Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti Wrinkle Cream

This product was one of my very first moisturizers and retinol products. I don’t know how I feel about that, to be honest — I probably could have started with something a little bit more low-key, without the retinol, but I must have figured 20 or 21 was a good as time as any to hop on the anti-wrinkle train.

I definitely did not know what I  was doing with anything retinol related at the time, so there is a possibility I used this way too much — every morning/night, or at least, every day. I probably wasn’t wearing any sunscreen with it, either. Bad. But I can say with confidence that it never broke me out (any more than I already was at the time, anyway — this was before my cystic acne, so I suspect at the time those breakouts were more due to my poor eating/sleep/stress habits), and the packaging does specify that it’s oil-free.

It is a white cream, that quickly sinks into your skin without having to vigorous rub in. It’s can be a little bit pilly if you don’t let it set or you put too much in one area, etc., but as long as it goes on smoothly from the onset, it should be relatively lightweight. There’s no fragrance.

As it is a retinol cream, this should be worn at night, not during the day, or if you’re going to wear it during the day, put some sunscreen over it. So you probably shouldn’t need to put makeup on over it, but if you do, that should go on fine as well, again as long as you’ve allowed the product time to set. I haven’t used this in awhile, so it’s possible that reformulations have occurred in the time that’s lapsed thus changing the structure of the product, but I don’t notice any substantial ingredient changes.

While this product does boast retinol, they don’t disclose the percentage, and I read somewhere on Reddit once that the percentage is actually relatively low, or that it merely contains it’s lesser form, retinyl palmitate. But regardless of the amount of retinol, my word of caution is still to read up on retinol and how to use it properly before applying (especially if you’re acne prone, cause the retinol purging period can be real!)

But if you like to live a more carefree lifestyle (like me, at age 20) and do absolutely zero research before using a product, this is certainly the product to do it with. It’s probably not a miracle worker, but it won’t kill your skin, and there’s just enough good stuff in it to convince yourself that it’s actually doing something. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3.5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation

Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation

This is going to sound really ridiculous, but I feel a little emotional, writing this post. This foundation right here got me through YEARS of mediocre to bad skin, and did a pretty good job even during the very worst of it. Strangely, this is not the best foundation that I’ve ever used in my entire life — but it served me well for so many years that I wanted to give it some credit for how good of coverage this has. I have at least six bottles of this in six different shades on standby in the my dresser drawer.

This is a mousse foundation that comes in a squeezable tube. When you squeeze it out, you’ll see the color come out with little “air pockets” — normal for a mousse. You would think that a little would go a long way with this, but it can be tough to spread, due to the thickness. Honestly I would put the initial layer on with my hands, and use a beauty blender only occasionally to smooth out some creases. This WILL OXIDIZE into a darker color. I’m sure it didn’t help that I used my hands to apply, but even with blender application, it will still oxidize anyway.

After the initial struggle to try to apply this stuff and make it appear smooth, you will find that the coverage is AMAZING — I’d say more full coverage than medium, in fact. I have covered up some spots that… well, should not have been able to be covered up. Redness, gone. Raised spots, gone (well not really, but it sort of looked like it). Also, this stuff played surprisingly pretty well with makeup — it needs a bit longer than most foundations to set on your face, but once it’s set, you’re good to splash blush and bronzer on to your heart’s content.

But the price to pay for coverage was large. This stuff is really messy, and also difficult to wash off. Even if your finger gets a microscopic distance away from your face, it WILL transfer to your skin. It WILL somehow magically transfer to your purse handles and your car steering wheel. Don’t even think about hugging people. “Oh but I can just use a setting spray/powder!” Wrong! Yes, use the setting spray, but don’t expect it to save you!

Here’s my next gripe: this foundation touts itself as oil-free, so I was excited as a crazy acne sufferer. After hour six, this foundation had completely broken down, but I don’t think it was just from my own face. I found this picture on reddit awhile back:

Oil test

there’s our friend circled in the middle. What IS that?? is that water or oil separation? In any case — this foundation breaks down pretty quickly and will create swamp-like conditions on your face.

So, I realize that I’ve complained a lot about this foundation. There are a lot of issues with it and I don’t really think it’s the best option for day-to-day casual wear. It can definitely a big perpetrator of “cake face”, since it’s medium to full coverage. I’m also not really positive it was “good”, from a biological standpoint, to wear while I had such bad acne. But let the six tubes of this in my drawer be a testament to how much I loved it, for many many years. The coverage is awesome. The shade range is awesome, possibly one of the only foundations that’s been able to match my skin tone through every single season. The price point is phenomenal as well, from $5-7 a pop.  Thanks for getting me through it all, Rimmel! ~A

If coverage is your issue, I strongly recommend picking up a tube of Stay Matte here: https://amzn.to/2M10jZa

Perceived efficacy: 3.75/5

Longevity: 2.75/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration – Oil Free Lotion Sunscreen 30 SPF

Hawaiian Tropic Weightless Face Sunscreen

I’ve used every Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen and tanning lotion under the sun (hah) since I was 16 years old. And, since I’m on this quest to find a new American HG sunscreen, I decided to give their Face sunscreen a try for $8.

It comes in a canister, almost, but with a push pump. It comes out plain white, and the application is pretty easy — of course you’ll need to rub it in to get rid of the whitecast, but that’s the deal with sunscreen. After that, there’s not really much residue white cast to deal with, or any crazy clinging to tiny baby hairs. It’s not tacky, and dries quickly. Sweet! It has a pretty strong smell — very sunscreen-y, and a hint of light floral, but that doesn’t bother me. From the get go, I really liked it…

…until my face started to turn bright red, and started to itch! Now, admittedly, my skincare sin is that I very rarely ever patch test, so I have no one to blame but myself. But the active ingredients in this are relatively similar to Cerave’s sunscreen, which I didn’t have an issue with, so I’m not sure if there was an interaction with something else I was wearing, or if I’m intolerant of something else in this sunscreen. In the resulting days I broke out just a bit, but I suspect this was because of my reaction, since the product does claim to be non-comedogenic.

Later on in the week, I did an, ahem, reverse patch test (yep I know, that’s not how you do it). I didn’t experience the same redness I had before, but the itchiness was definitely there.

I’m really not happy that my skin didn’t love this product because otherwise this ticks off all the boxes for me, in terms of what I’m looking for in a sunscreen. Lightweight and smells good. The SPF could be higher, but 30 would work for inside-only days. Heck, after the initial application I even tried applying makeup, and that went on smoothly over this product (although in the end I ended up just washing everything off, since my skin itched so much).

It’s really mind boggling to me since it’s not my first rodeo with these ingredients, and I wish I knew what the trigger had been. I do love this product, but I guess I can’t win ’em all… ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: n/a

How much I wanted to like this product: A new category for failed attempts! 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 Hr Breathable

Rimmel 25HR

During the worst of my acne, I really underestimated this foundation because it’s not full coverage like Rimmel Stay Matte. In retrospect, I should have used it more often because it is extremely lightweight, yet gradually buildable — I think my skin would have fared a lot better! 

The initial application is pretty strange all around. There’s a wand applicator which is… fine? But not really helpful? I’d rather use a sponge or my fingers, since the wand isn’t absorbent enough to hold onto much product. So it ends up sort of getting in the way.

Also, after spreading, you’re going to look in the mirror and say “wtf, where is it?” and want to apply 20 more coats. But the foundation should start to noticeably thicken up after about five minutes — once that happens, it looks great! The color is gorgeous, and accurate to it’s description. The overall texture is very smooth and “glowy”. No cakey-ness whatsoever.

Now, as I mentioned, the coverage is medium, and it won’t cover huge spots very well. In fact, it’s not really great at covering even small spots, so keep your concealer handy if that’s an issue. However, I can confirm that this makeup has not caused MORE spots for me, which is great!

After a nine hour day of work, this held up really well. The vibrancy had definitely faded, sure, but I didn’t have any crazy oil breakthroughs, and I still felt fully covered. Now, as for the advertised 25 hours… I’m not so sure about that. I have worn it later into the night and definitely thought “I need to reapply this”, but it doesn’t break down as badly as most foundations I’ve tried.

Foundations are really tough for me to find and buy in exactly my color without being cake-y or breaking down after hour six, so this was a solid purchase. And, bonus, this has SPF in it! Happy Halloween, everyone! ~A

Update, one week later: this foundation plays best with my Clinique Dramatically Different moisturizer, and not so well with anything else in my rotation. Also, as with most foundations, warmer weather will knock the longevity of this product down to about six hours instead of eight, so I dropped the longevity score a bit. I still love this stuff, though!

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

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

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