Hada Labo Tokyo: Skin Plumping Gel Cream

I used this moisturizer a lot in my early skincare days, and I’m trying to remember why, exactly, I abandoned it. This gel cream is close to HG status for me, with maybe a few flaws that prevent it from ascending to that level. Oh, and if you ever wanted to live out the glory days of the old Clinique Moisture Surge (which, in my opinion, is now a shadow of it’s former self), this is the moisturizer to do it with.

The packaging of this white gel cream is a luxurious square-shaped glass jar, which admittedly, is a kind of awkward to fit in a standard-issue medicine cabinet. And while it definitely looks good for the camera, the packaging is unfortunately pretty wasteful. It really doesn’t hold much product at all, given how much room the jar could technically accomodate. Considering this is $23 out of the buyer’s pocket, I think they could have done with more product, or packaging the product more efficiently.

The gel cream is quite smooth and easy to spread. While I have my gripes about the amount of product in the package, you really don’t need too much to cover your entire face. The gel cream dries down clear. This leaves behind a bit of a residue, but it’s soft to the touch, not tacky, and intended to hold moisture in. Living up to it’s name, my skin looked plump, and seemed more hydrated even after a full day of wearing this.

Because of that remaining residue, this moisturizer doesn’t exactly play the best with foundation over top, or really any other product over top of it. But also not… the worst? A few times I noticed my makeup starting to pill around hour 2 of having both applied — not substantial enough to require re-applying, but enough to make me reconsider using this moisturizer for daytime use. The residue it leaves behind tends to hang onto your skin for dear life, making it difficult to fully wash off your face.

Besides some of it’s hang-ups, this moisturizer does a great job of hydrating your skin. This is oil-free, there are no drying alcohols or anything inherently terrible in the ingredient listing, save for the rampant polymers that are likely to blame for the skin smoothness and pilling alike. This also boasts collagen, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides. My favorite thing of all was that it never broke me out!

If you’re ok with splurging a bit, this is a nice face cream for night-time use, or bare-faced use, particularly for users with sensitive skin. Just be warned of this moisturizer’s long-term commitment — it’s clingy, and you’re going to have a hard time getting rid of it. ūüôā ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.25/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Pacifica Dreamy Youth

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.

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 3/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

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

Missha Near Skin Total Ceramide Cream

This ceramide cream is a simple-yet-effective moisturizer that’s found itself in pretty heavy rotation in routine. Even with the inclusion of PHA’s, this moisturizer isn’t exactly a heavy-hitter with stand-out results, but it’s simple, and sometimes that’s all I’m looking for in a routine.

There’s 50ml of product in this tube (which, by the way, is super portable and great for when you’re on-the-go). But it never really feels like there is truly 50ml in this product, like, there’s seemingly a lot of empty space in the tube, which is unfortunate because I go through this stuff pretty fast. This comes out of the tube as a white cream, is easy to spread on the face, and absorbs quickly. It’s about medium weight, so it’s sufficiently heavy enough to make you feel moisturized for most of the day. It doesn’t cause any pilling, so it’s great under foundation.

I think this was my first experience with a PHA cream. It exfoliates to a much lesser degree than a BHA or AHA would, thus the irritation is incredibly minor, if there even is any at all. That said, don’t use this before slapping on your retinol at night. There’s also some dispute on whether it enhances the effect of Vitamin C or just causes irritation. I’ve used Vitamin C with this with no issue, so this is ok to use in the morning provided you’ve snuck in some SPF in your last step.

As far as long-term effects of the ceramides and PHA’s go… well, there haven’t been any, really. But this hasn’t caused any breakouts for me, so I think this could be a good pick for someone with sensitive skin. Also, it’s relatively cheap to buy online, between $10-15 depending on where you look. You’ll most likely have to wait a couple weeks for the international shipping, but I think it’s worth the wait to try it out.

This was a pretty short review, but you know what they say, less is more. I stan a basic moisturizer! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 3.75/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer

Pretty upset at this product and at myself. I tried this a few years ago when I was bored of my go-to niacinamide standby Cerave PM (I know, I know, again, this is blasphemy… I learned my lesson). I forgot why I stopped using it and trashed it in the first place, and repurchased just a month or two ago to try it again. So, here’s my big ol’ posting to remind myself why I should never buy this again.

Right off the bat, this is expensive. $32. For me, absolutely not worth it.

This white gel-cream comes out of a push-tube, and it’s odorless. All well and fine. When attempting to spread this on your face, you’ll find you have to keep going back for more product. For a lightweight moisturizer, it’s pretty hard to push around. It seems to absorb fine without leaving any product behind, but within five minutes you’ll notice… PILLING!

That’s right. Pils galore. Want to put on your sunscreen, or perhaps another moisturizer over this? Forget it. What about your foundation? Ha! Laughable! I’ve never seen a product pill so badly. I feel like I am missing something, because I had the same conundrum with The Ordinary’s Niacinamide product. These two products have crazy high reviews and the consumers love them. But every so often I run across a review that’s like, “This product pills up into little balls on my skin” and I want to scream Yes!!! That’s me!! Is there a specific skintype that forcibly pills up product you put onto it, for no real reason? I’d like to form a club for me and those people.

This product is hugely popular for being oil-free and thus tending to be good for acneic skin. I didn’t break out from using this (although to be fair my testing period was only four days), and people really love this product for being tolerant with skin sensitivities. But… what’s the point if it’s just going to roll off of your skin? This is a hard no from me. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Clinique Moisture Surge 72 Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator

On today’s episode of buyer beware and Fake Stuff on Amazon…

I purchased this several times as it’s older iteration, prior to the upgraded title of 72-hour hydrator. I loved that stuff. It made my skin very bouncy, it didn’t pill, and had a very subtle fresh fragrance to it. It was comparable to Clinique’s Dramatically Different, maybe just a bit heavier. I used it day and night, and felt like it truly made a difference in my skin texture. It was an absolute dream to apply.

When the product changed names to tack on five more words, I jumped on Amazon to repurchase the new product. Seemed like the moisturizer had the same intended effect after all, and checked off all my moisturizer needs: “bad” alcohol and oil free. A little pricier, sure, ($39, ugh) but so was it’s predecessor.

A week passes and my package shows up. The jar looks identical to what was shown on Amazon’s website — the seller’s name was listed as “Clinique”, after all, why would it be any different? I open up the jar and woof… a strong smell of paint thinner. And, the gel-cream was white. It’s not supposed to be white! It should be light pink, for both the old and the new versions.

But like the idiot I am, I pressed on. “Perhaps this is the smell of fragrance free?”, I thought. “Perhaps alongside changing the product’s name, they changed the color of the gel?” The end of this story ended in a breakout, two days after stupidly slapping this stuff onto my face. So my assumption is that a fake had slipped into whatever warehouse it was being shipped from. As I went to contact the seller, I noticed a few reviews had recently appeared on the listing with similar complaints. Not the first, and won’t be the last time that will happen to me on Amazon, I presume.

So the second time around I popped into Macy’s to pick this up, as that seemed slightly less risky. This time around, the gel-cream was actually pink and devoid of that… wonderful paint thinner smell. It seemed to me I was finally holding the real deal.

But it didn’t perform the same way the old version had. This moisturizer does not play well with any other moisturizer or foundation. It’s very tacky feeling, and it pills like crazy! For all that tackiness, you would think it was retaining more moisture, but my skin didn’t look or feel “bouncy” at any point while using this.

“Use it as a night cream”, I thought, but while the product is still oil and drying-alcohol free, I noticed it causes my pores to clog up and I’ve broken out from it. The ingredient list is a bit lengthier than the original, but I can’t seem to pinpoint the new addition that could be causing this.

It really stinks that this is no longer a super-great moisture. I love the texture of this stuff still; it’s really satisfying to apply. If only the results were still as satisfying… (oh, and if Amazon would stop shipping out fakes, that would be great, too ūüėČ ) ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1.5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Skincare “Restart” Tips

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Since I think all of my readers are amazing and I want you all to have perfect skin, I wanted to write a quick little post about some self-care items, regarding starting your skincare routine when it becomes a little too much.

Your skin changes — over seasons, months, and years. Sensitivities change. And sometimes that means the products you’re using, no matter how well they were working before, simply will not comply. Or sometimes, you’re just plain ol’ doing too much! 

Product overload: I personally tend to go a little crazy when I’ve ordered a bunch of new skincare products. Somehow convinced that every single one of them is a miracle item and that they’re all 100% going to play well with one another and that…. well, that just doesn’t happen. Recently I did this with Derma E Vitamin C (acids usually induce an initial breakout) and CosRX Galactomyces (clogs my pores, personally). Bad idea. Solution: Slow down. Go back to basics with your skincare routine, and add the products in slowly, one at a time! 

Skin Sensitivities Changing Naturally: There doesn’t even need to be a trigger, or even a “known sensitive ingredient” that causes sensitivities in a very large population. Currently, I’m having the weirdest problem with Neutrogena’s Hydroboost. This is normally my go-to HG moisturizer. But lately? It’s not hydrating enough, in fact, my skin’s been itching a bit after application. Weird, right? Am I allergic to dimethicone now, or something? I have no idea what’s going on. Maybe it’s just winter, and my skin needs something a little thicker. But I’m not ready to give up on it just yet. Solution: if you were using a product before with success, shelf it for awhile (or throw it out and buy another one later). See if it works after 3-4 months. If it’s still not working, it might be time to find another product.

Acid or Antiseptic Overload: Be wary of your acid, retinoid and benzoyl peroxide usage. These are all great and the exfoliation can give you visible results quickly, but it can turn on you just as fast. Your skin can become dried out, irritated, burn, or break out. I have a tough time with BP, because I think it works the best for reducing or preventing breakouts entirely, but I’ve discovered that my skin really isn’t interested in tolerating it more than “every other night”.
Solution: Build up your acid usage slowly. If your skin becomes irritated, decrease usage, and add in extra emulsifiers/heavy moisturizers to add moisture back into your skin. 

My ultimate “back to basics” routine:

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! ‚̧ ~A

Dr Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel (and price gouging in skincare)

Dr Lin Hydrating Gel.JPG

Though I no longer include this moisturizer as part of my repertoire, I was reminded of it when scrolling through my old emails and subsequent past online purchases. It struck a nerve with me since one of my holy grail items (Jergens BB Body Skin Creme) was an unfortunate victim of price gouging and/or overall product price increase. I stopped purchasing Dr Lin’s Hydrating Gel after the price went from an average of $12, to an average of $24 ($30, looking at their website… yikes).

From a business ownership standpoint, I get it. You have a lot of demand for your product, you’re well within your rights to raise the price on it, to cover production costs, to make a better return on the product you’ve masterfully created. But I’m always curious what the risk is of alienating a customer base who was only willing to pay X amount for it. Perhaps that customer base is irrelevant — maybe the company wants to market toward a different demographic, rely on their diehard fans to keep buying, or expect the apparent popularity of an item to reach out to more new customers than they had old.

Still: it’s annoying. And this product, in my opinion, was lackluster enough to be dropped from my routine, and not really deserving of such a sharp price increase.

But I will say it was good to have around for the time I had cystic acne, and a product that would be well placed in a minimalist routine. It was oil free, clear, watery gel, and light weight. It didn’t aggravate my skin, and was refreshing to put on. No offensive smells, very fresh. It did apply a little tacky, but if you waited a couple minutes before touching or putting anything else on your skin, it would not interfere.

But it wasn’t really… moisturizing. It was usually the last step in my morning routine, and I viewed it more as an occlusive layer. Using it just as a moisturizer on it’s own lead to extremely dry skin after half of the day.

So, I’m conflicted. I felt a little bummed out by their decision to increase the price, and it really wasn’t life-changing enough to keep in my routine. For acne sufferers, this stuff will provide a bit of temporary relief from the more painful breakouts, but won’t do anything in the long-term, even beyond the course of four or five hours. ~A

For cystic acne sufferers, you might find that this product is worth the price. https://amzn.to/2CX7rD1

Perceived efficacy: 3.5/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes