the hydra-essentiels

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A change in weather always calls for a change in skincare. My skin is on the drier side year-round and it’s only amplified during the cooler months. Winter in New York has been mild so far (knock on wood) but I had already noticed my skin feeling incredibly dry when Clarins offered me the chance to try the new Hydra-Essentiel duo. I have been using the two daily for a couple of weeks now, read on for the full review.

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What makes these products different? The serum and moisturizer were formulated to repair and prevent damage that sudden changes in temperature have on skin. And it’s not just one seasonal change — it’s going from a heated apartment to whatever it’s like outside to a dry office to the steamy gym and back. Whether you live in a big city like New York or not, that’s several daily temperature changes that are wreaking havoc on your complexion.

What’s in them? The star ingredient is a succulent called Leaf of Life, a plant found in Madagascar that survives in harsh conditions of intense sun, cold nights and low rainfall. Clarins researchers found that the extract boosted skin’s moisture retention abilities at all levels. There’s also Clarins’ anti-pollution complex, a combination of pure plant extracts that protects against both outdoor and indoor pollution.

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What to expect? The Hydra-Essentiel Bi-Phase Serum has a lightweight consistency that feels instantly refreshing — it’s overused but beyond perfect to describe what using this serum feels like: a drink of water for your skin. The Hydra-Essentiel Silky Cream is one of my favorite moisturizers that I have ever used. It’s rich yet sinks into the skin immediately – satisfyingly so, not in a way that leaves a feeling you need a second layer. It’s not sticky or heavy so it sits nicely under makeup, plus it has SPF 15 so I don’t feel guilty about forgetting that extra step on overcast days (guilty).

What has impressed me the most is that the dry feeling, the one that had me misting all day long and counting down to the minute I got home and could slap on a moisture mask, is completely gone. If you’re adding anything to your skincare routine this winter, I recommend the Silky Cream above all else.

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This post is sponsored by Clarins. As always, all reviews and opinions are my own.

sheet masks

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Aside from bringing us a full alphabet of creams (CC? DD? I lost track!) Korea has introduced countless sheet masks for hydrating, brightening, calming, firming — really any skin issue you can think of. Face masks have always been my favorite skincare step but within the last year it’s been more about sheet masks than typical wash-off masks. No matter how many steps in your skincare routine, serums and sheet masks are really the steps where you can best target specific skin concerns. I use sheet masks like a supplement to my beauty regimen depending on how my skin is feeling on any given day or as a quick at-home facial — most are very budget friendly. I’ve tried and loved so many that I now keep an arsenal of sheet masks at the ready. Today I’m sharing my favorite sheet masks and a few tips so you can get the most out of your sheet masks!

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One of the reasons I now prefer sheet masks to most wash-off masks is that they’re single use. I’ve purchased big tubes and jars of face masks to solve this, that and the other and quite a few of them are still hogging space in my bathroom. Of course I’ve only kept them because I enjoy using them and see results, but the convenience of sheet masks cannot be beat! Everyone’s busy but it’s much easier to find 20 minutes to do a sheet mask than to make an appointment and go to get a facial.

I say 20 minutes because it’s usually not recommended to leave sheet masks on for longer than that. The sheet creates a literal barrier on your skin to deliver all those wonderful ingredients but if it dries out, it will start sucking those ingredients back! With most face masks, the packet has more than enough essence so don’t throw it out. One option is to save the sheet, fold it back into the packet to let it soak up and get another use out of it. Or do what I usually do and save the packet to use the excess essence as a serum after you take the mask off or the next night.

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Before you do a sheet mask, make sure you’re starting with a clean canvas. Exfoliating will slough away dead cells and help the ingredients absorb better or simply cleanse and tone. After the mask, pat the excess serum into you skin and follow with a moisturizer to seal it all in. Many sheet masks are made of thin cloth, some with texture so they adhere better to your skin and aren’t slipping around. Hydrogel masks are a little different, made of transparent thin gel. Hydrogel sheet masks are tougher to unfold but they stick on your face more easily and I’ve read they lock in ingredients more effectively than paper or cotton versions. I like both but I’m calling it — hydrogel sheet masks are the next big thing!

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Sheet masks for dry skin: Especially as the seasons change, hydration is one of my main concerns! My favorite moisturizing sheet masks are the Boscia Tsubaki hydrogel mask, Sephora Lotus mask, Karuna hydrating mask, Tony Moly Aloe mask, Banila Co Lace hydrogel mask (bonus: it’s pretty!) and Cremorlab Perfection hydrating mask.

Sheet masks for dull skin: The brightening effect of these masks is instant. My favorites are the Dr. Jart Brightening infusion hydrogel mask (I’ve gotten three people & counting hooked on this!) Cremorlab White bloom triple bright floral mask, Tony Moly Lemon mask and Sephora’s Pomegranate mask.

Sheet masks for acne: These quick treatments are just what skin needs when it starts acting up. My favorites are the Cremorlab Herb tea blemish calming mask (one of my all-time favorite sheet masks!) Sephora Green tea mask, Tony Moly Rice mask and Tea tree mask and Dermask’s Clearing solution mask.

Sheet masks for tired skin: Even if you’re running on E, you’re complexion doesn’t have to look it. My favorites are the Karuna Clarifying mask and Antioxidant mask, Sephora Ginseng mask and Honey mask and Tony Moly Tomato face mask.

I’m of course always up for trying new sheet masks — please leave any recommendations in the comments!