March 2014 Best Beauty and Fragrance Finds

March 2014 Best Beauty and Fragrance Finds sees six newcomers who address skincare, beauty and fragrance for men and women.

Monthly, Monsters and Critics shines a spotlight on the best of the newest beauty products that turned our heads and impressed.

After wading through many professional samples submitted for review, this month’s top picks we recommend include a new fragrance line for men from iconic brand Lacoste, a fantastic natural shaving balm to heal skin, a Vitamin C enriched hydrating skin serum, targeted acne spot relief, fabulous faux eyelashes and a bodycare line drenched in a refreshing pure Gardenia scent for Spring.

Category: Fragrance

Eau de Lacoste for Men Fragrance: Blanc, Bleu and Vert

lacoste mens

Why we liked it: Eau de LaCoste L.12.12 Blanc is a clean delicious scent that is fresh, woody and redolent of grapefruit, rosemary, cardamom and cedar leaf notes to create a clean and aromatic first impression.  We loved it. These notes blend with a uniquely masculine, floral heart accord comprised of natural tuberose, ylang ylang and olibanum to give the unique scent a thumbs up from us. . The base of the fragrance merges cedarwood and georgywood with fresher notes of vetiver. The result is a timeless classic (a great day scent) we recommend for those who are picky about men’s fragrance.

The Blue Eau de Lacoste edition too moves from the pure classic scent and is great for men who want a more definitive and present fragance with citrusy grapefruit notes, and aquatic notes of peppermint and watery fruits. Stronger than the White scent, it’s still smooth with mid-notes of sage and an earthy dry down of patchouli, amber wood and oak moss to create a deep, powerful, and intensely masculine scent.  Great for nighttime. The most powerful of the three.

Lastly the new Vert Edition Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 is a green fresh and natural scent, a cocktail of citrus notes, a combination of bergamot, verbena and grapefruit. Ladies, this may be the one you want to steal from your man, especially you Aliage (Estee Lauder) lovers. This bright blend of top notes is tempered with blue lavender, thyme, violet leaf and fig. At the base there is the sparkling scent of natural living bamboo grass, a note unique to this scent which drives the feeling of fresh, green wood within the fragrance. I found myself wanting to wear it.

Bodycology Pure White Gardenia Collection
Made in the USA

body gard wash

Why we liked it:  Spring is here and darn it, a fresh floral is as ubiquitous as a lighter glossier lip color! The rich, floral scent of fresh gardenias lifts and promotes good spirits. It’s a skin loving collection that is affordable and leaves you feeling like you have a gardenia tucked behind your ear.

We recommend: Pure White Gardenia Nourishing Body Cream

body gard cream

Beneficial ingredients include Aloe Vera, Shea Butter and Nourishing Vitamins E & C.
For a light day fragrance, use Pure White Gardenia Fragrance Mist

body gar dmist

Conditioning and Hydrating Aloe Vera. pure White Gardenia extract  leave you feeling clean and not overly perfumed.

Last but not least try our favorite of the group, the gentle Foaming Body Wash for both showers and a luxurious bubble bath. Made with hydrating Honey and Aloe Vera.

Murad Acne Starter Kit
Murad Acne Clearing Solution
Murad Acne Spot Fast Fix
Made in the USA

murad kit


Why we liked it:  Nobody does Acne and Aging skincare like Dr. Murad. The company’s continuous efforts to find better solutions that treat acne has netted some of the best targeted products out there to normalize out of balance skin.

Acne Spot Fast Fix ($16) is a must-have. Dr. Murad steered clear of using Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO) because of the irritation it typically causes. Using a breakthrough in skincare technology, Murad launched its first-ever product containing BPO in a revolutionary way that keeps skin from being damaged by harsh ingredients but addresses the infection of Acne.

This technology is a unique new delivery system, called Hydrophase, and along with Micronized Benzoyl Peroxide, it allows the BPO to penetrate the skin and provide powerful spot treatment without the irritation that is commonly associated with BPO. Acne Spot Fast Fix works fast and doesn’t create havoc on the face from too strong ingredient deck.

We also loved the Acne Clearing Solution:

murad clearing

This is a full face “serum” treatment product that is meant for daily use and is designed to immediately fight breakouts without causing purging. The new product is made with Salicylic Acid combined with other advanced acne-fighting ingredients such as Queen of Meadow Extract and Tea Tree Oil, Acne Clearing solution not only treats and prevent breakouts, it fast-tracks the healing process by minimizing dryness, redness and peeling. 96% of users saw clearer skin in 72 hours.  Smooth over clean skin and before moisturizer and eye cream. Avoid eye area with this one.

Murad has also launched Acne Starter Kit ($30), its newest 30 day kit that includes these 2 products, a smart way to try all of the right items needed to manage acne breakouts. Great for travel too, TSA size friendly.

Art of Shaving After Shave Balm in Sandalwood 4 oz. ($38)
Made in the USA

Why we liked it:  Art of Shaving After Shave Balm Sandalwood Scented is manliness in a bottle. Think old school clean and a formula that will make your cheeks kissable and smooth. It’s an addictive scent. Every man should try this line of skincare and shaving products.

Art of Shaving After Shave Balm in SandalwoodThe fabulous scent of real sandalwood is blended with grapeseed extract, shea butter, and Vitamin C which all work in concert to calm your skin after shaving. Not familiar with The Art of Shaving? This retailer and manufacturer is bringing the tradition straight razor way of shaving back in vogue after a few generations of disposable razors and foamy shave gels have left men missing the ritual and skin benefits of a good old fashioned shave. They sell shave brushes, special shave soaps, and stunning razors and stands to make your daily shave the closest you have ever had, short of going to the barber.

CerumWORX Stable 10% Vitamin C + Biopeptides
Made in the USA

Why we liked it:  Well, at first it was an eyeroll. I hate these capsule things. But then I got to using it and fell in love with the pre-measured and sterile application of the serum inside. I veer to oilier skin although I have concerns for anti-aging. The weight of it was perfect for me, I hate heavy product on the skin and I liked the results I got after 2 weeks thus far.

CerumWORX stable 10% Vitamin C + Biopeptides capsules are unlike traditional oil/liquid Vitamin serums that that can oxidize and degrade quickly after opening, What yo0u feel is a dry-ish silky cream delivered in a biodegradable single-use capsule that delivers maximum potency Vitamin C with each application.

You twist or snip off the capsule top. Then squeeze it all out and gently massage it with fingertips. The product is enough really just for the face. The ultra-lightweight cream has a velvety smooth primer-like feel going on the skin. Drier skins will want to  layer a moisture cream after this penetrates the skin.

CerumWORX recommends using the product 2x daily for acute repair and then 1x in the morning to maintain healthy skin.  CerumWORX is made of 3 forms of Vitamin C and Vitamin E to boost antioxidant activity. Dual biopeptide technology helps firm the skin and enhance the skin’s natural elasticity in a fragrance-free formula. ($75)

Category: Body

Get Fresh Look Better Naked – Lemongrass

Made in the USA

spa use

Why we liked it:  So many reasons. American made, small family business with a big retail footprint all over the country. This item is one of many bodycare items offered. Redolent of pure lemongrass, this is decidedly fresh and clean, not a floral, which they have  if you prefer. I loved the edible and clean notes of the revitalizing lemongrass.

The 3-step home spa treatment is specially formulated to obliterate dull dead skin and make your skin radiant with no harsh chemicals. In just 15 minutes, it exfoliates, detoxifies and moisturizes to help your skin look its best. Under $30

Step One: Mineral Body Scrub – 113g e 6.25oz jar, use first with no water, scrub a bit then apply water.
Step Two: Mineral Body Mask – 145g e 5oz jar – apply to skin where needed for 10 minutes, rinse off
Step Three: Rich Body Creme – 113g e 4oz jar – super luxurious dense cream that repairs and hydrates all body skin.

Bonus Intel:  This is a company with deep core beliefs and ethically sources ingredients AND gives back, especially to veterans.
They feel a responsibility to give back to those who serve and those military families that have allowed us to prosper in a peaceful nation as well as the less fortunate among us, and they dedicate a portion of their sales to Military charities that help Wounded Warriors transition successfully back into civilian life, as well as donating to local charities that take care of people in need.

Smell good, look good and do good, triple win, and keep the dollars in the USA.

Category: Beauty

Lola V Eyelashes
Made in the USA

lola v lashes1 lola v vanity 805

Why we liked it:  Bat those lashes! Founded in 2013, Lola V Lashes has introduced women to 21 various high quality, yet affordable, styles of mink eyelashes. If you didn’t get the memo, a nice strip of quality eyelashes pop the eyes and make a difference in a makeup. Especially for events where you will be photographed.

Before gluing the lashes on, you will need to size the strip to your actual eye. Hold the lash strips up against your eyelid, and trim them down on the sides if necessary. Lashes should be longer toward the outer corner of the eye.

You have to be very careful in your placement and application methods, otherwise you run the risk of loosing a strip during mid-batting of the lashes.

When applying, first apply a thin layer of DUO glue to the uppermost back part of the strip and wait 30 seconds for it to begin to dry. Then, pick it up with tweezers and lay the false lash into the natural lash line well beginning by lining the end up with the outer corner first.

Let it set for about a minute and use a clean orange stick to make sure the line of the strip is right in their at the lash line, and voila,  lashes in a flash!

Created by Valerie De La Rosa, Lola V Lashes come in 21 variations of lashes include both top and bottom lashes that will last from 2-3 weeks, with different designs to compliment every eye shape. These are high quality lashes that do not cost too much. In fact they have excellent sales on their website too.

Here’s a few videos to get over the fear of lash application: