In our June 2016 Best Beauty Finds we continue our monthly series where we investigate and test all sorts of beauty products.
We were fortunate to find many new exciting items this month that were not only affordable but performed beautifully and lived up to their claims. Summer means fewer things on the face, and more advanced skincare to thwart premature aging and make skin made more bare glow and look healthy.
This month we found a group of fragrances that are truly unisex and unusual, as well as skin-saving serums, moisturizers and overnight masks and oils that hydrate and help to safely remove any pigmentation from sun or pregnancy.
As always, Monsters and Critics salute the companies who make their potions and creams without harming animals.
The topical application items listed below are also made without parabens, artificial fragrances, solvents, sulfates, and phthalates.
The winner of June’s “best of the best” for overall excellence was the intriguing scent by Prada Luna Rossa, which can be worn by all, much like classic clean scents like Gendarme.
The best way to describe the scent is that it is a whisper, very light and subtle making it perfect for hot weather. The absolute opposite of those retro 1980 scents that fill up a room (Drakkar Noir and Antaeus, I’m looking at you).
I recommend this for those who like a discreet skin scent. All of these can be found at fragrancenet.com for a reduced cost.
Check out the rest of the month’s best beauty finds below.
Why we like it: TSA size approved! Pack this gentle but effective scrub made with eco-friendly bamboo and jojoba beads—no plastic particles here to gack up the ocean!
All the items from Australia’s The Jojoba Company are marvelous and this is no exception. The scrub is made with Australian ivory clay and shea butter for deep hydration.
Use this up to three times a week to remove the build-up of dead skin cells. And have a G’day mate!
Why we like it: made for the sensitive skins and those who need pigmentation smoothing and lightening, this botanical and natural blend of several skin loving oils has active ingredients to fix uneven skin tone, pigmentation and age spots.
Shake well before use and massage 1-2 drops on clean skin both AM and PM, under day and night cream/serums.
Rosacea people will love this one too. Like all of The Jojoba Company items, it is reasonable in price ($39 SRP) and contains no harsh chemicals, making it safe for use during pregnancy.
Why we like it: This is another gentle and safe scrub (made for pregnant women) that al can use. Not as TSA friendly in size but still it is a great scrub that uses botanicals and natural ingredients to get that exfoliation on.
Green Tea Extract & Ginseng are enhanced with peppermint oil to wake you up and stimulate the senses. Men need to try this one too!
Antioxidants galore, and allergy tested, free of artificial dyes or fragrances, phthalates, and paraben preservatives. Belli is a great inexpensive line of skincare and found in upscale drugstores.
Why we like it: We got to try the eye cream, serum, and mask from this newcomer Swiss skin care brand Alpessence. They make moisturizers, caviar serums, cleansers, toners, and masks.
Their defining selling point is their products are infused with diamonds, pearls, caviar, rose stem cells, and other luxurious ingredients.
What I can say honestly is the eye cream and the serum were hydrating and firming and left the skin feeling well prepared for either nighttime or under makeup.
Both were packaged properly in pump dispensing sleek packaging, and I liked them with the only complaint being the price point, a tad too high for an eye cream and hydrating serum.
Compared to the ludicrously priced caviar serums from La Prairie, they’re a bargain, though.
Why we like it: Attention men with ingrown hairs, chronic acne afflicted chin people, spot blemish emergency cases and those who have oilier skin with clarity issues, this powerful gel cream will obliterate and help dry up and heal it all.
Often times, men with curlier facial hair or those guys with the thicker silver/white hairs get terrible ingrown hair bumps that are stubborn and knot up under the skin. This is pricey ($106 SRP) but it works.
Why we like it: This is lighter, a gel cream that packs a powerful active ingredient deck that also is used AM and PM, it is TSA friendly and packable. Pricey ($125) but regularly snags the top lists in Harpers and Forbes for efficacy.
I love the lightness and hydration aspects of the product, and for those who hate oily feeling skincare, this pioneering spot targeting serum will make your hyperpigmentation fade with patented technology and skin safe linoleic acid.
Oily skins and combination skins can use this as the nighttime treatment too.
Why we like it: Tiny and super packable, this compact lightweight sunscreen ($30) is a must if you are trying to despot the face. It also feels great once it absorbs, firming the skin too.
I love the absorbability of this sunscreen that penetrates, and a small amount is only needed. Non-greasy, perfect under makeup and perfect for men’s shaving kits – this is sized right for summer travels. It’s one of the best SPF moisturizers I’ve ever used.
Why we like it: Nice and light, powerful and deep acting, this mask you leave on, massaging a quarter-sized amount onto a clean face, neck and décolleté until it turns white.
Takes travel and sun-weary skin that is dehydrated, working overnight to deliver perfect skin by morning. It’s a fantastic item for those who party too much, are jet-lagged, or just need that extra intense moisture boost without an oily residue.
The gel cream is made with plant extracts, marine actives, and soothing essential oils. Give it five minutes to sink in before hitting the pillow. Perfect for all skin types, 2-3 times a week or as needed. $58 SRP.
Specialty – Body
Why we like it: All purpose scrub that men and women can use, this is a creamy scrub made with tons of botanicals and natural extracts, antioxidants, bioflavonoid-rich grape seeds and sustainable bamboo that handle you from stem to stern, face to feet and smells tropical and delicious while doing a yeoman’s job in the shower. Such a workhorse.
All Epicuren items we have reviewed in the past perform well, a good solid quality skincare line.
Use the scrub on wet skin using light-pressured circular motions. No need to rub hard.
Rinse thoroughly with warm water and pat dry. Follow with specialty products and body moisturizer. Only needed 1-2 times a week.
Epicuren Refresh Aloe Cucumber Mist
Why we like it: This lifesaving botanical spray ($37) can be used from the sunny dog days of summer to anyone who gets a chemical or lasering on their skin.
Often times doctors tell these patients to make a vinegar soak for freshly zapped or peeled skin but this spray is perfect and smells a heck of a lot better!
Keep in the refrigerator for extra cooling effects. Anyone in the home can use this wonderfully hydrating skin mist.
The ingredients are all organic and reveal this is no ordinary face spritz.
It is made of Water, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Extract, skin loving Sodium Hyaluronate (a naturally found substance in healthy cells), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Allantoin, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Oil and Camellia Sinensis (Green tea) Leaf Extract.
Why we like it: I am a big believer in fake it, don’t bake it. Until you see a skin cancer up close and personal, these are good words to live by.
With this new item (Under $10 SRP) you get believable color, natural ingredient deck and non-streak cafe au lait colored formula that smells faintly citrus fruity, and feels silky and nice going on the skin.
Ultra lightweight, all you get is a glowing tan minus the damaging effects of the sun.
Ingredients include antioxidant-rich Green Tea and Red Raspberry extracts, Olive Oil, Aloe, and Hibiscus. Free of any synthetic fragrance, parabens, sulfates and phthalates.
This is a fantastic, low cost and easy to find the line of natural skin and hair care made right near M&C California offices.
Specialty – Hair
Why we like it: This looks like a demented sex toy gone wrong. (SRP $29.99) But what it does is pretty cool despite the look of it.
Has a high heat (up to 400 degrees) and the dial with multiple heat settings to get just the right curl make this…unusual curling iron one to check out. It can deliver soft beachy waves or more structured defined spiral curls.
The kickstand is easy to operate with one hand. The resting mat is sized just right and I appreciated the long cord with the swivel end connected to the iron. I have stick straight, fine hair below the shoulder which hates to hold any curl.
This iron took about 15 minutes to do my whole head, it requires just a few seconds each section of hair and you will need that glove that comes with it, trust me.
There will be a brief learning curve figuring, watch this video to make it easy.
Why we like it: Ultra fine coconut scented spray that adds oomph and volume to hair, and the revitalization of any curl you may have had.
You spray inside the hair, lifting it up and spray underneath the shaft, hold up for a minute, let it dry and scrunch or squeeze the hair in a coil and voila, beach-y body and curl without looking like a Texas beauty queen circa 1983.
Macadamia Oil – Omega 7, 5 and 3 fatty acids provide weightless moisture SRP $25
Why we like it: This duo is a simple formulation, and both smell incredible as they gently cleanse the hair with a unique blend of Sage, Lavender, and Rosemary extracts. Ideal for normal hair, color treated hair and daily usage. Inexpensive to boot. Use with complementary Nature’s Gate Herbal Daily Cleanse Conditioner which is a
conditioner that does not weigh down fine hair. As it is with all their products, it is Vegan, NonGMO, Paraben Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Cruelty-Free, NO – Sodium Laurel/Laureth/Coco Sulfates, Phthalates, Butylene Glycol, Artificial Colors.
Why we like it: Muted earthy corals work for us. Bright orange lovers need not apply here. This entire wearable palate of tropical waters and beach sunset inspired colors from Merle Norman are pretty and easy to wear. Be a beach babe, not a Miami Nana nightmare.
Especially notable are the formulations, as the eye colors are super pigmented and silky, the bronzer applies smoothly with no powdery look and the lip tint is a perfect marriage of lip stain and traditional lipstick, moisturizing and perfect for hot weather.
In this limited edition collection, we recommend the eye color trio in “Miami Spice” Eyecolor Trio, Bronzing Powder in “Sunny Side” SRP: $20 and Lip Glaze in “Carefree” SRP: $15.
Why we love it: We had never heard of this Euro line until recently and were impressed with the ease of application, wearability and color ranges of their potted eyeliner gels and the incredible quality of their makeup brushes.
Especially the must-have Kibuki style blush and bronzer brush above (25SS) that does so much, loose powder to contour, blush to bronzer, it’s a high-quality brush that is natural (goat) and doesn’t shed all over your face. I love this brush.
Their lip products cover a range of looks, we tried their gloss and loved the matte lip colors and the high shine glosses, each with remarkable staying power too.
Inglot fragrances are Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, meant to be worn alone or combined, there is no gender assignment as they all have uniquely elemental properties and are fun to layer. Some are more masculine and clean smelling than others, but all can be worn by anyone.
One of the best ones for all is Earth, with clean, mossy green notes blended with spicy and exotic florals.
Can be worn alone or layered with any of the companion scents Air, Water or Fire to create your own scent. Infused with clementine, neroli, coriander leaf, mimosa, jasmine, green tea, sandalwood, vetiver, and amber.
Fire is also wonderful. This fragrance has spicy, woodsy oriental notes and a slight hint of tropical florals, notes of cardamon, mandarin, fig leaves, mice, jasmine, iris, sandalwood, musk, and mahogany wood round out the sexy scent.
Air is loaded with white grapefruit, bergamot, bamboo leaves, white lavender flower, peony, cashmere woods, amber, and has a cedarwood base.
Water is the most unisex to me, with spa notes like fresh marine notes, floral and aromatic herbs, mandarin, bergamot, sea grass, aquatic florals, clary sage, white pepper, musk, with a cedarwood and patchouli mist base.