At the Beauty Counter ~ No. 1


Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin.  That, or a kick-a** red lipstick.

            ~ Gwyneth Paltrow

Every so often, I publish a post highlighting a few of my current lifestyle favourites (see here, here and here).  In these posts, I discuss a wide array of items that satiate each of the senses; however, looking back I realized I have yet to include my beauty favourites – Quel nightmare!

Though I make efforts to live more simply now, I must admit that I am a recovering beauty addict.  I would frequent my local drugstore or the mothership Sephora, spending far more money than I ever should have, while accumulating more beauty products than one person could ever use.

With that said, over the last year in particular, I have made a commitment to change my ways and have allowed the principles of simplicity and quality over quantity to guide me.  These days, I rarely purchase a new beauty product unless the current version has run out.  Moreover, in preparation for the purchase, I now do my research before I buy.  This means reading reviews and recommendations, researching ingredients lists and asking for samples of more expensive items before I invest.

Lately, I have been coming to the end of several beauty products, which has encouraged me to seek out replacements.  So far, I have been truly enjoying those replacements, so much so, I wanted to share them with you.

In the first of what I expect will be a reoccurring series on the blog, I offer four of my current beauty favourites, and to make it interesting, have included a bonus “holy grail” item that I am never without.

With that said, let’s see what’s At the Beauty Counter:

FullSizeRender (4)

Colour Riche Le Vernis A L’Huile – L’Oreal

Historically, I have not been a lover of drugstore nail polish.  In fact, for years, I spent quite a bit of time and money investing in gel and shellac manicures and pedicures because of my distaste for traditional nail polish.

Then last year, in an effort to be both healthier and more fiscally responsible, I decided step back from those costly treatments.  The only problem?  I adore the look of a perfectly polished nail.  So, I decided to return to the drugstore and was pleased to find that the quality and selection of drugstore polishes has improved tremendously over the years. 

While there are several wonderful brands to choose from, lately, I have been loving L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Le Vernis A L’Huile nail polish (say that three times fast).  Available in 22 beautiful shades, L’Oreal has blended precious oils and intense pigments for a luxurious and sophisticated finish.

The wide, fan-shaped brush allows for smooth application and many of the colours are opaque with just one or two coats.  While all the colours are lovely, my favourite of the moment is 220 – Dimanche Apres Midi (Sunday Afternoon).  A soft and feminine pink, this neutral will leave you perfectly polished not only on Sunday afternoons, but throughout the week!

FullSizeRender (2)

Purely Pampering Body Wash – Dove

While I will forever adore the luxurious body wash from Jo Malone, I do not always have $60 (or more) to spend on body wash, and tend to alternate with a drugstore option to keep on budget.  So, after I squeezed the last few drops of that Peony and Blush Suede onto my shower pouf, I headed to the drugstore to find a wallet-friendly alternative.

As I often deal with dry, itchy skin, even in the summer months, I focused my attention on body washes of the moisturizing variety.  While researching online, one body wash continued to pop up on several “best of beauty” lists – Dove’s Purely Pamering Body Wash.

Available in four exquisite scents, this formula creates a rich lather, while mild cleansers help skin retain its natural moisture.  Dove’s unique NutriumMoisture technology helps to replenish skin’s nutrients, giving softer, more supple skin.

While all four scents are divine, in keeping with the floral theme, I chose the Sweet Cream and Peony wash and was not disappointed.  At first application, my skin felt nourished and happy.

FullSizeRender (5)

Soy Face Cleanser – Fresh

Every year or so, I tend to switch up my skin care routine.  While I have tried and enjoyed several brands, I have never found a holy grail line that kept me from straying.  As I was coming to the end of my latest facial cleanser by Caudalie (a very lovely line), I stopped into my local Sephora to see what else was on the market.

The skincare section of Sephora can be a daunting and overwhelming place.  Unending rows filled with countless products that tone, hydrate, detoxify…the list goes on.  It can be tricky to wade through the chaos and find something that works, so rather than wander aimlessly, I decided to enlist the help of a Beauty Advisor.  I explained what I was looking for, gave a brief history of my skin type and was lead to the Fresh counter.

While I had heard of the Fresh line before, I had never taken the plunge; however, I am so glad I did because the Soy Face Cleanser is exquisite.  I understand why it is a best seller, as it truly does what it advertises – removes stubborn cosmetics, whisks away impurities without stripping the skin of essential moisture.

Whether I use my hands or my Clarisonic, this formula generates a rich lather and with natural ingredients, like rosewater to sooth and hydrate, and cucumber extract to calm the skin, adds a luxurious, spa-like experience to the beginning or end of your day.

FullSizeRender (6)

Facial Radiance Pads – First Aid Beauty

Around the same time my Caudalie facial cleanser was dwindling, so too was my daily exfoliant, so I decided to explore this world a bit further as well.  Historically, I have used a manual exfoliant, particularly in my t-zone as it tends to become congested quite easily.

Speaking with the beauty advisor in Sephora, I explained what I was looking for and she suggested I try a chemical exfoliant rather than a manual, given my skin’s sensitivity.  I was lead to the First Aid Beauty section where I was introduced to their Facial Radiance Pads.

I was initially quite skeptical, assuming that this soaked cotton pad would not be strong enough to clarify my problem areas; however, I kept an open mind and took some home to try.

With just the right amount of lactic and glycolic acids, this formula has kept my problem areas clear and content.  Cucumber and Indian Gooseberry tones the face, while lemon peel and licorice root leave my skin feeling bright.

After two weeks of daily use, I must say, I’m quite pleased with the result.  The appearance of those stubborn blackheads are diminished and my makeup applies more smoothly than ever before.

FullSizeRender (7)

Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm – Dior

While the above-mentioned items are those that I am currently enjoying, this gem is something that falls under my “holy grail” category.  Yes, meaning if I was on a deserted island, I would want this with me (and maybe some water and food).

As someone who suffers from chronically dry lips, Dior’s Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm is a godsend.  This heavenly balm allies the expertise of Dior research in nutrition to the delicate smoothness of rose petals.  Its nourishing power comes from the rare and precious Damask Rose essential oil extract, together with an anti-aging complex and shea butter.

Granted, the price may be steep as lip balms go, but for me, the quality and experience is worth every penny.

While I wholeheartedly agree with Miss Gwenyth – beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin –  I am also a firm believer that adding a luxurious body wash or lip treatment to your day never hurt anyone!

Wishing you a beautiful weekend.


  1. I just finished reading your newest blog post and this is such a great topic!!! I too, can easily indulge in expensive luxury beauty products, however I am always asking my fashionable girl-friends about their favorite drugstore beauty favorites in hopes to seriously curb overspending! I can’t wait to try some of your recommendations (and I will certainly give you benevolent feedback too! Thank you for a great post!!! (FYI, I also LOVE my Dior products too, so I definitely make sure to use them sparingly!)

  2. I am a woman of, shall we say, a ‘certain age’, indeed a tad more than a ‘certain age’ and even someone as old as me can learn new tricks. I have always used a triple-milled fine quality soap in the shower, not liking the chemical smell or dishwasher feel of shower gel even if it’s marketed as body ‘wash’ but this is one I might now try, but the other items you have reviewed are also now on my ‘list’ for when I next shop for beauty products, in particular the L’Oreal nail polish.
    One tip, in case you’ve not already given this tip yourself: keep your nail polish in the ‘fridge. It really does help prevent it from going sticky!
    (Of all the nail polishes I’ve used in recent years, and there have been quite a few, from bargain basement to Dior, I have found those by Sally Hansen are the best for quality v. price. And there are some good colours, which of course, is what we actually see on our nails.)
    Margaret P

    1. Hello Margaret! Apologies for the tardy response. What kind of soap do you use, if you don’t mind me asking? Yes, I have been a fan of Sally Hansen for sometime now. The Diamond-Strength top coat is the best I’ve ever used.

  3. Dear Ashleigh,
    As always your posts are informative and so well done. I have been looking for a more opaque nail polish than my Essie Madmoiselle. Thank you for the suggestion, at a great price. I love that you put so much thought into your purchases. I was in Sephora yesterday and I just stood there for a moment, feeling like you said…..overwhelmed. I think I’m used to the organization of department store beauty counters. I found what I was looking for, but it took a while! Thank you for your great post.

    Warmly, Kathleen

    1. You ask what kind of soap I use … well, severa … currently I am using Roger & Gallet, I love their soap, all the various fragrances. I also like Floris soap, also Penhaligon’s (especially Blenheim Bouquet). And I also like L’Occitane soap. Al these give a good lather and they all have lovely fragrances.
      Margaret P

      1. Thanks so much for sharing your favourites. I will put them on my list and keep watch for them. We are getting a local L’Occitane boutique, which I am very excited about! Enjoy your day.

  4. I would buy that nail polish just for the name, even if the colour wasn’t so lovely! And the packaging of the Dior lipgloss is so elegant; it would be a beautiful little luxury to pull out of my handbag during the day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s