One of the great joys of writing about green beauty is having an excuse to try scores of beautiful and exciting products. In any given week I might be anointing myself with 5 different face oils and cleansing my skin with 17 different cleansers (no, really, I have a serious cleanser problem). This aversion to skincare monogamy means that it takes something truly special for me to commit to a particular product. It is especially impressive then that three of La Bella Figura products have become not just staples, but an indispensable part of my evening routine.
LBF’s Modern Radiance Concentrate is one of the company’s splashier products: it boasts exotic ingredients and claims to have transformative results on the skin and comes with an impressive number of glowing reviews. Along with LBF’s favorite barbary fig seed oil and a score of other exotic oils, butters and extracts, MRC contains an impressively high concentration of Vitamin C, as well as ferulic acid and licorice – the powerhouse ingredients responsible for stimulating collagen production, lightening hyper-pigmentation and brightening the skin. As I have mentioned before, Vitamin C is one of the very few topical products proven to fight the signs of aging, so a Vit C product is pretty much a must for skin that is starting to show signs of aging.
It took me a while to write a review because although I loved the smell (very light, barely noticeable) and texture (light, fast-absorbing gel, layers perfectly under my oils) of MRC from the first try I wanted to make sure that it actually made a difference to my skin. This may sound like the ultimate Caviar Problem, but having pretty decent skin is a bit of a disadvantage when reviewing skin-correcting products: without major issues to correct, how can I know whether a product is really working? I am on my second bottle of MRC and I have been loving the way my skin looks, but I couldn’t be sure whether the difference was dramatic enough to matter.
I got my answer during a recent visit with my best friend who has known me since I was a dewy-skinned 20-year-old. As we were chatting on her sun-drenched deck, she suddenly gave me a long look and said: “you know, your skin has never looked better!” Since the MRC is the one product I have been using consistently for the last several months, I think it is safe to say that when my second bottle runs out (*weeps*) I will be buying the third. By the way, although LBF suggests using the MRC in the morning, I find that I cannot use anything but oils under my Josh Rosebrook Day Cream, so I have been using it at night.
Aria Nighttime Cell Recovery Treatment is another La Bella Figura product that has been receiving rave reviews, including from my beloved No More Dirty Looks, yet I remained reluctant to buy it. After all, I have a bathroom cabinet full of oils – did I really need another one, let alone one just for nighttime? I ended up receiving a small vial of the greenish oil in one of my orders from BeauTeaBar and started using it every night. Surprisingly, as I am notoriously heavy-handed with product application, the small vial lasted quite a long time. I think because the oil is so rich, I truly only need about four drops.
I loved Aria’s soft, herbal smell and the way it felt on my skin: gentle and almost warm, like a cashmere shawl, but I wasn’t sure whether I would buy a full size. Then, my sample ran out and I went back to my usual evening routine. The next morning something felt off: my skin actually felt thinner. I am not one for beauty buzz words and I never understood how a product could “plump” the skin. This was, I thought, something that could only be achieved by actually injecting something under the skin. And yet, going without Aria for a couple of days made me realize that it was doing just that: actually plumping my skin and making it feel stronger and more resilient. For someone like me who suffers from having thin, delicate skin, this product is an absolute godsend. Needless to say, I am now on my second bottle of Aria and will never want to be without it again.
The Barbary Fig Renewal Serum is LBF’s natural retinol product, with guava seed oil providing the natural Vitamin A. This is one of the cheeriest-smelling products I have every used: its smell is a bright mixture of pineapple and citrus and it never fails to brighten my mood. Though I adore this serum and use it in conjunction with the MRC to amp the skin-brightening and collagen building benefits, this is the only LBF product that needs to come with a disclaimer. Because the serum contains citrus oils (blood orange, to be precise), it should only be used at night, since citrus oils can cause photo-sensitivity, especially when coupled with Vitamin A (citrus oils can also impact the effectiveness of Vitamin A). I should note that the LBF website does recommend using the Renewal Serum at night.
Another potentially troublesome ingredient is pineapple oil. It never would have occurred to me to question its presence in a skincare product: aside from contributing a lovely smell, it provides a host of benefits to the skin and is frequently used in conventional and natural skincare. Unfortunately, pineapple is also a strong allergen. I myself have a mild pineapple allergy – if I eat more than a couple of pieces, my mouth begins to tingle unpleasantly and feel irritated. Yet, I have a friend whose allergy to pineapple is so severe, as to be deadly. As is often the case in green beauty, the problem with the Renewal Serum is concentration: the pineapple oil in it is pure, rather than a heavily-processed extract and it is present in a fairly high concentration. I noticed very mild irritation when layering the Renewal Serum under my evening makeup (the broccoli seed oil mimics the action of silicone and can be an excellent natural primer), but it doesn’t trouble me at all when I use it along with the MRC and Aria. That said, those with an allergy to pineapple ought to steer clear of this one.
Since my early reluctance, La Bella Figura products have become staples on my bathroom counter, in my makeup case and on my vanity amongst my collection of perfumes. In skincare, the only thing that matters is performance and this is why these products are such superstars: they make my skin markedly better. This time, the proof is not in the pudding, but in the mirror.