Review: Skincare HG! L’Occitane Foaming Rice Cleanser, Purifying Rice Toner, Ultra-Matte Face Fluid, Exfoliating Rice Powder

Hey there, how is everybody doing on Monday? Still hanging in there?

Today I’m here to talk about my holy grail skincare products. I have combination skin, which means my forehead and nose are oily and prone to shininess. Moving to a colder/drier climate didn’t completely solve this problem, but at the same time the rest of my face becomes a bit drier and more sensitive. I’ve always been a huge fan of L’Occitane products, and since I now live next door to where they are produced, I was more than willing to give their red rice line a try. As you can see, except for the mask I own everything! When I first came to Belgium I experimented with some pharmaceutical skincare products, but none of them was satisfactory. Ever since this line came into my life though, I have never looked elsewhere. I have repurchased all the products at least once, and I will continue to do so as long as they are still on the market/my skin is still combination/oily!

The Foaming Rice Cleanser claims to contain both zinc and red rice. Zinc supplements are recommended for those with acne problems, and zinc in skincare products is only effective if it has a certain concentration. Since the concentration is not stated on the packaging, the resident chemist of Mostly Sunny (Dr. D!) cannot evaluate whether it might be effective. From a consumer point-of-view though, the rice cleanser is amazing! I love how little I need each time (think one peanut and a half), how easily I can make luxurious foam, and how my skin is perfectly clean yet not tight or dry afterwards. The packaging is pretty nicely-designed. I have used about 2 bottles all the way to the end, and there is VERY little you can’t get out with the pump. Also, it is plastic, but it is not cheap plastic. It has accidentally fallen to the floor of my shower from the rack a million times, but it never broke (as opposed to the pump of my bottle of Aveeno facial wash, which broke into several little pieces the second time it fell)!

The Purifying Rice Toner is a bi-phase toner that slightly mattifies skin. It reduces shine and leaves my skin feeling fresh, but the rice powder in the product doesn’t feel heavy or pore-clogging at all. I have specifically asked Dr. D to go through the ingredient list and see if he can spot alcohol, and I am happy to report there is none. From my experience I can tell you it doesn’t dry the drier part of my face out. I apply it with a cotton pad every morning (in the evening I prefer something a bit more moisturizing).

The Ultra-Matte Face Fluid is another wonder. I tried several NUXE lotions which claim to work for combination skin, but each time I was left disappointed. The texture of those lotions are heavy, and they did nothing to help reduce/delay shine on my nose and forehead. This one, on the other hand, has a lovely light texture. It keeps the drier part of my skin moisturized, and it delays the shine on my forehead/nose. I wouldn’t exaggerate and tell you my face doesn’t get shiny at all with this lotion, but it does help. It is again an extremely concentrated product that you only need a teeny bit each time.

I can’t find the Exfoliating Rice Powder on the website anymore. The US website says it’s not in stock, but the French one simply doesn’t list it anymore. I hope they didn’t discontinue this powder… or even if they did they would come up with a better one. The Exfoliating Rice Powder is a facial scrub. Unlike most scrubs, it is not a paste. Instead, it is just a can of tiny rice flakes. It is used when the face is clean and wet. The rice flakes are very fine, so it does not feel abrasive at all on my face. It also foams up a tiny little. I was told to take my time with it, making gentle circular motions with my fingertips. I have tried plenty of facial scrubs in the past, but this one is my favorite! It leaves skin feeling fresh and clean, while the process stays gentle. Special attention does have to paid to storing this scrub though, as if you live in a humid climate or leave this lying around in your bathroom, the powder might absorb humidity and become chunks.

Like all L’Occitane products, these aren’t cheap (20 dollars a pop for both the cleanser and toner, and 26 for the face fluid). However, as I have mentioned, they are so concentrated that you only need a teeny tiny bit each time, which is likely to make them last longer than drugstore products. Also, they are formulated with some organic ingredients if that speaks to you 🙂 The fragrance is light, pleasant, and not overwhelmingly chemical-smelling.

Put your hand in the air if you have combination skin/have tried these products/are interested in trying them! Let me know what you think about these and whether you might want to give them a try in the comments. I will come back with another post soon 🙂

Review: Aveeno smart essentials pore purifying facial wash

At some point during my trip, I couldn’t find my bottle of facial wash. Since I had to pack and unpack so many times, I was convinced I had lost it and needed a new one. After looking around in Walgreens, I picked this facial wash up. I’ve had very positive experience with Aveeno, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Besides stating the oil-free, soap-free, hypoallergenic, and noncomedogenic nature on the back of the bottle, this facial wash makes the following claims: To get great, healthy looking skin, make a clean start. Diet, free-radicals, lack of sleep and a hectic lifestyle can rob your skin of essential nourishment, resulting in noticeably stressed skin. Formulated with antioxidant Southernwood extract, SMART ESSENTIALS™ Pore Purifying Facial Wash helps keep what’s good for your skin in and what’s bad out, purifying and renewing your skin with each wash. Smart skincare that knows what your skin needs and what it doesn’t because:

It keeps the good in:
Mild formula supports moisture by cleansing without over-drying skin.
And the bad out:
Cleanses to remove impurities, dirt and makeup.
Removes excess oil to create more balanced skin.
(taken from the Aveeno website)

Once you pump it out, the facial wash is an almost transparent gel. I can’t put my fingers around the smell (it’s a bit flowery and a bit fruity) but I quite like it. Maybe it’s the smell of Southernwood which it claims to be formulated with? I have combination skin, and it’s drier because of the season. This facial wash doesn’t dry it out. After I wash my face with it, my skin feels clean and it’s not tight or anything. However, I do always use a separate makeup remover before washing my face, so I can’t assess the “remove makeup” claim. I would be surprised if it really does that though. Based on its texture I wouldn’t be so sure. What I don’t like about this facial wash is the fact that it almost doesn’t foam at all. The instructions tell you to dispense 2-3 pumps (!!!) each time, but still it wouldn’t foam. It might be my problem to be so foam-obsessed, but any cleaning product that doesn’t foam well is not a good one for me. Compared with my HG L’Occitane Foaming Rice Cleaner, which is also soap-free and I only need half a pump or even less each time, this facial wash is rather disappointing. True, there is a significant difference in price tags (L’Occitane: 20, Aveeno: 6.99 dollars), but since you need 2-3 pumps each time, you’d run out of this one a lot faster, so at the end I’m not sure it makes more economical sense.

Bottom line: it’s not a bad product, but certainly a mediocre one. For someone who has combination skin, it functions as a daily cleanser without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. However, based on the fact that it doesn’t foam and a large quantity is required each use, I wouldn’t repurchase even if I could. I’m sure even among Aveeno facial washes there are ones that perform better.

EDIT 26/01/12: I stand by my original opinion that I’m not the biggest fan of this facial wash. However, in the meantime I have realized a lot of my problems with cleansers that don’t foam too well might be due to the fact that the water in Belgium is extremely hard. You might not have the same problem if you live somewhere the water is relatively soft.