Beauty Dish

November 13, 2017

It's been a while since we had a Beauty Dish post up...over seven months to be exact. Yikes. Shame on me and Sally! Being the beauty (skin care, makeup, etc.) freaks that we are, we have a truck-load of new favorites to share. So expect this to be the first of more to come.

You know what makes me excited? Having a tan. I have a lot of self love but even the hint of a tan can make me feel 99% better about how I look. That said, I basically shun the sun. Apart from two warm-weather trips over the spring/summer and less than a handful of days poolside in Dallas, I was inside...glowing like Casper. I spent part of my spring and summer researching, trying, testing, and eventually hating a lot of different self-tanning products. Streaks on my body, patches of darkness where there shouldn't be, "self tanner" smells, clothes/bed linens/towels that got stained...and even with all that nonsense, nothing really gave me a good, natural-looking lasting tan.

I chalked all my failures up to user error and eventually started shelling out $$ to professionals to spray me down. In late August I tried the Vita Liberata pHenomenal Mousse and felt that I had found the BEST stuff for my body yet. By mid-September I had bought the Coola Sunless Tan Face Serum and determined I now I had the ideal combo for my bod and face. Then exactly a month ago I was introduced to TAN-LUXE. In all my self-tanning research I hasn't come across this name - and I was very, very skeptical. But their beautiful branding (I's perfect) and promise of "no streaks. No smells. No drama." mantra was enough for me to give everything a try. Well...NOTHING COMPARES TO THIS STUFF. And I'm about to tell you why.


Warning: this post is super long. I’m sorry…but I’m not that sorry. This stuff is important! And I sweartogawd this isn’t sponsored, I am just truly 100% obsessed with TAN-LUXE.

Where do I start? I guess I’ll explain what makes TAN-LUXE different than pretty much every other self-tan brand and product. DHA (dihydroxyacetone) is a colorless chemical (manufactured synthetically, or derived from natural things, like beet sugar or cane sugar) that interacts with the amino acids in dead skin cells to produce a brown color change. No DHA = no lasting self tan. Where most self tanning products go wrong is the addition of colors and stains that act as “guides” when applying. I’ve used several products with this addition (including the Vita Liberate Mouse) and while it seemed helpful when putting it on, it got ALL over my pjs and bed sheets (I always put self-tanner on my body before bed) and even after rinsing the next morning in the shower, color was still transferring to my towels. And that lovely brown tint continued to come off – on my workout clothes, towels, etc. – in the days that followed. Annoying but I figured it was the price to pay. The only issue is that paying the price still didn’t get me free of streaks or have much staying power.

Want to know why those tinted formulas don’t seem to last longer than the initial darkness you get right after applying? Because the synthetic dyes break down the tanning actives in DHA! It’s not user error that’s causing your streaks, dark patches, uneven fading, and all that sad stuff – it’s the formulas in the products that give a less-than-perfect result.

TAN-LUXE will tell you that what really sets them apart is that their products are designed for “tailor-made tanning.” And trust me, that’s a HUGE selling point that I’ll explain more about below. But for me, the biggest game changer is that the TAN-LUXE sources three of the highest quality tanning actives (naturally derived from pure rapeseed oil and sugar beet) to create an exclusive DHA composition. They call this their “Triple-Tan Technology” and it reacts with the amino acids on the skin’s surface to natural enhance melanin without staining the skin – so it works – and it’s completely color-free.

The whole “no smells” factor is 100% for real. After using TAN-LUXE for 2+ weeks I tried some of my other stuff to compare the two…and there’s literally no comparison. The smell of my Vita Liberata Mousse (which I originally thought was fine) is horrific compared to the very light almost nonexistent scent of TAN-LUXE. All I know is that TAN-LUXE has an “Odourlite Fragrance Technology” (they are very tech-savvy if you can’t tell) that minimizes that disgusting traditional self tan smell. Just an FYI…if you use the mousse at night then do a workout in the morning, the sweat combined with the product doesn’t smell great but it’s still nothing like that cat food smell you get after a spray tan.

On to the tailor-made-tanning. The genius behind TAN-LUXE is a Marc Elrick…he’s a beauty entrepreneur and he and his husband Dylan own an award winning hair salon in Glasgow. Marc and Dylan  recognized that their clients had great hair and great make-up…but less than great self tans. They asked their clients questions (lots of questions) about what they felt were the biggest problems with self-tanning (smell, color, dryness and streaking) and compiled tons of notes before landing on a light bulb moment: “if consumers can control and customize the color of their make-up, then why not self tan?” As we all know, make-up is not a one-size-fits-most market. There are hundreds of shades, tons formulas based on application preference and desired results, and the option to use products with natural, non-toxic ingredients that still worked. With all this in mind, Marc began his five year journey of creating TAN-LUXE.

If you’re like me and you hadn’t heard of TAN-LUXE till now, it’s because the brand launched its first product – The FACE – in July 2015 and has been growing its product line, following, and wholesale accounts since then. Sephora just started selling it and you can also find it now on Net-A-Porter. Expect to be hearing about TAN-LUXE a lot more…and along side glowing (see what I did there?!) reviews.

Given that Marc wanted TAN-LUXE to feel as personalized as the options available with make-up, the line is comprised of products in a variety of textures and formulations. It’s the first self-tan brand to combine oils and lotions in the formulations that work alongside your natural skin tone, creating the ultimate undetectable, flawless glow. By combining raspberry seed oil, vitamin E and hydrolysed silk, TAN-LUXE combats the most frequent tanning complaints of dryness, uneven colour and that weird but always distinguishable “self-tanning” smell. The ingredients in each product formula are highly moisturizing, making each application easy and even. No streaks, no smells, no drama.

Here are the products:

Illuminating Self-Tan Drops: the line’s two core products are THE FACE and THE BODY. Both are concentrates that work in synergy with your existing skincare routine to be a custom-made self tanner. THE FACE can be added to your favorite serum, lotion or cream and THE BODY to your go-to lotion or oil. The difference between the two is that THE BODY has a Cellutone Complex with firming and toning qualities…which makes it ideal for your bod. Best part: the Triple-Tan Technology works with your skin to deliver a tan within 60 minutes of application. Both THE FACE and THE BODY come in “light to medium” and “medium to dark” options. P.S. They have an Anti-Age version of THE FACE!

Transparent Tanning: wondering how those crystal-clear bottles actually result in a tan? Science (like all that stuff I wrote above). THE WATER and HYDRA-MOUSSE are completely color free but they work – and give a darker, more lasting tan than the drops (IMHO). Along with having the Triple-Tan Technology, these transparent formulas combined vitamins and “Moisture 24” technology to hydrate while illuminating. The HYDRA-MOUSSE comes with a tanning mitt for applying (!) and guess what, the mousse doesn’t stain the mitt at all. And the mitt is machine washable. Boom. THE WATER you just mist evenly and use from head to toe. Unlike the drops and gradual formulas, these take longer to fully develop (don’t shower for 4-6 hours after application!) but they are very, very quick drying (pretty much immediate) so perfect for before bed. Like the self-drops, The WATER and The MOUSSE also come in “light to medium” and “medium to dark” options

Face Oiling: if you’re not into the idea of the self-tan drops, the SLEEP OIL might be for you. Designed to work in tandem with you skin’s natural overnight regeneration, SLEEP OIL rejuvenates, stimulates and hydrates your skin while you sleep and delivers a natural looking, radiant glow by morning. Same Triple-Tan Technology but no need to add to a serum/lotion/cream because it’s already packed with great overnight skin treatments.

Gradual Tanning: I have legitimately lived in fear of gradual tanning lotions and creams ever since sorority rush my freshman year of college. The smell of Jergen’s Natural Glow was so pungent I couldn’t breathe. But the whole idea of building a tan with lotion – something I already do every day – is so appealing! TAN-LUXE delivers the first gradual formulas that work and don’t smell like death. THE GRADUAL is a lotion and oil hybrid that can be used for face or body (but it has the same Cellutone Complex as THE BODY, just to note). Natural tan served up in 60 minutes. Just keep using it to maintain and build color. THE BUTTER is also gradual and has the same Cellutone Complex but is much richer than the THE GRADUAL. That said, it’s still super light (I would just say it’s more of a dense hydration) and quick-drying. This one takes about 6 hours to fully develop.

Highlighting: remember that Michael Kors leg shine stuff that was all the rage…like 9 years ago? THE GLOSS is kind of the same concept – only better. A highlighter and instant tanner in one, THE GLOSS is a multi-tasking stick that can be used to give radiance, color, gloss and glow in one swipe. Great for dusting on your shoulders when going sleeveless or for the front of your legs to get that J.Lo look. The zero-glitter factor keeps you from looking like a fool and the micro reflective particles give a mirror like sheen that’s, well, perfect.

Which stuff do I use the most?

  • THE WATER: I’m addicted to this stuff. What is easier than spritzing your face a few times then forgetting about it? Nothing. The fact that a few sprays actually turns into a lasting tan is ridiculous and amazing. I use apply this mostly on my face/neck/upper chest area. Mainly, I’ll use the WATER at night as my last step in my skincare regimen – but I’ve also used it during the day on top of my SPF (just to be sure I had a nice glow for the evening, you know?) and I just don’t think there’s a wrong time to use it. So easy so good so effective. P.S. I use the light to medium color. And yes the tan is immediate, noticeable, and lasting!
  • HYDRA-MOUSSE: no other self-tanning mousse product compares to this. At first I was like “Ya this clear formula sounds great but if I can’t see where I’m putting it, I’ll get so many streaks.” Wrong. So very wrong. Using the mitt (that comes with it) makes it foolproof. It’s so moisturizing/hydrating that unlike other mousse stuff I’ve tried, it spreads really well and I have never ever gotten a single streak. I have used my mitt several times back to back without washing it (it doesn’t get stained) but I wanted to see how it held up in my washing machine…it came out completely new with a drop of detergent and delicate spin cycle on cold. Just lay flat to dry and you’re good for the next time. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to cover myself in this mousse, put on white pj’s, sleep on white sheets, and shower in the morning with white towels and not see an ounce of color anywhere. Complete self-tanning game changer. I use The MOUSSE at least once a week – usually on Thursday so I head into the weekend with the perfect color – but sometimes I’ll use it twice a week if I’m really wanting to feel 100% awesome. I use the light to medium color – two pumps for each leg, one and a half pumps for each arm, then pumps as needed for torso and back.
  • THE FACE: I use the drops about once every three days. Application is as easy as mixing three of the drops into a regular-size amount of my face creams (just mix with my fingers in the palm of one hand) as the last step in my nighttime routine (and yes, I’ll typically top it off with a couple sprays of The WATER because the combo is just too good). I always take it down the neck so that it’s even but have never had any streaks along my jawline (typical self-tanning issue) or weird orange coloration along my hairlines. I use the light to medium color and usually do three misting sprays – top part of my face (forehead zone) in the middle and then the middle part of my face on each side.
  • SLEEP OIL: this product is lovely and I may use it in place of the drops when I don’t feel like doing the mixing process but given how attached I am to my serums, oil, and other face potions, I typically only wear the SLEEP OIL when I’m feeling utterly lazy and don’t want to do any mixing with The FACE drops.

DON’T FORGET: always, aways, always wash your hands/palms after using this good stuff! Tan paws = not natural looking. So if I’m using the drops, the SLEEP OIL, or the gradual products I immediately wash my hands with soap and hot water. I should probably wash my hands after using THE MOUSSE but once I do the tops of my hands with the mitt I usually forget…and I’ve never had a problem. Since you don’t have to do any rubbing with THE WATER (the mist is so fine, it sprays completely evenly) I don’t do any hand washing after using it.

Oh my gosh. That was so long. But so fun to write. I haven’t been this excited about a beauty product since discovering NeuLash 5+ years ago. Given that it’s fall and colder weather is coming, do yourself a favor and give your face/body/self the gift of TAN-LUXE. You’ll be naturally glowing like a goddess all holiday long!

Shit. Did I even talk about how TAN-LUXE is chemical free, natural and non-toxic, vegan-friendly, cruelty free, and formulated without any parabens, synthetic dyes, mineral oils, sulphates and other crap that’s really bad for you? Sorry. No you know. Certified organic but delivers results. I don’t know what more good things I can say about this brand…the only problem is that I’m addicted. But there are way worse vices, right?!

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Beauty Dish

April 6, 2017

Now that I am in week 36 of my pregnancy, I have a long-established routine with my skin that I have been consistently practicing and loving. Adapting a new routine with new products geared towards my changing skin and body wasn't all that hard...I have always been pretty regimented with my skincare routine and never skip a full face washing (and toning and moisturizing), no matter how tired I may be. Everything I use on my skin is safe to use while pregnant and have been working really well to treat/prevent various skin situations that typically arise during pregnancy. So excited to share what have become my tried and true pregnancy skincare savors and essentials!

Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil ($64): Stretchmarks often come hand in hand with pregnancy and many people swear that they are hereditary and therefore nothing can actually prevent them. I have yet to develop any through the years, and figured that it wouldn’t hurt to use treatments to potentially prevent them if I could. And, at 36 weeks, my belly is a full fledged basketball and has been stretched to the max. With regular (daily) use of Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil, I have yet to see a single stretch mark so I am now a firm believer in the stuff. My friend Hannah was the one who recommended the oil to me after loving it during both of her pregnancies. I have continued to replenish it throughout mine and now consider it a must have! (also find it here, here, and here)

Eminence Organics Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster-Serum ($41): I’ve never had any sort of pigmentation/melasma issues with my facial skin until I was about 30 weeks pregnant when it just decided to appear one morning. Nothing drastic, but definitely some pigmentation that I noticed – otherwise referred to as the “mask of pregnancy”. I can’t say that my situation resembles a mask, but regardless, I wanted to be sure that I was using products to target what was going on. I discovered Eminence’s Licorice Serum through House of Preservation as being a pregnancy-safe way to even out one’s skin tone. The reviews on Amazon are amazing and many of them were written by pregnant women which immediately sold me. So far I’ve been using the product for a month now, both morning and night, after cleansing and toning and can say that I’ve truly seen a difference. My hope is that the pigmentation will go away after pregnancy/breastfeeding and once my hormones are back to normal!

UMA Brightening Face Oil ($150) and Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum ($185): Both morning and night, I finish my skincare routine with an oil or serum. I rotate between three different oils/serums to make them last me as long as possible. In addition to the True Botanicals routine I wrote about here (which I am still absolutely loving), I rotate between that and UMA’s Brightening Face Oil and Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum. All three of these are such high quality oils/serums that I know I am giving my skin the absolute best. I honestly could not apply makeup/tinted moisturizer to my skin without having put one of these on beforehand. It makes everything glide on that much smoother and gives my skin a certain glow. But I also love those days where I don’t wear any makeup and my skin gets to soak up alll of the goodness all day long. At night, I make sure to do this last step a little while before my head hits the pillow so that the products can really sink in and work their magic.

True Botanicals Nourishing Lotion ($42): I’ve always had extremely sensitive skin, but those sensitivities have multiplied with being pregnant! My generally dry skin has become dryer and I have to be very mindful of what I am using on my body skin. I swear that using a non-toxic moisturizer like True Botanicals Nourishing Lotion has been a game changer and my strange sensitivities like itchiness while wearing workout pants have disappeared. I basically apply it everywhere that I don’t use the Clarins Oil and my skin remains moisturized throughout the day, which hardly ever happens to me. I’ve also loved using the True Botanicals Body Balm on my belly once a day – in addition to the Clarins Oil – the smell is beyond.

Majestic Pure Coconut Milk Body Scrub ($14.50): I realized over halfway through being pregnant that regular exfoliation can also help with stretch mark prevention. At one point I read that doing this is just as important as it is to moisturize. It also helps all of the moisturizing you’re doing really absorb into the skin. I came across this Coconut Milk Scrub on Amazon and am completely obsessed. It doesn’t hurt that I love all things coconut, but it also does an unreal job of exfoliating and leaving my skin beyond soft after each use. The fact that it is 100% natural makes me confident in using it almost daily, too!

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Beauty Dish

June 30, 2016

"What are these?" [holds up a bag with 3 lemons]
"You asked for lemons. What my baby wants my baby gets. You know that."
"There are 3 lemons. I asked for 12. Baby wanted 12."
"Why would you want 12 lemons?"
Exchange between Brooke and Gary from The Break-Up

I know it's kind of a sad movie but I love The Break-Up. Conversations like the above or my favorite quote "I want you to want to do the dishes!" feel so real to me...expectations, disappointments, love, and sarcasm. Any time I see a bunch of lemons I replay the above scene in my head and either get annoyed or delighted thinking about the differences between women and men. Because while we might not always be understood, women usually know what we want. This is all a round-about way of introducing two beauty products that I had been looking for as a way to fill a void in my routine. I knew what I wanted, and after rounds of testing and a few disappointments, I finally found a cleansing oil and sunless tanning lotion that exceeded my expectations.


CosMedix Purity Solution ($35): Cleansing oils have been a thing for a while now. Most promise to dissolve make-up without stripping the skin – making it an ideal first step in your skincare routine. I’m all for a two-step cleansing routine but all the oil cleansers I found were so oily that even with a follow-up cleanse and lots of water they never seemed to actually dissolve. For someone like me who hates feeling greasy this was a big problem. While at Houston’s Milk & Honey Spa (such a great spot – try it if you haven’t yet!) I was getting a facial and the aesthetician was talking to me about products she loves and what she was using on my skin…she mentioned CosMedix’s Purity Solution as being the best cleansing oil because when applied to dry skin it removes make-up, sunscreens, oils, and dirt then rinses clean with water. You don’t say? I wouldn’t have to follow-up with another cleanser if I didn’t want to? I took a bottle home with me and have been using it every night since. Yes, it’s a true oil and one that you massage on dry skin, but once emulsified with water it truly does rinse completely off your skin. And because the oils used are Argan, Moringa and Olive Oil your skin is left clean but super hydrated. I love how it smells and how it works. I do follow-up with another cleanser but only because I’m a freak and enjoy lots of steps. I’m already on my second bottle of the solution which is a true testament of how much I love it! (also find it here)

Clarins Self Tanning Milky-Lotion ($38): At the beginning of spring I asked of my beauty gurus, Kathleen Jennings of Beauty Now app, what her favorite sunless tanning product was. She said for face (which is what I was specifically looking for) she loves Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster. By adding a small amount of the glow booster to your daily moisturizer and mixing the two before applying, your face gets some sun-kissed action. Knowing that Clarins is infamous for their faux tan formulas I was totally down to give it a go. And I was *this* close to buying Kathleen’s suggestion (she’s never steered me wrong before) but then I caught sight of Clarins Self Tanning Milky-Lotion and after spending an embarrassing amount of time in Nordstrom deliberating which of the two to get, I took home the Milky-Lotion. Yes, I find the name a little off-putting (milky. why, Clarins? why?) but the consistency of the lotion and the nice smell felt less daunting to me than the glow booster. After an evening shower with my face prepped from a little exfoliation action, I was ready to get my glow on. The lotion can be used for both body and face so I took it from my face down to my chest so that the whole area would look even. After washing my hands – the most necessary step when doing any self tanning – I waited a few minutes before getting dressed and then I waited. By bedtime I still hadn’t noticed a glow but when I woke up in the morning I saw the subtle hint of tan I was wanting. Nothing crazy dark or drastic, but noticeable enough to make a difference and match the rest of my body (I’ll let my body get a tan but never my face and chest). What I love most about the formula – aside from the fact that it doesn’t smell bad or make my skin breakout – is that it lasts for a few days or can be built up with follow-up applications for more color. I use it two or three nights a week rather than every day and I love how I’m not a slave to maintaining the subtle glow. I’m still intrigued by the Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster and part of me wants to try it since I’d probably be using it during the day with my SPF vs. how I use the Milky-Lotion at night…I’d let you all know if I give it a go! (you can also find the Clarins Milky-Lotion herehere & here!)

P.S. Kathleen recently did a guest post on Wear + Where + Well divulging her summer skin routine and must-have (including the glow booster!) and it’s definitely worth reading…she’s tried just about everything and is so knowledgeable when it comes to all things skin and beauty! (also find it herehere & here!)

Pieces From The Post

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Beauty Dish

April 17, 2016

Long time no Beauty Dish post, huh? Honestly, these posts are among my favorite to create. But the reason Sally and don't have a new one each week is because we really only post what we have tried, tested and truly love, love, love. Whether it's drug-store budget buys (hey, hey), an investment serum, or daily favorites that are being showcased - you can trust that we're only dishing products we can't live without. Today I have what I consider to be tiny but mighty must-haves, both of which have been rocking my face off. Literally.

Renée Rouleau Anti-Cyst Treatment ($42.50): acne, adult acne, breakouts, blemishes…and the worst of them (as far as I’m concerned), cystic acne. Let’s just say that I’ve had my fun with all the aforementioned skin conditions. Wouldn’t wish ’em on my worst enemy…feeling like you have bad-looking skin can debilitating and humiliating. Lately (for the past 2-3 weeks) I have been having crazy breakouts and I’m chalking it up to a final round of skin purging that’s still happening since using the Active Botanical Serum by Vintner’s Daughter and some intense emotional stress that’s worked itself onto my face. For years I have been notorious for picking at my skin. Gross I know – but I’m sure some of you out there can empathize with the urge to pinch, pop, and pick, pick, pick whether it’s something small or huge on your face.

I figured “better out than in” when it came to picking, but after working with many talented estheticians I now know better. So now I try to sit on my hands and conceal with makeup until the blemish is actually ready to be gently released. However, I never really knew anything about blemishes aside from the “no pick” rule till Renée Rouleau (my skin “spirit animal”) told me and Sally the real deal…you can read everything I’m about to summarize in Renée’s super helpful blog post here, but basically, blemishes are an infection under the skin that wants to come out and most (i.e. most all) blemish spot-treatments try out the surface and trap the infection, making it stay longer.

The best thing you can do is let the blemish do it’s thing and work it’s way to the surface in the form of a yucky whitehead that can then be gently squeezed out. But…I can’t just not do anything! Renée, being the genius and skin educated goddess she is, realizes that many of us have this “I gotta put something on it” mentality and luckily she has the perfect product: her Anti-Cyst Treatment. Not only does this clear, thin gel work miracles on cystic acne spots – but it can also be used to help heal and reduce inflation of regular blemishes.

I order the Anti-Cyst Treatment over Easter weekend when Sally advised me that it legitimately works wonders and after using it on both cysts and blemishes I can say that it is the real deal. No, it’s not going to make a blemish or cyst disappear immediately but there’s nothing that can do that. What it does do is cut healing time in half, diminish redness and swelling, and aid the blemish infections to reach the surface of the skin faster. Highly, highly recommend. The best part? The formula is so light but a little goes a long way and even though it glides on like water, it truly does the job and wont irritate or dry out your pretty little face! Once the infection’s out, follow up with the Post-Breakout Fading Gel so that those dark marks won’t stick around.

P.S. Renée is always publishing incredibly helpful and informative posts to her blog so make sure you subscribe to her e-newsletter or check back regularly to see what she’s published!

Sara Happ ‘The Lip Slip’ One Luxe Gloss ($18): I’m a nude lip kinda girl. Give me light and natural 99% of the time and that other 1% I’ll bring the boldness with a ruby red or burgundy wine stain. Since I’ve recently gotten a few of you leaving questions on the blog comments and via Instagram asking what I wear on my lips, I figured it was a good time to share…my go-to product right now is ‘The Lip Slip’ One Luxe Gloss by Sara Happ.

Don’t know who Sara is? Well I was in the dark too until just before the new year but she’s made it her mission to develop lip products that do what the promise…what her promises is goods that exfoliate, hydrate and heal. I’m a gal who has tried a looooot of lip balms and glosses (they are a favorite impulse buy) but since trying Sara’s Lip Scrub (I use the Peony), Lip Slip, and Luxe Gloss I can say that I haven’t felt the need to impulse buy or swipe my lips with anything other than those three products.

The best part about the Lip Slip is that it’s an insane dose of moisture (side note, you almost want to eat it tastes so good) that can be worn all day and at bedtime. It has no color, just shine and wonderful balminess (if that’s even a word). The One Luxe Gloss has the same formula as the Lip Slip just with more shine and in a tube that’s easier to swipe on the lips. Thus, I have the One Luxe Gloss with me at all times and am pretty much always wearing it. It gives the perfect “naked lip,” glossy pout!

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Beauty Dish

March 15, 2016

Molly and I mentioned this face serum in our first "Current Vibes" post. Called the Active Botanical Serum by Vintner's Daughter, I first heard about it from my bestie and natural skincare fanatic, Hannah. Like me and Molly, she has battled with her skin for years - constantly searching for products that will combat acne and breakouts without drying or irritating. Sounds so simple...but between me, Molly, and Hannah we have probably tried dozens upon dozens of products (both natural and otherwise) that don't deliver on promises. Not only is this trial and error expensive, it's also incredibly frustrating. So let's just say that when Hannah told me that she tried the Vintner's Daughter serum and it literally changed her skin overnight I perked up and started Googling as much about it as I could. There's a lot of write-ups out there that will do their part to convince you how great this oil is (ForbesgoopInto The Gloss, and my fave on Bare Beauty)...this is just my take on what my skin went through and what I love about it!


Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum ($185): Let me guess, the first thing you’re thinking is, “$185 for oil? WTF.” And trust me – as someone living in San Fransisco and always on a budget I can sympathize with the cringe that comes when you look at the price tag. No, this stuff is not cheap so let’s not pretend that it is. But hold my hand here…I want to tell you that a) you get what you pay for, b) this stuff is liquid gold, c) a little goes a long way, and d) it is worth every penny. So now that we’ve had that pep talk I’ll try to explain why one ounce is nearly $200…

The founder and creator of Vintner’s Daughter, April Gargiulo, is also a winery owner (hence the name – a vintner is a wine maker or merchant). She started taking a closer look at her personal skincare when pregnant and learned that most all of the products she was using “contained high levels of ineffective, toxic fillers.” This might be a good time for me to mention that I’m not necessarily against products that contain smart science (re: chemicals) but when they don’t even deliver results and the chemicals can yield cumulative damage on our systems? That’s just wrong. Driven by her desire to bring toxin-free alternatives into her skin routine, April started researching what was available. She found was that many all-natural products often smelled good but didn’t deliver active/real results that could address the personal skin issues she was looking to improve(fine lines and wrinkles, acne, elasticity, and general radiance). So April did what many women wouldn’t – she threw herself into creating a “hero” product that was natural and effective.

April worked with natural skincare veterans and spent two years researching and formulating until Vintner’s Daughter produced Active Botanical Serum. Now we get to the price part…Vintner’s Daughter sources the world’s finest raw ingredients from conscious growers and “honors these ingredients through an exacting and time-honored formulation process.” Active Botanical Serum contains 22 of the world’s most active organic and wildcrafted botanicals –

You can read all about the ingredients (phytonutrients, phytoceramides, nourishing fatty-acids, powerful anti-oxidants, and a selection of targeted essential oils) but I’ve broken out the main benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory: won’t irritate or inflame skin
  • Fights signs of aging: wrinkles and fine lines elasticity
  • Firms and improves skin elasticity: the skin’s ability to stretch and then go back to normal once the need to stretch is gone. Elasticity is a fact of aging for most people.
  • Stimulates cellular turnover: our skin produces new skin cells which travel from the lowest layer of the epidermis to the top layer and then shed off the skin. This is what keeps dead cells from building up on the skins surface. As we age, our skin turnover rate slows.
  • Strengthens capillaries: capillaries are the dilated small vessels near the surface of the skin
  • Inhibits melanin production: melanin is the pigment produced when we expose our skin to UV radiation (sun). Can reduce in long-term discoloration and dark spots on the skin.
  • Protects against free-radical damage: Free radicals can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules and can cause damage when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs.

In summary: The small particle size of Active Botanical Serum allows “active botanicals to deeply penetrate skin’s layers and because the skin fully recognizes the plant actives as the nutritive building blocks of its own structure, skin becomes more healthy, radiant and youthful.”


Here’s how I use the product…after washing face I put 4-6 drops (even though the directions say 6-8, I don’t need that much) in my palm, rub both palms together, and press the oil onto my face. Unlike some other oil serums I’ve tried, Vintner’s Daughter absorbs rather quickly and by the time I get in bed at night or am ready to put my makeup on in the morning, it has completely absorbed into my skin.

Here’s what I noticed when I first started using it…first of all, it smells incredible. Waking up in the morning after using it for the first time the night before I noticed that all of the small blemishes on my face were all but erased (redness gone, irritation gone). Woohoo! After a few days of using the serum day and night my skin started to breakout but not like it typically does. I got massive underground, cystic blemishes on my forehead and got about a dozen small, surface-ready whiteheads pop up also. I freaked out and asked the spa where I got the serum if this was normal and they assured me that because of the powerful, rich anti-oxidants my skin was riding itself of trapped toxins and. While this purging process wasn’t ideal, it lasted about 3 weeks and then my skin was absolutely perfect. Perfect! I have never ever said that in my life and typically always have one blemish or frustrating breakout I’m dealing with. But consistent use (and I’ve been using it now for six weeks) has only improved how my face looks and as someone who has felt the debilitating reality that is “problem skin” I’ve never been happier.

Truthfully, I would have paid the same amount for a product that wasn’t free of toxins and contained all the chemicals if it did the same thing to my skin. The fact that Vintner’s Daughter is able to deliver such incredible results and it’s natural is just amazing and what makes the $185 well worth it (in my personal opinion). Molly and I now call this our Unicorn Tears and we’ve been telling everyone about it who will listen. Now go forth…save your cash and buy some of your own. If you’re still hesitant, consider that you may spend $185 on a pair of jeans, shoes, dress, etc. and none of those purchases can probably be used twice a day and won’t change your life/skin in the way that this will. Mic drop.

*NOTE: Vintner’s Daughter is currently sold out of the serum on their site (they will be shipping again between March 22-27 and are offering free shipping if you order now and wait for the re-stock)!

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