Sunday Riley U.F.O Clarifying Face Oil | Review

As someone who’s been battling periodic breakouts for most of my adult life, you best believe I’ve tried everything, and I still have some naïve hopes in me that someday I will find that holy grail product that prevent breakouts for good.

In my spare time, I enjoy perusing the Sephora website and checking out all their new features, and one new one was a sort of “skincare customizer” where you pick out what you’re struggling with and they recommend products that should help you with whatever issues you’re experiencing. I’m already using anti-acne cleansers and spot treatments and while they do work, I guess I wanted something to truly clear my skin of all those nasty pimples. And that’s when they recommended this face oil from Sunday Riley.

I read up on the reviews and was instantly won over with the “OMG I freaking love this product its a holy grail I’ve been battling cystic acne for years and this totally helped” so I thought why not. The full size product costs $40 but luckily, the face oil was offered as one of the Beauty Insider point perks and so I confidently used my 100 points to get a little vial of this goodness.

First off, the smell of this oil is ridiculous! When you first apply it, I feel like there’s a strong whiff of either basil or oregano…either way the very first few seconds you smell like pizza. Once that first fragrance dissipates, you get this planty smell which to anyone who grew up in the USA, will 100% remind you of kindergarten. It smells like either some crayons we had or something but it is totally the smell of kindergarten according to everyone I let smell this and what’s worse is that the smell literally doesn’t go away.

Despite this, I still believed this would end my breakout woes, its a medicated dry oil to clear congested pores and breakouts so I’ve used this for about 5 days. On day 4 I noticed new breakouts forming, like the deep, painful type of zit that won’t just go away with a quick pop.

Its at that moment that I felt this product is totally a hoax and won’t actually help with your congested skin. Not to mention, it feels very heavy which if you already have oily skin, you might want something to feel light and refreshing, and the amount of salicylic acid in this is a joke, 1.5% is nothing and I don’t think it could actually help clear anything.

So, I’m really happy I got to try this as a sample, the vial would probably actually last around 2 weeks with consistent use and now I know not to go and spend money on this expensive face oil which doesn’t actually work.

Let me know what products you use to keep breakouts at bay!

 

Renewed Hope in a Jar Moisturizer | Review

To so many people, this item is a skincare staple, and ironically though I’ve worked with the company for so long, a few initial bad experiences really kept me away from this product until recently.

Based on philosophy’s original best selling Hope in a Jar moisturizer, the Renewed version features glycolic acid to renew and brighten the skin as well as to provide light, daily exfoliation, while the hyaluronic acid binds water molecules to the skin and gives all day hydration. There is a small concoction of natural extracts, but I would say the active ingredients are all of those acids which will give you the most results.

Now the reason why I really wasn’t a fan of this product was because when I applied it, it always pilled, not matter what I tried to do. Later on I learned that because of the exfoliators present in the cream, it might just mean that your skin needs to be exfoliated and all of those little pilled up balls are dead skin. I’m not entirely sure how true that is, I know that its still not something people want so I suggest using a gentle daily exfoliator before applying it because it will still exfoliate, but there won’t be any pilling.

After returning to this product, my skin felt refreshed, smoother, hydrated, but not greasy like I often feel after a moisturizer. It absorbs so quickly! It is oil-free and there are options for dry skin and with SPF 30. All in all, I’m really stunned by this number and now understand how come everyone loses their mind over Renewed Hope in a Jar.

My word of advice is if your skin is dry you might find this not hydrating enough. While its good for really light hydration, you still might feel dehydrated towards the end of the day in which case I’d suggest trying something else or using a more hydrating toner under it for perfect balance. But for my combination skin, I felt like my whole face was refreshed and not dry, not oily but just right so I will certainly keep using this moisturizer.

Drunk Elephant Peekee and Juju Cleansing Bars Review

Yet again, another brand that I’ve been dying to get my hands on but I’ve just been too afraid to because of the intimidating price point is Drunk Elephant. This brand is also fairly new to the Sephora collection of skincare but so far it has been enjoying a lot of good responses. Seeing as I am perpetually in the search of a good cleanser, I decided to check out theirs (also because its usually the cheapest product a skincare line has) and I was pleasantly surprised by all the raving reviews about their facial cleansing bars called Peekee and Juju. I did purchase these two as a travel size duo which I absolutely love because I got the best of both worlds (rather than racking my brain to decide which one is more suitable for me) plus for a really affordable price; $18 for two rather than $28 for one full size.

Without further ado, lets get started on the review shall we?

Peekee Bar

Reading up online, this appears to be the one more suitable for all skin types. This white bar once activated with a little water gives off a very gentle, milky texture that once you start to massage onto the skin actually feels very soft and almost hydrating. Initially, after first rinsing it off my skin does feel softer and hydrated however that feeling does fade after some minutes and my skin tends to feel slightly dry and tight, needing more moisture. Overall, this is targeted to help all skin types to balance the skin and tone it which I can vouch for. While I did like this one and how it felt on the skin, I think dry skin types will be able to appreciate this much better. As for the ingredients, blueberry extract and honey are very power anti-inflammatory agents for the skin that help soothe and the rest of the ingredients included in this bar are also very natural and nothing really negative that could potentially harm the skin. Really good job on this one D.E.!!

Juju Bar

This gray bar is tailored to better suit oily/combination skin types to help cleanse the skin of impurities. Activating it with water, it right away produces more suds and it does have what is said to be a mild exfoliation but to me it feels a bit more serious than mild. I think this is the bar that is more perfect for me because I do have oilier skin as well as some blemishes and I feel like this bar helps get rid of and stabilize my skin way more than the other one. The ingredients in this bar are a clay which is supposed to help heal the skin, bamboo powder which gives that exfoliating grit, and a super food blend to help heal the blemishes and acting up for the skin. I think this certainly helped get rid of my blemishes and continued use would surely make things better. Again, I love how natural everything is here and I like how I see these natural ingredients working to improve my skin. While I adore how soft and nurturing the Peekee bar feels on my skin (as opposed to the grit from this bar), I find that it gives way more of a result so I think that once I use it up this is the bar I’d repurchase even the full size from.

Overall, I’m super stoked about these cleansers, I think both are great and its wonderful that there are options for different skin types. The only thing is I find that bar cleansers are in a sense harder to use because you’re not supposed to apply them directly to the skin but whatevuh…sometimes you just have to struggle for these good products to work for you.

Guerlain Super Aqua-Serum Review

Hello lovelies!! This isn’t a product I would typically review because it is sooo out of my budget range, but my mom and I shared it for a bit, both came to the same conclusion and we are actually planning to return it. I just figured I might as well give you a quick review before I take it back.

So Guerlain is a super luxury high-end brand, they’re well known for their Météorites makeup and skincare line. My mom actually really liked their serum from that line and wanted to repurchase it, however when she went they stopped carrying it at Bloomingdales so instead she got it from this Super Aqua line.

The Thoughts

For a whopping $180 you best believe I and anyone else would expect this to be the greatest thing on earth. Much to my disappointment, often times price point doesn’t directly correlate with quality and this is certainly one of those cases. You can tell this is a luxury product from the bottle it comes in and the heavenly smell, but at the end of the day, these trivialities don’t nearly matter as much as the actual function of the product.

According to the description, this is a hydrating serum that is supposed to restore skin hydration and act as a protective barrier to shield skin against aggressors, as well as plumping wrinkles so your skin is supposed to be left smooth and rejuvenated. While they made it sound like something out of this world and working amazingly, to me its a big heap of nothing. If you already have signs of aging, like fine lines, no amount of hydration is helping to get rid of those already visible signs. I know, because I have smile lines and the only thing that’s been helping to smooth those out is the retinol treatment I’m using. Don’t get me wrong, proper hydration can definitely help against future signs of aging, but it won’t make such a big difference. And if hydration is all that matters then you could do just as well with a drugstore product that is also supposed to give deep hydration.

My mom is 42 years old, she’s got pretty good skin with no deep lines, and she is on the drier side. After using this product for a few weeks, she noticed her skin was irritated and she developed some blemishes. All of the things she was promised with wrinkles being plumped and what have you she did not witness.

My personal opinion on the product is that it is very hydrating, at least if you have oily/combo skin like myself you won’t like this product but if you have dry skin this would probably work better for you. I didn’t develop pimples from this, but I did get more clogged pores and black heads which all makes sense if we continue to look at the ingredients…

Ingredients

I have been burnt by high-end luxury skincare so many times I honestly don’t know why I keep trying and believing them, probably because I’m very naïve. I’ve tried brands as hoity toity as La Mer and Chanel and you would think being so expensive and charging $150+ for creams, they would have some amazing ingredients in there that would actually be good for you. WRONG!! I honestly think that what these brands do is they more so make you believe in the product because of the name, the price tag, and the fragrance. Reading the ingredients list, there will never be some super rare and pricy ingredient that is truly good for you, its all the same stuff you can find in just about any product that is for a far less price point.

In this particular serum, the first half of the listed ingredients (listed in order of concentration) are pretty much all chemicals. Fragrance falls in 22nd, however when you apply the product rather than having some soft lingering scent, this feels like a full on heavy perfume. Which is likely why my mother got the irritation because that is one strong fragrance they got.

Another thing that bothers me about the ingredients is the beeswax which falls sixth in the list. Wax in general is a really bad ingredient especially for those with oily skin. It tends to block pores and create more buildup which obviously is unwanted for anyone. Therefore, I would say there is almost nothing good in this serum. It is 100% not worth the money and next time I hope my mother will also do more research before going out on a limb and buying such a pricy product with pretty much no basis.

Tatcha Best Sellers Review

Hello lovelies!! I finally went ahead and purchased the Tatcha best-sellers trial box from Sephora ($60) and I wanted to review the products as well as what I feel is the best way to purchase high-end makeup/skincare. I’ve wanted to try the brand for a while now and I’m glad I have, especially in the manner that I chose to try it.

A bit about the brand

Tatcha is a fairly new brand that joined the Sephora skincare family and its peaked my curiosity for a few years. Of course, reading the price tag on most of the products is what scared me off from going in and investing, most of the products are around $65 so you can imagine my fear and doubt wondering if this truly works.

Now, one of the reasons why I was so anxious to try this brand was because some years ago I had a fascination with geishas. The whole concept seemed so cool and after reading Memoirs of a Geisha and then watching the movie, its no wonder I got super into them and their beauty rituals. Tatcha markets itself to be the most classic Japanese beauty brand who is supposed to be rooted very deep in geisha makeup practices, hence the rice bran ingredients and the camellia oil and the seaweed extract. This is perhaps the greatest reason why I was so excited, but again wary.

Lets check out the products included in the set…

Pure One-Step Camellia Cleansing Oil

one-step-camellia-cleansing-oil.jpgFollowing in that Japanese beauty tradition, rather than having a foaming gel cleanser like most people are accustomed to in the west, this brand might actually have been one of the first to have cleansing oil and make it trendy here. Like any oil, this one is great at removing makeup and buildup as well as being super gentle on the skin. It is pretty easy to wash off with water to not leave any oily residue. Personally, while it left my skin really nice and supple at first, I wouldn’t purchase the full size because it just seems unnecessary. Plus, having combo skin makes it pretty useless because the oil cleanser feels almost like it adds to my oiliness. Maybe for those who have dry skin, this would be a nice product to try…but for $65 I think you can find a plethora of cheaper options that will work just fine to ‘deep clean’ and remove makeup. This is a super luxury and pricy cleanser that works just fine. For $65 it better be removing every bad thing that’s in my pores.

Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder

rice powderThis product is what I believe truly set the brand apart from any other. Again, according to Japanese beauty, geishas used to exfoliate their skin with powdered rice which according to the title is supposed to leave skin feeling really nice and polished. Though this is the classic one, they have a few other choices for different concerns but I would imagine they all work pretty similarly. In my semi-professional opinion, this product is basically a sham made to sound good and revolutionary. I’ve been using it for the past few days everyday and there is absolutely no real result. The exfoliation is barely there, not to mention the actual use of this product is a bit hard to grasp. You’re supposed to mix the powder with a bit of water, lather it up and apply it to the face and its so hard to find the right balance between water and powder. Again, with the mild exfoliation it hardly makes any real difference. While the concept is kind of cool and you get to feel “like a geisha”, if you’re expecting it to get the job done, it won’t.

The Water Cream

water cream.jpgI’ve been eyeing this one for a while and reading up on it, generally speaking I like the idea of it. The ingredients are super natural, some good antioxidants included in fairly good amounts, therefore I can honestly say I like this product. Its got good hydration and a very light texture that almost melts into the skin upon application. Again, I would say this one’s a bit better for dry/normal skin types. For people like myself who notice having way more oil and shine especially during summertime, I would recommend going for something not as hydrating, I actually really want to check out Tatcha’s Balanced Pore Perfecting Water Gel Moisturizer because it is also supposed to have good-for-you ingredients and maybe it will work better for my skin type. I’ll keep this one in store for when fall hits and my skin will be somewhat more normalized (needing that extra bit of hydration).

Luminous Dewy Skin Mist

tatcha-luminous-dewy-skin-mist-mecca-cosmetica-229918-1500351077003-main.640x0cNow this is truly the product of the hour and according to critics and users, the best product they released. Tatcha proclaims this to be a skin mist that is supposed to work equally as well under makeup as over it to give you a beautiful, healthy glow. So from that we understand, it is supposed to be a refreshing, slightly hydrating spray that is also supposed to work similar to a setting spray. I’ve purchased this product this past spring and actually ended up taking it back. I personally don’t have anything against the product, it works fine but losing $65 for a light hydrating spray really didn’t seem worth it. I can’t say that it made my skin any more radiant or melt my makeup together. Some people and beauty gurus love it and its their holy grail, I was looking forward to it but unfortunately it didn’t cut out. Now, I find that its a bit too oily for me so again, not something I would purchase the full-size for but hey, maybe it’ll grow on me.

Grand Takeaway 

After trying out all of the products, my opinion is that this is a brand that is basically a novelty; the packaging is gorgeous, the products like the rice enzyme powder sound appealing and exotic, but nothing is truly cutting edge and nothing is really worth the price tag. This is definitely a brand that dry skin types should consider looking into because it is very hydrating while still being light-weight, then again I also believe there are cheaper, equally good alternatives. Though I commend the brand on using decent ingredients and minimal fragrance in the products, I’m glad I didn’t purchase anything full-size because I think I would expect more from it, get disappointed and then return it. Which brings me to my next point…

Many of us I’m sure get intrigued by high-end skincare, but just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it will be the greatest thing for your skin. Even though as many of you can tell I’m not crazy about the products, I am super content with the experience I had because I got to try everything, I know which products I like and will consider purchasing the full size of, and I know which ones weren’t really worth the hype. Plus, for $60 to try all 4 products which for me will last about a month, I can’t complain. From now on, I will try high-end brands only in sets where I can test the whole regimen rather than taking my chances and stressing out about the product not really being that great.

Garnier BB Cream for Oily/Combo Skin

Generally speaking, in my makeup ‘career’, I find myself liking to gravitate towards makeup with a skincare twist on it. This meaning that BB creams are generally perfect for me. I have tried a lot in my lifetime, from regular drugstore stuff to the high end brands, and my favorite by far has been the Garnier Skinactive BB cream.

I’ve had the pleasure of trying this product in its old version as well as the new. In fact, I was a big user with the old formula but trying the new one, I loved it even more and was pleasantly surprised.

And while I did like the old formula, I feel that the new is a significantly improved version of the old one, with a liquid texture, fuller buildable coverage, water-proof, no fragrance, SPF 20 and non-oxidizing. It really is like a super lightweight foundation but one that also does something for the skin. The best way to put it is that it seems to provide serious high-end pay off for a pretty drugstore price (usually retailing for around $15).

Although this is meant to help out people with combo/oily skin, I still feel like it gives a nice dewy finish (not something all people with oily skin strive for), however depending on if you choose to use a primer and what kind of primer before application, it also changes the effect of the product. The only drawback for this BB cream is that it does unfortunately settle into fine lines no matter what you use with it. I’ve used it with smoothing primers and blur sticks, sadly all my efforts were for naught and there is still a slight gathering of product which you can see in my smile lines. If fine lines are not a problem for you, then in my opinion this cream is 100% for you, because otherwise anyone should love this with how it goes on and wears.

IMG_6848

You can see this product in its full effect in the image because prior to taking the picture I did go swimming and my little sister successfully splashed me all over -> causing me lots of stress that it ruined the makeup 😦

In addition, there is also a formula specially for dry skin that also has some anti-aging properties. My advice is: in terms of BB cream, stay away from high-end brands because I’ve tried lots, but none have been as good as this one and give such a great coverage being so inexpensive and also good for you.

P.S. I got a great question in the comments asking what would make this product apply evenly, and my suggestion is since its so liquidy, use a brush like a flat kabuki (I use Sigma F80) which will help it spread super nice and then blending it out with a beauty blender. Also check out her blog because its so good!! http://thepurplepanda.net/

Review: Belif Witch Hazel Herbal Extract Toner

In a place like Sephora, lots of great products can be overlooked by product placing and unjustly so. One such brand that provides great products is Belif. This K-beauty brand launched in Sephora not too long ago so it is still fairly fresh and I’ll be honest sometimes its tough ditching a tested brand to try out a new one. However, trying this Witch Hazel Herbal Extract toner (retailing for $28) really changed my skepticism towards the brand. But first, not everyone is entirely sure whether toner is even necessary so allow my skin knowledge to enlighten you…

Are toners really necessary?

Since I read lots of beauty blogs and articles like Refinery29 and what not, I have seen a lot of posts debating the necessity of this product. The job of a toner is supposed to give you a “double cleanse”, meaning after you cleanse initially with a regular cleanser, toners typically balance and remove any harsh chemicals left behind by the cleanser and water. Originally, I believe toners were intended to balance the pH of the skin too because a lot of cleansers were more acidic. Now, many have noted that cleansers have changed and don’t contain the same levels of acid as before, so that’s why some believe them to be unnecessary in today’s day in age.

I beg to differ. While I haven’t used any old-timey products to really be able to tell, I still believe toners are a crucial step in anyone’s skincare routine because they do help remove chemicals left behind from water and condition the skin prior to other steps. I live in the northeast, our tap water quality is ridiculously bad and you can taste the chlorine if you ever happen to drink it, so I found that my skin improved significantly after starting to use toners. To me, it seems like it was the missing step in my skincare regimen because of the difference I saw.

But why is this toner special?

Well, there are lots of toners for all kinds of problems. Seeing as I am still in the process of trying to balance my skin and get rid of acne, this means toner for me is doubly important. The issue with lots of toners today is that often times they use alcohol which tends to dry people’s skin out. And though acne is normally a side effect of oily skin, drying out oily skin with alcohol sometimes only makes the problem worse. By drying your skin out, you trick your skin into believing that it is dry and go into a mode where it produces even more oil. Hence why many products that pride themselves in being mattifying and oil-absorbing tend to deepen the problem. Seeing as toners balance skin out and give the double-cleanse, this makes them great for any skin type, and especially those with acne.

What I loved about this toner is that it mostly consists of natural ingredients. Its fragrance free, although it does have a very slight fresh aroma due to all the plants and herbs, and it is also alcohol free. The second ingredient of this product is monarda didyma leaf (bee balm) which has been used as a topical antibiotic meaning it kills bacteria on the skin. Most of the other ingredients are also plant extracts which I love because I saw a dramatic difference between this product and the other toners I’ve used. I have previously tried Murad’s Hydrating toner which to me didn’t make much of a difference. Mind you, it did have a lot of fragrance in it.

The fun fact about this toner is that even though I’ve been raving about its superb anti-acne abilities, this toner is intended for dry skin. The consistency of the toner isn’t watery as you would expect, but it is instead slightly emollient (think a super thin lotion) so it is supposed to lock in moisture as well. Therefore, I’d say this great product is suitable for all skin types. I’d also like to add that Belif has a few options for toners, so I certainly suggest looking into this brand if you are thinking of a toner and checking out which ingredients you like most and which ones you find to be the best.