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

L’oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Lotion

loreal paris sublime bronze

Myself and my pasty pale skin have been through many a self-tanner. Sublime Bronze was definitely not my favorite, despite it’s otherwise high reviews for a drug store tanner.

First of all, I noticed L’oreal, moreso than most beauty brands, LOVES benzyl alcohol and alcohol denat, particularly as the second or third ingredient… Sublime Bronze is no exception, so if you’re looking to avoid it, you might want to pass on this one.

The color comes out of the squeeze bottle in a dark brown gel lotion, and has a tinge of sparkle to it. I don’t mind a bit of shimmer in my self-tanners, and the glitter in this isn’t too overbearing, so that works for me personally. Don’t forget to put a mit or gloves on before applying this — it will absolutely stain your hands. This smells… a little banana-y. To me, the DHA smell isn’t too overpowering, even after a day or so.

There is a guide with this lotion (gets dark where you need to blend it in, so that there aren’t streaks!), but it’s relatively useless. I truly hate how this tanner dries. Not only does it take awhile to dry, but it dries patchy and streaky regardless of how much attention you pay to blending and being cognizant of the guide. The color will last you maybe a day or two, even if you’re being careful not to scrub your skin in the shower and not sweating particularly much. Since it’s an “instant” product I can’t say that longevity is necessarily the goal here, although it would be nice if it stayed on for a little longer. Although… the blotchiness and the streakiness of this lotion makes you want to remove it anyway!

Weirdly, this product works AWESOME for the face. It darkens immediately, won’t look blotchy if you mix it in with moisturizer, and for some reason the color sticks around for 4-5 days. But alcohol denat as the second ingredient makes that venture totally not worth it for the health of your skin.

Too bad, L’oreal. I liked the shimmer, the not-too-overpowering smell, and the $7 price tag, but the other aspects of this product just don’t stack up. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2.5/5

Longevity: 2.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

cetaphil gentle skin cleanser

The holy grail cleanser for anyone with any acne issues, ever. It won’t cure your acne, but it will never make it worse, and does it’s job well to give your skin a clean slate for the day.

For $10-13, this pump bottle comes with enough product to last you at least 4-5 months, depending on how often you use it. One pump should be enough if you add a little water in to lather it. Apply it to your face, and wash it off. Simple. It’s incredibly basic — the cleanser comes out faintly white and it’s easy to lather up. It has no distinct smell.

In terms of removing makeup, this isn’t the best in the world and you might need go through the motions a few times to remove any extra product. But if you’re just looking to remove excess oil or grime from your face from the day or night (without stripping 100% of the natural oils from your face), then this is definitely your product.

I have tried the regular version of this (not labeled gentle skin cleanser), and it seemed about the same — maybe a tiny bit more drying, but nothing that prevented me from using up the whole bottle.

There really isn’t too much to say about this cleanser — it is, again, basic, but does the job starting your skin back at zero pretty well without being too drying, and a lot of people love it for that reason. I HIGHLY recommend this product if you have any type of acne. ~A

If you’d like to go back to basics with your skincare, click here: https://amzn.to/2SIPld6

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: n/a

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Resounding yes!

It’s Skin 2pm Sunblock SPF50

its skin 2pm

This chemical sunblock by Its Skin is thus far my holy grail of sunblocks. This is a Korean sunscreen but is, for the most part, relatively accessible on Amazon. For such a small product, you may be concerned that the $15 price tag on this isn’t quite worth it, but the sunscreen itself is pretty liquid-y, and a little goes a long way. And the typical conditions from shipping anything halfway across the world still apply: you’ll probably have to wait a few weeks to get it.

But for me, it’s absolutely worth the wait. Right off the bat, the tube is flashy gold and cool looking. Rip off the silver foil on the top keeping the product fresh under the cap, and the white liquid sunscreen tips out relatively easily without much need to squeeze the bottle. Like I said before, a little goes a long way.

The rest of this story is 100% awesome. The sunscreen sinks in with no whitecast! It smells amazing — very sweet, not overwhelming, and really not like sunscreen at all. After a couple of minutes of allowing to set in, makeup goes over this flawlessly with no issues of pilling (although it will cause some foundations to create a “cake” texture if you apply it too early). Even better — there’s no white-cast pilling atrocities on your face after hour 4. Heck, it doesn’t even happen after hour 8 or 12 or 16, although, technically, the efficacy of the sunblock is probably null and void long before then. But still! No whitecast! Wahoo!

In terms of actually doing it’s job as a sunscreen, this does it’s job as a 50 SPF (probably to better or lesser degrees depending on the timing between me putting it on, and me being exposed to sun). I’ve done a few laps outside of my work office in 85 degree weather with this on, and didn’t burn or tan (or if I did tan, very little).

Now, all of this said. I will say that, for me personally, it can cause a tiny bit of congestion in my skin. Not full on break outs, but minor clogged pores. It’s not pervasive, necessarily, but it does happen from time to time when I’m using it. My skin hated this even more pre-spironolactone, and it caused me to break out a ton (but I loved the concept of this so much that I just had to shelf it until I was a few months into my treatment… no regrets). However, history shows that I break out from most chemical sunscreens anyway, and quite frankly, I’m not sure what the trigger ingredient is. Not very helpful, I know. But while we’re talking about ingredients, I thought I’d mention that this is also alcohol-free! 🙂

Anyways, to wrap up, I obviously love this sunblock. I have yet to find another chemical sunscreen, in the US or otherwise, that ticks off all the boxes like this one does. If your skin tolerates most sunscreens, I highly recommend trying this out. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5!

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Eyeliner

Physicians Formula Shimmer

I am not yet well-practiced at applying liquid eyeliner — in the meantime, I’ve been on the hunt for a non-irritating, long-staying pencil eyeliner. I picked up the pictured trio of light brown, dark brown and black for $7. There’s a couple other shade ranges, most of which revolve around particular eye colors. It’s also worth noting that these do not sell individually, only in packs of three.

This comes in a twist up plastic tube, so there’s no need to sharpen a dulling pencil. Packaging is visually basic, twist up is fine, amount of product is standard.

Application is DIFFICULT! I was scared I’d somehow cut my eyelids open getting this on! You have to press down REALLY hard. The pigment on the lighter shade of brown is non-existent. Even the dark brown needs several — no, MANY, layers of product to “show up”. The black is a little bit better than the dark brown, but not by much. In any case, if you can manage to apply this product, it will seem lightly-colored in comparison to other, same colored eyeliners. There are glitter specks in this product, but they’re very subtle.

The good aspects about these eyeliners is that they have a fantastic longevity, and minimal transfer to the upper eyelid. This stayed on me for 8+ hours with only a very faint trace of the pigment going where it wasn’t supposed to be. Maybe that’s the trick to a long-staying product: near-impossible application.

Another positive about this eyeliner is that it didn’t cause any irritation for me at all. My eyes are very sensitive, and I didn’t experience any burning or itching on or around my eyelids throughout the day.

The good parts about this product make me really want to give this product a positive review since it’s so hard for me to find non-transferring and non-irritating eyeliners. But the application is just… unbelievably difficult. You’ll need more time than usual to apply the product if you want any pigment at all. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

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

Maybelline Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter

Maybelline Master Chrome

Happy New Year, everyone!

The packaging really drew me in, with this product: It just looked so cool and modern…

This comes in four different colored powders: molten gold, molten rose gold, molten peach, molten topaz. I picked up the first two. The coloration on the molten gold was fairly good — gold, as advertised, although it was relatively subtle. The molten rose gold … not so much color. It seemed more like a “bright”/white gold, and I couldn’t really see that there were any tinges of pink.

As I mentioned before, this is a pretty subtle highlighter initially, so you may have to try a couple heavy-handed brush swipes if you want to amp up the brightness. Once the level you want is achieved, it does look quite nice! The powder is pretty consistent throughout the entire package, so you won’t swipe your brush in “too much” glitter at any one point, which I’ve noticed to be a problem with a few products. This consistency gives way to a smooth application, and you shouldn’t need to blend too much of it out.

The longevity was great on this; I’m still glowy by the end of an 8-hour day! For an $8 price point and plenty of product in the dish, this is a good buy. My only gripe with it is the coloration, but I think that’s mostly personal. I don’t think (any) gold really looks good on my skin tone, and I also didn’t feel that the rose gold was pigmented enough. Still, this is a solid buy for anyone looking to add to their daily look, without blinding anyone!  ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Mario Badescu Facial Spray – Aloe, Cucumber, Green Tea

Mario Badescu Cucumber

I loved the rosewater version of this facial spray. Not that I particularly feel that it’s doing anything, but I love the smell of it, and I love how refreshing it feels. On the off chance it was doing something good for me, I wanted to check out the other offshoots of Mario Badescu’s facial spray.

This aloe, cucumber and green tea one was sort of risky for me to try out, since I am sensitive to green tea products. Not only is the sting of the green tea a little too much for me to take, but it subsequently irritates my skin and breaks me out.

Happy to say this product did not break me out, and it’s still good for the quick skin “refresh” after hopping out of the shower or after washing makeup off my face. But the smell just wasn’t nearly as present as the rosewater (well duh, I guess it’s hard to compete with rosewater). The green tea notes are the most present for the first few seconds, before disappearing.

On the days that I used this, I do honestly feel that my skin was a little drier than it would be if I had used the rosewater, despite layering other moisturizers over it. Again, I would attribute this to the drying characteristics of green tea, and my known irritation to it. But, I wonder if it would be good for people with very oily skin!

So this won’t be a re-buy of mine, but it is a good $5 purchase for someone with a different skin type than me. ~A

This product didn’t work out for my skin, but if you’re more tolerant to Green Tea, check it out here: https://amzn.to/2Fea4l8

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: n/a (I stand by my “fancy water” clause!)

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil Squalane

Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil

I was looking around to try out squalane oil after Timeless’ squalane broke me out badly. Realistically, these oils probably shouldn’t vary too much from product to product, but what can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment!

Though the bottle is small, you won’t be finding yourself go through the product very quickly, even though you will seemingly end up needing to squeeze out more product than you initially thought (which, by the way, the dropper is impossibly hard to squeeze). It’s very lightweight, and not heavy in the sense that you feel it will really stick on you for a long time. I’m guessing that was the reason for it’s name, “Oilless Oil”. Though citing that the product does not have olives in it, this does smell faintly like a cooking oil.

Application on the skin is relatively easy, although as I mentioned before, I’ve ended up needing to dip back into the bottle to get more product — for an oil, it doesn’t spread very far. That said, it’s extremely absorbent for an oil. It will feel as though you haven’t even applied it after an hour or two, and if you’re careful, you could probably go ahead and start layering other products on over it.  This is actually ideal since squalane works best to penetrate the skin prior to putting on additional products. I personally default to wanting to using squalane an emolliant, instead since I had so much trouble with products pilling in my past run-ins with squalane!

I didn’t break out from this, which was great! But although this product is nice for an added boost of moisturizer, and I appreciate the aspect of not feeling sticky and slimy for more than an hour or two, I don’t really feel that this product is doing anything in the long run. It might be good as an emolliant before you go to bed as a last step if it complies with everything under it, but that’s about it.

I picked this up for a little cheaper than the normal listing price of $22-28 via someone’s destash — I definitely would not pay full price for it, if I actually decided to rebuy!

Perceived efficacy: 2/5

Longevity: 3/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

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