It’s Sunscreen Season

“It’s summer! Make sure to put on sunscreen this year!”

Well – even when it’s not summer, you should be putting on sunscreen every single day. I know…you’ve probably heard that from more than one blogger/website/brand/etc., but at the end of the day, it’s true. According to skincancer.org, “about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and about 86 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.” That means that by protecting your skin as best you can, you’re drastically reducing your risk of skin cancer.

Basically, we all should be wearing sunscreen – & we should all be wearing it every single day, even in the winter, even when it’s cloudy. However, it’s undeniable that more time is spent in the sun during the summer months: beach, pool, amusement parks…even having a picnic. It’s healthy to get sun & fresh air, but you’d better stay protected while you’re doing that.

If you’re a skincare junkie (like me) & use chemical exfoliants (here’s some info about them) you absolutely, positively should be wearing sunscreen every single day. If you’re on medications that increase your skin’s sensitivity to sun, you absolutely, positively should be wearing sunscreen every single day. Guess what: I’m lucky enough to fall into both of these categories – so trust that sunscreen is an absolute must in my everyday skin care routine, just like washing my face.

There are a lot of products out there at this point, & there’s a lot of information. It can get confusing – which is best for you? What are you looking for, & why? I know which types of sunscreens/sunblocks I prefer, but I don’t know which ones you prefer – so, without further ado, here’s your Summer 2018 guide to sunscreen. Remember – at the end of the day, as long as you’re putting on that sunblock, you’re doing the right thing…no matter what brand, what price, or where you got it. Just make sure it’s above 15 SPF, for God’s sake…& make sure it’s not expired, for God’s sake. Alright, let’s do this!

Let’s start with the simple question: What is sunscreen?

Sunscreen is a type of product that absorbs/reflects some of the sun’s UV rays. Short-term, sunscreen helps protect against sunburn. Long-term, sunscreen can slow or prevent development of wrinkles/moles, as well as prevent skin cancers like melanoma. There are two “categories” of sunscreen: physical sunscreen & chemical sunscreen. I’ll be walking you through the differences between chemical & physical, give some product recomedations & mini reviews…& then it’s up to you!

Side note: Although you should always be using a sunscreen/sunblock that is at least SPF 30, SPF 30 vs. SPF 50 is not necessarily more powerful/more effective. You will still need to apply just as regularly; the higher SPF number is more for marketing & less for more powerful sun protection. Sometimes, SPF 50 sunscreens can cause irritations for sensitive skin types – that’s really the only difference. As long as you’re using SPF 30+ (& reapplying, too), you’re doing the right thing. 

Read on…then, go forth & protect your skin from the sun better than ever before.

Physical Sunscreens 

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What is physical sunscreen? 

Physical sunscreen deflects sun rays by sitting on top of the skin. Its active ingredients are zinc oxide/titanium oxide – these two “types” of ingredient are what give many physical sunscreens a white cast/sticky or tacky consistency/that “sunscreen smell.”

Pros of physical sunscreen:

  • No need to wait for it to start working – as soon as you apply a physical sunscreen, you’re safe to go out in the sun.
  • Longer shelf life
  • Lasts longer in direct UV light than a chemical sunscreen would last

Cons of physical sunscreen:

  • Easily rubs off with water/sweat – this means that you may need to apply more frequently when outdoors
  • The zinc oxide/titanium oxide often leave a white cast on the skin, which is especially troublesome for those with medium to deep/dark skin tones
  • UV light can penetrate through sunscreen molecules, so it can be less protective if not applied generously, accurately, & frequently
  • May be too thick/chalky for use under everyday makeup

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Dr Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50. 

After developing interest in skin care – & after starting medication that made my skin even more sensitive to sun – I knew that I had to get serious about protecting my skin. This was the first “high-end” sunscreen I bought – aka, not from the drugstore.

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This is a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, but (on my skin tone, at least), there is no detectable white cast or tacky/sticky sensation. It has a slight tint to it; it’s not white. I’d describe it as a sandy/shell color, & while I don’t have even medium skin tone, from what I can see on the reviews, this slight change of color in the product helps eliminate any risk of white cast on most skin tones. It doesn’t feel greasy, either, which is great – I’d guess that that’s because of its “runny” consistency. It sinks in very quickly, & doesn’t leave a film on top of the skin.

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When I’m feeling like using a physical sunscreen, I reach for this one. Whether I’m using it on a bare face or underneath makeup, it does a great job of protecting me from getting burned – without making me feel oily or forcing me to tolerate the dreaded  “sunscreen smell.” all day long. In fact, it has a pleasant scent: kind of citrus-y, which I really enjoy. It’s very summery.

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Dr. Jart+ is a reputable brand, & most of their products are at the very least worth a go. I’m interested in what seems to be a transluscent version of their original Every Sun Day: the Every Sun Day UV Sun Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 30With a liquid gel formula, this sunblock “provides powerful sun protection and a cationic shield that blocks fine dust to protect the skin…it is designed to have the same electrical charge as fine dust in order to form a protective skin barrier. Cypress water and seaweed extract purify the skin while soothing and moisturizing.” It’s a transparent, lightweight formula, which is exactly the kind of sunblock I gravitate towards. It’s currently sold out, but maybe this will be the sunscreen I test out this summer when it’s back in stock. We’ll see!

Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum MineralSunscreen SPF 30. 

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A few weeks after realizing that it was, in fact, possible to find a physical sunscreen that didn’t feel or look gross on my skin, the brand Farmacy (whose Honey Potion face mask I am in love with) sent me their cruelty-free, paraben-free sunscreen, formulated with naturally derived ingredients, & stamped with the “Clean At Sephora” label (there’s a complete description of what this means on Sephora’s site – it’s a good way for vegans/those who are 100% CF to immediately find products that they don’t have to scan the ingredients list before clicking “purchase”).

Unfortunately, I can’t really use this on my face without getting texture/congested pores on the inner portions of my face, though I don’t have that problem with it creating texture on the outer portions/forehead area of my face. I do still use it on my neck & shoulders – they’re more sensitive than the rest of my body, & it’s been working nicely for that. I don’t think I’d purchase it myself, simply because I’m almost certain it was the cause of more texture around the time I was using it, but the reviews on Sephora’s site as well as Farmacy’s own site are overwhelmingly positive. I’ll blame the reaction I had on my sensitive skin.

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This sunscreen is of a slightly thicker consistency than that of the Dr. Jart+ sunscreen, but it has the same “off-white” tint to it. It has more of a sunscreen-y smell, but the scent fades within a few minutes of application. Despite creating texture, it did a great job of protecting my skin from the sun – a good example of a sunscreen with SPF 30 doing just as good a job with blocking the sun as a sunscreen with SPF 50 would. You can use it daily under makeup, or just by itself over your moisturizer. Farmacy suggests applying it 15 minutes before going out into the sun, & to reapply every 2 hours – which is a common suggestion for most, if not all, sunscreens.

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Side note: Drunk Elephant sent me a very generous package the day after I wrote this, containing their Umbra™ Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30. I didn’t have the chance to take photographs of the product because of this, but here’s a mini review: I like this a little more than the Farmacy sunscreen, because it has some luminosity to it – it kind of reminds me of M.A.C.’s strobe cream (toned down a little) with SPF added, of course. It works well under makeup – I think it works as a primer – though I have experienced a little more congestion in my pores than I usually do when using it. Not sure yet whether it’s the DE Umbra or something else, but we shall see. This comes in two versions: the Sheer, which may leave a white cast on deeper skin tones. That’s why DE also has Umbra Tinte™ Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, which is the same sunscreen as the Umbra Sheer – just with a tint to it, so that it doesn’t leave a white cast/is more suitable for deeper skin tones. Both of these products are also cruelty-free. If you know me, you know I adore Drunk Elephant as a brand, & I always encourage people to give any of their products a go. Some are more effective for me than others, but they’re an excellent brand & definitely worth a try for any skin type or skin tone. 

Chemical Sunscreens

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What is chemical sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreen absorbs sun rays instead of deflecting them. It contains combos of chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

Pros of chemical sunscreen:

  • Thinner, lighter consistency – this makes it easier for wearing under everyday makeup. Most chemical sunscreens are almost if not completely clear, so they can be reapplied over makeup, too
  • Less is needed to adequately protect the skin, because it doesn’t operate in the same way that physical sunscreen does – UV light can’t penetrate through it
  • Leaves no white cast on any skin tone, thanks to its transluscency

Cons of chemical sunscreen:

  • Shorter shelf life
  • Needs about 20 minutes before it starts properly protecting your skin from the sun
  • Must be reapplied more frequently, because when in direct UV light, the protection chemical sunscreen offers is used up more quickly

Personally, discovering chemical sunscreen was a life-saver for me. My whole life, I assumed that physical sunscreen was the only type of sunblock (& for a while, it was), & because of that, I hated sunscreen – it smelled gross to me, it felt greasy & sticky, & it broke me out. Granted, I was using drugstore sunscreen up until last year, but still – it was a big reason behind why I wasn’t as diligent with protecting my skin from the sun as I am today: my skin felt dirty & sweaty the minute I applied sunscreen – & no one likes their skin to feel that way, so of course I slacked

You may have noticed by now that I have a lot of complaints about physical sunscreens; you might’ve also have come to the conclusion that I prefer chemical sunscreens…in which case you’d be correct! I do prefer chemical sunscreens. Yes – I need to wait about 15-20 minutes before going out in the sun to ensure that I’m truly protected; yes, I need to make sure that my dry skin won’t start screaming in protest (sometimes, chemical sunscreens can be more drying than physical sunscreens) before I find my next holy grail chemical sunblock, but in the end…chemical sunscreen was the catalyst to me finally properly protecting my skin from the sun. Every. Single. Day.

Glossier Invisible Shield

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Ah, yes. The first chemical sunscreen I ever tried, which introduced me to a whole new world of possibilities. Glossier marketed Invisible Shield as leaving no white cast (not even on deep/dark skin tones), having no sticky/tacky consistency, & easy to apply with a moisturizer for a bare-faced day, easily worn underneath makeup, & even easy to reapply over makeup – all thanks to its transluscency. I’d never heard of a gel-consistency sunscreen, but was eager to try it…& I wasn’t disappointed. Invisible Shield sinks in just as quickly as a water-gel serum would. It doesn’t mess with the finish of my makeup – & if I’m wearing no makeup, it doesn’t look odd over my moisturizer. In fact, I mix 2-3 pumps of Invisible Shield with my daily moisturizer, Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre – & have found that to be my dream combo for daily wear. It’s a lightweight yet hydrating combo, I have yet to get a sunburn once I’ve started using this, & my skin stays protected no matter what.

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A brief yet geniune review! The only complaint I initially had about Invisible Shield was the price tag. It was above $30, not more than $35 – but still too much for the amount of product you get. Glossier’s fixed that: Invisible shield is now $25, so I can recommend this without feeling conflicted, thanks to the previous price.

Supergoop! Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50

Another brand that I kept seeing last summer was Supergoop – a brand that, according to their product page on Sephora’s website, “is the first and only prestige beauty brand dedicated to UV protection.” This means that every single Supergoop product contains SPF, whether it’s good old sunscreen, lip balm, setting powder…even hand cream.

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I haven’t had the chance to try Supergoop’s most well-known product, which is their Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40(similar in packaging & formula to Glossier’s Invisible Shield), but it’s most certainly on my Sephora Loves List. I have, however, gotten the chance to pick up their Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50 – recommended by @namvo on Instagram, an amazing makeup artist obsessed with healthy, dewy, glowing skin. I’m a fellow obsessee of that type of makeup, so I knew that I’d like the product when I saw her recommend it on her Instagram story, but did a little research nonetheless. Seeing that it was an oil stick, I figured that it’d work well on my dry/sensitive skin.

Sure enough – in the product description, it was listed that the Glow Stick was best for normal, dry, combination, &/or sensitive skin types – no mention of oily skin types. This was no surprise; most products containing oil aren’t recommended for oily skin, especially not ones that you’ll be wearing out & about in the summer heat. Supergoop said the Glow Stick was a solution for dullness, uneven texture, & dryness, going on to say that the “dry oil stick brightens and hydrates for a healthy-looking glow without leaving an oily residue.” It can be worn underneath makeup, it can be worn as makeup (highlighter on your cheekbones, collarbones, etc.), “or applied anywhere you want to glow!” It’s even safe to apply over tattoos – the oil won’t burn your skin (which was my first fear)…in fact, it helps preserve the pigment of your inked skin. “Amazonian oils protect the skin, and a blend of fatty acids delivers antioxidants and restores balance and moisture, creating a more even, smoother, healthier-looking complexion.”

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Glow Stick has a barely detectable scent to it – & I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s not overpowering or unpleasant, & it fades within a few moments. It’s most certainly not for someone looking to eradicate oil from their skin; this will give you some shine. I personally really liked it – it worked like a glowing primer for me, & I added a little extra on the high points of my face, as well as on my collarbones. I didn’t need much extra highlight when I started on makeup, all thanks to the Glow Stick. I was worried that the oils would break me out, but no worries – my skin reacted really well to this product, & I’d say that I’ll be re-purchasing immediately…except that it’s an extremely dense product & will, without a doubt, last me for ages. If you have dry/normal/sensitive skin (I can’t speak for combo skin, as everyone’s is different) this is a really neat way to combine skincare, sunscreen, & makeup. I’m a big fan!

Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50

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After seeing a travel-size version of this in my Sephora’s checkout line, I decided to give it a go. I’d never tried a spray-on sunscreen, & figured that since I liked their Glow Stick, I might really like Supergoop’s SPF mist, too.

In the product description for the Defense Refresh Setting Mist, Supergoop says that the spray is intended for normal, oily, combo, or dry skin – no mention of sensitive skin, which I should’ve probably checked before using it, but no worries. My skin didn’t react badly to this, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you have dry skin. Supergoop describes the prodcut as an “innovative makeup setting spray that helps control oil and shine while refreshing your UV defense with an uplifting scent of rosemary and mint” & says that it’s a solution for oiliness.

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As soon as I sprayed it on my face, I felt that mattifying sensation start to set in as the mist dried. My skin didn’t flake off my face, but I did remove my makeup & chose to use my trusted Invisible Shield that day. I definitely need a hydrating setting mist (my favorite is the NYX Dewy Setting Spray) to set any makeup, & this one was not for my skin type – however, if you’re somone who prefers a matte finish, or has oily skin, this might be a great way for you to simultaneously set your makeup & mattify your face this summer. It smells really pleasant – very herbal, as the ingredients of rosemary & mint might suggest, & it felt cooling, too. If it was more of a dewy finish, I’d definitely love it & purchase a full-size, but this will probably end up going in a little goodie bag for a friend or sibling. I’ll be on the lookout for a more dewy SPF setting spray; let me know if you have a favorite!

Makeup with SPF

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Okay – finally, what about makeup? It’s no secret that there are countless BB/CC cream type products on the market that contain SPF. The rise of K-Beauty in the USA was a big reason behind this, & so the two products I have & enjoy using most are K-Beauty. Both of these products are pretty light coverage, & that’s because almost all foundations break out my skin/clog my pores/make my skin feel dirty. I stick to little-to-no face makeup if possible, & either spot conceal with Tarte’s Shape Tape Concealer combined with Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint (which is very sheer) over top a sunscreen, or I use one of these two products, which are a combination of sun protection & coverage/tint. If you’re not a fan of either of these brands/these products in particular, just head on over to Sephora’s site & check for face makeup products that contain SPF. You’ll have a goldmine of products with a very nice price range. For now, though, here are my two favorite face makeup products that contain SPF:

Dr Jart+ Cicapair™️ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30

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This product is part of the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Collection, “inspired by the true legend of Asian Tigers, rolling in Centella Asiatica to heal their battle wounds. Also known as tiger grass, its medicinal use has been recognized for centuries. For generations, this active ingredient has also been recognized as a recovery system to help support wounded skin exhibiting inflammation, redness, or blemishes.” There’s a cream (with no pigment) that serves as a moisturizer, along with sheet masks, a serum, & now, “Camo Drops,” described as “an ultra-lightweight revitalizing serum and color corrector that neutralizes redness and turns on skin’s glow.” I’ve tried the cream (don’t hate it but don’t love it, either) along with the Color Correcting Treatment, but haven’t given any of the other products a go, though Dr. Jart+ sheet masks are always a winner. Enough of that – my point is that this line is great if you struggle with redness/hyper-pigmentation.

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The price tag of the Color Correcting Treatment seems high, but trust me when I say: a little goes a very long way. It has a pleasant smell – kind of like mown grass – & I take about a quarter-size dot that I place on my MakeupDrop (check them out!), then gently dot small amounts of the product in the center of my face, on my chin, & in the center of my forehead. I then use my Real Techniques face brush to buff out the product. As you can see from the photos, the green-beige color of the product in the jar “includes a color-changing capsule within the formula to cover blemishes and restore the look of the skin’s strength, health, and vitality.” Basically, it works the same way that a CC cream would – white when you squeeze it from the tube, but then adjusts to the pigment of your skin. If texture/acne isn’t a huge concern for you, you can most definitely just use this as your face makeup – it takes care of redness without a problem. The SPF keeps you protected, & while the product is naturally dewy, it can easily be fixed (for those who want a more matte complexion) with a setting powder/setting spray. Because of the thickness of this product, it’s not one I reach for often, but I know that it’s an easy, reliable product that’ll get rid of redness, protect me from the sun, & maintain my hydration all at once.

CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

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You’ve probably heard/seen at least a few things about CLĒ Cosmetics on my social media or on here – that’s because they’re such a great brand. They sell both skincare & makeup, & I have favorites from each category – but right now, I’ll be talking about one of my all-time favorite face makeup products: the CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion. Like a cushion foundation – except with SPF – this product “gives sheer to medium coverage with a healthy and luminous shine that feels feather light on your skin.” The initial $49 price tag might seem formidable, but don’t worry; a “refill cushion” (aka: another sponge soaked with the product) is included with the original cushion inside its refillable compact. My first cushion lasted a bit less than a year; I’m about to switch mine out for a new one – & the refills cost significantly less than the original.

I wear the lightest shade, “Light.” This has no sunscreen smell, no stickiness; it melts right into the skin & provides a luminous glow while managing to make you feel as though you’re wearing absolutely no face makeup whatsoever – quite the achievement. The SPF 50+ does its job well – & even on my sensitive skin (which is more prone to irritation from suncreens with higher SPF) doesn’t react badly to the added protection. This gives the exact amount of coverage & sun protection that I like when I feel like wearing “actual” face makeup. I’ll keep refilling this until I can’t find it anywhere any longer!

If you’re looking for a little more coverage than the Essence Air Cushion, CLĒ also has a CCC Cream, which works sort of like the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Color Correcting treatment, except it has SPF 45+ & has a shade range: Light to Deep. No sunscreen smell! Yay! Still, I prefer the lighter finish of the Essence Air Cushion – but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend the CCC Cream to anyone looking for something even a little more full coverage. Oh – both are buildable, too, so you can apply as little or as much as you like, as long as you blend it out. It’ll look even, don’t worry – & you won’t have to dig in your bag for the sunscreen you didn’t even need.

Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30

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What about your lips? What about your eyelids? The little areas that are too sensitive for a “regular” sunscreen – chemical or physical. Fresh has a nice solution with their Sugar Sport Treatment – packaged like a lip balm, it’s “a durable, water-resistant treatment ideal for on-the-go use that moisturizes and provides UV protection to the lips, face, and eye area during year-round outdoor activities.” I picked this up last year – I won’t lie, mostly because the packaging caught my eye – & I’m very glad I did. This stuff lasts forever, thanks to the balm-stick formula, it can be applied as “a highlight,” kind of like the Supergoop Glow Stick – except you can do even more with it! Apply it on the eyelids, on the browbone, on the lips, on the cupid’s bow…you get it. It won’t break you out – I promise – & the packaging is perfect for taking on a day-long outing.

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The bright orange packaging is eye-catching, & the stick is wide enough to find without a lot of digging (lip balm-type products are easy to lose, let’s face it) – this also makes it easy to gently glide over your lips, yes…but also wider areas of your face, like the browbone, eyelids, etc. It has the classic Fresh scent – citrusy & sweet, which I adore – & it contains moisture-preserving sugar (which is a natural humectant) along with a blend of oils, like avocado oil & black current seed oil, both of which are extremely nourishing, hydrating, & softening. It’s a product that falls right into the 30 SPF-50 SPF bracket, so you won’t have to worry about getting too little protection, it lasts forever thanks to the dense consistency, it’s easy to carry around, & it’s waterproof! You can cry over your summer fling; you can jump in a pool; you can survive a rainshower that’s followed by intense sun, & you’ll still be protected. The priority is to keep your skin out of harm’s way – aka, the sun’s UV rays. It’s still possible to have fun in the sun while protecting your skin!

That’s all I have for you, folks – what are some of your favorite sunscreens? I’d love to hear about them…I’m always hunting for more, more, & more.

Love,

Sofia

P.S. You’ll hear from me soon – sorry for the hiatus!

“Where Do I Start???” – How To Build A Skincare Routine

Oftentimes, I get wrapped up in talking about new beauty or skincare products – wrapped up enough that I’ll forget: some people are still figuring out how to build a basic skincare routine.

No shame in starting from scratch, & no such thing as a dumb question…so, after a few requests, here’s a very simple routine/top shelfie that you can use for guidance. Let’s do it!

First, let me just make it clear: my skin type is dry/sensitive. Products that work really well for my skin type may not work as well for someone with oily or combo skin. It’s hard to accurately determine your skin type online – always best to go to a dermatologist – but if you can’t make it to one, try this skin type quiz by Soko Glam, an online K-Beauty retailer. Remember: online quizzes won’t give you the most accurate results, but they can be a good place to start.

With that in mind, let me outline a simple 3-step routine. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time on your skin, but want to see some improvement, it’s a good place to start.

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Moisturize

At the end of the day (or beginning), it really comes down to these three steps. Cleanse your face to refresh/remove dirt, oil, & other “bad stuff.” Tone to brighten, hydrate, & purify. Moisturize to keep your skin soft & hydrated all day or all night. Remember, even if you have oily skin, you should be moisturizing. Not moisturizing the skin can cause dehydration – dehydrated skin usually leads to micro-abrasions, which can let in bacteria. This leads to breakouts & acne. So – no matter what skin type you have, make sure you’re moisturizing!

Some of you might already know the three step routine, & that’s great – but you might not know when or how to use serums & oils. Here’s how the three step routine would look plus serums & oils. Remember: you don’t have to use serums or oils; they’re a great way to up your skin care game if you’re not completely happy with how your skin is looking or feeling, but they’re not the must-haves (in my opinion).

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Serums – if you’re using several, work your way from most “watery” to most “gel-like.” In my experience, watery serums will sink in faster & easier if you put them right after a toner. Gel-like serums take a little longer to sink in, so they could use a little extra time…after you’ve finished with the watery serum(s)
  4. Oil – just like with serums, work your way from most diluted to most rich. Any oil will have a different texture & consistency than a serum; that’s why they’re categorized differently
  5. Moisturize

So that’s how you “up” your skin care game, if you’re already used to the three step method.

Without further ado, here are some of the products I use most often (as well as a few new ones). Almost all of them are under $30; there are two exceptions. Remember that you can get effective & affordable skin care products – these two qualities are not mutually exclusive!

Cleansers Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser

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On the left: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. On the right: CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser

As you can see by the rather banged-up bottles, these are the two cleansers I reach for most often. Let’s start with Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, a product I’ve been using (& loving) for almost two years now. I love MJC because it’s such an effective non-foaming cleanser. Most foaming cleansers dry out my skin; Milky Jelly doesn’t lather up, but it does get rid of dirt & oil, just like any other cleanser would. The delicate floral scent is amazing, too. I like to use two pumps of it on dry skin in the morning, making sure to massage my face as I work the cleanser across my skin. It’s like a mini spa treatment – every single morning – & it only takes 2 minutes. I rinse off with luke-warm water, then move on to toner. Read my #MiniReview on Milky Jelly here!

As a bonus, here are some other options for non-foaming cleansers – for those of you who live in countries that Glossier doesn’t ship to, or for those of you who just aren’t interested in Milky Jelly:

Next up: CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser: this is probably (okay, definitely) the only foaming cleanser I can use regularly without worrying about my skin drying out. I like to use this best in the evening – it does an amazing job of getting rid of any leftover makeup that my micellar water might have missed, & it’s admittedly very fun to use. When pushing down on the pump, a goopy substance similar in texture to Milky Jelly comes out (no scent!). Massage that over your face, & it quickly foams up. Leave on for 30-ish seconds, then wipe off with a damp towel, or rinse off with water (I prefer the latter). Most definitely the only foaming cleanser I can use without worrying about drying out my skin, even in the cold dry winter months. This cleanser is magic. Read my review of Oxygen Foam on CLĒ Cosmetic’s blog right here!

Toners

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On the left: Glossier Solution. On the right: Thayer’s Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner 

For a few years, I religiously used the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater – yup, the one that everyone used (& still uses). Although I’ve seen a lot of people complain about it online (not pure, makes them break out) I’ve never had an issue with it – I just eventually encountered options that were more my style. It took me a while to convert to “cotton pad toners,” as I like to call them (as opposed to a spray, like Mario Badescu) but the one that sold me was Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner. I got it at Target for $11 in October – & I’m still on my first bottle. The alcohol-free option is really nice if you have sensitive skin, & lavender is especially soothing on my skin, so I was really happy when I saw that this was one of the few options left on the shelf. Witch hazel is a natural astringent, so it clarifies the skin – but it also soothes & reduces any inflammation that might be present. Also in the formula: aloe vera, plain old water, & glycerin – all calming & soothing for the skin. If you’re hyper-sensitive, Thayers has a non-scented version of their toner. If you still prefer spritz toners to cotton pad toners, Thayers now has a lot of their toners in spray bottle packaging – check them out here. Read my #MiniReview of this toner here!

(Side note: When using a cotton pad toner, I use Shiseido cotton pads. I know, I know – fancy…but seriously, they’re worth it. Even better, they’re actually quite affordable if you do it my way: cut them in half! Use one half for your morning routine & the other half for your evening routine. This way, you cut the cost in half, & you still feel all the benefits of using the Shiseido Facial Cotton (these truly are a huge upgrade from drugstore cotton rounds…trust me). If you have sensitive skin & feel like a lot of cotton pads/rounds are scratchy on your skin, these are for you. 

Another “toner” I’ve been incorporating into my routine: the latest from Glossier: Glossier Solution. This is the brand’s first release of 2018, & it’s been getting a lot of attention – it’s one of the first Glossier products that really focuses on clearing & brightening skin, as well as reducing acne/hormonal breakouts. Solution is a chemical exfoliant, meant to be used once a day in replacement of a toner. The AHA/BHA/PHA blend dissolves dead skin cells, brightens, softens, & refreshes skin, as well as reducing redness, acne, & breakouts. Read the full scoop here; first, though, let me say this: if you’re using Solution – or any other chemical exfoliant – wear sunscreen! When using any kind of chemical exfoliant (this one included) your skin is more sensitive to the sun. You should wear sunscreen no matter what, but if you’ve been guiltily ignoring that, it’s time to start protecting yourself – especially if you’re using a chemical exfoliant. I’ll give you some of my favorite options in a moment. Stay tuned.

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Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin

Finally – I mentioned that my first toner was a spritzer (by Mario Badescu). Here’s one that I’ve revisited & been really loving lately: the Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin. Think of it as the Mario Badescu Facial Spray…but make it purer. There are three ingredients in this: purified water, pure rose oil, & natural vegetable glycerin. If you’re worried about a cloying scent, worry no more. This has a very delicate, floral scent – similar to that of Glossier Milky Jelly. It’s described as “multi-purpose,” because it is. Use it for your hair, use it as a toner, use it as a setting spray, use it as a refresher when 3 pm hits & you still have a few hours to go (but your skin isn’t feeling it) – face, body, hair…go ham. Just don’t drink it. I haven’t used this for a minute, but I’ve been revisiting it – & I’ve appreciated it as a toner, a refresher, & a setting spray this past month. Oh – & it’s only $10. Find it online, in some Whole Foods, some Urban Outfitters, & perhaps even some Targets, if you’re lucky.

Serums 

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From left to right: Glossier Super Pure Serum, The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, & Valjean Labs Hydrate Serum

Like I mentioned when talking about how to build up your skin care routine to something more complex or “fancy” – serums aren’t necessary, but they can be great ways to really improve the texture, tone, & even the health of your skin. I typically don’t wear more than two serums at once – because too much of anything is a bad thing – & I usually wear different serums at night than I do in the day. I won’t delve into that, because this is just about how to build a simple routine – so here are a few serums that I’ve been enjoying. Some are old favorites, others are new discoveries – but they’re all under $30, which is great. Let me start with the Valjean Hydrate Serum – I have a #MiniReview on this, which I’ll link here. If you’re just looking for a super quick review, though, here are my two cents on it: I liked the texture of Glossier’s Super Bounce Serum (another hyaluronic acid serum), but wasn’t seeing results that made the $28 price tag worth it to me. I tried The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid serum (way cheaper) but like a bunch of their other serums, this one was tacky, dried down oddly, & I didn’t even feel like it was hydrating. Stumped, I kept hunting. I saw “Valjean Labs” pop up across a few photos on Instagram before I asked some friends about the serums, & I heard only good things. I got the Hydrate serum first – followed by Glow & Firm. I like Firm – it’s a hydrating & plumping serum that contains ferulic acid & Vitamin E – but I’m not a fan of Glow (a Vitamin C serum). It just didn’t really seem to do anything. So: Hydrate remains my favorite serum from Valjean. It’s a thin, watery texture, but doesn’t dry down tacky. It’s cooling & soothing – really helps reduce redness – & it feels like a cool drink of water for my skin. I use it morning & night. It layers under other serums/moisturizers really nicely, too. Pick it up for $15 at Urban Outfitters, or keep your eyes peeled at your local TJ Maxx – Valjean serums go for $4.99 at TJ.

Next up: an old favorite; an old friend: Glossier Super Pure Serum. The Glossier Supers hold a special place in my heart; Super Glow was the first serum I ever put on my face when the trio launched in fall of 2016. I’ve hopped back & forth between Super Pure & Super Glow as my favorites, but at this point I can confidently say that Super Pure is my favorite. This is a serum that is, in fact, worth the $28 price tag (for me). It calms redness & inflammation in the short-term; long-term, it reduces breakouts & just clarifies the skin overall. The water-gel consistency is not sticky or tacky; it doesn’t pill; it wears beautifully under makeup/moisturizers…I have no bad things to say. Check out my longer review here

Finally – a brand-new addition to my routine: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. It’s so new, in fact, that I’ve only used it twice so far. Before purchasing, I snooped around for some opinions, & immediately got some “NOOOO! IT IS SO SCRATCHY!” comments. Naturally, I was a bit scared when it arrived – but I’m glad I had that “background knowledge” of the texture of the serum before giving it a go myself, because it influenced the way in which I applied it. Obviously, I can’t give that big of a review, because I’ve only used it twice, but here are my first impressions: definitely the “oddest” serum I’ve used yet, mainly because it’s “water-free” – that means that it looks like a cream; maybe a runny moisturizer. The “scratchiness” comes from “dehydrated spheres” of hyaluronic acid, which “offer visible surface smoothing.” I wouldn’t call it scratchy; it doesn’t feel like a sugar/salt scrub; it feels more like someone put sand into a light moisturizer (I know that sounds odd). There’s no denying that it’s a bit abrasive, especially if I were to rub it into my face – but thanks to everyone’s warnings, I was able to avoid that situation. When applying, I put some on my fingertips, then gently press it into my skin. Wait a few minutes, & sure enough – the “dehydrated spheres” melted into my skin. Then, it’s simple: apply moisturizer, & be at peace. There’s no denying that it’s one of the oddest products I’ve tried so far, but I’m intrigued. The Ordinary has great prices, & it’s even more accessible, now that it’s being carried (online) at Sephora. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted.

Oils

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The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil – good for all skin types 

I’m a fan of facial oils, but I’m not the biggest fan – basically, creams > oils in my opinion (& keep in mind: everyone’s skin is different). While creams are my priority, I found oils to be way more confusing, especially when first thinking about using one. Won’t it just make my skin greasy? Will I break out more? Why would you put oil on your face…?

The answer to the last question: there are many reasons for putting oil on your face, & if you remember that you’re not putting vegetable oil or bacon grease on your face – you’re putting rosehip oil, tea tree oil, marula oil & so on (all of which have their benefits) – the fear of breaking out or looking greasy will soon fade. Oils won’t make your face greasy – you just have to choose the right one. That depends on your skin type, & since I can’t tell every single one of you what your skin type is, I’d leave the serious oil recommendations to someone more qualified (ask a skin care consultant at Sephora, or go to your dermatologist, or just do some reading after you know a little more about your skin type), but I can tell you one oil that works really well for all skin types: rosehip!

Rosehip oil calms redness, reduces inflammation, & hydrates – of course. It’s lightweight, doesn’t feel heavy, sticky, or greasy, & it wears well under a cream. You can also put a little more on & forget a cream all together. One of the cheapest options out there is The Ordinary’s 100% Cold-Pressed Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil. Described as “a daily support formula for all skin types,” this oil is rich in various vitamins & fatty acids, all of which plumpen, hydrate, & boost skin’s circulation. It smells slightly floral, but I can hardly detect a scent. It’s not the highest-quality oil, but it’s under $10, I wouldn’t call it bad, & it’s a great way to experiment with facial oils without dropping a lot of money. Next on my list of things to try: Pai Skincare’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil, which has rave reviews on many platforms. It’s a step up from the $10, but from what I’ve seen, it looks to be worth it.

Moisturizers 

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On the left: Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream. On the right: Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

Currently, I’m using two moisturizers: a day cream & a night cream. If you use one & your skin is happy – great! My dry/sensitive skin gets a little finicky, especially when it comes to hydration, so my skin most definitely appreciates the two different moisturizers I use.

For daytime, I use the Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass CreamI held off for a very long time on buying this, mainly because I looked at the amount of product in the tube & rolled my eyes. I wouldn’t be forking over that amount for this little tube of cream…but then, I got it as a free sample with a Sephora order I made over winter break, & when I tried it out, I finally understood. This is an extremely dense cream; it’s almost like an ointment. This was worrying to me, at first: would it feel greasy? Would it clog my pores? The answer to both of these questions: nope! It most definitely doesn’t feel greasy, it certainly doesn’t clog my pores, & I’m glad I chose this sample, because by the time I ran out of the baby version, I was convinced that the full-size was truly worth it.

You need the tiniest amount – the tube looks like a tube of toothpaste, & that’s just about how much I use for my face: imagine that you’re putting a smear of toothpaste onto your toothbrush, & that should just about cover it for your whole face. I put the ointment between my fingertips to let it warm up a little, then gently press it into my skin. If I have the time, I’ll follow that up with a quick facial massage with my jade roller. If I don’t – I’m still good. The cream has really helped reduce any redness, which is something I struggle with (especially in the winter time). I would constantly complain about the dry area under my nose – not after a week of using this cream, though. January is one of the hardest months on my skin…& this year, I have zero dryness/irritation in my usual dry patches, my skin is relatively redness-free, & I get to use a very cool toothpaste-y product that smells like freshly-mown grass. Worth it? Definitely.

For night time, I use Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich – a product I’ve been religiously using & refilling since Glossier put it up for sale in January 2017. Basically: I’ll never stop screaming about this (screaming in a good way). I’ve been through a few jars, but I don’t go through it outrageously quickly, because it truly is “rich.” “Rich,” yes. Oily? Not even a little bit. I have dry skin & love it; I know people with oily skin who love it equally. People in the middle? Yup, PMR has your back, too. Red algae reduces redness, lavender makes you feel like you’re in an aromatherapy session, & the cream has this incredible buttercream texture that’s addicting. Every night, I smooth a little spoonful (I use the NIOD Stainless Steel Spoon to keep my creams sanitary) into my skin, I massage my face with my hands &/or my jade roller, & then I sink into my pillows with a sigh of relief. It’s the perfect way for me to end my day.

Sunscreens

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On the left: Glossier Invisible Shield. On the right: Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen 

One of the most important – but one of the most ignored – steps in a skincare routine is protecting your face from the sun. Even if you don’t work outside…even if you’re not going for a long walk…even if you live in a country where you don’t see much sunlight during the winter…you should still be wearing sunscreen. UV rays cause long-term damage, & you might not ever feel a sunburn – but you may still be at risk for skin cancer if you don’t take the proper steps to protect yourself. That sounds like a threat, but it’s just me saying be careful! You can greatly reduce the risk of skin cancer simply by throwing on some sunscreen every single day.

The two I swear by are Glossier Invisible Shield (SPF 35) & Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen Broad Spectrum (SPF 50). These products are quite different from one another, though ultimately, they both do a good job of protecting your skin from harmful sun exposure.

What’s the difference? The Glossier sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen; the Dr. Jart+ sunscreen is a physical sunscreen. “Chemical” sounds scary in most situations, but just as is the case with “chemical exfoliation,” “chemical sunscreen” is not dangerous or harmful for your skin. It just operates in a different way than “physical sunscreen.”

Chemical sunscreens contain organic, carbon-based compounds which create a chemical (hence the name) reaction, changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. No – you won’t get burned, & no – it doesn’t feel hot upon application. Don’t worry.

Physical sunscreens like the Dr. Jart+ one contain active mineral ingredients, also referred to as physical blockers (again – hence the name). Most commonly, the physical blockers are titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide – that’s what gives physical sunscreen its famous (or, if you’re like me, infamous) scent. These blockers sit on top of the skin, deflecting & scattering UV rays away from the skin.

So – which do I prefer? Personally, after I tried a chemical sunscreen, I heavily lean towards that side of the spectrum. Most physical sunscreens feel very sticky & heavy on my skin & I’ve broken out from quite a few. Most don’t wear very well under makeup for me, either. I prefer the gel-like texture of a chemical sunscreen. Also – it’s much easier to reapply, since you don’t have to massage it into the face as intensely as you might have to with a physical sunscreen – chemical sunscreens leave no white cast on the skin, which is another bonus.

Still, I really like the Dr. Jart+ one. After I started taking immunosuppressive drugs that make my skin even more sensitive to sun, my mama & I panicked & looked for the most powerful & best sunscreen out there. SPF 50 is pretty much as high as you can get, & this Dr. Jart+ option is probably my favorite physical sunscreen. It’s very lightweight, it lacks that odd scent that so many physical sunscreens have, & it doesn’t feel greasy or sticky – doesn’t break me out, either. If you’re not into chemical sunscreens, this is a physical sunscreen that I truly do like. The price isn’t half bad, either – especially for a Dr. Jart+ product.

As for the Glossier Invisible Shield – like I said, I now prefer chemical sunscreens, after having tried both, & this one is a great choice. Recently, Glossier reduced the price to $25, which I feel is a much fairer price than the original $34. In my opinion, there isn’t enough product in the Invisible Shield bottle to justify spending $34 on it; now, with the adjusted price, I can give Invisible Shield 5 stars without feeling like it’s just a biiiit too expensive to rate so highly. I use about 3-4 pumps, & gently swipe the gel over my face after I’ve finished moisturizing (but before I’ve applied makeup). I let it sit for a few moments; it has a cooling sensation which is really soothing. I like the citrus-y scent, too.

A lot of people ask what the best amount of SPF is. Most dermatologists agree that anything between SPF 30 & SPF 50 is going to give you the same results. SPF 50 isn’t really going to give you more protection than SPF 30 – in fact, some people get less protection even while wearing SPF 50, since they feel like they don’t need to apply as much product. No matter what, be sure to reapply sunscreen if you’re spending periods of time outside, & don’t stress about SPF 50 working better (or worse) than SPF 35 or SPF 40. In the end, as long as it’s over 30, you’re good. Stay protected!!!

Spot Treatments 

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Oh – almost forgot about this very important category. For a while, I was a non-believer. It seemed as though everyone swore by the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion; I’d given it a few goes & hadn’t seen anything special. Overnight results? Sounded unrealistic…& I never got that from the Drying Lotion.

For the past 7-8 months, I’ve been using & loving the Origins Super Spot Remover. It’s a clear gel spot treatment, which is nice – it sinks into the skin instead of rubbing off on your pillowcase (sound familiar?). It can also be worn under makeup, which, again: something the Drying Lotion cannot do.

When I ran out of my second little tube of the Origins treatment, I headed to grab a refill – only to see that it was sold out both online & in store. A Sephora employee redirected me to the Tarte Blemish Bully Acne Spot Treatment – same consistency, same texture, same end results. The formula seems to be essentially the same; I did notice that the Tarte formula contains caffeine, though, which is nice – it aids in depuffing whatever area you’re trying to target. I’ve been using it for about a week now, & have no complaints thus far. It seems to work just as well as the Origins treatment, & you get a little more product for the same amount, too. I’ll see how this one lasts in the long run, but for now…I’m liking it. Side note: the Origins spot treatment is now back in stock on Sephora’s website. 

Sometimes, one product just doesn’t work – if I’m really having a problem blemish (or two) I’ll layer two products: first, a thin layer of the gel spot treatment – in the past, Origins; currently, Tarte. After the gel has dried down, I’ll pat a small amount of Mario Badescu Drying Cream on top. That’s right – cream, not lotion. They are two different products. The Drying Lotion is the one you see most often: the pink sediment at the bottom of a vial of clear liquid. The Drying Cream is a yellow-beige paste that comes in a little jar. Described as “a unique spot treatment featuring sulfur,” the Drying Cream is ideal for under-the-surface bumps as well as good old blemishes. Sulfur & zinc oxide draw out impurities, but ingredients like aloe vera & Vitamin E ensure that you won’t wake up with a painful dry patch of skin where your blemish used to be. This does transfer, so if you wear it overnight, just be aware that some might rub off on your pillowcase. It’s worth it, though – I can’t say that this combo always works overnight, but it comes pretty damn close.

Well – that’s the finale! If you’re new to skincare, I hope I helped you figure things out a little more; maybe you have something to work with now. It can be very overwhelming when starting to be “serious” about skincare or makeup, simply because there are so many products. I can’t say that all of these will work as well for you as they do for me, but I hope I help at least a few of you. What’re some of your holy grail skincare items – whether you’re new or old to the skincare game?

Catch you next time! Let’s talk about face masks next, shall we?

Love,

Sofia ❤

Finally, Glossier Has The “Solution” For Redness, Texture, & Acne

It’s hard not to make a (bad) word play when a product is literally named “Solution” – & that’s the name of Glossier’s newest product, which had been hinted at in this Into The Gloss article, published (very) early this year.

In the article, gTEAM member Manouska talks about her life-long struggles with acne, & how a mysterious product (hint: Glossier Solution) has helped her skin look & feel better than it ever has in her adult life. A few weeks after this article was published, Manouska took to Glossier’s Instagram story, giving us all a closer look at the mysterious product. Still in its developmet packaging, all I could tell was that it was a toner-type product – & that it had a very cool dispensing pump.

Finally, Glossier Solution was dropped this past Wednesday. I was curious to see how it would be described – & Glossier calls it “a daily face exfoliator.” Meant to be used only once daily, Solution is a chemical exfoliant that “gently sloughs dead cells away through chemical exfoliation, dissolving the bonds gluing problematic dead cells to the healthy skin beneath.”

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“exfoliating skin perfector”

I know – the words “chemical exfoliation” sound scary & dangerous, when in reality, they’re better for your skin than physical exfoliants, which can cause micro-abrasions. Micro-abrasions invite more bacteria into the skin, which often leads to increased breakouts, texture, sensitivity, & redness. I wrote a whole piece about acids/chemical exfoliants here, which might be valuable if you’re still feeling a bit confused about the whole thing. If you don’t have the time, just know this: as someone with sensitive skin, I was initially nervous about the whole chemical exfoliation thing…until I gave it a try. Since I’ve started using chemical exfoliants, my skin is brighter, clearer, softer, & smoother. Needless to say, I was very excited when I saw the ingredients in Glossier’s Solution – they’re right up my alley.

The most important part of Glossier Solution is the blend of AHA, BHA, & PHA – three types of acids that serve as chemical exfoliants. AHA = alpha hydroxy acid, & can be found in lactic acid or glycolic acid. BHA = beta hydroxy acid, & is most commonly found in salicylic acid. PHA = polyhydroxy acid, a less potent version of an AHA. It exfoliates, but it also moisturizes & conditions the skin. It’s one of the reasons why Glossier Solution works well even on sensitive skin!

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I’ve been using & loving chemical exfoliants, particularly AHA/BHA blends for about a year now. My first introduction to an AHA/BHA product was the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, a weekly treatment that I adore to this day. Once I saw for myself that no, acids did not burn off my face – & yes, they really do eliminate texture & keep the skin baby-soft, I was sold. I started trying out various chemical exfoliants, figured out which ones I liked best (& why), & marvelled as my face became brighter, clearer, & softer.

So – now that I’ve tried Glossier Solution, what do I think of it, as someone who’s been using & loving chemical exfoliants for about a year?

I tried Solution for the first time yesterday, so I can’t say how it’ll feel or look in the long-term, but I can give my “after 24 hours” impression of it – which is when Glossier says you’ll start noticing positive results. Just a disclaimer: this product is good, but no exfoliant will “cure” or clear your skin overnight. These things take time, & Glossier makes sure to let you know that. On the Glossier Solution product page, there are “after 24 hours,” “after 1 week,” “after 2 weeks,” & finally, “after 4 weeks” results. To sum it up: give Solution about a month to work its finest magic.

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As someone with sensitive skin, I was worried that something like Solution would be too harsh for me; I thought it might burn or dry out my skin. Usually, if a product does this, I’ll know within 24 hours. I made sure to do my research on Solution – & Glossier made sure to answer that pressing question within the first day of releasing Solution. “Can I use Solution if I have sensitive skin?” Glossier says: “Yes! Solution was formulated to be gentle enough to be used daily by all skintypes. The acids are balanced with calming, replenishing ingredients like aloe, glycerin, and niacinamide.” Glossier made sure to include people with sensitive skin in the testing process, so I wasn’t too nervous when first trying Solution.

Glossier makes sure to say “use once daily.” Why? Simply because your skin doesn’t need it twice daily. Too much of a good thing can lead to bad things. Even if you have oily skin, acids can still dry you out if you use them too much. I’ve been using Solution in the morning, because I use the Drunk Elephant Framboos serum (an AHA/BHA serum) at night. Again, too much of a good thing often = bad things.

When I opened Solution, I was really excited to see the dispenser that we were given a sneak peek at. It’s very cool: push down on the pump with a cotton pad, & product will dispense directly onto the cotton. No pouring, shaking – just press down. I’m always here for sanitary (& fun) packaging, & Solution’s packaging is both fun & sanitary.

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A closer look at the (very cool) packaging

Ingredients? I already knew what they’d be, but I got more detailed information. I saw lactic & glycolic acid listed as main ingredients, which led to a cheer – like I said, my skin likes these best of all! Lactic acid reduces dark spots/scarring, & glycolic acid breaks down dead skin cells, which improves skin tone & texture. I was a bit nervous about salicylic acid – my skin doesn’t hate it, but my skin definitely prefers lactic/glycolic acids. Salicylic acid reduces acne & unclogs pores – not a bad thing, but it’s not something I generally purchase, after several bad experiences when I was less educated…also known as: “Oh no! I have a blemish! Let me douse my dry, sensitive skin in this Proactiv product with a high concentration of salicylic acid!” Needless to say, nothing good happened there (& it took my skin a while to recover) – but I used it in the wrong way, & Proactiv was never meant for my skin type, anyway. My fears were qualmed when I saw the final acid used in Glossier Solution: the PHA gluconolactone, which exfoliates – but also moisturizes & conditions. Finally – “Anti-Stress Complex,” which is a blend of aloe, glycerin, & niacinamide. All three of these are soothing & help reduce redness (side note: a lot of people asked if it’s okay to use a niacinamide serum – like Glossier Super Pure – along with Glossier Solution. Yes! Niacinamide is a calming ingredient, & it will not burn or dry out your skin. I’ve used Solution & Super Pure together with no negative effects).

Okay – that’s a lot of information on the product itself…but how did I like it? What were my first impressions? How did I use it, & when? Let me break that down right now.

  • The packaging of the bottle is very cute. It’s the signature #glossierpink, but the bottle is sparkly! Very Kirakira friendly.
  • I used Glossier Solution in the morning. You can use it morning or night – but don’t use it more than once a day, because overloading the skin is never a good idea. I chose to use it in the morning because I use the Drunk Elephant Framboos Night Serum in the evening. If you don’t use a serum like that in the evening, feel free to plop Solution into your night routine. It’s truly up to you – the results will be the same.
  • I used a Shiseido cotton pad with Glossier Solution. You can now buy Glossier Cotton Rounds, which were designed especially for using with Glossier Solution…but at the end of the day, it’s cotton. If you’re happy with what you’re using now, stick with it.
  • A lot of people have asked where Solution fits into a skincare routine. It would “replace” your toner – so, after cleansing, before serums (which are optional) & moisturizer. Be sure to moisturize after applying Solution, & be sure to wear sunscreen. AHA/BHA/PHA blends make the skin more sensitive to sun. This increases risk of skin cancer if you don’t stay on top of it & apply sunscreen! Be sure to do that no matter what, but be especially sure if you’re using chemical exfoliants like Glossier Solution (or Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, or any other chemical exfoliant). Wear! Your! Sunscreen!
  • I was pleasantly surprised to experience no burning, tingling, or dryness. I was also pleasantly surprised by the scent. It’s not artificially sweet, but it’s not horribly chemical, either. It’s hard to describe, so I’ll just say that it’s subtle & pleasant – not something you’d expect from a chemical exfoliant.
  • The pump is so much fun to use. I know – it’s just packaging – but packaging is a big deal to me. The pump convinces me that you can take it wherever you like without worrying about spilling a single drop. Also – the product will stay free of contamination, because you don’t have to touch any part of the bottle to dispense it. No bacteria! No infections! Yay!
  • After 24 hours, I looked in the mirror to see if I could notice a difference. Short answer: yes. Long answer: my skin felt softer & smoother, it looked noticeably brighter, & I had no dryness or redness. I was especially surprised by zero redness. Usually, I expect redness under my nose when I wake up in the morning, especially during the cold, dry winter months. Not after Solution! This was a big factor in my “final” first impression of Glossier Solution.

Final first impression? This is sensitive-skin friendly, it works like it says it works, & I’m excited to see how my skin will look after one week…then two…then three…then four…& so on, & so forth.

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It’s nice to see Glossier put out a product that specifically targets acne! One of the larger complaints about Glossier was that they did not have anything for acne-prone skin/oily skin. Glossier’s Wowder was the first answer to those kinds of complaints – it helps eliminate shine – & this is the first big skincare product by Glossier that claims to help reduce acne. I had a lot of friends with oily skin/acne-prone skin who were very excited to hear about this. Best of all, Glossier tested on “real” people – & there are untouched photos on the Solution product page of “before Solution” & “after Solution.” It’s really transparent & honest – untouched, just like the before & after photos.

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That’s all I have for now. I’ll be sure to update my thoughts on Solution, but until then, here’s to chemical exfoliants that reduce texture & redness while boosting clarity & glow – all while being packaged in a sparkly pink bottle with a very fun dispenser.

For the first two weeks of Glossier’s Solution release, get free shipping when you add the (also new) Glossier Cotton Rounds to your order & use the code SOLUTION at checkout.

Has anyone else tried Solution yet? If not, will you be giving it a go? Let me know!

Love,

Sofia ❤

#TopTenSeries: Top Ten Skincare Items of 2017

Hello, friends! Welcome to the end of 2017. I’m going to spare all of you the sentimental words, because I think there’s a time & place for that; right now isn’t the time. Right now, let me talk about my top tens.

My “#TopTenSeries,” as I’m calling it, is a collection of my…top ten ____ of 2017; an article for each category, if you will. In this post, you’ll see skincare. Next up, I have some makeup. Then: top albums, top songs…a few other cool things, too. These things will be either made/released in 2017, or heavily used/listened to in 2017. Basically, I’ll try to keep everything as “new” as possible. We don’t need to hear about the five products that I’m currently loving that have been on shelves for 5+ years…however:

I didn’t know much about skin care until late 2016/early 2017. 2017 was the year that I started nailing down a routine that worked (& still does work) best for my skin. Some of these products will not be brand new, because I didn’t always need the latest & greatest to make my skin look better. I made more of an effort to include makeup brand new to 2017, albums made in 2017, songs made in 2017, etc. Skin care is my one exception to this rule. If something has truly switched up my style, my music taste, etc., I will take care to mention it, even if it’s not made right in 2017. Don’t worry, though – I’ll stick to this year as much as possible!

I’ll churn out as much (quality) content as I can these next few weeks. Then, I’m off: back to school again. I’m incredibly excited to do this once again. You can rest assured that I’ll keep writing on here, but the type of content I write might change a little. Maybe more personal pieces/creative nonfiction pieces, which is what I’m choosing to focus my cognate on my last few years of undergrad.

You’ll come to see what’s next – & I’m not even quite sure what’s next myself – but for now, here’s my #TopTenSeries. These are in chronological order, not in the order of “most to least favorite” – for me to choose favorites in this list would be tortorous, truly. I hope you enjoy it

1. Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

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Glossier hinted & hinted last holiday season that they had something special for us in January 2017; we were not let down. Priming Moisturizer Rich was Glossier’s first new product release of 2017…& it remains one of my favorite Glossier products of all time. A cult favorite – as in, “I use this every day” kind of cult favorite.

In the dry winter months, I’ll wear PMR (as it’s affectionately nicknamed) twice a day. Glossier has a seeecret “Anti-Redness Complex” & an “Oxygenating Agent” which are the base ingredients of PMR. Add some murumuru & shea butters, lavender (one of my favorite, most relaxing scents in the world), red algea complex, & a few other things, & you have a rich – super rich – face cream that isnt greasy, cuts redness, & wears well by itself or under makeup.

I’m constantly asked to dupe PMR, & the true answer is that I really can’t. The texture, scent, & effect it gives my face is unique – that’s why I continue to fill & refill (& refill) my jars. It’s coming into 2018 with me without a doubt – probably 2019, too. Try to find a more luxurious-feeling face cream for less money than PMR…you can’t. Give this a go; you won’t regret it. Good for dry skin (obviously) & oily skin alike…everything in between, as well. Like I said, this is a daily staple for me – it’s a twice-daily staple for me in the cold dry months, but even in the humid hot summers, I can’t completely let go of PMR.

2. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

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This was the first Drunk Elephant product I ever tried. It was the beginning of 2017, I was at a hotel, staying the night because I had some hospital testing in another city, & I’d stopped at a Sephora on the way in to get some samples. When you’re bored in a hotel room, there’s nothing better than trying out the free samples that Sephora employees angrily dole out (seriously, why are they angry when giving you samples? Asking for a friend).

Anyways – thanks to Into The Gloss, I’d heard a lot of buzz about the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, & I was seeing the #millennialpink packaging on every top shelf I came across on Instagram. I had a few friends who assured me it was worth it, but I was still skeptical. Babyfacial isn’t cheap – as a brand, Drunk Elephant isn’t cheap – so I decided to get a sample, try it out once or twice, then make my call.

I’ll admit: I was scared to give this a go. The words “Drunk Elephant’s dream team blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids” in the product description had me shaking in my shoes. I hadn’t really tried chemical exfoliants before; I was of the (false) opinion that chemical exfoliants would dry out my face & only hurt my skin. In retrospect, I couldn’t have been more off the mark: chemical exfoliants are actually gentler on my face than physical ones (ex: sugar scrub masks, etc.).

I took my tiny sample of Babyfacial, braced myself for the tingle that I was warned I would feel, & started applying. Yes. It burned…but only for about 20 seconds. After that, I felt a slight tingle or two, but nothing major. I didn’t feel as though my skin was peeling off my face. I left it on for 10 minutes, which is recommended if you’re using it for the first time (especially if you have sensitive skin).

Immediately after I took it off, I sighed to myself, because I knew that I’d be buying it for real. My skin did actually feel baby-soft. I showed my mother. I showed my friends. I told the Internet. I told the man passing me by on the street. My skin hadn’t felt this soft in forever – & within a few days, I noticed that my skin looked smoother & brighter, too.

Long story short: it took me a little less than a year to use up one full-size “jar” of Babyfacial. Was it worth it? Yes. Did it change the way I treat my skin? Yes! I focus more on chemical exfoliants, especially AHA/BHA products, like Babyfacial – & Drunk Elephant Framboos serum, which you’ll read about below.

Are there cheaper options/cheaper AHA/BHA products? Absolutely! Try The Ordinary’s AHA peel, aka “the vampire facial.” It’ll run you less than $10, & it gives off a similar effect. I’ve tried a few different “peels,” “masques,” & “facials,” trying to dupe Babyfacial…but the truth is, this one stands on its own. If you want something cheaper, there are many options out there – but if you want the overnight results, Drunk Elephant is the way to go. A good way to spend some Christmas/holiday $$$. Trust me on this one.

3. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

IMG_9946Another product that wasn’t developed in 2017 – but a product that changed my life in 2017.

If you’d told me that I’d be religiously using this serum last year, I’d have laughed in your face, & said that no product this expensive was truly worth it.

Well, I’m crawling back now in shame to admit that I was wrong. This product completely switched up my skincare routine. It made my skin clearer, brighter, & it even made my routine shorter. This serum doubled as several things; suddenly, I didn’t need three serums to make a clarifying concoction. This one just did it all.

I use one pump a day – or evening, since it’s a night serum – focusing on the areas of my skin that aren’t too dry – this is an AHA/BHA product, so it’s no good to put it on dry areas of your skin (they’ll just get more irritated). Treat your skin gently – but don’t be afraid of this serum, even if you have dry skin. Coming from someone with extremely dry sensitive skin: this will not kill you. In fact, it’ll revive you.

The AHA/BHA blend is incredible: you have glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric, and salicylic acids, all blended with raspberry extract (hence the name “Framboos”). This cocktail of acids sounds overwhelming, but it is not. The balance is perfect. It won’t burn your face off; just prepare for a slight tingling if you have sensitive skin, like me. There’s no odor or color to the product. You’ll feel a slight tackiness, but that fades after you’ve put on a cream – plus, the effects of the serum are worth any tackiness you might have on application.

Drunk Elephant says: “This high-tech gel resurfaces dull skin, lifting dead skin cells away by gently dissolving the glue that holds them to the surface. The results are greater clarity and a smoother, more even-looking complexion.” I couldn’t say it better myself. Drunk Elephant doesn’t need to overcompensate while describing its products…simply because they always work – hands-down. The product description of Framboos on Sephora’s site doesn’t quite do this serum justice, but it comes pretty close. Without a doubt – worth your time & money.

4. Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay

IMG_9299.jpegI don’t usually expect my mother to introduce me to skincare products that will become staples on my top shelf – but this is exactly how I came to discover the Origins Rose Clay mask…a mask that I now admittedly cannot live without.

It was another hotel room stay. My mama suggested we do face masks, to relieve the anxiety I was feeling about the next day’s doctor appointment. I didn’t have any in my travel skincare bag, but she had a little 200 point Sephora sample of the Origins Rose Clay mask. I tried it out. I took it off, & I saw softer, smoother skin that had absolutely no redness – even around the areas of my face that are most prone to redness. I felt clean, detoxed, but not dry. Just super soft, clean, & nourished. I saw the sample was still available, so I snapped it up that evening when refilling a sheet mask I needed. By the time I’d squeezed the sample tube empty, I knew that it was time to go full size.

I’ve been through one full tube of the rose clay mask now, & I have another one (one-quarter empty) sitting on my top shelf, staring at me right now. I just did it last night.

This is a clay mask that I feel safe using even in the driest, coldest months of winter. The Mediterranean rose clay & Canadian willow herb are soothing & reduce redness, while the small jojoba beads give the mask its signature exfoliating texture – but don’t worry, it won’t rip your skin apart. Delicately swirl the product across your face with warm water when removing, & the jojoba beads will gently exfoliate without leaving any microabrasions.

It’s a deep cleanse; takes the garbage out of your skin & leaves behind refined pores, super-soft skin, & absolutely no redness – anywhere. It’s a mask that detoxes my face in the stickiest, most humid months of summer – & it’s just great for fall & spring, too. It’s a year-round must-have for me, & it’ll stay this way. That was just the beginning of my love affair with Origins; there are so many products I adore from that brand now…but this one has a special, special place in my heart. Thank you to my mother for putting me on to this one (but I’m still taking the credits for putting her onto Drunk Elephant, okay? Okay!).

5. CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser 

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Ever since I discovered Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser, I was strictly a fan of non-foaming cleansers. After evaluating my routine several times, it wasn’t too difficult to figure out that my skin dried out every single time I switched from a non-foaming to a foaming cleanser.

I was skeptical of CLĒ Cosmetics’ Oxygen Foam Cleanser because of this – in fact, I’d specifically ordered their Melting Cleanser instead, which is a non-foaming cleanser. They happened to include several sample packets of their Oxygen Foam Cleanser. When I was out of town for one night, I grabbed this packet, figuring that one night wouldn’t hurt.

It didn’t – it actually helped. I was in awe of my skin within half an hour of using the cleanser. I applied it as directed: massaging it into my dry skin with circular motions of my fingertips. Wait 30 seconds, & the gooey liquid turns into a foam – it bubbles up on your skin, kind of like the pop rocks of skin care.

Why’s this one work so well for me? I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t question it too much. it quickly oxygenates and forms bubbles, helping to produce collage and elastin to give skin a soft, healthy and youthful appearance. The first time I used it, I gently rinsed off my face, patted it dry, & looked in the mirror (side note: you can also simply wipe this off with a warm damp towel). My brows shot up. The sensitive, red areas around my nose were gone. My pores looked tighter. My face looked bouncier. All that…& not a sign of dryness.

I haven’t fooled around much with other foaming cleansers since then – the other two I’ve tried dry out my skin, too. If you like that bubbly, foaming sensation but do not like the way your skin responds to it afterwards, this is a great product. It’s a foam cleanser that somehow is also incredibly brightening & hydrating. Again – I won’t question it too much. I just keep an extra bottle (or two) on my top shelf. Besides Milky Jelly Cleanser, it’s the cleanser I use most.

If you want a lighter review on the cleanser, check out what I wrote on CLĒ’s blog right here!

6. Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

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This was new to Sephora this year, & it was abuzz on YouTube in the spring & summer. Every single dry-lipped YouTuber was raving about it: so much product, so effective, good for day or night. It wasn’t expensive, either. After seeing 3+ of my favorite, trusted beauty bloggers sing the praises of Laneige’s Lip Mask, I decided to check it out. At the time, it was online-only – I couldn’t check it out in-store, & where I’m currently located, there still are not any Laneige products at my local Sephora stores. Sad.

Anyways…I took the leap, made the order, & applied it the night it arrived.

Sephora says that the special Laneige “Berry Mix Complex™ offers a nutritiously sweet and fragrant blend of raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, and blueberry extracts,” while the “exclusive Moisture Wrap™ technology boasts hyaluronic acid and minerals to form a protective film over the lips to lock in moisture and active ingredients.” Basically: this lip mask’s formula has an antioxidant blend of “superfoods” that hydrate the lips & strengthen them, too.

I appreciated the way the mask was packed: it has a gloss-like texture (& can be worn as a “glossy balm” during the day to complete a makeup look) & is packaged in a jar. It is not solid; the jar comes with a little spatula (complete with its own little envelope case) that you scoop product out of & apply to the lips – like a lip gloss wand. I liked the sanitary way in which the mask was packaged, & found the texture to be super rich, glossy, & hydrating. Unlike many glossy-ish lip products, this texture didn’t draw moisture out of my lips…it felt like it was sucking moisture in. I struggle with perpetually dry lips – but I woke up with smooth, soft, supple lips.

Now, whenever I feel my lips getting dry again, I usually realize that it’s because I’ve forgotten to apply the lip mask before bedtime. The Lip Sleeping Mask has sat comfortably on my bedside table since I got it, & I reach for it every single evening. Sometimes, I might even wake up to apply it a second time. If you’re a fellow sandpaper lips, give this a go. You probably will feel as though your lips are a part of your face for the first time in what may have felt like forever. Also great to wear while doing your makeup, if you’re prepping your lips for a liquid lip/pencil/drying lipstick. A good, effective, cheap product to have around – & I’ve been using this almost nightly since July & am not halfway through it yet. I apply librally, by the way. Don’t worry. This will work, & it’ll last you forever to boot.

7. Kypris Antioxidant Dew

IMG_7315.jpgI was conflicted about including this product, but the last few days is what pushed me to include the Antioxidant Dew in my top ten.

This past summer, Kypris sent me a very generous box of gifts, including their famous Antioxidant Dew. I was skeptical, because the product looked so lightweight. I put three drops on my face in my morning routine (following toner, before applying serum) & by the afternoon, I could see my face looked brighter. It felt softer. I had little to no texture on my forehead.

I took a break from the Antioxidant Dew these past two months. I tried to dupe it with another product, after a lot of research into botanicals, & which ones would be best for my skin.

After 3+ weeks of testing this product…I tried a few drops of Kypris Antioxidant Dew two days ago, after not using it for nearly a month. By that evening, I could see – no texture, clearer skin, softer skin…it really had made a big difference in my routine.

Kypris is not a cheap brand – & I made that clear in my brand review. I did say, however, that if I had to pick one product to keep purchasing myself, it would be the Antioxidant Dew. After trying it out the whole summer, taking a break to try a dupe or two, & seeing the quick & incredible improvement my skin made in the last two days after starting to use it again, I’ll say it again: this one is worth it. Spend $10 on your toners, spend $18 on your cleansers (hi, Milky Jelly – hi, Thayers Witch Hazel)…but Kypris Antioxidant Dew is worth every single dollar. Oh – & also, less is truly more with this product. Three drops is all I use. Just once a day. The bottle should last you 6 months at least. If that’s not another selling point, I don’t know what is. I’ll probably cry a little when I have to refill, but I still have a ways to go. Three drops a day = enough, which = good skin, which = me not having to buy it too often that it’ll hurt.

8. Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner

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“Your skin will think you’re at a Spa,” is the selling phrase on this product’s description page.

Thayers’ toners have been around forever, & they’re no secret to the beauty world; I’d go so far to call them a cult favorite. For whatever reason, I refused to try them. Don’t ask me why. I stuck to my Mario Badescu Facial Spray & just shrugged off my friends’ suggestions to try the (cheaper) Thayers toner. I think it had something to do with the fact that I felt odd putting product on a cotton pad & then applying it to my face. I finally broke in October when I was picking up a prescription at Target & saw a bottle of the Lavender toner. It’s no secret: lavender is probably my favorite scent, & it’s very soothing on my skin. I decided that it would be $11 either well-spent or wasted, but either way, I wasn’t throwing a huge amount of money at a product. I went for it.

Since then, Thayers has released spray bottle versions of their toner – but I’m actually more than happy with the cotton pad method at this point. I “upgraded” my cotton pads (I use the Shiseido ones; they’re worth it – trust me. Just don’t remove your makeup with them. I think that’s a waste) & my skin has been brighter, softer, & clearer since I started using Thayers Lavender. I’m not sure if I’ll try another…scent? Flavor? Whatever you want to call it – I don’t know. I’m not even halfway through my bottle right now, & I use it twice a day. Thank you to Into The Gloss, probably ten of my friends, & all the comments on Instagram urging me to “go for it.” I’m glad I did.

9. Jade Roller 

IMG_7492.jpeg“What’s that green thing?” is probably the most asked question when I’m doing my skincare on Instagram live. I’ve been asked this so many times, in fact, that I wrote a post about jade rollers…called “What’s That Green Thing?” I know; very funny.

Jade rollers aren’t new to the market; they’ve been used for thousands of years – especially in China (where they originated). They’ve broken the mainstream market, thanks to brands like GingerChi, Herbivore Botanicals, & good old Amazon.com. There are even different colored jade rollers now – & now, you can get rose quartz facial rollers, too. Fancy fancy.

Basically, it doesn’t really matter how expensive your roller is. You can get one for $200, sure – you can also get one for $10. The end result will be the same! Vogue says: “This Chinese skincare tool will cool, tighten, & de-puff your face in seconds.” That’s partly because of jade’s ability to stay cool for long periods of time – & even after it’s been warmed up by the heat of your face, set it down for a second, & it’ll cool down to its original temperature (stick it in your fridge for an extra dose of cool).

Jade rollers are tools that assist lymphatic massage: they reduce inflammation by moving – & improving – your skin’s circulation. This means that it’ll eliminate toxins (less breakouts!), tighten the pores (make your skin look younger & more lifted!),  improve blood circulation, elasticity of the skin, & reduce puffiness. For me, that’s especially helpful around my under-eye area. I use the smaller end of my jade roller to gently massage my under-eyes. Although my dark circles are still present, I don’t mind the look of them – I just want to get rid of the puffiness that my on-&-off insomnia gifts me.

All-in-all, it’s a super relaxing tool that you can use morning & evening. For a spa-like treatment, use a facial oil on your face before going in with the roller. It’ll massage all the good ingredients of whichever oil you choose deep into your skin, resulting in healthier, plumper, tighter, & brighter skin. This was a big win for me in 2017!

Check out some jade rollers here – Herbivore Botanicals & GingerChi both have high-quality double-ended ones, if you’re trying to target large & small areas of your face…but Amazon has the $10 ones that work just as well. Trust me – I’ve tried both.

Glossier Body Hero Duo 

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Is this skin care? I don’t know, but I have to say: this was one of Glossier’s 2017 releases that I thought I could live without. After refilling both the cream & the oil wash, I take it all back.

What I love most about the duo is its amazing fragrance, shared by both the Daily Oil Wash & the Daily Perfecting Cream: the “Orange Blossm Neroli Blend,” which is light, but very herbal. I think it’s unisex, & I like the scent of it a lot – a solid perfume of this fragrance would be incredible.

The Oil Wash is probably my favorite between the two – surprising, since I fully expected the cream to be my favorite. I like the Oil Wash because it’s so unique to any other body soap/wash I’ve ever tried. The Oil Wash has 0% water in it; it’s made up of seven oils, which turn into a creamy lather when rubbed into the skin. They attract grime, then melt it away. Thanks to the 0% water, the pH levels of this wash are great, too – so you can use it anywhere on your body without worrying about imbalancing your skin. I suffer from perpetually dry elbows, but this wash helped eradicate that problem. Usually, when I step out the shower, I need to frantically apply moisturizer. My skin will feel dry & cold if I don’t. After using Daily Oil Wash, I step out of the shower feeling super clean – but already very hydrated. That’s because of the lack of detergents in the wash; I step out feeling like I already have a protective hydrating layer over my skin. You’d think that’d be an oily, unpleasant sensation, but it’s not. My skin just feels baby-soft & pampered, even before I’ve applied the cream. Oh – & the stuff is so good, I use it as a shampoo, too (shh). I know…I barely have any hair, but I need a moisturized, well-scented head anyways, okay? Okay.

As for the cream – I can only describe it as though someone decided to put a few drops of those beautiful illuminating CoverFX drops into the body cream, then blended it together. The result is a super glowy, dewy lotion that smells delicious (like its sister) & looks like you have a healthy, magical sheen on your skin. I especially love the way it looks on my neck, collarbones, & shoulders. The consistency is super rich, which I love. It’s a great cream for the cold months, but it’s not sticky or greasy, so it’ll work for the warmer months too. I decided to include this because I was truly surprised at how good it was – I didn’t think this would be one of my favorite Glossier releases of the year. But hey, we all learn something new every day.

That’s all for now, babies! Tell me your top ten skincare items in the comments – or just one, if you wish. Or none at all. Stay tuned for some makeup, music, & other cool top tens. 

Love,

Sofia 

#NovemberFavorites: Layers on Layers – Both Clothes & Skincare

*Standard message of wow hasn’t this month gone by quickly! This also gives me the opportunity to link you to my November 2017 playlist; enjoy it right here!*

Hello, it’s me! What a jam-packed, emotional month. I’m now officially preparing to get back to school for my winter term; very excited & very dedicated to staying there – no falling down on the street this time.

Truly, though – I’m very excited (& a bit nervous) to be back; I’m sure you’ll be seeing some posts on how to function at university as a chronically ill person as I get back into my groove. For now, though, let’s talk skin care – & a little makeup, too.

This month, I didn’t buy many new things; I’m trying to just build a routine that is hydrating & soothing for the winter months – but also brightening & clarifying. I want my skin to be clear; I also want it to be soft; I also want it to glow. Those are hard to achieve simultaneously, especially in the winter – my skin gets extra dull, thanks to dry wind & cold temperatures.

I’ve been keeping my skin care routine pretty much the same – but I’ve incorporated a few things that were lying around forgotten, & I’ve tried to be as consistent as possible with my current routine – because it’s working so well! If you’d like to see a post about my “staples,” or something like that, let me know – that way, I can focus simply on my current routine, give more detailed information about products you probably have already heard me mention, & perhaps try a few out for yourself, too.

This month, I’ve been “layering” – that is, I’ve been using smaller amounts of product, but I’ve been using them exactly as directed. I’ve found that a little really does go a long way; I’ve seen better results by using less product in a gentler, more thorough way than just pumping out 4 droppers full of serum & slathering my face in it. For me, it’s all about gently patting things into the face – not rubbing – doing a little massage (thank you, jade roller!) & staying away from rough physical exfoliants. That’s always something I keep in mind, but it’s especially on my mind in the winter, when my skin is more sensitive…which means that it’s more likely to break open & start either a blemish or an infection. Neither are good.

So: here are some old products I’ve started religiously incorporating into my routine, & here are a few fun things that I picked up during the Sephora 20% off sale. Enjoy! Happy December; I hope these give you a few ideas for gifts, whether they’re for others or just for yourself.

Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling – Green Tea 

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Let’s start with the things I’ve never tried before! This was something I got when Sephora had their sale; I’ve been looking for a peel like this for a little while – something like the Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Milk Peel, except cheaper. I love Dr Jart+ as a brand, but sometimes…you just don’t want to pay $40 for some cotton pads & liquid. Maybe I’ll be kicking myself in the future for saying this – maybe it really is that great – but for now, I’m staying on-budget.

These are cheap! The container holds 30 single-use pads. You’re not supposed to use these more than twice a week; even if you use them twice a week, they’ll last a good while – 15 weeks, if we’re going to do the math. That, plus the 20% off & the good reviews sold me.

Neogen was originally sold only by SokoGlam, a K-Beauty website similar to Peach & Lily. That means that Neogen, like Dr. Jart+, is a K-Beauty brand; in my eyes, this meant that I was paying for a K-Beauty product that promised to do the same thing that Dr. Jart+’s product did…just cheaper.

There were two types: green tea & lemon. I initially leaned towards the lemon ones, until a friend told me that lemon was too harsh for dry skin. I was a bit scared after that, but the positive reviews on the green tea ones settled my nerves.

These pads are three-layer, & claim to be “perfect for sensitive skin.” They’re tinted a slight green; I’m not sure if it’s natural or synthetic. The scent is very pleasing! It’s very fresh, very…green. It reminds me of some aromatherapy oils – just not as heavy, of course. Main ingredient is green tea, of course: it soothes, reduces redness, & exfoliates without drying the skin. It also contains tea tree extract, which helps speed up the skin’s natural healing process. I saw a few reviews mentioning that it helped fade scarring & dark spots; I saw a lot of reviews saying how bright their skin got after they started using these.

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These are easy as pie to use! The little pad has a tiny pocket that you slip your two fingers into; once your pad is appropriately placed, swirl “the criss-cross side” over your clean, dry skin. I do about 30 seconds for each side; for me, less is almost always more when it comes to chemical exfoliants. Then: flip the pad around to its quilted side, which is very soft. It gets rid of any dirt/debris that the initial exfoliation would have brought to the surface of the skin. Then, rinse with warm water. Done!

I kept close tabs on my skin to see if I noticed any drying effects. Nope! None at all. All I noticed was brighter skin, clearer skin – & a lot less redness, which I’m always trying to combat. This is definitely a winner for sensitive skin; I have seen some noticeable results, I haven’t had any negative side effects, & I’m calm with the knowlege that this product will last me a good long time. When it’s over & done with, though, I know I’ll be getting another jar.

(Since this is a chemical exfoliant, make sure you wear sunscreen! You should always wear sunscreen, but you REALLY need to wear sunscreen if you’re using chemical exfoliants like these pads, BHA/AHA products, glycolic acid, lactic acid…etc. They increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, & we all know what that means. Wear! Sunscreen!)

Lilah B. B. Merry Divine Duo Lip & Cheek Set 

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As the name might suggest, this is a holiday exclusive! Definitely a deal; lilah b. products are not cheap. This has a $92 value, & you get two lip & cheek products, a cute little box in which to put them – & the coolest packaging in the world.

I’m not sure where I first heard of lilah b., but I believe it was on YouTube; I can’t remember who was using it or what was being used, but I do remember that the review was positive, & the packaging really caught my eye. I forgot about the brand for a little while, but when this popped up in the holiday sets on Sephora’s site, I was intrigued & decided to give it a go.

lilah b. is a green beauty brand; they’re cruelty-free, vegan, & most of their products are multi-purpose – all are enriched with botanicals (my skin loves botanicals) like aloe & agar, just to name a few. “Their luxurious formulas deliver a healthy, glowing finish” & “each product is housed in their sleek & modern signature stones.”

That was what first caught my eye, of course – & I was very curious to see how these “stones” felt & looked in real life. When my set came, I was shocked at how heavy the packaging was; it’s extremely weighty. I’m not sure what the packaging is made of, but it feels like ceramic. It fits in the palm of your hand, it slides open, & it snaps shut magnetically with a very satisfying “click.” If you’re an ASMR junkie (like me) you’ll love opening & closing these little pebbles for hours upon hours.

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Okay – so what about the actual product, though? The two shades in this set are “b. memorable” & “b. dazzling.” b. memorable is a dark wine color – darker than the outside of the packaging, b. dazzling is a glowy champagne color, similar to that of Glossier Haloscope in Quartz.

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In the description, Sephora said “Long-wearing yet creamy and moisturizing, lilah.b’s innovative formulation provides blendable and buildable color, perfect for going from day to night. Apply as a cream eyeshadow for the ultimate multitasker.” That’s a lot to live up to, so I was looking closely as I applied these for the first time. First time was a charm; these are beautiful.

b. memorable (the wine shade) is incredible for fair skin because it’s so buildable. Usually, I’ll look like I just need some sleep if I put on a color like this – either that, or I’d better really make up the rest of my face so I don’t look like that. That’s why I love this: one little tap of my pinky finger in the “pebble” of product, & you get a lot of pigment…but the pigment blends out seamlessly, & I can pat it out to get a light layer of pigment – or put on a bolder swipe for a little more color. Same goes for b. dazzling: it’s extremely pigmented, but there’s no actual glitter; my cheekbones, lips, or eyes (wherever I choose to put it) just have a beautiful, dewy glow. It’s hard to describe the finsh of these products – but I’d go with cream-to-powder…except not really. Again – hard to describe, but trust me when I say: these are beautiful! I’m glad I got the set. I really want to create a monochrome look with b. memorable; I love red pigments because it makes my green eyes pop – & trust me when I say: these do not crease. They do not budge! They stay in place; they stay put. For the price, they definitely should…but not all luxury-priced products live up to their pricetag. I’d say that lilah b. does – no doubt about it.

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Both of the shades are permanent collection; you just save money if you buy the holiday set – so, if either or both of these shades are appealing to you (& I recommend both for any & all skin tones & types) spring for the set – you’ll save some money, & you’ll have two cool pebble-type products that you can carry in your purse. You’ll probably even start a conversation around them. They’re that cool. It’s truly the perfect holiday duo: a dark, winter wine color coupled with a shimmery, dewy champagne. I’m in love. You probably would be, too. Purchase for some nice shades, green clean beauty, & some “ASMR tingles” thanks to the packaging.

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder

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Not a cheap product – that’s why I waited until the holiday sale to try it out. I’d have probably gotten this sooner, if the indigo version of the rice powder (I’ll explain the differences in a minute) was in a mini $15 size, like the regular one – but alas, sensitive-skinned folks need to go big or go home with this one…so I waited for the right time to go big. But not as big. Because it wasn’t as much. Anyway.

Tatcha is known for it’s Instagram/Youtube famous bright purple mask, its gold-plated lip balms, its dewy skin mist…& then you hear about this from time to time, too. I wish people heard more about it; I wish that the indigo version was talked about more! According to Tatcha, the rice enzyme powder line “provide non-abrasive daily exfoliation to create a smooth, makeup-ready canvas.” They’re made up of Japanese rice bran that’s a powder – until it comes into contact with damp skin. Then, it transforms into a very light, delicate foam. It’s a physical exfoliant that contains rice and papaya enzymes, which exfoliate & soften the skin, plus the trademarked “Hadasei-3™” formula, which is “a trio of anti-aging Japanese superfoods: green tea, rice, and algae.” Together, they hydrate, exfoliant, soften, & brighten.

There are several versions of the Tatcha Enzyme Rice Powder – Original, which is best for normal/combo/dry skin; Deep, which is best for combo/oily skin; Gentle, which is best for dry skin; & Indigo, which is best for sensitive skin. I was split between Gentle & Indigo, so I emailed Tatcha for help. They suggested Indigo – so I went with Indigo.

Along with the rice bran, special formula, superfoods, & papaya enzymes, the Indigo powder contains  natural Japanese indigo, which – you guessed it! – “calms and soothes easily irritated and inflamed skin.” I was a bit nervous to use this, because I’ve never tried a powder-to-foam cleanser, & my skin doesn’t generally like foams. Still, I knew Tatcha was famous for this product, I was curious about the sensitive version, & I knew just by looking at the container that it would last a long while.

When my powder arrived, it came packaged very nicely – which is as it should be, like I always say for luxury brands. It came with some folded up instructions – Tatcha recommends that those with sensitive skin using the Indigo powder only use it 2-3 times a week; that seemed reasonable, & I didn’t want to switch out my (much cheaper & very effective) cleanser for this one. It’d be a nice bi/tri-weekly treat for my skin.

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This powder is a very pale purple; it looks like crushed up Smarties, being the color that it is. It doesn’t really have a scent, from what I can detect.

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You definitely need to make sure that your face & hands are damp when using this, just like the instructions say. If they’re not, you’ll have a flop, just like me. I was sitting there with some half-foaming, gritty powder in my hands, angry that I’d wasted product (not a lot, but still…it’s product). Second try was successful: the purple powder transformed into the light foam, as promised, & I started gently swirling it around my skin – about 30 seconds per area. I cleansed for about 90 seconds total.

I’m not sure if this is making a huge difference, but it’s either this, the Neogen pads, or  combo of both – those are the completely new skincare products I’ve tried this month. I’ve seen brighter, clearer skin – & my skin is definitely softer after I use it. I’d give this the thumbs-up for people with sensitive skin; I’m curious  to see if my skin would get worse if I stopped using it – but then…I get scared. I’ll see if I can find a dupe some time in the future – or, maybe it truly is worth its weight in gold, like Drunk Elephant has proven to me (more than once). Only time will tell.

Tatcha Kissed With Gold Holiday Set 

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  1. I’ve been lusting over Tatcha’s Camellia Gold Spun Lip Balm for over a year now
  2. Tatcha has free shipping on any order $25+ on their site
  3. Tatcha had 20% off on Black Friday weekend

That was all the convincing I needed to get this. For $32, you get the lip balm (which is $30) & a little box, which is pretty for a vanity (but not necessary) as well as a very handy – & again, very pretty – Gold Leaf Travel Mirror.

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Essentially, you’re getting a travel mirror for free, & you’re paying $2 more for the balm. I think that I just made free shipping; it was around $28, I believe – so a big win for sure. This is still available on Tatcha’s site – so if you’ve been drooling over the balm like I have, go get it in the set & get a free mirror. Gold-plated anything is really nice, right?

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This is definitely a bit gimmicky. I don’t think that anyone needs this balm. It’s kind of like Glossier’s Birthday Balm Dotcom – you get a little shimmer, & it tints your lips slightly golden. It’s pretty; more of a shimmer than glitter. It’s not tacky like a lip gloss – so maybe it’s a must-have for someone who wants a bit of sparkle but doesn’t want to deal with the stickiness of a lip gloss. I will say that it did keep my lips very hydrated throughout the day, & I only re-applied once because I wanted a little more shimmer. It has a pleasant scent – unexpected, but pleasant. I expected it to smell floral; it has a citrus-y scent to it, which I like too. It’s invigorating! The texture is also pleasing; it’s not gooey, but it’s not waxy. You need to let your finger warm the product a little bit if you want to scoop out more than just a touch, which I like – you’re not going to be dripping with product. A little info about the balm itself: as the name suggests, it’s enriched with camellia oil, as well as squalene oil. Both of these are extremely hydrating & protect the skin’s moisture barrier along with locking in extra hydration. Camellia especially is “rich in oleic acid and vitamins A, B, D and E as well as Omegas 3, 6 and 9.” I’m seeing a trend with the superfood ingredients here.

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Again – at the end of the day, it’s not a must-have; if you’re looking for a nice gift for either yourself or someone special, it’s a nice little touch. Let’s be honest here – it is truly a beautiful thing to look at. It makes you feel fancy. Feeling fancy makes you fancy – & there you go.

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As for the gold-plated mirror – not much to say about that, except that it’s cute. It’s gold-plated. It’s a mirror. I used it to apply my lip balm when I retouched it; it fits nicely even in my (quite small) Pop & Suki Camera Bag – so it’s a nice thing to have on hand no matter what kind of bag you carry. When you’re already buying a $30 balm, might as well pay $2 more for a fancy-looking mirror, right? You’ve already reached free shipping status on Tatcha’s site at this point, anyway.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser 

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I know…I know. You’re probably saying (or thinking): Oh for God’s sake…again??? I know. Hear me out – I’ve been using MJC differently lately. Also – look! A product you don’t have to save up for 3 weeks to afford!

For a long time, I watched people talk about how they used Milky Jelly on dry skin vs. damp skin. I knew that it could be used either way; for whatever reason, I had no interest in trying it. So: what made me finally go for it?

Laziness. I had a headache one day, I didn’t want to move outside my room, & I blindly grabbed for my bottle of Milky Jelly, thinking: I know this works on dry skin. I used it, patted my face with a towel I dampened with my water bottle (listen…I was sick, okay?) patted on a toner, slapped on some moisturizer, & buried my head in the darkness of my pillow again.

I woke up the next day with softer, smoother skin, & I couldn’t forget the sensation of using the cleanser on dry skin. It’s bouncy, it’s soft; it takes a minute to warm up, but after it’s settled down, it essentially feels as though I’m massaging my face with a gel-type mask. I think the “massaging” has helped, too – it improves circulation in the face & defines/lifts your features. Just a new tip (that’s only new to me) that I’ve recently been following. I can say with confidence: I haven’t used Milky Jelly on damp skin since I started using it on dry skin. This method really is that much better. Just make sure your hands are clean – then, go to town.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% 

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Let’s switch to a more affordable product for a second – because let’s be honest, almost everyone can afford a $6 serum. Here’s The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%.

Are you surprised that I’ve mentioned this as a favorite? I am, too! That’s because I previously wrote about not liking the consistency of this particular serum on my skin, when I bought it to see if it was a dupe for Glossier’s Super Pure Serum (it’s not: same ingredients, but completely different texture & results – at least, different results for me). I stopped using it because it felt too sticky/tacky on my face, & I started noticing that it was drying my skin out. I put it at the back of my top shelf.

The other day, when I was sifting through things I don’t use to give away/sell, I found this vial again. It’s kind of hard to sell a $6 serum – let’s be real. I just let it hang out for a little while longer.

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A few days later, I noticed a blemish forming. I don’t know what prompted me to grab this serum & use it as a daytime spot treatment, but I did it – & I’m glad I did. By the end of the day, my blemish was almost completely gone. There was almost no redness, & any actual inflammation was gone. I shouldn’t be shocked – the niacinamide/zinc combo is praised because of its anti-inflammatory properties – but I think I was just shocked that I ended up liking this product…just not the way in which I originally intended to use it.

Perhaps this works well as a full-face product for people with oily/normal skin; it’s just too drying for me to put all over my face. However – it did just as good a job with calming any breakouts or blemishes as the Origins Super Spot Remover. Granted, I haven’t been breaking out much lately, so maybe my skin is just more balanced now; still, it’s worth a try if you’re truly looking for a dirt-chip spot treatment.

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution is also a serum by The Ordinary. This one is genuinely meant to be a spot treatment – I won’t be buying it, because

  1. The Ordinary suggests in the product info that the salicylic solution shouldn’t be used on very dry/sensitive skin. So, I’ll take their warning & won’t be trying it for myself, because…
  2. The niacinamide serum works just fine as a spot treatment for me; no need to spend another $6. Still, I think it’s valuable information, if you’re looking for a spot treatment made with the intent to treat spots, which the niacinamide serum was not. That’s just me improvising.

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How much should you use if you also want to try the niacinamide serum as a spot treatment? Not even a dropperful. Just squeeze out a tiny tiny drop. If you’re using it this way, it’s a spot treatment – & just a little dot of a spot treatment is the most successful method. Less is more.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

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I’ve talked about this before. I’ve talked about it the most in my “brand review” of Kypris, which you can read here. The main point of my post on that brand was to find out which products would be worth purchasing myself – would I like them enough to pay the price?

I specifically mentioned that the Antioxidant Dew was my favorite Kypris product, & that I’d recommend that one before any other Kypris product. That’s because it’s unique! It’s a thin, milky liquid – not quite a serum, but not exactly an essence, either. I pat about three drops into my skin in the mornings; I don’t use it in evenings. It’s not bad to use it twice a day – but I’m a bit skimpier with my more expensive products, because I want them to last.

So – what else makes the Antioxidant Dew so special? If you want it short & sweet, here it is: it’s jam-packed with ocean extracts & herbal antioxidants. Vitamin C & E nourish your skin’s barrier; sea algea extracts calms the skin; reed extract, which is a sea vegetable used to release heat/calm irritations. The list goes on; it’s long enough that I’d be tired after finishing describing each of them in detail. Just know that despite being jam-packed with all these antioxidants, botanicals, etc., the Antioxidant Dew doesn’t feel heavy on the skin; not even a little bit. It just leaves a radiant glow to the complexion. About three days after I started using it, I began to notice my complexion looking brighter & clearer; it also seemed to tighten my skin.

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This has been a beloved product ever since I received it; I’m sadly watching the last of the dew disappear – I love it, but I’m not quite sure if I’ll be buying it. The price tag is high. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m currently trying out a product that’s $35 or so cheaper; a product that might end up being better than the Antioxidant Dew! I’ve just started using it & am keeping my eyes peeled; I have a feeling that this new product could “replace” both the Antioxidant Dew & the product next up in my favorites.

For now though, let me say this: the Antioxidant Dew is absolutely a unique product, & the product I’m using has a different consistency. It’s not a bad product; I absolutely love it! But if there’s something cheaper out there…well….

Saturday Skin Freeze Frame Beauty Essence 

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& here we have: a product I forgot I owned. Let me rationalize it by saying that I own the Saturday Skin Wide Awake Eye Cream (which is excellent) & both bottles look the same – the essence is just bigger. So – in my defense, the packaging is identical except for the size. Millennnial pink on white, silver caps, same shape…you get it.

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Okay. So how did I rediscover it? Believe it or not, I rediscovered it from the site I bought it on: Peach & Lily. Alicia Yoon, founder of Peach & Lily, took over the site’s Instagram story on Black Friday, naming some of her favorite products. I find her voice incredibly calming, & I love watching her talk about products she loves, especially new & exciting ones. When she popped the Saturday Skin essence into the frame… *record scratch* – oh wait! I have that! I don’t need to drool over it, I can just take a trip to my cabinet!

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A trip to the cabinet was made, & I tried out the essence that evening. I remembered that the reason I put it away was because my skin was congested, & I wasn’t sure if that was the root cause of it. Just in case it was, I decided to use it in the way I’ve been using all of my products: less is more. I only used one pump for my whole face, & I took my time patting it in, then going over my face with a jade roller.

This essence has Saturday Skin’s patented secret formula (that appears in all their products) & also contains pomegranate extract, which helps elasticity; avocado protein, which nourishes skin & protects its barrier; & peach extract, an antioxidant that brightens yet keeps skin supple & smooth. It smells amazing – probably not a surprise to hear that, after seeing all of those ingredients. It’s white & slightly transluscent; definitely more of a gel cream than a liquid. It won’t slide down your hand.

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Results? After about a week of using this, I’ve noticed that my skin looks tighter & brighter. But:

Like I said – I’m currently trying a product that is a ~sort of~ dupe for the Kypris Antioxidant Dew, & when I think of the Kypris & Saturday Skin products being mixed together, that’s the best way I can describe the consistency of the product I’m trying right now. If it lives up to my expectations (& it has been so far) I probably will not repurchase this or the Kypris product. Why pay more when you can get it for less – & get the same (if not better) results? I don’t need to answer that qestion; let me just say again: let’s see what happens with this new product.

Glossier Balm Dotcom (Original)

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I’ll keep it short & sweet on this one. You all know about Glossier Balm Dotcom & how much I love it. Recently, I made a return to the original version; that’s the unscented one with no tint at all. It was the first Balm Dotcom Glossier released; the flavored/scented versions were follow-ups that rolled out slowly.

Why do I like this one so much all of a sudden? Well, I ran out of my tube of Rose Balm Dotcom (which is a big favorite, too) & I was waiting for my order to arrive; I found a half-used tube of the OG Balm Dotcom & decided to use it while I was waiting for my rose balm to arrive.

I forgot how good the texture is. Don’t get me wrong – none of the Balm Dotcoms are bad. None of them dry out your lips (I have this problem a lot with several lip balms); they all smell amazing, & I love the shimmery Birthday Cake flavor, I love the Rose (obviously) & I even love the Mint – even though I hate almost all “mint-flavored” products.

But…there’s something special about the original Balm Dotcom. The texture is better than the rest of them – I’m not going to lie. I started using it on some dry patches on my face, too, & the dry spots were gone within 48 hours.

My lips are always dry, & I need to wear a lip mask at night if I want to wake up without feeling as though my lips might fall off, but the Original Balm Dotcom is a great daytime balm for me. Sometimes, I even use it overnight. All the balms are hydrating, but this one is the most hydrating & nourishing, in my opinion – & this is coming from someone who has tried every single flavor. If you’ve forgotten the Original, go revisit it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. If you can’t pick just one, consider the Balm Dotcom Trio – they have limited edition packaging for the holidays, & you can pick your three favorites. If I were to build a trio right now, I’d go with Original (no scent or tint; good for all areas of the face & body); Rose (amazing scent with a texture almost as good as Original); & Birthday Cake (works as a highlight, a lip luminizer, & looks pretty on eyelids, too).

I got a bit off-track, but my point is: go revisit Original Balm Dotcom. You won’t regret it.

Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Mask 

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I mentioned this mask in my last point right here, & I gave quite a detailed description, so I’ll keep this one short.

This is a self-warming mask that contains Farmacy’s trademarked “secret” Echinacea GreenEnvy™, a blend 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.” The mask looks like actual honey in the jar, as you can see; it’s a bit goopy, too – kind of how raw honey is. The honey-gold gel turns into a soft, white cream that has a self-warming effect. The mask transforms from gold to white thanks to the glycerin in it, another key ingredient. Glycerin attracts moisture to the skin while providing its own benefits, which make the skin more supple.

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The honey/honey-derived products = lots of antioxidant effects. This mask makes me feel warm & toasty (it is most certainly warm) & when I rinse it off, my face feels softer & my skin looks & feels more elastic. It’s not a mask I use in the summer – I feel like it’s a bit heavy for warmer/more humid weather – but it’s a mask I pulled out of my cabinet as soon as I detected a cold wind. It’s like a heated blanket for your face – combined with lots of things that leave your skin feeling good, even when the “blanket” is washed off. I give a few extra points for the cool metal spatula, which magnetically snaps to the top of the mask’s jar.

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Warm & cozy – perfect for those winter nights when you feel like you need 10 electric blankets on top of you. Your skin will love it, too – just be prepared for a little “detox” the first time you use it. Second time is better, third time is the charm. After that, you’re in the clear. Say hi to your new skin: moisturized, plump, elastic, & toasty-warm.

Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Facial Oil

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Again – another product I talked about in my post on hydrating products for the wintertime, which you can read here; again, I’ll keep it short & sweet, since I’ve already talked about it.

Basically, this facial oil is a great step up for those of you who want something a little ~fancier~ than an oil by The Ordinary (their rosehip oil is great, I will say) or Mario Badescu, perhaps. The price tag is high, but you get a lot of product – way more than a Sunday Riley oil – & you’re paying way less for the larger amount that you’re recieving.

This is an oil I recommend for all skin types, because it’s kind of the middle ground out of Herbivore’s three facial oils. It’s also the cheapest – & it smells & feels delicious. As you might guess from the name, it contains orchid extract, which is a powerful antioxidant that attracts moisture to the skin, fights against free radicals, & contains calcium, magnesium, & zinc – these all have great anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s soothing, but it also won’t break you out or clog your pores.

This oil also contains camellia flower oil – which I mentioned just a few products above, when I talked about the Tatcha balm. Camellia is an oil that absorbs easily, doesn’t leave any greasy residue, & contains Omegas 3 and 6, which increases the skin’s elasticity – & makes you glow.

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One last main ingredient: jasmine sambac oil, which, according to Herbivore, “comes from the night blooming variety of jasmine,” & has “been used in skincare and perfumery for centuries.” This is what gives the Orchid Facial Oil its beautiful, delicate floral scent; it also improves the skin’s elasticity & increases moisture content.

All-in-all, it’s a great oil to use all the time if you have dry skin; it’s great to use even for oily skin during drier months. It smells incredible, applies smoothly with a velvety finish, & works either by itself  (2-3 drops patted into the face before applying cream) or mixed in with your cream. Either way, you’ll see baby-soft skin, & no negative side effects. I wish there was a perfume out there that smelled like this – well, maybe there is, & I just don’t know about it.

Glossier Lip Gloss / Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer 

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Two glosses that I’ve raved about in the past & will continue to rave about – I’ve been wearing them “differently” this month & this is why I’m talking about them both yet again.

The Glossier Lip Gloss looks a bit pink in the tube but has a crystal-clear finish; it’s very shiny & makes your lips look “sparkly” but there is absolutely no glitter in it. I know MAC calls their lip glosses “lip glasses,” but I associate “lip glass” with a lip product that’s crystal-clear & has no specks of glitter in it. Some MAC’s lip glasses have glitter; some don’t. I don’t use their glosses, but I like the term “lip glass” – it’s probably the best way to describe the Glossier gloss. You’ll get lots of shine, lots of hydration (thanks to the Vitamin E) & you can even use it as an overnight lip mask – that’s how hydrating it is. Thank me later, because it’s cheaper than MAC – & it’s cruelty-free, too.

Fenty Gloss Bomb – again, something that I say everyone needs. This one does have shimmer in it. I’m still floored at how Rihanna managed to make a lip gloss that looks different yet beautiful on every single person who wears it; I’ve heard that Fenty Girl (& big crush) Slick Woods has gone through five tubes of it since it came out. I don’t blame her. It looks good no matter what. I can put this on if I’m wearing absolutely no other makeup on my face – & I will look more put together, without a doubt. This is a big win, & it’s something I’ll keep purchasing. It’s also affordable – especially for a brand that has a big celebrity’s name on it. Rihanna really is looking out for all of us; I know “FentyCare” is a joke…but…Rihanna, can you make it happen please? Asking for a friend. I know that everything you do is stellar. Please? Please. Thank you!

Why did I list both of these? Well, because although they’re quite different (Glossier’s gloss is clear, & Fenty’s Gloss Bomb is not) they both work really well by themselves – by that I mean that you can slap on either of these without wearing any other makeup, & you’ll look just a bit more put together. Also, they’re both affordable. Also, they both have beautiful packaging. Also, they’re incredibly hydrating. I could go on – but I don’t think I need to. Both of thse prodcuts sell themselves.

Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Cream For Nails

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I’ve talked about this in my post about “nail care,” which you can read right here. If this one is out of your price range, there are some great dupes in that post – but I think this is worth the $27, & here’s why: you need the tiniest bit to cover all ten of your cuticles. It smells incredible. It lasts forever – I’m not even close to being finished. In fact, it looks like I just started using it, when I have in fact been using it since the end of August. A little goes a very long way.

The color is beautiful, the texture is a bit tacky, but not bad at all, especially because it works so well – if you have dry cuticles, this is definitely a product to consider. As Sephora says, “Created in 1963, Dior’s ‘Cult-favorite Magic Multi-tasker’ is the key to truly terrific nails. This creamy salve encourages nail growth, improves nail strength, and conditions cuticles. It can be massaged into the base of nail pre- or post- polish.”

This is a cult-favorite, like the description says. Into The Gloss has raved about it, it has nearly 5 stars on Sephora’s review page, &…it’s just a really good product, okay? Plus – the packaging is beautiful. It’s hard to resist that perfect, ivory-white circular jar with “CD” engraved on the top. The color & texture is beautiful & it smells delicious. Maybe this sounds weird, but it looks good enough to eat.

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Think about it, especially if you have dry/sensitive skin in general (face, body, nailbeds…you name it). I like to think that if it’s been around since 1963 & is still going strong, it has to be good, right? That’s what I told myself when I bought it – & when it arrived, it lived up to expectations. My hands smell incredible, & my nailbeds are always soft now. It’s good. It’s really good. A nice stocking-stuffer for sure.

Jade Roller 

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I’ve talked about these before – in fact, it was one of the earlier posts I put up on this blog. If you don’t know much about them, here’s some more detailed information on them – if you already know what they do, read on to find out why I’ve been using this all the time this past month – & why I intend to keep doing that.

Jade has properties that allow it to remain cool on contact with skin – yes, they’ll warm up after a little bit, but they stay cool for a good while, & once you take it off your face, it cools down right to its “starting point.” This coolness helps close pores & tighten skin; it “lifts” your face – hence why it’s used as an anti-aging tool – & it also helps keep your skin clear, thanks to its pore-tightening properties.

I don’t really have an explanation for why I set my jade roller on my shelf for a while & left it be; I just know that when I started using it again regularly (every time I do my skin care) I noticed a difference: skin looks brighter, I don’t have as much puffiness around my eyes when I wake up (thanks to this double-sided roller that I have; the smaller end really works under the eye area), & I feel extremely pampered & relaxed while “rolling my face.”

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How to use? Well, I’ve been talking about applying my products in my routine in light layers – let’s take 2-3 drops of…Kypris Antioxidant Dew for an example. After gently patting/pressing the product into my skin, I go over my face with the roller. It feels cooling & soothing, which is always nice, & it allows the product to absorb even better – at least, that’s what I’m assuming, because ever since I started using it in this way, I’ve seen better results with my routine that’s been pretty consistent for more than a little while. Less product, more massaging. I think that’s a good philosophy to go by. Plus – you’re saving money…so, less product, less $ spent, more massaging that makes you feel like you’re getting a spa treatment in the comfort of your own bathroom/bedroom.

This is great if you have anxiety! Oftentimes, I’ll have pain in the morning or evening – mornings especially. This isn’t “a cure” for anything, but it allows me to preoccupy my hands while closing my eyes, imagining that I’m in a quiet, calm spa environment.

The three recurring questions I get are listed below, with my short & to-the-point answers:

  1. Are they (jade rollers) worth it? – Absolutely! You can get one for $10 on Amazon (they work just as well), you can get one for $25-30 (Herbivore Botanicals, Mount Lai, & GingerChi all have good ones in that price range) & if you read the full post I wrote about rollers, you can even find one for $100. Obviously that’s excessive, but my point is that you can find a good-quality roller for a small amount of money. If you do a little hunting, you can find some truly unique ones, too! I know that rose quartz facial rollers are currently “buzzing.” I’m not sure if the properties/results are different, but maybe I should get one to see. If any of you have a rose quartz one, let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
  2. How expensive was your roller? The one I’m currently using – the one in this post – is from GingerChi, & it’s $24. Like I said – even if you’re paying for an “authentic, good quality roller,” it doesn’t have to break the bank. The GingerChi roller is a perfect example of that.
  3. How do you clean your roller? I just wipe it down with a few drops of micellar water on a clean cloth after using it! You don’t need anything fancy. Just don’t use super hot water – jade doesn’t take well to that – & don’t use any harsh cleaning chemicals. Treat it gently, just like you would your skin! If you’ve been doing that all along, just keep going at it.

All-in-all, I’m really glad I started using this again this month! I picked it up off my top shelf on a whim when I was feeling anxious; after using it, I kicked myself for not using it every single day & night the past few months, then cleaned it, & put it at the top of my shelf. It deserves to be treasured, not forgotten.

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Seriously, though – are you anxious? Do you find that your skin care routine is a way for you to de-stress? Throw a jade roller into your routine; you won’t be disappointed. & yes, sometimes I just use this absentmindedly if I’m chilling out at home. Why not, right?

Well – that’s all I have for you! I put the jade roller last, because it’s been a key tool for me this past month. Smaller amounts of product, layered carefully – then massaged in with my jade roller. It’s no coincidence that I noticed a very noticeable positive difference in my skin once I started doing this. If you have one that’s laying there unused, take it out! Use it! If you don’t have one, head to Amazon, head to Herbivore, head to GingerChi…just get yourself a good one, okay? Okay.

Happy end of November; happy beginning of December. I cannot wait to share my projects with you in December, & I cannot wait to get back on my grind in January! This year was incredibly difficult, & I’ll save all of that for a different post, but let me just say: I’m incredibly grateful to all of you! Thank you for reading my posts; thank you for telling me you want to hear/see more! Thank you for being so enthusiastic about my “blog.” It means the world. It’s been a big motivator in me realizing that I can do a lot of things; I’m still talented, I still have a lot of strengths, & I have a lot to share & a lot to talk about. I can’t wait to keep that going.

Love,

Sofia ❤

If you’re considering a jade roller/quartz roller – or any purchase at Herbivore – here’s 25% off! Yay!

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)

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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

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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.

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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

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“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 

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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.

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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 

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$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.

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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.”

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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

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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?

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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

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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.

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Balm Dotcom sitting with its pal: Coco Rose 

Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Youth-Preserving Facial Oil – $64

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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!

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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

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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 

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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.”

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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

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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?

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Texture heaven

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

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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.

Love,

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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Love,

Sof ❤