Coola Face SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer

 

 

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As I was rationing out the final few pumps of my Sunday Riley Cashmere SPF 30, I complained to a few green beauty girlfriends about the lack of a luxury cleanly formulated sunscreen. I’ve tried brands from 100% Pure to Vive Sana, and while I would repurchase them, they have not managed to sway me from giving up the silkier less-clean sunscreens that I’ve come to love. That’s when I began hearing wonderful things about Coola, a company with a dedicated line of sunscreens for everyone: chemical, physical, face, body, sport, matte, mineral, spray, scented, unscented, etc. you name it, they have it! I noticed their cute packaging and fell in love with the literature of “organic suncare” (indeed 70% of the inactives in the formula are certified organic). As I read the ingredients lists, I was amazed that a company was using truly luxurious ingredients in a sunscreen which just isn’t that common. 

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Few sunscreens will pack in ingredients like Plankton Extract as well as beneficial skin oils that can rival a face oil such as Acai Fruit Oil and Evening Primrose Oil. Now I have to admit, this sunscreen does use silicones and chemical sunscreen but if that isn’t your cup of tea, you can buy a mineral/physical sunscreen from them as well.

After much debate, I selected the Cucumber Moisturizer for it’s silky texture, and non-streaky application. My skin didn’t need time to adjust to it, no breakouts or fussiness. The scent is light and delightful, not at all overwhelming or ‘artificial’, so I daresay even those who do not like scented products will find much to enjoy in this. The silky texture reminds me of a light moisturizing cream. The pump applicator is a very efficient way to dispense product and I usually apply 3-4 pumps for my face and neck. I use a little more than the average person because I don’t like to re-apply throughout the day.

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After extensive use, there are a few issues. This isn’t waterproof so sometimes the formula will slip especially during the hot and humid summer weather. This is forgivable, but I noticed that it irritated my eyes. So I do not wear this sunscreen if I know I’m going to workout. The other issue I have is that although this sunscreen is light and doesn’t leave a white cast, it immediately makes my skin shiny and add a layer of sheen. Oily isn’t how I would describe it, but it just doesn’t look clean. The moisturizing benefits aren’t that substantial where it should make my skin look like I obviously applied something. Thankfully they have both mattifying and waterproof options (though unfortunately none with the two features together). 

While I would not repurchase this moisturizer for the above reasons, I found my initial experience with Coola pleasant enough and with enough potential that I’m looking forward to trying one of the other options that might be a better fit for me. Have you had any experiences with Coola? Which of their sunscreens do you like?

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.

Tatcha: Beautiful Skin Revealed

Every once in a while, a beauty line comes along that makes me stop in my tracks. Nowadays, it seems everyone has a new line that promises to be different and this and that, so often the message can feel a little overwhelming. Not so with Tatcha, a brilliant line that has a beautiful message that is only equaled by their exquisite packaging (I have seriously never seen a line as detail oriented and focused to delivering a luxurious experience in their packaging).

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When was the last time a line just let you take a step back “enjoy the simplicity”? Tatcha is inspired by ancient Geisha beauty secrets, looking towards the past for the secrets to beautiful skin. The products use a proprietary anti-aging Hadeisi-3 complex which consist of time-tested ingredients crucial to Geisha beauty routines: Green Teas, Okinawa Red Algae, and Rice Bran Extract. The promise is simple: traditional secrets from Eastern Beauty for a modern woman.

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I was honored to receive my own kit that allowed me to try the Tatcha Ritual. It included a full sizes of the Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder and Original Aburatorigami, as well as samples of the One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, Deep Brightening Serum, and Supple Moisture Rich Silk Cream.

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After spending time with each of the products here are my impressions:

One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil: A wonderful cleansing oil to remove makeup and water-proof sunscreen from face. It felt lighter than the typical cleansing oil and the scent was very light and fresh, both qualities that I think are due to the Camellia Oil. Camellia Oil is better than normal cleansing oils because it is very rich in antioxidants while also being very nourishing to skin due to high fatty-acid content. Rice Bran Oil is also used which is high in skin-softening Vitamin E. These are very fitting oils to use as they both have long history in Asian culture (the Camellia Seed oil is extracted from the same plant that makes teas), so I can definitely see how the Geisha have mastered incorporating this into their routine over time. Although this is a cleansing oil, there are emulsifiers which cause the oil to turn milky upon contact with water, so the oil will wash off easily.

Deep Brightening Serum: Like all of Tatcha’s products, this serum is very light and sinks quickly into skin. However, like most serums, it does tend to leave my skin with a sticky film (which is why I always follow up serums with a facial oil or moisturizer). The first time I applied this serum, I could ‘feel’ it go to work. It’s hard to describe as there wasn’t a tingling or adverse reaction, but I knew it was doing something. That initial sensitivity subsided after continued use. The main actives that any brightening should probably accredited to are from the Rice family as both Rice Bran, Rice Starch, and Rice Germ Powder figure into the ingredients. Rice is indeed known to be a skin brightener, and although I don’t have sunspots or age spots to speak of (fortunately), I do imagine that continued use of this product can lighten their appearance.

Supple Moisture Rich Silk Cream: I was initially concerned about using a moisturizer in the warmer months since I already have oily skin but as a dedicated beauty blogger, I decided to chance it – and I’m glad I did. No breakouts to speak of and my skin is very balanced. I like to use this during the day under my sunscreen which can be pretty drying when used alone due to the silicones. This moisturizer isn’t just a simple cream, but almost a gel-cream consistency which allows even those of us with oily skin to use this without fuss. There are many active ingredients including Royal Jelly Extract (wonderful for replenishing collagen loss), Silk Protein, Wild Thyme (great for acne prone skin), Ginseng root, Algae Extract, and Green Tea Extract. Just looking at the list, I feel it is the perfect moisturizer for all skin types due to a delicate but well-formulated balance of great ingredients. Gel-creams such as this are my favorite because when done right, they provide the moisturizing properties of a cream but the cool, weightless feel of a gel.

Original Aburatorigami Blotting Papers: these natural papers are made from leaflets of the Abaca Leaf, and infused with gold flakes throughout. You might be wondering what sets these apart from other blotting papers, and I did too when I first saw them. It turns out that these natural leaves are incredibly balancing, so they absorb excess oils without leaving skin stripped (and therefore producing more oil). I was quite surprised at how absorbent they are, and 1 sheet definitely can go for an entire night without being completely used.

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Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder: I saved this for last because it is my favorite product in the entire line. It’s a water-activated powder that exfoliates and cleans skin without harsh abrasives. This powder is truly addictive to use and is unlike any other product I’ve used before. Simply pour half a teaspoon in the half of your hands. Add water and it turns to a cream. It lathers up a great deal, and feels like a very gentle milky cleanser once applied to the face. I hesitate to even call this an exfoliator because it truly is not a “grainy” scrub, but rather a gentle creamy cleanser suitable for most sensitive skin types. The enzymes are very effective and the first few uses I saw it get rid of blackheads around my nose that most cleansers cannot seem to handle. The entire use process is very fast and simple, so if you’re put off by powders, give this a chance. Upon washing off you’ll notice your skin balanced (somehow this removes excess oil without stripping skin) and soft without being irritated. I find myself bypassing my usual cleansers for this.

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So that’s the general rundown of the line. For full disclosure, the line uses a lot of natural ingredients but it isn’t a 100% Clean line like those on NMDL. There are instances where I would prefer formulating with less alcohol, phenoxyethanol, silicones, etc. but that doesn’t take away from my general love of the products as they are. If it seems I am gushing about their products, it’s because I am a fan. Despite my outspokenness, I do enjoy writing about things I love and this line is one that I absolutely adore. All the products are so gentle and seem to be lovely to my skin. I applaud the brand consistency and the focus on the product experience. After my experience with their ritual, I’m now interested in more of their range including their Hydrating Mist and Lifting Mask.

Has anyone else used Tatcha? What do you think? I love discussing new lines, so drop a comment!