Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile now, you have probably realized that I never stop talking about Clinique’s Dramatically Different Gel. It is just the most reliable, versatile, lightweight and foolproof gel, and I’ve never found anything like it.

Except, oops, I forgot that Clinique had a few more things in their Dramatically Different line-up. I had a little inspiration after reading a great write-up on this product over at V’s Beauty Talk blog, which kickstarted me into grabbing a 1.7oz trial size for $15 ($30 for full-size) to see if this lived up to my extremely high expectations.

Although Clinique tends to be heavy on the ingredients-you-cant-pronounce-the-names-of, this line generally leaves out drying alcohols and comdeogenic oils, which I like. The product itself is closer to a liqui-gel than a jelly, but this makes it easy to get out of the bottle. If you have dry skin, prepare for this stuff to dry down extremely fast. You would think this would be “a little goes a long way” spreadable, but it’s not.

Unfortunately the review mostly goes downhill from here. Immediately after I applied this, my skin felt sticky. After six hours, my skin still felt sticky and… dry, again. Products are impossible to stack over this, because it will pill. Scrubbing the product off the next morning also ends in a gigantic, pilling mess.

So… what is this? I can’t use it as a moisturizer, because it doesn’t hydrate my skin for long enough, and I also can’t stack anything else over top of it if I wanted to. I can’t use it as a one-step emolliant either, or even consider it a humectant, because it, again, is not hydrating.

Based on the ingredient listing, and for the sole fact I love the gel version so much, I would be inclined to recommend this to sensitive-skin users, but honestly I suspect the uncomfortable sensation this moisturizer leaves behind actually did cause some irritation to my skin, and ultimately caused me to break out a few times after using this.

I was hugely disappointed by this product, but, for some perspective, there are three different types of moisturizers in this series, and more suited for different skin types than the other. Maybe the gel version is my one-and-only, and you know what they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 1.75/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

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 Kale Luxe Oil-Free Cream

I feel like such a fool! I was lured in by the words “oil-free” on this moisturizer! But alas, Pacifica has sadly snuck denatured alcohol into this otherwise very short ingredient listing. While alcohol denat has it’s place in the beauty industry, such as industrial-strength stage makeup fixing spray, I certainly don’t think it should find it’s way into moisturizers. And there’s even a chance it’s presence would not have bothered me so much if it didn’t act like a moisturizer that had alcohol in it!

I had a bad couple of weeks in early winter where my skin became a veritable oil-slick, and my skin began to break out like crazy. My dermatologists words suddenly came rushing back to me: “Only use oil-free moisturizers!“, a ghostly, subtle reminder that maybe I was doing too much in my routine, and needed to go back to basics. Cue the purchase of Pacifica’s oil free cream.

There isn’t anything particularly noteworthy in this $16 cream except, um, kale, which I’m not convinced really does anything. Mostly I just purchased it because it was oil free, somehow glossing right over the ingredient listing for alcohol denat. So although this 1.7 oz bottle gives you quite a bit of product to hold you over for a few months, for the ingredients alone, I do not think this is worth $16.

The moisturizer is really luxurious and silky feeling as you apply, but it’s more likely the smell will distract you from how nice this feels. I think the idea is that it smells like kale, but is more akin to smelling like the place it grew from, which is wet dirt. It is a matte moisturizer so it dries down quickly — too quickly, in fact. You’ll start to feel your skin underneath it start to dry up as soon as the cream does.

It does play well with makeup over top of it initially, but because this is such a drying moisturizer (wow, those two words next to each other don’t really make any sense…), you’ll find your skin start to develop dry patches throughout the day, causing your makeup to crack or pill on it’s own. Guess who started to get a few breakouts after day three of using this? Yep, you got it — this girl.

I think calling this a “drying moisturizer” should speak for itself. This cream flat out does not do it’s job at moisturizing, and if you have sensitive skin, you’ll almost definitely experience a break out from the sheer dryness alone, which isn’t cool since this cream specifically cites blemish-prone skin types as types that should use this product. Although I still love Pacifica as a brand, I think this was a huge miss on their part. Steer clear! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Holika Holika Good Cera Super Ceramide Cream

In preparation for winter, and knowing that Cerave in a Tub is no longer a go-to option for me, I went on the hunt for a heavy ceramide cream. It’s a bit on the pricier side — $18 — but it had a few good reviews on r/asianbeauty, so I decided it was worth the splurge. The 2 fl oz’s go a long way.

I was surprised by the heavy jar when I got this in the mail, but I do like the yellow packaging. Nice, bright, and clean! This cream itself feels great: it’s very smooth and creamy. It is peach-colored in the jar, but the color disappears immediately once it is applied to the skin. It melts, actually, which I love. The only drawback here about the physicality of the product is how much I dislike the smell. It smells like some sort of lemony household cleaner.

The ingredient listing is where I become a bit conflicted. The ingredient listing is SO LONG and I am unfamiliar with quite a few of them, which isn’t always the best sign. I mean, it’s great that there are no drying alcohols in it, but I DO think my skin is a little sensitive to this because of how many oils they put in. Now, oils for me are hit or miss — some certainly play better with my skin than others, but this just seems like a lot:

Phew! Not listed in this screenshot is the inclusion of coconut oil and aloe vera (which both tend to be comodeogenic for my skin). On the plus side, we’ve got three types of ceramides, niacinamide, and allantoin.

Despite drying a little bit more tacky on my skin than I would care for (don’t put makeup over this one!), this does make my skin feel protected and soft. I don’t think it quite lived up to the “72 hour” claim, but the feeling did persist up to about the 18 hour mark.

As for my skin condition over all… I do think I have a bit of a sensitivity to this. Although it works GREAT as an emollient, especially overnight, I have woken up a few times with clogged pores, blotchy skin, or tiny break outs. But, I went into this knowing it wasn’t oil-free, so that was the price I paid.

If you’re not sensitive to oils, don’t mind the smell of Pine-Sol, and you’re looking for a great overnight mask, this will do the trick. Otherwise, sensitive skin users, be careful with Good Cera! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3/5

Longevity: 3.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream

Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting

Wanted to see what the hype was all about, since this is one of the more popular lines of moisturizers on the market. Picked this up online for $13 (Ulta is selling for $28, but Walmart says $10 for the same amount of product, huh? Not sure if it’s a newer formulation or what, but, anyway…). Love the packaging, heavy glass-like bottle and there’s a good amount of product inside.

The product is a really smooth feeling, white cream with very light fragrance. The texture of it is cashmere-ish, as much as a moisturizer can be. I like that about it. It initially looks like it absorbs into the skin pretty well.

Until the next morning, that is. Nice, white patches of “dry” skin start showing up (although it’s actually just dried product). This isn’t an issue if you’re going to hop in the shower and wash the remnants off anyway, but it is ill-advised to wear this out during the day, even though the jar instructs you to use it morning and night. I made this mistake and used this prior to putting makeup on, and then I went to work. Not only did my foundation pill when put over this moisturizer, but it started to pill and dry up on it’s own through the day, causing more little white, “dry” spots on my skin. UGH.

My skin definitely feels softer after using it — likely from the paraffin? — and it looks smoother overall, but these effects are just temporary and disappears once the product is washed off. I’m not convinced that it’s doing anything long-term. I also feel like this would be a problematic product for people with mature or wrinkled skin.  On the plus side, it hasn’t broken me out! It also has niacinamide in it, which is neat, although I’m not sure if it’s enough to make a difference.

This probably will not be a re-buy of mine, but it does feel nice, and isn’t the worst thing on the market as far as night creams go. Just as long as you’re only using it as a night cream… ~A

A note from future A: I forgot to mention that this has benzyl alcohol in the ingredient listing. Not cool!

Perceived efficacy: 3/5

Longevity: 5/5 (although, if used as a day cream, this longevity is actually problematic!)

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

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

Stratia Liquid Gold

Stratia Liquid Gold

I really, REALLY wanted to like this. The gold color, promise of crazy hydration and the fact that it reminded me of a fabric paint tube really lured me into dropping $24 on this thing directly from Stratia’s website. It was not a $24 well spent.

It didn’t do anything.

This products gets a lot of hype on reddit for repairing destroyed moisture barriers, and having an optimal combination of ingredients to do so (ceramides and cholesterol).  I live in a city with harsh winters, and I also have combo skin with dry areas in the lower quadrant of my face, so moisture is definitely an issue for me — so I was excited to try this out.

And this just… this just didn’t do anything.

It’s cool that it’s yellow, but the runny-ness of the formula just isn’t effective at all. You may have well have just dripped some water onto the my face and called it a day. My skin felt neither protected by an additional layer, nor did it feel/look any softer. This, of course, infers that I couldn’t really “feel” that I had applied it after even 10 minutes or so. And even despite the thinness of it, the yellow would still show up if you’re not careful to rub it in hard enough. I really do think that, not only did it look and act like paint, but it also smelled like paint as well.

I speculated that this product aggravated my acne a little bit. I had a couple new spots after usage — I mean, this could have been from anything, but the timing was a little suspect.

It looks like they’ve changed the packaging recently, so I’m curious if the formulation was changed in that time, as well. But for now, my review will remain based on the product you see pictured above — totally not worth the purchase. I know there’s a huge cult following for Liquid Gold — if you love this stuff and want to let me know why, feel free to leave a comment! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1/5 (I mean, how can there be longevity if you didn’t feel it working in the first place…?)

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

 

About Me

Whenever I look for beauty product reviews, points of reference are always huge for me. When I first started really getting into makeup and skincare, I suffered from acne — initially, it was the standard run-of-the-mill acne, and then once I hit my mid-late 20s, BAM, it blew up into insane cystic acne. Devastating! You’re supposed to be done with that stuff after your early 20s, but apparently not for me (and thousands of other women and men). So, until I got it treated, this little issue of mine forced me to read between the lines of all the reviews. For example, just because someone on Reddit posted a ~*flawless*~ “after” photo when reviewing a product, I had to ascertain a) whether or not they had any pre-existing skin conditions, or b) if they photoshopped the life out of their face.

It is unlikely that I will ever post a picture of myself, but, for all of those who are wondering what kind of person I am, and if my personal situation is relevant to your life, here it is:

  • I am in my late 20s.
  • Dark brown hair and light-colored eyes
  • To reference the MAC scale of skin shades, I’m going to say NC20 as a generality. But I’ve also scooped up NW-20-like shades. My personal description would be “pale-ish, with yellow undertones, and super red cheeks.” That’s as scientific as I can get.
  • As I mentioned before, I had absolutely terrible, insane, crazy hormonal cystic acne that was ultimately cured by spironolactone and Epiduo (more on that later) so I ALWAYS take that into consideration for product reviews since it was ingrained into me to look for oil-free products at that time
  • Now that I’m “cured”, I still have a lot of pretty deep scars, and I still get small breakouts from time to time.

Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, I am going to do a little explanation of how I’m going to run things on this website (at least until I change my mind, which happens… a lot).

  • All products are bought with my own money, and I am not what you would call a rich person, so unfortunately swatching multiple products will be out of the question — I’ve likely only bought the one product for myself, so there wouldn’t be anything to compare it against.
  • I won’t be taking any pictures of myself with the product on, or during application. I’ll likely find the most recent stock photo of the product itself, or take a picture with my six-year-old Android phone of the product sitting on my bathroom sink. High quality, here we come!

Onto the rating system! Everything is rated out of five. There’s no scientific system in which things are rated, nor do the ratings for one category impact another (except maybe the last one), they’re just my own opinion.

Perceived efficacy: Do I think, or see the product actually working, based on the claims the outward label made?

Longevity: How long does it last?

How much I actually like this product: All things considered, how much did I like this? This includes things like physical characteristics of the products and the price point.

Now that I’ve set the stage, all I can hope for is that someone else who is searching for an honest and non-sponsored review will stumble across this page, and find the review that will make or break their purchasing decision. The beauty industry is really tough to navigate, and it’s hard to determine what’s best for you versus what’s being shilled to you strictly for a profit (I still struggle with figuring that out). Worst case scenario? I’ll keep this blog around to remind me the reasons of why I should not to go into Ulta and say “Oh, but the packaging is so pretty, I should give them another shot!”

~ A