Boots No 7

I’ve been fascinated with this brand, and even though I went to London last year – still did not try it after reading about the line’s Protect and Prevent Intense Serum in Allure and other beauty mags.

I have a price threshold for drugstore brand skincare that doesn’t pass $15. I know it’s funny.

But, although I’m ok with buying Oil of Olay’s Daily Moisture spf15 – something that I put on when I first wake up to give my skin a drink, paying more than a few bucks is pain-ful.

I’m much harder on my evaluation of drugstore brands and their price points vs physician name brand, glitzy retail or prescription strength.

I guess it’s because I don’t expect the drugstore brands to really do much for me.  All of them have some product endorsed by Allure or Good Housekeeping et al -but somehow paying almost $30 for those brands doesn’t convince me that dollar for dollar they will work.

Because the same magazines also note that drugstore and lesser brands have less active ingredients.

That’s why you pay less.


There are plenty of products that work great – but I have to say they are in the cleanser and toner class- not the critical area of skin-CARE.


In the case that Boots No. 7 was on sale for $21.99 this past weekend at Tar-je’.  Lucky me the Boots sales representative was there encouraging people to try the products.  I asked her if the Intense Serum was for me because on the bottle it says it treats deep lines and wrinkles – that lucky for me I don’t have. She countered that -the product is great to prevent.

I smoothed a dab on my hand and smelled it – vaguely familiar.

Then it struck me – it smells like vitamin A based products-one of which is Nerium AD. I don’t know for sure what Nerium has in it besides retinoid product, but for $21.99 vs $100+ – hmmmm.

I asked the salesgirl —is the product stronger than physician prescribed? In the Obaji system the tretonin is usually given at 10% – though you can get stronger straight on Retin A. She did not confirm or deny.

I thought about buying it – but ended up not buying.  At the end of the day, though everyone says Retin A is the most critical skin care ingredient – I’m still a big believer in vitamin C.

I’ll give you the update on the 20% L-asorbic acid (vit c) product I bought instead.

Don’t ask me how much it cost.





To the Defense! -Shiseido Urban Environment Tinted UV Protector SPF 43

That’s a mouthful!

I saw the ad for this product in Allure magazine and was highly curious.

Shiseido doesn’t call it a BB cream or a CC cream or a ZZ cream.  But does everything.  The little sample says “A lightweight, oil free tinted protector that shields against daily UV rays.  Anti-photo aging, anti-oxidative and moisturizing effects protect and maintain skin’s beauty.

Another mouthful!  Amazing they got that all on the little sample card!

Like all Shiseido products, the cream smells good and goes on easily.  I like to take color products on my fingertips and warm it up a little- it stirs the product up as well.  Sometimes my Laura Mercier Silk Creme separates in the tube, but mixes easily.


This defending product is so highly pigmented it is like putting on cream foundation.  Plus it has all the benefits that guard against anti-aging.

Maybe the product is little league for Shiseido who is a skincare giant internationally – known for their color line, but if you take a look at the JNs from Japan most of them avoid the sun and take care of their skin.  They have a leg up on being taught to take care of their skin very early on, and have great products that FOCUS on skincare first.

The only thing is the product only comes in light, medium, dark–happily I match the medium shade so I can use it.  Many other BB CC creams also come in these few “shades” but they don’t work well – too pink, too dark too too.


A high recommend if you’re looking for an all in one.  Just make sure if you really want to use it as a one step, meaning you don’t apply separate layer of sunscreen, make sure you put enough product on to get the UV protection.


Hello Old Friend–Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line Reducer aka Power Line

I know I know I know the real name of the product by Kiehl’s that is my go to and now my go back to vitamin C serum.

I skipped a bottle and wandered around a bit trying different samples of serums like Lancome’s Visionnaire, Perricone’s Cold Plasma etc etc.

But I just thought though they were only samples–they were lacking.

Even when I had a 7 day sample of Lancome’s Genefique-I got a better result.


My heart goes back to you Powerful C

On days I think I ‘m a little dull

I know that you’re the one for me

Oh you, Oh C, Oh Kiehls you’re the one

Why pay more for products that do less

For the brown spots caused by my days in the sun.

I call you Power Line-but I really know your name

I’ll always come back to you

Oh Kiehls Oh C – you’re the one


Is It Working?

That’s probably what most people think when they get a new product and start using it-wondering if their fine lines are diminished, brown spots are lighter or skin looks refreshed and dewy?

I have invested in enough products over the last 15 years or so to fight back the ravages of my younger sun days, but resisted using retinol products until now.

Maybe at the 10 years ago mark, I used Retin A because everyone else was trying it, and I couldn’t handle the flaking of my facial skin.  I was working full-time in sales where, it was hard to explain what was going on with my face when I met a new potential client.

I tried tri-luma and various other vitamin A based products, but always veered away because they were too irritating.

I don’t like to exfoliate either with harsh scrubs so, I probably wasn’t giving my products the best opportunity to work at the end of the day.

Vitamin A, retinols, tretonin and related, are used to encourage exfoliation and build collagen.  As people grow older the renewal process slows down so we need a little help.

I’ve been noticing more fine lines around my eyes, and a little bit of melasma on my cheek so I was starting to think about switching from my regimen of Kiehl’s Power Concentrate; a vitamin C based product which did wonders on lightening my skin.

But change is almost always good.

So, I got a bottle of True Vision Center’s retinol serum, at the 5x strength and have been alternating with other products.  It depends on how my skin is feeling at night – whether I was in the sun at all, or wore more make up than usual, felt tight etc.

What I’ve noticed is, on the nights I don’t use the retinol based serum, it feels like my other products are “doing something”.

And no flaking!

Prior to this, I’d put the product on, and they’d feel like nice comforting creams and I’d go to bed.

I have noticed after about two weeks of this alternating schedule, my fine lines around my eyes are smoothing out.

Will post an update in about a month.


The Defender-Or, How to Get Your Man to Use Sunscreen

Okay, you may or may not know that I am Asian, and have some natural sunscreen in the form of melatonin in my skin so I tan but don’t burn over-easily.

But I wear sunscreen everyday, faithfully since I live in Hawaii.

So…..not to name names, but I know of more than a few men with blue eyes, freckle skin, red hair, or blonde or some variation on the theme, who do not wear sunscreen.

Not only do they not wear sunscreen, but they refuse to wear sunscreen.

I’ve heard it from my friends whose husbands can’t stand to put anything girly or creamy on their skin, and other significant people who just don’t think it’s manly.

Eh–what’s manly about skin cancer, moles, irregular shaped funny-looking, crusty-crispy stuff, apparently growing on your face, body, head, arm, leg etc.

Ok, a little ruggedness wrinkle edges  or scratchiness is okay, but skin cancer is not.


I’ve found the perfect product that all concerned women and readers of this post can offer up to any man or young man to use to protect their skin.

I give a high recommend to Clinique‘s Super Defense, SPF 25.  It comes in a few combinations for dry to normal, normal-oily etc. It not only protects their facial skin from the sun’s very harmful rays, but shhhhhhhh – it’s also skincare.

It has moisturizing and anti-aging ingredients, but don’t tell them that.

Just tell them – it doesn’t smell girly, in fact it barely has fragrance.

It’s texture is less frothy-it’s typical Clinique-it has an almost plastic feel to the cream.

It comes in a uni-sex colored jar – I call it Clinique minty-green, with silver lettering.

Clinique does have the M line for men, which comes in a dark gunmetal gray packaging, but for a funny reason does not have this same product. In fact, the men’s line really isn’t very developed.

So ladies, moms, girlfriends, wives and friends – get your man putting on this sunscreen-tell him it’s a cream version of your love and affection.



Really? The Search for Testimony


Three times I have been by the Lancome‘ counter to check out or purchase whatever.

And three times, the salesperson is probably in their 60-s, or at least their skin looks like they’ve spent a lot of time in the sun.

More power to you.

But, all three times, the salespeople talked about how Visionnaire, and the combo of Visionnaire and Genefique had made a huge difference in their skin texture.

I’m sorry, I have a very hard time believing them.

I know, that people need a job, and this job is what they want or like to do. But I think the salestraininers/marketing people at Lancome’ need to rethink strategy on getting this product flying off the shelves.  Personally I think when they gave 7-days of genefique samples that was a better way to get people hooked on the product.  Expensive yes, but far more convincing.

I think nowadays people are less willing to shell out cash for a wing and a prayer promise of lines, wrinkles and brown spots removed.

Somewhat like that, is when the ReVive’ people were in town and a very young person was part of the sales team at Nordstroms.  That’s cool, but it’s the flip side, do I really think the products make a difference NOW for her?

I mean, a much younger person hopefully has the benefit of starting sunscreen earlier so there’s less concern about brown spots from the sun, or premature aging.

At least that’s what I am thinking.

Then there are the real life testimonies that I see with my own eyes.  Like the ReVive/Estee Lauder person who was using ReVive’s Peau line-I hadn’t seen her for a month or so, so I really noticed a huge difference in her skin.  The Peau line is the super duper line, the upgrade from the $250 a jar ReViVe’ Moisture Renewal.

And the other testimony I saw and believe is a woman I have known for about 20 years. I asked her about the Nerium AD product she was selling, and she pointed to around her eyes and said her crow’s feet were pretty much gone in 3 days!  She showed me her pictures too.

But, what I found remarkable was that around her eyes DEFINITELY looked like she had done something because there were no wrinkles!


Let’s hear it for real results based on real testimonials done by real people and not in a lab where the percentages are based on controlled environments and improvement is relative.




Brown Spots: The War of the C’s

In the quest to get rid of brown spots from the sun, melasma or just plain aging – I’ve been using two products (primarily) the last few months.

In the war between Kiehl’s Powerful Line Concentrate v Philosophy Turbo Vitamin C Booster Powder, I know that the Kiehl’s product by itself works very well.  In a way, since I used the Kiehl’s product first, it lightened by brown spots significantly, and using Philosphy‘s Turbo Booster C Powder has turned out to be a novelty.

At the end of the day, Kiehl’s Powerful Line is just plain easier to use.  It comes in a brown pump bottle that just a squirt pretty much gets the product on your face.

On the other hand, Philosophy’s powder product with the little spoon and the mixing of the product with a cream is a fun novelty at first, but it gets old after awhile.  Especially when I am at the gym and don’t have a lot of time to dilly-dally.

I know I could use other serums, but for price point and superior performance of working on brown spots, Kiehl’s wins. At $56 a bottle, it just makes sense.



Another product that I love but is in that same category of fun at first is Laura Mercier‘s Tight Liner-fun to draw on but mixing with water ( I don’t need waterproof) works when I am at home,but not at the gym and I am not near a sink.

Channel BATV-Beauty Appeal TV

I think when I was younger I would feel a little insecure when some guy got all starry-eyed when he mentioned some celeb and how hot some other girl on tv was.

One day it just dawned on me that the possibility of the reality of him ever meeting that person was nil, and how silly it was for the attraction to even register.

Of course, I’ve heard some pretty fantastical stories that involved Darryl Hannah, Lauren Bacall and another blonde from a man who had a penchant for long leggy blondes. But, when (to this day) he claimed he saw Mick Jagger in the UK at a tourist sight with no entourage, and I was there and saw the same person of which he still refers, I just laugh when he tells the stories of his chance meetings.

Anyway – I love New Beauty Magazine-it’s a bi-monthly-quarterly glossy mag that has the latest products. I love the celeb before and afters because I really think some of the befores are real because the celebs really look like they just fell out of bed, zits and all.

My bone to pick with NB is I don’t get the feeling so much that the editors are just reviewing product impartially, but for selling ads. Sometimes I question their view-they tend to be a little narrow in focus especially when it comes to skin lightening products.

Two things – if you don’t use anything at all then you’ll see results faster. If you already do a lot, any difference will take a lot longer. The second, would be everybody has their own little chemical system so products act differently. But New Beauty seems to recommend the same stuff that usually doesn’t work like licorice extract, kojic acid etc. I’m all for a gentle, more natural approach but I know to expect results on a much longer term basis(if at all).  Are they getting paid to feature those same products – supported by ad sales- or would they really back their hype up?

It’s all in the marketing anyway.

A few weeks ago I watched the series finale of Desperate Housewives, and I thought, wow-I know they are on tv and such, but they have a lot of make up on, and they all have really long hair. I love their outfits and they look great!

But then, those feelings of insecurity started up-maybe I should wear more makeup? Grow my hair longer and grow my bangs out?

Is the beauty ideal really just marketing people trying to entice you into buying one more cream, one more serum or something or other of a new whatever?

The tv show marketing people probably figured out this is how everybody wants to be? So they can sell more L’Oreal ads for hair color or wrinkle cream, or on The Good Wife where Juliana Marguiles is a spokesperson for L’Oreal and the show bumpers curiously enough use the same close up pose used in the ads.

So, fast forward to my Nordstrom’s Laura Mercier national make up application and I am asking Mark what about the makeup they use on tv shows?  He told me to the affect-if real people wore that much make up it would look really aging.

But it looks so pretty.

As I sit here in my pjs with no makeup and my hair in a post-sleep bun-I wonder,

does the ‘on’ button go on immediately, or is it just for when you walk out into the world?


A Place in the Sun

Hah! On my first date with the blue-eyed man aka man-in-my-life, he was telling me how much he enjoyed golf, kayaking and the water in general. I told him right then and there that I am a sunphobe.

Things were great up to that point, but just reading his face, I could tell he was a bit disappointed. To his credit he had a nice recovery and countered, but if it were later in the day when the sun isn’t so strong, that would be ok?

Life is a negotiation.

Sun exposure in and of it itself is a non-negotiable in Hawaii-most days we have a lot of sun. But people know to stay out of the sun during the hottest points of the day and wear plenty of sunscreen.

But when you are planning a day in the sun – like golfing when you haven’t golfed regularly and probably in for hours, well….

I’m starting off this morning by moisturizing mask of a thick layer of my ReVive’ cream.  I have jazz class later this morning and will drink at least a liter of Deep Sea Water (from the depths of the Big Island, underneath the sea I think.  Real deep sea water is more expensive because they have to desalinize it etc).

My plan is after my shower, Kiehl’s Power Line Concentrate vitamin C, followed by Rosa Artica to seal in that first layer.  Under my eyes I will try out Laura Mercier‘s Eye Serum.  After that has a moment to sink in I will follow with my Clarins spf40. Let that dry a bit and put on a physical block, Neutregena55.   Over that, Laura Mercier Radiance Primer, and then Laura Merceir Tinted Moisturizer – both spf20.

I asked the makeup artist from Laura Mercier, Mark the other day at the Nordstrom’s event, why the color products did not have higher spf and he said because it would effect the formula. Makes sense. They did recommend a chemical and a physical block, and that you can’t really put more spf over foundation if you want to be flawless.

For face color, I will do brows, and line with Laura Mercier tight liner in Bleu Marine, her creme shadow, and maybe a smudge of Caviar shadow in smoke – all products that have staying power.  For lips, I will line a little, put on some initial lip gel color in Courtesan(by Laura) and carry around my Baby Lips, spf25 lip balm.  I also keep a little pot of moisturizer in my pocket which I shamelessly apply in public.

Multiple layers yes–and that vitamin C layer is its own block in the form of anti-oxidants.

Onto the bod.

My plan is to moisturize with my Johnson&Johnson 24 hour (my last bottle). On top of that I have Kiehl’s spf30 which I will put on my neck, arms and legs.  For my chest I will also apply another layer of Neutregena55.  I’ve noticed the times that I am out in the sun a little bit the neck area gets pink on me.

For my hair, believe it or not that’s a consideration as well.  I use the Kitoko Oil in my hair which has anti-oxidants which provide UV protection-probably not a lot but something is better than nothing.  Since I use a gloss on my hair, my color doesn’t really fade-it washes out after 6 weeks or so, but my grow out is faster so I am on a 4 week schedule at this point.

So that’s pre-sun. What about apres soleil?

I think we are going out to dinner so this may follow later. But I plan to do a Korean cloth mask with hyularonic acid.  HA is a naturally occurring chemical in your body which is basically a moisturizer.  They also use it in products like Restylane which is injected into your crevices to plump up lines.

Follow that with a mask of Orlane, and a generous slather of Rosa Artica and Vitamin C. I think that will help repair any exposure damage.

For my body, I have my new favorite moisturizers-CeraVe’ body cream and Aveena Baby 24 Hour Body Cream for Sensitive Skin.

I know-it’s a lot but I take skin and sun exposure seriously.

Anyway, this is what I do—


Beauty and the Brow

I was going through some old photos the other day and I took one out to show my blue eyed man how black my hair was when I was 28 or 29.  In the shot I am in glorious 80-s style makeup with red red lips, red red fingernails and OMG the most bushy unkempt brows I don’t care to remember!

Me at 28 or 29, New Year's Eve at Nicolas Nicolas with bushy brows and 80-s makeup!

Since I just got my brows done professionally by Stacie at Marsha Nadalin, brow artist extraordinaire,  I figured it made sense to post a before and after, though the after is roughly 20 years AFTER!

Really, don’t you just hate it when your brows are all weird?  I can practically feel the errant hairs poking out and it makes my physically uncomfortable.  Plus, oftentimes I channel Spock and I lift my right eyebrow and I swear it gets stuck there after awhile, so Stacie has her job cut out for her in making them look even.

I did my brows by myself for the last

20 years later, much better brows!

year, Stacie had given me a great foundation and I had been trying to maintain them. But when I get in front of the mirror in ballet class I can see things have drastically gone wild!

Happily, I am back on the program and will let Stacie take over!

This aging stuff is a drag-but I am happy I have professionals like Stacie ad Hillary my hair stylist to beat back the hairier effects!