Well it’s been a long time coming and I know you, loyal readers, have been awaiting this review with every new post I write as seen in all of the comments section requesting more information on this cleanser! I totally understand why, cleansers are such a delicate product.
I had this review written up a week ago and I thought I’d post a little teaser about it before I post it since I received so many requests to review this cleanser. Little did I know that I would end up receiving literally 62 emails asking specific questions about Halcyon. I have never received this level of interest or curiosity before. It made me go back to add bits here and there to the review I had written, so despite the delay – please enjoy!
When I first started this blog, I wrote that my search for the holy grail of cleansers was never-ending, having found many good ones but not “the one”. The issue is even more complex because of my personal belief that while green products are indeed capable of matching and exceeding the performance of their mainstream counterparts, they do need to work around a lot of chemicals that give cleansers and moisturizers their functionality. As such green beauties have a myriad of options to choose from for cleansers: balms, oils, powders – but few dare I say “traditional” cleansers, the creams and gels that are used in mainstream skincare. Green beauty companies have found ways around this “watch this powder fizz” “wipe off with a beautiful muslin cloth!” – but to me it was all sacrifice for the experience of an actual legitimate cleanser. As exciting as it is to give life to a powder, or as tranquil as it is to massage a balm or oil around skin, these products aren’t suitable replacements for ever day cleansing – no matter what marketing would suggest.
Gimmicks aside there are good quality green cleansers yet there has always been something to keep me from repurchasing, such as Tracie Martyn’s amla cleanser which offers quite a performance but at the cost of being exceptionally drying or Tata Harper’s Cleansers which smell delightful but are made with waxes and butters that don’t really cleanse properly and instead clog pores, or Intelligent Nutrients anti-aging cleanser which is a vitamin for skin but doesn’t actually cleanse at all (it’s literally a lotion that you massage into skin)! I feel like I’ve had more than enough experience to give a qualified assessment of cleansers at this point.
When I purchased YÜLI’s Halcyon cleanser, I was determined not to write a review right away because I really wanted to see how my skin would respond after long term use. Although I have been a fan of YULI’s in the past, filling this void in my skincare checklist was a task that I wasn’t sure if any product could handle. Cleanser was the first skincare product I ever bought, before I knew the concept of moisturizing and what not, so in many ways I’m most critical of cleansers. Enough background.
The quick and easy if you want to skip the rest (cause I know some of you have been patiently waiting for a long time): after months of testing, I’m pleased to say that with it’s winning combination of a green formula that purists will love, amazing cutting edge ingredients, really stellar all around performance, gentle demeanor and stellar results, YÜLI’s Halcyon has accomplished the feat of not only being an effective green cleanser that can compete with mainstream rivals, but of essentially ending my search for the cleanser that I can use every day and not be left wanting.
Halcyon is described as a high-tech bioactive cleansing gel that is gentle enough for daily use and effective enough to rid skin of impurities. The ingredients back up this claim, as it is one of the only cleansers (green or not) that contain peptides, hybridized enzymes, organic herbal infusions, ferments, and floral waters. All of the ingredients are chirally correct which basically means the ingredients are completely active and stable. Halcyon also stands out for what it does not include: harsh detergents, sulfates, soap bases, alcohol – all of which can be drying and strip skin or irritating to sensitive skin. This is quite a feat in formulating and really showcases YULI’s mastery of ‘green technology’ as even other green brands like Dr. Alkaitis are known to have cleansers that use soaps or alcohols.
All of this is pointless if it only looks good on paper. The gel has a great fluid consistency that applies easily to skin. It’s clear and has a slight golden tinge, and smells a refreshing floral which is quite surprising as YULI is not one of those lines in my mind that tries to make things smell good for the sake of smelling good. I use about 3 pumps and apply it in a circular upward motion around my face to lather it up a little. As it is very gentle and made without chemical surfactants, don’t expect a lot of foam but it will lather. I think this allows it to remove surface debris without drying skin which really foaming cleansers such as Tracie Martyn’s often do.
The scent and performance of Halcyon really was soothing and tranquility inducing, making me feel like I was for a brief moment at a beach side villa in Greece overlooking the crystal clear blue waters befitting of the name Halcyon. I actually looked forward to my morning and night time ritual because this cleanser was so delightful and was instantly uplifting.
The first time I used it, I noticed how exceptionally light it was compared to every cleanser I had used before. I kept touching my skin afterward because it just felt so “normal” never tight or stripped. To my delight, my skin felt completely clean yet was so pampered and soft. As for the performance, while I would describe the cleanser as gentle, it absolutely provided the level of cleansing necessary to remove my day time products as well as the excess impurities from the night. I feel like I’ve seen improvements to my skin as well which I didn’t expect since cleansers don’t usually do that. It’s probably the chiral (!) Vitamin C, skin toning herbal infusion, anti-aging peptides, retexturizing enzymes, which make this perhaps more half serum half cleanser. I feel like my skin is softer, less prone to breakouts (in fact, even after testing a myriad of facial oils and the stress of finals papers/exams, not a single breakout), and less prone to redness. For those who wear a lot of makeup, I would probably suggest oil cleansing before this so that the cleanser can work more on your skin and not just removing the makeup. In fact this cleanser contains so many beneficial ingredients that you’re actually recommended to leave this on your skin for a little while to soak up some of the beneficial actives before washing off the impurities.
Halcyon is an exceptional cleanser that is quite unlike anything else out there. The ingredients list is proof of this lines innovative and technological prowess that separates them from the field, the results are performance driven, the scent and feel are heavenly, I am in love. Through out this extensive testing even when I was testing out other cleansers, I looked forward to coming back to this as my skin seemed to come to life. I’m not one of those beauty bloggers who throws around the term holy grail product, but this has found its place as my daily cleanser, a spot that has no small feat to fill.
To answer some of your questions that I couldn’t fit into this review:
- I found makeup removal competent. I’m not a heavy makeup kind of girl but I also don’t use a lot of green makeup brands so the products I use are probably more difficult to remove than RMS/Kjaer Weis. I use a lot of Tom Ford, Chantecaille, Shiseido, Tarte, and Koh Gen Do products including blush/bronzer/luminizer, but no heavy mascara and I found that Halcyon did a good job of removing everything from my face. I personally like to remove makeup with something like an oil first before because otherwise I feel like I’m wasting the Halcyon since a lot of the ingredients are actually beneficial for skin rather than normal cleansers which just wash things off.
- Which brings the next point, some of you ask if all these good ingredients are wasted in a cleanser since you wash it off. According to Yuli’s instruction, they’re aware that the cleanser contains a lot of beneficial ingredients (I even refer to it as almost a serum/cleanser) and they say you can leave it on skin a little after it is activated prior to washing off. It seems to work because I do feel like it helps to feed my skin even though it rinses very cleanly off my skin.
- This did not make me break out, it actually helped to keep my skin clear because it was balancing as it cleansed off impurities. The gel rinses off really clean without leaving residue but it also didn’t make my skin feel “dry/tight”.
- I think this is good for sensitive skin, it is REALLY gentle and in fact because it smelled so good, my curiosity got the best of me and when I got a little on my lips, I did taste it, to my surprise it was very neutral which makes me think sensitive skin would probably really like this. And it isn’t exfoliating or drying so you can use it every day.
- This works really well as the 2nd step of a double cleanse because it doesn’t irritate skin but it will help to remove the leftover residue from oil cleansing.
- Why did I feel it was important to give this cleanser an extended test run? Because I’m super particular about cleansers and I’m not afraid of being critical. There was a review I did a while back on Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip cleanser that I thought was amazing. But then I started noticing that when my skin was fine, continued use of that cleanser would break me out most likely due to the drawing clays which stripped my skin so I can’t really use that unless my skin is particularly oily otherwise it is too much and can actually make me imbalanced/break out/dry. So I kind of learned my lesson and decided to REALLY give this a test, and I feel like all of my observations in this review are more meaningful as a result.
- “My skin is really dry and I generally use cleansing balms to keep my skin hydrated, can I still use this” – I don’t see any reason why you can’t. But this is a cleansing gel, not a cleansing balm they’re different products and work differently – I would say if you’re looking for a cleansing gel and you buy a balm, you won’t be happy and if you’re looking for a cleansing balm and you buy a gel you won’t be happy. I do though that whereas a cleansing balm/oils probably shouldn’t be used daily especially for acne prone and combination and oily skins, this gel one of the most universal I’ve used.
- “My skin is really oily and I break out a lot! Can I use this?” – Again, I don’t see why not. I describe Halcyon as gentle but it belies the fact that the gel itself is quite a performer in removing the little somethin’-somethin’s we all get on our skin at the end of the day and will refresh skin in the morning. I think this is the cleanser I would have recommended to myself years ago when I was using the really harsh cleansers for acne prone skin that just stripped my skin and led to more breakouts.
- “What cleansers would you say Halcyon is most similar to?” – Probably Tracie Martyn amla Purifying Cleanser, the discontinued Ren Rosa Centifolia Cleanser in terms of gentleness and lightness which was one of my classic faves until they changed the ingredients and took out everything expensive, Sonya Dakar Ultraluxe Nourishing Wash, Aesop Parsely Seed Cleanser Although Halcyon is more green than the listed cleansers, they’re all what I consider to be refreshing, high quality gels. (I really AM a cleanser junky aren’t I?)
Have other questions you don’t see answered? Drop it in the comments!