The REVIEW: Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

BeautyIdealist Kypris

There is nothing I love more than a new brand discovery and to have it be a green brand is an added and welcomed bonus. To me, Kypris was a brand that seemed to come out of nowhere. I had seen it around on social media and a few blogs but never really paid much attention as the flowery artwork aesthetically made me initially write it off. Then more and more press followed, and I knew I had to try the line for myself.

Moonlight Catalyst is what I consider to be the star product of the Kypris line. It’s marketed as an “herbal alternative to retinoid preparations”which sounds very enticing.

Here is the description of Moonlight Catalyst straight from Kypris:

Moonlight Catalyst gently revitalizes skin while you slumber. This herbal alternative to retinoid formulas employs a cocktail of renewing fermented pumpkin enzymes, biomimetic EGF, and hydrating botanical extracts to refine and renew your complexion without irritation or peeling.

Benefits: An herbal alternative to retinoid preparations * Enhances cellular renewal * Refines texture * Helps keep pores clear * Evens skin tone * Diminishes evidence of previous blemishes * Free from essential oils to accommodate reactive skin * Calms, soothes, and plumps to a radiant, creamy, glow

Before we delve further, I will clarify that for the purpose of being useful – this review will mainly cover the current formula with some insight of my experience with the initial formula for comparative purposes.

The first bottle of Moonlight Catalyst I purchased was the initial formula, back when Kypris listed ‘love‘ as the first ingredient:

Love, water/aqua, algae extract, glycerin, Lactobacillus/Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) fruit ferment extract, Vigna aconitifolia seed extract, sodium citrate, Salix nigra (willowbark) wood extract, Prunus persica (peach) extract, hydrolyzed fucus vesiculosus protein, yeast extract, leuconostoc (radish) root ferment filtrate, Prunus salicina (plum) extract, xylitylglucoside, anhydroxylitol, xylitol, Saccharomyces lysate extract, Rhodiola rosea (roseroot) extract, Rosa canina (rosehip) seed extract, Hippophae rhamnoides (seabuckthorn) fruit extract, sclerotium gum, p-anisic acid

IMG_5435The serum was a cloudy subtly peachy hued fluid gel with an unmistakable fruity peach scent. Although the description said this was a gentle serum, I noticed dry patches and flaking with the first week of use however as someone who has used prescription strength retinol in the past for acne, I wasn’t put off by this and instead welcomed it as a sign of effectiveness. As I do with any retinol serum, I only used Moonlight Catalyst 2-3 times a week at night as that exfoliation interval works best for my skin.

I found the serum a little bit on the sticky side where it would stick to my pillow covers if I slept on my side which shows that perhaps not all the ingredients were absorbing into my skin but it didn’t stop me from continuing to use it. After the first 2 weeks, my skin stopped having any sort of reaction to Moonlight Catalyst which I took as a sign that it had adjusted however I have seen other bloggers say that the serum loses its effectiveness due to its exposed dropper mechanism.

I also tried to mix it with an oil, creating what the founder Chase, calls a “sophisticated microemulsion”. I found that Moonlight Catalyst went well with most oil serums including Lina Hanson, Vintner’s Daughter, and Yuli. I was provided with samples of all three Kypris Beauty Elixirs (their oils) but unfortunately they are just not a match for me, leaving with me painful cystic acne after the first application. To be fair, I gave each of the oils at LEAST four/five tries and EACH TIME would result in breakouts the next day that took around 2 weeks to fully heal.

Although the microemulsion does feel pretty good and made for quicker completion of my night time routine, I noticed that it resulted in a stickier/tackier texture which indicated even more ingredients were left sitting on my skin rather than being absorbed so I preferred to apply the Moonlight Catalyst first followed by an oil.

I felt that my skin responded really well to this serum and became quite fond of this find as one of the rare green beauty gems that helped to chemically exfoliate skin. I loved Moonlight Catalyst enough to purchase another bottle before my first one ran out. This new bottle arrived with the new formula which is as follows:

Water/Aqua, Glycerin, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Fruit Ferment Filtrate, Xylitylglucoside, Sclerotium Gum, Algae, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, sh-Oligopeptide-1,  Prunus Persica (Peach) Fruit Extract, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Flower Extract, Vigna Aconitifolia Seed Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Extract, Prunus Domestica (Plum) Fruit Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Water Extract, Hydrolyzed Fucus Vesiculosus Protein, Sodium Chloride, Trehalose,  Sodium Levulinate, Maltodextrin, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Citrate

The first thing I noticed was that love was removed as the first ingredient so technically there is no love in each bottle anymore *and I felt corny just typing that but it stays* According to the Kypris website the difference is: an added biomimetic epidermal growth factor for skin renewing benefits, a different peach extract that makes the serum more hydrating, and an added neroli flower extract to soothe skin and nerves (??). However I also noticed the order of some ingredients changed around such as algae moving from the 3rd ingredient to the 6th ingredient, along with Vigna Aconitifolia Seed Extract moving down the list as well. Instead Xylitylglucoside and Sclerotium Gum make up the remaining top 5 ingredients which means the majority of this new serum is: Water, Glycerin, fermented Pumpkin filtrate, a moisturizing sugar, and a thickening agent.

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Perhaps this explains why this now clear, thicker gel serum seemed to be like a shadow of itself. It feels like a thicker gel and not a whole lot happens. The founder, Chase did describe this as being more gentle and hydrating but when the first five ingredients include only 1 active compared to 3 in the old formula that is not a big shocker. Gentle doesn’t always mean better especially when it comes to a serum being sold as a retinol alternative which by nature should be ‘powerful’. I am able to use this serum every night without any irritation but also without any of the results I saw from the first formula. I even went overboard a few times and applied two entire dropper fulls onto my skin just TRYING to replicate some sort of retinol effect but did not experience anything that could match the first bottle.

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I think the main problem with the new formula is that what was once a focused product marketed as a natural retinol alternative that resurfaces skin is now victim to trying to accomplish too much that it all conflicts with each other: ingredients are added or moved around with the goal of making this a hydrating serum, a big investment was spent on epidermal growth factor leading to a price increase for an ingredient that doesn’t even work well with resurfacing ingredients, a reduction in the power of said resurfacing ingredients that won it acclaim in the first place. What we are left with are grand intentions that would have been better spent on the creation of separate products, perhaps a hydrating serum and a resurfacing serum, and not both in one as they are by nature quite conflicting ideas which in this case has resulted in a muddled serum that does neither things very well.

Okay – I know many of you have used this serum, what are your thoughts? Leave a note for me in the comments section!

The Spring Beauty Edit

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As seasons change, so too does our skin needs making Spring the perfect time to update our skincare top shelf! Gone are the thick moisturizers and anything that can be described as “heavy,” and in are fresh, enlivening products that awaken skin. The above are some products that I’d like to share with you as part of my Spring Beauty Edit:

Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser: As a first step, this cleanser smells lovely and gets rid of make-up/sunscreen build up. It washes off as a milky fluid making removal easy. Good for a quick removal or extended massage. Use in place of a balm which might prove too heavy for Spring/Summer.

Pro-tip: Apply on dry skin and cleanse before washing. The times I used this in the shower resulted in cleanser washing immediately into my eyes as I believe this cleanser is designed to break down with continued water exposure.

Kypris Moonlight CatalystA gentle resurfacing treatment that sloughs away dead skin cells and exfoliates dead skin cells that perhaps have been trapped under all the oils and moisturizers from winter. A night-time only serum, apply before face oil for best results.

Pro-tip: The older version which is more of a brownish-orange hue seemed to work better for me and the new version which is clear seems much more mild. Both versions seem to work best when slightly heated in hands first. Dry/delicate skin should use this 1-2 times a week as too much exfoliation can be counter productive and reveal thin/crepy skin. I’ll provide a more in-depth review comparing the two soon.

YÜLI M.E. Skin FuelSpring is a season of change, meaning skin may be in flux. This face oil from YÜLI is incredibly high quality being made on site from really incredible ingredients that are beneficial for problematic or compromised skin – black cumin, broccoli seed, sea buckthorn, red raspberry, prickly pear and the formula is focused on balancing and optimizing skin. Deemed a multivitamin for skin and topped with a refined fragrant jasmine note, few will find anything to complain about with this versatile oil.

Pro-tip: Apply to skin that is dewy. Oily and acne prone skins can actually put this anti-inflammatory oil on breakouts to speed up healing. Red/irritated/sensitive skins will like this gentle formula as it contains actual anti-irritant extracts. Use the press/pull technique for maximum absorption.

Kari Gran Lip WhipAvailable in a variety of colors, the naked Lip Whip is a beautifully packaged, green lip balm that gives a viable option for us girls looking for an alternative from the Rodin and Omorovicza balms. The buttery texture is melt on your lips soft while providing a solid base to apply lip stains (or just opt for one of their lip tints). Wonderful to heal chapped lips from chronic winter dryness for supple Spring kissers.

Pro-tip: layer under or dab and mix with heavily pigmented lip products (i.e. W3ll People, RMS, etc) to create a natural, moisturizing tint.

Sunday Riley Good Genes: Good Genes perhaps has Sunday Riley’s biggest cult following, any IT girl from Emily Weiss of Into The Gloss to Alexandra Pakzad will swear by this stuff. Good Genes Treatment is a multitasking lactic acid lotion that is perfect for Spring Cleaning skin. The lactic acid is pretty strong at first (with a very acidic 2.4 pH) and helps to brighten dull, tired winter skin. The first time I used it, my skin felt the tingle and once the sensation subsided, it appeared that all the trapped sebum from winter were released onto my skin as I looked absolutely shiny (TMI?)

Pro-tip: As lactic acid is an AHA, do not layer with oils or actives that can be easily broken down such as Vitamin C and Retinol. Use as either a 20 minute mask (2-3 full pumps) or alone in the evening with an inactive moisturizer.

Kate Somerville Cytocell Eye CreamMy eyes are SENSITIVE. Origins/REN eye products make it red, oils always end up in my eyes and many of the luxury (non-natural) products can really irritate my eyes so when I find one that works, I stick with it, especially through Spring when pollen and allergens are at an all time high. This eye cream from Kate Somerville has been on my wish list for years before I could afford to spend $75 on an eye cream. The ingredients include Vitamin C, a milk peptide complex and Peptide P-199 that renews skin. It relieves, soothes and gives me confidence that somehow my eyes look awake even if I am not.

Pro-tip: Stock in the fridge for added cooling benefits which helps with dark circles and firming. This cream glides onto skin so it can also be used as an eye make-up primer.

YÜLI Halcyon: This cleanser is an all time favorite and is in the Spring Beauty Edit because 1) with a flower water base, it smells like spring in a bottle 2) Spring is the best season for bare skin and this cleanser is perfect for that quick, one-step cleanse to keep skin beautiful. Every wash leaves my skin naked but never stripped just super comfortable and plush.

Pro-tip: The most luxurious cleanse I’ve had was by wetting skin with rose-water or face mist first before applying 3 full pumps of Halcyon and massaging skin. I do this every Sunday and my skin is baby soft, glowing, and pampered afterward. This gel cleanser is also superb when mixed with powder-to-cream masks.

In Fiore Encens Vetivert Body Oil: Unfortunately not yet in stock from In Fiore, this seasonal body oil is one I am well and truly obsessed over. The body oil comes out in a green hue due to the grapeseed oil base and sinks into skin beautifully that it can be applied to dry or wet skin. In Fiore’s scents are phenomenal and their body oils almost double as perfume oils, each transporting the wearer. This one is perhaps my favorite: Vetiver, Neroli, Jasmine, Mandarin all shine. It’s a floral heaven with some edge due to the grassey Vetiver note.

Pro-tip: Apply as a hair oil and do a weekly scalp massage with this oil. Not only do I find it beneficial for my hair and scalp, but it helps keep the scent ruminating all around.

What products have you put on the back burner and what are your staples for Spring? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!

The $10 Green Shampoo – Available Everywhere

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It’s no secret that when it comes to beauty, “budget” is not a word in my vocabulary. Then a couple of things happened: I ran out of my stash of Rahua Shampoos, I was in dire need of a new shampoo & I was at Target. Enter, Acure.

If you haven’t heard of this brand by now, Acure is everywhere: Whole Foods, Target, Vitacost, etc. After giving so many high end lines a try: Rahua, Intelligent Nutrients, Josh Rosebrook, Yarok – I decided why not give Acure a try? And am I glad that I stepped out of my “luxury” only mind frame.

Clarify – Repair – Volume are the three shampoos offered by Acure to address the main needs of customers: clarify for oilier hair, repair for dry/damaged hair, and volume for thin/weak hair. All formulas use natural and organic ingredients, green enough for most green beauty retailers yet at the very easy to handle – $9.99 price point for 8 fl oz (the 24 oz larger size is even better as a deal at $19.99).

Unlike other ‘budget friendly’ lines that tend to use low quality ingredients or only 1-5 ingredients, Acure uses a lot of certified organic ingredients and the typical ingredients list is quite packed with good ingredients like argan + echinacea plant stem cells, organic plant oils (like avocado, coconut, rosehips etc), CoQ10, quinoa, and essential oils like lemongrass, eucalyptus, and lavender. I really was quite impressed at how all these ingredients could be crammed into their price point.

Results Although the shampoos are meant to address different hair types, my dermatologist once told me to think of hair in the same way as we think about skin – an ever changing system where the needs are also changing. Therefore I use all three: clarify for days where I’ve worked out, repair throughout dry, winter days and volume when my hair just feels a little limp, lifeless and flat. I didn’t notice too much different between the three shampoos in terms of how my hair and scalp reacted but that may largely be due to the fact that I use them interchangeably.

The results at first didn’t “wow” me given how impressive the ingredients list is however after about 3 months of use, I realized that they held up and in some cases outperformed higher end green shampoos that I had previously used. My hair felt sufficiently clean, not stripped and my scalp is fairly happy with this system. I was not left yearning to go back to the more expensive brands which in itself is quite a testimonial to the value of these shampoos.

My favorite if I had to pick just one, would be the Volume Shampoo which results wise was like a middle-ground between Clarify and Repair, and smelled the loveliest with peppermint and rosemary. Given the price though, purchasing all 3 wouldn’t be all that outrageous considering that it is still lower priced than a single bottle of a higher end shampoo.

ACURE is widely available, you can try them at your local Whole Foods/Target. I’ve purchased from their website as well and you can check out their extensive hair products collection here.

My Journey into Korean Beauty, An Education

Recently I’ve been swept into the K-Beauty trend or Korean Beauty trend. “Is this were you use a gajillion products in your routine?”/ “Isn’t that the same trend that’s pushing snail slime?” You ask? To which I say – yes, all true. The Korean Beauty trend has gained a lot of attention from the now ubiquitous serial-killer looking sheet masks seen all over Instagram to the focus on a disciplined, multiple product regimen.

I decided to explore this trend more in depth because I wanted to see for myself where the truth stood between hype and results. Would using such uncommon ingredients be more beneficial? Is the multiple product approach better than one that is streamlined?

It was a little daunting at first when hearing about 10-step routines and just the categories (cleansers, toners, essences, serums, pressed serums, oils, ampules, moisturizers, sheet masks, rubber masks, splash masks – OH MY!) alone are enough to intimidate any beginner or novice. I enlisted the help of natural K-beauty purveyor Glow Recipe which provides handy , informative guides and insights on latest trends as well as Sokoglam‘s Charlotte Cho who is a wonderful source for all things K-Beauty.

It was through watching their videos, reaching out on Instagram and a couple of e-mails back and forth that I was able to form my insights which is that like any beauty regimen, the Korean Beauty regimen is all about what works for you. For the most part, the reason for so many steps is because the K-Beauty philosophy is comprehensive rather than tedious and purposefully overwhelming. After researching the products and categories, I believe it’s really important to think about everything holistically in terms of how products will interact with each other and what they bring to the table independently.

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One of the first things I noticed was that despite those uniquely out-there ingredients, most of the ingredients list tend to be fairly common and not that different from what one might easily find in a Sephora store. Take for example the snail goo sleeping mask from Missha (Cell Renew Snail Sleeping Mask) shown above. Sounds pretty cool right? The actual product is really just a rich creamy lotion, no hint of goo but an abundance of synthetic fragrance. In my experience, there wasn’t anything that distinguished it from other moisturizers despite being called a sleeping mask. I suppose in this regard overnight moisturizers might as well all be called sleeping masks and day time moisturizers, activity masks?

What I did gravitate toward was Glow Recipe, a site where products are really celebrated from being uniquely different. While the brand curates “natural” offerings, the green beauties out there may notice some iffy ingredients such as PEG’s but in general I didn’t see too many bad ingredients. Think of this purveyor as carrying brands akin to Origins, REN, Grown Alchemist, where they’re not entirely ‘green’ but a daliance isn’t going to be ideology shattering either. I love how enthusiastic the ladies at Glow Recipe are with sharing their latest finds in which each product is given a chance to shine – their latest discovery is the Aqua Peel which is an acid treatment applied through a soaked over sized Q-Tip, pretty cool right?

With Glow Recipe, I found that the Whamisa line really spoke to me and I purchased their Organic Flowers Toner [Deep Rich] which is described as a bouncy essence like hydrating step and Organic Flowers Facial Oil which I purchased purely to see how Korean oils may differ from ones we purchase here. The Organic Flowers Facial Oil reminded me of the Acure Oil in terms of packaging and was noticeably light and quick absorbing. As a fan of face oils and being spoiled by brands like Odacite and Yuli that just can’t be beat when it comes to freshness, nothing about the Whamisa Oil stood out to me per se although it proved competent as a night time oil (it contains citrus oils which automatically classes it as an evening only product for me).

Still, the toner immediately found its way into my routine, nestled between cleansing and a fine botanical mist. I found the emollient texture to add a certain bit of moisture cushion which is much welcomed during the winter. I also like that it relies on Aloe Vera, botanical extracts and natural fermentation which is something we see in green beauty as well.

In fact, I recognized that a lot of things that worked for me with Korean Beauty also worked in line with green beauty from the reliance of high quality ingredients, plant based actives and designing a comprehensive system focused upon individual skin conditions. I was able to take the teachings of K-Beauty and apply it to my fairly green top shelf:

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My evening K-Beauty inspired Green routine starts with double cleansing. In Korea and Japan, women believe that to take off the layers of the day requires a multi-step process starting with the make-up, sunscreen and water-proof products. This is usually an oil based cleanser and in my case on light days, I use an oil-based cream cleanser like In Fiore’s Treate. After the surface is cleared, it’s time to really cleanse and freshen the skin and Korean beauty usually incorporates a light foaming, pH balanced cleanser that is usually SLS and alcohol free. Of course, for this step I use my beloved Yuli Halcyon Cleanser, which I find to use much higher quality and advanced ingredients – I really do consider it to be THE gift to us green beauty fans.

Now that skin is bare and fresh, I acid tone with First Aid Beauty’s Radiance Pads to give a gentle resurfacing which only helps skin absorb more moisture to follow. This is the most gentle acid toner I’ve used and it was recommended by a reader (thank you!). Next I use 3 drop-fuls of Whamisa’s Organic Flowers Toner and press into my skin in upward circular motions. This gives my skin a good moisture base to build from. Then I follow with Tatcha’s Luminous Deep Hydration Serum to really amp up the hydration factor with hyaluronic acid and Okinawa red algae which is very deeply moisturizing as the name suggests and gives skin some bounce. Next, with my skin loaded up from the water, glycerin, hydrating actives and hyaluronic acid, I mist it with MUN’s No.11 Rejuvenating Rose toner which is based on water and rose water (which the aforementioned actives will bind to skin) and also contains hyaluronic acid. In Korean Beauty, this is the pressed oil/ampoule stage so I press 1.5 to 2 pumps of Yuli’s Liquid Courage antioxidant serum to my skin as it is the most concentrated product and I want to give time for my skin to absorb all of the good stuff. Liquid Courage itself contains a unique ingredient in the form of a bio-ferment of black garlic which kicks up the antioxidant capacity, and don’t worry I can confirm that there is no unpleasant garlic odor, only a soft neroli fragrance. With serums, I allow one to two minutes for it to absorb before continuing.

During this time I diligently apply my Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum which is one of my favorite as it contains peptides, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid as well. I do a dot on each ring finger and dab across my under eye. This Eye Serum relieves that bit of tightness that I sometimes feel and sinks in quickly. I press any leftover product to my smile lines and around my lips.

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As the final step I use Tatcha’s Soothing Triple Recovery Cream which locks in all that hydration and itself is formulated with the highest concentration of colloidal oatmeal which is a very powerful anti-inflammatory. This anti-aging moisturizer also contains Indigo extract and is based on water and olive based squalane. The Soothing Triple Recovery Cream also does not contain essential oils and coupled with the colloidal oatmeal has won the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

So while I know this might look like a lot immediately, once each step is broken down everything starts making sense in their place. So what began as an exploration of a new trend really just showed me that it was a different take on the tried and true: do what works for you! I’ll likely continue to incorporate some things from Korean beauty because they’re quite playful and out of the box with product ideas and a lot of things actually work very well, however I’ve come away with a deeper appreciation for high quality ingredients that us green beauty fans have treasured all along.

Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser

 

IMG_0447Tata Harper has been on a kick with releasing new products! When the Purifying Cleanser was announced, I immediately added it to my list of products to purchase. Her line already had two cleansers: Refreshing and Regenerating. I found both to be too waxy which led to build up in my pores that I never had with a cleanser before so when the Purifying Cleanser came out – I had high hopes for a slam dunk.

The Purifying Cleanser is targeted for those of us who have acne prone and oilier skin. I’ve seen on Periscope that Melissa, the owner of Citrine Beauty who describes her skin as on the drier side, only uses this cleanser as a once a week power clean.

I played with a tester in store at Neiman Marcus and immediately recalled the classic Tata Harper aroma that I love, although the herbal fragrance has a decided stronger citrus aroma here. I noticed that upon wetting, the cream-gel textured cleanser emulsified and washed off, which gave me high hopes that this would finally be the Tata Harper cleanser that would work for me so I immediately bought a bottle home.

Here’s all the information gleaned from the product description:


What it is:

A hydrating cleanser that combats the daily wear and tear of environmental exposure and pollution by effectively clearing pores of excess oil, dead skin, and buildup.

What it is formulated to do:
A powerfully purifying cocktail of sugars, broccoli extract, and fruit enzymes thoroughly cleanses the skin and refines the appearance of pores. While maintaining the skin’s moisture balance, an invigorating blend of essential oils helps flush away impurities for a deeply refreshed look and feel. This soap-free cleanser has a cooling effect on the skin and helps to combat the appearance of oiliness. When emulsified with cool water, foaming sugars create a micro foam that further detoxifies the skin.

The formulation is powered by 10 high-performance ingredients, including purple clay, which supports natural cell renewal and protects against absorption of impurities; sugar based surfactants, which provide topical cleansing without stripping the skin of hydration; broccoli extract and bioflavanoids, which provide a long-lasting cleansing effect and decrease visible shine on the skin’s surface; and essential oils from clove, fennel, and ginger, which help flush away surface impurities.

Ingredients
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Capric/Caprylic/Triglycerides, Water, Glycerine, Propanediol, Glyceryl undecylenate, Aroma, Sucrose Stearate, Decyl Glucoside, Oryza sativa (Rice) Extract, Glyceryl Caprylate, Lactobacillus/Punica granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Papain, Curcuma Zedoaria Root Oil, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Sucrose Palmitate, Zingiber Officinale Root Oil, Salix alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Eugenia Caryophyllus Flower Oil, Sucrose Laurate, Abies PectinateLeaf Oil, Foeniculum Vulgare Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extracts, Kaolin, Bioflavanoids, Leuconostoc ferment filtrate, Montmorillonite, Mica, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Extract, Superoxide Dismutase, Soybean Peroxidase, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene.

The keyword to note here is that despite being called the purifying cleanser, Tata Harper would still like it to be noted that this is a hydrating cleanser. There does appear to be quite a bit of an oil dominated base here that I didn’t fully realize until I read the ingredients list closely when I got home.

What all this means is that the cleanser kind of worked like a gel-to-oil cleanser for me. I was let down because I imagined a gel cleanser like Ren or Grown Alchemist (see Cleansing Game Changers), or the green gel cleansing champion Yuli Halcyon. It dispenses as a rather pleasant and rich gel which can be applied to dry or wet skin. Once it’s moved around, it breaks down into almost an oil texture. Now this doesn’t mean it’s a bad cleanser, but rather I just don’t see the point of adding this to two already very similar cleansers in the line, not to mention a nourishing oil cleanser released at the same time that is a straight forward oil cleanser.

I read that Caroline Hiron’s compared this to Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip which makes me think either we got completely different products or there’s a reformulation in one of the two products because the truth is that Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip was a strong, foaming cleanser that dried out my skin if I used it more than 3 times consecutively while Tata Harper’s Purifying Cleanser is what I have reluctantly relegated to a 1st cleanse. They’re both dispensed as gels that you can massage but the breakdown and reaction with water is completely different.

I think this is a decent product in the sense that it feels luxurious and pleasurable however I just don’t feel Tata Harper has truly provided a standalone cleanser separate from the Refreshing Cleanser and that the moniker of “purifying” is a misnomer for this product. In fact, after washing with this I never felt that my skin was clean so I reserve it for when its really dry and I don’t have a lot of makeup if I want to use it alone or most of the time I’ll use it as the first part of double cleansing.

For those with oily or acne prone skin I might recommend this in place of an oil or balm for the first cleanse but not as a solo cleanser. The price is $58 for 4.1 oz which is not too bad but you do need quite a bit of product for each use since the gel disperses into an oil. If used daily, I imagine a bottle lasting me between 30 and 50 days so in that sense, it may not be as economic. If you use the Refreshing Cleanser and just want it to be slightly better at washing (it’s also about $20 cheaper than the Refreshing Cleanser for the same amount) or if you like oil/balm cleansers but want them to actually rinse off cleanly – this might actually work out well for you.

Purchase from:
Neiman Marcus
Sephora

*Strangely this product is not available at time of writing from Tata Harper’s website.

The Review: African Botanics Marula Mineral Cleansing Mask

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When it comes to masks in the green beauty and luxury field, we’ve got it pretty good. There are a lot of options: powders that turn to creams, gels, clays, etc. African Botanics Marula Mineral Cleansing Mask is the latter, a ready-to-go clay mask reminiscent of the tube of Origins Clear Improvement Mask most of us may remember from high school/college days. Think of this as a luxury upgrade to the clay masks from yesteryears, a antioxidant-rich, nourishing clay mask that features pretty green ingredients.

I’ve been interested in the African Botanics line for a while and here’s why: they have pretty clean ingredients, they source many of their ingredients from South Africa (such as the Marula Oil) and they’re relatively under the radar yet have great presence at many of the upscale boutiques such as Space N.K., B-Glowing and CAP Beauty.

Here’s what this mask promises:

Clay-based treatment mask that deeply cleanses and refreshes fatigued skin while providing hydration, vitamins, and energy to your skin.
Replenishes skin with minerals rich in iron, zinc, magnesium and amino acids to boost circulation and stimulate cell renewal. The antioxidant and omega-rich fusion of Marula, Baobab and Africa’s legendary botanicals purify, clear congested pores, brighten, firm and smooth the skin. Enhanced with the latest plant stem cell technology, this mask deeply rejuvenates while addressing facial blemishes, breakouts, discoloration and oxidative stress. Resores a healthy glow without drying or leaving your skin feeling taut.
Skin Concerns:
• Congested
• Stressed skin
• Loss of firmness and youthful density
• Uneven skin tone and texture
• All Skin Types subjected to urban stress and city life

Pretty impressive right?

Here are the full ingredients:

AQUA (WATER), KAOLIN (WHITE CLAY), SCLEROCARYA BIRREA (MARULA) SEED OIL**, ADANSOANIA DIGITATA (BAOBAB) OIL**, PERSEA GRATISSIMA (AVOCADO) OIL, GLYCERIN, GLYCERYL STEARATE, SODIUM LEVULINATE, SODIUM ANISATE, CETYL ALCOHOL, MYROTHAMNUS FLABELLIFOLIUS (RESURRECTION PLANT) EXTRACT, ASPARLATHUS LINEARIS (ROOIBOS) EXTRACT, SMITHSONITE EXTRACT, HEMATITE EXTRACT, RHODODENDRON FERRUGINEUM (ALPINE ROSE) LEAF CELL CULTURE EXTRACT, ROSA DAMACENA (ROSE) ESSENTIAL OIL, PELARGONIUM GRAVEOLENS ROSEUM (ROSE GERANIUM) ESSENTIAL OIL, CITRUS CLEMENTINA (CLEMENTINE) PEEL OIL, ISOMALT, LECITHIN, SODIUM BENZOATE, LACTIC ACID, GLYCERYL CAPRYLATE, TOCOPERHOL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), MAGNESIUM ALUMINUM SILICATE, XANTHAN GUM, DISODIUM EDTA, DEHYDROACETIC ACID, BENZYL ALCOHOL, IRON OXIDES, CITRAL*, CITRONELLOL*, EUGENOL*, GERANIOL*, LIMONENE*, LINALOOL, *METHYL EUGENOL*, NERAL* MAY CONTAIN ± [CI 77499] *CONSTITUENTS OF 100% NATURAL ESSENTIAL OILS USED. **CERTIFIED ORGANIC INGREDIENTS. 100% VEGAN. GLUTEN-FREE. FORMULATED WITHOUT MINERAL OIL, TOXIC PRESERVATIVES, COLORANTS, SILICONE, SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES, SULFATES, TRICLOSAN, PARABENS, PEGS, PPGS, DEA, TEA, UREA OR PHTHALATES.

What I like is that white clay which is purifying and drawing is balanced with rich plant oils from Marula, Baobab, Acocado which all are renowned as superb oils that keep skin plumped. There is also Alpine Rose Leaf cell culture extract which supposedly increases cell longevity, and lactic acid which exfoliates and plumps skin.

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Essentially this mask promises the purifying properties of a clay with the anti-aging properties of what they can ‘essential’ extracts or plant oils that balance out the drawing properties of clay allowing the mask to remain rather soft, applying as a paste and staying consistent throughout.

My Experience

Right off the bat, I loved the little, subtleties from the way the box opened to the mirrored cap on the frosted glass. It reminds me a lot of the Omorovicza Thermal Balm in terms of appearance.

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Once you open the jar, you’ll notice a natural scent of clays mixed with citrus which is a good balancing act. The texture of the clay mask is substantial yet also light enough to easily scoop. I’d compare it to a light, fluffy peanut butter. It also spreads pretty easily and evenly on skin which makes application a breeze. Due to the presence of oils, this mask will also not harden too much during application which is great for keeping moisture in your skin.

I find that if I apply too much around my laugh lines, there is a tingle sensation that can feel a little unpleasant but that’s my own skin sensitivity that tends to happen with a significant number of products. I leave this mask on for the recommended 5-15 minutes (usually going for 15 minutes to get my money’s worth) and wash off as a cleanser which supposedly also helps to exfoliate skin. The wash off is quite simple and the mask removes fairly easily without the need for excess scrubbing.

What I like about this mask is how easy and simple it is to use. No self-mixing (which is great for when you have time and want to fine tune, but sometimes you just want to get a quick mask session in- feelme?? ), soft texture so no tugging at skin for uneven application, and easy to rinse off.

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In terms of results, I felt that this was a very useful and convenient mask. Despite initial tingling which is normal for me, it’s actually very gentle overall especially for a clay based product which makes it good for those with sensitive skin. In full honesty, I’m not sure if this mask did anything to address the anti-aging claims such as increasing firmness or density, though I wouldn’t rely on this mask as the primary source of my anti-aging skincare needs anyway. With that said I did find the clays to be quite resourceful at tackling congestion in a non-irritating manner and thereby also taking care of my skin when stressed (which tends to manifest in excess oil production and slow turnover). Those with more problematic skin might want to apply a hearty layer and leave the mask on for longer than the recommended 15 minute allotment.

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At $75 for 1.7 fl oz, this is pricey especially as it is ready made which tends to run out quicker. This mask can be used 2-3 times per week and while I’ve only stuck to using it once per week, I would imagine increasing usage would make it run out easily within 2 months. The closest mask similar to this would be the Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask which is also a ready-made clay mask that retails for $62 for the same amount of product. Because I enjoy these masks for their dual use: clays to draw out and oils to nourish principal, I always keep one stocked for when my skin needs something quick yet gentle.

This mask can be purchased at the following locations:
African Botanics 
CREDO Beauty
Space N.K.

Have you tried anything from this line? Any good clay masks you keep in your top shelf? Leave a note in the comments section!

Navigating the Sunday Riley Serums

The past few months, I’ve kind of been on a Sunday Riley kick. After all, I have always been a fan of the lines beautiful presentation from the frosted glass bottles to the golden design touches.

Perusing the entire line, I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed with all the information for what all the products did that I kind of didn’t know which was actually the right product for me. This is common for brands that have multiple items in one category. With Sunday Riley, I ended up indulging my inner beauty junkie and exploring the differences between her anti-aging serums: Luna, Good Genes, Bionic (this was even more confusing when her Skin Adrenaline was on the market).

Use the following as a cheat sheet when picking your anti-aging power house from this line:

Luna

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Luna is essentially a face oil that is infused with retinol. This is to say, it’s not going to be a cream/gel type of serum but rather a very, very strong oil. As a retinol product, you’ll be limited to using this as a night time product. Also if you do not want a retinol product, it’s very simple: just steer clear of this one and go for one of the others.

The lightest of the three, this is applied first if you want to combine the products. If you want to add this with one of the other products, I think Bionic should be your pick and you’ll see why shortly.

For a full review of Luna, please check out this earlier post.

Good Genes

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Good Genes has perhaps the most exposure compared to the other two. Emily Weiss of Into The Gloss says it literally gave her skin the confidence of having ‘good genes’ in the old school days before she turned her eye from high-end brands to cater to her new image as queen of the new-age mass market millennials.

I think it’s easy to get swept up in the messaging of Good Genes – the light cream is sold as a treatment that can be used as mask and it is said to deliver brightening, multitasking that reveals newer, younger skin, smoother complexion, restoration from damaged skin, reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, and increased firmness. Unlike Bionic, Good Genes is a ‘corrective’ treatment which may make some think it is more active.

After purchasing these products what I realized is that Good Genes is essentially a lactic acid based exfoliation product. When skin is exfoliated technically all the above claims are true. Now – as a lactic acid exfoliating serum, it probably doesn’t get any more luxurious than this, however I don’t want you to be misled into thinking there is that much more in terms of ingredients that back up the claims.

Due to this, I tend to use Good Genes either as a Sunday mask to clear out pores and exfoliate or I use it once a week (twice if it is summer) as an overnight treatment without any of the other two products.

Similar Products:
Kypris Moonlight Catalyst
Kate Somerville – Exfoliate
REN Wake Up Wonderful Night Time Facial

Bionic

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Bionic has comparatively less press than the aforementioned products. This doesn’t mean it is one to overlook. Bionic is actually the only product out of the three that is in the “Anti-Aging” category on the Sunday Riley website.

Think of this orange cream as a moisturizer suped up with anti-aging ingredients like peptides and antioxidants. This has a roster of ingredients ranging from the buzzy resveratrol and copper peptide to the mainstays like CoQ10.

In terms of results, I don’t think it’ll give the quick results one might see from Luna or Good Genes which are ‘corrective’ products but if you’re looking for that daily moisturizer that keeps skin looking young which I think most people are when they say they’re looking for an anti-aging cream, this is the one.

* I know some retailers are carrying Skin Adrenaline but did not include it in this round up as it is no longer produced by Sunday Riley. But for those of you who are interested, Skin Adrenaline is essentially the anti-aging moisturizer option for normal-to-oily skin while Bionic is stronger as a moisturizer for normal-to-dry skin. For what it’s worth I was able to use both products without breaking out but my personal preference is actually Skin Adrenaline. 

Similar Products:
Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum
Omorovicza Radiance Renewal Serum
Ren Keep Young & Beautiful Firming & Smoothing Serum

This is just a quick breakdown and of course I made a lot of generalization in the spirit of giving a quickly digestible cheat sheet. In general, my view is that most people searching for an anti-aging product are in reality looking for products that have ingredients that help with skin aging whereas most brands’ answer this with products that take off layers of skin (retinol, acids, etc) and so I wanted to be helpful in this regard that the often overlapping messages between these products can be clarified by these sweeping distinctions:

Retinol – Luna
Exfoliating Acid – Good Genes
AntiAging Moisturizer – Bionic

*All Photos from the Sunday Riley Instagram Account

Where do you get your beauty scoop?

No More Dirty Looks recently asked – Who do you trust for Beauty Advice?

It was a post that Alexandra, one of the two original founders of the acclaimed site, originally wrote in 2012 when the landscape was much more different:

IntoTheGloss existed as a curated passion project that was almost a guilty pleasure of looking into the medicine cabinets of the 1%. Now it’s the Taylor Swift of beauty sites: a “welcome all” space that maintains a slight elitism that keeps your attention on their recommendations, running with an engine no longer driven by passion but by capitalism: ad space, endless published posts on sponsored material, click-baits and the “seemless” integration of Glossier into the lifestyle brand of Into The Gloss.

Beauty websites in between (i.e. Byrdie, Beautyhigh, etc) can feel like glorified Sephora e-mail blasts.

Bloggers who worked hard on their reviews all too often end up working with the very brands they write about or start their own ventures with an online store or another brand – always with the same story that honestly just elicits an eye roll at this point. And while I support fellow bloggers turning their presence into more opportunities, it is sad when said blogging goes away.

With the proliferation of social apps like Twitter and Instagram, it’s also disconcerting at times to see behind-the-scenes that the beauty blogger whose advice you trust is actually very cozy with some of the very brands that they write about. Regardless of how many times they write that nothing sways their reviews, seeing the blogger buddy up with the brands they write about doesn’t illicit a lot of confidence for a objective review.

As a blogging hobbyist myself, I can say that there are pressures to writing about beauty products. There is an unspoken relationship where talking a product up results in more support in the way of samples, increased views and promotions from the brand. On the other said, my sometimes out outspokenness has led me to being blocked from a handful of brands who either acted preemptively because they felt insecure or because my writing had offended them.

I think there was a blog post from a brand that I had never reviewed who indirectly called me a “nasty blogger who attacked people’s passions.” Which, fine – they’re allowed to feel however they want to feel, but that’s also something I want to speak about in the green beauty world. Because it is intrinsically such a tight knit community with founders of brands pretty much people sitting behind a computer and working out of their homes, it can feel personal but my own belief is that if you want to compete as a legitimate business, your products should be held to the same standard, so if I offend your “passion” by writing my honest observations, then maybe you aren’t cut out for the real world and neither are your products.

I recently reviewed May Lindstrom’s Honey Mud and provided my honest observations about it which drew a lot of comments from others who shared the same experience yet if we were to search online for reviews about this product – it would seem that my experience is the outlier. In fact No More Dirty Looks has told readers that if they experienced irritation with May Lindstrom’s Clean Dirt (an exfoliating scrub with spices that should NOT be used daily) to just pat it on really gently and rinse off – which is a disservice to the reader as you’re completely wasting your money just so they can be supportive of a friend’s beauty line.

At the end of the day, everyone can do what they want with their own forum however I just think it is misleading for the reader. I’m not advocating for cruel take downs of people’s passions but merely for there to be some level of honest discourse.

So dear readers, my question is as follows: where do you go for beauty information? How do you parse through the countless sources to figure out what to rely on and what to read with a grain of salt?

The Grown Up Blotting Paper: Tatcha ORIGINAL ABURATORIGAMI

Tatcha Blotting Paper

After recently attending multiple weddings over the past summer months, I’ve reverted back to my old high school ways of carrying a pack of blotting papers with me to remove the oily shine that I thought had been a thing of the past. Alas with high humidity, scorching temperatures, and receptions organized right under the toasty sun, I quickly nixed any notion that I was beyond a quick fix of a swipe from a blotting paper. Only – with age comes wisdom and gone are the days of the familiar Clean & Clear blue plastic-like sheets, and in comes a seriously sophisticated spin incorporating gold flakes.

Tatcha’s Original Aburatorigami comes in a 30 sheet pack. Each sheet is a beautiful square shape which just feels more elegant in the hand and the material is a natural leaflet rather than plastic or whatever material those Clean & Clear sheets are made from. Just reaching for these makes me feel like “I’m a lady touching up” rather than an “overly hormonal teenager struggling to keep it together.” The gold flakes also tell the world you’ve made it because not everyone is patting gold on their skin now are they?

Tatcha Blotting Papers

What’s really important though is that this all natural leaflet is actually a superior product, here’s why:

1. It doesn’t pull oil, it only soaks up the excess shine so your skin isn’t left to over compensate later with an even oilier complexion which is a serious issue I had with blotting papers in the past.

2. Does not move make-up since it is a really thin sheet, you don’t need to really apply too much pressure for it to work unlike other blotting papers that would have a weird magnet-like effect on some makeup.

3. Large sized sheets makes it ideal for reapplication.

Tatcha’s Original Aburatorigami sheets elevate the blotting paper game and add a bit of refinement to a process that often is not associated with being glamorous.

Available at:
Tatcha
Barney’s
Violet Grey

Anti-Aging Series: All Star Evening Routine

Anti Aging Trio

In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to share the beauty products that my mom and I both adore in turning back the hands of time and off setting the aging that occurs. While some may be uneasy with the usage of the term “anti-aging,” it is not a term that has ever bothered me. To me, ‘anti-aging’ really isn’t an age discriminatory word but rather a scientific word that indicates a delay or reversal in skin aging which is crucial for identifying suitable products. Therefore I use this word without judgement of broader social aspects that some may apply to it as I think the removal of this term ultimately just confuses the message as at the end of the day – these really are anti-aging products.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that two of the products featured are serums as these are the most concentrated and active skincare products which are needed to counter the effects of aging. There are many effective products but I chose a trio that features the key components in anti-aging skincare: exfoliation to turn over skin cells, retinol the most effective ingredient to turn back time and a gentle, light moisturizer that renews skin and counters dryness. Because of how active these products are, they’re great when used overnight rather than during the day which is better for protecting skin.

Anti Aging Trio

The first step of this anti-aging trio is Kypris Moonlight Catalyst, a wonderful exfoliator that reveals new skin through the use of pumpkin and peach enzymes that resurface skin. Kypris calls this a retinol alternative because it delivers the sloughing action that retinols provide only in a more gentle manner. Don’t worry about drying, this serum contains glucosides that are precursors to hyaluronic acid and sea algae that is known to help in moisture retention. The first few times I used it, I felt that slight tightness and had some skin peeling the next morning — which is a GOOD THING! It means the serum is doing it’s job!

I sometimes mix and sometimes just follow through with YULI Modern Alchemist. Most of the time I mix as I feel like it gets most of the actives in which is important because these two serums combined have so many actives. Whereas Kypris Moonlight Catalyst acts as a chemical exfoliator, YULI Modern Alchemist is a bio-retinol serum which contains a completely botanically sourced retinol complex that contains varied forms of biologically compatible Vitamin A that skin recognizes immediately and turns into retinol. This is important because it prevents many of the irritation commonly found in retinols, including increased vulnerability to sun damage. Besides retinols, this serum also has CoQ10 which hydrates, smoothes wrinkles and works with the retinols to even complexion. There is also a bio-fermented tamarind seed extract which in clinical studies is shown to be more effective than the gold standard hyaluronic acid in delivering hydration and boosting moisture retention.

So we have a super-serum made of an exfoliator and a retinol, your skin is getting quite a workout. I like to finish with Ren’s V-Cense Frankincense Revitalizing Night Cream which both adds to the power of the duo and provides some cushioning. Frankincense is the star ingredient here and it is known to rejuvenate and revitalize skin. I love this night cream because it complements the serums so well, the phytosterols work with the omega-lipid complex in YULI Modern Alchemist to restore skin’s lipid content which plumps and softens skin. The Vitamin C works with the enzymes in Kypris Moonlight Catalyst to boost cell turnover and tone skin. As a bonus, this night cream is very light and absorbs so quickly which means it won’t dilute your serums or just lay an ineffective coat over skin like some moisturizers can.

This power trio excels in promoting cell regeneration, restoring moisture and stimulating new cells which are the three main focal points of anti-aging skincare. This is why I always see results the next morning. No other combination gives my skin that almost botox like line-less skin with brightened glowing complexion like this – it is like a real life photoshop filter. I can’t speak enough good things about how effective this routine has been and how much of a workout its given my skin.

For starters, go light and ease up as all three products are powerful (I only use all 3 together about 2-3 times a week). Expect some tightness and maybe some flaking but once you get your skin adjusted, it really does become a total revitalizing treatment for skin.

Purchase the products in this story:
Kypris Moonlight Catalyst 
YULI Modern Alchemist
REN V-Cense Frankincense Revitalizing Night Cream

Full reviews of these products will come in the future. Have you used any of these products? What is your ultimate anti-aging routine?