Skincare Empties #3


Andalou Naturals Clementine + C Illuminating Toner (x2, old packaging): I’ve already reviewed this, and am currently on my 4th bottle. I really like this toner, it’s packed with a ton of great ingredients like: aloe juice, panthenol, vitamins E & C, as well as glycolic acid (even though the amount isn’t high enough to exfoliate, it provides hydration). This toner probably hasn’t made a dramatic difference in my skin, but it has become an essential part of my skincare routine because I spray it on right after cleansing (I use a washcloth) to get my skin really moist, then quickly follow up with the eye cream, serum, moisturizer. I find that I like applying my eye creams, and serums onto damp skin because I think it makes them absorb better, plus I imagine it traps in the water, so my skin doesn’t become dehydrated.

I’ve recently started using this as a makeup setting spray as well, it works well for making me look dewy/getting rid of that extra matte look if I’ve over-powdered, but it doesn’t help my makeup last any longer. I don’t normally care for fragrance/essential oils in skincare, but this toner has a nice light citrus scent due to the orange peel oil in the formula, it happens to be one of the last ingredients which means it isn’t in high concentration in this product, so it doesn’t bother me as much. And as I’ve said in my last review of this toner, it isn’t hydrating enough for dry skins, but they’ve recently tweaked the formula, and added vegetable glycerin, and sodium PCA, so hopefully the new version is more hydrating.

Merle Norman Brilliant-C Toner: I liked this toner, but at $22, it’s more expensive than what I’m normally willing to pay for a hydrating/non-exfoliating toner, I also didn’t like that it was fragranced. Fragrance is the last ingredient, so it’s not so much of a problem, but they could have easily done without it. While it always made my skin look radiant, it didn’t live up to the claims that it would help to diminish the appearance of spots and discoloration. The packaging is great: really sturdy, opaque container so that light doesn’t affect the efficacy of the vitamin C, and it has a stopper to help control how much comes out, and you don’t have to worry about losing too much product if you accidentally knock it over. This wasn’t an immediate repurchase for me primarily due to the price, plus you can only purchase it at Merle Norman stores, which are not widely available. It’s a good vitamin C toner, but the Andalou Naturals Clementine + C Illuminating Toner is just as good, relatively inexpensive, and easier to get.

e.l.f. Hydrating Serum (x2, formerly called Soothing Serum): this was ok, really hydrating, and I think the packaging is pretty. This serum is a bit tricky; it feels like a light moisturizer, even though it contains jojoba seed oil, shea butter, and grape seed oil. After it’s been on the skin for a while it starts to feel heavy, and greasy, especially if I’ve applied it under moisturizer, sunscreen, plus makeup, and I have dry skin, so it would definitely perform worse on oily skins. I find that the Derma E Hydrating Serum (already reviewed), wears really well under moisturizer, sunscreen, and makeup because it’s so lightweight (almost watery), and free of oils/butters, plus it’s one of those products that works on most skin types. I didn’t want to use the e.l.f Hydrating Serum at nighttime because I have other serums that are better for my skin’s needs, but if you’re new to skincare, don’t want to spend a lot on a serum, and hydration is your only concern then this product might be a good option.

It worked better as a replacement for my daytime moisturizer, so in the mornings I would cleanse, tone, apply eye cream, use this as a moisturizer, then apply sunscreen, but I found that I used this up so quickly because it’s only 1fl.oz/30ml of product. The best way I found to use this serum was to mix half a pump of it with my foundation, it sheers down the coverage, and gives a nice dewy finish. I liked using it this way so much that I repurchased it. I never got to use up the second bottle because summer happened, and my skin got so oily that I didn’t need any help in the dewy department. After summer, I kind of forgot about this product, and when I wanted to start using it again, the smell had changed, so I knew it was time to get rid of it.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Combination Skin: this is a no-frills moisturizer: oil-free, fragrance-free, lightweight, doesn’t make my skin look shiny, but definitely hydrates. This was my go-to moisturizer for when I was dealing with comedogenic breakouts because it gave me all the hydration I needed without any oil/butters. It’s not hydrating enough for when my skin is at its driest, but it really pairs well with heavy sunscreens, and wears well under makeup. While I liked this moisturizer, I didn’t repurchase it because I thought it was overpriced. I started buying the CVS store brand version, and I’ve used up two of those, and I currently have an unused one that I’ll either use up eventually or give away. There are better oil-free moisturizers out there, and I’ll write a post about my favorite ones. Right now I’m using the Trader Joe’s Nourish Oil-Free Antioxidant Facial Moisturizer, which I prefer because it’s more hydrating, has better ingredients, and is a better value (6 fl.oz/177ml for $5.99).

Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% Moisturizer: I loved this moisturizer; it refined and smoothed the texture of my skin, made me look so radiant, and was actually hydrating. It’s a thick gel-cream, very emollient, fragrance-free, contains aloe juice, safflower seed oil, squalane, vitamins A&E, and is one of the few glycolic acid products that don’t contain alcohol. With this product, I saw results overnight, it claims to “help diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles,” but I really didn’t notice that it made a difference on my smile lines (which aren’t deep). Quite frankly, I don’t think a glycolic acid product in this low of a percentage can noticeably diminish fine lines, and wrinkles, that is retinol/retinoid territory. The directions state that you can use this day and night, but I prefer it as a nighttime only moisturizer because it’s so emollient that it wouldn’t wear well under sunscreen, and makeup, plus I avoid using glycolic acid products in the daytime because they make your skin more sensitive to the sun (therefore making it more susceptible to sun damage).

Even though I like this moisturizer, I haven’t repurchased it, mostly because it is pricey ($45 for 2.2fl.oz/63ml). It’s definitely something I would repurchase if I’m feeling like splurging, but right now I just don’t see it as a necessity especially because I have my Sanitas Skincare GlycoSolution 10% which gives me the same results. I also found that the Derma E Overnight Peel, which I also like, is quite a similar product: feels and performs almost identically, it only has 5% glycolic acid, but contains lactic, malic acids (milder AHAs) and costs $18.75 for 2fl.oz/60ml. If you’re interested in something milder, and more affordable, that’s a good option. If you’ve never used glycolic acid before, this is not the product to start with, as I’ve stated before, you have to work your way up starting from the lower percentages to get your skin acclimated (I recommend starting at 2%, then 5-8%, then 10%, and upwards) or else you could cause major irritation to your skin.

Blistex Deep Renewal SPF 15 Lip Balm: this was my go-to daytime lip balm for a while, and I loved it, it was hydrating without being heavy/sticky or looking shiny/glossy, and it wore well under lipsticks. This lip balm does contain petrolatum (although not high on the ingredients list), I don’t mind petroleum jelly in inexpensive lip balms, but if you have issues with it, then you obviously wouldn’t like this product. I didn’t repurchase it because I wanted a lip balm with a higher SPF, so right now I’m using, and loving the Blistex Five Star Lip Protection SPF 30, it performs similarly to this but doesn’t contain petrolatum. I really like Blistex because they have a large range of lip balms, so you’re bound to find a product that works for you.


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