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. 🙂 ~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

COSRX Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream

Finally, a CosRX product that is compliant with my skin, and one I’m in absolute love with! If you’re looking for a heavy moisturizer, I very heavily recommend this one.

My story about this moisturizer begins with another, the coveted Cerave-in- a-Tub. At the height of my cystic acne, I wanted so bad for Cerave to be my HG, second-to-last step moisturizer, convinced that the weight of it was locking in a supreme amount of moisture which would help my skin recover from all the retinol and benzoyl peroxide I was applying to it. Maybe this was the case, but it was SO difficult to work with. It never played well with any other products, and the whitecast was difficult to rid of. I woke up the next morning feeling sticky, moreso than hydrated.

A couple other heavy creams came after this one, but this CosRX honey ceramide cream ended up ticking off all of the boxes, and being everything Cerave was not – the only gripe being the ridiculously small amount in the package for the price ($17), and perhaps a slightly shorter listing of ceramides in the ingredients.

This alcohol-free, odorless white cream spreads very easily into the skin, and you don’t need to go overboard on product – a few pea-sized amounts should do. It won’t pill with any other skincare product you have underneath, unless you apply it too soon in succession. I use this exclusively at night due to it’s weight, but I did try it once with makeup, and it didn’t make too much of a mess – obviously, the longer you wait between application, better. Immediately after application, I feel like my skin was bouncier. When I wake up in the morning, my skin STILL feels hydrated. This being my first honey cream, I was under the impression that the honey would make me feel sticky, but it didn’t.

As a bonus, this did not cause me to break out! I suppose I had pictured honey clogging every single pore in existence and causing a mess, but it absolutely did not. I felt, in fact, my pores had shrunk a bit overnight. All in all, this stuff is great. This is a new HG for me, and I’d recommend even those with sensitive skin give it a try. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.75/5

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

Elta MD Intense Moisturizer

Elta MD Intense Moisturizer

This is a weird one. During my cystic acne phase, I used this as an occlusive, and continued to use it for the first five months of treatment. I didn’t have any issues breaking out “more” than I already was. Using it now, though, now that I’m back to combination skin, I’ve noticed it’s congestive to my pores. This seems weird to me as the ingredient list is simplistic — petroleum, and paraffin — both of which are in other products I currently use. So, for all you sensitive skin/acne sufferers: I would actually suggest giving this a try first and see how you react. I really liked this in the beginning and thought it worked great. I’m guessing as my skin recovered, my sensitivities changed.

Onto the review! There is quite a lot of product in this tube, and you don’t need very much at all. The only smell is really the mineral-y, waxy smell of the petroleum. This moisturizer does, as they advertise, “melt” — it comes out as a thick line of waxy product, but starts to disintegrate into water when it makes contact with the heat of your skin. That makes this product best as a last step/occlusive, after you’ve put all your other products on for the night (just be careful not to sleep with your face on the pillow…). It’s awesome particularly in the winter when you feel like you honestly could never get enough moisture in your skin — this moisturizer will provide it!

A full eight hours is about the time it takes for this product to fully break down, but the end result is that you wake up feeling that your skin is bouncy and soft. As I mentioned before, I used to not really find that I had any “new” breakouts (that were caused by this, anyway).

I’m kind of bummed out that I don’t have great results with this anymore like I used to. I think it’s the most moisturized I’ve been from using one product, and the price point of $10 is great for the amount of product and overall effect. I’ll give it the review I would have given it when I had bad acne though, because I think it could definitely be a holy grail for acne sufferers, so long as they don’t have any sensitivities to petroleum. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

Cerave PM – Facial Moisturizing Lotion

Cerave PM

Welcome to my #firstpost! The whole point of this place is because I was sick of going on Youtube and watching makeup/skincare/beauty product reviews, only to find out that the video was sponsored, which made me question literally everything the creator was saying. Is it genuine if someone’s giving you a nudge one direction when you review their product? Making things worse, a lot of these videos — just to review one single product — are anywhere between eight and twenty-five minutes long. I really just wanted someone to tell me “yes” or “no”. So here I am, reviewing makeup, moisturizers, lotions, supplements — pretty much any beauty product that I’ve ever tried, I’ll post at some point.

Now, onto the review.

I stockpile Cerave PM just in case I run out, if that is any indication of how much I like this stuff. When I travel and I am forced to “pack light” (ha!) and choose one moisturizer, I will usually choose this. It’s ridiculously light weight and sinks into your skin immediately. Besides a few fatty alcohols, there aren’t any known “drying” alcohols contained in this product.

But is the niacinamide ingredient actually helping scar damage? I can’t really tell. I have plenty of scars from acne, and I can’t say that I’ve noticed any marked improvement by using this product specifically.

As for longevity, I apply this in the morning, and generally feel like my skin is moisturized all day. I’d recommend it to anyone just getting into the moisturizing game, or someone who is attempting to go back to basics. The price point is great at $9-$13. Oh, it doesn’t seem to break me out, either, and you can put three layers of the stuff on your face and it still won’t pill, even under makeup. ~A

A note from future A: This product recently reformulated, and has made my skin react poorly — buyer beware, in 2020! My new post on this change is here.

Perceived efficacy: 3/5

Longevity: 4.25/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.25/5