The Samples: Round Up

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Clockwise: La Prairie White Caviar Illuminating Serum, Ahava Mineral Body Lotion, Juice Beauty Cleansing Milk, Murad Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20, Dr.Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel

La Prairie White Caviar Illuminating Serum: A serum to treat dark spots and uneven coloring. Key actives for anti-pigmentation include: golden caviar extracts, tomato fruit extract, larch tree extract, and white tea complex. I make it a point to call this out because La Prairie is one of the most scientifically advanced high-end skincare brands and many detractors of the ‘natural skincare’ movement say natural products aren’t ‘effective’ which just isn’t true as it’s the base of active ingredients in nearly ALL skincare.

This is a light serum that seems to have shiny glitter in there. I seriously thought I was going to have sparkly skin a la Twilight vampires when I first used this. Fortunately the serum disappears upon contact. At $450 for 1oz, I expected miracles, as should you. I was disappointed to see that the top 3 ingredients in this formula are water, glycerin, and alcohol, followed by silicones. This is kind of the typical layout of ingredients you’ll see in many top-tier ‘premium’ brands in department stores. I wish that good ingredients like their active form of Vitamin C could be more concentrated as that seems to be the key method they’re using to lighten skin pigmentation. So as expected this serum is beautiful to look at but unfortunately didn’t really deliver long-term benefits.

Ahava Mineral Body Lotion: I am really enjoying this body lotion. At $24 for 8.5oz, there is a lot to like in this simple, but well made cream. The scent is lovely as is the texture, this is the kind of stuff clinical trials are made for as every sense is pleased with this lotion. The actual results are very typical and will be similar to what you’ll find in products that are cheaper and more expensive as the ingredients are very traditional: Water, Alcohol, Emulsifiers, etc. The good ingredients like Aloe Vera and Witch Hazel are in the middle of the pack, but I’d like to see them higher as I think it might make this mix more hydrating, soothing, and skin softening as it’s actual results now leave it in the “typical” range.

Juice Beauty Cleansing MilkSo first impressions – Tata-freaking-Harper! This formula reminded me so much of Tata Harper’s Refreshing Cleanser, from the texture to the scent to the way the product glides on the skin – I’m convinced that if I did a blind test study, few people could tell the difference if they’ve used neither products before. If you’re a fan of Tata Harper’s cleanser, you should jump for joy as this can be had for just $22 for 6.75oz! Unfortunately for me, this just felt so heavy on my skin like I was coating it in moisturizer instead of cleansing my face. In fact the first time I used it, I felt like I hadn’t washed my face the entire day afterward and by the time I came home at the end of the day I had 3 pre-acne bumps on my forehead. Not a fit for me.

Murad Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20In the spirit of being helpful, I decided to review this, otherwise I’d just leave a big resounding “ugh no.” This is called a light-weight acne moisturizer and I guess if you include Tea Tree Oil to your product, you can justify it. But the entire formula is laden with alcohol which ages and stripes skin (causing more oil production that leads to acne) and silicones which clog skin. Yes the texture is light, but you’d expect that from all the chemicals. The SPF power is only at 20, which is surprising considering all the sunscreen power comes from chemicals, so one would think they would at least bump this up to a SPF 30 to truly be of any use for daytime wear. Also, this contains retinyl palmitate which is the form of Vitamin A that dermatologists are advising should not be used in sunscreens. Overall, everything wrong with chemical sunscreens can be found in this product. 

Dr.Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel: I like Dr. Saul Alkaitis, his products are priced fairly (although the cremes are on the high side for his line), and I like his philosophy that his products intuitively respond to individual skin type so his products are not sold by skin type. However this also makes buying things like choosing between his 4 masks extremely difficult as you have to look for indicator words to figure out what would be best for your skin. I digress, the Organic Soothing Gel earned a steady reputation in Spirit Beauty Lounge as a lightweight gel moisturizer that is really good for acne prone skin because of its anti-bacterial properties. 

The scent of the gel is similar to his line, herbal, strong, but not something you’d think was bad. The texture in my sample was a bit inconsistent, can anyone confirm if this product is supposed to be shaken first? The product came as very fluid at first and as I used more, it became more gel like and darker in color. So something was going on there. Unlike a lot of natural skincare products, there is an obvious amount of alcohol in this gel. It’s derived from organically grown grapes so it’s better than the typical alcohol that is used, but I wonder if a lower concentration would be possible. 

There are great ingredients to counter acne such as witch hazel, lavender, & fennel, but while I think it helped rather than hindered breakouts, I can’t say I would count on this for serious breakouts or to dramatically reduce flareups. Nonetheless, I would consider purchasing this as a light moisturizer that has additional benefits in discouraging acne, despite my reservations over it’s alcohol content and effectiveness in tackling breakouts.

My Current Routine: The Regulars

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I know this has been a long time coming, but getting my skincare routine down isn’t that easy because: 1. I rotate so much, for instance, I go between 3 cleansers every week (exfoliating, foaming, & daily) and I go between 3 moisturizers based on the level of hydration I need and how they layer with other products 2. I am constantly sampling new products. Due to my job, I have a lot of samples at my disposal, some I write about, some I don’t (obviously not clean brands like La Prairie, La Mer, etc.) – so I generally use those products to take care of the “nonessential” skincare products. 

Due to these factors, consider this… not my definitive routine, for example I’ve been using the Arcona Toner mainly just to finish it up, I don’t really think I’ll rebuy it again, and my cleanser is still in heavy rotation, and this list doesn’t even cover the facial oils I play with. Without further explanation, here is my current routine which is subject to change at a moments notice

Arcona Cranberry Toner: This is my pre-cleanser product since the Intelligent Nutrients Cleanser doesn’t really remove a lot. I apply 2-3 pumps of this to a cotton pad and remove “the day” from my face. I don’t use this in the morning and when I do use this at night, I follow up immediately with the cleanser because I’m kind of convinced the EO’s and fragrances in here are going to be irritating to my skin if I leave them on for long. Be sure you wash this off your skin because there are foaming agents and alcohols in here that are not good when left on skin for a long time, that is why I use it right before I hop into the shower with my cleanser. The scent is also something you’ll love or hate as it has staying power – I found it ok but a bit much. Another alternative I’ve been substituting is pure Jojoba Oil, but that is more like an oil-cleanse that the Intelligent Nutrients cleanser cannot “eat” through – so I reserve it as a once a week ritual.

Intelligent Nutrients Anti-Aging Cleanser: I find that in the winter, I do not need cleansers that “remove everything” because my skin tends to feel stripped afterward, leading it to over-produce sebum. I’ve been using this cleanser because it is actually more like a lotion that you apply to your skin. It doesn’t strip skin at all, in fact there is no foaming action at all, only the feeling of the cream sliding through skin. Before you ask when a cleanser would have anti-aging benefits since it is only on your skin for such as short amount of time, let me explain: what it lacks as a actual ‘cleansing’ agent, it makes up for in the nutrients department. This feels more like a skin conditioner than a real cleanser because most of what I rub around my skin isn’t even washed off, it seems to be absorbed by skin! You know when you massage a cleanser into skin and give it a while to do its work sometimes? If you do that with this, I’d say about 60%-80% of the product will be absorbed by skin. For ordinary cleansers that are loaded with foaming agents, emulsifiers, alcohols, etc. this may be a problem but the natural, mostly organic ingredients in this cleanser will only make skin better. I really like the wonderfully healthy ingredients list that boasts food-grade ingredients such as Apple Juice, Pumpkin Oil, & Cranberry Oil. 

I don’t think this is a good product it you’re really looking to remove a lot of make-up or grime/oil from your face, but it is wonderful for low-maintenance dry skin or winter skin that doesn’t need another round of detergents. As a bonus the plant oils in here leave skin glowing without creating congestion. For those of you with oily or congested skin, I actually recommend this cleanser over a lot of other cleansers (even those that may foam) because this is not formulated with any waxes so it is a lot lighter on your pores.

YULI Panacea Elixir: A staple product. I apply this LIBERALLY all over my face right when I get out of the shower to maximize absorption while my pores are most receptive. This is a toner/mist that is designed to treat and hydrate all skin types but particularly those who may have combination skin. The scent is heavenly and addictive, I can’t quite describe it yet except that its so fresh and delightful.I think part of the reason why their products smell so spectacular despite not using EO’s or fragrances, is that everything is made fresh and so pure in batches on their own farm+lab, the quality of ingredients is unsurpassed – just follow their twitter to see pictures they post of the vibrant biodynamic farm they work from! The formula is so pure and made of organic and wild-crafted ingredients including hydrosols and flower waters. There is a lot of research into the nurturing and healing powers of flower waters and after using this elixir, I believe in it 100%. This uses ingredients that are so fresh that they are biologically active which is why they’re so effective at remedying all skin concerns. I noticed that when I stray away from this, my skin becomes oilier and more prone to breakouts. This is hands down, my favorite toner on the market and a regular purchase. Only complaint: MAKE BIGGER SIZES.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment: I haven’t really appreciated eye products in the past but this eye cream/gel hybrid from Juice Beauty is the first one that really agreed with my skin. It is the right balance: the texture is creamy but doesn’t make you feel like you smeared your eyes in a heavy paste and the product leaves a hydrating presence while still being fast-absorbing. I can say that although I don’t have many eye issues right now, I notice my eye area especially the undereyes where I have the hereditary dark eye circles, look more refreshed and rested when I use this. My eyes feel comfortable and rested, never feeling “streched” like how some products can make it feel. I attribute the results to a combination of the Vitamin C and Fruit Stem Cells and I believe the comfort and hydration can be attributed to the shea butter, aloe, and organic juices. This is also one of the only products that doesn’t sting or irritate my eye, which has been my experience with the majority of products on the market for eye cream ranging from Sunday Riley to vBeaute. 

I also like the lightweight cream texture because it applies very evenly and absorbs fast so it doesn’t “travel”. Lately I’ve been experimenting with an eye product from a natural beauty company that is a oil that you roll on and every time it gets into my eyes somehow and makes it sting & water. So there is something to be said for a well made cream/gel that can stay in place. 

Kahina Brightening Serum: I use this to justify all those times I leave the apartment thinking “I don’t need to wear that much make-up” because the brightening serum is kind of like my moisturizer + serum in one. The blend of shea butter, glycerin, argan, and hyaluronic acid in this makes it moisturizing especially after I apply this over the Panacea Elixir. I like the thought that not only is this moisturizing my skin but it is also correcting any possible discoloration. I don’t think I suffer from hyperpigmentation or discoloration, but I feel like we can all use products like these because ultimately the difference between photoshop and non-photoshop for a person with good skin is the tone and eveness, which is what this product addresses. So I like using this with the thought that “it’s making my skin look healthy”. It doesn’t hurt that the actual ingredients truly do make skin better, including white lily, seaweed, and algae extract. 

YULI Liquid Courage: This is their antioxidant serum which in the day provides protection from UV damage, environment (pollution, exposure), and fatigue, while in the night the antioxidants are at their most active in healing and repairing skin while we sleep. What I like most about this serum is that the key active is called the Botanical Antioxidant Seed Complex which uses pure botanical seeds that are known to contain the densest concentration of nutrients (Vitamins, minerals, Omegas, phytonutrients) and antioxidants. What makes it stand out are the supercharged ingredients like liquified Biofermented Black Garlic extract and chirally correct Ferulic Acid (derived from Acai and Argan) – their ingredients are truly outstanding and second to none. Working in beauty at a high-end dept store, I can say that these are ingredients that are ahead of the curve even compared to the $500 serums out there that use maybe a fraction of their ingredients. 

Ingredients aside, what makes this serum amazing is that each and every single time I use this, I notice it, especially the morning after I use it night. I had heard YULI say that they developed this product for their friends, professionals who traveled and were jetlagged but had to look like they had the perfect restful night on just 3 hours of sleep, and this definitely gives skin that perfected healthy glow. If you want to see results, use this at night, if you want protection and preventative benefits, use this during the day. I always wake up noticing how bright, smooth, and well cared for my skin looks. They truly are not joking when people say it gives the 8-hr sleep with perfect nutrition look even if you just went through a war. 

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Not Pictured:

Daytime:
Omorovicza Complexion Perfecting BB Cream SPF 20: The perfect daytime product, SPF 20 + Complexion perfect BB Cream benefits make this a versatile product that both protects from UV exposure (the SPF20 is fortified if you layer YULI’s Liquid Courage under to neutralize sun damage and free radicals). The cream is very light and will only enhance complexion without making face look made up. Expect very natural glow and minimal coverage. 

Nighttime:
Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum: Great for winter when skin needs more than a facial oil. I love to layer this on as a lotion since it is quite thick for my skin type to be considered an actual serum. The fact that it’s loaded with 29 active ingredients means this is possibly the most loaded anti-aging night time moisturizer I have used, since it was designed to be a serum. The hydration properties are “just right” for my skin, any more waxes and my pores will not like it. 

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment Review: Scientific Technology, Organic Innovation, Ultimate Results?

I hope everyone on the East Coast is keeping safe from Sandy! When I was young, hurricane days were oddly something I looked forward to – my parents would both be home and we would eat all those canned foods that we never usually ate, and sit in a room together with lit candles as we told stories. It was such a pleasant departure from the hustle of every day life. Today I got a break from school/work, and my boyfriend and I have spent all day watching a movie marathon (thank you Netflix!). I finally got some time to attend to my tumblr!

Lately I’ve been trying out more clean brands and Juice Beauty is one I always heard of but never really paid attention to. From a branding point of view, they’re definitely the less cool sister to other mainstream brands like Ren and Jurlique, but upon investigating their ingredient lists, I was surprised to see how much cleaner and more innovative they are than the aforementioned brands. They’ve reformulated most products to not use phenoxyethanol, and in general their products are just more natural. 

One product stood out to me, and that was the Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment. At $45 for .5 oz, it is right in line with similar offerings from Ren, Jurlique, and most other mid-high range lines. What made it stand out was that besides being clean, and natural, there was a clear focus on technology, namely, fruit stem cells.


The main active in this serum is a proprietary blend of fruit stem cells and fat soluble Vitamin C which are said to reduce damage and fight dark circles and fine lines around the eyes. The rest of the ingredients are grouped into antioxidant rich juices and plant oils which are hydrating and improve skin. My eyes don’t have many issues, which I am thankful for, but I do have the hereditary dark circles and want a product more for preventative purposes so this seemed perfect.

The full ingredients list is:
Juice Beauty proprietary blend of fruit stem cells: apple buds, grape buds & lemon bark. Ingredients: Organic juices of pyrus malus (organic apple juice)*, vitis vinifera (organic white grape juice)*, citrus medica limonum (organic lemon juice)*, aloe barbadensis (organic aloe leaf juice)*, vegetable glycerin, octyl palmitate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, glyceryl stearate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (Vitamin C), stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, malus sylvestris (apple buds), vitis vinifera (grape buds) & citrus limonum (lemon bark), organic plant oils of helianthus annuus (organic sunflower seed oil)*, butyrospermum parkii (organic shea butter)*, simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba seed oil)*, organic essential fatty acids of oenothera biennis (organic evening primrose oil)*, linum usitatissimum (organic linseed oil)*, borago officinalis (organic borage seed oil)*, xanthan gum, panthenol (Vitamin B5), allantoin, tocopherol (Vitamin E), sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, citrus aurantium (orange blossom) pure essential oils

Overall I thought it was fairly clean, although those with sensitivities to citrus oils and extracts may need to think twice since lemon bark stem cells, lemon bark extract, and lemon juice rank pretty high on the list. The list provides a lot of wonderful botanicals such as Jojoba seed oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Seed Oil, and the fruit juices. What will make the difference to a buyer between buying and not buying this product will ultimately be personal belief in the power of fruit stem cells. There are many scientists who say that stem cells only have power over similar cells, as such only animal stem cells can have any impact on our skin on a cellular level. 

Personally, I’ve seen decent results. Thanks to the rich plant oils and Organic shea butter, I felt like this product was very hydrating and made me under eye area feel moisturized and silky. Some products often dry out my under eye area which only makes the finest of lines even more pronounced, which I really do not like. I’m not sure if it is the magic of stem cells or the overall wonderful formulation but I do see some brightening in my skin. It could be due to the Vitamin C which is known to brighten skin but I’d like to believe that the stem cells made some difference. Overall, I felt this was a very comfortable eye serum that moisturized, didn’t sting, didn’t dry out, and didn’t make my eye feel “stretched” like how some firming eye treatments can do.

My only issue, ever so minor, is the applicator. At first I liked it since I read that our fingers can often be too rough or pull the sensitive skin under the eye area but this applicator was a little bit heavy handed since the serum deposits at the very top, so product often winds up in the lashes! I’ve since then learned to squeeze out beforehand and dab it onto my under eye area using my fingers, and then using the applicator to smooth it out. 

When it comes to natural eye products, what are your favorites? Have you had any experiences with botanical stem cells? Let me know!
 

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment ($45 from Juice Beauty)