Holy Grail No More

Good morning readers, and Happy New Year!

For the new year, I decided to do a small purge of my skincare collection. As the seasons change, and as I’ve continued on with my Epiduo and spironolactone treatment, my skin has changed a bit. Products that I used to swear by and considered HG status at one point just don’t work as well anymore. That’s not to say I don’t consider them good products anymore, I would still recommend them to someone with a particular skin need.

So, here is a list of products that are going into my “on-hold” stash, or in the trash, for 2020, despite their previously coveted “holy grail” status in my reviews.

Cerave PM. This started to make my skin feel congested and break out minorly. The buzz on Reddit is that Cerave PM was reformulated for 2019, and I’m wondering if that was related to my breakouts. Now, I’m on the hunt for a good niacinamide replacement…

undefinedCerave Hydrating and Foaming Cleanser. The foaming cleanser has always gotten a bad rap for being a little too harsh, and I agree with that. It’s also, for some reason, not very good at removing makeup. The hydrating cleanser tends to leave behind a film, and quite frankly won’t really make you feel clean. I’ve replaced both of these with CosRX Low PH Cleanser.

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Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser

Cerave Foaming Cleanser

This cleanser is highly coveted by many, but I personally am just not feeling it. The caveat here is that I have a tough time with cleansers, generally speaking, and I try to avoid using them when I can.  I originally picked this up when I realized that the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser isn’t super-phenomenal at taking off makeup. I figured, hey this one is a foaming cleanser ergo it will remove my makeup, and it’s from Cerave who has never let me down in terms of pumping their products full of hydrating ingredients, so I won’t feel like I’ve completely stripped off the first layer of my skin after washing.

The product comes out as a clear liquid from a pump. It doesn’t really smell like anything in particular, maybe a bit like something you would smell from a generic handsoap, with substantially less fragrance. It’s supposed to foam up when you apply water and rub it against your skin, but I… don’t really think it does that? Am I wrong? Ok, it foams a TINY bit. Doesn’t matter. The next issue is, no matter how much product I pump out, it’s seemingly never enough to get my entire face, and I need to pump out more. Good thing this is kind of a big bottle, right?

In terms of makeup removal, it does… okay. Again, not great, but it’s not like this product is exactly screaming out “makeup removal” on the packaging (rather, not at all), so I’ll give it some credit. Certainly, it does a better job of stripping off oil and product than it’s sister hydrating cleanser.

What this product is really good at, though, is making your skin feel dry as a desert after you’re done washing. As I mentioned before, I try to avoid cleansers and it’s for this very reason — that is their purpose, to strip you dry of all the gunk on your face. But considering Cerave goes out of their way to advertise the ceramides and HA, I just feel like… I shouldn’t feel like that? I don’t know. I certainly feel like my skin barrier’s been disrupted.

Over time, I’ve discovered my secret combo: mix the Cerave hydrating cleanser and the foaming cleanser together! That way, it’ll take off my makeup and ever-so-slightly keep my skin hydrated, simultaneously. So I guess I’ll keep the foaming cleanser around, so long as it’s sister cleanser stays on my bathroom sink. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2.75/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

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

Cerave Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum 30 SPF

Cerave Sunscreen 30 SPF

I cut out chemical sunscreens during my cystic acne phase, and only used physical sunscreens, spending many days with white-cast nightmare skin. Now that that part of my life is over, I decided to tip-toe back into the world of chemical sunscreens. My holy grail sunscreen is Its Skin 2pm Sunblock 50spf+, but it ships from Korea, and at present, I can’t find it for cheaper than $25, which is more than I’m willing to spend. So I picked this up in the meantime. I know 30 spf isn’t terribly high by any means, but I don’t intend on using it for scenarios with intense sun.

I’ve been using this for two days straight, and layered it over different moisturizers each day. Goes on fine, no pilling at all, no white cast, felt pretty smooth to the touch. Doesn’t smell like anything, which is fine by me. So from the onset, I liked it! I checked out my face in the office mirror at noon, it looked okay at that point still.

I got out of a big meeting at 3pm and… there it was, the pilling disaster. The sunscreen was clinging to my dry areas, and those parts of my face became a nice, white-ish, peeling goop mess. I’m sure that was a sight to behold for everyone else in that meeting. I’ve always heard that you need to re-apply sunscreens halfway through the day anyway, but I suspect that reapplying would have made the pilling situation 10x worse!

So.. I don’t know what to think. I love the application, but the longevity doesn’t seem to stretch as long as I’d like. I’ll probably keep using it until I can get my hands on something else (and avoid those known dry spots like the plague). I’ve seen the price points range between $8-$14, but it likely won’t be something I’ll repurchase. ~A

(Update, a few weeks later: acne sufferers, SKIP THIS ONE!)

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

 

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!┬áMy 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