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.

The Nue Co: Brand Overview & Review


The Nue Co. is a brand that appealed to me right away. Their branding is described as a “scientist had sex with a supermodel,” as they’re a hybrid between scientific and stylish, with products backed by data rather than cutesy millennial-speak (Moon Juice/Golde) or esoteric Santa Monica hipster (…we all know), and they’re always packaged in standard amber bottles but with very distinctive, eye-catching design language that is simultaneously understated, minimalist and sophisticated. Gradually I started amassing a collection of their products and having spent time with them to varying extents, I’ll review the products one by one, then a general summary of the line.

The Nue Co Debloat Food + Prebiotic

This was the first product I picked up from them. What I liked was how clear and purposeful the product was, and I appreciated the straightforwardness that this was just a treatment designed for digestion. Since turning over to the latter part of my mid-20s, I do notice things like metabolism slowing down and sometimes it feels like my dinner just sits without being processed which makes me feel kind of gross when I go to bed at night, so I thought this would be perfect.

What I noticed upon the first impression is how “bare” the product was — although the packaging and design language are quite stunning, the formula is very bare-bones and this literally looks and feels like scooping up a spoonful of spices. You can tell that there REALLY isn’t anything put in for the taste and the 5 ingredient list of maqui fruit powder, cinnamon powder, ginger root powder, turmeric powder, and inulin are really all there is. It sounds kind of like “well no shit, that’s all that is listed” but you know.. I kind of imagined the ingredients might somehow look, taste, or feel like something I couldn’t just mix at home in my own kitchen given how sleek and damn-near Aesop-like the branding was… but nope this felt like what would happen if I threw in those powders myself.

Results: the spices are warming and they do move things along so I do think it works. But I tried my own DIY of cinnamon and turmeric with shavings of fresh ginger I had in my kitchen, and it worked just as well? So I was a bit let down at the kind of DIY-ness of it all, but I chalked it up to the brand going a little too far with embracing a purist mentality on this one product. So I decided to explore more rather than write-off the entire line.

The Nue Co Skin Food + Prebiotic

I purchased this with their Skin Filter pills when The Nue Co really leaned into their internal skincare supplement rollouts in late 2019. This convinced me that when it comes to powder-supplements, The Nue Co takes a very minimal approach in general as it is also just 5 ingredients as well: inulin, lucuma, baobab, camu camu, brown rice protein. Inulin is in this and the previous supplement, so I thought it might be helpful to let you know that a quick google shows this is a type of plant-derived dietary fiber. The primary benefit of this supplement is collagen-production from Vitamin C contained in the 3 plants. Which when I thought about it seemed like a lot of work to take an additional supplement for what is really just Vitamin C?

I mean this delivers a 122% daily value of Vitamin C, which is key for collagen so I don’t doubt that it works,  but geez… an entire step/product just for this. And the taste is… sour and tart. I suggest either gulping this down without letting it hit your tastebuds or sweetening it with honey. I’m not someone who needs things to taste great, but wow is this sour. The first time I tried it with my fiance and we immediately had the signature Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen “prune” face.

I think the science is there, Vitamin C has been shown to be better than direct collagen supplements for building collagen in the skin. Camu Camu is renowned for its Vitamin C. But the actual user experience leaves a lot to be desired with this product.

The Nue Co Skin Filter

What’s interesting about Skin Filter is that it’s actually in pill form and contains 11 ingredients which for The Nue Co, is a lot, and it makes it feel less DIY and more of a true supplement. So how is this a skin filter? Reading more into the product literature, we’re essentially told to think of this as ingestible retinol. Retinol is the anti-aging powerhouse of the skincare world and this delivers 50% Daily Value of Vitamin A from beta-carotene, alongside Vitamin C, and zinc, which is said to help with collagen degradation, control melanin production and improve microcirculation to give improved elasticity, reduce blemishes, and brighten the skin.

I took this daily for 1 month (the full bottle), and did feel that my skin felt firmer and tauter especially around my cheeks and jawline. You know sometimes when you lose water weight or you’ve been eating right, working out and your face just seems to have some angles and your skin just looks prettier? That’s how I felt using this. I really loved the results with my first bottle/first month and will be ordering another bottle when we are in the Spring/Summer months as part of the benefit of this is also to protect against sun damage.

The difference between Skin Filter and the previous Skin Food to me is that whereas Skin Food felt like almost a superfluous step, needlessly complicating a routine with a DIY formula, this felt impactful with a more scientific, clinical formula that offers a more comprehensive set of benefits for the skin. So although the two products are a bit different, I know most of you are not looking to purchase a number of products to go through every morning so I’d definitely recommend Skin Filter as your go-to skin supplement in the line.

 

The Nue Co Functional Fragrance

I was excited about the Functional Fragrance, the moment this product launched. I love fragrance but have such a hard time with most as I have such sensitivity toward synthetic fragrance – in fact, many brands carried at Credo such as Ellis Brooklyn and Phlur are no-go’s for me as they still get nauseating after a while of wear for me. There isn’t true clarity in the fragrance industry with clean and non-clean ingredients, mainly because there isn’t a requirement for disclosure of ingredients when it comes to perfumes so beyond general ingredients like phthalates that we know to avoid, it’s impossible to tell what actually is and is not in a “clean perfume” as they all talk about using “natural ingredients.” I was quite excited about this because it’s functional fragrance and I’m a huge believer in the potential of fragrance to improve wellbeing if the ingredients used were clean, so I had high hopes for this.

I think The Nue Co is quite original with their approach and applaud them for approaching wellness from a new angle with fragrances. This is marketed as an anti-stress supplement, linking scent with cognition to help re-center and reset in the form of a unisex fragrance. It was formulated by a legendary perfumer, Frank Voelki, and you can really tell that this is a really serious fragrance product. The layers of green cardamom, iris, violet, palo santo, jasmine, cedarwood, musk, amber are all quite elegant and complex. It smells grounding, and rich, like lulling your senses to sleep in soft suede and silk sheets. It’s also luxurious enough to be worn as a daily perfume if desired but I just love it around the 5PM-6PM mark when the day transitions to a quieter, more intimate pace.

I don’t believe all of the ingredients are completely natural (e.g. there isn’t a natural plant musk ingredient), but the formula is 100% vegan and non-toxic. More importantly, it hits my itch for a luxurious fragrance and the functional component is a wonderful bonus.


There are definitely some hits and misses for me with The Nue Co, but I’m excited to see what is next for the brand and count myself as a fan. Although at times some of the products (the powders) were a bit too simplistic for my liking (and for the price point), the brand as a whole is undeniably inventive and execute things well from the presentation and branding elements to the results, and their newer products have been especially captivating – you can’t go wrong starting at the Functional Fragrance. If you’ve tried anything from The Nue Co, leave your thoughts in the comments.

MIJA – Superstar: The New Supplement that Changes Everything

We all know that beauty is more than skin deep, which is why ingestibles have been one of the most exciting categories in the beauty and wellness space in the past few years. For every skincare cocktail there is, there now exists a literal cocktail of powders, tinctures, and liquids that do from the inside what the organic lotions and potions promise to do on the outside. But if you’re like me, someone who has put forth earnest energy in trying all the Moon Juice Dusts (Brain Dust, Sex Dust, Beauty Dust… there’s even a dust for the Spirit?) and purchasing an esoteric ancient herb recommended by Los Angeles health gurus on Instagram, you’ll probably find all the information out there pretty confounding. Unlike a cleanser that tells you what skin type it’s suited for or a face oil that has an obvious density that will either agree with your skin or not, ingestibles are a bit like the wild west. It’s hard to say what exactly they’re doing once you take them in the same way that a salad is good for you but you can’t go to a mirror after eating one to see results, and if they’re not working, it might not be immediately obvious the way your skin might react to a harsh exfoliant.

I’ve tried them all. From the statuesque Super Elixir by WelleCo founded by supermodel Elle MacPherson to the blue and gold single-ingredient creations of Sun Potion and the aforementioned Moon Juice, whose creations are ubiquitous in this space. Some, I liked and some were so-so. But it wasn’t until I experienced headaches after taking a cocktail of herbs recommended by an industry-recognized retailer in the space that I realized these tonics, like an improperly formulated skincare product on skin, could just as easily fuck up your body. It sounds obvious in hindsight, but I think so many of us just fall into the complicity of following a recommendation. So I started doing my research with the same questions that I asked of my skincare brands, who is making this? what are their qualifications? what are the ingredients doing? why is this good for me? what are the potential risks? And you know what happened? I had to stop taking all of the supplements because none of them could get past my vetting in a way that made me feel confident and secure of what I was putting into my body.

Then in July, my friends at Garçon’s World told me about MIJA – a nutraceuticals brand made with 100% plant-based ingredients, whole-foods, and so on. Been there, done that. But they insisted I try MIJA’s hero product, Superstar, because their entire office loved it. So I did and it arrived just few days later – all eco-sustainable/biodegradable packing materials (nice!). Upon opening the box, I was immediately drawn to the packaging, something about it just felt so thoughtfully created and just holding it made me feel happy.

First Impressions

I mixed 2 teaspoons of Superstar, as instructed, with some room temperature water and added manuka honey and a squeeze of lemon. The powder resembles matcha (the base is pure, organic, ceremonial-grade matcha and moringa leaf) and is quite water-soluble. I didn’t expect the taste to be so satisfying but it really felt like a treat. It’s a fruity profile of lychee and honeydew melon that tastes decidedly better than anything I’ve had from Moon Juice, The Nue Co, or Sun Potion, and yet more natural without the overpowering flavoring found in WelleCo and The Beauty Chef. I’m not kidding when I say this – but within 10 minutes, I felt a zen vibe take hold where everything just seemed to chill and I felt optimistic and positive. As I was thinking to myself of first impressions to later share on my blog, an e-mail came from the founder of MIJA, Sarah Koszyk, that explained why she created MIJA and what made their first and currently, only product, Superstar so outstanding – and everything became clear.

About MIJA and Sarah Koszyk

Sarah Koszyk is a registered dietician and nutritionist. What this means is she had to get a bachelors degree, then a masters degree, followed by a residency program (she did her program at the renowned Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital), and just to draw some distance between this and say a “wellness expert” or “holistic guru” – Sarah’s expertise is covered by health insurance because she’s recognized as a medical practitioner, which won major points for me since…. absolutely none of the other nutraceuticals are founded by people with directly relevant degrees of this magnitude. Sarah has her own private practice in San Francisco where she’s basically the go-to wellness expert for the Silicon Valley elite as well as professional athletes. And remember how much I loved the taste of Superstar? Not surprising coming from the woman who is also a published author of 5 books on delicious, nutritious, healthy eating. After a couple back and forth e-mails with Sarah, it became clear why she created Superstar. Most supplements on the market today, she explained, fall into two categories:

They either focus on a single issue (gut health, pH, proteins, skin, etc.), resulting in the need to purchase many to see any meaningful holistic benefits. This is not only inefficient but can also result in nutrient imbalances. Or formulas try to throw everything in, which overloads the body with things it does not need and not enough of what it does.

As Sarah explained, the body is not a single-issue system, it is complex and responsive. Envisioning Superstar as a hero product that is scientifically backed and can be safely beneficial for everyone as a comprehensive supplement, she utilized her extensive experience working with clients as data points to deep dive into the universal nutritional gaps and dietary shortfalls. The resulting product is a complex of anti-inflammatories, full-spectrum vitamins, and antioxidants, beautifying minerals, pH-balancing herbs, gut-healthy microflora, omegas, stress-relieving adaptogens, plant-based proteins, and hundreds of health-boosting phytonutrients delivered in a 100% organic, vegan, gluten-free formula.

The Results

I’ve been using Superstar daily for over a month and I have to say that there are noticeable benefits in many areas. Most surprisingly, it has really improved my digestive and gut health where I no longer feel “heavy”, lethargic, or bloated after dinner, I’ve been getting more restful sleep where I wake up refreshed and energized even if the hours slept are the same and my skin looks really even and toned like I’ve been doing micro-current treatments every night for the past month. My partner who I asked to test this out with me is also fairly convinced that this is helping to turn back what he thinks is the beginning of his receding hairline and after he pointed this out, I noticed that I wasn’t losing as much hair as I was. Although this is not a diet supplement, because it tastes so satisfying and is filled with good ingredients, it feels satiating so I’ve actually lost about 4-6 lbs (depending on the day). Finally, it puts me in the zone as far as creative kicks go and I find myself writing most of my e-mails in the morning after I drink it to get myself in a calm-focus state.

These were the results that I experienced, and reviews on their website are similar. You may be wondering if there is some synthetic drug in here, but it’s actually all superfoods like goji berry, turmeric, Chaga mushroom, camu camu, and lucuma. We all know superfoods are good for you but I think it took someone like Sarah Koszyk, a medical professional rather than a self-professed guru or influencer, to come along and get the right superfoods sourced from the right local suppliers in the right formula with the right concentrations using the right extraction processes (their process was created in a San Francisco-based performance lab to ensure high absorption and full bio-availability of the nutrients) to create something exceptional. That’s a lot of things that have to go right, which means what MIJA has accomplished with Superstar is truly spectacular. I’d easily rank Superstar as the best supplement I’ve used and my top pick as an all-in-one supplement. Superstar retails for $78 per jar which can easily last over 2 months, you can get 10% off if you sign up for their newsletter but when I told Sarah that I was planning to write a review, she generously offered a 15% off code for my readers that will last all month long: BEAUTYIDEALISTLOVESU


I know this almost doubles as my journey through ingestibles, so I want to hear about your experiences in the comment section!

*I am not paid nor compensated for my review, and my discount code is not an affiliate link, I just really really love the product and think it’s one that is spectacular and worth sharing.*