Readers’ Feeback Survey: Help BWB Change For The Better


I know, I know, I have already done a readers’ survey a few months ago, but this is different, I swear. Here me out. :)

Since celebrating my 6th blog anniversary in June, I have done a lot of thinking about the future of Beautiful With Brains. Back when I started blogging, I had absolutely no idea of what I was doing (most of the time, I don’t even now ;) ). I just knew that I wanted to share my passion about beauty with like-minded people, never dreaming of all the opportunities this blog would give me, the way it would change me, and the many friendships I would make. That’s all thanks to you, so thank you!

During these 6 years, I kept the focus of this blog solely on beauty, but now I think I would love to talk about other things and share my other interests as well as more bits and bobs about my personal life with you every now and then. I also have a lot of ideas about new features to make the blog bigger and better, and I would like to know your thoughts about them. This blog is for you, and I want it to be the best possible resource for your beauty fix.

Hence the survey. I’d really appreciate it if you could spare a few minutes of your time to let me know how do you think Beautiful With Brains should change, and what topics and features you’d like to see here in the future. Or if you want everything to stay the same, that’s fine too. Just let me know. :) The survey is anonymous and not even I will know who said what, so you don’t have to be afraid to hurt my feelings. Besides, I always appreciate constructive criticism and every suggestions you may have. It helps make Beautiful With Brains a better blog. :)

To take the survey, click here.

Thank you!

Are They Dupes?: Kerastase Reflection Chroma Riche Softening Treatment Masque VS L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm

kerastase l'oreal dupes

Kerastase Reflection Chroma Riche Softening Treatment Masque is touted to be a godsend for colour-treated or damaged hair, giving it the nourishment and softness it needs. But at $54.15 a jar, this stuff isn’t cheap. What’s a girl on a budget to do? Look for a dupe, of course.

But where to start? With L’Oreal. The brand owns Kerastase, so there’s a big chance one of their product will be very similar to this mask. Corporations like L’Oreal rarely take the trouble to come up with original formulas for every brand they own. It’s cheaper to just create the one and tweak it to give it a different scent, colour,  consistency, or “miraculous” botanical extract to suit the different image of each brand and the tastes of its customers.

As it turns out L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm has a similar formula to the Kerastase mask. Sure, it has a lot more ingredients, but it’s only the first 5, which are the ones that make up most of the product and give it its beneficial properties, that matter. And these are the pretty much the same in both formulas. Let’s take a look:

Kerastase Reflection Chroma Riche Softening Treatment Masque Ingredients:

Aqua/Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Amodimethicone, Cetyl Esters, Isopropyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Trideceth-6, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Hexyl Cinnamal, Parfum/Fragrance.

L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm Ingredients:

Aqua/Water/Eau, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Amodimethicone, Candelilla Cera/Candelilla Wax/Cire De Candelilla, Cetyl Esters, Glycerin, Isopropyl Alcohol, Parfum/Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Trideceth-6, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Arginine, Glutamic Acid, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, Cetrimonium Chloride, Serine, Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride, Benzyl Salicylate, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Benzyl Alcohol, Limonene, Amyl Cinnamal, Citronellol, 2-Oleamido-1,3-Octadecanediol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, CI 19140/Yellow 5, CI 15985/Yellow 6.

Ingredient Analysis

cetearyl alcohol

Cetearyl Alcohol

Cetearyl Alcohol is a fatty alcohol, ie a good type of alcohol with hydrating properties. It is often used in shampoos and conditioners, especially those designed for damaged hair, in concentrations up to 20%. It lubricates hair, making it soft, but also gives the masks their creamy and rich consistencies.

behentrimonium chloride

Behentrimonium Chloride

Behentrimonium Chloride is a cationic surfactant widely used in haircare and, particularly, in deep conditioning treatments. It works by coating hair, creating a protective barrier that makes it smooth, manageable, and less prone to breakage. Cationic surfactants do this better than silicones. Why? Because cationic surfactants are positively charged, while hair is negatively charged. Therefore they adhere better to it.



Amodimethicone, which is short for amine-functionalized silicone, is a smart conditioning agent. It is able to provide selective conditioning to the areas most in need of it through electrostatic attraction. Basically, “highly damaged areas of the hair cuticle possess higher negative charge density, which enhances the affinity of the cationic polymer to that specific area,” allowing it to provide targeted conditioning. In addition, it also gives hair shine and protects it from heat damage.


Kerastase Reflection Chroma Riche Softening Treatment Masque comes in an eyecatching bright pink jar that contains 6.8 oz of product. It’s available at Walmart for $54.15. L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm, which comes in a more subdued yellowish green jar that contains 8.5 oz of product, retails only at $5.99. It’s available at Target.

The Bottom Line

Kerastase Reflection Chroma Riche Softening Treatment Masque and L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm aren’t exact dupes. Chances are one of them has a texture or scent that appeals to you more. But the active ingredients are the same so, if you’re on a budget, the L’Oreal mask will nourish, soften and protect your hair like the Kerastase one at a fraction of the price.

Have you tried these masks? If so, which one is your favourite?

Summertime Bad Girl

summertime bad girl

Sorry for the lack of looks lately, ladies. I’ve been so lazy! But I’m trying to fix that, so, finally, here’s another colourful but wearable look you can wear during the day to transition from summer to fall. I hope you’ll like it.

Products used:
- Too Faced Shadow Insurance
- Sleek Makeup I-Divine Original Eyeshadow Palette
- Sleek Makeup Arabian Nights Smoke & Shadows I-Divine Eyeshadow Palette
- Sleek Makeup I-Divine Showstoppers Eyeshadow Palette
- Neve Cosmetics Pastello in Liquirizia
- Senna Voluptulash Mascara
- Dior Diorskin Nude Foundation
- Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit
- Neve Cosmetics Blush In Summertime
- Senna Lip Lacquer in Blush Wine

1. Prep your eyelids with an eyeshadow primer. My favourite is Too Faced Shadow Insurance
2. Sweep a medium purple shade (I used the one in the Sleek Makeup Original Eyeshadow Palette) on the crease.
3. Darken the outer corner with a dark matte purple (I used Stallion in the Sleek Makeup Arabian Nights Smoke & Shadows Eyeshadow Palette). Apply the same shade gently along the outer part of the upper lashline too and smudge it. Finally, apply it on the lower lashline too.
4. Pat a light matte coral shade (I used Oh So Special in the Sleek Makeup Showstoppers Eyeshadow Palette) on the lid.
5. Highlight the browbone with a shimmering off-white shade (I used Bad Girl in the Sleek Makeup Showstoppers Eyeshadow Palette).
6. Apply a shimmering nude cream shade (I used Storm in the Sleek Makeup Showstoppers Eyeshadow Palette) on the inner corners of the eyes.
7. Line your upper lashline with a black pencil eyeliner (I used Neve Cosmetics Pastello in Liquirizia) and apply mascara.

1. Apply foundation all over your face and concealer where needed.
2. Apply a bronzy pink blush with a gold iridescence (I used Neve Cosmetis Blush in Summertime) on the apples of your cheeks.
3. Apply a shimmering rosy lipgloss shade with peachy undertones (I used Senna Lip Lacquer in Blush Wine) on your lips.

What look are you wearing today?

QOTW: What Was The Last Product You Bought Because Of The Hype?

haus of gloi depravity pumpkin butter

What was the last product you bought because of the hype?

I don’t really fall for the hype, but if a few of my favourite beauty bloggers recommend something, then I’ll usually check it out. That way, I discovered a few gems such as Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy, MAC 217 Blending Brush, ELF eyeshadow brush, Pupa Vamp! Mascara, and House Of Gloi Pumpking Butters to name a few.

Product Review: Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum

dr dennis gross skincare ferulic retinol triple correction serum

It’s no secret that I think eye creams and serums are unnecessary. There aren’t ingredients that work only on the face and others that work only on the eye area. If something works well, it works well everywhere, so I’d rather just look for a moisturizer/serum that I can slather on all over. Saves me both money and time in the morning.

But I know many of you love to use a separate product on the eye area, and if you’re gonna invest in one, you’d better pick one of the best out there. One of my favourites is Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum.

What Dr Dennis Gross Says

This anti-aging ferulic acid and retinol eye serum gently but powerfully reduces visible signs of aging in the delicate skin of the eyelid and around the eye while smoothing texture and tone.

Ingredient Analysis


Licorice Root Extract

One of the main ingredients in the serum, Licorice Root Extract has anti-inflammatory and skin-lightening properties. Both are due to one of its main components, glabridin. A 2003 study found that it is a good treatment for atopic dermatitis, reducing itching, swelling, and redness in over two weeks. Another study shows that glabridin inhibits tyrosinase activity, which is responsible for melanin production. Does this mean that it can get rid of dark circles? If they are caused by sun damage, then yes, this can help. But if they are hereditary or caused by blood pooling under the skin, then licorice extract will do nothing for you.

ferulic acid 01

Ferulic Acid

Ferulic Acid is one of my favourite antioxidants. Unlike most others that fight only one type of free radicals, Ferulic Acid can destroy three: superoxide, hydroxyl radical, and nitric oxide. It can also inhibit both UVA- and UVB-induced matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which degrade collagen, one of the main components of the skin that give it structure and elasticity.



A form of Vitamin A, Retinol is an anti-aging superstar. A 2007 study has found that “retinol improves fine wrinkles associated with natural aging”. It has antioxidant properties that can help prevent the formation of new wrinkles, stimulates collagen production which leads to firmer skin, and accelerates cellular turnover, which helps treat discolourations.

But if you’ve never used Retinol before, it could irritate your skin. To give it time to get used to it, it is recommended you use it every other day at first, and, slowly, increase the frequency of application. That way, you’ll get its benefits without its side effects.


AHAs and BHA

Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum also contains a blend of AHAs and BHA (Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid), which has exfoliating properties. These exfoliants can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and discolourations, but they won’t do much here. Why? Two reasons. One: their concentrations are too small. Two: “this serum’s pH is outside the range needed for effectiveness”. It’s a bit disappointing, but even so, the formula contain many other goodies that benefit the eye area.

Final Considerations On The Formula

Suitable for all skin types, Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum also contains a bunch of botanical extracts and vitamins that have antioxidant (such as quercetin and ubiquinone), skin-lightening (arbutin), and vasoconstricting (caffeine; it may help to reduce puffiness and dark circles caused by vasodilation) properties. In addition, Sodium Hyaluronate has good water-binding properties that help to keep skin hydrated.

Full Ingredient List

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Propylene Glycol, Centella Asiatica Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Ferulic Acid, Retinol, Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract, Arbutin, Morus Alba Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Quercetin, Caffeine, Ubiquinone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Disodium Lauriminodipropionate Tocopheryl Phosphates, Phospholipids, Tetrapeptide-21, Acrylates/Carbamate Copolymer, Disodium EDTA, PVM/MA Decadiene Crosspolymer, Urea, Polysorbate 20, Potassium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)


Packaged in a dark bottle that will keep the antioxidant stable and effective, Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum retails at $65.00. It is available at Amazon, Nordstrom, and Sephora.

The Bottom Line

Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum has moisturizing, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and skin-lightening properties that makes this a well-rounded option suitable for all skin types, including sensitive. It’s not that cheap, but at least contains ingredients have been really proved to work.

Have you tried Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum?

Product Review: Moroccan Hammam Argan Oil

moroccan hammam kit

Name: Argan Oil
Brand: Moroccan Hammam
Size: 70ml
Price: $30.00

From Moroccan Hammam’s website:
Argan oil also named the Morocco liquid gold is a 100% organic gift from nature. Recognized as the best oil for the face skin, hair, and nails, it has a wealth of unparalleled vitamin E particularly recommended for dry skin as moisturizer or as a powerful natural anti-aging.

What I liked:
- very moisturizing, makes skin soft and smooth
- conditions hair, making it soft and shiny
- absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind

What I didn’t like:
- may be too greasy for people with oily skin and hair

The Moroccan Hammam experience is a four-step pampering ritual that cleanses and nourishes your skin. First, you cleanse it with black soap, then you exfoliate it with a kessa glove, and follow it up with the rassoul clay to remove excess oil and impurities while softening it. Finally, it’s time for the last step: argan oil.

Derived from the kernels of argan trees, argan oil “contains several beneficial lipids and fatty acids for skin, including oleic acid, palmitic acid, and especially linoleic acid”, as well as powerful antioxidants, such as vitamin E and ferulic acid. Because of this argan oil is a wonderful moisturizer, especially for those with dry skin, that can also help prevent the signs of aging.

Should you use argan oil if you have oily skin? Well, a 2007 study conducted on 20 people with combination to oily skin has shown that a cream containing argan oil, saw palmetto, and sesame seeds reduced from 20% to 42% the oiliness of several parts of the face. However, the study didn’t mention whether this was due to argan oil, one of the other ingredients in the formula, or both. Moreover, the effects of the cream were only studied for four weeks so we don’t know if, used for a longer period of time, argan oil, because of its high fatty acid content, can cause breakouts.

moroccan hammam argan oil

I don’t have oily skin, but I have oily hair and a few drops of argan oil made it soft and shiny. I wouldn’t suggest using more than that or you may end up with greasy hair. Not nice! For the same reason, don’t apply it near the roots.

Instead, I apply it a bit more generously all over my body. The skin there is very dry, and argan oil does a great job at moisturizing it. Afterwards, my skin is soft and smooth for hours. It takes a couple of minutes to sink into the skin (unless, again, you use too much) and doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind. You can also use it to moisturize your hands, nails and face. I only use a drop or so on my cheeks, as the rest of my face is on the oily side and doesn’t need that extra moisture. So far, I haven’t experienced breakouts.

Available at: Moroccan Hammam

Moroccan Hammam Aragn Oil moisturizes skin, nails, and hair, leaving them soft and smooth. It also makes hair shiny. But if you have oily skin or hair, this may feel a bit too greasy on you.

Rating: 4/5

Disclosure: this item was sent by PR for consideration. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

New Collection: Stila Fall 2014


Little girls grow up. Stila has discarded its old cute and whimsical packaging in favour of more sofisticated and elegant cases and tubes. The new fall collection gives us the first taste of this makeover, but, slowly, all their products will follow suit.

Here’s what’s new this fall:



Available in Mind, Body, Soul, and Spirit.

This volumizing mascara features a propeller brush and gives lashes length, lift, and volume.

Citrine: sheer peach champagne w/ multidimensional shimmer
Kitten: sheer nude pink w/ multidimensional shimmer
Garnet: sheer burgundy red w/ multidimensional shimmer
Moonstone: sheer cool pink w/ multidimensional shimmer
Pink Sapphire: sheer lilac toned pink w/ multidimensional shimmer
Rose Quartz: sheer golden rose pink w/ multidimensional shimmer

The collection is already available at sephora and ulta. What do you think of the new packaging? Me, I’m both sad and excited. I loved the old packaging but the new one is gorgeous as well!