Pravana The Perfect Blonde Conditioner

For the next couple days I will be running a mini-series on products for blondes! I’ve gone through a smorgasbord of shampoos, conditioners, toners and leave-ins to figure out what will get my level 10’ish hair to silver or white, and I’d like to be able to share some of newfound blonde knowledge (or maybe lack thereof…) with my readers.

Before I jump into this review, I wanted to note that this conditioner will only really “work” if your hair is already at level 9 or 10. Even darker pigments of yellow won’t get cancelled out by this toning shampoo, which, given the strength of this conditioner, is sort of disappointing. If your hair is more a golden or orange tone than light yellow, I’d recommend a blue conditioner instead (which Pravana also carries).

I also had to learn the hard way that just because it’s a purple conditioner, doesn’t imply your hair is going to come out softer or more hydrated! Purple conditioners, while not as stripping and concentrated with dye as the shampoos, can still cause damage, just to a lesser degree than a flat-out toner would do. I would definitely follow up the use of a purple conditioner with another non-toning conditioner, and possibly a hair mask the next day.

Onto the review of the product itself! It’s about $12 for a somewhat smaller-than-usual bottle of shampoo. Although this conditioner is a bit thicker than other toning conditioners I’ve tried, the product still gets absorbed by the hair pretty quickly, so I feel as though I keep needing to go back to the bottle to get more. Fortunately, since you should only really use this conditioner once or twice a week max, the bottle will last a long time.

This conditioner gives better results if your hair is wet to begin with (also it’s SO freakin’ hard to saturate your hair with this conditioner when it’s dry!), so I’ll rinse my hair first, and then apply the conditioner. I’ll wait two minutes before rinsing again to remove the product.

The color payout of this conditioner is, as expected, a little less dramatic than using a purple shampoo. The lightest pieces of blonde will have less of a yellow tint, and reflect a bit more white/bright than before — but I don’t think this product completely masters the art of cancelling out yellow. I’d recommend avoiding this around your root area, or anywhere where you have level 7-8 bits of hair, because it will turn those areas a somewhat putrid yellow-potato color.

Again, you don’t completely avoid damage by using this conditioner. It’s very rough on the roots of your hair, or anywhere where you have fine pieces of hair. I have experienced breakage from using this around those areas, or areas that were already weak to begin with (keeping in mind that I bleached the daylights out of my hair — if you have stronger hair than mine, you might not experience this issue to the same degree).

I think this conditioner is really great anyone with brunette hair, and bayalage (level 9+) highlights around the base, since this doesn’t seem to play well with the different colors around the root level. I was impressed by how “bright” the lightest pieces became, so I know it does work, but this conditioner is way too temperamental around the slightest shade of gold. The longevity is ok for a conditioner — up to four days of “bright” blonde — but I’m not really sure it’s worth the damage to my hair. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2.5/5

Longevity: 3.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

Bio-Oil Specialist Skin Care – Price Increase and Fakes, a 2020 Update

There’s been a recent uptick in Bio-Oil’s popularity, and I can’t help but wonder if some of the hub-bub is also related to their remarkably sharp price increase! Bio-Oil has been on the market for a little over thirty years, and remains a well known and liked skincare product because the stuff actually works. I reviewed Bio-Oil previously, in fact (link to original review here); while I don’t think it’s a miracle product for scarring, it is a great introduction into oils you can apply to your skin. It was worth $9, for sure. A quick walk into Walgreens last week, however, revealed the new price tag was $17 for the same amount of product.

I was a little peeved at the $17 price tag, but realizing the price was roughly the same as Amazon’s current going rate, I threw in the towel and purchased it. I do really like the stuff, after all, and sometimes a girl is too lazy to drive across town to Target/wait three days for shipping!

Foolishly, I also believed that Walgreens would pick from a relatively reputable stock for their beauty products, but I suppose to only reputable retailer would be Bio-Oil themselves. I should have opened the box in the store to inspect the product. But I didn’t. I got home and sure enough, upon opening the bottle, discovered that I may have had a dupe on my hands.

Sign 1 Fake: Super thin, almost water-like consistency. The real Bio-Oil is more like… oil. It slips and slides around your skin, and doesn’t immediately absorb, but the fake is much more thin. Upon further Googling for signs of a fake, I realized the fakes will also “bubble” if you shook them. Yep. It did that too.

Sign 2 of Fake: the smell. This had a faint whiff of like… antiseptic, kind of. Like the stuff they use to sterilie everything at the doctor’s office. Definitely not the light, faintly floral smell of Bio-Oil.

Sign 3 of Fake: A little more Googling informed me that the color will appear more pink than orange. This was definitely pink.

I didn’t even want to try putting this on my face for the sake of “science” and seeing what it would do. The antiseptic smell convinced me that I would more or less be putting mouthwash on my face.

It’s tough to find a good source for Bio-Oil, since the regular consumer cannot buy directly from the manufacturer themselves. Bio-Oil is easy to find at almost any supermarket and drugstore, but again, even drugstores I view as reputable aren’t immune to buying bad stock. With that said, if you’re going to buy Bio-Oil, I highly recommend skipping Amazon altogether, since Amazon is the king of fake products. I’ve had more comfort and assurance of quality products from Ulta, Vitamin Shoppe and GNC.

I know the frustration of buying fake products, so I hope this will bring a level of awareness to new Bio-Oil converts! It’s a great product, so long as it’s the real product! ~A

(Don’t forget to check out my original review here!)

Pixi H20 Skindrink

Potential new holy grail moisturizer, comin’ right up! Pixi Skindrink is like a thicker, tackier version of Bio-Oil that I never knew I needed — and also cheaper alternative ($19 for full size) than the very similar Dr Lin Hydrating Gel, which now retails for $30. Geez, I can’t believe I used to buy Dr. Lin moisturizer for like, $7 at one point of my life. Anyways! I love Skindrink, and although I’ve only been using it for a few weeks, I already know it will be a re-buy of mine.

This is a clear gel that comes out of a push-top tube. It’s very easy to spread, and one pump should cover the entirety of your face. This has a noticeable rose- or soap- like smell, but fades after thirty minutes of wear.

You’ll probably notice that this moisturizer does not dry down after application — it will feel greasy, and still easy to disturb after application. Even when it’s “dry”, it’s extremely tacky, not unlike many paraffin or petroleum type moisturizers that are used as occlusives. So I only recommend Skindrink as a last step in your nightly routine, or if you don’t plan on wearing makeup that day. It’s all worth the slight discomfort of a greasy face, though. When I wake up in the morning, my skin feels bouncy and smooth!

I haven’t broken out from this, and this is probably thanks to the somewhat tame ingredient listing, with glycerin and silicones at the top of the list to keep moisture in. There’s no irritating alcohols — in fact, there’s not even a single fatty alcohol either (such as cetearyl alcohol), which is hard to come by when looking for a moisturizer.

The Pixi website suggests you can put this moisturizer in the refrigerator to maximize the “cooling” effect Skindrink provides (which will occur even without the refrigeration, just to a lesser degree). Combining the simple ingredient listing and the cooling effect that should come as a relief for those with sensitive skin, I’d absolutely recommend Skindrink to acne sufferers.

I know this was a pretty short review, but it’s a pretty simple moisturizer with a single function — to retain moisture — and Skindrink does that function very well. This was my first venture into Pixi skincare products, and I’m excited to try out more by them! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

I have high standards for Clinique. It’s been around forever, and it’s pricy, for usually good reason — Clinique generally has high-quality products. But, for $30, this bottle of foundation is just meh.

I was looking for something with a little more oil control than my usual foundations, and perhaps something a little lighter in general. Herein lies my great foundation conundrum. I always want something that’s heavy enough to cover all my blemishes, but light enough to make me not feel like I’m super-clogging my pores. This is basically an impossible ask, and equally impossible to find. This foundation was no exception: it did not meet both of those criteria.

But it is light, for sure. This comes out of the tube with very little pressure needed on the bottle. It’s somewhat watery, but not runny. It spreads easily, but absorbs quickly into the skin, so I kept finding myself needing to get more product out of the tube to cover my entire face.

What I do like about this foundation is that it’s buildable. It won’t necessarily cause issues if you try to apply layers shortly after the other, but I recommend waiting for each layer to set for at least five minutes, because the foundation will thicken and show a bit more coverage in that time. But don’t mistake buildable for “can become full coverage” — it’s still incredibly light, and won’t cover deeper-set scars.

The foundation has a natural matte finish that lasts… maybe five hours. It does do it’s job in the time it’s on. It maintains an even finish with minimal creasing (although it absolutely is NOT transfer proof so, try to avoid touching your face), and it does control oil as stated. It doesn’t feel heavy while it’s on. But once that five hour mark hits… POOF! It’s just gone, somehow. As if you never put it on. (Although, to be fair, I would prefer makeup to “suddenly vanish” instead leaving patchy areas of foundation behind…)

Now let’s discuss the acne-fighting feature of this foundation. This contains salicylic acid, a BHA. I don’t think this really improved my blemishes or overall skin quality at all, despite the BHA. I didn’t experience any burning, per se, but neither the lightness of the foundation’s weight or the addition of BHA’s were beneficial to me in this case. I continued to break out just the same, as always ­čÖé Other users could potentially experience burning from this foundation because of the BHAs. And, finally, BHA’s conflict with Vitamin C if used at the same time. This is terrible for me, lover of Vitamin C treatments in my morning routines.

To wrap up my review of Clinique’s Acne Solutions Foundation in a few shorter sentences: Is it a light makeup? Yes. Does it last a long time? No. Does it fight acne? Not for me, personally. This won’t be a rebuy of mine.

If you still think this foundation seems like a good fit for you, my most favorite YouTube MUA thataylaa did a review of it here. Her experience was a bit different from mine, but the video does a great job of showing the finish. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2.5/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: If intolerant to exfoliants, no

Should You Take Zinc for Acne? A Story Told by Reddit Comments

Short answer: you probably shouldn’t take zinc to cure acne.

One weakness I will admit I have is that I can sometimes be easily persuaded by other Reddit users. So when I saw reviews like this:

And this:

And this:

I immediately set out and bought 50mg of zinc from my local vitamin shop. And no, I foolishly did not do any additional research. I figured, there was already zinc found naturally in the food I ate, and it was in my multivitamin, and I had heard people say in the past that zinc was good to take when you had a cold — what would 50mg extra of zinc really do to me?

Turns out, even when taken on a full stomach, it would give me extreme nausea. The nausea would last up to two hours. I carried on doing this for about four days or so, until I finally made the connection that perhaps it had been the zinc doing this to me.

So I consulted Google, and found this on Livestrong:

Oops, I had been taking 50mg, plus the 10mg that was already found in my multivitamin. I immediately stopped taking it. Besides, my skin hadn’t gotten any better anyway. Clearly, I should have done my due diligence like the replying user in this Reddit post:

So, readers, please learn from my stupid mistake. Don’t take supplements before doing your research! There’s a chance zinc might work for some, particularly if they are zinc-deficient, but otherwise, my final verdict on zinc for acne is the following:

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Moisturizing Hand Cream

How is the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream regarded so highly? How is it a holy grail for dry-skin sufferers? This is basically the equivalent of dipping your hands in wax. There’s no moisturizing quality in this product whatsoever.

Actually, a reviewer on Target has my exact thoughts, almost verbatim. I guess there are a few naysayers, after all:

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Heck, I’d go so far to say that comparing to this to petroleum jelly is a slap in the face to petroleum jelly.

Onto the customer experience. This $6 clear gel-cream squeezes out veryy slowly from the tube. It’s quite thick, which you think would be a telltale sign of a good humectant that holds moisture in, but this will inevitably fail to do just that. The thickness of this cream will make it difficult to absorb into your skin, or even to spread around on your hand in the first place.

Even when you think it’s done drying onto your skin (which can exceed ten minutes, some days), it leaves behind a very tacky residue, which makes it close to impossible to do normal things like… turning open a door knob. Sure, every lotion does this to some extent, but not as long as a couple hours after application! Heck, even running your hands under the sink won’t remove all the residue. What is this stuff?! Is this what all the positive reviews are mistaking as moisture?

When I focus on how my skin feels under all that goop, it still just feels dry, despite the fact it has a slippery layer of wax over top of it. And at the end of it all, when the sticky residue has finally worn off, your hands are still just… dry.

On the plus side, it is fragrance free, for anyone who’s bothered by that. Also sort of on the plus side, there’s not a whole lot of red flags in the ingredient listing, except maybe glycerin and sodium sulfate, the latter of which I wonder causes the dryness. Honestly, seeing as glycerin is the second ingredient of this hand cream anyway, I’d recommend someone to just use Vaseline instead. It’s much more effective as a humectant.

If you suffer from eczema, this might be worth a shot, since it is low on skin irritating ingredients. Other than that, I would completely skip this hand cream. Yes, I know there’s a ton of five star reviews out there, but I’m starting to question how many people Neutrogena paid off to play nice. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

The Altruistic Face Site Updates!

A brand new header image and avatar were added to blog this evening, and I’m absolutely in love with it! It looks amazing! The art and design were done by Cyan & Sepia. The shop owner is super sweet, and her work is amazing!

Second, I’ve had a huge uptick in visitors the past three months. I wanted to highlight some of my top posts, and my thoughts on why I think they’re trending.

Clinique Moisture Surge – I’m actually a little sad that this post is trending. I know it’s a popular product, but a lot of the search criteria that has come back are a long the lines of “clinique moisture surge fake”. I’m bummed out that these fakes can still be shipped out, and the resellers never seem to be caught!

Aquaphor – a lot of readers seem to be looking into “slug life”! While I don’t necessarily condone Aquaphor as your final emolliating layer for the night, I do think it’s the best lip protection available on the market.

Tanwise Tanning Drops – I really loved this product. I think they are the first– and only– tanning drops that didn’t break me out! They don’t really cause color build-up like others on the market, and it’s a nice additive in your regular body lotion as well. ~A