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Archive for February 28, 2013

Shopping trip to Marukai Living!

Marukai Plaza is one of the perks of living in San Diego. There are 3 Marukai stores right next to each other, each with a slightly different focus.  The first is Marukai Food which sells Japanese groceries and some wonderful, fresh produce. Next door, Marukai Living sells Japanese and Korean beauty supplies, dish soap, kitchen gadgets, tatami mats, and Hawaiian groceries. And around the corner is Marukai Value which has a TON of Hello Kitty everything plus tea cups, gardening supplies, computer accessories, kid’s toys and stationery.

It’s like whole candy shopping plaza for someone like me… and just down the road is Convoy Street which has my favorite Korean grocery, a killer Chinese dumpling place, and several other wonderful Asian shops and restaurants.  It’s one of my favorite parts of town.

This year, I resolved to visit this area once a month just because….it’s fun!

One of main reasons that I went shopping there today is that during the last week of the month, all the old month’s specials are still in effect and the new month’s specials have just been posted — so it’s double-savings week.  And since I became a Marukai Savings Club member, I get even MORE discounts!  Shopping heaven!

These are the beauty items I scored today:

Everything was on sale!

Everything was on sale!

The major scores of the day were the cotton sheets in the dollar bin and the Tony Moly ice cream sunscreen, originally $17, marked down to $3.98 because it’s missing its chocolate sauce top. I just adore the packaging and can’t wait to try it!

Eyeliner was sort of the theme for today.  I picked up more Cailyn gel liners: chocolate mousse and emerald, the 1-Day Color Tattoo (on March special) in black and the Spring Heart self-sharpening eye pencil in brown. In addition, I decided to give Shiseido’s Perfect Oil makeup remover and cleanser a try. It came highly recommended by a Japanese customer who helped me make sense of all the choices — most without English subtitles.

I will return with full reports in the coming days.

Going for a test-drive with Kleraderm

I first heard about Kleraderm from back in January. The post was both an introduction to the product line and a giveaway contest.

Kleraderm is an Italian brand that was founded in Bologna in 1981 “with the purpose to offer real results to the desire for beauty and well-being.”

According to Beautyinfozone, Kleraderm is one of Italy’s best kept secrets, and it’s also one of America’s best kept secrets, too.  Finding information about Kleraderm is not easy.  It’s mostly in Italian.  And finding the actual products proves tricky, too.  It’s only available in the US through Joanne Recchia-Kallabat, owner of the US division of Kleraderm , and who sells it through two Nordstrom’s in the Detroit, Michigan area. You can also phone or email Joanne for more information on the products. (586-337-7100) or

All this seems a little old-fashioned in this age of instant internet access. But that’s the way it is… and I was intrigued by the beautyinfozone’s review and her giveaway offer to get free samples personally chosen for me by Joanne.

So I emailed Joanne, mentioned the beautyinfozone giveawy, and told her that I’m in my late-40s with formerly oily skin that is now more on the dry side, but with occasional small pimples on my nose. And that I use sunscreen religiously and don’t have a lot of major skin issues.

She emailed back:

I am sending you samples of Oxalis cream (derived from dandelions) this cream will help with T-Zone while delivering moisture , use this cream in day and under makeup.

For Night you will benefit Couperosy cream, this cream will help with the little bumps around the nose. You might wake up with a bit oily, just wash in morning and reapply Oxalis cream.

Awesome!  I sent her my address, and then promptly forgot about it.

Until today when I got a mysterious package from Nordstrom’s! And inside was a hand-written note from Joanne and my samples!

Joanne's note and Kleraderm samples

Joanne’s note and Kleraderm samples

The day cream is from the Idroderm line which aims to “rush to restore epidermic moisture and reinvigorate the corneal layer, protect with appropriate sun filters, provide a deep nourishment and revitalize with emollient vegatable oils and vitamins, restoring beauty, heath and vitality to the skin.” The Oxalis Cream is basically an intense moisturizer to rehydrate the skin.

Ingredients: aqua (water), cetearyl glucoside, caprylic/capric triglyceride, hydrogenated polyisobutene, propylene glycol, collagen, sesamum indicum (sesame) oil, glyceryl stearate, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, rosa moschata (musk rose) oil, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, octyl methoxycinnamate, elastin, sodium hyaluronate, laminaria ochroleuca extract, titanium dioxide, cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethiconol, carboxymethyl betaglucan, hydroxypropyl guar, phenoxyethanol, imidazolidinyl urea, plankton extract, disodium edta, methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben propylparaben, isobutylparaben, arachis hypogaea (peanut) oil, bht, bha, propyl gallate, citric acid, parfum (fragrance).

(I do not see any oxalis extract, but perhaps I don’t recognize the technical ingredient name.  Oxalis is actually better known as wood sorrel, and one variety is called the False Shamrock because it has 4 leaves like a 4-leafed clover, but they are squared and not true clover.  Dandelions are called Taraxacum in Latin and I don’t see that on the ingredient label, either.)

The night treatment is Couperosys Escin Cream from their Neaderm or Sensitive Skin line, which according to the website: “It is particularly recommended for reddened skin due to poor peripheral blood circulation and fragile capillary vessels. It restores evenness, elasticity and softness to the skin.”

Ingredients:aqua (water), c12-20 acid peg-8 ester, caprylic/capric triglyceride, hydrogenated polyisobutene, propylene glycol, persea gratissima (avocado oil), prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, centella asiatica (hydrocotyl) extract, cera alba (beeswax), cetyl alcohol, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, cyclomethicone, dimethiconol, escin, glucose, sodium glutamate, urea, lactic acid, sodium pca, triticum vulgare (wheat) germ extract, glycine, panthenol, phenoxyethanol, imidazolidinyl urea, disodium edta, methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylpraben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, arachis hypogaea (peanut) oil, bht, bha, propyl gallate, citric acid, parfum (fragrance).

So we shall see! I can’t wait to get started! And I’ll keep you posted, too!


The Quest for the Holy Grail: Sunscreen: Anthelios Mineral SPF 50


As an person of very Northern European descent (Norwegian/Irish) with fair skin and red hair, I am at the top of the list when it comes to sun vulnerability.  I burn within minutes, freckle rather than tan and am at the highest risk for skin cancer.  I need my sunscreen, and am always on a quest for the perfect “One”.

What would my Holy Grail Sunscreen look like?

  • Spf 30 or higher
  • Physical with titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide being the main active ingredients
  • Easy to apply
  • No white cast
  • Water resistant
  • Less than $40 USD

I found La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Mineral 50 at my local CVS.  When I lived in England (nearly 2 decades ago), LRP made my holy grail sunscreen which was not available when we returned to the US, and alas, is no more.


What it says it does:

For the first time, a mineral sun filter and powerful anti-oxidants are combined in a unique patent pending formula that offers 100% mineral sunscreen in a unique lightweight, non-whitening texture. The first line of defense is an advanced UV filtering system featuring an optimized blend of titanium dioxide (TiO2) that offers long-lasting**, broad spectrum protection with demonstrated efficacy against UVA rays. A proprietary dispersion technology is the key to assuring this enhanced uniform protection. The second line of defense features CELL-OX SHIELD™, a powerful patent-pending antioxidant complex featuring Senna Alata.

  • SPF 50 for outdoor use
  • Broad spectrum UVA/UVB
  • Photostable, long-lasting** protection
  • Light, satin finish
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Fragrance-free, PABA-free
  • Safe for Sensitive skin
  • Paraban-free
  • Water resistant (40 minutes)

Active Ingredient: Titanium Dioxide 11% Other Ingredients: Water, Isododecane, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Dimethicone, Undecane, Triethylhexanoin, Isohexadecane, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Nylon-12, Caprylyl Methicone, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Phenethyl Benzoate, Silica, Tridecane, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Dicaprylyl Ether, Talc, Dimethicone/Peg-10/15 Crosspolymer, Aluminum Stearate, Pentylene Glycol, Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Alumina, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Magnesium Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Aluminum Hydroxide, Peg-8 Laurate, Stearic Acid, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate, Tocopherol, Propylene Carbonate, Cassia Alata Leaf Extract, Maltodextrin, Benzoic Acid, Peg-9.

A drop of the product on my hand.

A drop of the product on my hand.

Anthelios Mineral 50 is quite liquidy and must be shaken before using or it will separate.


Blended onto the back of my hand.

Blended onto the back of my hand.

It absorbs fairly well on dry skin, but is a little more resistant over a moisturizer.  And despite its claim of not having a white cast, it definitely has a white cast that did not disappear on me.

The white cast is a deal breaker, unfortunately.  It did meet other criteria — with SPF 50 of mineral origin and under $40 (it was around $33 at my local CVS).


I will continue using this sunscreen since it has a nice texture and looks fine under make-up…

but the quest for the Holy Grail continues…

Sunday Night at the Pictures


I was glued to my tv this evening (and the cats were glued to my lap) watching the Academy Awards.  Seth McFarlane managed to waltz the fine line between genial, funny and off-color — and look cute as a button while doing it.

And I never knew so many stars could SING! Kristin Chenoweth really belted out that closing number, ending the program with a sweet bang.

But of course, I was looking at the clothes and make-up… winners, losers, yada yada…. the DRESSES!!

So here are a few of my favorite moments:


Emmanuelle Riva looking radiant — and wearing GLASSES! Kudos to a classy and graceful actor who isn’t afraid to see where she’s going!


Adele with those cat eyes, that glorious hair… and that VOICE!


Jessica Chastain looking very elegant and proving that redheads can rock a classic red lip.


Zoe Saldana looking classy and polished.


Sally Field, always glowing, especially in red.


Jennifer Hudson knocked it out of the house! And looked drop-dead gorgeous in the process.


Anne Hathaway’s hair and make-up were divine. The dress… well, it wasn’t my favorite out there… I really liked the one she wore when she performed with the rest of the Les Mis cast with the 2 tiers of floaty peach perfection.

I was pleased to have actually seen a few of the movies that won awards… and look forward to seeing the others on DVD…

Did you watch the Oscars?  What were your favorite moments?  Who looked especially fabulous? Or didn’t?  Do tell!

Out with the old and in with the New: Serum, that is…

I finally finished the Premier Bio Liposome Gel Serum that I picked up in Jaffa, Israel in December.


The Gel Serum

It was nice.  Hydrating without being heavy. But that was about all the benefits I saw.  And as someone with aging skin, I’d like to see more.

So, when it was time to replace the gel serum, I decided to check out our local CVS for some new (and affordable) options. I finally settled on a serum by Lumene of Finland –mainly because I’ve seen Lumene products around, and read reviews of them, but have never tried them — and this serum came with a free sample of their SPF 15 day cream.


And it’s got Arctic Cloudberry… I’m sure that’s just what I need to brighten my skin the winter!

Bright Skin Radiance Nectar Ingredients: Aqua (water), butylene glycol, glycerine, biosaccharide gum-1, phenoxyethanol, dehydoxanthan gum, sucrose laurate, propylene glycol, peg-40, hydrogenated castor oil, cetylehtylhexanoate, enantia choranthia (bark) extract, ethylhyxyglycerin, sucrose dilaurate, menthyl lactate, carica papaya (papaya) fruit extract, algae extract, sucrose trilaurate, camellia sinesis extract, centella asiatica extract. aloe barbadensis leaf extract, rubus chamaemorus seed extract, oleanic acid, c1 19140(yellow 5), c1 17200 (red 33), gerniol, limonene, linalool, butyl methylpropional, parfum

It claims: Arctic Cloudberry for radiant skin.  Unique formula with cloudberry nectar:

  • strengthens the fluid and microcirculation of the skin
  • gently exfoliates while taking care of the skin’s optimum thickness
  • minimises the pores and makes the skin look smooth
  • Result: Clear skin that glows with vitality!

Directions: Apply to the clean skin before using day/night cream.

Contains over 90% natural ingredients.


Beauty inspired by the purity of Arctic Nature. Lumene skin care and cosmetic products are specifically designed to enhance your own natural beauty.

Created from wild ingredients, hand-picked in the Arctic.

The last statement makes me envision migrant (possibly Norwegian) farm workers with baskets at cloudberry picking season… but I live in San Diego, so I guess that’s my frame of reference…


Anyways, I have been using the Radiant Skin Nectar for just over 2 weeks and I do detect some increased radiance.

As you can see, the product is orange…and it has a strong citrusy scent.  Fortunately, both the color and scent disappear quickly when rubbed into the skin. My skin is slightly irritated by the serum, pinking up for about 10 minutes after application, but there is no burning or itching sensation, and once the pinkness goes away, my skin is soft and bright. I have been using this product as directed, twice a day before moisturizers. I suspect that the lactates and papaya extracts are chemically exfoliating my skin while the glycerin, algae and aloe ingredients add moisture.  It does seem to be working.  I’ll give an update when I finish the bottle.

The Vitamin C+ Pure Radiance Day Cream SPF 15 promises:

Natural radiance & detox for brighter skin! Fresh cream gives your skin radiance while protecting it against the harmful effects of the sun. Optimal UVA protection.

Arctic cloudberry seed oil, which is bursting with natural antioxidants, fortifies the skin and protects it from both external and internal stress factors. The detox properties of cloudberry nectar help to make the skin look brighter and more radiant. Ideal for women, especially 25+ who are in the middle of the “rush years”. Suitable for all skin types. Paraben-free. Synthetic colorant-free: the colour of the cream comes from cloudberry. Product contains over 80 % natural ingredients.

Ingredients: Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Squalane, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Propanediol, Glycerin, Heptyl Undecylenate, Phenoxyethanol, Butylene Glycol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Tocopheryl Acetate, PEG 100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Rubus Chamaemorus (Cloudberry) Seed Oil, Panthenol, Polyacrylamide, Mica, Xanthan Gum, Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Lecithin, C13 14 Isoparaffin, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, PEG 8, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Laureth 7, Tocopherol, Sodium Lactate, Lactic Acid, Serine, Sorbitol, TEA Lactate, Urea, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Sodium Chloride, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Allantoin, Titanium Dioxide, Fragrance

It’s a pale orange cream with a rich consistency and a very strong citrusy fragrance.  Fortunately, the fragrance disappates quickly.  I found the cream to be very moisturizing, but not so quick to absorb, especially after applying the serum.  It was a great moisturizer for Aspen, CO where the temps hovered around 15F, the humidity was in the single digits and every room was heated. So far, the weather has been cold for San Diego and I have had no problems with this moisturizer, but I suspect that when the temps rise above 60F, this moisturizer will need to be retired.

I like that it has titanium dioxide, but find SPF 15 to be a joke.  I don’t wear anything less than SPF 30, so I put additional sunscreen on top — which adds more moisture.  During the dry winter months, this is OK.  We shall see if my skin rebels with all these layers when things warm up.

All in all, I can report a promising start.  If you have sensitive skin, you might want to steer clear of the Radiance Serum, but the Vitamin C+ Radiant Day Cream seems to be a winter winner as long as you don’t think of it as a real sunscreen.

Have you tried any Lumene products?  What are your thoughts?

Travel Makeup: High Maintenance?

Some of my favorite beauty bloggers are engaged in a Makeup War this week about Travel Make-up. Beauty 411 starts the chain of 15 bloggers all writing about what they bring when they travel. It’s a fascinating jaunt and I can empathize with each!

Since I just returned home from a trip to snow country, I can attest to the difficulty of  being organized for a completely different climate and locale.  Also, since I was a conference spouse, this often includes semi-formal dinners and a banquet, so I had to plan for those as well.

My skincare items were covered in a previous post — and although it seemed like a lot, I did use all of them and I did not get dry and cracked skin (except on my feet for a few days).

Here is what I brought for make-up:

Everything in my make-up kit!

Everything in my make-up kit!

I brought fairly compact items — and limited myself to only one palette!  But splurged on bringing pencils.  It turned out to be a good move.  I had brought my beloved Smashbox concealer in a tube, but it burst at the high altitude and so my pencils really saved the day… I’m so glad that 1) I put anything in tubes in plastic snack baggies and the 2) I didn’t bring more tubed items.

The BRTC BB Cream was the perfect consistency for sub-freezing temperatures (it didn’t get above 20F the whole week we were in Aspen!) and low humidity levels. And although it looks a bit dark and greigey coming out of the tube, it practically melts into my fair skin making it look luminous and keeping it hydrated all day.  The Dream Bouncey blush in Rose Petal is a cream formula that I thought would work well in colder weather and it performed beautifully.  The trial size of Benefit’s High Beam was sort of a space-waster in that I only intended to use it once for the conference banquet on Valentine’s Day… but since we were driving, I had the space.

It was very hard choosing just *one* palette to bring, but I finally settled on a discontinued Smashbox set that I found on clearance at Sephora last summer: Be Discovered.  It’s got really lovely soft and neutral colors that are perfect for a more relaxed setting.  I also took it to China last summer. The reflection is from the plastic protector that I still keep since one of the colors is crumbling.

I also brought a sample of Hot House Flower perfume sent to me by the lovely, Tiffany of Cakepie and my favorite neutral lip color: MAC’s VivaGlam A75.

Pencils and brushes and perfume all fit in a hotel glass!

Pencils and brushes and perfume all fit in a hotel glass!

I love the portability of pencils!  I usually bring along my own plastic cup to fit everything in, but our hotel in Aspen had much prettier glasses so I used one of theirs for the week.

The essential brushes: a flat-top foundation brush that I use to buff everything out, a tiny concealer brush to make sure those little corners are covered, a crease brush, a mascara brush which I use to smooth out my brows, a shadow brush, a flat-tip liner brush, and two more shadow or crease brushes. I probably could have gotten away without the last two.

My favorite winter perfume is Princess by Vera Wang.  It also leaked at altitude, but fortunately did not make a mess.

Lippie pencils: 2 by Revlon in Honey and Crush and one by Neutrogena in Fresh Papaya.

L’Oreal’s TruMatch Superblendable Concealer Pencil in N123 is my newest find! I bought it as an impulse purchase at Walgreens (buy one get one half-price) and I’m so glad I did! Since my Smashbox concealer committed seppuku during the drive up the mountains, I really needed a concealer that covered my hereditary dark circles without highlighting puffiness and that lasted all day; this concealer did it all — and it’s not too orange which is a common defect of many drugstore “light” formulations.

ELF’s eye primer.  A steal at Target for $3.  Works like a champ.

Styli-style’s waterproof browliner in Taupe.  Finally a pencil that isn’t too brown, too orange or too dark!

Covergirl’s LashBlast 24-hour mascara in Black.  This stuff really stays on until you take it off!  And I have oily, mascara-resistant lashes.  I try other formulas but I always return to LashBlast…

Urban Decay’s Smoked pencil set in: Uzi (gray), Empire (plum), Mainline (peacock blue), Demolition (brown), Smog (bronze) and Zero (black).  I love these pencils!  The color choice is fantastic and they go on smooth and last all day — even on my lower lashline (if I set them with powder).  I ended up using Uzi, Demolition and Mainline most often. But it’s nice to have choices, especially when they take up such little space.

I had a little withdrawal from my Urban Decay Smoked Palette which I left at home…I missed those deep, rich colors… but I survived and looked just fine without them.

As for other beauty items, I never bring a hair dryer because I usually don’t use one at home, and hotels always have dryers (but not diffusers).  I can always use the hotel dryer in an emergency.  I do bring the DevaCurl travel kit which I know works with my hair better than unknown hotel samples — though I will try them if they look interesting.

I guess my travel strategy is similar to Pammy (Pammy Blogs Beauty) in that I accumulate travel sizes and start packing my travel bag a bit at a time a week before. I try to think about climate and overal dress-code of the place being visited.  Packing for a tropical vacation is very different from a snow trip. And like beautyinfozone, I use a lot of ziploc baggies. I had a major disaster a couple of years ago when a bottle of sunscreen exploded in my luggage… I vowed never to let that happen again!

Do you have a travel strategy for packing?  How do you decide what to bring and what to leave behind?

Sunday Pictures

We’re back home — and our cats are very happy to see us!  There’s laundry in the washer and the suitcases are mostly unpacked.

Work tomorrow.

Here are a few remembrances from the past week’s adventures:

Nat in Aspen

There I am in the freezing cold! Good thing I learned how to knit a scarf the week before!

Aspen Gondol

The view from the Gondola that goes from the town up to the top of Aspen Mountain and back

Arches windows

And only 4 hours away from Aspen is Arches National Park in Utah…

arches courthouse towers

The Courthouse Towers in Arches National Park

arches courthouse wash trail

A morning hike down the Courthouse Wash Trail reveals a semi-frozen wonderland





Fitness Friday: A walk in the park


I didn’t weigh in this week or take any measurements. I have a sneaking feeling that all those rich meals at Aspen Meadows settled around the abdomen… but I will face the music when we get home.

In the meantime, we are enjoying a leisurely drive back to San Diego. And today we took a sunset hike at Arches National Park. What a gem of a park! The colors and the rock formations are just stunning. It was a fairly dynamic walk due to mud and freezing mud and some ice patches, but in nice weather it would have been pretty easy. The view, though, were fantastic! I’ll post more pix once I get home and have a chance to sort through them all.

We are figuring out tomorrow’s adventure and will soon decide which park to see next: return to Arches, go to Canyonlands or press on to Zion… so many choices! Loving Utah!

The Mighty Rio Grande


I took a nice little hike along the Rio Grande this morning. I started off with snowshoes, but one had a broken strap and kept falling off, so I ended up taking both snowshoes off and just carrying them along the trail.

It was so quiet as the snow fell — nothing but the sound of the rushing water.

I felt so lucky to be able to be here and see the snow and trees and river. The beauty is breathtaking…

Or maybe that’s the altitude.

Valentine’s Day 2013

It’s Valentine’s Day and I have to admit I’m feeling a lot bah-humbugish this year. Not a lot of romantic warm fuzzies from me right now.

I had planned my Valentine’s Day back in October when I joined the One Billion Rising V-Day Event in San Diego. There are rallies and marches and dances to show the world that violence against women is not acceptable, to take back the night and sovereignty over our bodies. This is an especially poignant time for this global statement in light of the recent gang-rape of a woman in India which resulted in her death. I feel deeply about this issue and wanted to be a part of the event.

However, I am not in San Diego. I am in Aspen. The only event in Aspen for V-Day Rising conflicts with the Conference Banquet… and I am obligated to be a good wife and accompany my husband to the Conference Banquet. Sigh. There is nothing LESS romantic than being with a group of astronomers at a “social” function. Much research will be discussed in technical detail over hors d’oeuvres, and more research will be discussed over the salad and main entrees… fascinating, for sure, but romantic…not.


I brought dress-up clothes, but will probably be the only person dressing up.

More pouting.

I’ll get dressed up and wear the shimmer cream I lugged in my make-up bag and I’ll do that smokey pink and purple eye… I will look fabulous… but I know this is not my day. I didn’t sign onto a life of romance and magic when I got married, even though I sometimes wish for it.

A best friend and hiking partner, yes. Someone who would drop everything to help me if I needed, yes. A dreamer with big ideas and a great mix of knowledge and curiosity, yes. Someone who always appreciates my cooking, yes. Someone who thinks I’m beautiful even first thing in the morning, yes. Someone who makes me laugh — even after 20 years, yes.

I can live without romance because I have true love.