Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Moisturizing Hand Cream

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:

undefined

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

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

The Altruistic Face Site Updates!

A brand new header image and avatar were added to blog this evening, and I’m absolutely in love with it! It looks amazing! The art and design were done by Cyan & Sepia. The shop owner is super sweet, and her work is amazing!

Second, I’ve had a huge uptick in visitors the past three months. I wanted to highlight some of my top posts, and my thoughts on why I think they’re trending.

Clinique Moisture Surge – I’m actually a little sad that this post is trending. I know it’s a popular product, but a lot of the search criteria that has come back are a long the lines of “clinique moisture surge fake”. I’m bummed out that these fakes can still be shipped out, and the resellers never seem to be caught!

Aquaphor – a lot of readers seem to be looking into “slug life”! While I don’t necessarily condone Aquaphor as your final emolliating layer for the night, I do think it’s the best lip protection available on the market.

Tanwise Tanning Drops – I really loved this product. I think they are the first– and only– tanning drops that didn’t break me out! They don’t really cause color build-up like others on the market, and it’s a nice additive in your regular body lotion as well. ~A

Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV SPF 50+ PA++++

After trying an unsuccessful string of physical and chemical American sunscreens, I decided to start looking for sunscreens featured on the AsianBeauty subreddit, particularly those that did not contain benzoyl or isopropyl alcohol. It turns out, a ton of chemical sunscreens have those ingredients… but Canmake Mermaid’s Skin Gel did not, so I went ahead and made the $10 purchase to try it.

To start, 10/10 on the packaging, with the silvery blue beach decals scattered throughout and the pink label. So cute! The sunscreen itself is quite thin, and comes out of the bottle easily. So, despite the bottle’s small size, a little of this product goes a long way. The white coloration of the sunscreen will sink in pretty quickly. Despite the easy absorption, it does leave a little white cast, and might lighten your foundation shade half a step. This occurs even with the “clear” version, and the effect of this is intensified in the white version of Mermaid Gel. Fortunately, the product spreads consistently over the skin, so it’s easy to blend in with makeup.

Speaking of makeup, this plays very well with other products. For me, personally, this is imperative. The drawback to this product is that it does cause a little bit of skin irritation. It doesn’t make me itchy or break-out, necessarily, but any redness that may have been leftover from old acne scars will be noticeably more pronounced.

Besides the redness, there’s really no additional “side effects” with this sunscreens that many others tend to exhibit. This won’t dry out your skin over time, or have the whitecast become worse over the course over the day. The sunscreen is odorless. It also doesn’t pill. You can safely wear a layer of foundation over this for a full day with no issues. Oh, and, the important stuff: this has an extremely high SPF rating (50 spf, PA++++), so this is great to wear all year round.

If you are a sensitive skin user and you’ve been around the block with sunscreens, I would recommend you give Mermaid Gel a try (as well as Rohto Moisture Milk, which has relatively similar properties to this sunscreen). Finding a HG sunscreen is a difficult task for even clear skin users, since the sunscreen ingredients themselves, like zinc oxide, can be known irritants. But I think some trial and error for the sake of sun protection is worth it! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 3.75/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

Mielle Organics White Peony Leave-In Conditioner

Repairing my hair in it’s current state — bleached to oblivion — is no easy feat, and like anything else, is a work-in-process requiring work and time and tears shed over the chemically burned hair falling into my sink. That said, my hair masks and leave-in conditioners have their work cut out for them. This particular leave-in has done a great job putting moisture and shine back in considering the circumstances, but has a couple downfalls that will probably cause me to not repurchase.

This is not a picture of my ends, but it might as well be

I like Mielle’s line of cosmetics conceptually, since there’s a focus on organic ingredients and leaving out the “bad stuff”. This conditioner is no exception. We’ve got argan oil, coconut oil, white peony and green tea extracts, and jojoba oil, to name a few. No parabens, no sulfates, no drying alcohols. Also, their line tends to run on the lower end of price for mid-line products, so the price is right on this conditioner for $10.

The conditioner is pretty thick — in combination with a regular-sized sprayer, this makes it somewhat difficult to cover a large expanse of hair with one or two sprays. The best way to do this is to section your hair off.

Now, the important part: comb the sections you just sprayed immediately. Although the white coloration of the conditioner will fade, the product will emulsify quickly into a goopy mat in your hair if you don’t spread it out. This is my number one gripe about the product. I would comb it through a million times and yet, somehow, in the middle of the day, I would run my fingers through my hair and find that my hair was sticking together from the conditioner. Perhaps part of this is exacerbated by the pre-existing damage in my hair, and because this is a heavy leave-in, but… still, matting together after I’d already combed it through is just not cool.

The smell is weirdly abrasive past the five minute mark. Initially, it smells light and flowery, not unlike other leave-ins. But not long after, the smell becomes overly soapy — dare I say it, close to the sterile, hospital-cleaning-supply smell. Even without over-saturating the product, the smell never quite dissipates, and lingers throughout the day.

Ok, that’s enough of the cons… The pros of this product are that it can turn any monster mess of over-processed hair into a shiny, lustrous mane! My hair feels smooth to the touch. Heck, my hair feels strong and looks shiny, even when I wake up the next morning, the day after it’s initial use. And considering the conditioner itself is so thick, this doesn’t feel heavy or greasy in my hair.

This conditioner is top-notch for fly-aways. Now, again, considering how damaged my hair is, I expected nothing less than to have my split-ends flying away in the wind, for all to see. Instead, I seem to have less fly-aways and static-y hair than ever before, even before I started bleaching my hair. I think I can attribute that to hair masks, and this leave-in.

Unfortunately, due to the smell and the conditioners tendency to clump in my hair, I’ll probably look for other leave-in products first before re-buying this one. But overall, the efficacy of this conditioner is great, and I recommend it to anyone with over-processed hair, thick or thin. Thanks to this conditioner, I’ve been able to trick people into believing my hair is still healthy. Little do they know that I step out of the shower every day looking like a bowl of ramen noodles. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Holy Grail No More

Good morning readers, and Happy New Year!

For the new year, I decided to do a small purge of my skincare collection. As the seasons change, and as I’ve continued on with my Epiduo and spironolactone treatment, my skin has changed a bit. Products that I used to swear by and considered HG status at one point just don’t work as well anymore. That’s not to say I don’t consider them good products anymore, I would still recommend them to someone with a particular skin need.

So, here is a list of products that are going into my “on-hold” stash, or in the trash, for 2020, despite their previously coveted “holy grail” status in my reviews.

Cerave PM. This started to make my skin feel congested and break out minorly. The buzz on Reddit is that Cerave PM was reformulated for 2019, and I’m wondering if that was related to my breakouts. Now, I’m on the hunt for a good niacinamide replacement…

undefinedCerave Hydrating and Foaming Cleanser. The foaming cleanser has always gotten a bad rap for being a little too harsh, and I agree with that. It’s also, for some reason, not very good at removing makeup. The hydrating cleanser tends to leave behind a film, and quite frankly won’t really make you feel clean. I’ve replaced both of these with CosRX Low PH Cleanser.

Read More »

MAC Matte Lipstick

Lipstick is largely uncharted territory for me, since I’m not a particularly “careful” person, and my proclivity to smear or smudge it off is high. I decide, whilst wearing lipstick, it is a great time to drink out of every single mug and glass I can find, or wipe my face on my hand for some reason (classy, I know). But out of the handful of lipsticks I’ve tried in my life, this one is close error-proof. I got this as a gift from someone, and I’m very grateful to her for introducing me to it!

I have this in three colors, two of which are mauve and deep red tones (but aren’t in front of me currently — I think Marrakesh and Sin?). The one I carry around with me is Chili. I love the color payout on all of these — they’re very consistent and bold while not being TOO overwhelming — but Chili is by far my favorite. It’s a great classic red, without being gaudy.

These are indeed matte lipsticks, and they dry down almost immediately. Initially, it makes the color difficult to spread out, but it only needs a small swipe or two extra to fill any missed spots on your lips — after that, it seems to fill out on it’s own. I don’t use lip liner generally, and I don’t think that this lipstick looks “weird” without it, which is great. It’s also not prone to bleeding.

On the topic of matte, this lipstick is drying, which is to be expected. This is both good and bad for me. Bad, in the sense I am an Aquaphor/Vaseline on lips at all times type of person, and prefer the sensation of having hydrated lips over lipstick. But the fact it’s so dry is actually good. This doesn’t really rub off as easily as other lipsticks I’ve tried — the lipstick-on-coffee-mug factor is relatively low. On good days, I’ve been able to still see the color after seven hours (results not typical, though). It’s also withstood rain! I do like that the lipstick color really just “fades out” instead of cracking your lips as it dries out and flakes off.

Chili has a permanent home in my on-the-go makeup bag. Even though I don’t use lipstick on my day-to-day, it’s been perfect for surprise events. I think it’s worth the $16 buy if you’re a careless, irresponsible lipstick user like me!

Happy Holidays to all my wonderful readers! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

Once again, I fell victim to cute packaging, and a couple good reviews on Reddit. You can’t just print cute fractal flowers on the box and expect me not to be interested! I mean, it’s not to say that this product was awful: I suspect it might work better on some skin types, but certainly not mine, and I’m not convinced it was worth the $25 price tag.

I mean, come on…. just look at that cute packaging!

This is a no-frills, odorless serum that you apply on your face using the dropper. Unlike a few other serums I’ve tried, this product seems to start off faintly orange colored instead of clear, but I don’t think at that point it’s considered oxidized enough to lose it’s efficacy. Of course, it absorbs clear so there’s no issue with cast. So long as you’ve waited a few minutes to let it dry, this plays very well with anything you layer over it.

It seems like there’s a lot of good things going on in the ingredient listing. Vitamin C at 10% concentration, ferulic and hyaluronic acid, and a few other plant extracts like aloe, grapefruit, and chamomile. No drying alcohols, which is preferential for me personally, unlike the very well-known Timeless Vitamin C, which sports benzyl alcohol in the 2nd line of ingredients.

After a day of use, this serum will usually cause me to break out, and dries out my skin, causing my skin and/or makeup to flake off my face. To some degree, I would expect that, it is an exfoliant after all! But over two months of trial and every other day of use, it never really got better. I continued to break out, and my skin tone never became brighter.

I also felt like this product oxidized REALLY quickly, despite being in an air-tight, dark-colored bottle. The faintly orange cast became true orange in a little over a month, and also started to smell slightly iron-y. There’s a few outside factors that might have happened to cause this — maybe I had picked up a product that had been on the store shelves for a little bit too long — but most serums I’ve tried will stray away from oxidation for 3 to 4 months, at least.

The Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum definitely won’t be a rebuy of mine since it doesn’t play well with my skin. I also don’t think it’s worth the money for the short shelf life of the product. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1.5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 1.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Lotion

I think this is one of my favorite skincare products of all time, and also a huge personal secret of mine. Like, if I told anyone, my secret would be out, and this stuff would go flying off the shelves and I would never see it again. I know I’m not THAT influential, but a girl has her worries 🙂

If you go into Walmart or any drug or grocery store, you’ll usually find this HUGE (32 fl. oz!) bottle sitting on the lowest shelf, and, if you’re lucky, it’ll have the cheapest price point of anything you see around it for the same — or even lesser — size. At my local grocer, this runs me $3.

The lotion in this bottle has a very thin consistency, so be careful when squeezing out of the bottle. It’s so thin that it pretty much just falls out of the opening of the bottle on it’s own without any added pressure. But when applied, the consistency is very rich. This plumps up your skin, and dries VERY quickly. The color of the lotion itself is white with very faint tinges of yellow, but leaves no cast. Oh, and before I continue, I use this exclusively as a body lotion — I don’t recommend it at all for face!

Most other body lotions I’ve tried leave an uncomfortable residue after application that, at first, might make your skin FEEL soft to the touch, but after awhile you feel dry, like you have to apply more. That never happens with this cocoa butter! Even though the lotion’s consistency is thin, this is still incredibly hydrating, doesn’t leave any tacky residue and it never makes you feel dried out.The ingredient listing is noticeably shorter than a lot of other lotions out there, which is usually a good sign. No drying alcohols.

Even though I love this lotion, there are a few drawbacks to mention to the unconverted. The smell is VERY cocoa butter-y. It’s strong. I personally like it — it reminds me of summer! But is very noticeable when you’re not used to it. Is the smell noticeable to other people, though? Nope! (thank goodness) Also, as previously mentioned, this is not the thickest lotion in the world, so a particularly cold winter day might merit another layer. This lotion doesn’t pill whatsoever, even when it’s not fully dry, so layering is pretty easy.

This lotion truly defies the adage of “you get what you pay for”. For the price point, this lotion is a godsend. I’ve been using it daily for close to 15 years, and I’ve never had any issues with texture, residue, or extreme dryness on my skin — that’s more than I can say for a lot of $7+ mainstay body lotions sitting right next to this on the shelf! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%

I have a section in my medicine cabinet that is reserved for products that I’m unsure about keeping around for the long haul — Skincare Purgatory, I call it. The Ordinary’s MAP was soundly in purgatory. I ignored it for a few weeks (probably destabilizing the Vitamin C in that time, but, this particular product isn’t as prone to oxidation as other formulas, so I don’t feel too bad), came back to it, and I’m so glad I gave it a second chance. Although MAP is not known to be a Vitamin C powerhouse, I’ve personally had great results while using this.

There’s not a ton of product in this little tube, which kind of stinks since I find myself reaching for this lotion at least three times a week. Granted, it is only $10 , but having to frequently rebuy is still kind of annoying.

The lotion itself has a bit of an orange-tan tint, but it applies white, and absorbs relatively quick, and fully, without any leftover cast. Unlike other Vitamin C formulations, this particular lotion is not gritty, thank goodness. Now, for the downside: this lotion smells like… cardboard. Or wet paper. Or, glue, maybe? Whatever it is, it’s pretty pervasive for the first hour of wear. Maybe this isn’t the worst smell in the world, but it’s definitely not my favorite.

When you apply Vitamin C products, you should wait a few extra minutes between that and your next routine step. This is no exception, it does take a little longer to dry. But once it’s dry, it plays PHENOMENALLY with any moisturizers or foundations you layer over it. (Don’t forget your sunscreen, too!) This wears well throughout the day, and doesn’t cause any faster-than-normal makeup breakdown.

I think I’ve gotten VERY tiny breakouts — like, one or two miniscule blemishes — since I’ve started using it, but it’s far less extreme than when I use regular Vitamin C serums, and they go away quickly. I don’t foresee this being a normal occurrence going forward, and I otherwise think it’s great for sensitive skin. My skin texture seems to have gotten brighter overall.

I haven’t had good luck with The Ordinary as of late, so I’m happy to finally have a win from them. MAP is officially out of my skincare routine purgatory shelf, and onto my “use a few times a week” shelf. If you’re looking for a less abrasive Vitamin C product, I absolutely recommend this one. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes — though you may experience some initial break outs, as it is an exfoliant.

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