REN Skincare : Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask Review & Thoughts


Luckily for me, working in the beauty industry lets me test out all kinds of products, so I usually get these beautiful, curated packages sent to my door. I’m always excited to get these packages but when I got a package from REN Skincare, full of their best-sellers, I was so excited because I literally swear by their Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask. It’s been a staple in my beauty cabinet for the last 2-3 years. I kid you not, this product does wonders for my dry and rough skin.

fullsizerender-jpg(The white cloth pictured is very helpful in removing the sticky mask!)

What REN Says:

Our Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask (such a long name!) is an instant complexion-perfecting mask that brightens and renews skin tone and texture, minimizes pores and discoloration and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in just 10 minutes.

The results according to REN include removal of dead skin cells, brighter and healthier looking skin, reduction in appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and helps combat congestion, blackheads and blemishes.

What I say:

For me, it absolutely removes my dead skin cells and leaves my skin silky smooth. Makeup goes on like a dream after I use this mask. My skin does look more radiant and has less discoloration. As any exfoliator will do, fine lines and wrinkles will be less noticeable but it won’t take them away. I am not sure on the reduction of blackheads since I don’t have any. The claim about blemishes, I am not sure about as these acids can be a bit harmful to a recent breakout but, it definitely can help combat any scars or marks left over from previous breakouts.

I am a huge fan of chemical exfoliants. I use them day and night! I prefer them to manual exfoliation. Matter of fact, I haven’t manually exfoliating in months! Chemical exfoliation is far superior because it can penetrate more layers of skin and have a better impact on your skin overall.

What I don’t like about this mask is how sticky it is. I know, I am nitpicking here but masks like these are a bit annoying when you have long hair. But this can easily be solved by wearing a head band and putting your hair up. It does “burn” a bit, but only sometimes. Sometimes I feel nothing. It depends on how my skin is that day. Nothing excruciating though. I honestly recommend you trying this out as the price point is great for the quality of product you get ($55 USD). It’s full of acids that are really beneficial to removing dead, rough skin (Glycolic Acid from Pineapples, Lactic Acid from Passion Fruit and Citric Acid from Lemons are just a few of the food based acids). Think of this mask as eating away all your dead skin cells and revealing a fresh new layer.

The only concern you should have about this mask is if it breaks you out or not. It will work on almost everyone (unless you have been using high levels of acid based masks for a while) and leave your skin smooth and fresh. The only issue would be if the mask tends to break you out or not. Yes it does what it says but everyones skin is different. The only way you will know is if you try it out! I personally love it and I think everyone should try this mask out if they have issues with rough skin texture, uneven skin tone and fine lines. It still is a staple in my beauty closet, but lets see how long it lasts as I tend to increase the percentage of acids I use.

REN is available at, Sephora and other beauty retailers listed on their site!

Check back for a review on their new Flash Hydro Boost (spoiler: I’m also loving it and it’s been only two days!)

Nuxe Multi-Purpose Dry Oil



So, I woke up this morning to cold feet (literally). I left the windows open in my high-rise apartment due to the muggy and warm day we had yesterday in Chicago and in the matter of hours the weather plummeted! I live right on the Lake or the Beach like some call it (it’s not a beach guys sorry!), so it tends to be cooler in my area. With that being said, I had to bust out the cooler weather skincare products and decided to share with you guys one of my favorite cold weather staples. Oil.

I recently got a beautiful box filled with products from NUXE Paris. Perfect timing as they are known for their oils. To my delight, one of my old favorites was in there, Huile Prodigieuse. I can’t pronounce it so I just call it their signature dry oil. I’m sure you’ve all seen it before. It’s probably their best selling product. The other oil they make which has a bronzing, shimmer tint to it is just as good to add a nice sheen on the legs or décolletage.

I use this everywhere except my chin area as I tend to break out the most there. It’s a great spot treatment for rough patches on your face. I don’t use it all over though. It truly is multi-purpose as it makes my body silky smooth and tames fly aways when used on my hair. I also have really coarse eyebrows, so I use some of this to condition them.

You can purchase their oil at their website, or at Target as well as other beauty retailers.

10MGMT Chicago Model Miriam Coix: Beauty Breakdown


I had a lovely time working with Miriam Coix. A beautiful person inside and out. Also, a dream to work with as she knew every since facial expression to give me when I was applying her makeup. Heres what I used:

Foundation: I used Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer, M.A.C. Studio Fix Fluid, Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer under the eyes and Tom Ford Traceless Stick Foundation to go over her contour so make it look more natural. I then set her face with Chanel Universel Loose Setting Powder with a folded powder puff.

Eyes: For a base I used M.A.C. Painterly Paint Pot all over the lid, I then went in with Viseart‘s Theory Palette using the matte cream shade also as a base as well as the shimmer light shade. For the crease I used Urban Decay Smog and highlight I used Urban Decay Virgin (my absolute favorite). I used Kat Von D Liquid Liner, Kevyn Aucoin Eye Pencil in Primatif, KoKo Lashes in Misha and Guerlain Maxi Lash Mascara.

Contour/Highlight: I used Anastasia Beverly Hills Cream Contour Kit in Light using the middle brown shade and then went over it with my absolute favorite cream contour product, Tom Ford’s Shade & Light Intensity One. I set that with M.A.C. Mineral Skin Finish in Deepest Dark. For highlight I used Tom Ford Shade & Light Intensity One and Becca Moonstone.

Blush: A mix of M.A.C. Blushbaby and Hourglass Cosmetics Mood Exposure

Lips: I used Kevyn Aucoin Flesh tone lip pencil in Medium, M.A.C. Peachstock lipstick and Tom Ford Nude Vanille

Brows: Kevyn Aucoin Brow Pencil in Brunette topped off with Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder in Brunette.

Hair: Curled using GHD 1 1/2 Curler, teased with Bumble & Bumble Dryspun Hairspray and set with Oribe Ultra Fine Mist Hairspray.

Clothing: Top provided by Akira (a local boutique in Chicago).

Credits: Model, Miriam Coix from 10MGMT Chicago. Photographer, Dejan Dimkovski.



Madame LA LA Self-Tanner Review

banner  (image via SuperDrug.)

The smell! That delicious coconut fragrance I can smell on my skin at the moment as my self-tanner dries. Yes, you heard right. I am enjoying the smell of my self-tanner. It’s almost like an oxymoron to say that a self-tanner smells so good! The two usually don’t go together. Usually you loathe the smell of the DHA in your self-tanner! Not with this new line of tanner that was sent to me a few days ago!

I’ve seen the Madame LA LA logo a few times at the Pro Makeup Artist shops where I purchase products for my makeup kit, but for some reason associated it with stage makeup. No clue why. It was by accident that I clicked on it one day and it led me this newcomer in the arena of self-tanners. Be a huge self-tanning junky, I started researching and decided to take the plunge and try it. Problem was they were sold out in the stores they were carried in and couldn’t find them anywhere. I contacted the company (Hey Daniel!) and told him I’d absolutely love to try out some of their products and he immediately sent me over their full line. I am not being paid to write this review by the way. If it was horrible, I would simply refuse to write a review but, it’s so good that I couldn’t wait to write one!

IMG_1304pictured here are the regular and Light version. I only use the regular.

Madame LA LA hails from the U.K., where some of the best self-tanners are produced and conjured up. St. Tropez and Vita Liberata are just a few to name that have their roots across the pond. Let me tell you this, those Britain’s sure know how to make a self-tanner. Must be from the lack of sun they get in their beautiful country! Madame LA LA was no exception and has completely knocked out my other self-tanners to the back of my beauty closet. This is by far, the best self-tanner I have tried.

From the company:

“Madame LA LA Tan provides an instant LA glow that develops into an even deep golden colour in 3 hours. The lightweight tinted mousse is a quick-dry DD Tan perfector (Dynamic do-all) infused with hydrating skincare benefits; Coco Water, Aloe, Green Tea and Vitamin E, plus built-in skin finishing perfectors. Innovative colour customising technology ensures your tan looks natural whilst adapting to your individual skin tone. Madame LA LA tan will las for 10 days as if you have spent 2 weeks on Malibu Beach!”

It has the typical mousse pump packaging, but thats probably the only similarity it has to other self-tanners. For one it smells absolutely delicious! It really does! I can’t smell a hint of DHA on me. I smell like a Coconut Ice Cream Bar! It’s nothing overpowering though. The formula glides on so smooth! It’s like lotion in a mousse form. I’m still baffled at how well it spreads! When it dries it’s not at all tacky. I know, too good to be true you’re thinking! I’m thinking the same, but it’s just that good! While it sits on my skin it keeps it fully hydrated as well. I usually have dry skin so suffered for years when self-tanning as it formed cracks and patches on me. Not with Madame LA LA.

The color is a beautiful brown color. Not a hint of orange, jaundice yellow or pasty pink to it. Just plain brown. Like a real tan you’d get from Mallorca or like Madame LA LA likes to say, Malibu. Fade wise, I will admit that although it fades by far the best than any other tanner I have used, it slightly faded unevenly around my elbow. I don’t blame the product thought because my skin is really dry in that area and every tanner does this.

Theres a few things I dislike about Madame LA LA as a whole. One of them being that it’s extremely hard to get a hold of. It was sold out on their website and when I purchased my own bottle at a Professional Beauty Store, the mousse came out blue. It was probably not stored correctly or was probably expired by the time they sold it. I also wish they would make a good mitt with it. Every self-tanning line makes a mitt. If Madame LA LA is capable of making a fabulous self-tanner, I can imagine how good their mitt will be!

For those who get tired of my rambling, heres the quick version of my review. Super blendable, smells delicious, beautiful brown color and almost patch free application. I know I sound like an infomercial the whole review through but I am just so excited to finally find a self-tanner that actually does what it says!

Chicago: An Emerging Fashion Capital

22u4oj770k4efv5n(Barneys New York, Chicago)

It was a beautiful August day in Chicago and I had just arrived to start an internship. It was my first time ever visiting Chicago. Chicago had never really crossed my mind as a city to visit let alone eventually move to! I didn’t know anything about Chicago and quite frankly wasn’t enthusiastic about being in a city I deemed boring. I surely didn’t know what a fashionable city it was. To my surprise I was walking down Oak Street (The Rodeo Drive of Chicago) with a fellow co-worker and saw a Christian Louboutin shop next to a Tom Ford boutique. I was in shock to say the least. Who knew Chicago was fabulous enough to have its own Christian Louboutin shop right next to Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana? Not even tax-free New Jersey had one!

Don’t sleep on Jersey though. I might be biased but New Jersey is a very fashionable state full of designer shops. It’s one of the highest grossing retail areas in the country! We have many high end designer shops like Chanel, Versace, Hermes, Fendi, Dior, Jimmy Choo and a handful of others. This is mainly due to the fact that there is no sales tax on clothing and shoes in New Jersey. This can save you lots of money, upwards of $100 and more. Which is the reason why I always have my shoes and clothing delivered to my home in New Jersey and pick them up on one of my frequent trips back home. On the weekends you see a sea of New York License Plates fill up the parking lots of Short Hills Mall and Garden State Plaza (the two uber upscale malls in New Jersey). Fun Fact: New Jersey is known as the mall capital of the country.

AR-304129995.jpg(Oak Street’s Major Attraction)

This was back in 2014 and I didn’t know at the time that Chicago was having a resurgence of high-end designer shops popping up everywhere, especially in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood which houses million dollar homes, the original Playboy Mansion and Oak Street. The Louboutin, Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana had recently been opened. A few years earlier Barney’s New York moved into a brand new 6 floor building across from its former location which now is occupied by Hermes. Chicago must have a thing for moving stores across the street. Jimmy Choo recently moved its former location from 114 E Oak Street to a bigger, two floor shop at 63 E. Oak St. Oak Street is the place to be but may be having some competition soon. Agent Provocateur, Carolina Herrera, Escada, Giorgio Armani, Harry Winston, Lanvin, La Perla, Prada and a handful of other stores call Oak Street home.

Many designers are opening up shop in Chicago which says a lot about Chicaversace-chicago-1.jpggo’s love for designer fashions, but not just on Oak Street anymore. Versace just opened a gorgeous boutique on Rush Street with Dior slated to move in next door sometime this year
according to the Chicago Tribune. Theres recently been whispers that Valentino is looking into retail space in Chicago’s Gold Coast nieghborhood. Could it be where Jimmy Choo used to be? Or maybe on the up and coming Rush St which,already houses Saint Laurent,Marc Jacobs and Intermix. I’m hoping and praying for Roberto Cavalli and Manolo Blahnik store to land here soon.

Stores that already existed in Chicago are keeping an eye on the competition and have gotten face lifts. Gucci’s Chicago flagship store recently expanded its 900 N. Michigan Avenue store to 10,000 sqft with the addition of a new floor and a typical in your face Gucci exterior (think big gold and shiny letters). Across the street at Louis Vuitton, a sales associate told me they are planning on revamping their flagship as well. I’m glad because it’s in serious need of revamping. So is the Chanel store just a block north. Neiman Marcus started a major remodel in 2012 with it’s cosmetics area (my favorite, of course) even having it’s own launch party. You can watch that here on Candidly CandaceNordstrom also remodeled it’s cosmetics department which has a Tom Ford and Charlotte Tilbury counter which are rare to find. It already houses a Louboutin in-store boutique, Prada boutique and Louis Vuitton.

It’s safe to conclude the fashion scene in Chicago is getting bigger by the moment. With luxury Chicago magazines like Michigan Avenue, Modern Luxury’s CS Magazine and Splash all covering Chicago’s fashionable residents, it’s hard not to notice. Seems like daily theres an event for an opening of a new boutique. Seems like the Second City likes to keep its love for designer goods and vibrant fashion scene a hidden gem located in the Mid-West since nobody really attaches the word fashionable to Chicago which is still known around the country as The Windy City.


Throwback Thursday #OOTD

In honor of Throw-Back Thursday, I’ve opened the vault and pulled out a photo of one of my favorite outfits ever! This outfit from September 2015 brings back such amazing memories. It was a day I got to experience the Puerto Rican side of my family by visiting the Humboldt Park district in Chicago for a charity even with my mother. I learned so much and had a great day bonding with my mom!12308216_532863296879724_5382073955362756142_o

Dress: When I first saw this paisley print Trina Turk dress on the hanger at Nordstrom, I wasn’t to keen on it. But, the sales associate just raved how beautiful it looked on. So, I gave in and tried it on. It was a bit too loose and had not shape so I asked her to bring me any belt just to see how it would look and I fell in love! One of my favorite tricks for any ill fitting dress or top is to belt it. It not only gives it shape but can transform the dress completely. It went from Hippie-Chic to Sexy-Chic.

Belt: I felt pretty fancy this day, so I decided to use a Hermes skinny belt to add shape and a pop of luxury to this seemingly casual dress. It changed the look completely! This isn’t the same belt the sales associate gave me. I had asked for any skinny belt she could find. She found a PVC neon orange belt which was hideous but it gave me the mental idea of how it would look with one of my own belts. At first I was going to go with a brown belt I had from H&M but after looking at my accessories I decided with the gold Hermes belt.

Shoes: These are my favorite boots ever! I live for an Over The Knee Boot! Problem is, they are so hard to find! They either aren’t tall enough, slouch down or baggy looking. These have been a closet staple for a while and I take very good care of them since they are my favorite boots ever for the Fall. They make any outfit sexy! These are from Jimmy Choo and I believe they are the Tamba or Toni style. I’ve had them for a couple years so not sure if they still make this style but they have a beautiful similar boot called Giselle which I need to pick up since Giselle is my name after-all!

Bag: Saint Laurent or YSL Y Clutch at the time of purchase. I still hate that they changed the name. YSL sounds so much better and the Y is so chic. Not sure if this clutch is still available but it has held up well for the 5 or so years I’ve had her. Very good quality!

Jewelry: You can’t see it too well but I am wearing a beautiful gold evil eye necklace that was given to me by my mother. The big hoop earrings are pretty much a staple in my wardrobe. I don’t care what anyone says about hoops being tacky. I love them and the bigger the better!

What do you think? How would you have styled this dress differently? 

Products That Don’t Live Up To Their Hype & Ones to Purchase Instead

It seems that every year the same products win the same awards. That’s totally fine with me if they deserve it. Problem is, most of the time they don’t. For example, Maybelline’s horrible pink and green packaged mascara. You know which one I’m talking about. The one that every make-up artist just raves about and every magazine gives their “Best Mascara Award” to. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, that mascara sucks! It’s the worst mascara I’ve ever tried! I rather take a spooley brush and rub tar on my lashes than use that mascara. I must give some serious props to Maybelline’s PR team because they really built hype around that mascara thats been untouched since 1983.

Any who, enough ranting. Let’s get to the “Buy This, Not That” portion of the post.

1). Throw Touche Eclat Out. Purchase Dior SkinFlash.

Oh, Touche Eclat. Wait, let me type it the fancy way… Touché Eclat. Why does everyone seem to believe that this will make you look well rested and brighten your face. The packaging is uber cute but the product isn’t. It makes your eyes look more hollow, gives you no “radiance” or “glow” and is drying on many users. Plus, since it’s uber cute, it’s uber expensive.

I’m not a huge fan of Dior but their rival product, SkinFlash does the job that Touche Eclat claims to do. It even has more coverage. Not that the Touche Eclat is meant to be a concealer but, who doesn’t want the added benefit? It illuminates the eye area, it’s moisturizing and a few buck cheaper. What is that you say? How is a few bucks going to make a difference? Well my friend, it also has more product. Touche Eclat contains 0.1 oz of product. Yup, Zero Point ONE. While my friend SkinFlash contains 0.5 oz.

2). Throw La Mer’s Cult Moisturizer Out. Buy Keihl’s Ultra Facial Cream.

I’ll admit that I jumped on the “La Mer is the best cream ever, it was made by a Scientist accidentally and is totally worth the price and I see such a difference” bandwagon about two times in my life. In reality it’s an over-priced moisturizer with a 1980’s logo full of Mineral Oil. If you don’t know, Mineral Oil is horrible for your skin. It blocks your pores and is found in like Gold Bond Foot Cream. You want Gold Bond Foot Cream on your face?

Instead buy Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. Their whole Ultra Facial Line is pretty fantastic actually. I’ve been using this cream for years. Now, it doesn’t have any anti-aging benefits (neither does La Mer) but that’s what your serum is for! This is a simple moisturizer that will do it’s job for around $27. La Mer starts at $170. I won’t totally hate on La Mer though because it does work on some people so get a sample and try it out. In my opinion though, the Kiehl’s works better for your face and wallet.

3). Skip M.A.C. Brushes. Purchase Trish McEvoy Brushes. 

Let me just say that I do like M.A.C. brushes, especially their eye brushes. I use them daily.  But if you’re going to invest in brushes, go to the pro. Who is this Queen you ask? Trish McEvoy. I never was interested in her brand. It didn’t scream out to me and seemed very “bleh”. For years I heard how Trish McEvoy was the one who actually “invented” (I don’t believe that for one minute, she just made them popular) make-up brushes. Legend has it (yup, legend because it’s just talk and no proof) that she would custom make her brushes for her clients since make-up brushes weren’t popular way back when in her glory days.

Ok let me stop hating on Trish. I love her brushes. Once I bought a brush set, I was sold. Yes, they’re pricey but they are worth it! Plus, they are all travel sized. Not travel sized like M.A.C.’s where you get subpar quality. They’re travel sized and very good quality. Perfect handle length (who needs a foot long brush handle?) that fits in your make-up bag. Her brushes are so soft and fluffy. I’d advise to stick around and wait for when they are sold in a set like pictured above. It’s a great deal and happens a lot. Oh, and guess what? Just because they’re sold in a set, doesn’t mean they are subpar quality. Looking at you M.A.C.!

4). Skip L’Oreal Elnett. Purchase Oribe Superfine Strong Hold. 

If you really love Elnett so much might as well just buy Aquanet for a fraction of the cost. It literally gives you helmet hair. I think what appeals to consumers so much about this product is its beautiful vintage packaging and the fact the Kardashians did major photo ops with this hair spray. Pretty sure they were paid for it.

Instead try Oribe’s Superfine Strong Hold. Yes, it’s more expensive but Oribe is top notch quality. This hairspray will give you the hold you need without the crunch of Elnett.

5). Toss Lancome Genifique Serum. Purchase Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair. 

Why are so many people obsessed with this serum. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Your skins worst enemy is alcohol. It legit erodes your skins barrier. Lancome’s Genifique is full of alcohol. For a serum you want something hydrating so it can seal in the vitamins and anti-oxidants it provides.

Here’s were my favorite product of all time comes in. Estee Lauder’s Advanced night Repair Serum. Instead of being full of skin drying Alcohol, this contains Hyaluronic Acid which holds in moisture. Moisture is key when you want your skin to regenerate. It’s also chock full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that will be sealed in by a layer of moisture. Just trust me on this one and go buy it.

What Products Do You Think Are Over-Hyped? Comment below or Tweet me @LuxeBeau!