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!

Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition & Daily Vitamin Infusion

Sorry for the long absence, friends! I’ve been keeping consistent with my skincare ritual and haven’t felt the need to post any updates. But earlier this month I received my April Box from The Detox Market which features the new releases from Indie Lee, Daily Skin Nutrition and Daily Vitamin Infusion (along with a sample size of her Rosehip Cleanser). After using it for the past few weeks, I felt that it was important to come on here to give the scoop about the products – especially before the month is up so you can snag an April Box ($55 for a $155 value) or even take advantage of The Detox Market’s Earth Day savings if you’d like to start with just one of the products.

Indie Lee is a brand that is not new to me, I’ve always loved how her products looked and they always seemed very clean and result driven. This is my first time actually using her products though and I have to say, they lived up to expectations and make me excited to try the rest of Indie’s line. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here’s my experience with the products.

Daily Skin Nutrition and Daily Vitamin Infusion are standalone products (the first is a lotion and the second is an oil serum), which can be used alone but really ideal when paired together.


Daily Vitamin Infusion is a face oil with only the good stuff: fatty-acid plant oils and ceramides that nourish, and even pure Vitamin C and Vitamin E. You won’t find fragrant essential oils in this resourceful 10-ingredient product, only the things that your skin absolutely needs:

Squalane, Rosa Rubiginosa Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil

With two forms of ceramides, Squalane, Avocado, and Coconut Oils, this oil is intensely nourishing yet, due non-clogging. I have been using this for weeks and my skin has only felt soft and supple, with nary a single breakout or pore congestion. One of the reasons for this might be that the base squalane is an intensely nourishing oil that is not greasy and absorbs quickly due to skin’s affinity for squalane. The 2nd ingredient rosehip is highly nutritious and rejuvenating and is known to be deeply rejuvenating. I love that there is actual Vitamin C in this already great oil which helps to brighten and boost collagen so this oil is performance packed. My skin feels like absolute velvet on this and the ceramide-rich oil just cushions and plumps my skin. The fragrance-free profile also makes me feel as though this is just a pure shot of vitamin infusion, and I’ve really come to love this product.

The idea here is for the oil to absorb quickly (which it does) to really get that infusion of vitamins delivered deep into the skin, feeding it from within. Then, with the vitamin-infusion, we layer with Daily Skin Nutrition to work on “feeding” the more top-level layers.

Daily Skin Nutrition is a light, yet nutrient-intensive cream made from a base of water and squalane so it both hydrates and nourishes. There are many active ingredients in here that you’ll find in Daily Vitamin Infusion since they work in synergy on different levels:

Water (Aqua/Eau), Squalane, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Propanediol, Cetearyl Olivate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables, Olea Europea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Rosa Rubiginosa Seed Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Carrageenan, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Gluconate, Xanthan Gum

I love the high concentration of squalane and Olive oils (which contain high concentrations of natural plant squalane) because it’s excellent for the skin barrier. The Vitamin E here helps to condition the skin so it feels soft to the touch, while Vitamin C in this serves to brighten the complexion. The fatty-acid rich plant oils help against environmental damage while pure hyaluronic acid also helps to draw in hydration.

I can’t stress this enough though that the cream is really light, I’ve used cream-based serums that have been heavier than this and the fact that it comes in a pump is evidence of it’s more fluid nature. While nourishing, the cream absorbs quickly and forms the perfect outer layer for day or night without making skin feel weighed down nor looking greasy. The first few times I used this, I kept touching my skin because the cream absorbed so quickly yet my skin continued to feel soooo soft and supple.


The beauty of this pared-down ingredients list is that it’s only performance-based and there are no “superficial” ingredients that can cause irritation so I find these products to be good for any skin type. Both products are beautifully made and really do feel like they’re nourishing my skin. Used together, you really do feel your skin just absolutely saturated in total nourishment and nutrition from deep down all the way to the surface, everything just feels so plush and plumped. Unlike many oils and serums that make huge claims, I really love the promise of the Daily Vitamin Infusion and Daily Skin Nutrition that they’re here to just feed and nurture skin like a pack of multi-vitamins. Proper nutrition is sometimes lacking as everyone is focused on one or two active ingredients, which makes these products quite universal as everyone can benefit.

The Daily Vitamin Infusion is $65 and the Daily Skin Nutrition is $80, but during Earth Day weekend, you can get anywhere from 10%-15% off on The Detox Market. Or just get The Detox Market’s April Detox Box which features full sizes of both these products plus a sample of the Roseship Cleanser for just $55, which is cheaper than the cost of one product – I can’t stress how great this deal is – the Indie Lee box will no longer be available after April, so if you’d like to get on this, time is of the essence.

Daily Vitamin Infusion
Daily Skin Nutrition
The Detox Box: Indie Lee


Photos: Taken by Garçons World

Navigating the Sunday Riley Serums

The past few months, I’ve kind of been on a Sunday Riley kick. After all, I have always been a fan of the lines beautiful presentation from the frosted glass bottles to the golden design touches.

Perusing the entire line, I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed with all the information for what all the products did that I kind of didn’t know which was actually the right product for me. This is common for brands that have multiple items in one category. With Sunday Riley, I ended up indulging my inner beauty junkie and exploring the differences between her anti-aging serums: Luna, Good Genes, Bionic (this was even more confusing when her Skin Adrenaline was on the market).

Use the following as a cheat sheet when picking your anti-aging power house from this line:

Luna

12292724_1669326689972333_505029313_n
Luna is essentially a face oil that is infused with retinol. This is to say, it’s not going to be a cream/gel type of serum but rather a very, very strong oil. As a retinol product, you’ll be limited to using this as a night time product. Also if you do not want a retinol product, it’s very simple: just steer clear of this one and go for one of the others.

The lightest of the three, this is applied first if you want to combine the products. If you want to add this with one of the other products, I think Bionic should be your pick and you’ll see why shortly.

For a full review of Luna, please check out this earlier post.

Good Genes

12269896_1639677399617614_1499529823_n
Good Genes has perhaps the most exposure compared to the other two. Emily Weiss of Into The Gloss says it literally gave her skin the confidence of having ‘good genes’ in the old school days before she turned her eye from high-end brands to cater to her new image as queen of the new-age mass market millennials.

I think it’s easy to get swept up in the messaging of Good Genes – the light cream is sold as a treatment that can be used as mask and it is said to deliver brightening, multitasking that reveals newer, younger skin, smoother complexion, restoration from damaged skin, reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, and increased firmness. Unlike Bionic, Good Genes is a ‘corrective’ treatment which may make some think it is more active.

After purchasing these products what I realized is that Good Genes is essentially a lactic acid based exfoliation product. When skin is exfoliated technically all the above claims are true. Now – as a lactic acid exfoliating serum, it probably doesn’t get any more luxurious than this, however I don’t want you to be misled into thinking there is that much more in terms of ingredients that back up the claims.

Due to this, I tend to use Good Genes either as a Sunday mask to clear out pores and exfoliate or I use it once a week (twice if it is summer) as an overnight treatment without any of the other two products.

Similar Products:
Kypris Moonlight Catalyst
Kate Somerville – Exfoliate
REN Wake Up Wonderful Night Time Facial

Bionic

10601758_315006725326539_1488489158_n
Bionic has comparatively less press than the aforementioned products. This doesn’t mean it is one to overlook. Bionic is actually the only product out of the three that is in the “Anti-Aging” category on the Sunday Riley website.

Think of this orange cream as a moisturizer suped up with anti-aging ingredients like peptides and antioxidants. This has a roster of ingredients ranging from the buzzy resveratrol and copper peptide to the mainstays like CoQ10.

In terms of results, I don’t think it’ll give the quick results one might see from Luna or Good Genes which are ‘corrective’ products but if you’re looking for that daily moisturizer that keeps skin looking young which I think most people are when they say they’re looking for an anti-aging cream, this is the one.

* I know some retailers are carrying Skin Adrenaline but did not include it in this round up as it is no longer produced by Sunday Riley. But for those of you who are interested, Skin Adrenaline is essentially the anti-aging moisturizer option for normal-to-oily skin while Bionic is stronger as a moisturizer for normal-to-dry skin. For what it’s worth I was able to use both products without breaking out but my personal preference is actually Skin Adrenaline. 

Similar Products:
Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum
Omorovicza Radiance Renewal Serum
Ren Keep Young & Beautiful Firming & Smoothing Serum

This is just a quick breakdown and of course I made a lot of generalization in the spirit of giving a quickly digestible cheat sheet. In general, my view is that most people searching for an anti-aging product are in reality looking for products that have ingredients that help with skin aging whereas most brands’ answer this with products that take off layers of skin (retinol, acids, etc) and so I wanted to be helpful in this regard that the often overlapping messages between these products can be clarified by these sweeping distinctions:

Retinol – Luna
Exfoliating Acid – Good Genes
AntiAging Moisturizer – Bionic

*All Photos from the Sunday Riley Instagram Account