My Bedside Edit: Skincare and Wellness

Lately I’ve been centering my routine around restfulness and peacefulness. It feels like a lot of the uneasy energy from 2020 hasn’t quite dissipated, so I’m being more mindful in my routines to look at how I can promote a more conducive environment to unwind. My bedside is a place I spent some time editing. I first removed any gadgets that might blink their lights in the middle of the night. Then I reduced clutter until I just had a purposeful yet thoughtful selection of bedside essentials.

Skincare: Retinol, PM Serum, and Eye Mask

Let’s start with skincare! My PM routine is where I like to apply powerful products that can work on my skin overnight. Apparently night time is the best time for skin healing and repair, so reserved for this time is my current retinol of choice, the reintroduction of a holy grail PM serum, and gel eye patches which have become my new nighttime addiction.

African Botanics Retinal Night Cream: I love African Botanics, and tend to have at least 2-3 products from them in my skincare rotation at any time. Many of you know I’ve been on a kick for high-performance retinols, and I knew that African Botanics Retinal Night Cream would not disappoint. Although called a ‘night cream,’ it really works as a retinol serum rather than as a moisturizer. It is described as an “ultra-strength Vitamin A,” and contains actual retinol in the form of 0.1% encapsulated retinaldehyde. Retinaldehyde only needs one conversion in the skin to retinoic acid, the active retinol, whereas traditional retinol needs two. This means faster and more effective results with less chance of redness and irritation. Further, because African Botanics is known to provide a buffet of beautiful actives, the Retinal Night Cream also contains Vitamin C, Peptides, Niacinimide, CoQ10 — all superstars in the skincare world in their own right, along with signature African Botanics oils like Marula, and Kalahari Melon oil that help to keep skin moisturized and soothed, especially from the effects of retinol.

I initially wondered if the powerful combination of actives might be too much for my skin, as Retinol, Vitamin C, Niacinimide are each active in their own right, though they’re also known to work well together. I was pleased to find that the formula, while impactful, did not cause irritation; it is totally a case of high performance with little to no down time (no redness, nor stinging). The light yellowish cream absorbs quickly and because it is feeding my skin so many great ingredients, I don’t really feel the need for face oils or other serums. I also like to have the retinol serums work more on their own any way for full impact. Unlike other African Botanics products that have the luxurious fragrance, this is fragrance-free because it is obvious that they just wanted to focus on the performance. It is still a luxurious feeling cream with amazing ingredients and results, but it’s clear that everything in this formula is made to make it a full-on performance beast. I currently use it every other night in my routine, not because it is sensitizing, but because I like to rotate my retinol for best results and give my skin an overall offering of diversified actives. On the other nights, I use…

YULI Cell Perfecto PM: My initial post about this product still remains my most read blog post (remember when I started back in the days on Tumblr?). Cell Perfecto PM will always reserve an indelible place in my skincare holy grail tier of products because it made such a significant impact on my skin, there is a line in my skincare history defined as pre-Cell Perfecto PM and post-Cell Perfecto PM. I had tried every product for acne scars but none come close to this in delivering such meaningful improvement, to a degree that I did not expect from a skincare product. I no longer need this as much because my skin has improved, which is really the best testament — but I still like the benefits that I get from this corrective serum. Even without apparent acne scars, I find that Cell Perfecto PM helps with areas of my skin that appear a blotchy or uneven, like a real life Photoshop airbrush tool.

If you’re familiar with the YULI approach, you’ll know they make the most advanced custom formulas with tailor-made, cutting-edge actives. I think what makes them standout next to super high performance lines is their approach which goes beyond putting in the standard actives. There is a whole lot of thought behind how the actives should be working, so you’ll see really interesting use of ingredients and unique formulas meant to almost reinvent the approach. The ingredients in Cell Perfecto PM for instance contains complexion actives like Vitamin C (in the potent THC form), Bearberry, and Liquorice, which brighten skin and repel accumulation of melanin; then there are unexpected highlights like Reishi, Pine Lignin, and Gotu Kola, which help with skin repair and healing from damage; where your head might start to spin is upon seeing their exclusives that go beyond anything in the market like their Sea Minerals and Renew Minerals Complex (a lot of science here but what you need to know is they have a mineral technology using actives like zinc that lock onto damaged tissues, primary scar tissue, to correct and rehabilitate them), along with L-Arginine, an amino acid that shortens healing time and repairs damaged collagen structures (scar tissue), and L-gluconic Acid which controls keratinization processes (most acne scars have improper keratinization) and restores damaged skin. This formula is super power-packed, and my skin often looks brighter and more even by the next morning. Also, speaking of nighttime, the formula is not photo-sensitizing, but is a PM serum because the formula works in synergy with the skin’s rejuvenation system that works mostly as we sleep helping to overturn skin damage and deliver those transformative results. Hands down, game-changing night worker.

Patchology Flashpatch Restoring Night Eye Gels: I’m at the age where an eye cream is a non-negotiable, and I’ve come to accept that. However, what I’m noticing is that there are times when I just feel like something more is necessary. And that is when I reach for these convenient eye gels from Patchology that seem to be made for exactly this situation. The eye gels are naturally very occlusive and provide a natural boost to the thin, delicate skin around the eyes. Besides a direct infusion of needed moisture to the tired and more frail under-eye area (one of the only places on the face that doesn’t produce its own sebum), these eye gels also contain power actives like Retinol and Peptides to help with cell turnover, fine lines, wrinkles at night; and Pine Leaf Extract and Purslane which are powerful antioxidants and can help reduce dark circles. You might also recognize Purslane as the signature ingredient in all of Dr. Barbara Sturm’s astronomically priced skincare formulas, so you know this Patchology formula is legit. These gels come with a scooper for hygiene and are inside two caps to help retain their moisture. Once I put them on, they have a nice immediate cooling and moisturizing feel on the skin, and the gel starts to feel like second skin as it dries. Based on the fact that the eye gels actually thin out, I think the eyes actually absorb a lot of the gel and serum, which means its working.

I use these about 2-3 times a week as a power up for my eyes. I’ll admit to leaving them on for longer than the recommended 15 minutes. I make sure the fluid is all absorbed, pat, then wait about 2 more minutes. I notice that my eyes feel better, and creeping fine lines fade substantially and remain gone for days after. This has become a go to when I just need that extra kick in my eye routine.

Wellness: Room Spray, Pillow Spray, and Throat Spray

Besides skincare, I also like to make sure my bedroom is conducive to rest, and recovery. Lately, I’ve found that fragrance has a deep connection to wellness.

The Nue Co Functional Fragrance – Home Room Spray: I’ve been raving about The Nue Co’s Functional Fragrance, and their room spray is just as good as the personal fragrance, if not better, because it works on such a larger area as a background character, which is how I prefer fragrances to work. I think if you’re the type that doesn’t love wearing fragrance, but can appreciate their therapeutic effects, The Nue Co’s Functional Fragrance room spray will be just the thing for you. The scent is similar to the personal fragrance: warm, calming, and cozy, and the big bottle feels grand to have around. The Functional Fragrance is an “anti-stress” supplement because the scent notes are scientifically associated with lowering stress and anxiety based on studies with the Brain and Behavioral Health team from the University of Geneva.

Unlike traditional room fragrances, the Functional Fragrance leans toward more of natural fragrance formula that uses genuine plant notes to deliver the connected anti-stress results, and the formula is designed by the same perfumer behind Le Labo’s Santal 33 and Glossier’s You, so trust me, it’s exquisite. I particularly love the notes of Green Cardamom, and Cedarwood which make the room and overall atmosphere feel relaxed and “lived in.” I like to spray the Functional Fragrance throughout the day especially if I end up writing or binging a show in bed, and I always do a few sprays 3 hours before bedtime so it leaves just the right crisp dry down as we prepare for bed as a subtle atmospheric scent to promote relaxation and lift away stress.

REN Skincare & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray: While The Nue Co’s Functional Fragrance is an anti-stress fragrance that relaxes and unwinds, this spray is an actual sleep aid that does the trick in delivering beauty sleep. When it comes time to drift off and catch my zzzzz’s, I spray my pillows with REN’s & Now to Sleep Pillow Spray, which is the perfect addition to any night routine. As a fragrance with an entirely natural essential oil composition, it won’t overwhelm. The spray is not designed like a fragrance, it won’t last and is more something that will gradually subside as it lulls you into deeper sleep. That is why it’s a pillow spray, meant for closer contact for aromatherapy benefits. Although I love fragrance, I am very much sensitive to smells, so I was conservative at first, but now spray about 5 times per pillow. It smells so relaxing, with a pleasing blend of hops, lavender, and frankincense, which combine to provide a sedative quality. This helps me drift off to sleep much quicker, and with better, deeper sleep quality. Also, bottle of this will last AGES.

Biocol Something for a Cactus Throat Spray: In college I took a class on evolutionary anthropology and learned that all species have a “weak point,” and for humans, it is the neck/throat. This might explain why if I’ve been more extroverted than usual (hello Zoom gatherings!), my throat easily feels a little raw, and also why sometimes I get that dreaded “morning cold” where it feels weird or even uncomfortable to swallow. I never really thought there was anything that could be done about it, but on a whim I decided to try Biocol’s Something for a Cactus Throat Spray, a plant-based fix made to address these exact issues. The formula contains propolis, lemon, Icelandic moss, and copper. It tastes exactly how the ingredients make it sound, sort of like a liquid Ricola. Unlike a lozenge, I can immediately feel the spray take effect. Biocol’s Something for a Cactus Throat Spray is anti-inflammatory and soothes my throat, I really feel it work right away. My partner even takes a few sprays if he’s on back to back work calls and it helps his vocal stamina so he doesn’t sound hoarse. Most importantly, I use it in the mornings if I’m feeling the ‘morning cold,’ and I find that it takes care of the ‘cactus throat’ feeling each time. Biocol is a pretty quirky line that is both fun and yet highly scientific. I recommend anyone looking for functional, well made, and amusing products to check this one out, Something for a Cactus Throat Spray might also be one of my favorite product names.


Drop me a comment if you’ve used any of these products, and let me know what your bedside essentials are!

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

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

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

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

Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Treatment, Garcons World

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum


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

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

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

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

Results & Conclusion


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

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

 

Current Routine: A Maximalist Focus on Layering Serums

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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.

IMG_5436

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.

IMG_5437
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!

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?

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil

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A new Sunday Riley release is cause for celebration. Every product is so gorgeously, uniquely packaged and just work so well. If it’s true that we judge books by their cover, then Sunday Riley perfectly masters the first impression that elicits the “ohhh” factor.

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil is her newest product, and it’s quite attention grabbing. Here’s what you need to know about it: Luna is a striking deep blue night time retinoid oil. The base is a beautiful mix of organic, cold-pressed oils of Extra Virgin Avocado Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Blackberry Seed Oil and Chia Oil. Avocado Oil is known for being really hydrating for dry skin and grape seed oil is one of the fastest sinking oils out there so combine the two as the primary ingredients and you’ve got a very versatile oil that should work for everyone. Blackberry Seed and Chia are superstar oils that are highly packed in Vitamins and antioxidants.

Sunday Riley - Luna

What makes this oil really standout is the use of a Trans-retinol ester which helps the appearance of wrinkles, fines lines, and loss of skin elasticity. Now while some of you may roll your eyes and think “another oil with retinols?” – just know that this one does not play. In fact the only warning on the packaging is that this isn’t recommended for pregnancy. The first time I tried this on my hands, I felt it being more susceptible to burning when I later walked on the street briefly – it’s that powerful! This is why Luna is a Sleeping Night Oil, do not wear out in the day time.

The other standout which probably draws many glances is the blue color. Sunday Riley uses Blue Tansy which Into The Gloss wrote an entire post about and is similar to the one found in May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon. Blue is definitely in and the inclusion of this ingredient is very striking. In full honesty, the reason Sunday Riley’s product is such a deep, dark blue is because it does use coloring dyes which is the only thing I don’t love about it. There is just no need but I also understand Sunday Riley is appealing to the Barney’s/Sephora beauty buyer who gravitates toward the eye candy.

The smell of this oil is my favorite of all of Sunday Riley’s oils. Whereas Juno and Artemis lack a fragrance and have been cited as smelling like salad oil, I feel Luna really steps it up in this front and delivers quite a sophisticated scent that is a blend of blue tansy and rose. It’s both herbal and flowery sweet, not unlike May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon.

Now that we got the first impressions out of the way, the results!

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This oil sinks in right away. In fact it might be the coloring making this appear kind of water-like but the serum feels almost un-oil like if that makes sense. The first night I used it, I noticed some drying which is to be expected with most retinols. I had a very small breakout near my hairline (where I am most prone to breaking out) the first day but it never became unmanageable, fading within a few days – perhaps due to the anti-inflammatory Blue Tansy and Chamomile. To be fair, it has been a while since I’ve used a retinol and I am among those whose skin purges when beginning a retinol treatment.I’m about 3 weeks into Luna and have noticed my skin feeling softer and smile lines seem to have faded somewhat, no longer as pronounced. Overall my complexion just looks more refreshed.

If you’re looking for a retinol with the benefits of a face oil, this is one of my favorites as it is brilliantly made and looks beautiful on the counter. At $105 for 1oz, sure it isn’t for those on a budget but compared to the Sunday Riley price range, it’s actually pretty fair given how well thought out it is.

Available
Sephora