Aquaphor

There’s a lot of talk in the skincare community about “slug life” — wherein a skincare aficionado ends their routine with the most occlusive product possible, and ceases any social activity for the remainder of the day (since drowning your face in Vaseline/oil/Aquaphor has the tendency to make you look a tad bit, well, slimy). Of course, by doing all of this, you run the risk of blocking your pores and causing more breakouts if you wind up picking the wrong product.

The ingredient listing in Aquaphor is relatively simple — mineral oil, lanolin alcohol, paraffin, panethenol and glycerin. But mineral oil is a tricky thing. It’s not inherantly evil — it’s in a ton of makeup products, and probably a lot of skincare products that don’t tout themselves as oil-free. Unfortunately, it absolutely has a tendency to clog pores.

I rotated between Cerave in a Tub, Aquaphor, and Vaseline when I first started using Epiduo — since Epiduo’s primary function is to turn over skin cells, my face was burning like crazy. The three aforementioned heavy-layers were intended to decrease the burning. Of the three, Vaseline was the best for this, and Cerave was the worst. Aquaphor landed squarely in the middle. However, of the three, Aquaphor lead to the highest tendency of me waking up in the morning and saying, “Ah, look, new break outs!” (Vaseline did this as well, but not to the same extent)

What I did find Aquaphor was best for was lips! I use the Aquaphor Healing Ointment in the smaller tube as my go-to chapstick. Most chapsticks have more drying components in their ingredient listing (like peppermint) that cancel out anything you’re trying to accomplish, which is generally to retain moisture in your lips. The paraffin and mineral oil, and otherwise short ingredient listing in Aquaphor will help to keep them hydrated.

If you’re not sensitive to mineral oil and you’re looking for a good “last step” in your routine — particularly if you have very dry, irritated skin (in fact, I think this is a holy grail for a lot of eczema sufferers) — I’d say give this a shot. It goes on easily and the gel is clear — you should start feeling some relief moments after you apply it. No, no one is going to win any beauty contents by slathering petroleum all over their face, but that’s the price you pay for being a believer in slug life! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5 as chapstick; 2/5 for face

Recommended for sensitive skin: If sensitive to mineral oil, no.

Mizon Snail Recovery Gel

This snail gel has a pretty huge following, for good reason: It’s inexpensive, mimics the redness-reducing properties of aloe vera, and it works well as an occlusive or moisturizer. Unfortunately, my acne-prone skin does not love this product.

This comes in a cute, pink plastic bottle — small, but, a little squeeze of this colorless, odorless gel-cream goes a long way. From personal experience, this product is great to travel with — it’s small enough to chuck in your bag without taking too much room, and could also, hypothetically, replace a larger-sized occlusive or moisturizer product in your routine while you’re out of the house.

I used this, typically, as the last step in my routine — primarily when my heavier oils or occlusives weren’t in reach. I’ve used it as just a moisturizer as well, and put other products over it. However, this product is NOT heavy. You should absolutely stack other products with it because it’s not super moisturizing on it’s own. My word of caution is that it does still have a slightly longer dry time and it’s a bit tacky even after drying, so try to leave some time in between adding the other layer.

As for overall effect… I stand by what I wrote in the first paragraph, it works “well”, but it’s not GREAT. It’s definitely better to use it than to not use anything at all. My skin felt some relief immediately after use, and it might have retained a bit of moisture overnight. But I wasn’t wowed by the effects over a long period of time.

While I feel like this made my overall skin condition, at minimum, “ok”, I think it was also causing break outs. Nothing major, but after using the product for 3 days in a row, I noticed an increase in whiteheads and pore congestion. Like anything else, there could have been a myriad of other factors influencing this, but all other products remaining the same in my routine and the snail gel being the addition, I would suspect the snail gel. I had a similar reaction to CosRX’s snail gel. Is there such thing as being sensitive to snail secretion filtrate? Or perhaps it’s the olive oil. At any rate, there’s no drying alcohol in this product, so I know it’s not that.

For sensitive skin users, I ultimately wouldn’t recommend this, but only due to my own reaction. It may be worth a shot regardless, because it is a decent, portable “extra layer” you can add in. It’s also pretty cheap ($6, although it looks like Mizon’s either raised the price or price gouging is in play. I see it for $10 or $11 today!). I might be doomed to never experiencing the skin benefits of… a snail. Although if I’m being honest, I never envisioned putting anything related to a snail on my face until last year, so I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing… ~A

Still want to give this snail gel a shot? Click here: https://amzn.to/2JRDzx8

Perceived efficacy: 2.5/5

Longevity: 3.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

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