation from a clinique counter was, Sephora sometimes negotiates for product exclusivity so…

Anyway-a high recommend. Only $27 bucks. Worth it.

K

 

 

What’s Up With That?Sephora Pricing Same Product, Same Size at a Premium

I pride myself on shopping around for the best deal-when all things are the same, same product, same size-I still look for the extra whatever to sweeten the deal.

The other day, I shopped online while my friend was driving and talking on speaker phone as we researched the best deal for a certain eye cream and moisturizer which was on her shopping list for the day.

After a few clicks, I helped her figure out how she could get the cream(s) she wanted, get the brand GWP, and the store GWP!

So this morning, the siren call of a Bobbi Brown GWP came in via Sephora’s daily sell email. I click on it-it looks good, so I check for the Estee Lauder Advanced Time Zone eye cream I like.

At Sephora a .5oz jar is $62.

At Macy’s a .5oz jar is $58.

WHAT?

I have become increasingly suspicious of Sephora’s practices.

I get that the 100 point aka $100 threshold for the VIB deluxe samples really cost me $100.

And that they now sell the same deluxe samples that the brands giveaway in GWPs in the stores and online.

But to add injury to insult by pricing at a premium?

I don’t think so.

K

 

Life on the Ranch-Canyon Ranch, Tucson

I live in Hawaii so it’s realllllyyy hard to leave to go on vacation,  As a former military brat, I travelled for the first 26 years of my life, so I don’t feel a strong urge to pack up my stuff and go anywhere that’s not on my wish list of St Petersburg to see the Kirov Ballet. Or take a short jaunt to see Alonso King or Complexions, or maybe travel to a city where a favorite band is performing.

So, kicking and screaming I went to Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ.

For weeks preceding my departure I made snarky remarks about going to the fat farm or rehab, because when you look at their online brochure, the ranch is all about metaphysical blah blahs, 12 steps, and health.

Ick. So not my cup of tea. Been there done that 20 years ago when it was in style to spout off, “me in relation to the universe” speak.

From my point of view, I have room to cut down on my glass of wine, chips, chocolate or candy-if I really wanted to, but I wouldn’t feel any desire to take myself to a locale where I would never have a desire to visit anyway.

Add to that the bf’s preference to take the 630AM flight.

I hate that because unless I’m going to a neighbor island, with the time difference, flying the AM flight takes up an entire day of my life just going to LA or SFO.

The 3 hour layover was actually a bright spot. Had a nice beet salad and last man’s meal at Wolfgang Puck’s airport location.

The glasses of wine helped me sleep the entire flight from LA to downtown Tucson. It was a night flight so we saw nothing.(The flight back my seatmate was a larger person and he leaned into the window while we flew over the scenics).

Tucson is a land of cactus and dryness as far as the eye can see. Imagine those cowboy westerns with Clint Eastwood in his poncho and flinty eyed gaze, as he squints into the horizon and takes a sip from a dried up leather water pouch.

That’s how I felt.

No humidity whatsoever. I had to carry around a water bottle and take a sip every 50 feet or so.

Checking in was pleasant enough. I’m sure reception is used to dealing with people who have a chip on their shoulder from facing the impending desert of less food and less drink, and more exercise. In the desert.

I admit, I was one of those people. The first morning we walked down to have our health assessment (aka opportunity to sell more spa services and special paid classes) I was grouchy.  At the same time I checked in and got my locker.

One thing I will say about CR is the staff is ginormous. Attendants in the locker room constantly put out fresh towels and neaten up the place after people shower, picking up bath mats and replenishing the towels at each station. There are icy towels by the steam/sauna room, and fruit waters by the jacuzzi in about 4 flavors. The goody drawer is stocked full of toothpaste, tooth brushes, razors, aspirin, bandaids, dental floss, ear plugs, reading glasses–all meant to be taken freely.

Heck even the shaving cream was a brand name.

I was issued a spa robe and slippers- I think I might have gotten some athlete’s foot, as after CR my foot is a little itchy. The lockers are digital. I’m not sure if the locker I received was on the bottom level cuz the attendant thought I was an old fart and it would be better if I sat to access my locker or not. CR was about 70% capacity, yet many of us were squished into the same area-so if someone was changing or getting into their locker there was a traffic jam.

The next day I had a portioned breakfast of 1/2 cup of granola, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt (the real unsweetened version) and a scrambled egg. Everything on the menu has calorie and fat counts. At CR you can eat as much as you want, all day every day. But everything is portioned out in what is the real suggested serving. For example, the pumpkin cheesecake, and peanut butter chocolate cake were about the size of a 2.5 stacked oreo cookie serving.

The point is, you can sit there and eat the entire menu ten times over if you want to.

While I was there I tried to take classes I would normally not do at HonClub. My first class was a core conditioning class which because I have no cardio stamina any more was challenging because it was fast. I also got a little nauseous from the smell of some sunscreen I tried. We used a “Vyper” apparatus while standing on a Bosu. Kind of fun. I like balance challenges anyway.

I also took a world beat dance class which turned out to be fun. A tall woman who I will always describe as a biker chick from a biker bar walked in with a scarf tied on her head at first. Seriously I was surprised she did not have any visible tats.

But the class was quite wonderful.  Looking at her she was not the picture of health but she could shake all her parts. The class turned out to be afro cuban with a live percussion trio.

I also tried the drum class where one of the trio taught us how to pound out beats using an African drum-very good instruction.

Boxing was fun-but I don’t think I want to try taking the class here where a guy teaches a small group at HC. I also tried aerial yoga-I liked it but the laundry detergent they used made me nauseous.

I only took one class with the bf (who fully utilized the facility. He meditated, breathed, sat out at the pool, stretched, rolled and steamed). The class was Tai Chi Sword-which I thought might be a style of tai chi. In fact, it was interesting in that the instructor taught us how a wood pole could be used to fend off attackers and how the tai chi “choreography” related to those defense moves. He brought out a large axe on a long pole for all of us to try. Everyone tried except me-there’s something about martial arts classes that stirs my aggression juices-so I thought it would be better to not take the axe out for a spin.

A couple of days in, I realized that people first arrive at CR kind of in a grouchy state of mind like myself. At first I just thought they were unfriendly, grouchy. But I realized that after a few days of the CR culture, you either gave in or didn’t. Some people that I would pass by on the walkways day after day, like myself loosened up. Others did not.

I did do some spa services. The most beneficial was the Connective Tissue “massage”. It was really a treatment where the attendant used a device to gently palpate my muscles and fascia. He theorized that all of my left side issues with my knee, foot, shoulder were related to a car accident where I was hit from the right side(driver on the right in Japan). That the 30 years since, my left over compensated. The gentle treatment eased the stiffness in my neck, as well as untwisted my torso which usually pulls to the left.

I also had an oxygen facial which highly moisturized my skin. CR uses top flight products from Switzerland and other skincare meccas (interesting not from Japan or Korea).

Our room was really nice-though housekeeping came while I was there so, the stories are true about whether the glasses are washed or not. Frankly I prefer to use a paper cup.

So, would I go again? I guess so.

k

Late to the Party, Better Than Never – Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair

I am in marketing and advertising so when I see the same products touted in magazines and media again and again,  I am suspicious of the relationship and wonder if the products really work or are the reviews based on a great lunch and woo woo?

Anyway.

I’ve tried some products and have ended up throwing the product(s) away and others like Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair I am happy to report, actually work.

One bottle later, I have noticed that my pet-peeve area around my eyes and eyelids have definitely improved with regular nightly use of the night version of the product.

Prior to use, my “bunny” wrinkles on the inner corner of my eyes and eyelid corners, and the crepiness of my eyelid skin was REALLY starting to bug me.

I used my Nu Face electro shocker stimulator, but like all devices, rarely get used, but I did feel that I got a jump start on the problem when I did use the device.

But, the Neutrogena product is easy and easy to put into my routine. Instead of applying a gel and then manipulating the device for 10 minutes or so, I just spread the product on after cleansing my face, and DONE!

If it ain’t easy, it ain’t gonna happen!

But happen it did and does-this product is a huge thumbs up and I am ready to buy another.

To note, I chose the night version of the product because I figure the SPF version and the additional chemicals would probably interfere with the base product chemicals. I also did not have any skin irritation whatsoever as I did when I used the real deal Retin A.

k

Heading Down the Yellow Brick Road-Battle of the GWPS

Seriously, my eyes and fingers always answer the siren call of the GWP.  My favorite go to blog is GWP Addict-a daily update of all things GWP, written by Lisa of Arizona.

Over the years I have found some tried and true products that I like so much that I will always buy them for my basics and it takes a lot to turn my head to pull me away from my beloveds-Clarins’ SPF sunscreen, Kiehl’s Rosa Artica Moisturizer and Kitoko and Neuma hair products.

So, when I see it’s time to stock up on my basics, I go to gwpaddict.wordpress.com to see if there are gwp offers for whatever I have in mind.

I recently started using Estee Lauder’s Advanced Time Zone Age Reverse eye cream (which I haven’t written about yet!), which has the consistency similar to rosa artica moisturizer-a heavy (shortening like-yes like the baking stuff) cream that I rub a very small 1/2 pea sized or less amount on my finger tips and apply in the inner corners of my eyes.  It retails for $58 a jar.

I know that Macy’s is supposed to have an Estee Lauder event soon, early in September, so I’ve been waiting around-but I thought I’d check Lisa’s blog for any specials. So lo and behold Macy’s is having a Tuesday Flash Sale!* As you guys know, beauty products rarely go on “sale” unless they are about to expire or be discontinued so I snapped up the eye cream and a Laura Mercier Bronzer that someone put on me at NMs but I didn’t feel like buying at the time. The Estee product had a mini-gwp of advanced time zone eye serum(meh) and mascara(rarely buy mascara because companies always give samples. yay!).

So was feeling pretty happy about that.

However this morning, Sephora sent their daily blah blah of whatever is new, and I, heeding the call, open it and check out the new beauty lines, and failing to be sold, go to the Fresh products page, which eventually leads me off sephora.com to gwp addict in search of whatever.

I had seen the Nords $125 gwp gift bag with a bunch of samples, but I did not know there is also a gift bag for a $50 threshold. When you compare the two, I’d rather pay the $50, cuz from my point of view the $50 had better samples and less perfume which I don’t wear.

$50

06-29-15-p04-cid0628156443-7-adam-38ab9e85-1d00-4cde-8a97-a4c20110e43d-fil-file $125

august-gwp_promo

I already knew I needed to restock my Clarins’ sunscreen-I had tried the Murad Invisible Blur which is great, but no great gwp so I bought the Clarins,plus Nords is offering a two-fer sale of $62, a savings of $22. But as I am checking out, I think to look at the Estee offer.

A much much better gwp than Macy’s for a $45 gwp threshold, plus spend $5 bucks more and you get the $50 gwp bag!

I know so what, but I work from home so little things are exciting.

The clincher for me is that Nords ALWAYS has free shipping to Hawaii which is a huge perk. It’s pretty much why I do not shop the Fresh or Clarins’ company online stores because shipping is outrageous to Hawaii. I mean it’s like they are sending the products to Russia.  (I recently got ballet slippers from Grishko Russia, and unbelievably, shipping was free!).

Anyway.

It pays to be a shopper, and a free shipper.

k

*These offers will expire and may not be available when you read this post.

FLUT-RapidLash

I don’t mind wearing mascara, cuz I’ve never had a lot of lashes.

I’ve had bfs with longer, thicker lashes than I have.

But that’s just typical of the men v women v looking good without any anything.

That’s a different subject.

I’ve used Revitalash and GrandeLash MD which both produced great results.

Lashes like hair are cyclical, meaning, there are going to be times, every 90 days or so, when lashes fall out, and are

stubby.

thin.

short.

I was in that period and started searching the internet for a deal on GrandeLash MD. I had paid $40 for it online, which seemed like the going price for the goods.

I also wandered onto their official site, and found that the $40 version was not necessarily the real deal.

Who’da figure?

Never even realized I was buying the bootleg version at the bargain basement price.

Searching more, and checking out reviews on various skincare product sites, it appears that sometimes the bootleg version does not work.

That might be that the product user was in the 90 day cycle and thus going against the grain, or the product was just a liquid tube of hopes and dreams. Or not.

Anyway.

I opted for Rapidlash-a product that appeared to not be anything more than a less expensive alternative to the grandmommy products revitalash and latisse whatever.

I use it fairly faithfully, applying it thinly like eyeliner.

It definitely works.

Maybe too good because the lashes on my left eye are growing unevenly, and there’s an actual clump of lashes in the middle that look like clumpy lashes when your mascara formula is for thickening. Plus the middle lashes are significantly longer than the others.

Otherwise, this product works well enough that I still don’t want to pay $125 for a tube of trailblazer products.

It cost about $40.

k

A Drugstore Alternative- Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream

I don’t know about you guys but as much as I like to use luxury products with promises of skin like an infant’s, I question the price of the pursuit.

I tell the lady at the beauty counter, there is a limit to the craziness and not withstanding Revive’s products, I’m not interesting in spending more than $150 a jar for moisturizing anything.

So, Neutrogena has been hitting the mags and television hard for their new Hydro Boost Gel Cream which is hyularonic acid, a naturally occurring moisturizer that your own body makes.

But, as you age, like thick hair and firm taut abs, you lose it.

Reasonably priced in Longs/CVS – a 1.7 oz jar is $20.99.

It’s quite maddening when I google the product and I find out it is way cheaper at Walmart for $15.19.

But probably not in Hawaii Walmarts.

Anyway.

I purchased the extra dry formula, because I like to hedge my bets.

The product has a slight not unpleasant fragrance and it’s not a gel or a cream. Rather it reminds me of the cornstarch base for lemon pudding for meringue pie.  Sorry if you are not a fellow baker for the visual but the other visual was something that comes out of your nose.

The feel is thick yet light.

I usually apply it over serum, or on bare skin.

This product is definitely moisturizing and the real test is how long it remains moist.

All day.

Once applied, I don’t feel I need to dab on the moisturizer I carry around in my bag.  Even on a hot dry day.

So, as long as it is on sale, I told myself, why not try the eye product?

Not as good as the gel cream, so save your money, but try out this the gel cream.

I bought a second jar!

k

aclk

Hair Where I Want It – Kitoko Age Prevent Scalp Tonic

As if there is no uncovered frontier.

Going on a year or more, the bf has been using Revivogen to coax his balding pate back.  Prior to that he was the man with an entire handful of hair goo to coax his “Jewfro” into submission.  When you pulled a curl out to its full glory – it reached well past his shoulders.  Everyday he would take almost 20 minutes to put a conditioner on to tame the frizzies, then a CUPPED handful of gel to wrap the curls into what I used to call a “bun” or maybe a nest of hair which was aka a curly mullet.

Anyway.

Fast forward, after using Revivogen’s natural herbal based alternative to Minoxidal and Rogaine, a regimen of treatment shampoo, conditioner and leave on serum, the fur is back on his crown, and narrowing the gap between the sides on the op of his heads.  I believe his pattern of baldness, without aid would eventually become the “Friar Tuck” style.

Back to moi.

So, Mom has been thinning on her crown for a number of years. But having come from the Japanese gene pool, thinning is like going from a thicket to a forest.  Nevertheless this is an ongoing concern which tho thinner it is not readily apparent, and if it was my own pattern on the back of my head, I wouldn’t even notice and would not do anything about it.

This is because, I never use a mirror to look at the back of my hair stylings.

Ever.

Unless the hair stylist wants me to look.

Because I started to thin in the front of my scalp. it was hard to deny what was going on.  When I would stand under a bright light in front of a mirror, I could not deny that my hair was thinning.

I, of the long thick, horse hair locks.

The problem for me about using Revivogen, which is totally proven to me before my very eyes, is, the serum smells like sesame oil (to me).

It’s not a bad smell – it’s just a smell I don’t like.

Hunting for a b day present and needing a refill of Kitoko Hydro-Revive shampoo and conditioner from Lincoln Whang’s BOSS Beauty Supply, part of me was thinking of buying a set of Revivogen for myself.

Lincoln had mentioned Kitoko’s Age Prevent Scalp Tonic before, but knowing how rigid the bf is……

Well here’s the results of my using the product-basically using the applicator which has a thin tip to apply the product to the areas that is thinning (on clean, damp hair).

March 28 – Before

IMG_1759

After, May 9

IMG_1850

I’m really careful to avoid letting the product drip onto my forehead and I apply my foundation and skincare prior to doing the hair thing.  The last thing I need is more hair where I don’t want it!

Kitoko products are not easily found- I think when I started using them and searching for info on the internet, they didn’t have much of a web presence.

Even now, on their site, this product is not even on it.

Find it at Lincoln’s BOSS Beauty Supply in the Nimitiz Business Center – 2.5 fl oz is $24 for BOSS members.

Check out the rest of the selection of Kitoko, Neuma and Saphira products.

Your hair on your head will thank you.

k

Melt Me-Boots No 7-Melting Gel Cleanser V Fresh Soy Cleanser

I paid my taxes so I’m feeling a feeling of a period of austerity is appropriate.

But seriously, I’ve always felt that Fresh’ Soy Cleanser, a fragrance-free, gel to liquid cleanser was a fantastic product, but too expensive at $38 for 5.1 oz.

I usually get the Fresh product in a sample, or if I really feel I want it badly enough, I buy the deluxe “sample” at Sephora-1.7 oz. for $15.

So  you get that I really like the product – or at least the formula.

I waited until the excitement died down over the new Kailua Target that opened last week just prior to spring break. Was wondering if it offered anything different from the Salt Lake branch so, because I had a free afternoon-cruised on over.

The Target is identical to the older one, it’s a clean and pleasant place to shop.  The Bloomingdales of the box retailers.

So, nothing new.

But because it was new, the cosmetic shelves were stocked a little better. Once or twice I have been in the store and the Boots No 7 product specialist was around. Not today, but it didn’t matter.

I’m at the point where I actually have to think pretty hard to figure out if I really NEED to buy anything related to skincare and make up.

Sad I know.

But I haven’t been head over heels in love with the foaming version of Cerave’ cleanser, it works but not so happy with the experience, so…

As usual, I strayed.

The Boots No 7 Melting Gel Cleanser on the anti-aging/mature/dry skin shelf fit the bill–about $8 bucks for a 5 oz or so size.  It’s sealed so I could not smell the product, which if it’s stinky is grounds for putting it back on the shelf.

Anyway.

I get it home, and use it in the shower where I wash off my make up.

I require that cleanser be a one-step process. Take off the mascara, clean off whatever make up I have on, DONE!

And, the Boots No 7 product does the job just as well.

Although it does have fragrance, it is not strong. Though for sensitive skin types, it might irritate.

So, am I in love so much I won’t stray?

I dunno.

k