Innisfree My Real Squeeze Mask

I want to be an Innisfree stan so badly because their products are all-natural, and their sustainability measures are a little bit more defined than some of their competitors. Heck, they even replaced some of their plastic bottles with paper bottles, which I had never seen before them:

But their products have just seemed to lackluster, and the masks I’m about to review is no exception (which means you can skip reading this entire entry and just go to the end if you want 😉 ) I ordered six different masks from the website, Honey, Bamboo, Cucumber, Rose, Green Tea and Rice. Despite the plethora of options, there isn’t much to be differentiated between the different masks, despite possibly their scent. Speaking of scent, the rose mask smells like the water that old bouquets sit in, and starts to become green if you don’t empty out the vase. I normally love the smell of roses, but that mask was definitely not it.

I was happy with the mask size itself. MBD and Mediheal masks tend to overshoot my chin a half an inch or so. I was also happy that the packaging wasn’t overly saturated with the liquid. While I know the “extra” is good for applying on the rest of your skin, MBD tends to add more than I could possibly use, and I feel a little guilty throwing away any of the excess.

Anyway, the redeeming qualities stop around there. The liquid on the mask is not in the slightest moisturizing (maybe they did need all that extra liquid in the packaging, after all!). Quite frankly, it felt like a slightly sticky sheet of paper sitting over my skin. Ultimately, when I removed the mask, my skin didn’t seem hydrated in the slightest — it was actually a bit red, which is never the goal when you are using a product that is supposed to be moisturizing. The cucumber was probably the worst offender of this.

All six caused some type of skin congestion the next day except for the bamboo mask. The bamboo mask, despite not being particularly well inundated with liquid, felt refreshing both during application and after.

When I ordered these, I don’t recall alcohol being an ingredient in any of the options, since it most likely would have deterred me completely from buying them in the first place. But when I checked back on the website as I started writing this, who’s right up there in the #4 spot?

Alcohol, my skincare nemesis! If you have sensitive skin, I’d definitely skip this one (and not just because of the alcohol!) ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No!

DRMTLGY Broad Spectrum SPF45

When it comes to sunscreens and my overly sensitive skin, the phrase “No good deed goes unpunished” tends to jump to mind. Even my once-coveted Supergoop is starting to cause my skin to break out. So, there I went, on the hunt for the latest and greatest bottle of SPF.

DRMTLGY’s SPF 45 boasted the following on their website:

and there weren’t any drying alcohols in this product, how could I not pick this up for $22?

I will say I am a sucker for good packaging, and this certain has it. The bottle is simplistic, clean, sturdy, and has a shiny gold ring right under the cap. The bottle is seems misleadingly large for only having 2oz in it, but, I digress. It’s still a substantial amount, considering a little bit of the product will spread easily over the skin.

And it is fragrance free, lightweight, and absolutely clear. This melts right down into your skin, and there’s no trace of white-cast at any point during the day (even at the end of the day when you go to wash your face, and realize, “ah, I guess there was a little white-cast, after all!”)

But hypoallergenic? No. If a even particle of this comes into contact with your waterline somehow, your eyes will be burning for hours. Chemical sunscreens, such as this one, are not known for their sensitivity toward eyes, but this bottle pushed my level of pain tolerance for certain cosmetics. Although I will give it points for not causing “itchy” skin that often occurs with both mineral and physical sunscreens.

Non-comedogenic? Nope, again! My trial period of this sunscreen was at or around three weeks, and the minute I removed it from my regimen, my skin cleared back up. Otherwise, new break outs had been appearing at the end of each day, and the only thing that had changed in my routine at that time was the sunscreen.

I know that Dr. Dray has reviewed this before and was generally positive about it, particularly for the brand attempting to provide medical grade products, and that this was a much cheaper dupe of Elta MD’s UV Clear. Which, in retrospect, I didn’t do so well with the Elta MD sunscreen either, so everyone else’s mileage may vary.

I wish I loved this, but I’ve never had a sunscreen irritate my eyes as much as this one did. It held up incredibly well under makeup, and was compliant with all of my other moisturizers — but at the cost of ruining my skin. I suppose my hunt for the perfect sunscreen continues! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No!

Black Owned Beauty Brands

I found this awesome infographic that lists black owned cosmetic brands from @nyjats Twitter. A great way to support the Black Lives Matter movement right now is to shop at black owned businesses.

Two of my favorites in this list: Mielle Organics for natural hair products, they don’t generally include drying alcohol or SLS ingredients! Then there’s Pat McGrath — I have a powder eyeshadow from this brand that I LOVE but I’m terrified of using because it’s, well, it’s that good, it never rubs off and the color payout is fantastic — so I’ll probably cry if and when it runs out.

I hope that everyone finds peace and safety in this time, and remember to amplify black voices! ~A

Pacifica Kale Luxe Oil-Free Cream

I feel like such a fool! I was lured in by the words “oil-free” on this moisturizer! But alas, Pacifica has sadly snuck denatured alcohol into this otherwise very short ingredient listing. While alcohol denat has it’s place in the beauty industry, such as industrial-strength stage makeup fixing spray, I certainly don’t think it should find it’s way into moisturizers. And there’s even a chance it’s presence would not have bothered me so much if it didn’t act like a moisturizer that had alcohol in it!

I had a bad couple of weeks in early winter where my skin became a veritable oil-slick, and my skin began to break out like crazy. My dermatologists words suddenly came rushing back to me: “Only use oil-free moisturizers!“, a ghostly, subtle reminder that maybe I was doing too much in my routine, and needed to go back to basics. Cue the purchase of Pacifica’s oil free cream.

There isn’t anything particularly noteworthy in this $16 cream except, um, kale, which I’m not convinced really does anything. Mostly I just purchased it because it was oil free, somehow glossing right over the ingredient listing for alcohol denat. So although this 1.7 oz bottle gives you quite a bit of product to hold you over for a few months, for the ingredients alone, I do not think this is worth $16.

The moisturizer is really luxurious and silky feeling as you apply, but it’s more likely the smell will distract you from how nice this feels. I think the idea is that it smells like kale, but is more akin to smelling like the place it grew from, which is wet dirt. It is a matte moisturizer so it dries down quickly — too quickly, in fact. You’ll start to feel your skin underneath it start to dry up as soon as the cream does.

It does play well with makeup over top of it initially, but because this is such a drying moisturizer (wow, those two words next to each other don’t really make any sense…), you’ll find your skin start to develop dry patches throughout the day, causing your makeup to crack or pill on it’s own. Guess who started to get a few breakouts after day three of using this? Yep, you got it — this girl.

I think calling this a “drying moisturizer” should speak for itself. This cream flat out does not do it’s job at moisturizing, and if you have sensitive skin, you’ll almost definitely experience a break out from the sheer dryness alone, which isn’t cool since this cream specifically cites blemish-prone skin types as types that should use this product. Although I still love Pacifica as a brand, I think this was a huge miss on their part. Steer clear! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

The Ordinary 100% Plant Derived Squalane

Ever feel like your moisturizing just isn’t, well, moisturizing enough? Put some squalane in it! Not only is squalane good on it’s own as a hydrating oil, I like to mix this stuff in with almost everything.

Like many other TO products, this serum comes in a dark glass bottle, to prevent oxidation. I did a little extra research on this, since I’ve bought squalane from other brands that did not have dark bottles. Apparently, the compound of squalEne is highly susceptible to breaking down when exposed to oxygen and light. It’s younger sister squalAne has a much longer shelf life, but is still subject to degradation over time, and the dark bottles will help to slow this down. In short: other companies who sell squalane in a clear glass bottle are doing it wrong (I’m looking at you, Peter Thomas Roth!)

TO has an excellent dropper, if a bit unwieldy, to take the squalane out of the bottle. Since it’s so thin, the squalane tends to spread quickly, and absorbs just as fast. Because it absorbs so fast and it’s hard to correct when i misapply the product, I always need justtt a little more product. But the droppers are easy to use and to manipulate pressure on so that you only get as much product as you need. Since a little goes a long way, and the dropper makes it easy to put excess product back in the bottle, this product tends to last me close to six months.

The squalane itself is clear, and incredibly thin — it’s almost like water. For some reason TO’s brand of squalane seems even thinner than any other squalane I’ve tried. Although you can use this as a stand-alone oil and apply this directly to your face, I typically like to use this as an additive with my moisturizers (especially Clinique’s Dramatically Different).This makes it far less likely to pill with any other skincare product you might be wearing underneath.

I used squalane at the height of my cystic acne, and never noticed it causing any break outs — I can say the same of it now, it’s definitely a great pick for anyone who has sensitive skin. It’s also great if you live in a colder climate, who doesn’t want the extra hydration when it’s 10 degrees outside? For $10, this is a long lasting staple I’d recommend for anyone’s skincare collection. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Site Updates

Hello! Just me, checking in on my readers again. I hope you are all doing well and that you are all staying healthy!

I finally added a dedicated page for skincare routines for sufferers of cystic or severe acne. Don’t know what took me so long! That can be found by going to the top menu of my main page, or by clicking here.

For hopefully a large majority of my readers, the unintentional “good” thing that is coming out of COVID-19 is that you’re likely not wearing too much makeup while you’re stuck at home. What better time for a little bit of self-care? Here are a couple ideas:

  • Self-tanning! A lot of us are probably losing out on a lot of opportunities to do any real substantial springtime sunbathing — that’s where self-tanner comes in! My favorite self-tanner body lotion is Jergens; my favorite tanning drops are Tanwise!
  • Face masks! If you’re new to face masks, My Beauty Diary masks are inexpensive, and offer a variety of options for different skin needs. They’re also, weirdly, very relaxing!
  • Slug Life! Now’s your chance to lay around in emolliating and occlusive layers all day. If nothing else — your skin will be extremely bouncy after we’re let out of our houses! Try out Pixi H20 Skindrink for a pleasant-smelling slug life, and Elta MD Intense Moisture for the most extreme of occlusive layers.

But most important of all — eat well, Facetime your family, and wash your hands! 🙂

Olay Foaming Whip Body Wash

I wanted to sneak this quick review in of Olay Whips Body Wash before the cold season officially ends (although, where I live, that probably won’t be until May…). My mom picked this up for me for Christmas, and told me she had heard it was supposed to be “life-changing”. I decided to put that to the test.

This comes in a 10.3 fl oz bottle. I was scared it wouldn’t last a long time, since it’s foam and is essentially weightless — I figured I would always end up using too much product — but it’s been about two months now and the can still has a quarter of the product left. Not bad. The applicator sprays out, amazingly, close to the exact amount of soap needed to cover your whole body by the time it’s foamed up. Since you’re not going back to the canister to get more over and over again, it really does save a little time in the shower.

This acts a lot like shaving cream, so if you regularly use shaving cream in the shower, you can probably skip that step entirely when you’re using this product. The foam allows you to see what spots you’ve missed, and the soap itself is emolliating enough to not dry your skin out after you’ve shaved and pushed the product away. For some reason, most shaving creams really irritate my skin after I’ve gotten out of the shower — not so, for this soap.

I think what I like most about this product is, besides the fact it smells really nice and actually lingers well after you’ve showered, is that it’s actually hydrating longer-term. As I mentioned before it’s pretty cold where I live, so usually my skin starts to itch immediately after I’ve gotten out of the shower and before I’ve applied body lotion, but I didn’t feel like that was happening so much after I started to use this product. It didn’t seem to dry out as much during the day, either. I’m actually surprised by this because this product does not exclude sulfates.

Time-saving? Absolutely. Hydrating? Yep. Smells great? Yes! Cost effective? Err… well, I’ve seen this at Wal-Mart before for $5.97 and, I think for that price point, yes, it is cost effective. But I just looked on Amazon and a “pack of one” will run you $14.80 — insane! So, in-store, yes, online, no. I recommend sensitive skin and cold weather sufferers alike to pick this up if they can find it in a store for under $7. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

ROHTO SKIN AQUA Super Moisture Milk SPF50 PA++++

I… I think I’m in love. Move aside, It’s Skin 2pm, I think I found a new holy grail of sunscreens. This little bottle is totally worth the month long wait to ship from Japan. Why do I love it so much? Let me count the ways …

1- No drying alcohols. Which leads me to my next point:

2- Has never broken me out.

3- Dries clear. There’s absolutely NO whitecast.

4- Odorless. Well, there is the faint sunscreen-y smell, but nothing noticeable or overwhelming, and goes away after a minute or two.

5- No pilling. Easily spreadable. Just give it a couple of minutes to dry, then go ahead and dump your foundation, powders, other moisturizers, literally whatever, on top of it. It won’t roll up.

6- Dries quickly. Kind of the same as #5, but I wanted to mention more of the texture. The sunscreen is a watery white gel that absorbs extremely rapidly — and clear. You’ll still feel a bit of a “film” on your skin, but it’s not heavy or bothersome.

7- A little goes a long way. Don’t be scared of the tiny 40ml bottle – you really only need two or three drops of this to spread across your face. Which reminds me…

8- No burning on application.

9- Waterproof. You can still “feel” the film of this on your face even after working up a sweat.

10- SPF 50! Can’t get much better than that.

11- Bonus ingredient: hyaluronic acid.

This is everything I could want in a sunscreen. It’s too perfect. The only thing I hate is the ridiculously long ship time. I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop because I can’t find anything wrong with it. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Beauty Products and User Subjectivity

I wanted to write a disclaimer on the sidebar about how I am not a doctor or a cosmetologist, I’m simply a beauty product enthusiast, and that all of my opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone will have a slightly different experience than I did with all of the products I’ve mentioned on this page. But I also wanted to add my personal take on “everyone’s needs are different/everyone is different” and “you should never fully take the advice of someone on the Internet.”

My favorite makeup and skincare YouTubers are Jeffree Star and thataylaa. Jeffree Star is probably my prime example of “everyone is different”. He tries on makeup that he loves, that I generally think is tacky and god awful. Now Jeffree, I’m sure, has sponsorships of all kinds, even if he doesn’t directly promote them. But whether he likes, or dislikes, the product, he makes himself completely clear as to why. His videos allow you to actually see how the product performs alongside his, ah, very opinionated commentary. Whether or not you agree with him, that’s up for you to decide. But I find that his brand of brutal honesty is preferable to most of the other channels that exist, where the creator is seems almost hesitant to mention the drawbacks of the product, likely because they’re trying to upsell in order for you to click their affiliate links.

Next, there’s thataylaa. I also like her for her honesty, and her head-on approach with to dealing with cystic acne: she put her makeup-free face on display for thousands of viewers at it’s very worst, and demonstrated how to use and find makeup for people with similar skin issues. It helped that she had similar skin tone/eye color/hair color as me. As a result, much of my Amazon and Ulta shopping was fueled by her recommendations.

I found Catrice Prime and Fine finishing spray through her! It worked magnificently — until I broke out, read the ingredient list (yep, after buying it, of course… my fault), and noticed it had benzoyl alcohol in it. No, it wasn’t at the very top of the list, so the chances of it being an irritant were slightly less, but I still felt weirdly jilted. I mean, didn’t she know benzoyl alcohol is a common adversary for those who suffer from cystic acne?! How dare she! In the most petty way possible, I felt disappointed in her.

Then I opened my bathroom closet a few days later and realized that my favorite self-tanner had alcohol denat listed somewhere along the second line. But I loved that self-tanner! I was never going to give it up! Double-standards galore. I digress: it made me realize that everyone’s needs and likes are going to be different. Thataylaa probably wasn’t having issues the same way I was with the finishing spray, and why would she? She isn’t me.

So when you read any review, or watch a video that demonstrates the product, just keep in mind. Your results are probably not going to be the same. A popular product won’t always be guaranteed to work for you, just the same as a lower-rated product might be your personal holy grail. I’d take a guess and say that 98% of reviewers are not professionally certified in any way to give a completely accurate dissertation (including myself!), so digest those reviews accordingly. 🙂 ~A

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