Review: Que Bella Beauty Mask

Ciao, que bella! That was a quick nostalgia trip to Italian class last semester. What I’m reviewing this time is a beauty mask from a product line sold exclusively at Target (of course). The company Que Bella uses natural ingredients and inspiration to create affordable yet indulgent skincare products. The mask I am reviewing today is their Que Bella Purifying Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Mud Mask.

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I bought the mask for $1.97 for a packet at Target. I’m gonna be honest with you – I know each packet is intended to be single-use but I have been getting two full-face uses out of each one! So for about a dollar a pop, this mask has already got me on that affordability factor.

The mask claims to treat inflammations and acne while eliminating excess oil and impurities. Applying of the clay-like mask was easy: it’s very smooth and its scent is faintly herby.

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After leaving it on your skin for a couple of minutes, a slight tingling cool feeling with occur – that’s the tea tree, I believe. I read in Allure that you aren’t supposed to keep a clay mask on until it flakes and it super dry, but rather wash it off before it completely dries. I washed the mask off with warm water when I felt that it was heading towards the “dry” stage but still sticky to the touch. After patting dry, I could feel that my skin was cleaner. Unlike when I use other clay masks, I didn’t have to apply moisturizer on my face after washing it off, meaning that the mask didn’t completely get rid of my natural oils – which is a great thing!

I’d definitely recommend this product to others who have normal/oily combination skin and enjoy looking like a blue-faced freak once in a while.

Package Design: Triscuit

I am an avid muncher of all things in the cookie/cracker aisle. As I’ve been trying to shift my lifestyle from “college” to “grown-up,” I find myself shifting from Oreos and Cheezits to Triscuits and Belvita. My favorite flavor of the wonderfully satisfying Triscuit crackers is the Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil one. It tastes great alone and it leaves a gritty residue on your fingertips, reminiscent of Cheetohs. I also enjoy eating them with a small dollop of cream cheese or slices of american or cheddar cheese. This past grocery trip, I noticed that my beloved Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil Triscuit crackers and all her cousins had gotten a makeover! The one on the right is the original and the one on the left is the NEW one:

New Triscuit Package Design

Let’s discuss, from the perspective of a Millennial (as brands love to call those in my age group), what the differences are in the packaging and their implications. The latest info I can find on Triscuit’s target audience is back from 2010 and 2011 when they ran their Home Farming campaign, and it was targeting the extremely health-conscious consumers who like to grow their own veggies (though I doubt the expansiveness of that market in relation to Triscuit’s widespread distribution).

The product, at its core, is made of three ingredients: wheat, oil, and salt. Lately, all the big brands are targeting Millennials because we are a growing segment and will soon outnumber all the other segments (your reign is over, Baby Boomers). If you are unfamiliar with the Millennial segment and our unique characteristics, I’d say this Forbes article gets it pretty right.

Millennials are more health-conscious than the last generation, and my friends and I are adopting “healthy snacks” much earlier than my parents’ generation did. Often in class, I see my classmates munching on apples and strawberries instead of Famous Amos cookies, and sipping on an iced green tea rather than a Coke. I think that Millennials might be a huge chunk of the new target market that Triscuit is aiming at – I don’t  know, I just have a hunch based on the little Pinterest shoutout on the back of the box. Before we get to the back though, let’s start with the front of the box.

Old box - front

Old box – front

The front of the old package design was a yellow background, with the brand name the biggest, and the flavor right under it in a brown box. The picture illustrates the flavor: we have a bowl of black peppercorns (I had to look up what they were called, I was gonna say “seeds”) and some the peppercorns have spilled over and are resting in large drops of olive oil. Next to that, there is a lone Triscuit cracker posing and showing off its back pepper flakes. Above the Triscuit brand logo, we see a darker yellow font with a wheat illustration that says “Baked with 100% Whole Grain Wheat.”

New box - front

New box – front

The front of the new package’s background has been muted to a more neutral beige, and a yellow, tilted square is layered beneath the rest of the elements of the design. The Triscuit font logo has been increased in size and the shaping of the letters has been altered (you can see it most in the i’s and the c). The most drastic difference is the photo. Now, we have a stack of the crackers topped with, as it explains in the blurb text next to it, “yogurt, fresh grapes & almonds.” A few scattered peppercorns are placed around the crackers. The flavor is in a box which mimics the shape of the yellow square which is in the background. The flavor text box has retained its original brown color, but now it is in the foreground of the design. The words “Cracked Pepper” are bigger than the words “Olive Oil,” probably to differentiate this flavor since a lot of the Triscuit flavors contain olive oil.

One striking motif that is so different on the new packaging is the focus on toppings. The old package showed the Triscuit cracker as a one-man show, but the new package highlights all the “recipes” you can make your Triscuit cracker a part of. In the front, we already see the yogurt, grapes, and almonds idea, but the sides and back of the new package can’t wait either to tell you more toppings you can decorate your crackers with:

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another topping idea!

another topping idea!

It’s interesting and pretty ironic if you consider the fact that back in 2012, Triscuit apologized for always emphasizing toppings on its crackers and so launched a campaign that showed that Triscuits taste good on their own too, without toppings. Hm.. so why the push back to focusing on toppings? Maybe consumers got bored of eating their Triscuits alone!

Overall, I really like the packaging update that Tricots have undergone. The beige is much more Archer Farms-esque and by that I mean, more aligned with the image that Triscuits really should be promoting to Millennials – a healthy, wholesome snack made from natural ingredients and “foodie-friendly” flavors. The focus on the flavor is important to Millenials who aren’t just happy with plain Mac n’ Cheese anymore (seriously, there’s chain restaurants popping up that serve Mac n Cheese or Ramen dressed up with different toppings and Millennials are diggin’ it!). The photo update is definitely more appealing than the old box photo. The photographer captured the crackers with interesting camera angles and the arrangement of the toppings looks delicious and something akin to an appetizer at a fancy bistro. Good job, Triscuit!

I’m going completely (hazel)NUTS!

About a month ago, something devastating happened. I went into a Starbucks and asked for my regular drink.. and.. and they said… and they said they didn’t have it. It was discontinued, they said. “Why?!” I demanded. They didn’t know, they said, the Starbucks god must have not been happy with its sales or something, they said. (Before I go on, I’d like to admit that I know I sound like I have a pH level of 14, okay).

And that marked the death of our beloved hazelnut macchiato. I went into different Starbucks, asking if anyone had that coveted hazelnut syrup still in stock. I was out of luck. I asked baristas if they could replicate a hazelnut macchiato using other ingredients. “Yes I can do a caramel macchiato with hazelnut syrup.” “YES!” ….No; this was not the same thing. At all. I tried so many barista’s recreations of what they thought would resemble the extinct hazelnut macchiato, but this hazelnut macchiato connoisseur could sniff out inconsistency and flaws within one sip. I tweeted Starbucks to no replies. I pretty much gave up my Starbucks hazelnut macchiato search…

Until today. I was walking by a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and mused to myself, hm, I should try that place. Starbucks never replied to my desperate needs – they don’t care about me. I will turn to the other side and see what they have to offer. I walked up to the counter inside Coffee Bean and explained my dissonant state (I hadn’t had a hazelnut macchiato in about 3 weeks!). Immediately, the friendly hipster at the counter suggested I try their hazelnut latte. “Ok.. I guess” I said as a I prepared my taste buds for the worst.

But then my drink came out. It looked cheerful and happy to see me (I was getting delusional by this point). I asked the coffee-guy (are they still called baristas at non-Starbucks?) for a stopper so that I could save the heat of the drink until I got inside. After a short walk back to campus, I sat down with my hazelnut LATTE in one hand (not a macchiato) and stared at the sleeve of the cup for about a minute, silently apologizing to Starbucks in my head. Then I took a sip. IT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR. (Cue Rihanna lyrics: “where have you been all my l-i-i-i-fe?”).

Thank you Coffee Bean, thank you.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré

What is that and how do you pronounce that?

Answer: It’s a really good moisturizer for sensitive skin, and I don’t really know – it’s French. No hablo French.

I first heard about Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré in an Elle magazine online article about the skin secrets of models (yes, I know, I have an internet problem). Then coincidentally, I got a sample tube of this cream in my Birchbox in January. I googled the crap outta this cream because I have really sensitive skin that will throw a tantrum with most moisturizers. After learning that this cream was originally intended as a pharmaceutical cream for babies’ sensitive skin, I decided it give it a try.

I applied it every night as a night cream (it doesn’t have SPF so I couldn’t use it for daytime). And voila – it didn’t make me break out! In fact, at that time in January, I was having dry patches around my mouth and chin from the dry heat (from the furnace in my house). I used this cream for two weeks straight at night, and my skin was noticeably smoother and softer (I’d use “supple” but that word is weird). I ordered a full-size cream from Birchbox.com almost immediately as soon as I saw the results. (Update, April 7, 2016: this product is now also sold at Target).

My opinion on the product:

I read that mineral oil is the main ingredient, which is a very gentle, but also inexpensive natural moisturizer, so I am unsure why the cost of this creme is so high ($16 for 30mL). Also, this creme is really not bringing many additional benefits besides simply moisturizing (for example, it doesn’t contain or advertise anti-wrinkle, dark spot correcting, etc) so you can’t expect it to replace your beauty regimen.

However, this creme is really good at moisturizing! No greasy residue and it leaves your skin with a satiny finish (not oily!)

I found the perfect use for it: as a foundation primer!! Applying a dime-sized amount of Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré before your concealer and foundation will make your foundation look flawless, not streaky! I have uneven skin on my nose and this cream evens it out so that my foundation can look perfect!