Updated Iconic Serums

In the world of skincare, serums are where the modern individual looks for results. A serum is typically in an aqueous base and focuses on delivering a clear benefit to the skin. They tend to be more concentrated with active ingredients as less volume in the formula is spent on the emulsifiers and conditioning agents so necessary to making a face cream. Now that does not mean that face creams cannot show results, and that does not mean that all serums are awesome; remember, most active ingredients like acids and retinoids perform the best in comparably lower concentrations. That being said, a serum may offer a greater assortment of different actives. In your routine, a serum is where you realistically should be spending the bulk of your money but also the product you should be the happiest about.

Lately there have been quite a few modernized face serums, enough to warrant a bit of discussion on what is new and who each formula is tailored for.

Clarins Double Serum Complete Age Control Concentrate

clarins-double-serum-2017-versionDear Double Serum has received a bit of a face lift as of late, and while the most dramatic (and obvious) change is the elimination of mineral oil, if you actually compare the ingredient lists nearly everything is different. Double Serum makes use of over 30 years worth of research, has both a water- and oil-soluble component for maximum bioavailability, utilizes 21 active ingredients, and has a dial-pump system that allows you to customize the amount of product it disperses according to age, skin type, and lifestyle.

Who is it for? Anyone over 25 (or younger if you have a harsh lifestyle) who wants a good ‘general’ serum, especially those with a busy lifestyle.
What does it do? Strengthens dermal fibres, preserves the epidermis’ ability to proliferate new cells, improves oxygenation, protects microcirculation, stimulates cellular energy production, strengthens lipidic ‘cement’ that binds skin cells together, enables skin to hold hydration longer, protects against free radical damage, offers an instant lifting effect.
What should I notice? Radiance, diminished fine lines and enlarged pores, smoother texture, a more rested appearance.
What is inside? Banana, avocado, myrothamnus, red jania, teasel, goji berry, beautyberry, horse chestnut, kiwi, mary’s thistle, leaf of life, quinoa, marsh samphire, cocoa tree, mango tree, huang qi, ginger lily, edelweiss, orthosiphon, organic oat.
Natural or synthetic? 9 organic active ingredients, 3 fair trade active ingredients, recyclable container.
How does it work? The new Double Serum focuses on protecting the ability for cells to communicate with one another. University of Kent has a fantastic article on cellular communication, but essentially cells communicate with one another through sending signal molecules which then bind to receptor proteins on the target cell. A multi-step process follows, resulting in the target cell changing its behaviour. Double Serum uses turmerone, a specific extract of turmeric not often used in skincare, to protect this ability to communicate.
Where can I find it? Clarins, Sephora, Hudson’s Bay, Nordstrom, John Lewis.
Continue reading “Updated Iconic Serums”


Filorga began in 2007 as a skincare brand inspired by aesthetic medicine. For the consumer that means Filorga is result-driven, focused on both visible signs of aging and invisible forms of damage. Their most notable innovation is their NCTF Complex which is composed of vitamins, amino acids, coenzymes, nucleic bases, minerals, and an antioxidant; the goal is to supplement skin with materials it lacks internally, which then results in a heightened ability to repair itself and make use of other treatment ingredients like retinoids and exfoliating acids. To ensure efficient absorption of NCTF and hyaluronic acid, Filorga encapsulates both within ‘chronospheres’, which I infer as similar to liposome technology.

I have been trying Filorga skincare for the last few months, partially because it became available locally in Canada at BeautyBoutique, it was something new, and the technology seems interesting. Overall I am incredibly impressed by the results I have seen, especially when you consider that comparable products are typically 1.5x-2x the price of Filorga.

Filorga Foam Cleanser

filorga-foam-cleanser-hydra-filler-time-filler-optim-eyes-1Purpose: Cleanse the skin.
Iconic feature: Hyaluronic acid, which should minimize dehydration commonly associated with sulphate-based cleansers.
Who is it for: Those not prone to dehydration, or those with a strong hydrating routine after cleansing.
Usage: Twice daily as a second cleanse, though it can remove makeup if used twice.
Ingredients: CosDNA.
Thoughts: This was the last product I tried from Filorga, and while I found it far less dehydrating than Drunk Elephant Beste I still found it to be too dehydrating for my skin. My skin did not feel tight or dry to the touch though, it was more that I noticed blemishes forming in areas of my face where I have learned they only appear when my skin is over-stimulated or dehydrated. The texture of this foam cleanser is what is making me wish it had worked wonders for me; the foam is so dense and softening.
Recommendation: Not unless you follow it with a toner, hydrating essence or serum, and a hydrating cream, and do nothing else to dehydrate your skin.
Alternatives: Estée Lauder Perfectly Clean Triple-Action Cleanser/Toner/Makeup Remover.
Continue reading “Filorga”

GlamGlow GravityMud


The only true way to use a face mask is to integrate it into your skincare routine. None of this ‘oh I use this one day, this one another day, I use them for fun’ nonsense. A face mask should be a treatment, a necessary component to your regular routine that gives your skin a boost. Does that mean you have to use the same masks all year round, no, but it does mean you should pare down your collection and stick to one for a long while to avoid throwing your skin out of balance.

Inherent in this is the assumption that the mask that you choose does something to your face. Maybe it removes impurities (NIOD FM, anyone?), hydrates (all eyes on this NeoStrata Hydrating and Plumping Sheet Mask), or topically exfoliates (Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask is a gem); it should do something. Now, there is an exception to this rule, and that is GlamGlow GravityMud Firming Treatment which does little for my skin but I love it nonetheless.


To firm, lift, and tighten skin while softening fine lines.

What’s so special about it?

A load of trademarked terms for common ingredients. Vizitight (firming matrix?, marine algae plasma, biodefine polymers?), Teaoxi Complex (licorice and marshmallow leaf), Lunarlift (soy isoflavone liposome red algae extract), and Cosmiplexion (Icelandic kelp, hyaluronic acid, glacial clay).

How does it work?

From the ingredient list I assume the ‘tightening’ effect comes from alcohol, witch hazel, clay, and polymers. Essentially this is tightening the skin by removing topical oils but compensating for that by infusing the skin with hyaluronic acid and drawing water to the skin with glycerin.

How often would I use it?

They recommend using it twice a week to maintain the results, and I would tend to agree.

Results and thoughts

Honestly the only reason I use this is because nothing bad happens when I wear it and I look damn good while doing so. I find my skin appears to be more even in texture and tone after wearing this, and yes I do feel a tad bit more lifted, but I would not say the results are dramatic enough to warrant the price. Realistically this is a mask I grab when I am feeling less-than-hot because I think the metallic silver is sexy to wear.

Find GlamGlow GravityMud Firming Treatment at Sephora.

Disclaimer: The product mentioned in this post was given to me free of charge. I receive countless products each month, and say nothing about the majority of them; I will only review a product if I think it is worthy of words, either negative or positive. Links are to the easiest and most common retailer. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the companies mentioned, nor my employer.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

tata-harper-resurfacing-mask Here’s the thing; natural is not always best. You should know this by now, but some brands (ahem Tata Harper) enjoy creating loyal followers by scaring them into believing everything except their brand will kill you. ‘Non-toxic’ they say, ‘no chemicals’. The problem is that toxicity is dosage-based; ingest one Aspirin and you will be fine, ingest a handful and you will end up somewhere unfortunate. Much the same goes for skincare ingredients; many are dangerous at high concentrations, so companies use them at low concentrations where they are perfectly safe on human skin. Oh and chemical-free? A living organism, like a blueberry, has hundreds of chemicals inside of it; smothering it on your face actually introduces far more chemicals to your skin than a synthetic-based product which isolates specific chemicals which have a benefit to the skin. I truly hope that the more natural-inclined brands will stop scaring the public into buying their products, and instead would build their brand on fact.

Marketing aside: Tata Harper. Most of their products I cannot use because I am rather sensitive to essential oils, but the masks are brilliant. On a slow day I like to apply Purifying Mask first to draw out excess oil and remove any pollution particulates, then follow with Resurfacing Mask to gently exfoliate. I have an upcoming post on the Purifying Mask, but I thought I would start with my favourite of the two.


Minimize pores and give skin a good glow.

What’s so special about it?

83% organic, no essential oils except for Tata’s natural aroma, a soothing base of aloe instead of water, and a nice blend of hydrating and exfoliating ingredients to keep skin in balance.

How does it work?

Willow bark extract and meadowsweet act as BHAs, pomegranate enzymes smooth away rough texture, a base of aloe soothes and hydrates, pink clay minimizes the appearance of pores, beet extract improves the tone of skin, and lactobacillus ferment is a probiotic that theoretically balances skin.

How often would I use it?

I use it weekly, left on for fifteen minutes, after Tata Harper Purifying Mask. I follow with a retinoid, but it is up to your skin’s level of sensitivity. I would have no qualms in recommending this to sensitive skin because of the aloe base and relatively gentle ingredients.

Results and thoughts

Ah, Tata; you spoil me with this one. When I told a friend I was about to use this mask after Purifying she said “oh great, get that nice hydration!” and I was utterly confused. But this is an exfoliating mask? Hydration? But then I remembered the ingredients, and it all makes sense; the reason I love the way my skin looks after this mask is because of the ingenious mixture of aloe (hydrating), pink clay (purifying), BHAs (exfoliating), and enzymes (exfoliating). It is honestly a bevy of masks in one treatment, and does it all rather brilliantly. No this is not going to replace a hard-core acid peel, and no it will not banish your blackheads in one use, but what it will do is leave your skin plump, smooth, and a bit more radiant than it was before. My only qualm with this is the added fragrance and the price. Yes the fragrance is natural, but I have such doubts that its inclusion is necessary and I would feel better knowing it was free of any added ingredients. And at $77 CDN for 1 ounce this is an incredibly expensive face mask, especially when one considers Tata’s recommendation of a ‘thick layer’. That being said this is a regular in my routine, so I suppose none of my qualms seem to matter.

Find Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask at Sephora.

Disclaimer: The product mentioned in this post was given to me free of charge. I receive countless products each month, and say nothing about the majority of them; I will only review a product if I think it is worthy of words, either negative or positive. Links are to the easiest and most common retailer. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the companies mentioned, nor my employer.

Affordable Clinical Skincare Brands

The lustre of glossy white walls and product consultants dressed in black may be attractive, but the department store may not always be the best place to shop for skincare. Often times one can find more researched, proven, and less expensive products from the science-based brands in ugly packaging, and though it may be boring, these are the brands who treat skin with fact rather than marketing.


neostrata-canada-clinicalNow, first things first; NeoStrata in Canada is very different than NeoStrata in any other country. Canada has its own exclusive formulations, often with different technology. Nevertheless, NeoStrata is brilliant no matter the country. In Canada they were the first to introduce glycolic acid, stem cells, retinol with peptides, and L-ascorbic acid. They use external, independent and clinical evaluations to judge their products for efficacy, and focus on skin concern rather than fancy marketing and packaging.

Signature technology: Glycolic acid, retinol, L-ascorbic acid, PhytoCellTec fruit stem cells, Matrixyl 3000 and New Matrixyl peptides, Genowhite brightening peptide, epidermal growth factors, and hyaluronic acid.
Iconic product: Purifying Solution, because of 8% glycolic acid at a proper pH level for exfoliating.
Newest release: Anti-Aging Peel Solution, because of a 25% blend of glycolic acid, gluconolactone, papaya, and 1.5% peptides.
Personal favourite: All-in-One Night Serum, because of 0.30% retinol, 5.0% New Matrixyl peptides, and 0.05% hyaluronic acid.
Who the brand is for: Mature skin wanting steady results, blemish-prone skin, or those with uneven skin tone and texture.
Price point: Generally under $50, though nothing is more than $150.
Where to find it: Shoppers Drug Mart or Rexall in Canada for the mentioned products, everywhere else in the world will have other products which are different though still brilliant.

La Roche-Posay

la-roche-posay-clinicalAnother one with a very country-focused product offering, La Roche-Posay is one of the many iconic French pharmacy brands in the industry which focus more on soothing and calming rather than aggressive treatment. The primary differentiator in La Roche-Posay products is the inclusion of thermal spring water containing bicarbonate, calcium, silicate, magnesium, strontium, selenium, zinc, and copper¹. The result of including this specific thermal spring water is a demonstrated antiradical, anti-inflammatory, and protection against ultraviolet B-induced skin damage. Is this a miracle ingredient, no, but it does have merit in skincare.

Signature technology: Thermal spring water.
Iconic product: Thermal Spring Water, because of its purity, mineral content, and ability to soften and soothe skin.
Newest release: Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer, because of its simplicity in formulation and inclusion of soothing prebiotic technology, glycerin, and niacinamide.
Personal favourite: Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser, because of its cushy cream-to-foam texture and EDTA to balance skin challenged by hard water.
Who the brand is for: Anyone fed up with aggressive active ingredients who wants a soothing, steady routine.
Price point: Generally under $50.
Where to find it: Shoppers Drug Mart or Rexall in Canada, Ulta or Target in America, essentially any proper drug store in the world.
Continue reading “Affordable Clinical Skincare Brands”

CLE Oxygen Foam Cleanser

cle-cosmetics-oxygen-foam-cleanserA good cleanser is something I seem to be forever looking for. My expectations are not high, I just want a good cleanser; nothing fancy, just clean my face and leave it comfortable. While this is not my idea of the perfect cleanser, CLE has formulated a brilliant choice for someone who has relatively nice skin and just wants to take the day away in the evening or start the day with a bright face.


Removes makeup, cleanses skin, and works as a mask.

What’s so special about it?

It bubbles on your face, and though it is gimmicky and serves no quantifiable purpose it is fun. It cleanses using a gentle blend of surfactants cleanse along with calming plant extracts, which makes it an all-around good cleanser.

How does it work?

Oxygen gas is necessary to the production of collagen in the skin, so theoretically a product that can supplement the levels of oxygen gas in the skin would be anti-aging. To create a product that bubbles on the skin, oxygen is dissolved in perfluorocarbons. When activated, the formula releases the oxygen on the skin causing a tingling sensation that is very pleasant to experience, but also theoretically introduces more oxygen gas into the skin. You can read more about them in this comprehensive article on Lab Muffin, but the only thing you need to know is that rinse-off oxygenating skincare products have no research to substantiate any claims that the oxygen can permeate into the skin and provide any tangible benefit. CLE does make the claim that the oxygen in its product is what makes it anti-aging, which I will categorically disagree with, but I enjoy it too much to focus on that blunder.

How often would I use it?

Every evening on dry skin to dissolve makeup before going in with a second cleanse. This could be used as a one-and-done cleanser if you do not wear makeup/lead a simple life, or as a quick mask for a few moments of peace.

Results and thoughts

I would never have bought this for myself, but I do rather enjoy it. Yes it is loaded with plant extracts, and yes the anti-aging claims are a bit much, but I like this. After a long monotonous day the oxygenating sensation is incredibly peaceful and I rather enjoy the thirty seconds I spend looking in the mirror watching my face bubble; it is cathartic to watch the day be metaphorically dissolved. As a cleanser it leaves my skin rather comfortable, and it takes away medium-coverage foundation without fail. The packaging is simple, CLE’s Instagram account is a delight, and I am inspired to try their CCC Cream when I am finished with my mountain of colour products. Bravo, CLE, for making a product that is aesthetically pleasing and able to calm my nattering mind down, if only for thirty seconds.

Find CLE Oxygen Foam Cleanser at CLE Cosmetics.

Disclaimer: The product mentioned in this post was given to me free of charge. I receive countless products each month, and say nothing about the majority of them; I will only review a product if I think it is worthy of words, either negative or positive. Links are to the easiest and most common retailer. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the companies mentioned, nor my employer.