Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench

As I started to write this, I wanted to apologize for veering off the path of “reasonable prices” with this product, but then I did a quick Google search and realized I’ve been grossly overpaying for this product for a year or so. $52 at Ulta — $29 at Walmart. Wow. It’s still expensive, and you’ll have to make sure the seller through Walmart is reputable, but just don’t be an ignoramous like me, and you can save $23!

But since I’ve been through two jars of this, there must be a part of me that believes this is worth $52. This is an incredibly light-weight and easy to work with moisturizer that melts right into your skin. It smells fresh (think Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost scent), it doesn’t pill, and over the long-term, shows proof of visible skin smoothing.

Alongside Dramatically Different, this is what I consider one of the best moisturizers for those with acne-prone skin. It doesn’t cause any sort of congestion or burning sensations. There’s definitely no drying alcohols. There’s no break-in period for the product, either, where you might notice your skin breaking out because it’s getting used to the new product — it works great, right away. In fact, since I’ve started using this my skin has overall felt healthier and “bouncier” (I’m sure the five ceramides listed in the first two lines of ingredients may contribute to this).

Even though I’ve noticed long-term effects, the day-to-day longevity of this product really depends on the weather. Although it’s labeled as a cream and takes significantly longer to dry down to the skin like a gel would, it is not, by any means, a heavy cream. By hour six or seven you may experience some tightness in your skin. This moisturizer also isn’t the best under makeup — it might just be a little too thick, with a tendency to break down any foundation quickly, despite it not pilling during the initial application.

This was my go-to holy grail moisturizer during quarantine, though. Provided you aren’t adding any layers of foundation over it, this was phenomenal for wearing around the house and keeping your skin hydrated. My skin started looking so good, in fact, that I was able to stop wearing foundation altogether! If you can pick this up for less than regular retail price, I highly recommend it. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

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

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

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

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel (and Water Gel Extra Dry)

Neutrogena Hydro Boost

This stuff has been part of my nightly regime for close to a year now, and I love it.

There’s really not too big of a difference between the two formulas except the color — in fact, I accidentally bought the extra dry formula online, and didn’t realize that it had even existed until I looked at the color and wondered what on earth I had bought¬†(extra dry coloration is white, instead of the normal formula’s blue). Extra dry is a little heavier, and application is a bit tackier, so it might require a longer setting time but still won’t interfere with the rest of your process. I think I’m going to use extra dry a bit more in the winter.

I think the color is kind of neat for the original formula — light blue! It doesn’t apply that way, though. The stuff sinks in almost immediately, and it’s weightless. Your skin will be softer on touch. That moisture will persist for at least eight hours, and won’t pill off throughout the day. The fragrance is nice — very light, fresh, won’t drive you insane during the day. And, added bonus, the packaging is kind of cool in the light blue container, making it hard to miss in my vanity.

What I love love love about this stuff is that it does not conflict with anything else I put on for the day — be it extra layers of moisturizer, sunscreen or makeup. NO PILLING!! Ah, yes, and for all you acne-sufferers out there, this stuff is oil free, and was a mainstay during my hormonal acne.

The price point is a little annoying at $14-18 depending on where you buy from, but it should last between a month to three months, contingent on how much it gets used. ~A

To try the regular formula, click here: https://amzn.to/2GXTdFT For the extra dry formula, click here: https://amzn.to/2VvPEtP

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Clinique Dramatically Different Gel

Clinique Dramatically Different

What I originally thought was an underwhelming moisturizer, Clinique’s Dramatically Different Gel became a must-have staple for me. I’m a sucker for good packaging or good marketing tactics, so, as you could imagine, I didn’t exactly feel “dramatically different” after using this product as the package may have suggested right away. And besides hyaluronic acid and caffeine, this moisturizer doesn’t boast any skin improving quality that falls out of the norm.

But for long-term use, this gel really does work! It’s medium weight (despite advertising as light), so it doesn’t quite sink into your skin fully but it doesn’t feel like it’s weighing you down, either (nor will it leave behind a sticky feeling!), and you won’t need to go the extra mile to rub it in. It also seems like this is doing a better job of controlling my oiliness throughout the day than the Cerave PM does. This moisturizer has a extremely faint vanilla smell, but will become odorless after application.

This product is oil and alcohol free, which makes it a great choice for anyone with acne-prone skin. I have never broken out from using this product.

I don’t have any issues with this product pilling with my makeup, particularly since this dries down quickly. I also didn’t feel that my skin dried out, or became tighter after a full day of wear.

For the price point of $25-28, it was difficult, at first, to justify the cost of such an initially underwhelming moisturizer. But as time passed, I learned that perhaps less is more. My skin quality has been phenomenal after using this prodycg long-term! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes