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 ❤

#DrunkInLove – “Unboxing” Some Drunk Elephant Minis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay! On to the goods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So – which would I choose, & why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C-Firma™ Day Serum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why's the Virgin Marula such a big deal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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lt; strong>Lala Retro™ Whipped Cream< img class=”alignnone wp-image-13387″ src=”https://sofhoney.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/img_4515-1.jpeg&#8221; alt=”IMG_4515-1″ width=”3096″ height=”2320″><<
ve been hearing a lot about this product for ages, mostly because I was so intrigued by the packaging – it has an air-tight "pump" – or, a dispenser that hands you product without having to stick your fingers in a jar. It's a great bonus for those who try to keep their skin care products as clean as possible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But!

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

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

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lt;

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

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

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

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

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

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lt;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New favorites?

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

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

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

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

Love,

Sof <3<<
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Back To Basics: Morning Edition

“Okay. This past month, I’ve been trying to cut back on the variety of products I use. I tend to want to try the latest & greatest of everything; that often results in finding amazing products, yes! It also results in my skin getting confused – more & more, as time goes on. That is: I try so many new things that if my skin doesn’t like something new, it can take me forever to get the bad product out of my system, since I have to sift through so many other options. I’ll probably make a more detailed post on this to come – but yes, I’m trying to simplify my routine. Doesn’t mean I won’t have lots to say on here, don’t worry! I’m not going to stop trying new things. Skin can always look better (i my opinion) & I’m always open to new options. Over these past few months, especially after starting my site, I’ve learned that it’s just good to have some solid, staple products always in my back pocket – or my top shelf.”

Well, I mentioned this in my August Favorites post –  & now you’re getting the “more detailed post,” as promised. However, since I tend to overdo everything, I figured that I’d split my “Back To Basics” skin care products into two posts: one for the morning, one for the evening. Because – I’ll admit it – my morning & night routines are still different. I wouldn’t call that cheating, though – my skin does need different products at different times of the day, & I could always use an extra layer of hydration in the evening. Let’s call this splitting decision a good one, alright? Plus, you get two articles to read! By me!

What is my “Back To Basics” thing all about?

Well….I am a skin care hoarder. I own too many serums, masks, & other products. I am the first to acknowlege that I don’t need it all – some of it I give to my family or donate.

However…I’m always pulled in by a new campaign’s promises & sneak peeks (I see you Fenty Beauty!). That results in me spending more money on a product I might only use once or twice – I might not even like it.

Even if I do like the product, I have to remember – using 10 serums that all work really well on me isn’t necessarily good for my skin. Sure, it’s good to use a hydrating or brightening serum – it amps up your routine a bit & sometimes is that last thing you needed to achieve your “skin goals.”

I came to realize that I was skipping around products too fast; too soon. If I ever had some sort of reaction, it’d take me weeks to figure out which product was doing that – if any at all. I decided to narrow down my routine & keep it a bit more consistent.

So! I sat down in front of my top shelf, I made some hard cuts, & I came up with a much simpler, quicker skin care routine. I allowed myself to layer some serums & oils – but like I said, I narrowed it down & simplified it. I gave myself one pass: I would do whichever face masks I thought necessary. No limits on masks! Everything else, though…cut!

I have been doing this routine for about 10-14 days now, & have been loving how my skin looks. Brighter, fresher, more awake – even though I’m actually working a “real” job now! Gasp!

Now: let me get to work. Here are the products I’ve been using every morning for the past 10-14 days. Photos & mini reviews included, as always!

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser 

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I’ve raved enough about this cleanser for you all to know how much I love it – & why I love it. If you don’t know, here’s a piece I wrote all about it. Anyways: this cleanser is soft & gentle on my face in the morning, feels like a nice floral massage when I use my hands to cleanse, & when I pat my face dry, it doesn’t feel tight or painful. Most other cleansers make my skin feel this way; that’s one of the reasons why I love Milky Jelly so much. There are many more, too. Trust me.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater

I have been using this for years & have loved it; it’s the simplest, easiest toner out there, in my opinion. I know a lot of people have complained about this product in the past, saying that there’s better out there, but I like what I get with the price. Still – I’ll be switching up, soon. I’ve been recommended the Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin Spray – people say it’s the Mario Badescu one, but better; there’s more actual rose in there. I like that; my skin loves rose (though I know not all skin does) so I think upping the percentage of “real” rosewater will further help calm redness & sensitivity. Still, it’s Mario for now – til I run out!

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

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This stuff is liquid gold. Truly! The only other “high-end” brand I’ve seen such instant results with is Drunk Elephant’s Babyfacial/Framboos Serum. The Kypris Antioxidant Dew contains a bunch of herbal antioxidants, as well as Vitamins A & C (for moisture & brightness) & “an array of botanicals.”

This is quite a combination, & this product has quite the price tag…but I assure you, it’s worth it. For sensitive-skinned people looking for a clarifying, brightening product, this will be perfect for you.

The Dew is a very lightweight texture; no stickiness, tackiness, or goopiness. It looks a little like almond milk, just a little bit more substantial in consistency. I use only two drops: into my palm, pat hands together, pat on the face. Done. Kypris advises that this product be used as a lightweight moisture layer – & that’s exactly what I do with it.

Aromatica Damask Rose Soothing Gel

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Described as a lightweight moisturizer for “the face & body,” my face would be way too dry if I used this alone to moisturize! I layer it as a hydrating serum-type product

Sorry – I just realized that most of these products were in my August favorites; that’s okay, though…at least you know what I’m really using! This gel has essentially been used as another lightweigh, soothing layer of moisture for my skin. I’d hardly call it a serum as it’s 95% water; it’s more like a gel-consistency toner that sinks into the face. I use a dime-size amount for my whole face. It’s very cooling, soothing, & leaves my face refreshed & feeling even cleaner.

Glossier Super Pure 

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My vials (one empty, one full & ready to use) of Super Pure 

I’ve said over & over that if I had to pick one Glossier Super Serum for the rest of my life, it would be Super Pure. This has an amazing water-gel consistency that doesn’t dry down tacky; it soothes redness & calms the skin in general – but it also keeps breakouts at bay. It’s a serum that does several things at once; to me, those are the products that are most worth it if you’re trying to narrow things down. You’ll only be applying one thing; many things, however, will be happening to your skin. In a good way.

Embryolisse Lâit Creme Concentre

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A quite affordable, French pharmacy product now much more easily available to acquire in the U.S., thanks to shops like Beautylish & Dermstore. It’s described as a “moisturizer, make-up primer, & moisturizing mask.” That was super exciting to see! I’ve been trying to find a cheap leave-on mask, ever since I drooled over Delilah Parillo using a Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask – also a leave-on mask, except it’s over $200. That obviously wasn’t in the budget, so it was a nice surprise when I read the label before purchasing it.

I’d been asking for some good day creams that weren’t too expensive; although some swear they can’t tell, my skin hasn’t taken well to the higher amount of retinol in Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer (formula was changed for some reason; I don’t know why) & I needed something similar in consistency but not too expensive. A bunch of people recommended this cream to me; Jane Birkin used it, apparently, which was a selling point for me.

I was not disappointed when this product arrived. It’s very lightweight, but it’s still very possible to feel the hydrating effect this has throughout the day. I use a primer over it anyway if I really want to do something nice with my face, but it feels amazing on a “no makeup makeup” day. It feels amazing every other day, too. It’s just really good, okay? I love my French drugstore skin care.

Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen

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Because everyone needs their SPF. I like this one because it’s lightweight, not sticky, & leaves no white case, since it’s transluscent. When I wear makeup, I use products with SPF in them (CC creams, etc.) but when I’m not, I make sure to apply some sunscreen – just over top my moisturizer.

I won’t lie: I usually use this even if I’m layering another product containing SPF in it, anyway. I just am that careful.

Yes – this one is on the pricy side, but I love gel-consistency sunscreens, & at the moment, Lagom’s famous Sun Gel is sold out (yet again, no surprise) on all the sites that carry it (in the U.S. at least). So, until I’m able to snag a bottle of that (much cheaper) Lagom sunscreen, it’s Invisible Shield for me.

Well: that’s all – for now! I hope you’ve found some products that sound appealing, whether or not you’re trying to make a simpler, more concrete routine. These are all products I have loved since I started using them – that’s why I included them in my back to basics, of course!

What are the products you wouldn’t be able to leave out of a skin care routine? Let me know in the comments if you like!

Because I love overdoing things, I also made a YouTube video where I did this exact skin care routine (excluding sunscreen). Check it out here!

Love,

Sof ❤