Beauty over Forty

Keeping up appearances when age is just a number



Memory Lane: Makeup in the 1990’s with Clinique’s Black Honey

Today I saw something that really surprised me, it was a preview I believe for a Sephora Play box and in it was Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Black Honey. I was of the opinion this had been completely discontinued, as I have not been able to find it in stores for years, turns out it was discontinued in Europe but continues to be sold in the US and elsewhere. However, if you try to buy it online for example from Sephora, they will not ship it to Europe (very weird), but it does ship from Lookfantastic.

The reason I care about this is I turned 16 in 1990, which is the exact year my friend recommended I try it. There is no other product from my youth that I have been trying to buy repeatedly throughout adulthood and the same must apply to countless other people or it would not be a cult classic.

Me aged 18 wearing Black Honey

To provide a little context to those of us who did not go through beauty in the 90’s. In the 90’s the majority of our makeup products were crap, drug store was abysmal and high end was also atrocious.  My first “good” foundation was from Clinique, at the time it was the only brand that provided foundations for different skin types in particular for oily puberty skin. They even almost had my shade (I have always been ethereal white) and it was the best match I could get. No other manufacturer had shades even close to light enough for me. My foundation was the best on the market and it was terrible. It lasted maybe 3 hours and I was not the most oiliest kid out there. At least it faded, the yellow drugstore shades separated. The only full coverage foundation there was was theater makeup. I was fortunate to have high end foundation, everything else I had was drugstore, some shadows were so poorly pigmented they didn’t even show up. Towards the late 90’s I was only buying high-end at the time mascara was amusing, you could either have one thin layer where you didn’t see anything, or clumpy eyes, thanks to Lancome, Dior and Chanel. No, clumpy lashes were not in fashion, it was all we could have! Eyeshadows lasted maybe 5 hours maximum. The turnaround to what we have today was actually driven by drugstore brands upping their game, high end had to follow and so we find today many items being completely on par with it being irrelevant whether it counts as high or low end. Anything I get at the drugstore today, no matter if it sucks will still definitely be better than what we had in the 90’s: except for Clinique’s Black Honey.

cliniqueblackhoney-2Throughout this period Clinique’s Black Honey was a stand out product, it was unique; a sheer lipstick that looked great on anyone literally all skin tones. When layering, it took you from day to night. It did not last long on the lips, it had the staying power of a gloss rather than a lipstick. Everyone would have preferred better staying power, but you could be sure that when it faded it faded really nicely from the middle out, like a slight ombre lip. Provided you didn’t put too much on, you could be pretty certain there would be no embarrassing smearing. This is the genuine “grunge” look everyone was wearing, which actually looked pretty natural, rather than what people are told: which is that people wore chocolate lipstick. I am really pleased that I have found it and that people will be getting it in their Sephora Play boxes, it is a handbag staple and deservedly a cult classic.

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Squalane – hip new skincare

Squalane is becoming increasingly popular in skincare. It is the hydrogenated version of squalene meaning that it is stable and does not oxidise. Most squalane used in cosmetics these days is sourced from vegetable matter, usually olives who naturally contain very high levels of squalene, which is then hydrogenated to make squalane.

Squalane posses oil-like properties, but it doesn’t feel oily, this is part of it’s appeal. Human sebum contains squalene, which explains why squalane is so quickly absorbed, over time the body produces less and less squalene which is what makes squalane interesting for anti-aging (do notice the attention I am paying between making sure I correctly differentiate between squalane and squalene, it ain’t easy!).

I first became aware of squalane as an ingredient in 2010 where I was looking to use it in a formula for haircare.

In skincare it penetrates the skin very deeply improving the look of fine lines. There are also claims that it is non-comedogenic. In the age of layering skin care, it should be no surprise that more and more pure squalane products are popping up in the market. Anything that is labelled as 100% squalane is pure squalane and regardless of the differing prices, they are the same thing. The best comparison product I can think of in everyday use is granulated sugar. Regardless which brand you buy, or what price you pay, they are the same thing, they work the same way, they do the same thing.

There is therefore no need to pay over 30 USD for an ounce from one brand versus paying 10 USD from another brand. You can be frugal when shopping for squalane and you will get exactly the same thing.

In particular I would like to highlight Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil™ 100 percent Purified Squalane which retails for 38 USD per ounce. Squalane is a pure cosmetic ingredient, there is no need to advertise with it being purified. This price is 4 times the price of the same product made by a competitor, it is exactly the same thing. Indee Lee also has a Squalane out retailing at 32 USD per ounce.  And this is where I get concerned about the integrity of brands.  In some areas there are comparable products around which can greatly vary in quality, like for example Vitamin C Serum.  I would like to think that when I buy one from these brands I am getting a super high quality product for the high price I pay, but now I am not so sure.

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I tried so hard, why did you fail me Mad Lash?

It is with sincere sadness that I declare that a product I was destined to love, has failed me.

I had heard that the world was going crazy about a new mascara by theBalm called Mad Lash. Granted I did not actually see any influencer going crazy about it, I love theBalm and I bought into hype about alleged hype!

I love theBalm, for me, they get it right where Benefit started to get it wrong. I am prepared to buy anything that might possibly suit me by theBalm, I am a fangirl.

I live in Germany, getting my hands on this new release was not easy. It doesn’t sell in retail here, online it wasn’t available from our version of Sephora called Douglas. Douglas though, is so old fashioned it takes them about a year to catch on that anything might be good (they never realized that Nars is good), so no way it was going to show up here soon. Thankfully the e-commerce moguls at Amazon took pity on me and I received the mascara towards the end of December. (You sense the drama in this post)

madlashUser Experience: The packaging is great. Who doesn’t smile at their packaging?! When I open up the tube I was immediately struck by how huge the wand is. This thing is enormous. It may be the silicony type and not fluffy, but it is a full inch long. I also noticed that it brought up a lot of product which was quite fluid. I wiped off as much as I could. I then carefully tried to apply it. I am a bit clumsy when applying mascara, despite my efforts at being extra careful, I could not avoid getting mascara all over the place. Being a smart “makeupista” I waited for it to dry and flicked the extra flecks off without problem. Then with the second coat the lashes started to clump together as the product is so fluid. I had to take a comb to separate them. The effect was no better than any other I know with a comparable silicony type wand. So very unfortunately a product fail.

I will not give up! I want to love this product. I am going to be that crazy person who hangs onto a mascara waiting for it to dry out in the hope it becomes perfect and says: hey this stuff is better than Tarte Lash Paint! We all know someone like that right?

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Drunk Elephant C-Firma, a Vitamin C Serum worth 80 Bucks?

Happy Hump Day!

The brand Drunk Elephant has established itself a great reputation due to it’s founders mission to produce perfect effective skincare free from anything that might remotely be unhealthy.

One of it’s very popular products it a Vitamin C Serum called “C-Firma Day”. It retails at 80USD for 30ml. But is it worth it? I have tested the product and can tell you the answer right now: it depends.

User experience: Surprisingly this product is orange, normally orange would be a warning sign not to use it as it would indicate that the product has gone rancid, however in this case the orange color comes from the other ingredients. It does not stain you yellow. The next thing you will notice is a pretty strong smell which reminds me of frankincense and a bit of the smell there is when you blow candles out. The application is easy, it is not a water like serum, but a little thicker. The product absorbs relatively quickly and you are left with a non slippy film. This reminds me a little of the effect of resin on a violin bow (I guess only cellists, viola players and violinists will understand this part of the review). This finish is not what I expected. It layers well without bobbling. The product does not sting and does not create any kind of flush in my skin.

cfirmaCalling this a Vitamin C serum is a bit misleading, the serum contains far more actives than just vitamin C. The Vitamin C itself is at 15% ascorbic acid concentration. They have also added ferulic acid, Vitamin D (in a peptide form) and Vitamin E to increase the anti-oxidant effect. The pumpkin ferment is supposed to help resurface the skin also known as enzymatic peel, grape, licorice root and indian gooseberry extracts are there to improve brightening (my skin is already bright, I did not notice any effect). All of this combined serves to protect via anti-oxidants and repair UV damage and support the production of collagen. Those are the main actives and they are good ones.

The challenge I have in understanding whether this is worth 80 Bucks is the fact that anyone over forty is going to need to put other stuff on top. The Sodium Hyaluronate is not sufficiently moisturizing. Only the oiliest of skins will not need to layer. Usually the things (other serums, good moisturizers)  you will layer on top will contain ingredients that brighten and that firm. When you have to layer, it is evident that the product is not doing everything and it makes it in the main: just a Vitamin C Serum. I have another one of those which has a 23% ascorbic acid concentration (7% more) and cost me 6 Bucks by The Ordinary and is also 30ml.

Nonetheless the Drunk Elephant is a really good product, it has great ingredients, but I won’t be repurchasing.

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6 week Test of “Better than Botox” Strivectin SD Advanced

7 weeks ago I was skulking around my local TK Maxx and there wasn’t really any gems to be found. The only thing in the beauty section that caught my eye was Strivectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles & Stretch Marks. I had over a number of weeks noticed Strivectin products popping up every now and again in the display. The packaging looked very clinical, but never really called out to me. I pulled out my phone and googled the recommended retail price for comparison. Turns out it’s 82 Euros, the tube in front of we was offered at 22 Euro’s so off in my basket it wandered.

I read the package instructions and started using it twice a day, dumping my entire previous skincare regime to stick by the instructions. I am a person whose skin so far has never been broken out by a product.I was really surprised when the following morning a had three new zits on my face, the cystic version and I saw blackheads and blocked pores amassing. The first time I had seen a blackhead on my skin in over 10 years. I thought maybe it was just a fluke and maybe that time of the month (which it wasn’t) and endeavored to keep using it. The next two days the state of my skin continued, a few more cystic spots and many many blocked pores. Then and only then did I start getting suspicious. I googled it and also turned to my reader in WordPress. What I found was quite astonishing.

anti-wrinkle_sd_advanced_intensive_concentrate_for_wrinkles_4-5oz_1It turned out that on product launch in 2003 the company really had claimed that it was better than botox, something they were able to claim as as a cosmetic, they were not subject to clinical trials.The internet is awash with negative reviews, obviously if you raise expectations that high and are then perceived not to deliver, there will be disappointed consumers. Many reviews also stated that the product had broken them out. The product has been reformulated multiple times, but these reviews continue regardless.This is where I have my beef with Strivectin, the active Vitamin B3 derivative should not be the issue here. Having searched through the ingredients, apart from shea butter I can’t really find anything that would be responsible for such extreme pore blockage. I do find a really good list of ingredients, the only perhaps unnecessary one being dimethicone and perfume.

I did find one review where someone was very pleased with the product and had been using it for five years. That review struck a chord with me. I kind of see 5 years with that one product as a lost opportunity to try something better.

The breakouts were not the only thing that bothered me. Despite all the moisturizing agents in the cream, my skin felt super dry during use, to the level of painful, yet a had a “greasy” layer over it, which will be the ingredients meant to enhance the skin barrier. I noticed no change to my fine lines or wrinkles. In a nutshell this product is not for me. 6 weeks of a painful face are enough and I doubt that acne scars will do anything to make my complexion look younger. However….

strivectin-eyesToday I found their Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles at TK Maxx selling for 24.99 Euros, it usually retails for 83,45 Euros, so in the basket that landed.

Well I have already tested that today and the skin under my eyes was not altogether happy. But hey, I have never ever broken out there. Let’s see!

Me = sucker? Yep

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Rewind the Clock for New Year’s Eve with GlamGlow

New Year’s Eve is almost upon us. If you have skin like mine (experienced, fine lines..) I have some great recommendations on the preparation you can do to look your best.

GlamGlow is a brand founded in 2008 by a couple looking to turn their lives around. Their story can be found here. The brand boasts products that offer instant results. GlamGlow is incredibly hyped at the moment, and for the best reasons. Their products really do deliver on the promises made. Are they miracle workers? No, but damn, are they good.

To get superbly hydrated and to the best of it’s ability plumped skin I have used the GlamGlow Dreamduo. This is an overnight mask, made of two phases. The first phase “DreamSerum” is a gel like cream high in antioxidants, you put it on and wait around 30 seconds for it to absorb a little. Then you top it with phase two the “DreamSeal”, this seals in the first layer and is super high in hyaluronic acid. Then you go to sleep. The next morning most of it will have absorbed and you rinse it off. What you are left with is super hydrated smooth skin. I did feel that there was some sort of slippy layer left on my skin, which I didn’t really like, so I washed it off with face wash, but there is no need to if you like it. Even though I washed it off my skin was still super plumped and hydrated. This has been the very best effect I have experienced from an overnight mask and I am a very avid mask user (I do 3 per week). Huge thumbs up. I have read some reviews from people with oily skin, prone to breakouts believing that this breaks them out. So if that applies to you, this may not be the best product for you. But for me: it was awesome!

So, ideally that will have given you great skin for the day of the 31st, but there’s still a number of hours to go before New Years eve! In getting ready specifically for the evenings parties, to get an extra lift and firming to your skin, I highly recommend doing a quick mask of Gravitymud. Gravitymud is the mask you see most on Instagram, it goes on white and dries to a chrome space like finish. Very amusing to use, you put it on (avoiding the eye area) and leave it for 20 to 30 minutes until it dries and then peel it off. That time waiting, can also be used to do something for your eye area, Magicstripes has some pretty effective collagen & hyaluronic acid eye patches called “Wake Me Up”, that you just put around your eyes and leave on for 30 minutes. That product combination does a really good job of making my skin look as good as it can for an evening.

Slight word of caution, I am used to face masks coming in oversized containers. GlamGlow’s come in pots the same size as you would usually have for a normal face cream, the pictures on the internet seem to make them look bigger. So it can be disappointing if you order online and expect a big product. They are pricey, the Dreamduo retailing at 59 USD for 0.68 oz (20 grams) and Gravitymud at 69 USD for 1.4 oz (40 grams). Despite this, you will more than likely be won over by the products.

I wish you a wonderful New Year Eve and a great start to 2017!

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One day, two mascaras, same effect, two very different experiences

Woah that’s a long post title, but it’s pretty accurate.

I test a lot of mascara’s, I don’t write about a lot of mascara tests. That’s what I do not to bore you ;). Today was a test with a bit of a difference. I am an Urban Decay fan. I love their eye shadows, I love their name. I am just a fan-girl. Unsurprising that I should test their urbandecayperversion“Perversion” Mascara. The website boasts volume and lengthening. What I got what very moderate volume, but good lengthening and a really nice natural look, one that actually made me look like I had phenomenal natural lashes and wasn’t wearing anything at all. A great win! And off I went to work..

Unfortunately, very short after application my eyes began a very slight burning. That burning you get when you are just slightly allergic to something. Long story short, the win rapidly developed into a loss that bothered me all day. I then got home in the evening and was looking forward to a relaxing evening sans makeup. Well the surprise was I needed to go out again. But definitely not with the mascara on, so I removed it, pretty easy to remove and applied yet another mascara to test, this time Blinc’s “Mascara Amplified”.

Blinc’s Mascara Amplified is a tubing Mascara in that instead of a paste being formed around your blincmascaraamplifiedlashes, it forms a kind of synthetic tube. This means that the mascara can be removed with warm water and a cotton pad, no special remover required. The marketing also states that it will not flake. Yep, well that is true, 8 hours of wear and no flaking.The finish was the same as that of the Urban Decay Perversion, little volume, much lengthening again, making my lashes look phenomenal, like fantastic natural lashes.  So the same finish as I had experienced earlier in the day with Perversion. This type of mascara is also specifically targeted at people who have sensitive eyes, specifically as it doesn’t flake and due to the “easy” removal. I experienced absolutely no irritation by the product.

Well that easy removal is not quite as easy as they make it out to be. It is true that it works well with a cotton pad and warm water, but the tubes wipe all over, meaning you need to rinse your face afterward to remove them, but at-least there are no chemicals required.

So there you go, two totally different products, retailing at the same price, with the same look but totally different experiences.



200 Followers – Thank You!

Just a quick note to say thank you for following me. With that little click you have deemed my posts worthy of your readerfeed.

Thanks for that click, thanks for reading, thanks for commenting and thanks for your own fantastic blogs that provide me with great reading, education and laughs all week long.


Apparently this great acne fighting product is only mentioned once on Wordpress…

Happy Tuesday everyone! Recently I have had a breakout, the first in a long while and triggered by some skincare I have been testing (more about that in a few days). The breakout was horrible, those horrible cystic zits that hurt, that won’t come to the surface that you just wish would go away. I reached to a small jar of a very special product, applied it, looked at the jar and realized in shock that I had owned this particular pot for about 10 years! Yup, that’s how rarely I use it, but also that’s how long it has kept and worked and apparently nobody writes about it. It’s Payot’s Pate Grise drawing paste.

payotpategrise-2I can still remember when I was 16 going to the pharmacy with my mother and the pharmacist recommending the product to me. There we bought the first jar I have ever owned. The second jar is in my bathroom, I am now 42.

Pate Grise is a very simple drawing paste. The product has been in retail for 70 years! You put it on a pimple and it encourages it to rise to the surface and helps dry it out and heal the skin. As a result, I never really suffered from painful cysts in my youth, as they were usually dealt with at maximum within 4 days. It also helps with ingrown hairs etc, basically anything you need to have come to the surface and erupt. It’s active ingredients are zinc (anti-oxidant, regulates sebum), almond oil, ichthyol & ichthammol (antibacterial,anti-inflammatory, regulates sebum), polyglyerides (conditioners). You put a small dab of it (use a cotton bud) on the spot prior to going to bed. The next morning, the spot will be way worse, as it draws it to the surface. if it’s not completely drawn out continue to cover the spot until that happens. Once it is drawn out, apply it for one more day to hep with healing.

I have no acne scars whatsoever from my youth. I credit Pate Grise with this. If you suffer from cystic acne or other blemishes, you might want to try this out. It is relatively inexpensive and if Payot does not retail in your country, you might be able to find it on Amazon.


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