Holy Snails Shark Sauce

I had — have — a lot of bad acne scarring. I didn’t really realize how big of a difference a good niacinamide treatment could make the scars improve. Sure, I’d had a long run with Cerave PM, but within the past year, Cerave has changed their PM formulation, and it’s been rough on my skin since then. The Ordinary’s Niacinamide has a beautiful cast, until it shreds off my face like cheese in a cheese grater. So I bit the bullet and plopped down $30 for a 30 ml bottle of the Reddit-coveted Shark Sauce.

As you may have noticed this serum is a bit on the pricey side, but I can assure you that it will last a long time – one or two drops should be enough to cover your face. The serum comes out of the bottle completely clear, and dries down clear. It does feel a little tacky for the first five minutes of application so you might want to wait to add more products until then. Otherwise, other moisturizers and foundation will layer just fine over this product.

I immediately noticed my skin seemed a little brighter after the first day, which made my pores seem smaller and my pre-existing scars seem less obvious. The sheen isn’t quite as “glassy” as the Ordinary’s serum, but it still has a beautiful, silky finish once dried. And, on my four-month mark today, I can safely say this has either lightened or decreased the size of some of my worst scars.

For anyone with sensitive skin, I would be a little cautious using this product. I did experience some pore congestion and small breakouts in the first two weeks of using this (even though it was simultaneously making my skin quality appear overall better and brighter, somehow). I was somewhat taken aback by this since the formula isn’t particularly abrasive — it doesn’t sting while applying, or even create the “niacinamide flush”. Fortunately for me, the breakouts disappeared after those first few weeks, and haven’t resurfaced since then.

The ingredient list is tame, with no drying alcohols or added fragrances. Included is hyaluronic acid for moisture retention, as well as another brightening agent n-acetylglucosamine. (I am happy to report that the Shark Sauce ingredient listing is very transparent on the Holy Snail’s website, I love a good product listing that doesn’t make you scroll down for five minutes just find the ingredients in teeny-tiny print!). Oh, and, in case you were wondering: no actual sharks were harmed in the making of this product…

I’d say $30 for this niacinamide serum is money well spent. Not only is this serum great in the short-term with skin texture and discoloration, but it’ proves to be around for the long-haul as well in it’s ability to decrease the appearances of scarring. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes, although you may need to push through the first few weeks of use.

Physicians Formula 24-Karat Gold Collagen Serum

I can imagine the Physican’s Formula marketing round-table at the Markwins Beauty Brands HQ for this serum, scrolling through Instagram, watching the myriad of videos of girls applying shimmery-colored serums out of droppers onto their face before they accomplish some glorious feat of makeup. “We’ll make a shiny serum with absolutely no benefit at all!”, said the marketers. “But we’ll say it boosts collagen and make them think it’s doing something.”

For $14, it’s a really cute and boujie-looking gold and glittery bottle, although the bottle itself is way too big for the amount of product it’s actually holding, 1 fl. oz. Points off for wasteful packaging. The pump itself is pretty efficient though, and gives you a consistent helping of the amount of product you’ll actually need to apply on your face. I’m not going to say “a little goes a long way” with this product, since it tends to dry up really quickly, but two full pumps should get you exactly what you’ll need.

Application of this is… smooth, but as I mentioned before, it dries up pretty fast. Ok, not dries up. It transfers immediately from your fingers to your face, and leaves a super tacky residue behind. But it doesn’t feel like you’ve delivered any moisture to your skin, so that’s… not great. And that tacky residue is uncomfortably long-lasting.

As you probably guessed, this contains gold. Not sure what I was expecting that to do — like, I’d apply it and it would make my skin like… automatic highlighter? Realistically, I’d get one giant chunk of a gold flake in the serum, and it would wind up somewhere inconvenient on my face.

Eh, ok, this has niacinamide in it, which is always good. Fine. That’s one redeeming quality. Collagen does make it’s way as well. But for short-term and long-term effects, this product doesn’t do much for me. My skin doesn’t feel hydrated — it just feels sticky. I don’t experience any collagen-boosting effect. Heck, I don’t even see any niacinamide pore-shrinking benefits, in fact, I’m pretty sure this serum breaks me out! Although I can’t pinpoint the exact ingredient that would cause that.

This is a lose for me, but a win for the Physicians Formula marketing team. I definitely judged a book by it’s cover in this case, and bought the sparkly thing instead of the plain-looking thing that actually worked. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No