The Samples: Round Up


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.

Product Review: Laura Mercier-Flawless Skin Repair Serum

Product Name: Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Repair Serum
Cost: $95 (from Neiman Marcus

I’m a sucker for anything that promises to give “flawless” skin. It doesn’t matter if it’s anti-aging or blemish fighting, I just feel like the lazy consumer in me sees that word and just calls it a day! In this case, the serum is classified as an anti-ager.

While I’ve been familiar with Laura Mercier’s brand, I know her best for her make-up line (the foundations/concealers are AMAZING- review will come soon) and not the skincare. I think her brand message is delivering ‘perfect’ skin that looks ‘natural’. This appeals to me since I’m definitely a fan of the no-makeup look (even if I have to use an array of products and brushes to achieve it!) over the photoshopped MAC-Nicki Minaj/Kardashian look.

The bottle itself is a bit like a facial oil in that it is dropper based. I love droppers since you can control how much you use better than a pump, but they’re more difficult to get on when your hands are filled with product.

The Flawless Skin Repair Serum is botanical based but full disclosure, does contain parabens and alcohol. It promises that within 2 weeks, skin will be more radiant, firmer, brighter, and smoother. During my use, I noticed that it did seem to make my skin instantly supple. I also noticed that my skin did indeed seem more refined. The serum is buildable with light moisturizers and is good under makeup due to its silky texture.

This is one of those products that I’ve enjoyed using but probably will not repurchase due to the fact that there are just so many other alluring products on the market as well. I would recommend it for others, but I don’t think I will feel at a loss when this bottle runs out.

Product Review: La Mer- The Concentrate

Product: The Concentrate, La Mer
Price: $375 ( Available at Neiman Marcus)

If you speak to most women who buy high-end skincare, they either swear by La Mer or they don’t- either way, it is the one brand that manages to illicit a strong reaction from the market. I grew up seeing my mom use the mini-tubs of their signature ‘Creme de La Mer’. To me, La Mer has always represented the epitome of high-end skincare. However, lately with brands such as Sunday Riley on the rise which emphasizes green-technology, and natural brands like Kahina which emphasis clean ingredients, La Mer’s products have been looking a bit dated.

In order to appeal to a younger generation, La Mer has diversified their product line launching cleansers, toners, sunscreens, makeup, and hero-serums. The Concentrate was the product that most appealed to me.

This product is regarded as the most “potent” in the entire line due to it’s concentration of their renowned active Miracle Broth derived from seaweed. It’s primary purpose is to treat scarring, and skin that needs to heal. As someone with mild acne scarring, I was interested in testing this out.

The Concentrate comes out as a thick, yellowish gel that smells a bit medicinal and minty. Like all La Mer products, you must heat it with your hands/fingers before you apply it on the face. This makes the consistency a bit more absorptive. I found that unlike some of their other products, this wasn’t that heavy and didn’t cause me to break out. It absorbed fairly well, and moisturized my skin. 

After 2 weeks of use, I’m not sure if it did anything for acne scars but my skin did feel more supple. Although I don’t agree with the product’s claims that it can be a considerable alternative for people considering chemical peels/laser, I do think it is a well formulated, versatile serum that is good for skin. But for acne scar treatment, not so sure.

Review: Aesop B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel

Product: Aesop B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel

Price: $115

I’ve loved the Aesop line since before it was widely known in the US. I remember going to their one apothecary in Manhattan after class to get products before they opened their grand central station shop. The packaging reminds me of a more streamlined Kiehl’s with the wordy descriptions, but the dual tone colors (olive + black) make it a lot more sophisticated. During my most recent trip, the sales associated recommended the Aesop B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel as a great night time moisturizer for combination skin that also brightens the skin. As a huge vitamin buff, I was delighted to try out the B Triple C (1 part Vitamin B, 3 parts Vitamin C), even at the not-cheap price tag of $115.

The first thing I noticed when I put it on was how thick and molasses like the gel was, it isn’t one of those lighter, watery gels that just comes outs. You really have to get it into your skin otherwise it’ll be sticky. From experience, I now rub it in my hands a bit to warm it up which makes it a little more watery and easily absorbed.

I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of results but after the first night I used it, I woke up to skin that just appeared to be ‘better’. I can’t describe what it was, but I felt like my skin was firmer, and just appeared to be ‘better’. Having used it now for 3 weeks I can definitely say that my skin appears to be brighter, more radiant, and previous areas of redness have gone down significantly. It did not cause any breakouts, which is a little surprising given how thick the gel is. Although the texture left something to be desired, it was easily overcome by the results.

I will definitely buy this again and recommend it for those with normal-oily skin.