Ever feel like your moisturizing just isn’t, well, moisturizing enough? Put some squalane in it! Not only is squalane good on it’s own as a hydrating oil, I like to mix this stuff in with almost everything.
Like many other TO products, this serum comes in a dark glass bottle, to prevent oxidation. I did a little extra research on this, since I’ve bought squalane from other brands that did not have dark bottles. Apparently, the compound of squalEne is highly susceptible to breaking down when exposed to oxygen and light. It’s younger sister squalAne has a much longer shelf life, but is still subject to degradation over time, and the dark bottles will help to slow this down. In short: other companies who sell squalane in a clear glass bottle are doing it wrong (I’m looking at you, Peter Thomas Roth!)
TO has an excellent dropper, if a bit unwieldy, to take the squalane out of the bottle. Since it’s so thin, the squalane tends to spread quickly, and absorbs just as fast. Because it absorbs so fast and it’s hard to correct when i misapply the product, I always need justtt a little more product. But the droppers are easy to use and to manipulate pressure on so that you only get as much product as you need. Since a little goes a long way, and the dropper makes it easy to put excess product back in the bottle, this product tends to last me close to six months.
The squalane itself is clear, and incredibly thin — it’s almost like water. For some reason TO’s brand of squalane seems even thinner than any other squalane I’ve tried. Although you can use this as a stand-alone oil and apply this directly to your face, I typically like to use this as an additive with my moisturizers (especially Clinique’s Dramatically Different).This makes it far less likely to pill with any other skincare product you might be wearing underneath.
I used squalane at the height of my cystic acne, and never noticed it causing any break outs — I can say the same of it now, it’s definitely a great pick for anyone who has sensitive skin. It’s also great if you live in a colder climate, who doesn’t want the extra hydration when it’s 10 degrees outside? For $10, this is a long lasting staple I’d recommend for anyone’s skincare collection. ~A
There are aspects of this lip mask that I really love. Certain qualities of this sleeping mask might even compete with my beloved Aquaphor in the running for favorite lip products. There’s just… one single thing… in the ingredient listing that I cannot wrap my brain around, and that’s alcohol.
First, let’s talk about the product itself. This comes in a cute, pink plastic tub, and has a very faint berry smell. The texture looks creamy, but applies clear, with just a tinge of red. The wax layer on this lip mask is long-lasting, so not only will your lips feel smooth and soft upon application, but the mask is intended to lock in moisture for the long term. It is advertised as a sleeping mask, but this is fine for use at any time of the day if you’re not intending on using lipstick or lipgloss over it.
There’s a lot of reviews that say this will make your lips more plump. I suppose with added moisture to anything, it will increase the thickness to some degree. But it’s not a plumper in the sense that it isn’t like products on the market specifically labeled “lip plumper” that create that minty, burning sensation on your lips and subsequently makes them look half a size larger.
Although this is listed as an overnight mask, the mask itself generally wears off after an hour or two. Still, after long-term use of this product over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed my lip “health” has been a little better, an impressive task considering it’s currently the dead of winter. I don’t feel like I need to re-apply other lip protectants during the day as often as I normally do.
What compels me to not re-purchase this mask is the fact that there is alcohol in this. It’s a shame, because otherwise the ingredient listing is pretty tame (albeit super long) — I like the shea butter and plant extracts aspect of this. While the alcohol is low enough down the ingredient listing that I suspect it’s only intended for product dry-down, I can’t help but feel it contributes to actually drying out your skin, that skin sloughing off, and the user having a subsequent desire to want to reapply this product to fix the “dry skin”.
All in all, mixed feelings toward this lip mask. It does work for a certain period of time, and it’s certainly better than your run of the mill peppermint-and-wax chapsticks. But it’s also working against the user. Sneaky marketing tactic for Laneige to get their consumers to buy more? We’ll never know. ~A
Fake product alert! Looks like Amazon’s loaded with fakes of this product — don’t take the gamble, and just buy it straight from Sephora instead.
It Cosmetics CC Cream would be on my list of top foundations ever, but it’s non-compliance with dry skin and it’s inability to stack with other common products is a huge deterrent from me from buying any in the future. Not only that, but the apparent popularity of this $40 foundation has spurred a flood of cheaper fakes/dupes on the market which, sadly, perform the same, if not better than the original.
But first I’ll talk a little about the genuine product, straight from Ulta (which, hopefully, isn’t in the business of selling fakes). This comes in a soft plastic tube with a push-top. The tube is fairly large, but the product goes quickly, since the push-top tends to push out more than you actually need.
Applying this CC Cream is really satisfying. The color is very glowy and radiant. Although the shade range is incredibly limited for this CC Cream, I experienced with both the light and light-medium that the color can sort of “adjust” to your skin tone, within reason. This is helped by the fact that this isn’t full coverage to begin with, as you would expect from a CC cream — however, this still did a pretty good job of neutralizing any of my red tones from scarring. Even better, this foundation plays well with any product you put under it and doesn’t pill. …or so I thought.
I’ll walk you through a work day with this CC cream. I could hold my head up high at my desk and in the hallways, knowing I was only wearing a CC cream, and that my skin looked and felt great. Until hour four: I looked in the bathroom mirror and found the dreaded flaking around my lips and my nose. And it was bad. Sure, I know those areas of my face are a little drier to begin with, but yikes. The scaliness seemed to only worsen as I attempted to “buff it out” with a small dab of concealer. Eventually, I gave up. By hour eight, the CC cream was beginning to break down, and my entire face had become incredibly oily, except for the dry areas, which were still scaley and flaking off more by the second. Gross!
After a few days of trial and error, I discovered that this product performs much better when you don’t use Vitamin C. Sure, I get that Vit C is an exfoliant and can cause a bit more dramatic of a skin turnover in drier areas, but I’ve never had this bad of an issue with “clinging to dry spots” with any other foundation. I also suspect I might have some sensitivity to the sunscreen component that was added into this product, since there are a lot of sunscreens, in general, that I don’t tolerate well.
It’s a huge shame that this product doesn’t perform as well after the first few hours, because it’s everything I would want in a CC cream, or even a foundation. It’s glowy. It’s just enough coverage to hide discoloration. There are no drying alcohols. There’s a ton of good stuff packed into this bottle like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and sunscreen.
As for the fakes? The fakes are sold all over Ebay and Amazon. A mark of a fake, without having the actual product in your hands is one or both of the following: a price point under $20, or the seller offering only the light, or medium shade. With a few exceptions of the font being slightly out of place on the packaging of the fakes, the imitation of the actual product is pretty darn good, except you will notice there is LITERALLY no shade differential between light and medium. They are the same color.
And sadly, they perform a bit better than the real It Cosmetics. Although the dry-cling still persists, the coverage is just as good (albeit a bit more “stubborn” to apply, since it’s not as fluid as the original), and also doesn’t devolve into a greasy mess by hour four like the original. I don’t condone buying a fake, and my purchase of these was purely accidental and ignoring of the adage “too good to be true” — and for all I know, these fakes could be pumped with arsenic, or something!
It Cosmetics truly has a great product on their hands with this CC Cream. The finish of this foundation is great, and I’ve never broken out from it. But I can’t recommend it to anyone with dry skin, anyone with sensitivities to zinc/titanium oxides, or anyone that wants to incorporate Vitamin C into their routine. That’s a lot of groups to have to exclude for a foundation! ~A
Perceived efficacy: 3.75/5
How much I actually like this product: 3.5/5
Recommended for sensitive skin: For acne-prine skin, yes — for dry skin, no
Hello! Just me, checking in on my readers again. I hope you are all doing well and that you are all staying healthy!
I finally added a dedicated page for skincare routines for sufferers of cystic or severe acne. Don’t know what took me so long! That can be found by going to the top menu of my main page, or by clicking here.
For hopefully a large majority of my readers, the unintentional “good” thing that is coming out of COVID-19 is that you’re likely not wearing too much makeup while you’re stuck at home. What better time for a little bit of self-care? Here are a couple ideas:
Self-tanning! A lot of us are probably losing out on a lot of opportunities to do any real substantial springtime sunbathing — that’s where self-tanner comes in! My favorite self-tanner body lotion is Jergens; my favorite tanning drops are Tanwise!
Face masks! If you’re new to face masks, My Beauty Diary masks are inexpensive, and offer a variety of options for different skin needs. They’re also, weirdly, very relaxing!
Slug Life! Now’s your chance to lay around in emolliating and occlusive layers all day. If nothing else — your skin will be extremely bouncy after we’re let out of our houses! Try out Pixi H20 Skindrink for a pleasant-smelling slug life, and Elta MD Intense Moisture for the most extreme of occlusive layers.
But most important of all — eat well, Facetime your family, and wash your hands! 🙂
Three Days to Glow is Jergen’s mid-way product between their gradual tanner and their instant tan. I was excited to try this out because I’ve been happily using their gradual tanner for at least a decade (click here for my review on it) so my expectations for this self-tanner were high.
Although the price-point of 3 days is generally the same as the gradual tanner ($8-10), the bottles run a little smaller, likely due to a higher concentration of DHA needed to make your skin tan faster than the gradual tanner. The product is easy enough to get out of the tube, but it doesn’t give you enough to cover a whole limb, and it’s also not the most easily-spread of self-tanners I’ve used in the past. I had to go back to the bottle for more product quite a few times. The lotion dries down clear, until the color results are produced later on in the day. Since it’s not instant tan, the instructions don’t call for a mitt or for gloves, but I still experienced the usual color build-up in between my fingers despite scrubbing my hands, so I would recommend a mitt, personally.
Day 1 of application won’t bring around many changes, as expected. But I was actually already a little frustrated with the product by day 2. I was seeing the colorful results of inconsistent product drying. I noticed obvious tan/not tan color gradients on my arms and legs, and dark color deposits in areas that I don’t usually experience — like, my shoulders!? That’s a new one! Of course, some of this can be blamed on user error, since I’m not the most careful self-tanner-applier in the world. But also think it lends itself to the fact the lotion is not easy to spread out, and of course, there’s no color-guard since this is moreso intended to be a body lotion.
In general, the color itself, even after three days, was not particularly distinguishable. I’d say it was maybe half a step up from my regular color. I thought this was strange, since I see better results from the gradual tanner in the same amount of time. The good news is this tone did seem to stick around for about two weeks, which is pretty impressive for self-tanner longevity.
One other thing I’ll give 3 days credit for is that it doesn’t smell nearly as bad as the regular gradual tanner, which is bizarre, because I would assume 3 days had a higher DHA concentration, thus it would smell worse. I did a side-by-side of the ingredients of 3 days and the gradual and they are… identical. The only explanation is that, possibly, the concentrations of other ingredients that cancel out the smell in the 3 days are also higher, but I’m no scientist. Something I do know, though, is that there are no drying alcohols in this product! In general, this should not irritate the skin too much, so long as it is kept away from your face.
My conclusion to this review is one I didn’t really expect. If you want darker color, use Jergen’s Gradual Tanner. If you want something extremely subtle and want to dial down the DHA smell, use the 3-day product: but be prepared for the almost inevitable color-pooling. ~A
Hello my friends! Many of you across the globe are most likely experiencing a pretty strange and worrisome time right now. First and foremost, I hope that all of you are, and stay, healthy!
I’m certainly no expert on quarantines or living out a pandemic, and I have mixed feelings about buying things in a panic. So I’ve been trying to take it slow, and think about what’s really important to me. Here’s a few things I’ve done, or learned, over the past week.
Body wash, as compared to hand soap, doesn’t appear to be experiencing the same level of price-gouging or running out of stock on Amazon. There are several different body washes available for less than $6. This is just as effective as regular hand soap or soap bars.
The label “antibacterial soap” doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily any more effective than regular soap — both will get the job done. Antibacterial soaps are best for hospitals — not for day-to-day use, because it will kill your ability to naturally fight off bacteria over time. So don’t worry about making that distinction during this time! Read a little more about the differences here)
If you find your local supermarket might be out of stock on items you need like toilet paper, paper towel, and hand soap, try thinking outside the box! Holiday-themed shops often stock paper goods (if you don’t mind a couple of Christmas trees on your paper towels in the middle of March 🙂 ). Discount retailers like TJ Maxx and Big Lots sometimes carry soap. (just please, please, please, don’t hoard! Pay it forward to the next person who needs the item, and leave some for them. Everyone needs a helping hand in times like this!)
And for all of my fellow women readers — I know this does not pertain to skincare, but please consider picking up one extra box of feminine products today! (I personally “forget” about needing these types of things until, well, two days before I need it).
I hope all of my beautiful readers stay safe out there — I’ll see you tomorrow for my regular Saturday post! ~A
I’m really digging Pacifica Beauty lately. They weren’t even on my radar until I bought this moisturizer. I was so pleasantly surprised by this product that I purchased a couple more items by Pacifica. What’s even better is that the majority of their products are under $15 — this face cream included, I think I grabbed it for $12 — and they seem to last forever. And it’s vegan, and it’s cruelty free, and the packaging is cute!
The “lasts forever” aspect of Dreamy Youth is that this seemingly standard-issue push pump is ridiculously efficient. One push will give you all the product you need — no more, no less. This white cream is somewhat thick yet it’s not too difficult to spread. It dries down clear in under 30 seconds. This has a very powerful floral scent — I personally like it, but it is strong, so this may not be for everyone.
Now, for a couple gripes about this moisturizer. It does leave behind a bit of waxy residue, similar to paraffin, without the “destroys every other product on your face” effect of paraffin (PS: paraffin itself does not make an appearance in Dreamy Youth!). It does make your skin feel very soft, of course. And while this plays well with makeup, I think this acts more as a barrier rather than a primer for makeup, so your makeup won’t completely “take”, making it seem dull and patchy in certain areas. For the most part, blending, as well as checking in the mirror at least thirty times before you leave the house, should mitigate this issue — but it’s still an annoying problem to have.
Dreamy Youth has a few good guy ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, aloe, shea butter and a couple choice peptides. Despite some of these proponents of age-reversal, I never really felt like this moisturizer was doing anything “extra” for my skin, besides, well, moisturizing! And even then, this isn’t the most moisturizing product on the market — while the cream is on the heavier side, I usually experience some skin tightness around hour six of wear.
I know I just complained a lot, but I do still like this moisturizer, as it’s never caused any issues for my sensitive skin! For skincare beginners especially, I would go so far as to say it’s a phenomenal purchase: there’s no outright “unfit for skin” ingredients, it’s foolproof to apply, and it does make your skin feel soft to the touch. Throw in the added bonus of purchasing from a cruelty-free brand? Sold.
I wanted to sneak this quick review in of Olay Whips Body Wash before the cold season officially ends (although, where I live, that probably won’t be until May…). My mom picked this up for me for Christmas, and told me she had heard it was supposed to be “life-changing”. I decided to put that to the test.
This comes in a 10.3 fl oz bottle. I was scared it wouldn’t last a long time, since it’s foam and is essentially weightless — I figured I would always end up using too much product — but it’s been about two months now and the can still has a quarter of the product left. Not bad. The applicator sprays out, amazingly, close to the exact amount of soap needed to cover your whole body by the time it’s foamed up. Since you’re not going back to the canister to get more over and over again, it really does save a little time in the shower.
This acts a lot like shaving cream, so if you regularly use shaving cream in the shower, you can probably skip that step entirely when you’re using this product. The foam allows you to see what spots you’ve missed, and the soap itself is emolliating enough to not dry your skin out after you’ve shaved and pushed the product away. For some reason, most shaving creams really irritate my skin after I’ve gotten out of the shower — not so, for this soap.
I think what I like most about this product is, besides the fact it smells really nice and actually lingers well after you’ve showered, is that it’s actually hydrating longer-term. As I mentioned before it’s pretty cold where I live, so usually my skin starts to itch immediately after I’ve gotten out of the shower and before I’ve applied body lotion, but I didn’t feel like that was happening so much after I started to use this product. It didn’t seem to dry out as much during the day, either. I’m actually surprised by this because this product does not exclude sulfates.
Time-saving? Absolutely. Hydrating? Yep. Smells great? Yes! Cost effective? Err… well, I’ve seen this at Wal-Mart before for $5.97 and, I think for that price point, yes, it is cost effective. But I just looked on Amazon and a “pack of one” will run you $14.80 — insane! So, in-store, yes, online, no. I recommend sensitive skin and cold weather sufferers alike to pick this up if they can find it in a store for under $7. ~A
Ben Nye’s Final Seal is the fixing spray to end all fixing sprays. If you’re headed to an event that you know is going to elicit sweating or even a bit of drizzling rain, or you simply just don’t want your makeup to come off… like… ever… then this is the product for you.
A 2oz bottle will run you about $16, which seems expensive at first blush, but one or two sprays are really all it takes for the product to work, so it should last a long time. This comes in a plastic spray bottle. I wanted to note that, though the packaging itself is not unusual, the liquid inside of it can be very temperamental when you take it out of room temperature conditions. When it gets too cold, it “freezes” around the sprayer, making the sprayer difficult to push down on. The sprayer will also freeze in place if you don’t remove excess product that may have dripped down around it.
The sprayer is a little more powerful than just a “mist”, so one of two sprays — top and bottom — should catch the entire face. Make SURE you close your eyes while you spray this, since the very first ingredient of this is denatured alcohol. You may experience a bit of stinging after applying this, but that should diminish in under a minute. The spray leaves sort of a “net” sensation, like your skin is locked into place. This is also unnoticeable after the first few minutes.
In my personal experience, I’ve been able to wear this from 8 in the morning until 9pm at night. Around the end of the wear time, I did notice a bit of foundation cracking around my lips, but this may have been because I had applied Vitamin C in the morning, as usual — which, as an exfoliant, pushes the old skin up, thus cracking the makeup. But it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be salvaged had I chose to keep it on longer. Both my eyeliner and mascara stayed put, as well.
The true test of a transfer-proof foundation or fixing spray are my winter coats. The zippers tend to end right at my chin, so the material of the jacket is directly under my chin/neck area, a prime area for makeup to rub off. No makeup residue on my jacket after using Final Seal!
This product, sadly, is not really good for the long haul for use on your skin. Alcohol denat is the first ingredient, which will inevitably dry out your skin, even if there is a layer of foundation between your skin and this spray. I will say I broke out substantially less after using Final Seal versus Skindinavia’s finishing spray, perhaps due to the comparatively short and simplistic ingredient listing, whereas Skindinavia had included far more preservatives. Still — Final Seal is not great for my skin.
So, acne-sufferers, use this product with caution. But this really is a phenomenal fixing spray and probably the first I’ve used where I felt 100% confident that my makeup would stay all day. I recommend for anyone seeking to lock their look in! ~A
First of all, Daenerys’ hair is a wig. So, step one, buy a wig. You’re done!
But for those of you who have achieved (or are born with!) that very pale blonde, you have other more temporary options available to you. There’s a handful of different toners on the market, and they can be quite confusing to navigate. Below, I’m going to touch on three different toners and my experience with them.
A couple tips before we get started (that may or may not differ from every other tutorial out there)
There’s a lot support for the idea that toner will apply more evenly if your hair is damp, but I don’t agree with that, especially if your hair already has bleach damage. Chances are, if the porosity of your hair is high, the fact that it’s holding in more water than usual is going to cause your color to distribute more unevenly.
I do, however, highly condone coating your dry hair in oil — specifically, coconut oil (although I will admit I’ve tried Paul Mitchell’s Skinny Serum as well and that helped me a lot as well). This minimizes damage, and also, in my experience, allowed the color to spread more evenly. Here’s my usual schedule: bleach roots (if necessary) -> rinse -> wait until hair is fully dry -> apply oil -> tone on 20 volume for 25 minutes -> rinse.
If your hair is currently darker than medium blonde, then a toner won’t get you to white hair. But anything higher in level than that, you can probably achieve it by playing around with the different colored toners, and what counteracts your hair color on the color wheel. For example, I’ve been able to achieve white while my hair was still bordering on orange — I just had to use T-14 instead of T-18.
Wella T-18 – $6.99 at Sally’s Beauty Supply
I’m reviewing this toner first because Wella T-18 is, in my mind, the standard for how a toner should produce color, and even then, there are still a lot of issues inherent in the product. It is extremely harsh, and will more than likely create extra damage to your hair. The smell is borderline intolerable. All that suffering and the longevity is still pretty darn short — maybe a week of nice color, at best.
But the color!! Assuming you’ve done a good job of making sure the toner is fully saturating every single strand of hair, the color will deliver as promised. T-18 will make your hair white. If your hair isn’t quite pal yellow yet, mixing T-14 and T-18 will also make your hair white. Want to go slightly silver/gray? Pop some 050 violet additive into your T-18, and, voila, silver!
For a beginner, I would definitely try out the Wella line before veering into anything else, just make sure you have some sort of protecting oil over your hair before you apply it. Overall Wella Score: Color: 4 out of 5, longevity: 2 out of 5, healthy for hair: 1.5 out of 5.
There were a lot of references to Blond Brilliance being the less harsh, and better smelling alternative to Wella, with just as good of color payout. I agree that this absolutely does smell better, in fact, it’s a little floral-y. I did notice a little less breakage in my hair with this product compared to the Wella toner (although, at the end of the day, if you’re using 20 developer, there’s bound to still be at least a little breakage).
The color payout is… weird. The application is all well and good with the toner turning the expected purple, but after washing, you may notice that your light blonde hair is now stained green and blue and gray, particularly the finer pieces of hair. Ugh! Better not leave the house for a few days and bust out the clarifying wash, you might think. I advise you to wait until the third day: you may find the whitest white hair you have ever seen in your life. And it lasts for over two weeks!
This toner does not excel at saturation or spreading color as evenly as Wella does. Also, the nasty bruise-color your hair acquires in the first couple days after application makes this almost not worth it. I’d recommend this to anyone prepared to wait a couple days to see the true results, and someone willing to do the legwork in making sure every single strand is coated fully. Overall Blond Brilliance Score: Color: 4.4 out of 5, longevity: 3 out of 5, healthy for hair: 3.5 out of 5.
Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Virgin Snow White Toner – $10.99 at Sally’s Beauty Supply
It is really tempting to just use semi-permanent dye in between touch ups of toner or bleach, since it’s far less damaging than toner. You don’t even need to use developer, and it’s super easy to saturate your hair with!
But I’m convinced you need to have level 12 hair to even think about using this — and yes, I said 12, not 10. At which point, you probably already have the level you want… anyway? I think there was a bit of a white tinge to my super-fine and light pieces in the front, but other than that, there was nothing. Even if I could see the color, it would have washed out very quickly, since Manic Panic is not intended to stay around — two or three days, if I was lucky.
Some users swear this is also good for conditioning your hair, but I don’t really think that that’s true. Regardless of whether or not there’s conditioner in this product, Manic Panic still contains concentrated dye which, like all dye, is not great for your hair staying hydrated in the long run. Honestly, I would probably tell most people to skip Manic Panic in their quest for white hair, especially at it’s price point. Overall Manic Panic Virgin Snow Score: Color: 0 out of 5, longevity: 0 out of 5, healthy for hair: 3 out of 5.
The quest for Daenerys’s hair is a difficult one, and a damaging one as well. But with a little patience, conditioning treatments and a lot of trial and error, it can be done! ~A