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.

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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!

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