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”

Drunk Elephant

The skincare industry’s darling, Drunk Elephant; a starlet in bloom. A year ago I bought most of the collection, threw everything else in a box, and went all-in. I ate well, paid attention to my skin, and cut out everything that was not Drunk Elephant. My skin should have been brilliant, but I saw no notable difference over those three months than when I was using a hodgepodge of products from a bevy of brands. No miracle came, and so I tossed Drunk Elephant aside. A few months ago I was given even more of the collection to try, and thought that this concoction of products may be more successful. Unsurprisingly it was not, and I developed more blemishes than usual which lasted longer and healed slower.

Products mentioned:
– Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)
– Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)
– Drunk Elephant Beste Jelly Cleanser (DE, Sephora)
– Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)
– Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)
– Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)
– Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum* (DE, Sephora, Dermstore)

C-Firma Day Serum

A potent blend on paper—with 15% L-ascorbic acid, 5% ferulic acid, and 1% vitamin E—this was my first true foray into the world of vitamin C. I have post-inflammatory erythema (PIE) rather than post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH); red marks rather than brown marks. Vitamin C is notably effective at reducing hyperpigmentation through disrupting melanin, however I have seen no conclusive evidence to suggest it corrects PIE. Despite this, Drunk Elephant does recommend C-Firma as a corrective treatment for acne scars. I saw no level of advanced correction with regards to my PIE, in fact I believe C-Firma was contributing to my extra blemishes as within a week of stopping they seemed to fade in severity. If your issue is PIH with no active blemishes, perhaps this would work for you; otherwise, I fail to see any benefit.

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T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

The iconic Drunk Elephant product, T.L.C. is another potent product: glycolic, salicylic, citric, lactic, tartaric acids plus calming, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating ingredients like marula oil, cactus extract, and sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer. Perhaps this was just not enough for me, or perhaps it was too much, but I find my skin responds far better to retinoids than constant acid application. A common misunderstanding with acne suffers is that skin cells are being turned over too slowly, when in fact it is the opposite; elevated levels of hormones cause quicker skin cell turnover from the basal layer, which are then not sloughed away quick enough, and thus form blockages. Acids in theory clear these skin cells away faster, allowing them to be pushed through naturally. What would be more effective though, would be to regulate the level of skin cell turnover to begin with; retinoids do that. So on a theoretical level, this level of exfoliation daily is rather excessive for most people and you may see far more effective results with a retinoid paired with a more gentle means of exfoliation.

Beste Jelly Cleanser

A welcome addition to the Drunk Elephant family, I bought this as soon as I saw it but after a few weeks of using it I have still yet to develop a strong opinion. The formulation is very clinical, with only a bit of cantaloupe, marula oil, and aloe thrown in from nature. The surfactants used are modern and the pH is slightly acidic at around 6. Beste has a sticky clear gel texture which makes the cap being on the bottom rather annoying; it runs a wee bit after closing. On the skin it has a good creamy lather, and skin absolutely feels clean after rinsing. What gives me hesitation is how tight skin can feel after using it; a hydrating essence is an absolute must and when I tried it for a week without one my skin was raw along my jaw and I developed a nasty bit of blemishes which I recognize on myself as stemming from dehydration. While this is gentler than the bar cleansers, I find that using this means adding another hydrating product to compensate and that seems a tad bit excessive.

B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel

A medium-weight serum to better enable the skin to hold water, B-Hydra is an interesting concept that needs greater clarification on the packaging. This is not a moisturizer, this is a serum; you need to pair something with it. I am not sure if someone with oily skin would need to because in theory they produce their own oil-based occlusive barrier, but everyone else needs to mix this with an oil like Marula Oil or a moisturizer like Lala. I tried both and found the Marula Oil and B-Hydra combination to be the most effective. My skin felt comfortable, foundation application went brilliantly on days I wore it, and my skin better tolerated T.L.C. application in the evening. That being said, I have still not received a satisfactory answer as to how ‘coconut alkanes’ differ from coconut oil, and it could have been something else in my routine but I did notice more severity in blemishes when including this into my routine.

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Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil

‘Luxury’ as a descriptor is a tad bit much for my taste, but this is a brilliant oil. It is more heavy on oleic acids, which means it is far more effective at hydrating than at balancing, but its small molecular size apparently means it is not very comedogenic. It blends wonderfully into B-Hydra, and is unlike any other carrier oil I have tried in fluidity; it glides on the skin and skins in so easily. I enjoyed this face oil, and will continue to use it as a booster in the cold winter months and on summer nights when the air is dry.

Lala Retro Whipped Cream

A tragic product for anyone but a connoisseur of heavy creams, this blend of six whipped oils is a neat concept but heavy, occlusive, and greasy on my skin. Beyond that, my skin would flush and burn upon application which I have been told is due to the inclusion of yeast in the formula though I cannot confirm that. All in all, this is for the person who would be comfortable with the original Nivea cream on their face. A strong pass for me.

Shaba Complex Eye Serum

Ah now this is brilliant. I rarely find an eye product that I find performant, but this is a true treat. It has a lightweight creamy texture which blends easily into skin, and no detectable scent which I prefer around the eye area. Black tea ferment, copper peptides, edelweiss, niacinamide, ubiquinone, citrus fruit bioflavonoid, sea buckthorn oil, and sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer all work to relax the eye area, soften fine lines, reduce the appearance of dark circles, and improve texture. I find most eye creams overpromise and underdeliver, but I notice smoother dehydration lines and a brighter look to the undereye area.

All things considered, the entire brand is a pass for me. The prices are far too high for the ingredients in play here, and the packaging is tired and reminiscent of decoration for a sad birthday party that nobody attended. But beyond all of that, it annoys me to no end the manner in which the Drunk Elephant social team prides itself on being greater than any other brand in the industry. This is not the ‘one and done’ collection they sell themselves as; it is a curated selection of products that are mostly good, but far from innovative. Good acids can be found from NeoStrata; good vitamin C is being done by Dr. Dennis Gross, Algenist and Perricone; modern cleansers are gentle and pH-balanced; night creams are a dime-a-dozen; and even Neutrogena has figured out hydrating serums. All Drunk Elephant has done is make the work easier for you, but that costs you more and it comes with your buy-in of their holier-than-thou attitude.

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterisk (*) were 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.

Lazy Skin Day

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A pile of ‘lazy day’ products have seemingly collected themselves on my vanity; these are products for days when you have things to do and not much time to spare on skin. I am a person who enjoys spending quite a bit of effort on my skin, but if I can find products that cut down on time I am all for that.

IMG_0334First up is cleanse; two to mention, both rather different in concept. Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water* is a smartly-packaged micellar water with the innovative inclusion of hydrogen water, the same ingredient at the heart of the rather unique Perricone H2 Elemental collection. I recommend this article on hydrogen skincare, but essentially hydrogen is an antioxidant with a unique activity in the skin that up-regulates NRF2, which in turn increases our body’s own antioxidant production. So we have hydrogen, sake, willowbark, royal jelly, and rose all acting to soften, cleanse, and resurface the skin. For those who love that squeaky-clean feeling, this is an incredible one-and-done rinse-off (please rinse it off) cleanse.

For those with a penchant for a traditional cleanser, CLE sent me their Oxygen Foam Cleanser*. This is applied to dry skin where it can dissolve makeup and cleanse the skin in one step, though I would always go in twice on days I am wearing liquid foundation to ensure every last bit is taken away. This too gives that squeaky-clean feeling, and I do enjoy how bright and even-toned my skin looks after application. This does say it assists in promoting the production of collagen, which I am sceptical of, but as a cleanser this is a comfortable option.

I have a few bottles of Avène Thermal Spring Water lying about, and though I have tried and tried to make these work I never see any difference when using them despite having tried Avène’s and both the regular La Roche-Posay and Serozinc. The infusion of minerals is supposed to act as a supplement to the skin, though again I never notice anything different. Nevertheless, I quite enjoy spraying them on my skin mid-day to refresh or before a moisturizer to sheer it out and make it feel lighter. For me this step is necessary whenever I wear Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream*, which I tried to like but just could not get on with. I quite enjoyed it the first few days I used it, but several weeks later my skin had developed red bumps across my temples and even a few hours later I could feel it on my skin. I was rather disappointed because Caroline Hirons just dropped it into her Hall of Fame, and I have heard wonder-stories of people who have replaced most of their routine with this one product. Its claim-to-fame is its inclusion of ceramides, which are lipid molecules that exist in the stratum corneum and protect against water loss and the entrance of foreign substances into the skin. I suppose not every product is for every person, but I still wholeheartedly recommend giving this cream a try if you have compromised, problematic, or mature skin.

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To finish the lazy look, Dior Capture Totale Dreamskin Advanced* is an after-moisturizer skin perfecting serum that provides both instant gratification and long-term benefits to the skin. I am always sceptical of luxe products in higher price brackets, but this is truly remarkable. Within a few minutes its optical powders mildly blur imperfections like moderate dark spots, impart a subtle glow to the skin, minimize the appearance of pores along the top of my cheeks, and subdue minor texture along my jaw. What is unique about this is that it also has long-term benefits, stemming from the inclusion of longoza extract which acts to both increase collagen and elastin production and ease gravity-related sagging, and opilia extract which aids in dark spot correction, red spot correction, and the reduction of visible pore size. Critics say these ingredients are unproven, but if we look at skincare as a whole the only ingredients which are relatively ‘proven’ are ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, green tea, and vitamin C and even so, most of these studies are far from extensive nor are they done on the product but rather the ingredient and often tested in vitro rather than in vivo. So in all honesty, if a product makes you look instantly better, makes you happy to use it, and will not kill you, then it is aces in my books.

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterisk (*) were 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.

 

Skincare Journal 05

Back at it again with the Drunk Elephant, I have been trailing a few different products from the line these past three weeks in a follow-up to my original post. This time it’s been about C-Firma Day Serum*, T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum*, and Marula Oil*. This is my first proper trial of a vitamin C product (the first was a dalliance with Indeed Laboratories C24) and my goal is to drench my skin in antioxidants while correcting post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. I am using T.L.C as a night serum, alternating with Differin, in an effort to correct surface irregularities. As a final step, a little layer of Marula Oil. How this compares to The Ordinary Marula Oil still alludes me, mostly because I haven’t any idea whether Deciem’s is unrefined and I am sceptical as to whether or not they would even know for certain. An overall glance at my routine:

AM: Dior Hydra Life Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser, Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum*, Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum* mixed with Drunk Elephant B-Hydra*, Drunk Elephant Marula Oil*.

PM: Dior Hydra Life Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser, Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum*, Drunk Elephant T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum* OR Differin Gel, wait twenty minutes, Drunk Elephant Marula Oil* mixed with Drunk Elephant B-Hydra*.

First impressions after three weeks:

– C-Firma gives a good instant glow to the skin, though I am always sceptical of vitamin C’s ability to correct red post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
– T.L.C. is potent and fantastic at reducing inflammatory acne; I love it as a spot treatment during the day.
– B-Hydra is nice, though I do not see a major difference using it when I already use the day and night serums.
– Shaba is pricey for what it is, though it is fantastic at plumping dehydration lines and making me look a bit more awake than I really am.
– Marula Oil is lightweight but intensely soothing.

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterisk (*) were 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.

Skincare Journal 03

Nearly a year ago I purchased most of the Drunk Elephant collection. Everything else went away into a box, and I went all-in. I was impressed by how each product seemed to leave skin comfortable for the next, and the result was skin with a bit more balance to it than my typical hodgepodge of active ingredients, products, and brands. The Pekee and Juju cleansing bars are a bit too much for twice-daily use, so I suggest Pekee every evening and Juju twice a week; splash your face with tepid water in the morning. B-Hydra was hydrating and plumping, and T.L.C. was brilliant at tackling texture and small blemishes. I now have Lala*, and find it far too heavy for twice daily use; once in a while it’s a comforting treat. Overall the line is a tad bit expensive for what it is, but the formulas are great and the philosophy of simplicity is one I can get behind.

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterisk (*) were 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.

Skin Journal 01

A different format, one where I can spend less time on aesthetics and more time on sharing my thoughts on the newest products in the beauty and skincare industry.

I have taken another look at Tata Harper. In the morning I have been experimenting with the Purifying and Regenerating cleansers, and I now remember how much I enjoyed using them last year. Purifying gives a deep clean with a light lemon scent, while Regenerating leaves my skin rather luminous. Neither would make for a great twice-daily cleanse for anyone but the most oily of skins; instead I would alternate them with a gentle oil cleanse (perhaps the Nourishing Oil Cleanser). As for the Rejuvenating Serum, I have been using it in the morning as a moisturizer. It hydrates and illuminates brilliantly. Every other day I have been using the Resurfacing Mask, which has sloughed away any rough texture resulting from my retinol. Tata is a great brand to consider if skincare is an experience for you, and you value naturals.