I purchased this serum a bit by accident when I failed to differentiate between the words “serum” and “moisturizer” in the process of attempting to re-up my supply of Derma-E’s Vitamin C Moisturizer. I’m glad I didn’t return the serum upon realizing that it was the wrong product, because I ended up loving it!
Similar to the moisturizer, this serum smells distinctly like fruit loops. The serum comes out of the push-top bottle as a clear liquid, albeit with a faint cloudiness to it as most Vitamin C serums tend to have, but it otherwise dries down clear, and dries immediately. No drying alcohols like benzoyl alcohol in this product, nor do you get the grittiness that tends to be present in other Vit C serums.
Despite a tame ingredient listing and nothing else listed that would otherwise irritate your skin, this stuff is incredibly drying, and if it’s over-used, could most likely start to cause break-outs. Not only does it dry down quickly immediately application, but after a few hours, you’ll notice your skin starting to tighten up. Fortunately, this is a great feature for any extra layers of moisturizer and sunscreen — you’re definitely going to want to pack in as much skin protection as you can after using this.
Despite how drying this serum can be, I haven’t had any issues with stacking foundation over it, and the foundation subsequently “cracking” around dry spots. I do, however, tend to avoid night-time exfoliants after a day of using this serum — it’s way too much for my skin to handle. Derma-E doesn’t seem privy to disclosing the percentage of Vitamin C that’s in their products, so I’m wondering if this has a concentration that’s higher than 10% due to the effect it has on my skin.
The results from this serum are almost immediate, similar to the equally fast-acting moisturizer. It’s great at smoothing out textured areas of your skin, making it appear brighter, and I think it’s even reduced the size of a small, long-time scar on my chin!
For $20, I think this serum is definitely worth the buy if your skin has a high tolerance to acids. If you’re new to Vitamin C, I would still recommend the lower-intensity moisturizer by the same brand, but both products are phenomenal. ~A
Castor oil has recently been a hot topic in the skincare community since the big eyebrow trend is still hanging around, albeit evolving. Everyone wants fuller eyebrows! Castor oil is like the 2020 version of biotin, except it’s a topical oil instead of an ingestable supplement. It claims to make your hair grow faster and will help to moisturizer your skin, so I tried it out for two months to see if it lived up to the hype.
Isn’t Castor Oil Toxic? Unless you’re allergic to castor oil, the answer is no, on two fronts. Growing up I remember hearing the reference to castor oil as being used as a laxative. Yup, gross. But there is a distinction between food-grade castor oil and skincare castor oil, so if your bottle says “not safe for consumption” then… you probably shouldn’t consume it. But that’s not because of the ricin! Yep, another unpleasant word to throw into a paragraph. Ricin is not contained in the actual oil itself. Ricin is the result of the seeds being mashed together after the oil has been extracted. Long story short, your skincare castor oil isn’t poisonous, but if you’re looking for a laxative, you should probably go find yourself a food-grade bottle!
Does it make your eyebrows or eyelashes grow faster? In my experience, no. I can see where it would give the appearance of your eyebrows seeming darker since the oil clumps all the hairs together, but if you’re missing certain patches of your eyebrow, this oil will not help to stimulate skin cells in helping the hair grow. Ditto for the eyelashes. It’s kind of a daunting task to Q-tip this in the eyelash area to begin with, but again, besides the oil making them darker, I didn’t feel that my eyelashes grew any faster or more voluminously.
I will say, however, one of my nervous tics is to pull my eyebrows when I’m stressed out, and putting castor oil almost completely put an end to this habit, solely because that oil is so… unruly, to deal with. Turns out, not pulling your eyebrows out lets them grow! Who would have thought… For anyone who suffers trichotillomania, I highly recommend you pick up a bottle and give it a try. You can even use it for your hair. Which brings me to…
Does it make your hair grow faster? Again, no. But it is, in small doses, it is a good “mask” to help keep some moisture in. Since castor oil is so sticky, I would recommend that anyone with fine hair use this as a day-mask or wash it out before you go to bed.
Also, for all you bleach blondes out there, have you ever had the burning desire to speed up the shedding process in one fell swoop? Look no further than a bottle of castor oil… place it on your most broken hair follicles and watch allllll the hair fall out! (I’d like to think that this happened for the better…)
What about your skin? I don’t really recommend it. Again, this oil is just so heavy and sticky that it’s very difficult to remove or absorb, which, in my opinion, also makes it a bad candidate for oil-cleansing (OCM). Despite this oil being non-comedogenic, I noticed a lot more redness in my skin than usual when using it as a “only step) in my routine.
Unfortunately castor oil misses the mark on skincare and hair growth panacea status. However I think it’s been a great alternative to coconut oil for masking my hair and helping to keep it hydrated. There are a lot of masks on the market that boast castor oil as the main product, but I think it’s best to go straight to the source and just grab a bottle from a reputable skincare or holistic company business. ~A
Will it definitively make your hair/eyebrows/eyelashes grow super fast? Probably not.
Is it good for your skin? Not the worst, but there are better alternatives.
Is it good for overall hair health? When used sporadically, yes.
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
Lately, the weather around here has been anywhere between 25° and 70°, and my skin is suffering for it. Even my coveted My Beauty Diary masks don’t seem to be doing much in the way of re-introducing moisture back into my skin. So I decided to look for a sheet mask that was a little more heavy duty in hydration.
This mask is a pain to get out of the packaging and unfold since it is over-saturated (in the best way possible, of course) in product. That said, the fact that the linen is already soaked through makes it a lot easier to contour to your face, making this one of the better-fitting masks I’ve tried in my lifetime.
Right away, I loved the way this mask felt on. It was immediately relieving, and refreshing! Since it’s over-saturated in product, the overall effect is cooling. But I just felt like the tightness and irritation were going away in real time.
Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of the tacky residue the mask leaves behind. As with most other masks, you can’t really stack other skincare or product over this for at least 30 minutes to an hour, or else it will pill. But this stuff is really sticky. Sure, that probably means that it’s better at retaining moisture, but it’s just a little bit too uncomfortable, for too long.
The long-term effects, however, are amazing! My skin has been brighter and clearer since I started to use it. It doesn’t aggravate my skin, and I haven’t experienced any breakouts from using it, despite the obnoxious pore-clogging texture that the mask seems to leave behind after use.
I think for how much improvement in quality my skin seemed to experience, $11 for a box of five masks was more than worth my money. Despite my complaints about the immediate after-effects of this mask, this is a great pick for anyone with sensitive skin and enough time to spare for this product to fully sink in. ~A
Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5
How much I actually like this product: 3.75/5
Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes
After a little Googling, I just saw that Mediheal has BTS special edition versions of some of their masks. I wish I had seen this before, how freakin cool!
Paula’s Choice BHA, your day of reckoning is finally here. Sort of. I’ve been experimenting with this product for close to a year now, and I’m actually still not quite sure where I stand on it.
The first thing I wanted to say is that this BHA was actually way more effective before they reformulated and chucked it in new packaging. Back then, I felt like I actually saw my pores shrinking in almost real-time. I think this is why it achieved holy grail status on a lot of blogs and subreddits. Back then, it was certainly worth it’s $24 retail value.
This exfoliant comes out of the bottle in liquid form — only a few drops will come out of the bottle at a time, which is really all you need for either your whole face, or any trouble areas that might be in need of it. It leaves a very slight oily residue behind, but nothing that will deter you from the rest of your skin routine.
The purpose of BHA (which is usually found in the form salicyclic acid) is to break through the oil and dead skin on your face and fight any acne-causing bacteria underneath, so the thought is that it’s good for both fighting and pre-empting acne. It can clear clogged pores, and help them to shrink. But this product does this in a very… hit or miss manner. On some sections of my face it seemed to smooth out my pores, and sometimes stop acne before it got any worse. On other sections, it was like I had never applied anything at all. My skin was either the same, or worse, by the next day.
I can chalk some of the skin-worsening up to the typical exfoliant “worse-before-it-gets-better” cell turnover, sure. But I never felt like certain sections of my skin got any better, even after long-term and careful use. I say careful because it is tempting and easy to want to go overboard with this liquid, but buyer beware: this stuff is crazy drying. You might not notice it until the end of the day, but be prepared for some skin pilling and cracking, particularly around your chin and lips.
What I liked about the old formulation was that it was fantastically effective against sebaceous filaments which a lot of people have trouble with on or around their nose. Actually, that was the only reason I ever bought this pricey BHA in the first place! But the new formulation doesn’t seem to address this problem.
This review probably seemed all over the place — there really were small sections of my face that showed a positive difference after using this, but overall, this wasn’t a good product for me. Different people have different reactions of exfoliants, so it’s possible this BHA is still worthy of the $24 spend for some people. For me personally, I think I’ll need to rely on AHA’s to keep my skin under control. ~A
Perceived efficacy: 1.5/5
How much I actually like this product: 2/5
Recommended for sensitive skin: No. Or maybe yes? Who knows!
I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur of makeup palettes — I’m more of a “single color eyeshadow dish” kind of person. I know exactly what colors I want and need for my blush, bronzer, and eyeshadow and I am scared to deviate from that (although, I was obsessed with orange eyeshadow for awhile, and I kind of enjoyed it). But this palette really stood out to me while I was standing in Ulta — I realized I actually liked every color in it, and would probably actually use them!
Here’s a quick rundown of my take on what’s in the box:
Pearly and dark blush: The darker colored blush surprisingly paints far lighter than I would expect it to. For some reason I anticipated a more mauve-y undertone, but I’d describe it more as deep pink. This has a fantastic pigment and would look beautiful on someone with a medium or darker skintone. Now, for me personally, the dark blush was a little bit heavy for my complexion, so this is where the pearly blush came into play for me. The peachy tones make for a very subtle color on my cheeks, with just a tiny bit of “pop” of pearl highlighter that slightly illuminates the look. Almost undetectable, otherwise — just the way I like it! (but it probably won’t be for you if you’re looking for a bolder look)
Light and dark bronzer: The bronzer is my only gripe about this product. It dark bronzer really skews orange, and I could only see this getting worse as time passes and more oxidizing occurs. The light bronzer is a lesser offender of turning orange, but it’s so light. I think it would be imperceptible on anyone, except possibly someone with an alabaster skin tone.
Highlighter: this is definitely not the most extreme of highlighters, which might be for the best since I’ve noticed the bright highlighter trend sort of winding down on Instagram. It’s very subtle; you might want to add a second layer if you really want it to stand out. The nude coloration of this highlighter makes it look far more natural looking than a pure white highlighter.
Overall one of my biggest issues with this palette is that the colors aren’t very malleable, and they’re unforgiving of user error. Usually if I’m a bit heavy-handed with blush, I can correct it without too many issues just by blending it in more with the brush. That’s a difficult ask with this product, though, so I recommend using a very fluffy brush for the bronzers and blushes.
I didn’t have any issues with the products losing efficacy over time, although perhaps the highlighter may have lost it’s shine after hour 4 since it’s already very subtle to begin with. Also, the bronzer made me want to wash my entire face after hour two when I realized that the orange was only getting worse. But I didn’t, and the bronzer sadly still persisted until past the eight hour mark.
For $12, this is not a bad product if you’re looking for something subtle! Despite the vacation vibes that the marketing of this product gives off, this palette is actually quite suitable for work — you’ll get the faintly sunkissed glow without looking overdone. Just make sure you go in with a very light hand! ~A
Three Days to Glow is Jergen’s mid-way product between their gradual tanner and their instant tan. I was excited to try this out because I’ve been happily using their gradual tanner for at least a decade (click here for my review on it) so my expectations for this self-tanner were high.
Although the price-point of 3 days is generally the same as the gradual tanner ($8-10), the bottles run a little smaller, likely due to a higher concentration of DHA needed to make your skin tan faster than the gradual tanner. The product is easy enough to get out of the tube, but it doesn’t give you enough to cover a whole limb, and it’s also not the most easily-spread of self-tanners I’ve used in the past. I had to go back to the bottle for more product quite a few times. The lotion dries down clear, until the color results are produced later on in the day. Since it’s not instant tan, the instructions don’t call for a mitt or for gloves, but I still experienced the usual color build-up in between my fingers despite scrubbing my hands, so I would recommend a mitt, personally.
Day 1 of application won’t bring around many changes, as expected. But I was actually already a little frustrated with the product by day 2. I was seeing the colorful results of inconsistent product drying. I noticed obvious tan/not tan color gradients on my arms and legs, and dark color deposits in areas that I don’t usually experience — like, my shoulders!? That’s a new one! Of course, some of this can be blamed on user error, since I’m not the most careful self-tanner-applier in the world. But also think it lends itself to the fact the lotion is not easy to spread out, and of course, there’s no color-guard since this is moreso intended to be a body lotion.
In general, the color itself, even after three days, was not particularly distinguishable. I’d say it was maybe half a step up from my regular color. I thought this was strange, since I see better results from the gradual tanner in the same amount of time. The good news is this tone did seem to stick around for about two weeks, which is pretty impressive for self-tanner longevity.
One other thing I’ll give 3 days credit for is that it doesn’t smell nearly as bad as the regular gradual tanner, which is bizarre, because I would assume 3 days had a higher DHA concentration, thus it would smell worse. I did a side-by-side of the ingredients of 3 days and the gradual and they are… identical. The only explanation is that, possibly, the concentrations of other ingredients that cancel out the smell in the 3 days are also higher, but I’m no scientist. Something I do know, though, is that there are no drying alcohols in this product! In general, this should not irritate the skin too much, so long as it is kept away from your face.
My conclusion to this review is one I didn’t really expect. If you want darker color, use Jergen’s Gradual Tanner. If you want something extremely subtle and want to dial down the DHA smell, use the 3-day product: but be prepared for the almost inevitable color-pooling. ~A
First of all, Daenerys’ hair is a wig. So, step one, buy a wig. You’re done!
But for those of you who have achieved (or are born with!) that very pale blonde, you have other more temporary options available to you. There’s a handful of different toners on the market, and they can be quite confusing to navigate. Below, I’m going to touch on three different toners and my experience with them.
A couple tips before we get started (that may or may not differ from every other tutorial out there)
There’s a lot support for the idea that toner will apply more evenly if your hair is damp, but I don’t agree with that, especially if your hair already has bleach damage. Chances are, if the porosity of your hair is high, the fact that it’s holding in more water than usual is going to cause your color to distribute more unevenly.
I do, however, highly condone coating your dry hair in oil — specifically, coconut oil (although I will admit I’ve tried Paul Mitchell’s Skinny Serum as well and that helped me a lot as well). This minimizes damage, and also, in my experience, allowed the color to spread more evenly. Here’s my usual schedule: bleach roots (if necessary) -> rinse -> wait until hair is fully dry -> apply oil -> tone on 20 volume for 25 minutes -> rinse.
If your hair is currently darker than medium blonde, then a toner won’t get you to white hair. But anything higher in level than that, you can probably achieve it by playing around with the different colored toners, and what counteracts your hair color on the color wheel. For example, I’ve been able to achieve white while my hair was still bordering on orange — I just had to use T-14 instead of T-18.
Wella T-18 – $6.99 at Sally’s Beauty Supply
I’m reviewing this toner first because Wella T-18 is, in my mind, the standard for how a toner should produce color, and even then, there are still a lot of issues inherent in the product. It is extremely harsh, and will more than likely create extra damage to your hair. The smell is borderline intolerable. All that suffering and the longevity is still pretty darn short — maybe a week of nice color, at best.
But the color!! Assuming you’ve done a good job of making sure the toner is fully saturating every single strand of hair, the color will deliver as promised. T-18 will make your hair white. If your hair isn’t quite pal yellow yet, mixing T-14 and T-18 will also make your hair white. Want to go slightly silver/gray? Pop some 050 violet additive into your T-18, and, voila, silver!
For a beginner, I would definitely try out the Wella line before veering into anything else, just make sure you have some sort of protecting oil over your hair before you apply it. Overall Wella Score: Color: 4 out of 5, longevity: 2 out of 5, healthy for hair: 1.5 out of 5.
There were a lot of references to Blond Brilliance being the less harsh, and better smelling alternative to Wella, with just as good of color payout. I agree that this absolutely does smell better, in fact, it’s a little floral-y. I did notice a little less breakage in my hair with this product compared to the Wella toner (although, at the end of the day, if you’re using 20 developer, there’s bound to still be at least a little breakage).
The color payout is… weird. The application is all well and good with the toner turning the expected purple, but after washing, you may notice that your light blonde hair is now stained green and blue and gray, particularly the finer pieces of hair. Ugh! Better not leave the house for a few days and bust out the clarifying wash, you might think. I advise you to wait until the third day: you may find the whitest white hair you have ever seen in your life. And it lasts for over two weeks!
This toner does not excel at saturation or spreading color as evenly as Wella does. Also, the nasty bruise-color your hair acquires in the first couple days after application makes this almost not worth it. I’d recommend this to anyone prepared to wait a couple days to see the true results, and someone willing to do the legwork in making sure every single strand is coated fully. Overall Blond Brilliance Score: Color: 4.4 out of 5, longevity: 3 out of 5, healthy for hair: 3.5 out of 5.
Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Virgin Snow White Toner – $10.99 at Sally’s Beauty Supply
It is really tempting to just use semi-permanent dye in between touch ups of toner or bleach, since it’s far less damaging than toner. You don’t even need to use developer, and it’s super easy to saturate your hair with!
But I’m convinced you need to have level 12 hair to even think about using this — and yes, I said 12, not 10. At which point, you probably already have the level you want… anyway? I think there was a bit of a white tinge to my super-fine and light pieces in the front, but other than that, there was nothing. Even if I could see the color, it would have washed out very quickly, since Manic Panic is not intended to stay around — two or three days, if I was lucky.
Some users swear this is also good for conditioning your hair, but I don’t really think that that’s true. Regardless of whether or not there’s conditioner in this product, Manic Panic still contains concentrated dye which, like all dye, is not great for your hair staying hydrated in the long run. Honestly, I would probably tell most people to skip Manic Panic in their quest for white hair, especially at it’s price point. Overall Manic Panic Virgin Snow Score: Color: 0 out of 5, longevity: 0 out of 5, healthy for hair: 3 out of 5.
The quest for Daenerys’s hair is a difficult one, and a damaging one as well. But with a little patience, conditioning treatments and a lot of trial and error, it can be done! ~A
This is my first year alive on earth of being a platinum blonde. The learning curve is steep after years of black dye, which required essentially no maintenance besides root touch up every 3-4 weeks. But now, I’m up to my ears in products that are intended to repair damage, or to tone my hair to keep the brassiness at bay. Here’s my short list of a product that really works, and one that misses the mark.
Best: Shiny Silver Ultra Conditioning Shampoo. I’ve tried many a purple and blue shampoo since bayalaging my hair, but this shampoo is the only one that’s caused me to do a double take in the mirror after my hair’s dried. It really works! It looked as though I had just re-toned it. Not only that, but the toned, silvery-blonde color actually persisted for the next few days after use, instead of reverting back to brassy by the end of the day.
Of course, the reason this product works so well is because it is super-concentrated. Despite the fact you wash this product out after 2-3 minutes, it still takes a toll on your hair — it may feel a bit rough and dry, not unlike the results of a regular toner, although to a much lesser extent (it’s recommended to keep shampooing to a minimum anyways when you bleach your hair). Another thing I don’t love about this product is that isopropyl and benzyl alcohol both make an appearance, which may also contribute to the drying effect.
Still, if you feel like your hair is in a healthy enough state and you’re ready to stamp out some brassiness without completely re-toning, I absolutely recommend this $10 buy.
Worst: It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in for Blondes. This smells nice, but does it work? Only if you love crunchy hair! Even if are a light-handed spritzer, and you comb this through your hair in hopes of distributing evenly, this will cause your hair to clump up. A leave-in conditioner should be a little bit lighter, and less waxy than this one is.
I also didn’t experience that this product neutralized any brassiness at all, of any color. In fact, I think it almost enhanced the areas where a bit of yellow was coming through, which is an issue since my end goal is white-blonde. And, since this leave-in causes so much build-up and sticks around even after you try to wash it out, it seems like this wrecks the white-blonde color long term, or at least until you tone again.
I think this might only be beneficial to users who are trying to maintain yellow blonde, and perhaps have healthier hair that allows the leave-in to permeate the hair shaft more evenly, instead of clumping up. Otherwise, I’d skip this $14 leave-in. Weirdly, though, I still stan the original non-blonde version of It’s a 10 leave-in… ~A
How is the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream regarded so highly? How is it a holy grail for dry-skin sufferers? This is basically the equivalent of dipping your hands in wax. There’s no moisturizing quality in this product whatsoever.
Actually, a reviewer on Target has my exact thoughts, almost verbatim. I guess there are a few naysayers, after all:
Heck, I’d go so far to say that comparing to this to petroleum jelly is a slap in the face to petroleum jelly.
Onto the customer experience. This $6 clear gel-cream squeezes out veryy slowly from the tube. It’s quite thick, which you think would be a telltale sign of a good humectant that holds moisture in, but this will inevitably fail to do just that. The thickness of this cream will make it difficult to absorb into your skin, or even to spread around on your hand in the first place.
Even when you think it’s done drying onto your skin (which can exceed ten minutes, some days), it leaves behind a very tacky residue, which makes it close to impossible to do normal things like… turning open a door knob. Sure, every lotion does this to some extent, but not as long as a couple hours after application! Heck, even running your hands under the sink won’t remove all the residue. What is this stuff?! Is this what all the positive reviews are mistaking as moisture?
When I focus on how my skin feels under all that goop, it still just feels dry, despite the fact it has a slippery layer of wax over top of it. And at the end of it all, when the sticky residue has finally worn off, your hands are still just… dry.
On the plus side, it is fragrance free, for anyone who’s bothered by that. Also sort of on the plus side, there’s not a whole lot of red flags in the ingredient listing, except maybe glycerin and sodium sulfate, the latter of which I wonder causes the dryness. Honestly, seeing as glycerin is the second ingredient of this hand cream anyway, I’d recommend someone to just use Vaseline instead. It’s much more effective as a humectant.
If you suffer from eczema, this might be worth a shot, since it is low on skin irritating ingredients. Other than that, I would completely skip this hand cream. Yes, I know there’s a ton of five star reviews out there, but I’m starting to question how many people Neutrogena paid off to play nice. ~A