It’s Cold Season – That Means It’s Hydration Season

If you’re perpetually cold (like me) Cold Season starts somwhere around the middle of September, when the frost shows up on the ground in the morning & the tips of your fingers are never quite warm enough.

If you’re not perpetually cold, Cold Season has begun – like it or not. Thanksgiving has come & gone, & it’s only getting colder from here on out…sorry, folks! It’s just fact.

I hate the cold weather – it’s why I want to live somewhere warm once school, grad school &…grad grad school (??) is over & done with. For now, though, I’m stuck with the cold, dry, Midwestern winters. The winter lasts from late October to mid April – at least, that’s how I see it.

I hate the cold because…it makes me cold – but it also makes me dry, which is just as bad. There is nothing worse than getting a blast of cold, dry, wind right in your face (probably accompanied by a few ice pellets or snowflakes).

So – my skin is dry & sensitive year-round, but it gets extra-dry during Cold Season. I decided to write something up for the cold, dry-skinned people like me. If you feel like your skin never gets enough hydration, especially during the winter…you’ve come to the right place. Read on, & let your skin drink it all up!

Note: Black Friday is here! Here are some discounts from brands/shops that I love:

  • Glossier has 20% off site-wide plus free shipping from midnight Friday, November 24 until Monday, November 27 (EOD). No minimums, just discounts! If you shopped with me (using my rep link), I’d be extremely grateful (truly, seriously, & honestly).
  • Peach & Lily has a 30% off their entire site – just use the code PEACHANDLILY30
  • Urban Outfitters has buy one get one 50% off – including beauty & skincare! Urban carries brands like Milk Makeup, Valjean Labs (love their serums) & a whole lot more; definitely worth checking out
  • Into The Gloss: What To Buy On Black Friday – you all know I love ITG. Here, they’ve listed some great deals for luxury skincare, body care, fragrance, & more.

Let’s get cracking for real now! Keep in mind: I have dry/sensitive skin, so this post might not necessarily be the best resource for those with oily/combo skin types – but I’m confident you’ll find at least one or two treasures, too. Enjoy, & get ready to shop!

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser – $18 (plus 20% off for Black Friday weekend)

Backups on backups on backups – MJC will never leave my side, or my top shelf

It’s no secret that MJC is a holy grail cleanser for me. It’s the first non-foaming cleanser I ever tried, which, at the time, was a novelty (for me, at least). I wasn’t sure how it’d work out – but turns out, it worked just beautifully.

I have a #MiniReview of Milky Jelly here, but here’s a little update on how I’ve been using MJC: I’ve been using it on dry skin for the first time (ever) & I’ve been really loving it.

Milky Jelly can be used on damp or dry skin, Glossier says – it’s safe for the eyes, because it’s formulated with an ingredient base similar to that of contact lens solution. No burning or stinging here!

I’ve found that two pumps of Milky Jelly on my dry face (applied with clean hands, of course) have been even better for my skin than two pumps of Milky Jelly on my damp face. For whatever reason, it’s just been working better for me. Is there a reason? If there is, I don’t know it – but I won’t stop, because my skin’s been looking better since I’ve started using it this way.

I also recently purchased the Tatcha Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder, which I’ve been loving – a #MiniReview will probably be somewhere in the near future. I love it because it’s a physical exfoliant that doesn’t tear up my sensitive skin; when I use it, though, I like to make sure my skin has been given a gentle cleanse beforehand. Tatcha says to use the powder no more than three times a week; when I use it, I go in with one pump of Milky Jelly all over my dry face (with clean hands) before gently buffing my face with the Tatcha Indigo Powder. Results? Clean, soft, glowy, hydrated skin. Milky Jelly has been & will continue to be a favorite of mine. Bouncy, gooey (in the best way possible) & scented like roses, MJC is the cleanser that I would pick if I was told I absolutelypositively could not even think of using a toner. I think I’d survive if I used MJC.

Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner – $10.95


Alcohol-free? Lavender? Less than $11 for 12 fluid ounces? I’ll take 100, please.

No, seriously – this toner has been a life-changer for me, just as it has been for so many others. This is another product I love enough to do a #MiniReview on (check it out here) & I know that it’ll be a twice-daily staple for me for the rest of my life – unless something better & cheaper is out there…but the way Thayers prices their product, I seriously doubt it.

As you’ll see in the #MiniReview, there are many “varieties” of the Thayers toner. There’s Lavender (which I have), there’s Rose Petal, there’s Aloe, there’s Cucumber – there’s even a completely unscented version, for those of you who can’t deal with scented skin care. Thayers has also been slowly rolling out their toners in a facial mist packaging, a la Mario Badescu. Though people have been very excited about this, I think I’ll stick to the version I have. It does everything it should, & it works better than any misting toner I’ve ever used.

The signature red cap

The witch hazel is a natural astringent – which was initially worrying, because astringents can dry my skin out pretty easily – but the lavender, the aloe, & alcohol-free formula soothe & calm the skin as well as clarify it. I’ve seen a big difference in my skin: it’s clearer, it’s calmer, & I see less redness. It just looks more even – more content, if you will. 3-4 drops on a cotton square pressed gently into the face post-cleanse, & I’m ready to continue with my serums. Lavender has always been friendly to my skin, & this is no exception. It smells lovely (not too powerful), it’s cheap, & it works. Boom. Are you sold? You should be sold.

Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins™ Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion – $34


“Mushroom” isn’t exactly an…exciting word to hear when talking about skin care ingredients – but hear me out. This stuff is good, & it’s lightweight enough that it’ll suit all skin types, which is a big plus.

This is an “anti-irritant, redness-reducing facial treatment lotion” – it’s described as being super light. I’d agree; this is something you’d apply after a toner, but before a serum. It’s watery enough that you can put it on a cotton pad if you’re scared of spilling too much product, but I personally like to pour a little into the palms of my hands, then pat it gently into my skin.

Origins says that the formula of the lotion “features Dr. Andrew Weil’s famed mega-mushroom blend, which soothes, comforts, and hydrates skin.” Main purposes? It’s an anti-irritant & reduces redness. This also contains narcissus lily bulb (which has anti-aging properties), as well as sea buckthorn, which is calming & soothing. The result? A watery, “green-smelling” ….lotion! It sinks right into my skin; because it’s so watery, you don’t need much to cover the whole face. Make sure to shake this up before use – it has ingredients that may settle at the bottom.

This is apparently Origins’ #1 best-seller world-wide, which was a bit surprising – I expected a few other products to take the lead. Looking at the product, though, it makes sense: this works on all skin types, it’s versatile, & can work as a light layer of hydration for those with dry skin – or as the finishing touch for someone with oily skin. Best of all, a percentage of the sales go to Dr. Andrew Weil’s foundation, which tries to incorporate “alternative” medicines with pharmaceutical drugs. I’m here for that!

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin™ Liquid – $39 


If you have dry skin, this is the perfect follow-up to a toner/lotion.

I first purchased the Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid this past summer, when I was trying to find a reasonably priced essence-type product. This happened to be one of them.

No – off the bat, $40 isn’t “affordable,” but when you consider that I use it very regularly (not daily but almost) & still have not run out of product is a pretty good sign that you won’t have to refill this product often. You get 5 fluid ounces, which, looking at other essences, is truly a steal.

This is in the Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin line, which contains a balm, an oil, this liquid, a cream, & a few other things, too. It’s a good line – if you have dry/sensitive skin, it’s definitely a good line to look into.

The Ceramidin Liquid is described as “a powerful serum infused with ceramides to support the skin’s natural protective barrier while delivering a moisture boost for visibly plumper, healthy-looking skin.” I wouldn’t call it a serum; it doesn’t really have that texture for me. Plus, it’s hard for me to consider this product a serum, with it looking the way it does with its packaging. That’s not a bad thing – I just use it as an essence rather than a serum when I do use it.

You can see what I mean when I say the packaging doesn’t immediately call to mind a serum – don’t get me wrong, I like the shape of the bottle (& how much product is inside) but it doesn’t dispense like your everyday serum would – hence, why I call it an essence

The Ceramidin Liquid contains…ceramides, which supports the skin’s natural moisture barrier for up to 26 hours, thanks to “time-release hydration” – kind of how Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma serum works for up to 2 days even when you’ve washed it off. It seals in moisture, which relieves your skin’s dehydration, & relieves irritation, redness, flakiness, & tightens. It claims to leave the skin smoother – I don’t think that’s the case, but my skin does feel softer after I’ve used this.

The scent is very mild; I don’t really have a good way to describe it – just know that it fades very quickly & that there’s nothing unpleasant about it; perhaps baby soap is a good comparison. I put 3 or so drops into the palms of my hands, then gently press the liquid into my face. I let dry, then move onto my serums – & all that. This is intended for all skin types – so whether you use it as an extra layer of hydration, like I do, or as a finishing touch to a lighter routine (if you have oily skin) the Ceramidin Liquid will work for you some way, somehow.

Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellulr Face Oil – $45 


$90 for a product? Ouch. $45 for a product? Okay…at least I can breathe.

Sunday Riley’s facial oils were oh-so-dreamy to me last fall, but it took a good bit of saving (& a little help with some Christmas gifts of Sephora gift cards) to get the one that I wanted: U.F.O. – a staple in Harry Styles’ skin care routine, which means that if it’s good enough for him, it’s definitely good enough for you & me.

I ended up buying – & loving – the U.F.O., but it cost me $80. Granted, not all of it was “my” money, & it ended up lasting the whole year (which is incredible!) but let’s acknowlege it: an $80 product isn’t something most people can just click “buy” without giving a second thought.

That’s why I was so excited when Sunday Riley started selling the “mini” versions of their facial oils on Sephora’s site. The original/full-size product is 1.18 fluid ounces; the “mini” is 0.5 fluid ounces. This is most definitely a baby-size version – but I think that you can go the mini route without wasting product. Here’s why.

First off – you only need 2-3 drops of these oils. They’re highly concentrated – as they should be, considering the price tag – & using more won’t necessarily make things better. A little goes a long way.


If you’re using only 2-3 drops once a day, it’s probably a safe bet to start out with the mini version. End up loving it? Great! Time to get the full size, if you think it’s worth it – but that’s just my take on the Sunday Riley “minis.”

Anyways – I’m not here to talk about U.F.O. today, though it’s a wonderful product. I’m here to talk about Juno! This was the first mini Sunday Riley oil in my collection – full disclosure: this one was sent to me by the brand, but I’m 85% sure that I’ll be repurchasing this one. Here’s why:

Juno is a blend of a “cold-pressed powerhouse of superfood seed oils,” which nourishes the skin, brightens the complexion (thanks to Vitamin A & C), & fortifies skin, making it a good anti-aging product. It’s brightening, it’s hydrating, & it is wonderful.

If you scroll through reviews, you’ll see that the average rating is 4.4/5 stars. Most reviews are complimentary; the more negative ones usually include a comment (or two) about the scent of the product. Yes – this oil (& all Sunday Riley’s facial oils, in fact) have strong scents. I’d describe them as herbal; kind of like a spicy cologne. I personally don’t have any problem with the scent; even if I did, I’ve found that it fades quite quickly. Still – if you’re not a fan of strongly-scented products, go give this a whiff in-store before spending your hard-earned money.

The founder – who is actually named Sunday Riley – says she uses it in the morning to revive her dry skin. I do the same thing – except I usually do it at night, mixing two drops into my Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich (together, the two smell incredible). Riley even says that she has “been known to mix a few drops of Juno with some foundation, which helps keep my skin fresh and radiant throughout the day.”


I don’t wear “actual foundation” – I stick to more hydrating BB/CC creams, & so I don’t find that mixing Juno into a face makeup product is necessary for me. But if you’re a regular foundation wearer & have dry skin, give Riley’s tip a go – it might do something great. Either way, this oil packs a punch. Packaged beautifully, it makes you feel luxurious the instant you pick up the little glass ombré vial. That’s how luxury beauty should make you feel. Always.

Shea Butter – CHEAP

My own little messy tin of hydrating, lavender-scented heaven

Two words: shea butter. Where to get it? Honestly, anywhere. Just make sure that it’s organic, if you want the real deal. I have a place near me that sells little tins of it; it comes in its original unscented version, & then there are some fun scents, too: orange blossom, peppermint…&…lavender…want to guess which one I took?


Truly, though – organic shea butter is amazing. I like carrying mine in my bag or backpack; it’s a great multi-purpose moisturizer to have on hand. Cuticles? Check. Elbows? Check. Rough/dry spot on your chin? Check. Shea butter has you covered – & if you pick a scented type, it can even serve as a solid perfume, too. Dab it on the eyelids for a dewy, natural look.

Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Lip Conditioner – $22

If you’re looking for something a bit fancier, this might suit your tastes 

Okay…plain old shea butter just wasn’t giving you the luxurious holiday sensations you wanted? Maybe this is a better option for you. It’s a lip conditioner – so it’s a lip balm. It’s very lightweight, but slightly waxy, which I actually like. For me, that means that it’ll stay on for a good while…& it does! As the product name might suggest, it contains virgin coconut oil along with rose absolute. This rose absolute has a taste to it, so this balm tastes sweet! It’s not perfume-y; if you hadn’t told me it was rose, I might have just thought it was a generic sweet taste. It’s not overpowering; it’s very mild. Herbivore says it can be used as a standalone balm (which I do) or layered under a lipstick/gloss (which I also do). Either way, it works great. I do a few extra things, too: this works well for when I have super dry patches on my face, or if I’m out & my cuticles look a mess. This works in a pinch for both of the problems I just mentioned. Coco Rose has your back.

Glossier Balm Dotcom – $12 (plus 20% off for Black Friday weekend)

One last lip product – then I’m done.

I recently bought the Glossier Balm Dotcom Trio (which, by the way, has exclusive packaging for the holiday season, starting now) & chose “original” instead of “rose.” I was reminded of how good the original Balm Dotcom is – spoiler alert, it’s really good.

Obviously, it’s amazing on the lips; I like it just as well on my eyelids. It gives a pretty, dewy effect without feeling sticky. Granted, the finish is not glossy, so don’t expect a non-tacky eye gloss (does that even exist?) but it gives a nice sheen to your lids.

Balm Dotcom is described as a multi-purpose salve; the original version is the best to use on other areas of the body simply because it has no tint & no scent.

Will I quit buying my other two favorites (Rose & Birthday)? No – but I’ll be replacing my original tube over & over again now that I’ve remembered how good it really is.

Balm Dotcom sitting with its pal: Coco Rose 

Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Youth-Preserving Facial Oil – $64


Alright – looking for a product that’s extremely hydrating, gentle, & nourishing? You’ve got it with this Herbivore oil, which is one out of their three facial oils – the other two are Phoenix (for dry/sensitive skin) & Lapis (for normal/oily/combo skin).

Orchid is the cheapest of the three, & the one I would first point to, if you’re unsure of which to choose. Why?

It absorbs easily & quickly, without leaving a trace of a greasy finish, but firms & plumps the skin, along with protecting your skin’s natural barrier. This makes it good for both ends of the spectrum. It’s also friendly for sensitive skin.

Ingredients? Orchid extract (hence the name) jasmine sambac, and Japanese camellia flower oils work to protect the skin from free radicals. What are free radicals? Well, they’re bad for your skin, but it’s hard for me to explain. I’m not a scientist – just Google it…Google will explain it better than I ever could.

These oils also feed the skin with beneficial vitamins and fatty acids, like omega 3 and 6 – topical superfoods, if you will. It has a lovely texture; it’s extremely rich & has a delicate floral scent, but doesn’t overpower your skin (if you’re afraid of clogged pores) or your nostrils (the scent is pleasant & fades nicely).

I’d say that this is a great product to start off with if you’re looking for a facial oil that’s a little more luxurious; a little more intense – a step up from The Ordinary’s rosehip oil, for sure. You also get a lot of product – you’re paying $64 for 1.7 fluid ounces. 1.7 fluid ounces is more than one full-size Sunday Riley oil, which would cost $80-$110. You’re getting a lot more product – & the product you’re getting is good. I also appreciate the tapered dropper; it makes it a whole lot easier to control the amount of product you’re dispensing.

This will last you forever. I promise. Mix 2-3 drops into your moisturizer, or just pat it into your skin before moisturizing. I love using this at night; I wake up with baby-soft, glowy, supple skin. It’s amazing.

(Here’s 25% off your next purchase on Herbivore Botanical’s site! They have some good Black Friday weekend deals coming up; also, if you’re interested in all three of Herbivore’s facial oils but don’t want to drop $200+, there’s a little sampler kit on the site – right here.)

The Body Shop British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask – $28

Does the texture/color look familiar? It should – it’s almost exactly like Fresh’s Rose Face Mask. Actually, it’s better

I remember Sephora’s 2016 birthday gift like it was yesterday: I chose the skin care kit, which contained the Fresh Soy Cleanser &the  Fresh Rose Face Mask, which was getting a lot of buzz around that time. I remember trying the cleanser & feeling neutral about it; I remember trying the mask, loving the smell, then feeling outraged when I looked in the mirror & found no noticeable difference – at all. The full size version of this product is $62, so I guess I have Sephora to thank for letting me have a go at a product that, while beautifully scented, really didn’t do anything at all.

Think of The Body Shops’ British Rose Mask as a cheaper, more effective version of the Fresh one. Like the Fresh mask, The British Rose Mask is a gel-textured mask that contains real rose petals. Alongside that, it contains the “essence of hand-picked roses from Britain,” aloe vera from Mexico, & is enriched with rosehip oil from Chile. Those are a lot of great ingredients for such a (comparatively) cheap mask!

This has a really pleasant, fresh, floral scent – not like a bowl of potpourri, don’t worry. I’ve found that it works particularly well when my skin is extra sensitive; this stuff works like a charm to soothe my skin & reduce redness & inflammation. It lives up to its name: it plumps, it’s fresh, & it hydrates. Grab this one instead of the Fresh one – you won’t regret it, & you’ll save $30 or so.

Frank Body Glow Mask – $21.95


Five-minute mask? Yeah, I was skeptical too. Then, I saw a photo of Duckie Thot – face of Fenty Beauty, Australia’s Next Top Model contestant, & now an icon in general – on Frank Body’s Instagram, captioned with something about her wearing their “brand-new, now-available Glow Mask.”

This is smart marketing, because I got the mask almost immediately – okay, two days later. Truly, though – Duckie has amazing skin, said she liked the product, & I was curious to see if it really did what it claimed to do…in five minutes flat.

The thing I first noticed was how rich the mask was in consistency. I wondered how brightening it really could be – I wondered if the “heaviness” would clog my pores, rather than brighten, tighten, & lift them. I also smelled something nutty – I checked the ingredients, & I saw coconut oil. I started to panic – my face doesn’t really like coconut oil – but I told myself that it was a five-minute mask, & that I should at least give it one go…so I did.

Well? Well: I like it! It’s not my favorite mask out there, & the results aren’t mind-boggling, but it’s a great mask if you’re having a busy morning but still want to feel pampered. The rich consistency of the mask will make you feel extremely luxurious; washing it off will also be enjoyable. I like the scent of the product, & after seeing that it did not clog my pores, I liked the texture, too. If you look closely, you can see that it’s slightly luminous when swatched.

A peek at the texture of the Glow Mask

What makes this work in five minutes? Frank Body is known for their brightening body scrubs, which contain coffee. This mask has Arabica coffee seed oil, which increases circulation, decreases puffiness, & promotes collagen production quickly – in five minutes, to be exact. Think of it as a Milk Makeup Cooling Water Stick, but for your whole face. Some other great ingredients: shea & coconut butters, which lock in the moisture provided by the mask. Coconut oil/butter is not my friend, but this time around, it worked for me. Thank god. Throw in some superfoods like goji berry extract & cranberry/raspberry seed oils, & you truly do have a brightening, hydrating mask that’s fun to wear, feels good on – & continues to feel good after you’ve washed it off. It’s not a must-have, but it’s a good mask, especially if I’m feeling extra dry.

Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask with Echinacea GreenEnvy™ – $56

One of the dreamiest masks for winter time 

An old favorite – & one that I highly recommend for dry skin in the winter time! This was the first self-warming mask I ever tried; I don’t even think I knew what a self-warming mask was until I came across this product last fall. It was intriguing: looks like pure organic honey in the jar; when massaged over the face, it turns from a transluscent yellow-gold to a rich, white cream. Leave on for 20 minutes – enjoy the warming sensation it gives your skin – then gently rinse off.

The Echinacea GreenEnvy™ that Farmacy has trademarked is “a unique variant of echinacea purpurea, which contains a high concentration of the phytochemical cichoric acid—a potent, natural antioxidant that enhances hydration and the purifying benefits of honey.” They said it, not me.

A true honey-gold

This mask is great for dry skin, because it plumps & hydrates without clogging pores, & it even lifts/tightens the skin, too. It contains honey (obviously) which is a natural humectant that’s been used to keep skin hydrated for centuries. Propolis, an antiseptic found in beehives, works to fight inflammation & redness. Royal jelly’s amino acid-rich properties attract moisture, then trap it in your skin.

Basically, this is a product formulated almost entirely off of honey/beehive products. It’s hydrating, brightening, & plumping. Do not get this mask if you think that you won’t like a warming mask, or if you already know you don’t like warming masks – the sensation on this one is quite powerful. It’s not uncomfortable, but you most definitely will feel that warmth on your skin.

One more warning: you may break out the first time you use this mask – I did! I knew that it was the mask, because I hadn’t been using anything else new. I gave it another try, & noticed my skin clearing up. One more try, & my skin looked clearer than ever. So, just a warning: you might experience a “detox” – but it’ll be well worth it.

Convenient & sturdy: a metal magnetic spatula 

Vegan? I know there’s controversy about honey being vegan, but Farmacy does its work with care & dedication. The honey used to make this mask is made only by bees that live on Farmacy’s farm(s). That’s pretty cool! The magnetic metal spatula that comes with the mask is a big plus – reuseable, & easy to clean, so you can use it for other masks, too. This mask is a winner, that’s for sure.

Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask – $22 (plus 20% off for Black Friday weekend)

The dreamy, space-themed packaging of the Moon Mask 

Another big win in masking territory – Glossier calls this the “most intensely hydrating treatment we could make.” They’re not wrong.

It’s hard for me to describe the scent of this product, but there’s something about the scent & the consistency that reminds me of the (much more expensive) Korres Greek Yoghurt Mask. It has that same creamy texture & a fresh, creamy scent – but it doesn’t contain any yogurt. I guess that’ll remain a mystery.

It’s plumping: sweet almond oil, plant-based squalane, and hyaluronic acid do the “deep hydration” here. They keep working even after the mask has been washed off; all three of these hydrating ingredients help protect the skin’s moisture barrier.

It’s brightening: licorice root and lemon fruit do all of that. Plus, they help even out your complexion; I’ll even go so far as to say that it does a little bit of retexturizing, which is unexpected for a hydrating mask with this kind of consistency. Lemon & liquorice also help fade dark spots/acne scars, kind of like a Vitamin C serum would. Throw in some honey & aloe for a little extra hydration & soothing properties, & you’re good!

A quick peek at the consistency

In the winter, I love sticking this in the fridge until it’s nice & chilly. Then, I draw a hot bath, apply a thick layer of it to my skin, & sit for 20 minutes, feeling my face soak in the soothing hydration while enjoying a warm bath (who doesn’t love one in the winter?). I also use it as an overnight mask – just use a lighter layer, so you (& your pillowcase) don’t get all messy. Another hack: if I feel like I need a little extra hydration – but only in some isolated areas – I apply my night cream, then dab a little Moon Mask over the areas that need some extra TLC, like the area under my nose, the bottom of my chin, & a few spots on my cheeks, if the wind really picks up speed.

This mask is great for all skin types, & I love using it with the other Glossier mask: the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack. You can get them both with the Mask Duo if you really want to try your hand at multi-masking, but if we’re talking hydration, & hydration alone…Moon Mask has your back. Or your face.

Origins Drink Up™ Intensive Overnight Mask to Quench Skin’s Thirst – $27

My travel size tube of Drink Up – time to go for the full size!

I love this stuff – & so does my mama. In fact, she was the one who introduced me to it (usually, it’s the other way around. At least, lately).

This is definitely a mask intended for dry skin types, & Origins isn’t afraid to let you know that. Described as a “luxurious nighttime mask to quench skin’s thirst,” Drink Up contains avocado and apricot kernel oils, which replenish moisture your skin might have lost during the day, as well as build moisture reservoirs overnight – so you wake up with plump, hydrated skin. The apricot oil also gives the product its amazing, slightly citrusy scent. Japanese seaweed repairs skin’s barrier to prevent future dehydration and signs of premature aging.

Drink Up isn’t just for your face – Origins encourages you to use it on other dry spots, like elbows & knees. You can even use it as a shaving cream in a pinch. I’m all for multi-purpose products, I’m always here for Origins’ products, especially if they’re hydrating – so this one’s another win for me. I need a bigger size now, because we’re truly getting into the cold dry weather – the weather that this mask was probably formulated for.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration – $30 


Alright, everyone – I truly do mean everyone this time – here’s a great moisturizer. For the face, for the body, for the hands…you get it.

Truly, this product’s a golden egg. $30 for 6 whole ounces of product – that’s incredible in & of itself. It has a whipped texture that manages to simultaneously feel lightweight & extraordinarily hydrating. Its “whipped texture absorbs with no greasy after-feel” – I can attest to this.

This is suitable for all skin types – especially dry skin. It can be used on all parts of the body, & is child-friendly, too. Colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, ceramide 3, and the (secret) First Aid Beauty Antioxidant Booster provide relief, hydration, & soothes the skin. First Aid Beauty claims that “it is clinically proven to increase hydration by 169 percent immediately upon application.”

Lightweight texture; it’s not a water-based formula, but it most certainly isn’t greasy

I use this during the day when it’s Cold Season – perhaps for someone with more oily skin, this would be more suitable as a night cream – but truly, I think that the product’s whipped texture makes it incredibly easy to wear & adaptable for any & all skin types. Sensitive to fragrances? FAB has your back on this one. You won’t smell a thing. Lots of product – seriously, lots of product – effective, & cheap. It’s a product that I know will always work for me, no matter what. I don’t have to worry about how my skin will react when I reach for this moisturizer in the mornings. I just massage it on, put on my makeup (or not) & go.

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich – $35

Luxury packaging, luxury texture – just skip the luxury price tag

Ah yes. The creme de la creme, truly. Glossier dropped this in January 2017, & I’ve been using it ever since. In the winter, I use it day & night. In the summer, I use it at night…but I never go without it. When I have, I notice a (negative) difference in my skin – so I stick to it.The closest thing I can compare this cream to is the Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Cream – except Priming Moisturizer Rich is $35, & the Rose Stem Cell Cream is $75. That’s a $40 difference, & I think PMR does a better job – that’s just me.

Well, no – it’s not just me. I see people using it left & right in their beauty routines; I was pleasantly surprised to see Paloma Elsesser apply it before putting on makeup in her Glossier GRWM; I don’t come across too many others that use it in the day, too – so let that be a testament! Both Paloma & I use (& love) PMR for daytime use.


Ingredients: Glossier secrets: Anti-Redness Complex and Oxygenating Agent, both of which reduce redness (obviously) hydrate the skin, & prime it, too – see, it can be used under makeup. Shea and murumuru butters give the cream its luxurious texture, but don’t leave a greasy sheen on the skin – it’s more like a healthy, hydrated glow. Red Algae Complex acts as a reservoir for the skin’s moisture barrier, Lavender Oil provides antioxidant and skin-calming properties (& makes me feel like I’m in heaven, because I love the scent of lavender) & five key fatty acids help lock in moisture, so none can escape.

I can go on for hours about how much I love this product, but I think you know enough by now. It’s luxurious, but it’s not ridiculously priced. It’s very friendly for cold weather. It smells incredible. & look at the swirl on that brand new jar of product, would you?

Texture heaven

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber & Green Tea – $12

Our good old friend Mario

I know. Who hasn’t heard of the facial spray by this time, right? I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t seen this at least once – somewhere, somehow. I’ve been using it in a different way. I forget where I read this, but I saw on a beauty site somewhere that misting the face after completing your beauty routine essentially acts as a “setting spray” for your skin care: it locks in moisture, gives yet one more layer of light hydration, & is cooling & soothing. I used to say that the rose version was my favorite, but I’ve found that this one is even more soothing. Stick it in the fridge – you won’t regret it – & grab a mini bottle while you’re in the checkout line at Ulta. Your bag could use a tiny bottle of this mist; it’s a great thing to spritz over your face if you’re out & the dry cold is really starting to get to you, as it does to me. Give it a go.

Happy Holidays (it’s officially Black Friday now), Happy Cold Season – but most importantly, happy Hydration Season.


Sofia ❤


#MiniReview: Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner

The name “Thayers” is practically a household name if you regularly browse sites like Byrdie, The File, & Into The Gloss. I’ve known about Thayers’ toners for at least a year – but I kind of just sat back & listened to everyone talk. “It’s so cheap! It’s so good! It lasts so long! So much product! Product cap perfectly dispenses actual product!”

Me, from a few feet away: “Oh, sounds nice!” I said absently, spraying myself with another shower of Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater (okay, that never happened, but essentially that’s how my “ignoring” process went).

Why did I just never get around to buying this very cheap toner that has had a lot of buzz – especially lately?

First of all, the concept of toning with a liquid-soaked cotton pad was not how I had initially interpreted toning. To me, it was only toning if it came in a spritzer bottle (which isn’t at all true, of course). The concept of rubbing cotton pads on my face sounded irritating – much more so than a healthy douse of floral mist.

Secondly – this product is easiest to find at Target – & I am one of the few people in America who doesn’t love going to Target. I know…I’m sorry! Big spaces make me anxious, it’s cold inside, & I never know where anything is despite all the signs.

About a month ago, however, I was driving home from somewhere & remembered I ran out of Tylenol; I was just happening to pass a Target & figured that this would be as good a time as any other. Coincidentally, I’d been asking a friend about Thayers earlier – she’d mentioned something about a lavender version, & my ears perked. If you know me, you know that I adore the scent of lavender. Suddenly, Thayers seemed a lot more appealing. I ran in to grab a bottle of Tylenol (success) & walked out with my medication…& a 12 fluid oz. bottle of Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner.

“Retro” packaging 

That’s right – 12 fluid ounces of product. For $10.95. I had never really looked up the price tag on this, but when I got to the aisle at Target, I’m 99% sure I audibly gasped. The bottle was so big; there was so much product, & it was so cheap. Lucky for me, Lavender was the only option left – all of the other choices were gone. I was happy as a clam.

That evening, I skipped my usual Mario Badescu spray & put a few drops of the Thayers Lavender toner onto a cotton square – probably 4-5 drops in total. No need to worry about spilling product; this bottle has some kind of a squeeze cap that ensures that if your bottle does happen to tip over while the cap is open…not much product will be wasted. It’s like a little babyproof gate, except for a toner bottle. This was much appreciated by me; I’m always worried about forget to close a lid on a product & spilling it later if I bump into it by accident (I’m getting better). The product was easy to dispense, had that soothing smell of lavender that I love so dearly. Now: time to talk about what it’s supposed to do, what it did for me, & how I feel about it after about a month’s use.

There are quite a few different versions of Thayers toner: Rose Petal, Lavender, Aloe, Lemon, Mint…& a few more, too. While these versions may differ slightly from one another, they’re all built on the witch hazel base formula, as the name might suggest.


The witch hazel used in this toner is extracted from the bark of the witch hazel plant. This extract contains natural tannins, which help remove excess oil from the face without stripping it of all its healthy moisture. They reduce inflammation & irritation, which calms breakouts & prevents future ones. They balance the natural pH levels of the skin – again, resulting in calmer, more balanced skin in general. It’s also an antioxidant; it also brightens & tightens the skin because of this.

The signature red cap

The Thayers witch hazel formula is not distilled. That means that it contains 195% more tannins, according to Thayers’ own website. This, in turn, means that the product works more effectively & does a better job overall. Witch hazel works for oily skin because it removes extra dirt/other impurities; it’s good for combo skin because it keeps the dry patches balanced while (again) removing extra impurities from other areas. As a sensitive/dry skin type, I can assure you it works well for both dry & sensitive skin types, too – even both at once (like me)!

Okay – so what do I think?

Well – I think that it’s incredible. I feel stupid for not having bought this sooner – especially since it is almost infuriatingly good & cheap to beat. My skin looks brighter & clearer, but it’s not any drier than it was when I was using mist toners. The lavender version is incredibly soothing, & I love the scent. It fades within a few moments, but it gives you that calm, essential-oils vibe while gently swiping it all over the face.

Like I said, I use 4-5 drops on a cotton square. That’s right, a square, not a round or a pad. That might sound high-&-mighty – but for me at least, cotton squares are fluffier & lighter in texture than that of a round or a pad. They’re more soothing, they feel more luxurious & they are just as cheap (sometimes chaper) than rounds or pads. I buy mine from the drugstore for about $3 (for 100 or so, I believe) – but if you want to feel super fancy, Shiseido’s cotton is famously good & not ridiculously expensive. It’s a nice little “treat yourself” kind of thing you can pick up in Sephora’s checkout line.

Clear & concise directions on the back – big plus

All-in-all? An incredible experience. I’m mad I didn’t try this sooner; I’m glad I started using it. I don’t feel the need to return to more expensive products when this big, cheap, effective bottle is right there in my top shelf. No guilt needed, especially when the product is good, is packaged prettily (come on, you know it too!) & smells like lavender (if you’re like me & like lavender).

I’m interested in trying out some of the others – particularly Lemon & Rose Petal – but I don’t think I’ll need to worry about replacing my current Thayers toner any time soon. The 12 ounces of product doesn’t sound that big of a deal – until you pick it up, realize how heavy it is, & realize that using 4-5 drops twice a day will last you essentially an eternity.

I’m not complaining, though. The Lavender toner is just right for me – it’s one of my favorite scents, it exfoliates, brightens, hydrates, balances, & tightens. All for $10.95. 10/10. I’m sorry I didn’t commit sooner, Thayers. Hope you can forgive me.

My cheap & effective toner snuggling with my cheap & effective extra soft cotton squares

Thayer’s has announced that a spritzer toner (same formula) will be available soon – that’s good news for all of you who prefer to spray to tone as opposed to using a cotton pad. It’ll be out soon – not sure if I’ll try it, because this is doing the job very well. We’ll see!

Are there any others out there who haven’t tried the Thayers line yet? If so, I won’t shame you – but I will encourage you to try it. If you have tried it, I’d love to hear your favorite version if you’ve tried several – especially if you have dry/sensitive skin like me.

Long live the simultaneously incredible & incredibly cheap products like this one!


Sof ❤

#DrunkInLove – “Unboxing” Some Drunk Elephant Minis

A year ago, I would’ve looked at the price tag of a Drunk Elephant product & said “no way.” In my mind, no product was worth that amount of money – ever.


Then, this February, I caved – I asked Sephora for a sample of the Babyfacial. It was love at first application; I held out & saved some of my money & ended up buying the full size a month or so later. Yes – it really is that good.

Same goes for the Framboos serum, although I already had a pretty stronge knowlege of what Drunk Elephant’s products are like/how well they work before I decided to make that investment (glad I did).

Okay, so I love two of the products, but the fact remains that Drunk Elephant is not a cheap brand.

First of all, let me just say that I don’t 100% believe in luxury beauty. I think that some products – take a Tom Ford body oil or a Dior liquid lipstick – just aren’t worth it. Packaging? Sure. Aesthetic? Absolutely. Effectiveness? I’ll go with “ehh.” Buying high-end skin care or makeup is fun & satisfying, & it makes you feel a little more pampered if you carry a Dior lip balm rather than a Carmex – but a higher price doesn’t always mean that the product is better. We have thousands of examples of this; the first example that comes to mind (if we’re truly talking affordable) is The Ordinary; almost all the products are under $10; all are under $15 (excluding shipping). So – yes, you absolutely can have a cheap & effective skin care routine. If you know your skin type & do your research, you shouldn’t have that big of a problem, no matter what price point you’re considering.

Now that I’ve lightly bashed some beauty brands that I really actually do like (Diorshow Mascara is incredible & unable to be duped, in my humble opinion) let me quickly explain why I Drunk Elephant is truly worth the amount they charge for their products.

Tiffany Masterson is the founder of Drunk Elephant. She claims that the idea of Drunk Elephant came to her as she began fiddling with her own formulas, trying to make a cleanser that would work on her unpredictable skin (sometimes oily, sometimes combo, even some rosacea). The result: Drunk Elephant, the brand we know & love today.

So – why are Drunk Elephant products worth their weight in gold?

  • None of the products contain what DE calls the “Suspicious 6″which the founder believes were the root cause of her skin issues. According to DE, the Suspicious 6 (Essential Oils, Drying Alcohols, Silicones, Chemical Screens, Fragrance/Dyes, & SLS.
  • Drunk Elephant’s philosophay is that eliminating these ingredients from your skin care routine will result in calmer, clearer, smoother skin.
  • All of the products are suitable for all skin types (even sensitive). This is because they’re (again) fragrance-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free – free of the Suspicious 6
  • Drunk Elephant focuses on natural vs. clinical – they try to keep everything as organically sourced as possible. Everything is manufactured in the United States, all products contain high concentrations of various extracts – but safe pH levels, so nothing bad will happen no matter your skin type.

I could go on with a few more reasons, but I think that this is a good introduction to Drunk Elephant as a brand, why it’s expensive, & whether it’s worth it.

Long story short – yes, I do think it’s worth it. I understand why it’s expensive, too – the packaging is very sturdy, yet eye-catching; pretty neon or pastel-colored caps contrast the plain white background of each product, feauring a delicate doodle of an elephant. Needless to say, these products won’t break while travelling. & yes – manufacturing in the U.S. is more expensive. Using organically-sourced products is more expensive. Plus – every single DE product that I’ve tried so far has been worth its money – no question.

The real question: sure, it’s worth the money, but how to afford it? Especially if you’re a college student – or just on a tight budget in general.

Well, let me first assure you that a little DE goes a long way. No need to worry about running out within two weeks – these babies last forever, thanks to their high concentrations. Just one pump or several drops is all you need for the true DE effects – & yes, sometimes they’re overnight.

Still worried about the budget? Let’s talk about The Littles™, the mini-size Drunk Elephant products – some of which come in bundles, some of which stand alone. These tiny vials will still last you a good while (obviously not as long as the full-size, but still – long enough for you to decide whether or not you’re a fan) & they cost a lot less.

I can’t drop $90 on a serum just like that – I know a lot of other young peopl can’t, either. This is why I love the concept of The Littles; you’re given enough product to actually last you long enough to see whether or not there’s a clear difference in your skin; you’re not charged heinous amounts that’ll make your bank account cry. It’s a good way to sample the brand & see which things are worth it to you.

Quick story-time before I get into The Littles – I’ve been a big fan of Drunk Elephant since early this year (sometime in February). I’ve saved my pennies for some of the products & I’m glad I did – I don’t hate any of the DE things I’ve tried; I really love some of the DE things I’ve tried. That’s why I was so overwhelmed, humbled, & happy to get an email for Drunk Elephant, saying they’d like to send a few things my way.


When my package arrived, I cried a little (okay, no sobbing session…but I wasn’t 100% dry-eyed either; it was a big honor alright?!!!) & then actually opened the bag.

There they were – a bunch of The Littles. Some of them I’ve tried, some I haven’t – but I have some first impressions of the new DE things I tried, as well as some opinions on the DE products I’ve tried myself before.

Remember – everyone’s skin type is different, but this brand is specifically meant to be kind to all skin types. I tried to keep this in mind, but you don’t have to worry – my skin’s quite sensitive & will react to a product quite quickly if it doesn’t like said product. I can almost always tell within a day or two (sometimes less) whether the product is good or bad. Then, I have to decide between good & amazing. None of these products are bad – that’s for sure. Some I like more than others; some of you will probably disagree with me on some things. I’d love to hear what DE product you love most/which DE product you most want to try. Let me know in the comments!

So: let’s go! Time to talk about Drunk Elephant’s more affordable bundles – the student discount bundles, if you will…also known as “The Littles.” I won’t be talking about which is best for which skin type, because Drunk Elephant prides itself on their whole line working for all skin types (thanks to eradicating their Suspicious 6). I will talk about which products I like the most – & why – if my skin didn’t like it, I’ll say so, but it’s hard for me to say “don’t try that [DE product]” because everyone’s skin is different, & all DE products are suitable for all skin types.

All of The Littles™ – mini products but major effects
The highlighter pens I dreamed of owning as a high school student – except now, they’re in skin care form…& they’re mine!

Full disclosure – I was sent this bundle of minis or “Littles” by Drunk Elephant, but was not paid to write this review or post any photos. I keep it as honest as possible (if you’ve seen my posts of Glossier products, you’ll know that I keep it real – if I don’t like it, I say so) but Drunk Elephant truly is a brand I adore. I’ve been using their products since the begining of 2017 & have paid for every single one up until now – my monthly favorites can prove it, too. I hope I don’t come off as defensive; I just want to make sure every reader knows the context of this review. 

Okay! On to the goods.

Baby Juju™ + Baby Pekee™️ Travel Duo<<
lieve me when I say: both these cleansers are little bars of soap, very hard & dense in texture, but gentle & soft as a cloud on the skin, accompanied by a pleasing lather.

e funny thing about both of these bars? They're not really "soap." In fact, both are "are totally free of fragrance and soap and are formulated with skin-friendly ingredients designed to cleanse and soothe the skin. Both have an ideal pH-level of 6.3, to ensure sufficient cleansing without drying or stripping the skin of its protective barrier."

I'm a big fan of non-foaming cleansers/gels; it's why I like Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser so much. I was a bit curious on how these would act. Would they pull through with the claim that the bars' cleansing properties would balance the skin's oils without stripping the skin of everything good? I was a bit nervous – I really never had used a bar cleanser for my face…unless we're counting those few ugly times I forgot a facewash in a few random hotels & had to use their little bars of soap as my cleanser. Moving on…

Of course, both of these bars can be used by themselves, but the purpose of this duo is to provide a good morning cleanser & a good night cleanser.

The JuJu Bar™ is meant to be used in the morning. It has physical exfoliants, like thermal mud and bamboo powder, which brightens, balances, clarifies, & retexturizes. It’s the cobblestone-colored bar – the white one is the Pekee Bar.

Like all Drunk Elephant products, neither of these little bars have any synthetic fragrance. I couldn’t detect even a hint of fragrance in either of the cleansers, so if you’re sensitive to scented products in general (even naturally-scented ones) these are both great cleansing options.

The top of the packaging says “cleanse + exfoliate” – hence, the physical exfoliants packed within this tiny bar.

I was nervous that the physical exfoliants of Juju would tear up my skin – nope! The particles are miniscule. I run the bar under some warm water, work up a lather between my palms, then gentle swirl the lather across my face in small circles. The lather is extremely creamy, which I love; right away, it’s obvious that Juju will not dry out the skin – in fact, I’d say it hydrates! I can feel the bamboo powder & mud particles travelling across my face, but it’s not harsh; it hasn’t caused any extra breakouts – or extra dryness. Less like sugar or salt crystals; more like very fine sand at an expensive beach. A brightening, physical exfoliating cleanser that somehow manages to keep the skin in balance. What a product – & what a suprise for me, the biggest hater of physical exfolianting cleansers out there!

The Pekee™ Bar is meant to be used at night. When I glanced quickly at the top of the wrapped Pekee Bar, I saw the words “clarify + balance” – two of my favorite words when it comes to describing skin care.

I love brightening products, but my dry, sensitive skin makes it difficult to truly brighten my skin without it feeling as though my skin is literally cracking with dehydration – & that’s where the Pekee™ Bar comes in. It’s infused with rich, hydrating ingredients, like marula oil, blueberry extract, & honey. These are all incredibly nourishing & hydrating – they’re also “antioxidants” so the combination of these three key ingredients results in a hydrating yet clarifying bar. Long-term, it claims to fade dark spots/reduce texture. Short-term, it’s brightened my complexion but kept my skin’s hydration barrier intact. I don’t know if I would leave it for my beloved Milky Jelly, but I think it’s a great thing to have on hand. Pekee behaves the same way the Juju does – except it has only lather, no tiny exfoliating particles. After patting my face dry, I feel extraordinarily hydrated; much more so than I would normally feel after using a foaming cleanser from another brand. Also, like Juju, Pekee is fragrance-free, as well as  cruelty-free, paraben-free, & vegan.

So – which would I choose, & why?

A few days ago, I might’ve said Pekee; it contains everything that my skin already loves. But – it gets redundant when I start mentioning every single gentle hydrating cleanser. Pekee? It’s great, no doubt about that. But Juju is the one that stole my heart. That’s just because I don’t just like how it feels on my face – I love how it feels on my face. It’s really been brightening  & tightening my complexion, while keeping it clear & soft. No micro-abrasions, no irritation from the exfoliants. I’ve used this both morning & evening; I’ve used it just in the morning or evening, & also used it two times in one day (one time for each routine). Although Juju is “intended” to be used in the morning (especially if you’re going to purchase the mini duo) I’ve that found it works beautifully, no matter the time of day (or night).

I can’t predict how long these cleansers will last – I don’t think I’ll be using them every single day…I just like my Milky Jelly Cleanser most of all. I will say that they seem to get a good amount of use, even if they’re being used every day, twice a day. The duo is $18; for a full-size bar (of either) it’s $28. That’s not bad at all. If these minis last as long as some of the reviews claim – I’ve seen at least three saying they’ve lasted more than a month & a half – I think it’s absolutely worth it to buy a full-size if you’re only interested in one. Or…buy the little duo & see which works for you best before forking over a little extra money for the larger, single bar.

I can definitely see myself purchasing the full-size of the Juju™ Bar. It’s been good for my skin, it will last long since it’s a bar product, & it’s very travel-friendly; no stressing about special TSA travel vials. Out of the two, I’d pick Juju. Sorry you had to hear that about ten times…but I really do like it!

As a whole, though, I was pleasantly surprised with how gentle & effective both of these cleansing bars are. I’d say it’s definitely worth $18 – probably worth $28, too, if you’re considering buying one of the full-sized ones.

right – it's time for the real Littles! These are the ones you’ll see as duos, at Sephora & on Drunk Elephant’s site – the Rise + Glow, The NightBright™, etc. You can also purchase all of them at once by buying The Littles™ bundle.

I don’t think it’s necessary to own every single one of these products; there are some that have been amazing & others that I just haven’t cared for as much. I decided to talk about each product separately as though it were the full size version, because pairing them up in duos would take too much time – & cause too much confusion. Maybe…read this first, then check out duos, & see which one seems to suit you best (if any do at all).

Oh – & how long does each little last? According to Drunk Elephant: “about 45 days.” I’d say that’s worth it! You get enough time to get acquainted with the product, but not so much that if you truly hate it you’d be throwing away $60+. Like I said – The Littles are a great way to try out Drunk Elephant products, even if you’re on a budget. There’s aboslutely no difference between The Littles & the full sized products – texture is the same, effects are the same, results are the same. They’re just different sizes, that’s all! Okay. Let’s go!

C-Firma™ Day Serum

Yes – it’s a day serum, but there aren’t really any rules. You can use this serum at night if you choose – & don’t worry if you already are – but there are some specific benefits for using C-Firma in your morning routine. Described as a “super potent vitamin C day serum,” C-Firma is a combo of an antioxidant complex, fruit enzymes, & essential nutrients – & a chronopeptide, which is what makes this serum so good for the day time. It works up to 72 hours, provides the benefits that Vitamin D would (so hello, extra dose of healthy sun exposure!) & even if you wash your face, C-Firma will keep doing its job until those 72 hours are over.

I have tried to incorporate this into my routine several times, but it just isn’t the one for me. For whatever reason, the serum feels a bit too heavy/sticky on my face during the day, & it felt tacky even after I put a moisturizer over top. That made applying makeup a lot more difficult, needless to say. & no – I don’t wear makeup every day, but it was just another reason for me to realize: I don’t really need this.

I did notice some brightening for sure, as well as tightened pores. My skin looked a bit smoother, thanks to the 15% potent antioxidant complex of l-ascorbic and  ferulic acids C-Firma contains – they act as chemical exfoliants. There really wasn’t a problem while applying the serum…the not-so-enjoyable parts came later. By “not-so-enjoyable,” I mean that it felt too heavy on my skin & though I don’t believe it made me break out, it just didn’t work as well for me as I’d hoped it would.

Some people say they love the product but hate the scent; it’s sort of smoky; hard to describe – but no, it’s not artificial. The scent will linger, though so be careful if you’re sensitive to scents, even if they’re natural.

I ended up giving this product to my mama to see how she liked it – & she loves it. She follows that up with Marula Oil (get to that soon) & now says “I’m so firm!” when talking about her skin. She’s also said her skin has been clearer; less congestion, less breaking out. Drunk Elephant got her excited; I feel like she’s the biggest C-Firma fan out there now.

How does she use it? She’ll use it all over the face, but on more sensitive days she just pats some on darker spots/sun damage, which she says is helping them fade. This has “day serum” in the title, after all, so she applies it after cleaning/toning, & before moisturizing.

Sorry, C-Firma – it’s not you, it’s me! Everyone around me – even my mother – who’s tried it either likes or loves it. I don’t think it did anything special for my skin, but I’m not bitter. There are a lot of other Drunk Elephant products that did & still do something special for my skin, so it’s all good. Worth a try? Yes, sure! I think it probably works best on less sensitive, slightly more mature skin. Maybe I’m just too young for this one to really make a difference.

Be sure to wear a sunscreen while you’re using this product. It’s a chemical exfoliant, which increases your sensitivity to the sun, which can lead to a greater risk of skin cancer, if you’re not careful. Don’t panic if you haven’t been doing this – just find a good one & start today! Of course, you should be wearing one no matter what, but if you’re using this product, sunscreen is a must. No two ways about it. < strong>B-Hydra™ Intensive Hydration Gel <<
eight words: a cool splash of water for your face. Even Drunk Elephant says so, calling it “a cool drink of water for your skin” – & no, I didn’t look that description up before I wrote my own.

The descriptions are almost identical because it’s aboslutely true; this is something that feels cooling, even in 90-degree weather..but it’s not something that will give you literal chills in the colder weather. It’s extremely lightweight, extremely hydrating, & sinks in beautifully. It’s most defnitely a gel, but the way B-Hydra settles into your skin feels like a liquid serum. That’s how smooth it is!

Pro-vitamin B & pineapple ceramide hold in moisture, creating a barrier for your skin. You’ll feel hydrated all day. More moisture means brighter, plumper skin. I’d be confident in saying that B-Hydra does exactly that. Barberry extract has soothing properties, a watermelon rind/apple/lentil complex (or combo) ensures that your skin will be hydrated properly for up to 24 hours. Then, the fancy name “sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer” is what makes this product so lightweight; it’s how this gel turns into a lightweight spritz of water once it’s been swiped over your skin.

It might look a bit underwhelming, but B-Hydra is a good product. Although lightweight, those specific ingredients ensure that no moisture will be lost for dry skin. Meanwhile, the lightweight consistency will also appeal to those with oily/combo skin.

I don’t use it all over my face; I think that that would be a waste, since not every area of my face needs it. I focus it around my nose: that’s where I get the most redness & dryness. It works – morning & night, I use about half a pump of B-Hydra on that area & after a few moments, my skin has stopped burning or itching, & redness slowly begins to fade. It’s a product that looks underwhelming but does a lot of hard work. The color? A transparent white, similar to that of Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. There’s no scent – don’t be scared!

The mini C-Firma & B-Hydra, which make up the Rise + Glow Duo ($23)


lt; strong>Umbra™ Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 <<
you know me, you know that I really dislike physical sunscreens. Most of them feel greasy/tacky, which causes me to break out – & even on my very fair skin, I'll often get a white cast. They're hard for me to blend, I dislike the scent…I just don't like physical sunscreens, okay??

unk Elephant won me over here. The Umbra Sheer was sent to me for the first time for me to try, & I skeptically swatched it on my hand. I twisted open the bottle (it has a cute little circular dispenser) & sure enough: there was the dreaded "white liquid." I put it up to my nose. Nothing. No scent. I already felt encouraged – that, & the fact that it felt so light on my hand, even when I hadn't yet blended it in.

ce I started blending it in, magic really started to happen. No stickiness, no grease, no tacky consistency – just this incredibly lightweight, hydrating cream that gave a bit of…luminescence? <<
at's right – the best way I could describe this sunscreen is: an extremely lightweight physical sunscreen with no scent that also happens to act as an illuminating primer. It's as though someone dropped a little bit of liquid highlight into a tub of this sunscreen. I tried it under makeup, using it as a primer, & I really liked it. It looks & feels good on its own, too. It's light, it hasn't broken me out, & it doubles as a magically glowing primer. I'll take ten, please.



lt; strong>T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum<<
ve I screamed about this enough? Yes, probably – but it keeps saving my skin, so I'll keep singing its praises.

Framboos: one of Drunk Elephant's priciest products…&, maddeningly, one of my favorites. I first purchased it in the NightBright Duo, figuring that I should get a cheaper version before fully committing myself. Within a week, I knew I'd be committing. By the time the tiny vial of Framboos was finished, I had a squeaky-clean full size version waiting for me. I can't say enough good things about this serum. Exfoliating? Check. Clarifying? Check. Brightening? Check.

It's not surprising I love this serum so much – it contains a special AHA/BHA blend. My skin loves product containing both AHA &/or BHA; Framboos has both. This blend is made up of glycolic acid (hence the name). lactic acid (another great exfoliant that my skin loves), tartaric acid, citric acid, & salicylic acid. All of these are whipped up with raspberry extract – which, by the way, is why this product has the name that it does: "framboos" is "raspberry" in German.

The night I tried it, I worried about potential tingling/burning, as well as dryness. I took special care to hydrate my skin after I applied the serum, but I already knew it was going to be a good one.

This serum is transparent & has a gel-like consistency. It's extremely concentrated – I only need one pump for my whole face – but doesn't strip my skin of its moisture. The opposite, in fact. If I apply Framboos then properly hydrate my skin, I always wake up looking softer, brighter, & smoother. Tingly? Yes, a little – but not for more than a few seconds. It sinks in quite fast. It has a bit of a tacky consistency, even after it's absorbed, but it doesn't pill off when applying moisturizer over top, & the tackiness fades as the moisturizer begins to sink in.

This is hands-down one of my favorite Drunk Elephant products. I use one pump every night before bed – after toning, before applying cream. The serum is very concentrated; very dense – yet somehow, it's lightweight enough that it can be easily blended out all over the face. That's why I need only one pump for it to work.

I try to avoid my extra dry areas (under the nose, mostly) & I won't use it on an open cut/abrasion, because you should never do that with any kind of acidic serum – ever! By applying it to my cheeks, forehead, top of the nose, & chin, I'm balancing out the areas of my skin that truly do need that exfoliation & clarification; I'm also preventing my dry areas from getting worse. I won't lie – if you have dry skin & don't properly hydrate after using this, your skin may suffer. However, if you go in knowing this, it is absolutely 100% worth it. Your wallet may cry, but your skin will thank you. This is on my permanent repurchase list.

Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil<<
is is a Drunk Elephant cult-favorite – but surprisingly, it's not at the top of my list. Described as "rehab for your skin," this oil is packed with antioxidants & omegas 3 & 9. When combined into one little bottle, Virgin Marula blocks environmental stressors & free radicals, & reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scarring, & redness. It also improves the skin's elasticity, which makes the skin feel more hydrated. Marula oil is appropriate for all skin types, so even if you're oily: don't worry, it won't hurt you.

Why's the Virgin Marula such a big deal?

Well, "virgin" means that it comes straight from the "pip" (seed) of the marula fruit. It's cold-pressed, which preserves all of the oil's nutrients & gives it a longer shelf life. It is 100% pure – there are no other essential oils or add-ons, which Drunk Elephant says would decrease the effectiveness of the product. Totally pure, "the way it is used by African women," which is where the marula oil is harvested.

There's nothing wrong with this product – it feels extremely luxurious, as the name would suggest, & it feels great when mixed in with a night cream. It’s also nice to use after the Babyfacial – it helps calm the skin, seal in moisture, works overnight to plump & hydrate the skin.

So – is it good? Yes. Would I personally purchase the full size? No. I don’t use enough facial oils to justify purchasing a full-size vial, but I can appreciate the smooth, luxurious feel of the product.

Virgin Marula works nicely on my young adult skin – I think it’d work even better on more mature skin, simply because it contains so many hydrating ingredients & is so highly concentrated. I always enjoy using it when buying a mini size if I want the NighBright duo, but it’s not something that’s a staple in my routine – still, as with most Drunk Elephant products, it’s worth a go. Your skin may fall head over heels for it. Mine isn’t exactly committed, but I wouldn’t kick this facial oil out of bed, either. It’s fun to use when I’m in the mood for a little extra luxury in my routine!

Be sure to wear a sunscreen while you’re using this product. It’s a chemical exfoliant, which increases your sensitivity to the sun, which can lead to a greater risk of skin cancer, if you’re not careful. Don’t panic if you haven’t been doing this – just find a good one & start today! Of course, you should be wearing one no matter what, but if you’re using this product, sunscreen is a must. No two ways about it. 

The mini Framboos & Virgin Marula – these two buddies make up the NightBright Duo (a good investment, & only $28 (with a $45 value)


lt; strong>Lala Retro™ Whipped Cream< img class=”alignnone wp-image-13387″ src=”; alt=”IMG_4515-1″ width=”3096″ height=”2320″><<
ve been hearing a lot about this product for ages, mostly because I was so intrigued by the packaging – it has an air-tight "pump" – or, a dispenser that hands you product without having to stick your fingers in a jar. It's a great bonus for those who try to keep their skin care products as clean as possible.

The little jar I received is not air-tight; you have to get the full size for that. That didn’t mean I wasn’t excited to finally try it, though.

Why “retro?” Drunk Elephant says that it has all the old-timer benefits – “the luxurious texture of your grandmother’s face cream” that won’t suffocate the skin. It’s not greasy; it’s incredibly hydrating yet lightweight. You’ll be shocked by this (sarcasm) but it is also fragrance-free.

The “whipped formulation” is what keeps the cream so lightweight – yet so hydrating. Lala Retro has a blend of six rare African oils that lock in moisture for hours on end; plantain extract plumps up the skin & increases elasticity (like Virgin Marula) & will also brighten the skin. It contains sodium hyaluronate, too – just like B-Hydra! It works in the same way: the cream will sink in quickly & easily, but the hydration doesn’t disappear. In fact, it’s the opposite – sodium hyaluronate releases long-lasting hydration for hours at a time. It also contains fermented green tea, which is rich in antioxidants & has anti-aging/anti-inflammatory properties. To top it off, the omega acids brighten dull. dry skin while providing a punch of moisture.

re's the hard part: loving this so much, but knowing that it's more expensive than a moisturizer I already own & love (Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich). I use that religiously every single night. This one is significantly higher in price – up about $20 or so. That does make me pause. My face needs hydration, so I go through more cream – especially during the winter – faster than someone with normal or oily skin might. So…I love this cream. I love it a lot. I’m going to have to use up the jar & save a little bit if I want to invest in the full size, as well as deliberate & go back & forth with myself about how good this stuff has been for my skin.

In the larger packaging, the cream would have the built-in dispenser. Again, as you can see, that’s not the case with my mini version. Not a problem! I just scoop it out of the jar with my little NIOD Stainless Steel Spoon that I use with any other cream I own that doesn’t have an air-tight dispenser. Side note: this spoon is only $4, is eco-friendly (I just wipe it down with alcohol after using) & will keep your product clean.

Anyway. Lala Retro. I fell hard & fast here. The texture of the cream (as you can see in the photos) is light, whipped, airy…all that good stuff. It looked lightweight. It was lightweight, but it also felt like an extremely rich night cream or hydrating mask; once I scooped out a little of the cream & put it on the back of my hand, I could see the thick, rich consistency it was as though I had buttercream frosting on my hand.

Okay, so that might throw people off – no one really wants buttercream on their face. Not to worry; Lala Retro has your back & mine. When first applying it to my face, I could feel the rich thick texture. I massaged in the cream & within a few minutes, my skin felt softer – but it wasn’t sticky or greasy. I don’t know how to describe this cream other than: it feels rich & luxurious, it has no scent, & though it’s packed with good, natural things, it doesn’t overwhelm the skin. I’ve tried this for the day & night; it works as both, though it might be a little much for oily skin – I can’t say for sure.

– will I buy this? I really, really want to. My skin is loving it, I feel hydrated, plump, & firm. But.


But. The price tag. I am very happy with my Glossier PMR & I don't believe this cream is a necessity for me personally, though it feels incredible & continues to tempt me (I'll probably end up buying it at some point, let's be honest). That doesn't mean I don't like it – if this is in your budget, go for it. Use nothing but it. Love it. I sure do.

T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial™ Mini (VERY Limited Edition)<<
ll – Drunk Elephant wasn't lying when they called this "VERY Limited Edition" – because it's sold out on both Sephora's site & Drunk Elephant's site. I'm not surprised. Babyfacial is one of the most hyped products online, but it's expensive – not everyone can get it. People were screaming in the streets when Drunk Elephant dropped a $25 mini of the Babyfacial, which contained a .5 fluid oz. Babyfacial & a "little" size Virgin Marula. Well, no, they weren't screaming. At least – not out loud.




he mini Babyfacial is gone, but you can get either the full-size, get a sample from your local Sephora, or buy The Littles kit if you're curious about more than 2 or 3 of the products I've talked about. No matter what, Babyfacial is good & it’s worth talking about – so let me talk about it for the 100th time.

What is it? It’s “a pro-quality AHA/BHA ‘facial’ that resurfaces to reveal greater clarity, improved skin texture and tone and a more youthful radiance,” according to Drunk Elephant. It was the first “chemical” (chemical doesn’t necessarily mean artificial; it definitely doesn’t mean that in this case) exfoliant I’d ever tried, & it set the bar very high for me. I got a little sample from Sephora, & after seeing how soft & smooth my skin was…overnight, no less, I scrounged together my money & a small balance on a leftover Sephora gift card. I bought it in February 2017, & it is still yet to be finished. Needless to say: it’s worth it.

I was drawn into this product because of the packaging, to be honest. It’s pretty! The delicate #millennialpink top contrasts with the body of the packaging, which is a funny little white, tubby, & air-tight container.

This “facial” or “masque” is intended to be used twice a week at most – that’s because it has a high concentration of AHA (25%!!!) & BHA (2%). This makes your skin more sun-sensitive, just like C-Firma & Framboos, so be sure you’re constantly wearing sunscreen during the day.

The full size Babyfacial (1.69 fluid oz.) compared to the mini Babyfacial (.5 fluid oz.)



ngredients? Babyfacial contains the same blend that the Framboos serum does: the signature AHA + BHA blend, which contains glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric and salicylic acids. The texture of Babyfacial is a bit goopy, sticky, & a tan color – all because of the chick pea flour, which was used in place of clay. Chick pea flour is brightening, exfoliating, & balancing, but it's less drying than clay. Niacinamide tightens pores & reduces redness while matcha tea, apple fruit and milk thistle soothe the skin. The result? Glowing, smooth, soft skin. Soft as…a baby's.

I like what Drunk Elephant put on their page about Babyfacial: "Glycolic acids get a bad rap for being sensitizing, but we believe that the pH level and accompanying ingredients (think fragrant oils or high amounts of alcohol) can often be the real problem. We formulated Babyfacial™ at the ideal pH level of 3.5 – 3.6 with a blend of acids that work together synergistically to ensure higher efficacy without the redness and sensitization."

It's true: I was very nervous about using exfoliants/acids before trying Babyfacial. The only reason I did was that I had another friend – also with sensitive skin – who'd tried it before me. Reassured, I got a sample, & smeared the tacky stuff all over my face. Tingly? Yes. Absolutely. If you don't like a tingly/burning sensation, I would hold off on getting this. It'll take about a minute for your skin to adjust to the sensation. It didn't hurt my skin at all – I had no rash, extra sensitivity, or any other ailment after washing it off for the first time, & it continues to be this way. I don't believe it'll hurt your skin – just be careful, as you should be with all acids/exfoliants. & wear sunscreen! Also: start with a short time period & build up to the suggested 20 minutes; this is especially helpful/important if you’re sensitive, like me.

Out of all the Drunk Elephant products, this is the one I think has the most bang for its buck. Like I said, I bought this in February 2017 – it’s November now, & I’m not close to running out. I only use it once a week (because I don’t want to overwhelm my skin) but even if I used it twice, I don’t believe it would run out extra fast. Even better: it comes with a teeny vial of the Virgin Marula – a great opportunity to invest in one product & test out another that may be beneficial.

Lippe Balm <<
ll, here we go: a good old lip balm. This one is $18; less than Dior, more than Baby Lips/Balm Dotcom. This comes in funny, tubby packaging, similar to the Babyfacial. The product claims to " help nourish super-delicate lips for a noticeably plump, youthful-looking pout." It also is supposed to enhance your lip line; it's not a plumping balm (by that I mean that it doesn't burn) but by supposedly making the outer lines of your lips more noticeable, your mouth looks larger.

m not particularly interested in getting bigger lips, but I was curious to give it a go & see what it truly did. I knew that no matter what, it wouldn't be extreme, & it most certainly wouldn't be permanent.

The main hydrating bases of the Lippe Balm are avocado, mongongo, cranberry and marula oils – all incredibly hydrating, even for sensitive lips. Peptides and sea fern algae work as moisture locks, continuing to plump & hydrate the lips. Finally, antioxidant-rich green tea leaf and Vitamin C brighten & exfoliate the lips, while neutralizing free-radicals. Sounds fancy – so what does it feel like?

To me, it feels very similar to a Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It's just a bit "fatter" – the stick of balm twists up, & while it's small, the circumference of the stick of balm itself is very wide. I'd say that while it looks small, you're getting a good amount of product.

for effectiveness, I can't say that the Lippe Balm does absolutely everything it claims to do. It feels like a nice, hydrating lip balm, & it most definitely helps define the lip line (after a few days of use) – but I can't say in good faith that it'll plump your lips. My lips feel smooth with the balm on, & it fades without parching my lips. It’s not bad, but it’s not the first Drunk Elephant product I’d recommend to a friend (or stranger). Yes – it will make your lips look more defined, thanks to the enhancement of the outer lip line. Because of that, I think it provides an illusion; almost a lip liner effect without the lip liner. It’s an interesting product for sure – just make sure you know what it does before investing. Still, I say this for all skin care!

&…that’s all, folks! If you haven’t given Drunk Elephant a try, maybe this will give you some motivation to do so. If you have, I’d love to hear about your favorite products – I personally pick the Framboos serum & the Babyfacial; they’re the most unique. Coming in at a close second is the Juju Bar & Umbra Sheer – both are products I hadn’t tried previously, & both are excellent. I’m definitely considering purchasing full size versions of both of those products at some point, when my littles run out.

ke I mentioned when opening, I wouldn't ever say anything from Drunk Elephant is bad. Some products are definitely better than others, but that’s the case with every brand. For Drunk Elephant in particular, I’d say that if I had to toss one product, it’d be the Lippe Balm – we all know that you can get a good balm for cheaper. Still, though: that doesn’t negate all of the positive qualities of Drunk Elephant’s brand or products. They’re good for all skin types, they really do work (truly!) & while your wallet might cry, maybe I’ve convinced you that some of these products are worth the splurge.

At the end of the day, expensive skin care (or makeup) isn’t always the best. Drunk Elephant is another story. I would definitely say their products hold their own – as they should. I’m of the firm belief that if you have the money to invest in a good product, it had better deliver – & Drunk Elephant delivers.

ew! That's all, folks! Thanks for sticking with me, if you're reading this at the bottom. I hope my opinions/experience with Drunk Elephant products gave you some inspiration to treat yourself & your own – I was quite cautious of Drunk Elephant from the beginning because of how powerful they claimed their products were.

They definitely weren't wrong on that. The products are powerful, but I’ve come to realize that “powerful” & “sensitive” have to be mutually exclusive. If you do your research & try out some things, your skin might very well end up better than before – one of those life-changing skin care products. You know the feeling!

So – what are my old favorites/what would I recommend first off the top of my head?

  1. Babyfacial. This is an amazing product for any skin type. You will not regret the purchase, & it’ll last you for ages
  2. Framboos. I’ve tried to find a clarifying serum that didn’t dry me out; Framboos came along & saved my life. My skin’s been glowier & healthier since I started using it.

These are both 10/10 on my list. Again – these are products I’d recommend to any person with any skin type. They’re unique; they work for all skin types, they work quickly, & they work effectively.

New favorites?

  1. Juju Bar. I really like the exfoliation the Juju Bar has been giving me. I’ve been using it as a night cleanser for quite some time now; I believe my skin has gotten clearer because of it.
  2. Lala Retro. This cream has a unique texture & sensation. I find it to be similar to some products, but the lightweight effect it manages to pull of for both oily & dry skin is what really makes it unique. This is something I’d feel comfortable recommending to anyone. It’s cute, it’s fun, & it feels incredibly expensive. What’s better?

What else to say? Hashtag Drunk In Love? Not sure. Is that a good way to close this? Oh! 20% off Drunk Elephant here. What an incredible outro.

Seriously, though: thank you, Drunk Elephant! It was unbelievably exciting to get such a lovely care package from a brand I already love.

Tell me what your top Drunk Elephant picks are, if you’ve tried any of their products. If you haven’t, I’d love to know what you’d think about picking up first!


Sof <3<<

#MiniReview: Valjean Labs Facial Serums

I know my skin type very well – that’s because my skin yells at me if it doesn’t like something. This is also known as having sensitive skin.

Sensitive/dry is my skin type, so I’m always on the lookout for hydrating serums/moisturizers/cleansers – just products in general. I can always use an extra layer of hydration…provided it’s a good kind of hydration.

However: I also like brightening & clarifying products; I crave a smooth-skinned, highlighted glow without having to put any highlight on. Sometimes, this gets me into trouble. Not all brightening products are sensitive skin-friendly – same goes for clarifying products. That’s why I love Glossier Super Pure Serum so much (check out the #MiniReview of that here). It’s hydrating yet clarifying, reduces inflammation & redness but sinks into the skin without leaving me feeling as though I’m weighed down with too much hydration: the wrong kind.

Hyaluronic acid is a staple for most people with solid skin care routines, no matter your skin type; that’s because it’s lightweight but locks in moisture & protects the skin’s barrier throughout the day. It works for dry skin (layered with something else, of course) just as well as it does for oily, combo, or normal skin. Basically, hyaluronic acid is the girl who walks into the party that everyone knows; the one no one has anything bad to say about.

I love hyaluronic acid…when it’s the right kind. Let me expand: Glossier’s Super Bounce Serum was probably the first hyaluronic acid product I’d ever tried; I really liked it, but since I use another hydrating serum at night (& use Super Pure Serum in the morning) I couldn’t really juggle yet another Super, especially when I loved Super Pure so much – that’s because Glossier recommends you only use one Super at a time (for example: use Super Pure in the morning, Super Glow at night, etc.).

So – I set out on a hunt for a good hyaluronic acid serum that wouldn’t break my bank account. It’s not a secret that hyaluronic acid is affordable; that’s why I first reached for the cheapest option out there: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum. It’s less than $7, & claims to plumpen, protect, & hydrate the skin – not just on the surface, but a deep hydration that lasts throughout the day. Needless to say, I was excited by the positive reviews I’d seen & heard, & encouraged by the product description. I bought it, started using it…& I was (sadly) underwhelmed.

Here’s my issue with The Ordinary’s serums: most of them are very tacky. Some of them aren’t as bad as others; some work so well that I don’t mind the tackiness. This one, however, was tacky – & it just wasn’t a good fit for my skin, for whatever reason. No matter whether I applied it in the morning or evening, it would always pill once I applied a moisturizer over top (& yes, I waited a good amount of time to ensure everything sank in properly). I got that tacky feeling with no benefits…so really, what was the point of continuing to use a product that didn’t work well on my skin? I sadly set it aside, & started looking for richer hydrating serums – but not so rich that they’d weigh heavy on my skin.

There are countless options to choose from – but most are over $30, if we’re talking good quality stuff. I go through hyaluronic acid serums quickly, thanks to my dry skin – so I knew that I would be spending a lot of money if I bought & continued to refill a $30+ hydrating serum. Maybe my skin would love it, but I know that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the refills.

So – I turned to the beauty community for help (on Instagram). I got various suggestions, but one brand in particular stood out to me: the Valjean Labs Facial Serums.

The two I ended up choosing: HYDRATE & GLOW 

You can find these Valjean serums on Urban Outfitters’ website, & you can find them hiding in various corners of the skin care section at TJ Maxx. I’ve had friends pick them up there for only $5; they’re $15 on Urban Outfitters’ site, so there’s a clear difference…but still – $15 for a serum isn’t bad at all, especially when you consider the fact that the Valjean serums are 2 fluid oz. each, as opposed to the Ordinary’s hyaluronic acid serum, which is about 1 fluid oz. When comparing price per ounce, they end up being about the same – which is good! More product, longer-lasting…same price.

There are three of these facial serums: HYDRATE, GLOW, & RESTORE.  I ended up buying HYDRATE (the one I was most interested in) & GLOW, as well. Let’s start with HYDRATE, since it’s the one I’m most excited/impressed by.

HYDRATE Facial Serum (Hyaluronic Acid + B5)


HYDRATE is a serum that, just like The Ordinary’s version, contains Hyaluronic Acid & B5. Same key ingredients, but a world’s difference when comparing consistencies – in the best way possible.

HYDRATE has a very watery texture; it’s extremely lightweight. I was a bit skeptical when first applying it because of the watery texture; it made me wonder just how hydrating this diluted serum would be. Turns out: very hydrating. Very hydrating indeed!

I use HYDRATE morning & night – the dropper is very long & is tapered, which makes it easy to drop directly onto my face. You can put some in your palms & gently press the product into your skin, of course, but I personally prefer the first method for this particular serum. Since it’s so lightweight, rubbing it between the palms would get rid of some of the product…at least, that’s how I see it.

As you can see, this serum has a watery consistency – don’t worry, though; it’ll give you all the hydration you need (& then some)
In the vial, the serum is an aqua baby blue color; it’s almost completely transluscent when inside the dropper

It’s extremely cooling; I’d compare the initial sensation to the sensation I get when applying Drunk Elephant’s B-Hydra. It’s like a splash of refreshing water all over the face; it’s a great wake-me-up kind of product because of this.

The serum sinks right in. I give it about two minutes before moving on – that’s plenty enough time. There is no scent (not that I can detect, at least), no burning/tingling, & no tackiness…God bless! There is absolutely zero tackiness. This was a key thing that I was watching for; when I saw (& felt) that the serum sinks in without leaving any sticky sensation at all, I knew that I’d be buying it over & over & over again. I also love how well it works on my extra dry areas, which are mostly around & under my nose. This serum sinks in, provides a good amount of hydration, but doesn’t burn my skin, like The Ordinary’s hyaluronic serum did.

Valjean says their serums can be used twice a day; I most certainly use HYDRATE twice a day. It works well under makeup; it works well under an overnight sleeping mask, too. It’s perfect at any time of the day. It has no flaws – at least, not to me. If you’ve been following my socials these past few weeks, you’ve seeen me rave about this serum quite a bit. That’s because I get incredibly excited when I see a product giving me the instant results – the exact ones that I was looking for. HYDRATE met all my criteria for a hyaluronic acid serum: affordable, hydrating, lightweight, cooling, & plumping. It’s something I’ll continue reaching for twice a day until I run out. When I do, I’ll get another – no two ways about it!

GLOW deciding to peek in on the HYDRATE photoshoot 

GLOW Facial Serum (Vitamin C + Magnesium)

Onwards & forwards: meet GLOW, a lightweight Vitamin C & magnesium serum. Like all Vitamin C serums, this one brightens, tightens, & makes the skin…glow. The consistency is a bit heavier than that of HYDRATE – it’s also opaque; this milky grey color that’s thick enough to drop onto your palms, if you wish. Personally, I still use the direct method: dropper to face, because the droppers on these serums are truly incredible – they work well.

A thicker, more gel-like consistency

I’ve used GLOW much less than I have HYDRATE; I have yet to decide whether or not I’ll repurchase GLOW. It does seem to tighten & brighten the skin without parching it; I think the water-gel texture helps out with that potential problem. It has a slight smell – hard to describe, but it’s a bit…”chemical-y.” It’s not bad at all. I’d say it fades within a few seconds of applying it – definitely not something that would bother you all day, but also something worth noting if you really can’t stand any scents in your skin care products.

I don’t think this one retexturizes as well as some other exfoliating/brightening serums that I have, but it’s a very lightweight serum that wears well under other product, just like its sister, HYDRATE. I’ve come to find that heavier Vitamin C serums really weigh my skin down, especially during the day (for lack of a better term). This is one perfect for daytime use. I can apply it without worrying about blemishes, clogged pores, or overloaded skin. I’m not sure how intense the brightening effects are, but this one might just take a little more time. We will see!


To sum it up: all’s well that ends well. I found an incredible – & cheap – hydrating serum; a new holy grail! I may have uncovered gold with the GLOW serum, too. I’ll give that one a bit more time. Remember: sometimes, results take more than a day or two to show.

New favorites – HYDRATE (& possibly GLOW) alongside old – Glossier Super Pure

Have any of you tried a Valjean serum? Let me know if you have – & which one’s your favorite! If you haven’t, I strongly recommend running to your local TJ Maxx to see if you can cop one for $5; if not, online shopping is waiting for you.


Sof ❤