The Nue Co’s The Pill REVIEW & 30% OFF CODE

The Topical Supplement

The Nue Co. landed on our radar in their first year of release as a brand to watch. Their combination of Doctor-meets-supermodel aesthetic, innovative products, and high quality formulas have won us over. The Pill is their latest product. It’s a topical supplement, designed as an all-in-one serum. While most supplement companies stick to ingestibles, The Nue Co. has ventured past those boundaries before to great results. Their anti-stress Functional Fragrance is one of our hands down favorite fragrances (and beauty product in general). Suffice it to say, our bottle of Functional Fragrance has not gone through a day without use in 2020. So we were excited to put The Pill through its paces.

Keep reading to find out more about this topical supplement approach. We also worked out a special for our readers as we’ve been encouraging everyone to try this line. From now until Thanksgiving, use the code BFGARCON30 to receive a whopping 30% off site wide on The Nue Co.

What does it do? What’s in it?

The Pill is an all-in-one serum. Its texture is light and fast absorbing, and the semi-opaque gel sinks into the skin without any residue or stickiness. The formula contains 27 non-toxic ingredients ranging from the scientific (AHAs, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium PCA) to the natural (Bilberry Extract, Tiger Grass, Kakadu Plum Extract).

The Pill offers many benefits. They’re focused in three main areas that are quite universal:

Hydration: Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin, Sodium PCA, Water Lily Extract, and Galactoarabinan all boost the skin’s NMF (natural moisture factors), prevent TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss), and give skin that comfortable, plumped moisturized feeling.

Anti-inflammatory: Because it’s one of the key causes of all skin issues, The Nue Co. focused on targeting inflammation with topical CBD (the ingredient of the moment and a known anti-inflammation powerhouse), and plant-derived Isoamyl Laurate which actually creates a refined velvet-smooth skin texture.

Brighten and Exfoliate: Acid toning is in and The Pill uses a full spectrum of plant-derived AHAs and skin resurfacers like passion fruit, sugarcane, and pineapple derived Lactic, Glycolic, Citric, Malic, and Tartaric Acids which is one of the most complete offering of acids we’ve seen in a product. Each acid works in different ways, some are good for brightening, others for breaking through dead skin cells, so it’s good to have this diversity. While it might seem like The Pill contains acid overload, fret not — many of these fruit acids (like Citric, Malic, and Tartaric acid) are much gentler than their acid-toner counterparts, and are ideal for sensitive skin. Besides acids, there’s also Tiger Grass, which is used in Korean skincare for brightening and pigmentation.

We reserved The Pill for nighttime use, like we do with all products with AHAs. However you can absolutely use this serum in the day with a good SPF.

Results

Despite dropping temperatures, our skin always felt like they were hitting the KBeauty Glass Skin goals. Our skin feels bouncier and just healthier in general, while the complexion is more even and radiant.

We were initially skeptical that a single product could be so multifaceted. Yet The Pill‘s formula just works. The acids help brighten and refresh the skin, and we’ve noticed less “dry patches” and congestion even around T-zones. This work is all done subtly without the slightest of tingling nor redness, due to the presence of excellent anti-inflammatories and hydration powerhouses that calm, and strengthen the skin. The Nue Co. took the time to work out the layering in this formula to make this a streamlined one-step serum solution, and we agree that it works.

Because The Pill packs everything, there isn’t a need for acid toners, nor other serums. Just give it 2 minutes to work into the skin (perfect for brushing your teeth). If your skincare philosophy is more is more, this is gentle enough to play well with others including Vitamin C. The Pill will work with any skincare approach.

How to buy

A 30ml bottle of The Pill retails for $85 will last you for a while, probably 2-3 months. For a serum that ticks all the boxes, streamlines the routine, and does the job of many serums, this is a great value. We’d compare it to products like Vintner’s Daughter Active Treatment Essence and UBeauty Resurfacing Compound which retail for 2.5x-3x the price, without delivering the impressive real world benefits that The Pill has.

We’ve said before that The Nue Co. is a brand that makes incredibly innovative and interesting products that everyone should try. To make it easier, we’ve been in touch with The Nue Co. directly to offer you a special 30% off code: BFGARCON30.

Here’s our take: The Pill (and the Functional Fragrance) are no-brainers that should be added to cart immediately. For a full inner and outer skin duo, we’d also suggest adding Skin Filter, with beta carotene, Vitamin C, and minerals as an ingestible counterpart to The Pill. But even if you have your eyes on something else, our code, BFGARCON30 is not exclusive to The Pill, and works site wide!


$85 for 30ml at The Nue Co., use code BFGARCON30 for 30% off site wide until November 24th.

Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment and Super Antioxidant Serum REVIEW

Paula's Choice Retinol and Antioxidant Serum Review, Garcons World

Paula’s Choice is the original influencer brand before social media was even a thing. Paula Begoun, the founder of Paula’s Choice, started her career as a makeup artist, and then became an investigative journalist. She wrote books like Blue Eye Shadow Should be Illegal and Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, and even appeared on Oprah. In 2008, Paula launched Beautypedia, a massive platform where her followers hung on her every word about ingredients, and products. So it’s no surprise that in the 2000s, she launched her own skincare line called Paula’s Choice.

What I know about Paula is that she prefers everything to be incredibly clinical. She loves formulas that have the tried and true actives, like retinol, and vitamin c in actual meaningful concentrations. Perfect, because lately I’ve been tired of the parade of Rosehip and Bakuchiol serums masquerading as retinols. I also noticed a lack of good, proven actives that actually penetrate the skin and make a difference. Paula’s Choice is not a flashy nor luxury-driven line, but it has a solid reputation. So I decided to test it out.

Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Treatment, Garcons World

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment is the strongest retinol in the line. Not only does it contain encapsulated 1% retinol, but also peptides and Vitamin C. Basically, this retinol treatment is the most effective retinol you can purchase without a prescription. This serum also contains botanical ingredients like brightening licorice extract, and soothing oat extract.

The texture is a light lotion which absorbs quickly, and is excellent for all skin, even oily skin. I found it moisturizing enough during the summer that I don’t follow with any oils or moisturizers (thanks glycerin!).

I’ve went through a full bottle of this retinol treatment, and loved it. My skin was never irritated by the active retinol and vitamin c because they’re both encapsulated. The retinol converts in the skin, so you’re not going to feel any stinging nor irritation. I’m at the age where lines form with repeated movements like when I smile, floss my teeth, put in contacts. These lines and creases served as the litmus test for the retinol.

In 2 months, Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment has softened, and faded the lines. My entire forehead and mouth area feel much more firm and lifted. I had felt that I was losing some volume by a specific area of my cheeks, but this has noticeably increased the area’s density and firmness.

Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment is one of the best non-prescription retinols. It is powerful, effective, without being irresponsibly irritating. There are so many retinols on the market, and so much confusing verbiage. Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment is a clinical (thoroughly scientifically vetted), high-quality retinol that will do exactly what it’s supposed to do with great ingredients, in meaningful concentrations, all at a reasonable price of $49.30 for a full ounce. I already have another bottle on the way.

Texture photo of Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Treatment, Paula's Choice Super Antioxidant Serum; Garcons World
(L) 1% Retinol Treatment; (R) Super Antioxidant Serum
Paula's Choice Super Antioxidant Serum, Garcons World

Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum


As I was purchasing the retinol, I couldn’t help but also test the Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum. I really like the idea of a very strong, clinical antioxidant serum as I know antioxidants are good actives. However, I wanted to see what a “clinical strength” one could do that botanicals perhaps could not.

The Super Antioxidant Serum felt almost like a syrup-gel that melts into something resembling a face oil. The texture is very unique, instead of a sticky syrup feel, there’s a nice smooth slip quality before the whole thing melts into an oil as it absorbs. The way the Super Antioxidant Serum feels on the skin, I felt like no oxidative molecules, nor free radicals, were going to get through my skin. It’s not suffocating, but rather very nourishing, like slathering your skin in a hefty layer of protection. No wonder it is recommend for normal/dry skin. However, if you’re good with face oils, chances are your skin will like this too even if you’re on the oilier side.

The ingredients are phenomenal. Being a clinical line, there aren’t many plant ingredients. What we do have are incredible actives like 2 forms of Vitamin C, Tripeptides, CoQ10, Ferulic Acid, Beta Glucan, Superoxide Dismutase. The Vitamin C combo is potent, and high in the ingredients list. Fret not, it’s buffered with ceramide and Vitamin E oil which are soothing lipids, so you shouldn’t experience sensitivity issues. There are some plant ingredients including Turmeric Extract which is highly antioxidative.

I was pleasantly surprised at the level of actives in the Super Antioxidant Serum, which really is a double Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Ferulic Acid serum with peptides, CoQ10, and Beta Glucan all added in (amongst many other antioxidants). This really feels like if it could easily be a Skinceuticals serum, that could cost over $100. But it’s just $39 for a full 1 oz. My skin felt soooo buttery soft, and smooth using this. If I used Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum overnight, it felt like instant beauty rest in a bottle because my skin would noticeably appear more even toned, moisturized, and rested.

Results & Conclusion


I purchased the Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment and Super Antioxidant Serum together in case my skin needed a break from the retinol serum, in which case I’d turn to the antioxidant serum. However, both worked so well in different ways that I ended up just using them some days with the Antioxidant Serum in the morning and Retinol at night, or Retinol for 2 days straight, then the Antioxidant Serum to give my skin a change.

While my skin responded well, sometimes with results noticed overnight, I think the products really show their benefits with regular, ongoing use. Going through both of the serums together, they’ve provided a major anti-aging kick in making my skin just feel more more firm and defined, with a nicer tone and smoother texture to my complexion. It’s amazing how much performance is packed in for the price point as together, you’d get a really wonderful serum combo of powerful actives for under $100 (Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment is $49.30 and Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum is $39). I definitely urge you to try this because I feel like retinols and antioxidants are two of the most universal, top line actives, and in this time when we’re really searching for value, Paula’s Choice offers such a good value for well made, clinical performance products.

 

A Skincare Update: All Green Beauty July 2020

Lately the idea of semantics has been weighing on my mind. The term Green Beauty, which to me started as a movement for empowerment in knowledge of the ingredients we were buying in our personal care products, has shifted into becoming the equivalent an eye roll synonymous with Gwyneth Paltrow jade vagina eggs and frou-frou rituals of the rich and bored. If you came here through my Instagram, I go into it a bit more on just how the industry is actually quite toxic from the people behind it to how it got this way.

While I think our green beauty community now has all but dispersed, I do believe in many of the products we championed. Here is my all green routine.

I know it’s odd to see an oil cleanser as a morning cleanse, but these days I’ve just been at home and it’s hard to justify a full cleansing experience sometimes when I barely want to even do a morning routine. I tried to go through with just water but notice it does a terrible job of penetrating the film of oils my skin seems to secrete overnight. One morning I reached for Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil out of sheer laziness, and found this to do a good job of getting rid of that oil film as oil binds oil (some of you with drier skin might like the film and refuse to cleanse in the morning, but you should especially if you use serums as they need to actually penetrate). It’s gentle and works in a breeze without any fuss, and because I only use half a pump, it rinses off quickly (*yes it does emulsify with water, hurrah!) and my skin feels clean and ready for the next steps without feeling like I had to do a whole production with my cleansing.  I first got into cleansing oils with Shu Uemura but the ingredients kind of turned me off (in addition to the fact that it doesn’t rinse off with water very well), it wasn’t until One Love Organics came along with their oil cleanser that I absolutely loved it. But the Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil in my opinion, has better ingredients (a lot more plant oils) and feels nicer.

I follow with Yuli’s Panacea Elixir. If I do a full cleansing routine, I like to mist it on my skin as I feel that hydrates my skin more (this is what I tend to do at night), but if I do an oil cleanse, I like to apply this like a traditional toner with a cotton round. When used this way, it works like an organic Biologique P50 without the harsh acids that seemed to make everyone’s skin red, blotchy and angry. Panacea uses enzymes and ionized minerals instead that break away dead skin, oxidized pore clogging sebum, etc., and keeps my skin clear of congestion and any general griminess. It’s described as a juice fast for the skin, and feels to me like the skincare version of a herbal tonic you’d drink from a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to leave skin fresh, hydrated, and clear of breakouts or congestion.


Next I use Agent Nateur’s Holi(oil) as my face oil. I loved this oil from first use. The texture is beautifully plush as it uses rice bran which is nourishing but also easily absorbed. There are only 7 ingredients in here, which isn’t bad because some of the most beautiful creations only have a handful of ingredients, and these ingredients are all top of the line in quality as we know Jena prides herself on sourcing. Standouts include a French patented Calcium Ketogluconate, and Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate) which work with each other to increase the efficacy of Vitamin C in building collagen and brightening the skin. Now.. the smell. It’s beautiful and was something that stuck with me from first use. The more I used it, the more I thought “wow this is divine but also.. familiar?” It was only after reading the Garcon’s World review of Saint Jane Beauty’s CBD Face Oil where they compared the smell of rose and sandalwood as being extremely similar to Agent Nateur AND Ila that I figured it out. Remember Ila? I forgot until I read that review from GW who always manages to be on the mark and are friggin beauty archivists. I remember using their oil YEARS ago, and thats when the lightbulb went off that the Agent Nateur oil isn’t just similar in smell, upon some digging (going to their websites lol) their formulas are like copies. Where Agent Nateur uses a base of rice bran, Ila uses argan, and Agent uses the calcium+vitamin c, but other than that you can see for yourself:

Ila Formula
Wild-Grown Argan Oil (Argania Spinosa Kernal), Rosehip Seed Oil (Rosa Canina), Sandalwood (Santalam Spicatum), Rose Otto Oil (Rose Damascena Flower Oil), Vitamin E Oil (Tocopherol Extract)

Agent Nateur Formula
organic oryza sativa (rice bran), organic rosa mosqueta (rosehip) oil, calcium ketogluconate, wildcrafted rosa damascena oil, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, organic helichrysum gymnocephalum oil, wildcrafted santalum album (sandalwood) oil.

Not to take away from the brilliance of the Agent Nateur face oil which is one of the nicest I’ve used, I just have to wonder how much Ila’s oil that came before might have informed the formulation of the Agent Nateur oil. **As an aside, I’ve been reticent to talk about Agent Nateur on my blog because as many of you may be aware, the founder has some fringe beliefs that I think are harmful. She’s also treated a fellow blogger (who I consider to be a genuine friend in the space) in a very ugly and hurtful manner. I stand by my review of this product, but I don’t think I will be purchasing from the Agent Nateur line in the future.**

Following face oil, I make sure I get my eye serum in. Kahina’s Eye Serum is a favorite. I’ve used many, and it’s a category I obsess over. What I’ve learned is that creams are for dry skin (if your skin is more oily, it could lead to milia which has to be extracted via surgical instruments), serums with a lighter gel texture tend to be more for active benefits, which is the camp I’m in right now. Kahina’s Eye Serum is a gel texture but it doesn’t have alcohol and doesn’t have that “evaporating” feel that dries your skin out. There are peptides and good plant extracts that are brightening and boost microcirculation. I think of it as my anti-aging serum for the eyes.

So in the serum step we’ve done the face and the eyes, I finish with my lips. I’m very hot and cold when it comes to my lips. Sometimes I fall behind on taking care of them and they easily get chapped. But I was watching Blackpink on Youtube and noticed how ALL the girls are religious about applying their lip products before every interview, performance and photoshoot. Like they didn’t care about touching up lipstick, but if their lips were chapped, oh no! I also know that not taking care of the lips can really mess up the plumpness and lose volume as we get older. My main problem is that I like to drink my wellness tonics, eat food, etc. and I know half the ingredients in most lip products are not ones I want to ingest so it’s hard to space it out. This is why I use Yuli’s Cellular Lip Conditioner which is 100% food grade. It’s not a balm, think of it like a face oil but for your lips. How is it different? The lips don’t have sebum glands, there is more collagen, and they’re more exposed (that’s also why the lips are more pigmented).  The Cellular Lip Conditioner helps to nourish the skin, and their plants offer a degree of protection from exposure, and it helps to keep lips plumped. I consider this an insurance to keep my lips as healthy as voluminous as I can.

The Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition is the moisturizer I’ve been using daily. It is light enough that it can be dispensed from a pump and is not too flashy. But it contains all the right ingredients that a dream moisturizer should have like squalane, avocado oil, hyaluronic acid, and even rosemary extract (good for environmental stressors) and Vitamin C. It melts into skin without any heaviness or greasiness, yet is substantial enough that you’ll miss it if you forgot to apply it. I think of moisturizers as more of the defensive line meant to keep the moisture from escaping, adding some of that creamier heft, and if good active ingredients are there, all the better, and this ticks all the boxes.


Before we’re done there’s one more thing I do in the morning. My wellness tonic! Let’s be honest here, everything we can perceive from our skin and hair, to our digestion, and how we feel is rooted within our inner wellness. I’m not going to do elaborate multi-step skincare routines, invest in expensive products, and then ignore what’s going on inside where everything is actually going on. MIJA Superstar is one that I talked about before. I love that it’s made by a board certified nutritionist and dietitian who is very acclaimed, as most are not. And I love their approach of filling the universal gaps we all have with one comprehensive supplement that can align all of our systems. Their approach is to balance and optimize the body where it needs it, rather than other brand approaches where you’re asked to take something for your mood, something else for your immune system, another thing for your digestion, without any clinical evidence what taking them together will do, and no concern for what individual supplements might imbalance in other areas. Beyond their approach, this just works for me on all fronts (for me it is most noticeable in my digestive regularity, metabolism, and energy level, but it will be different for everyone, my sister who is usually sick about 2-3 times a year has not been sick since she started taking it in October 2019). Unlike skincare that has steps, you don’t need bundles of supplements to be healthy, Mija’s Superstar has replaced jars of other stuff I was taking before, effectively cutting down on both time and cost, as well as always feeling like I wasn’t getting everything out of my supplements. I’ve never been more satisfied.


I love hearing from you, whether in the comments section here or on my Instagram. Reach out!

Skincare Catchup: March 2020 Quarantine Edition

90090948_319410682350650_1004495937312807981_nHow’s everyone doing? As an introvert, this period of self-distancing hasn’t hit me particularly hard as it’s given me a chance to catch up on books, Netflix, and all the shows I’ve been meaning to watch. As an avid beauty junkie, I’ve been using this downtime to basically treat every day as though it was my Sunday self-care day. Here’s a snapshot of what I used today:

I begin each morning with my wellness drink, and given these times I’m not risking it — made by a board-certified nutritionist and dietitian, MIJA Superstar hits all the marks and immunity is a major benefit, plus, it tastes really good. I usually get anxiety/stress-induced inflammation that manifests as a stye or digestive issue but have not experienced any which I credit to this supplement.

I wash my face with lukewarm water then slather on YÜLI Pure Mask, which I’ve always loved but now have the time to really luxuriate in it. I think staying at home and not being able to get a decent sweat in at the gym has not been good for my pores and I’ve been noticing a bit more congestion, so this mask really helps to clarify while infusing with nutrients, giving me that naked baby-soft skin feel.

After rinsing off the mask, I follow with Reflekt’s Daily Exfoliating Face Wash. It’s very gentle and the exfoliation comes from jojoba beads rather than strong acids. I don’t use it as a scrub per se, but just a normal cleanse when I feel like my skin is a bit on the dull side. I also like that this is diluted in hyaluronic acid and otherwise skin moisturizing ingredients as well.

Post cleanse,  Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist is such a gorgeous mist. The bottle is beautiful and the juice is a nice milky texture. The only thing I had to change was being stingy with spraying it as I treasured it so much that I was not more generous with my sprays at the beginning.

Yuri Pibu Cellum Amaid Essence is so nice as well, and the perfect water-based serum that moisturizes. It’s a relatively clean K-Beauty staple that is focused on high concentrations of plant ingredients like yam that help to brighten skin too. It’s also very very gentle.

African Botanics Fleur’s D’Afrique Intensive Recovery Oil, I use this primarily as a night time oil but since I’m staying in all day, I figure why not go for it and slather on the anti-aging oil, right? This oil is STRONG but in that good way where you’re like “I’m definitely getting my money worth.” And it smells beautiful thanks to night-blooming flower extracts.

Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition has become such a reliable moisturizer for day or night. It’s not an attention-getting product and I mean that in a good way because some products are divas and this is like the hardworking team member on your group project who always replies emails, does their work, is super dependable, and you end up becoming friends.

Vive Sana Serum Cream is my last step. It’s an SPF 20 which in any real-world scenario is low (Vive Sana has an actual SPF cream that is SPF 30), but in this stay-at-home scenario works wonderfully because it provides just that right amount of protection and is such a rich anti-oxidant filled cream. I’d almost describe it as a face oil in a cream form with SPF20 in there.


Let me know if you’d like me to share more daily routines while we get through this very unusual time together!

*This post is not sponsored, though it may contain some affiliate links.

Tatcha The Serum Stick

Tatcha is that line that just always go for it in terms of over-the-top luxury and almost fantastically whimsical creativity, which speaks to my ever-niche-luxury loving beauty heart.

When I received their newest product, The Serum Stick, I was a bit confused. Why do a serum in a stick form from the line that already makes such good serums? Then I read the product information:

A concentrated solid serum of 80% squalane and Japanese lemon balm that targets signs of aging and dryness instantly and over time, keeping skin and makeup fresh throughout the day.

Here are the purported benefits:

  • Smooths dry fine lines instantly and over time. Ideal for perking up the eye area, it also helps address laugh lines and other areas of crepiness wherever dehydration appears.

  • Locks in moisture instantly and over time. Weightless, all-natural squalane glides on easily to soften, comfort and lock in moisture, alleviating and minimizing skin and makeup dryness.

  • Creates a dewy cushion for makeup and refreshes. Melts into clean skin seamlessly, preventing makeup from settling into lines and improving blendability. Over makeup, it refreshes dry spots throughout the day and imparts a natural glow.

It was only upon first application that I started to get it… the cushiony pearlescent formula felt almost like a gel when it touches the skin and rather than a chunk of solid, this was really a serum concentrate made in a solid form. Oh, and it’s fragrance-free as well for those who might be sensitive.

Why solid? I imagine you might ask, given that it was my initial question too. Although Tatcha doesn’t go into why they decided to go this route, through my use, I noticed practical it was. Due to the stick form factor, you can easily throw The Serum Stick in your handbag (or backpack) and go about your day. It’s great for touch-ups both working as a makeup primer but also as a light balm. For me, the initial levels of skin nourishment from creams, oils, and general moisturizers always subside throughout the day, especially when it comes to my undereye area, and Tatcha’s The Serum Stick is perfect for these times because a quick swipe and the formula of a whopping 80% pure squalane (the renowned barrier improving emollient), lemon balm (an anti-inflammatory leaf, not the citrus fruit), and Tatcha’s signature Hadasei-3 complex of antioxidant-rich Japanese superfoods absolutely makes the skin feel nourished and dare I say, silken? Even touching my skin as I write this, the areas on my forehead and under eyes where I applied this about 20 minutes ago feel like the texture of a pearl, and that tight, uncomfortable feeling with dry skin vanishes almost immediately.

Should you get The Serum Stick? Well, it retails for $48 and is a cross between a balm, face oil and traditional serum (hyaluronic acid), all products that individually would cost more. And with the way that one glide will cover so much, The Serum Stick is sized to last so yes – get this and keep it on your person so your skin never has to go without.

Current Routine: A Maximalist Focus on Layering Serums

 

Lately, I’ve been in a decidedly maximalist state-of-mind. It could be the colder weather, but I’ve also started binging skin talk videos from dermatologists who despite having very basic recommendations (for my taste), all adhere to going full-on with their serums. I remember the founder of MAC once declaring his greatest beauty secret was using “tons of serums every night” and I think it’s something we all casually say about people who take care of their skin, but it’s made me wonder — just what is the best way to layer serums?

Firstly, serums are the powerhouse step in any regimen. They’re the change-makers. This is the category of retinol, acids, vitamin c, peptides, hydration, or deep nutrition in a concentration that is meaningful. Second, while serums can be layered, there is only so much that our skin can take and we have to consider the point of diminishing returns when later serums might not even be able to effectively penetrate. Third, serums can be powerful and like alpha-type personalities, it’s best to make sure the serums can coexist before mingling. For instance, it’s not a great idea to do an acid peel the same night as a retinol treatment, and I know that Vitamin C and certain peptides can be particularly volatile around exfoliating acids.

So be smart about how you’re layering your serums. The evening is when I bring out the heavy hitters that turn back the clock, while in the day I’m more about protection which revolves primarily around SPF, and barrier creams rather than active serums. I’ll share a current system that I do in the evenings focused three-fold: anti-aging, nutrition, and nourishment.

I start by figuring out the layers, separating my options by texture: a lighter more watery essence-type of serum, a classic light cream-gel type of serum, and finally an oil-based serum. As my goal is to really feed my skin in good nutrition, I’m particularly looking for products without a lot of fragrance, silicones, or other non-beneficial fillers so I’m primarily sticking to clean skincare which tends to be more concentrated in the actual powerhouse ingredients.

For my essence-serum step, I choose the k-beauty brand, Yuri Pibu’s Cellum Amaid Essence which contains 60% Galactomyces Ferment, which is extracted from fermented Sake Yeast. Sound familiar to SKII’s Sake Yeast derived signature active, Pitera? That’s because it is, this Sake Yeast ferment is purported to brighten, soften, and renew skin, and is used in higher concentrations than anything from SKII. There is also wild yam extract and rice bran extract which help to brighten the complexion as well. Dermatologists say the primary indicator of skin aging isn’t even fine lines or wrinkles but the pigmentation changes, and this milky-watery essence is perfect for helping to give that hydrated, brightened effect popular in Asian routines.

In choosing my next serum, I go by texture weight, so after the watery-essence, I followed with a more textbook serum, African Botanics Nutritive Molecule Serum which is a coppery gel-cream hybrid not dissimilar to the textures of old school serums that you’ll find from brands like Sisley and Clinique but, obviously, with a much better formula. The great thing about African Botanics, other than clean formulas, is how complete they make their products. Nutritive Molecule Serum is thought of as skin nutrition, but it does much more than that:

There are 3 types of Vitamin C which build on the brightening and complexion benefits while also targetting anti-aging by building collagen, there are also anti-aging plant-based peptides and anti-inflammatory molecules from the Resurrection Plant and Aloe Forex that help with skin aging, and Niacinimide which has been shown to be effective in treating acne, fine lines, and pigmentation irregularities. Then there are plant-based hyaluronic acids that plump the skin and restore moisture, and marine-derived antioxidants that provide protection against urban pollution and UV exposure making it excellent for city-life which can be quite aging. This is an excellent gel-cream to give your skin incredible actives in a gentle manner that only feels nurturing and never aggressive.


I finish with an oil textured serum that can help lock everything in but at the same time is also the nutrition powerhouse since plant oils are shown to contain the most complete and bio-available nutrients for the skin. YULI Modern Alchemist is a nourishing, anti-aging serum in oil texture that provides the motherlode of skin nutrition with almost 30 active ingredients. The reason I call it a serum in oil texture than a face oil is because there are many active components in the formula that aren’t botanical oils such as CoQ10, Green Tea extract with superior antioxidant compounds EGCG and Resveratrol (this is the antioxidant compound that some dermatologists say is the most powerful in the world), numerous extracts and even an infused tamarind seed that is clinically shown to draw in more hydration through the deep delivery oil form factor than commonplace hyaluronic acid.

There are 2 game-changers in this serum, first a bio-retinol complex made from photo-stable plant-based retinol analogs that focus on renewal and anti-aging without the downtime. Finally, it’s a serum that addresses skin volume, elasticity, and dermal density. Our current method of approaching aging with lasers, exfoliation, and turnover has led to thin, crepey paper-like skin, and many dermatologists now judge skin quality by its dermal density and volume which is super hard to truly restore (it’s most commonly treated with temporary injectable fillers), and this serum actually works on the composition of skin to restore lost volume and density — all while the nutritive oils nourish skin in ceramides, fatty acids, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.


Let me know if you’re also cocktailing or playing scientist with your serums, and your favorites!

What I’m using Feb-Mar 2019

I’ve been trying to share a routine update/highlights every month or so (product reviews to come as well!). One of the things I never really liked as a reader was following someone’s routine that would change on a weekly basis. It’s just not realistic and I don’t think it cultivates a real understanding of how the products work in an actual routine. So you might see repeats in these posts but that’s only because I’m sharing the products that I genuinely use. And if I do show repeats, I usually have some new thoughts about them as well, so read on…

Kjaer Weis Highlighter (in Radiance): I’ve really been loving this highlighter recently. It works flawlessly using fingers which is my preferred method especially for winter because it lets the product melt onto skin and blends seamlessly. Lately, I’ve been on following Patrick Ta and Mario Dedivanovic makeup tutorials on Youtube, and the way they use highlighters to sculpt the nose and bring the eyes to life is just mesmerizing. Radiance is the perfect shade that catches the dark undereye circles and “shadows” around the nose, and gives them a “glow up.” The texture of this highlighter is perfect, it dispenses just the right amount of product without being obvious, and it erases any dark circles and undereye bags and really gives definition to my cheekbones and nose.

DECIEM Anomaly Petrowhat? (in Rio -Guava): I love organic products, but every now and then, a convenient and cute product such as Glossier’s Balm Dot Com will win me over. However, as much as I loved Glossier’s balm and carried it with me everywhere, the ingredients really bothered me. DECIEM launched Anomaly, a line of lip balms, pretty much to directly target people like me who love this type of product but want better ingredients. The vegan, petrolatum-free formula is decided a step up while the familiar packaging retains the Insta-genic aesthetic. Definitely my pick for the next cult lip balm that every girl should be using.

YÜLI Modern Alchemist: I rediscover my love of this oil every time the weather turns cold. It’s a beautiful nourishing oil that is absolutely plush and luxurious on the skin, with a gorgeous rose scent that you’ll delight in pressing and massaging into your skin. I have done my research and this is one of the most nutritionally loaded oils that you can feed to your skin. YÜLI also sources their own ingredients and uses a proprietary in-house extraction and formulation process that increases bio-availability and absorption of the botanical nutrients. Although an oil, this is technically a serum because it’s not just a blend of plant oils thrown together, instead it’s almost 30 ingredients from CoQ10 to plant-derived Squalene, and bio-fermented ingredients as well as a bio-retinol complex, a safe and photo-stable alternative to prescription retinol that renews skin. The formula is designed from traditional Chinese medicine so they work in a very nourishing and therapeutic way that is not at all harsh or irritating to the skin.

ONOMIE A.C.E. Illuminating Eye Treatment: Part concealer for the under eyes and part eye serum, I have continued to love this treatment more with each use. The cream settles really well on the skin so it never accentuates creases and it provides a perfectly blendable, natural coverage that is incredibly subtle. I usually experience pilling when layering products around my eyes, but have noticed that this treatment works really well with the Kjaer Weis Highlighter. The treatment (with Vitamin A, C, and E) is also helping to fade a few pesky sun spots I developed a few years ago around my under eyes (since I’m terrified of getting SPF near my eyes) and it keeps my eyes feeling well moisturized.

Kahina Giving Beauty Fez Perfume Oil: So Kahina has two perfume oils, Fez and Essaouira, both inspired by Morocco. I loved both because they’re perfect “mood” fragrances that can be applied to pulse points so you smell gorgeous without ever feeling overwhelmed. Where Essaouira is the perfect crisp citrus for summer, Fez has that warm, grounding earthiness that is perfect for winter. It applies onto skin bold and exotic and dries to a sweet and delicate mix of rose, orange blossoms, and vetiver. If you’re dragging your feet on natural fragrances, make this your first foray – it’ll show you how beautiful high quality, perfume oil made from plant ingredients can really be.

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator: Is there a person who does not like Josh Rosebrook’s Hydrating Accelerator? People swear by this stuff. I admit, when I first tried it, after hearing allllll the hype – it felt like an ordinary face mist. But over time, it grew on me. The spray is as good as everyone says, with the product being evenly dispersed in such a fine mist that it’s practically weightless. The mist actually contains a lot of plant oils so it’s actually quite nourishing as well as hydrating. I think because the mist contains water and oils, it actually helps layer with oils very well. One more note on the packaging, it is a lightweight plastic but that makes it extremely durable and it is basically the perfect mist to keep in your handbag for on-the-go use.

African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence: Organic beauty sometimes just spoils us with real, luxurious plants and this product takes the cake. I love the way the roses between the African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence layer with YÜLI’s Modern Alchemist serum, it’s just the most beautiful thing that leaves skin so dewy, soft and plumped. The texture of this essence is quite unique, it’s like a buttery gel that holds its shape rather than liquids like most Asian essences. I tend to use this alone after cleansing and before applying serums or oils because I think of it as the toner step for African Botanics. It’s very hydrating and the essence moniker is true to form because it’s almost like a serum in the level of ingredients (peptides, B vitamins, caffeine, yeast beta glucan, marula oil). If my skin feels more dehydrated than usual, I will use this essence first and then spray a face mist like the Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator, because the hyaluronic acid in this essence will bind the water molecules in the mist.


Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what products you’re excited to try now that we’re hopefully moving into Spring!

 

Recent Skincare Updates: Eye Serums, Winter Products

This winter has been tough. I think I’m at that age now where if I drop the ball on my skincare for just a day, it’ll show. The worst has been my eyes. I’ve noticed that it is where most people age the fastest and it is the category that my mom will spare no expense to plump and smoothe those deep lines into oblivion.

Read on for my eye serum experiences, I think you’ll like that the eye products are all in a more accessible price point. It wasn’t done on purpose but they’re definitely good buys. I do cover two face serums that are quite luxurious and they’re certainly worth it. One is a scientific and organic oil that nourishes and feeds restores my skin in the winter and the other gives radiance to my skin. I mix them together often and it’s an antioxidant beast.

Eye Serums

The first eye serum I bought in this bunch was Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum, a line I had always known to take their actives seriously. Of all eye serums I’ve used, this sounded the most intensive, so I hoped for powerful results as well. I was initially wary of using this as an “every day” serum due to how active the formula sounded but quickly found that it was gentle and not at all the harsh active serum that I had built up in my head. I noticed brightening within around 3 days of use and also saw a slight reduction in an emerging fine line around my under eyes after 2 weeks. With promising results, the only drawbacks for me were the small bottle size and the need for a separate daytime serum. Although the instructions say this can be used during the day, I just don’t like putting retinols on my skin during the day. I really like Dr. Dennis Gross’ Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum and saw evidence that it was working. It’s slightly on the expensive side at $69 for .5 oz but not extraordinary compared some of the really luxe eye creams that don’t deliver even half the results. The formula isn’t entirely “green and clean” but in this case, I considered it a worthwhile balance for the results.

Originally searching for a good daytime eye serum, I asked around and my friends at Garçon’s World told me that they recently sat down with Sephora and specifically looked over their entire eye serum collection. They unanimously all loved the Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel, for its comfortable gel texture and immediate hydration. It’s only $54 for a formula that’s quite clean, so I figured that was worth a shot. It’s fragrance-free, absorbs quickly, doesn’t pill when you apply make-up over it, and has a natural lifting effect. This reminded me so much of the $100+ eye serums in how it felt and performed, that I had to check several times that it was actually just $54.

For the days where I wanted to fake it while still giving my eyes something that was actually working to benefit them, I leaned on Onomie’s A.C.E. Illuminating Eye Treatment. It’s a genius undereye concealer and eye serum in one. There are actual clinical tests for the 10% Vitamin C formula that shows how it actually brightens skin and improves fine lines and wrinkles. And for those who are impatient, the concealer aspect works to cover up dark circles, illuminate the under eye area like a highlighter, and blur imperfections. This really does work as both skincare and make-up, and I cannot be without it now.

The Miracle Oil

In the winter, my skin gets extra dry, thirsty, frail, fatigued, you get the idea. I need that extra serving of nourishment to keep my skin happy. Face oils are a wonderful treat because they nourish, lock in moisture, and are full of nutritional compounds like minerals and vitamins that the skin is able to fully absorb and metabolize into… well… skin food. YÜLI’s Modern Alchemist oil is over-the-top, there are just so many gorgeous ingredients (including the vitality-activating ‘Root of Light’ that you may know is the heralded centerpiece of the $225 Kjaer Weis Beautiful Oil) and actives like CoQ10, and pure EGCG polyphenols. I love the science behind YÜLI products but this is an oil that is also just so beautiful and rich without ever overwhelming the skin. There’s a delicate, luxe rose scent tempered by a hint of the plethora of medicinal plants in the formula, and the texture is extra-emollient and long-lasting thanks to super-enriching oils like avocado, prickly pear, borage, and cloudberry. They’re balanced to have a precise lipid ratio that is bio-identical to skin’s healthy lipid profile which enables the oils to deeply nourish and fortify, while still maintaining that “breathability” to ensure that it won’t cause greasiness or clog pores. Besides being super pleasurable to use for the satisfying scent and cushiony texture alone, there are just so many nutrients in Modern Alchemist, that beyond just softness and plumping, it brings life back to my skin.

The Glow Serum

Many of you aren’t sure the difference between many of African Botanic’s serums and the Nutritive Molecule Serum, in my opinion, is their corner store serum. Here’s how I break it down, while all of African Botanic’s serums have anti-aging and hydration benefits, I consider Nutritive Molecule Serum to be the daily driver that is most balanced with antioxidants, peptides, and moisture enhancers. The ingredients are similar to their Ressurection Cell Recovery serum, both are loaded with antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, algae, African botanicals, etc. What makes Nutritive Molecule Serum special, is the high concentration of three types of Vitamin C. There’s almost everything you could want for your skin in this orange-cream/gel serum that is powerful in its own right but what I think really defines the serum is the high concentration of Vitamin C that gives skin a glow and radiance even in the middle of winter.

I know that many people are sensitive to Vitamin C or have a hard time finding a stable Vitamin C, but I’ve noticed with every use that Nutritive Molecule Serum seems to flip the on switch in soft lighting my complexion.


Is there an eye serum you think I should check out? Have you experienced any of these eye and face serums? Drop a comment!