Go Clean: Intelligent Nutrients Plant Stem Cell Renewal Complex

Product: Intelligent Nutrients Plant Stem Cell Skin Science Renewal Complex ($55, Intelligent Nutrients)

I love beauty products of every kind, there is nothing more exhilarating to me than the first pump, the first whiff of a new product’s scent, the first application, etc. I started at a young age when my mom started me on the Clinique 3 Step system, and since then my routines have evolved from Lazlo peels to even dabbling in La Prairie (the alcohol!). My most recent interest is in clean products. I think ounce for ounce, a well made, high quality clean product trumps all other products each time. I’m particular about saying ‘clean’ products because my personal theory is that a product doesn’t have to be 100% natural to be good for you, I just don’t want it to contain anything bad for me. There are some chemicals that can be good with no side-effects, and there are some naturals that can irritate or even be toxic!

In my quest to up my skincare to equally high-end, beautiful products that have better formulations, I landed upon a brand called Intelligent Nutrients. Intelligent Nutrients was started by Horst Rechebacher who was the founder of Aveda. His mission in creating Intelligent Nutrients was to create a line using non-toxic, 100% food based, organic ingredients. To prove how safe his products were, during a demonstration, he even drank an entire bottle of his cleanser.

I knew their key technology was the Plant Stem Cell and antioxidant rich Intellimune complex so I decided to try their Plant Stem Cell Skin Science Renewal Complex, which I’m told is their most concentrated product that combines all their core skin science philosophies.

The product is described as a spot treatment for scars, wrinkles, stretch marks, and other skin imperfections. I decided to use this on my forehead and smile lines since that is where most of my fine lines have begun to form. I also have some fresh acne blemishes on my forehead that I did not use the Ultimate Perfecting Serum on (I used that to get rid of old scars- click the link for my review on that wonderful product).

The first time I used this product, I felt like a scientist with the vial and dropper. The scent is strong and herbal but not unpleasant like how some synthetic fragrances are, in other words, you’ll live. I covered my “problem spots” with a few drops and massaged into my skin. The complex is easily absorbed and does provide some moisture.

The instruction say to not use anything else over it as that could compromise the effectiveness of the product. This is actually in line with what Dr.Hauschka and YULI say about letting your skin detoxify at night. Immediately after I put the product on, I could feel a slight… effect. It wasn’t a tingle but I could tell the product was pretty active.

After 2 weeks of use (they recommend using no longer than 30 days), I still have my fine lines, but they are ‘finer’ and less apparent. I also noticed places where I feel new potential breakouts really calm down when I put this over. In general, I have come to the conclusion that this is like a very natural version of a Retinol treatment without the risk of biotoxic accumulation. For $55 a vial, $130 for 4 vials – I think the price might be slightly high. However I would repurchase this again if my skin really needs an added dose of pampering.

Product Review: Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser

Product: Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser ($75, Neimanmarcus)

I adore a clean beauty product, so I was really happy to see Neiman Marcus carry Tata’s entire line. Tata has 2 cleansers, the Refreshing Cleanser and Regenerating Cleanser, the main difference is that the Regenerating Cleanser has natural exfoliating beads – other than that the formulas are very similar and leave the skin feeling much the same way. As I was looking for an every day cleanser, the exfoliating effects of the Regenerating cleanser would have been too much for my sensitive skin so I chose to try the Refreshing Cleanser.

The consistency is a orange creme colored lotion-like cream. It is thicker than most cleansers I’ve used but the instructions clearly state that it is activated when the enzymes are heated up when you rub it into your skin. Indeed at first it feels as though one is just moving the cream around their face until suddenly, it starts to break apart and do its job!

The natural aromas are heavenly! You can tell when a product uses all natural fragrances because it is just so beautiful, no synthetic can replicate it. And also – I’ve been trying this other line which I will review later and the synthetic fragrance grates on my senses after 20 minutes. The scent is floral and fruity with the dominant notes being chamomile, pomegranate, neroli, and bergamot. 

Immediately I noticed my skin felt so gentle and supple. It reminded me of what a babys bum kind of feels like! It left my skin feeling very nourished and indeed I can see where some people said it feels like giving oneself an at-home spa experience.

The only negative is that after 1 week of use, I noticed my pores were looking kind of congested. I then developed small white heads and black heads. No breakouts luckily, but I had never been the type to develop these clogged pores. I think the formula might be more suited to a more mature crowd with drier skin or smaller pores, and not really suited for my skin type which is blemish prone, and perhaps more easily congested.

I had to return this bottle only for this reason, but I wouldn’t say no to using it now and again. It’s just that at $75 a bottle, I need it to be something I can use everyday so my hunt for the perfect cleanser continues.

My Acne Scar Struggle & Holy Grail Product- YULI Ultimate Perfecting Serum

The term “holy grail” product, as many of you Makeupally junkies know, is not one to be taken lightly. I have used lots and lots of products, but I rarely stay loyal to any brand or product, instead I always try and see what else is out there.

This post is a going to be my most personal one yet. I had really bad skin during my teens. I was in a constant battle with my face which just seemed to love breaking out to the point that by the time I entered college, there wasn’t a spot left that didn’t have a blemish or blemish scar. At my lowest point, I remember crying during a Proactiv commercial on tv because I WISHED that I could look like ANY of those before pictures. Eventually I started Accutane which helped to clear me up significantly, but left my face with the scars and pockmarks from years and years of Acne. Up until a few months ago I hid my face behind a carefully planned regimen of Foundation, Concealer, Blush, Finish powder, etc. Part of the reason I work at the beauty department is so I can have access to skincare which has allowed me to experience scar/pigmentation serums & creams like Clinique Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, Murad Pigment Lightening Serum/Post-Acne Spot Lightning Gel, Origins Weil Skin Tone Correcting Serum, Clarins Vital Light Serum, & La Mer’s Concentrate. I’ve tried clean and non-clean formulas, a variety of actives, and while they all seemed to do more than nothing— I found my skin condition never really improved in any meaningful way, which is why I kept having to look for new treatments.

During fashion week last Jan/Feb, I volunteered and was given a gift bag at one of the shows that had a Yuli Elixir (Panacea) in there. I fell in love with the minimalist packaging but even more in love with how it made my skin look and feel. I noticed that I broke out less, had smaller pores, and that my skin was better able to decongest small buildup so my recovery time from the breakouts were significantly shortened.

So when my sample ran out, I went on their website to order more and thats when I saw the Ultimate Perfecting Serum (edit: Now CELL PERFECTO PM). The price isn’t cheap but to be honest, I think most of the money went into the product since I’m told they don’t spend any money on marketing and rely on word of mouth. According to the literature, the product works to stimulate and improve the collagen structure that is sorely lacking in scar tissue. It remodels the scar this way while other actives that are known to be really healing help to regenerate the scar tissue. I really love that it works by rebuilding the damage and not how a lot of the aforementioned products burn/superficially brighten/exfoliate the skin with chemicals that sometimes irritated my face.

To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations of Yuli ‘s Ultimate Perfecting Serum since so many products had already failed me. My first time using it, I noticed there was sediment in there but their helpful customer service told me the sediment helps the serum retain activity and once massaged onto the skin, it will be activated and absorbed. This was very true. I rubbed it on my cheeks and forehead (2 drops per section), then went to bed. The next morning I noticed that the red scarring was somewhat calmed down and that my skin looked ‘rested’. So I decided to stick it out. After 4 weeks I noticed that my skin was very even toned, luminous, and that pockmarks seemed raised and the redness was faded. Recently my foundation ran out and I noticed that I no longer needed a full coverage foundation (goodbye, Makeup Forever HD) and opted for the Giorgio Armani Silk Foundation which provides a ‘sheer- better than normal’ skin feel. My friends all commented that whatever I was doing for my face seemed to be working. This serum doesn’t work ‘over night’, but you’ll feel the difference. It also didn’t irritate my skin or make me break out, instead it was very nurturing of my skin. Now I see that areas of my face that had deep pockmarks and icepick scars have rehabilitated itself to being normal tissue! The reason I know this works is that my face is completely smooth now, with just minor darkness at former spots that used to have deep scars – which I think the next bottle will take care of.

I’ve reordered another bottle of this miracle in a bottle, but I put it in my beauty closet only because I don’t really need to use it anymore. I could never imagine that my search for that perfect scarring product would ever stop so resolutely but it did, and I couldn’t be happier that the product is natural and clean. To be honest, even if the product wasn’t clean, I would recommend it based on the results, but the fact that it not only took care of my scars but also made my skin improve AND is well formulated to use only high quality, clean ingredients is just FANTASTIC!

I know that usually people won’t believe these types of posts that seem “too good to be true” and I’m not sure my experience is going to be everyone else’s experience, so let me just say I am not a paid spokesperson for this brand, rather I just absolutely love this product and what it has done for my confidence. I used to hide behind makeup, but now I’m no longer intimidated working in the beauty section with a sheer layer of tinted moisturizer. I recently changed out heavier foundations to ones from Koh Gen Do which cover very lightly and it has made me so happy to be “one of those girls”.

Although I want to be relatively anonymous due to my job, I do want to show you guys a before and after. In March, I had a bad reaction/breakout to a product that  we tested for work from a well known brand. Luckily I tested it out on my hands so all the scar tissue and redness formed there (note: this isn’t the exact same as acne scarring but I just want to show you how effective it was in treating and ‘perfecting’ my skin).

Before (raised area of red/irritated scar tissue and tiny bumps, rough texture)

After (1 week later- 6 uses of only 2 drops each time)

I think a picture speaks a thousand words so for any of you looking for a truly effective solution for your acne scarring/pigmentation problems without causing more harm to your skin, try this out!

Product Review: Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

Mario Badescu is somewhat of a cult status line from Manhattan that has been around for over 40 years. The core philosophy behind the line is to produce simple, gentle, effective products. Today, they have accumulated a large celebrity following and are known particularly for their products that treat problem skin. I would say that the product I hear about most from them is the Drying Lotion.

The Drying Lotion has been featured everywhere as the “miracle” acne product. As a long time acne sufferer, I have went through my share of EVERY product imaginable: Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Sulfur, Chemical Peels, Retin-A, etc. Although my acne has calmed down in recent years, I still get persistent, stubborn cystic acne breakouts from time to time. My latest flare up caused me to try out the Dry Lotion.

The Dry Lotion has what it calls a “miracle” potion, the pink stuff at the bottom that they warn is too drying to apply alone to skin. Reading the ingredients label, I think the active ingredients are: a mix of Fruit/Plant Oil (to sooth), Retinal to exfoliate, Sulfur to kill bacteria, Salicylic Acid to exfoliate, Camphor to cool, etc.

Although the formulation does seem to include all the actives you’d typically find in an acne product, I think the product is very high-quality as I’ve seen great reductions in existing blemishes without the negative side-effects. I would be careful to not apply it to fading blemishes as it can cause the skin to peel and get flaky.

I think this product is best used on developing blemishes before it develops a white-head. It generally reduces the size and severity by the next day. I don’t think it is as effective as Benzoyl Peroxide, but on the flip side, it isn’t as irritating/bad for you. If you haven’t read the literature, Benzoyl Peroxide really isn’t good for your skin in the long term (free radical generation, healthy cell death, etc).

I’ve found myself reaching for this product more than other products. Lately, I’ve been curious to try LED therapy but haven’t found that “ideal” device yet- if anyone has recommendations, let me know and I will be glad to consider it and maybe do a future review on that!