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.

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

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

CosRX Galactomyces 95 Toner Balancing Essence

One day, I woke up and decided I was bored with applying Cerave PM every single day. I know, complete blasphemy, right? Cerave PM is amazing. But I wanted to switch up my niacinamide treatment, so I picked up this product from CosRX.

I love CosRX for both their packaging simplicity, and their short ingredient lists. The product — clear, watery gel — can be seen from the outside of the bottle. You don’t need too much of the product, it’s easily spreadable once on the skin. The absorption time is a bit long — probably close to 5 minutes — and sits “tacky” on the skin even when dried. Considering the tackiness, though, it doesn’t pill up against other products as much as I thought it would.

Sadly, it turns out my skin is pretty sensitive to this product, so I wasn’t able to use it enough to see the long term results. For the short-term, I didn’t really see anything noticeable, not quite the way The Ordinary’s Niacinamide temporarily turned my skin into glass.

I tried this out both morning and night. A few hours after, I noticed quite a bit of pore congestion, and I believe I had some small breakouts from that. There’s no alcohol in this product, so my suspicion is that my breakouts are related to the fermented ingredients. Case in point, I used to use My Beauty Diary Natto Masks (natto = fermented soybean) religiously, with no issues whatsoever. Freakin’ love that sheet mask. But one day, a year and a half later, these masks started to have roughly the same effect on me that Galactomyces has on me now: it caused crazy pore congestion and breakouts.

I would tread carefully if you have sensitive skin. Cerave PM is probably a much safer option if you’re prone to breakouts. This is also relatively pricey — $18 — although you do get quite a bit of product. If you’ve been able to try this product out to see any long-term results, please comment and let me know how you like it!

Side note: You may also recognize this product as “Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence”. I think the renaming was probably for the best… ~A

Try out Galactomyces here: https://amzn.to/2Sf9Ilo

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 3/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Items to Trash, Volume 1

Usually I post on Tuesdays and Saturday, but I thought I’d mix things up a little and throw in a Thursday post! This post is going to be about the stuff I’m throwing/giving away (or, I think I’m throwing away — sometimes I get cold feet and end up hanging onto them anyway). Some of these items I’ve reviewed in the past — others, I may do a review for in the future.

CosRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence – I want to love CosRX products  because their business model is extremely honest and I appreciate that about them! But none of their products have worked for me (besides the master patches, of course!). This niacinamide product makes my skin extremely congested. If you still want to try, click here: https://amzn.to/2SI2dQY

The Ordinary Zinc + Niacinamide – I have decided that 30 minutes of perfect, glassy skin is not worth the six hours of pills rolling down my face This is still a huge The Ordinary fan-favorite, though. If you still want to try, click here: https://amzn.to/2REEYdi

Mario Badescu – Cucumber/Green Tea Facial Spray – Too drying for me 😦 It wasn’t for me, but might be good for others! https://amzn.to/2SUB7WA

Skindinavia Oil Control Finishing Spray – ELF does just as good a job, possibly even better, than this spray. For $20 cheaper. Without alcohol denat as the second ingredient. Or literally any other alcohol. BYE

Rimmel Scandal Eyes Eye Shadow Stick – I don’t know why you were in my purse for six months. I think I was holding out hope you would somehow produce color if I just carried you around or…. something.

L’Oreal Everpure Volume Shampoo – I know, this is a shampoo, so this isn’t in my usual line of business. But I was searching far and wide for a sulfate-free shampoo that wouldn’t wipe out the color in my hair in 40 seconds, nor dry it out. The more natural the better, and my quest to stay away from bad alcohols is beginning to extend to shampoos as well. ::excuses self to hide hairsprays:: This has benzyl alcohol in it. ~A

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

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary Niacinamide

I found a post the other day on Reddit, in which the user was confused as to what the hype was re: products from The Ordinary. The concern was that the product — this one, specifically — pilled like crazy. At which point I thought… MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY!

I like the company’s mission here, to strip out all the extra junk you don’t need. I appreciate that. But I also don’t understand how that makes this practical for every day use. See, on initial application, this stuff looks lovely — it makes a nice glossy-not-shiny sheen over your skin. Glassy with an “a”, actually, that seems like the best word to use. I like it. It’s odorless, and you apply a few drops with a dropper. A little goes a long way. And I think I picked this one up for $11 — not bad!

But that all comes to a halt after 30 minutes. Suddenly, even without touching your face, the pills start to form everywhere. Your skin just peeeeeeels off. Did you have sunscreen or makeup on? That’s going to come off, too. So I quickly learned that, at minimum, this is not for “going to work” use.

But then I thought… when the heck am I supposed to use this? Either way, it’s going to peel off, and apparently it’s going to peel off anything else I’ve applied as well, including other moisturizers.

And I mean — is the Niacinamide even working? Similar to the Cerave PM, I feel like the initial application does make it appear that my pores have shrunken, due to that glassiness both products create initially. As for any long term effects… I guess I haven’t been using it long enough to tell, but I also cannot fathom how it is useful when it falls off your face after 20 minutes.

I don’t know. I want to repurchase it, I want to love it because everyone else does. But I just… don’t get it. If you have any insight as to what I may be doing wrong, leave me a comment! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5 (that initial glossiness, though!)

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