MOISTURIZER | Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream

Website description

DERMATOLOGIST TESTED | CRUELTY FREE | VEGAN

Hydration doesn’t have to be heavy. This award-winning, bestselling, lightweight, moisture-release water cream refreshes and cools on application as it leaves a dewy finish. Infused with Jojoba + Squalane to help hydrate and soothe thirst, while 2 sizes of Hyaluronic Acid help soften and firm skin (reducing the appearance of fine lines). Drink up, babes.MADE WITH:

  • 2 sizes of Hyaluronic Acid: hydrate, soften + firm, and reduce the appearance of fine lines
  • 2 types of Hyaluronic Acid with different molecular weights designed to help bind + retain moisture in different layers of the skin
  • Squalane: an emollient known to moisturize + soften
  • Jojoba Esters

MADE WITHOUT: Parabens, Silicones, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Synthetic Fragrances, Dyes

Ingredients:

Water (Aqua), Squalane, Glycerin, Polyglyceryl-4 lsostearate, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Propanediol, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Jojoba Esters, Sodium PCA, Tocopherol, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid.

I got this cream last Black Friday at 30% off and was super excited to try it. The ingredients is short and sweet, and I support Jessica Alba as she seems like a genuinely nice person. The texture is really interesting, it feels creamy for a little bit and then “bursts” into water. Unfortunately for my face, this isn’t moisturizing enough (I am currently using retinol and 2% BHA). However, I’ve been using it as a neck moisturizer and it’s nice. I think if you live in a humid climate this might be really great, San Francisco is on the drier end. It is fragrance free

Price: $20 for 1.7 oz / 50 ml – the packaging looks different now. I wouldn’t repurchase due to how my skin is now, but it was worth trying

MOISTURIZER | Georganic Centella Ceramide Balm

Product description:

Georganic Centella Ceramide Moisturizing Balm is a Korean natural facial cream composed of vegetal extracts that nourish, soothe and repair like a balm, and hydrate like a cream. It delicately melts onto the skin and is instantly absorbed to bring deep hydration. It also helps in strengthening the skin barrier.

This light cream delicately melts on the skin and absorbs instantly to provide deep hydration, and strengthens the skin barrier. Its repairing phytosterols promote the regeneration of the epidermis and relieve all skin types. It promotes the hydration of the skin and strengthens its protective barrier. In addition, chlorella (natural algae) infuses the skin with anti-oxidant benefits for healing and tissue regeneration.

Centella Asiatica is a legendary herb from Asia that is both regenerating and healing. Nicknamed “tiger grass”, it retains hyaluronic acid in the skin, while relieving irritation and itching.

Ingredients:

Centella Asiatica Extract(65%), Glycerin(Ecocert Organic), Butrospermum Parkii (Shea)Butter(Ecocert Organic), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride(Ecocert Natural), Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Olivate(Ecocert Natural), Ceramide NP(1%,10,000), Glycosaminoglycans, Fucoxanthin, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate(Ecocert Natural), Cetearyl Alcohol(Ecocert Natural), 1,2-Hexanediol, Simmondsia Chinensis(Jojoba) Seed Oil(Ecocert Organic), Olea Europaea(Olive)Fruit Oil, Squalane,sh-Polypeptide-11, Lysolecithin(Ecocert Natural), Sclerotium Gum(Ecocert Natural), Xanthan Gum(Ecocert Natural), Pullulan(Ecocert Natural), Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glyceryl Stearate(Ecocert Natural), Beeswax(Ecocert Natural), sh-Oligopeptide-1, Allantoin, Hydrolyzed Pea Protein(Ecocert Natural), Lecithin(Ecocert Natural), Phytosterols(Ecocert Natural), Propanediol(Ecocert Natural), Butylene Glycol(Ecocert Natural), Lysine, Histidine, Arginine,Aspartic Acid, Threonine, Serine, Glutamic Acid, Proline, Glycine, Alanine, Valine, Methionine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, Cysterine, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Water, Hyaluronic Acid(Ecocert Natural), Chlorella Vulgaris Powder, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Powder

I got this cream in a set at Costco for a really good deal. If you are familiar with Korean skincare at all, you would’ve heard about tiger grass / centella asiatica extract. For my skin, I never found it to be especially superior but apparently tigers use it when they are injured in the wild. This cream is kind of thick and takes a bit to blend in, I’ve been using it as a morning moisturizer – it leaves a slightly matte finish which is nice. I like that it’s moisturizing enough as my skin is quite dry now. It is fragrance free which sensitive skin would appreciate

Price: $52 for 1.5 oz / 45ml – wouldn’t repurchase at this price but I enjoy using it

EXFOLIANT | Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA

The bottle is glass, which is nice feeling but not the best for travel I think

I was super excited for this product bc I was kind of getting tired of the Paula’s Choice BHA. Not that it’s bad, but I just enjoy trying new products. I have been using the Farmacy 2% BHA every morning and am now 1/2 way thru the bottle. Since I use retinol at night, it is not advised to use retinol and 2% BHA together. I never experienced a tingly sensation as labeled, but it might be bc I am used to using a BHA exfoliant. I feel like this is less drying than the PC version which I like, and my skin is glowy ish, so I think it does a decent job. I like Farmacy better than the CosRX BHA for sure, that one felt like water on my skin. I saw Dr. Dray talk about Peach Slices 2% BHA which is much more affordable so I may try that next.

Price: $28 for 4 oz / 120 ml – this is slightly cheaper than the PC 2% BHA ($29.50 as of August 2021), and there is a very mild fragrance that I almost can’t smell, I think from the plant extracts. Farmacy had 25% off sales last Black Friday if you don’t participate in the 20% Sephora sales. I get almost all my skincare on sale or at a discount, but unfortunately I hoard a lot (lol).

Have you tried chemical exfoliants? What do you think of them? I had purchased the Krave glycolic acid toner but gave it to my friend recently bc I experience a lot of blackheads so I think BHA will be better. But one of these days I’ll try a glycolic acid toner!

TONER | I’m From Rice Toner

Not sure you can tell but I’m almost done with it! Took a while bc I am using the thin cotton pads
Watery milky texture

If you have watched James Welsh on YouTube, you know he’s been raving about this product for quite some time. I got this from Wishtrend when they had a sale a while back. Toners have long been a part of my skincare routine, now that my skin is drier (due to old age. Jk) I prefer more moisturizing ones, as opposed to the oil control ones I used to use. The rice toner is hydrating, but if you’re expecting something similar to the Laneige cream skin, I would say the I’m From is much more watery.

Ingredients: Rice Extract, Methylpropanediol, Triethylhexanoin, Hydrogenated poly (C6-14 olefin), Niacinamide, Pentylene glycol, Common Purslane extract, Rice bran extract, Japanese elm bark extract, Amaranthus caudatus seed extract, Hydrogenated lecithin, Distilled water, Polyglyceryl-10-myristate, Butylene glycol, Adenosine, Cellulose gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol

Price: $28 for 5 oz / 150 ml – I liked it but won’t repurchase. I have my eye on the Neogen essence toner that seems. new ish. I also still have a huge bottle of the Kiehl’s calendula toner (review here) that I like to keep around for toner-masking after a clay mask.

What’s your favorite toner? Or do you think toners are useless? I personally like to use toners with a cotton pad to wipe off excess dust/oil that sometimes the cleanser doesn’t get (usually the cotton pad is clean). I’ve seen skincare gurus say toner is a good way to rewet the skin so the products absorb better. If you don’t usually experience dust from your towels, you can probably skip toner.

SPF | Lancome UV Expert SPF 50

I gotta say, this texture on this is pretty good! It’s gel like, spreads and absorbs super quickly. I am impressed tbh. However, it has oxybenzone which even Neutrogena has gotten rid of… It has the standard high end skincare fragrance, kind of like Olay? But more “sophisticated” if you will.

Price: $40 for 1 oz / 30ml – arguably the most expensive SPF I’ve purchased. I actually got this for my cousin in China per her request, but we were unable to visit last year so I’m using it up for her. Tatcha was $65 but at least it has 2 oz. Of course I always get things on sale so it was like 25% off. I’ll keep an eye on the formula, if they get rid of oxybenzone or come out with a mineral version I’d definitely try it. I am giving this to my mom since she doesn’t like greasy sunscreens

Salicylic Acid cleansers | Paula’s Choice and Zapzyt

Paula’s Choice Ingredients

Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid 0.5%  (anti-acne) 
Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (cleansing agent), Acrylates/Steareth-20 Methacrylate Copolymer (texture enhancer), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate (cleansing agent/solubilizer), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (cleansing agent), Arginine (amino acid/skin-softening), Butylene Glycol (hydration/slip agent), PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate (emollient/emulsifier), Panthenol (vitamin B5/hydration), Disodium EDTA (chelating agent), Citric Acid (pH adjuster), PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (cleansing agent/solubilizer), Sodium Citrate (chelating agent), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Chlorphenesin (preservative).

Zapzyt ingredients

Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid (2%)

Inactive Ingredients: Purified Water, Disodium EDTA, Chamomile Extract, Aloe Vera Gel, Bioterge AS-40, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glucamate DOE-120, Glydant, Sodium Chloride

I bought Zapzyt last year when Dr. Dray continuously recommended it. Then I moved and got the PC Clear cleanser bc I was too lazy to drive back (crossing the bridge here is $6 and gas is probably $10 for the mileage). I have to say that the Zapzyt is much more superior as it is less drying and feels more effective. The PC Is not bad, but having tried other SA cleansers it just doesn’t seem to do much, maybe it’s too mild in order to serve sensitive skin folks (I see glycerin and panthenol) that the 0.5% SA just doesn’t do enough?

If you are in the market for an SA cleanser, I highly recommend Zapzyt, the only thing is it’s not as available in stores – I ordered it on Amazon I believe, but it is very reasonably priced and much less drying than the Neutrogena acne cleanser and even the La Roche Posay cleanser (review here), which I have used up 2 bottles of and used to love. I plan on buying Zapzyt until I no longer have back acne, which is what I use SA cleanser for these days (since I am on retinol at night and 2% bha in the morning, it’s too much to put a cleanser in there).

RETINOL | Avene RetrinAL 0.1

Ingredients:

Water (Avène Thermal Spring Water), Triethylhexanoin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Ceteareth-20, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Ceteareth-33, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ammonium Acryloyl Dimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Benzoic Acid, Bht, Caramel, Disodium Edta, Mica, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Oleoyl Dipeptide-15, Oleoyl Tetrapeptide-31, Phenoxyethanol, Red 33, Retinal, Silica, Sodium Hydroxide, Titanium Dioxide, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Glucoside.

Pump can get clogged
As you can tell there is a yellow tint, I notice this comes off on my toner in the morning if I don’t wash my face

Back with another retinol review! If you watch Dr. Dray on YouTube, you might’ve seen her talk about this. I actually got this by accident bc Dermstore shipped the wrong item to me somehow, so it was “free”. I am happy I got to try it but also glad I didn’t have to pay the $70 for it, here’s why:

  • The texture is thick but not moisturizing. I recall Dr. Dray said this is moisturizing, but I used it on my nose without moisturizer for 2 days and it was noticeably dry – with that said, I don’t find this more drying than other retinol I’ve used so it’s not exactly a con, but this definitely isn’t a face cream, it’s more of an add on to your moisturizer or routine
  • I haven’t noticed a huge difference in my skin (compared to the Peter Thomas Roth retinol serum, review here, which made my skin look extra glowy)

All in all, I think this is a good retinol to try – I personally have been using retinol for 2 years so I can’t comment on sensitivity if you’re first starting out. Retinol is advertised for anti-aging more so than acne now a days, but I do notice I break out less while using retinol consistently. However, for this price I’d rather use the SkinCeuticals retinol (review here), it feels better on the skin and less thick, which I like. I will keep trying different retinols before circling back – my Neutrogena retinol cream is currently sitting in a corner just waiting to be used.

Price: $70 for 1 oz / 30 ml

EYESHADOW | Integrate x Hello Kitty

The shimmer shadows are nicely textured with a sheen. The glitters on a right are a little textured, Charlotte Tilbury and Tom Ford def do better glitter shades that look iridescent, but the price difference is there. 2 years ago I wouldnt be into this color scheme but low and behold I like shimmers/glitters now! Putting them in the middle of the lid is really pretty. Per ush it comes with instructions I won’t fully follow

Price: $20 (less in Asia). A little pricy but who are we kidding, this is Hello Kitty. I got mine from eBay (Taiwanese seller) but AlphaBeauty apparently carries it too

Have you tried Integrate products? I don’t see them much in the Bay Area but apparently it’s a popular brand in Taiwan/Japan

LIPSTICK | 3CE #Simple Stay

Lancome 274 was advertised as a milk tea color in China or something. I’d say Simple Stay is a more wearable shade for my skin tone, and it doesn’t have an obnoxious fragrance that Lancome lipsticks have (sad).

Got another lipstick I don’t need. I bought a few things in the last 3CE sale. A Chinese blogger I follow says #simple stay is a good milk tea color (tbh tho, none of these milk tea colors look like milk tea in real life). I like this shade bc it’s pretty wearable with a pumpkin vibe. The lipstick itself is pretty compact. The texture is very silicone/creamy, it will glide over any dry skin (as you can see above) but I’d still exfoliate if you care about how your lips look. I like this shade, but I am still in my red lipstick phase (I’ve been using the Tatcha Kyoto Red, post soon!)

Price: $18 for 3.2 g

Are you a fan of 3CE products? They have great marketing but I always found their products mediocre for the price… However, I got sucked in again bc I really wanted the #beach muse eyeshadow palette (post soon) only to discover it’s quite similar to the Too Faced Peach palette. Oops 😡

In case you are ever intrigued by 3CE products, I noticed they are still the cheapest on the 3CE website as opposed to retails like YesStyle or eBay sellers. The shipping is $10 which is worth it if you get more than a few things, and they have sales like twice a year?

EMPTIES | Biossance Omega Repair Cream

Glass jar

Website description:

A rich and decadent moisturizing repair cream with all the good fats (lipids) your skin needs to deeply moisturize without leaving a greasy after feel. This moisturizing face repair cream is formulated with lipids that mimic and support skin’s natural moisture barrier: squalane, omega fatty acids, ceramides and plant sterols help nourish, plump, hydrate and feed your skin. 

  • Multi-lipids restore and support skin’s natural moisture barrier
  • Smoothes rough texture, plumps the look of fine lines and crepiness
  • Boosts radiance for dewy, healthy-looking skin without adding shine
  • Replenishes to leave skin exceptionally soft and supple

Ingredients:

Water, Squalane, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Isoamyl Laurate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Olivate, Ceramide NP, Jojoba Esters, Sodium Hyaluronate, Euterpe Oleracea Sterols, Linoleic Acid, Oleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Ethyl Linoleate, Tocopherol, Isoamyl Cocoate, Cetyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Gluconate

Biossance Squalene and Omega Repair was definitely an enjoyable moisturizer, but I don’t find it impressive for my dehydrated, acne prone skin. I recall Susan Yara (Mixed Makeup) said this is a rich cream. Having used the SK II RNA (post here) and Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream (review soon)… it’s not as thick or moisturizing? I don’t think Biossance is superior to moisturizers that are less expensive either. Off the top of my head, I actually think I prefer the make:prem moisturizer that is $36 for 2.7 oz (post here), it also has squalene and glycerin but 12 ingredients total. I like this brand and would probably try other products when I see a sale, just not this moisturizer. I also found out Biossance is actually based in the Bay Area!

Price: $58 for 1.7 oz – tbh last year I would’ve purchased a moisturizer this price without batting an eye. However, after COVID I now feel like my money should go towards investing or things that will grow in value. So $58 is a bit pricy… I might stick with under $50 going forward. LRP’s Lipkar AP+ is on my list! (Although before that I have like 5 moisturizers to work thru). Sephora has 20% off sales but Biossance itself will have 25% during Black Friday, which is when I got it.