When these at-home rinse-off peeling products became popular, I found myself incredibly annoyed that I was unable to easily purchase them in Canada. After the irritation that many of us have faced from over-zealous use of acids and high-potency actives, I kind of understand why Canada has limited the sales of high percentage over-the-counter acids. The Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel ($39 US | 30 mL) was released as limited edition in 2020, but has recently become available again in a permanent capacity and I have to say that I have enjoyed using it. I do emphasize that using acids in this kind of concentration — even in a completely non-irritating and soothing vehicle — can be incredibly irritating and should be treaded with caution; the ten minute guideline should also be taken very seriously and literally.
This lavender-hued gel contains a 25% complex of alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, tartaric acid and malic acid), along with 2% beta hydroxy acid, sodium hyaluronate, and a number of soothing antioxidants. I can happily report that it doesn’t contain any fragrance or weird potentially irritating plant extracts. I will comment that on my more delicate skin, this can tingle and make my following products sting, which is to be expected on a routine involving a prescription retinoid while using a high-strength acid. I can happily report however, that I’m left with skin that’s noticeably brighter, smoother and resurfaced. It helps with congestion as well. I do note that I use this maybe once per week at maximum. I do, however, get instant results after I use this, as directed, of course. I suppose I use it as a mask-peel when I want exfoliation, instant gratification and visible results.
It’s formulated at a pH between 3.5-3.9, which keeps the acids functioning optimally as exfoliation agents, without being excessively irritating as exfoliants veering on the excessively acidic side of things. Along with the standard but effective 2% concentration of pore-penetrating salicylic acid, the formula contains 8.4% glycolic acid, 7.1% lactic acid, 5% mandelic acid, 2.5% malic acid and 2% tartaric acid. As someone who is sensitive to glycolic acid in higher concentrations, I enjoy using it in a medium-high strength in a rinse off product to minimize irritation from the deep-penetrating acid, while still getting its benefits. Other than the acids, this formula includes butterfly pea flower extract, which is a more novel antioxidant that has calming and redness reducing properties. Of course, it contains a hyaluronic acid, a number of antioxidants and some other soothing ingredients as well.
In Canada, my purchasing options are limited to the official website here. However, I like that they offer affordable quick shipping to Canada that’s free over quite a low minimum and have good sales. I know those in the US can also purchase from Amazon — with prime eligibility– , and will soon be able to purchase the brand from Sephora, along with some Nordstroms. I also believe in the UK, they can purchase from the official site for the region along with Cult Beauty. I can also happily report that Paula’s Choice ships to a wide variety of countries through different regional sites. Dermstore, Skinstore and Skincarerx are all authorized online retailers as well that run frequent sales.
Like many others, I’ve realized that I have an excessive amount of beauty products and that the ritual of using beauty products has helped me not lose my mind during the pandemic. I’ve been rather good at getting through products in my stash and actually letting products go when they are finished, so much so that I amassed too many empty products to share in one post. Here’s the first batch of products I’ve finished in the past number of months:
This milk cleanser was great and lasted a ridiculously long amount of time, but was kind of a lot to spend on a cleanser. It’s gentle, soothing, removes makeup and never ever stings, even on a really compromised and angry skin barrier. My skin was always left soothed and hydrated after I used it: it contains gentle non-foaming cleansing agents and soothing oat extract, green tea extract and liquorice root. It contains essential oils towards the bottom of the ingredient list but I actually didn’t experience any irritation.
I’ve repurchased this fragrance-free milky toner numerous times and will likely purchase again. It has fatty acids, sodium hyaluronate, a number of antioxidants and evening primrose oil. This is a godsend to apply after cleansing and exfoliating to lock in moisture and keep my skin barrier happy. I’ve said for years that this is a reparative serum in liquid form. It’s a dream to press into the skin, especially when your skin is angry and you’ve overdone it.
Strangely enough, this was the first (or second, depending on how strict your definition of serum is) hyaluronic acid serum I’ve ever tried. I chose it in a FabFitFun box and it was good but I wouldn’t repurchase. It contains three different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, glycerin, panthenol and castor oil and had a gel-like texture. My skin wasn’t irritated by it and I did notice my skin stayed nice and plump when used underneath a moisturizer.
After trying this moisturizer as a sample, I picked up the smaller size at Sephora and happily made my way through it in a couple of months. I repurchased to say the least. This silicone and oil-rich moisturizer has a cushion-y texture, leaving my dull, flaky and a bit sensitive skin plump and dewy. It contains a number of fermented extracts, silicones, panthenol, squalane and soothing extracts, such as oat kernel. I will note that some of the extracts are fragrant so it’s not a moisturizer I reach for when my moisture barrier is screaming out for mercy.
This is a great introductory serum of sorts, being aimed to combat environmental aggressors, brighten the skin and combat congestion, but with the strength of the actives in my routine already, I find kind of irritating. One of the main ingredients is ascorbyl glucoside (a vitamin c derivative) and another is pore-clearing salicylic acid, which is shortly followed by potassium azeloyl diglycinate (an azelaic acid derivative). There are also a number of antioxidants in this serum. I actually enjoyed using it on my chest and shoulders where I’ve always been more prone to breakouts and scarring. Essentially, the ingredients in this antioxidant serum are very nice but they give my skin active overload when used in my routine on my face. Also, it makes my face sting.
I love using this lighter cream as a humectant in the ‘serum’ stage of the routine. I love it despite the fact that it contains fragrance and is housed in jar packaging that can degrade the squalane and mandelic acid it contains. It leaves a flattering pink glow to the skin while being loaded with the polyhydroxy acid, gluconolactone, restoring acetyl glucosamine, mandelic acid and squalane. It gently resurfaces the skin whilst restoring the skin barrier and drawing moisture to the skin. I bought another jar. It’s even more reasonably priced on Amazon…
Somehow I managed to only use up one body moisturizer in this season and a half since I last emptied my empty products bin, but it’s one I’ve repurchased yet again. This is a good cream for my eczema, which has flared up in the cooler weather. It stings less than pretty much everything else I’ve tried, is soothing with 1% colloidal oatmeal and keeps my eczema-prone skin in check. It also features castor oil, mineral oil, soothing liquorice root, a ceramide and an antibacterial ingredient. It’s fragrance free and feels comforting on dry tight winter skin.
I liked this creamy fragrance-free flaxseed gel but it didn’t quite have the hold and obnoxious curl-clumping abilities I’m looking for. I ended up having to order it from US Amazon — but it’s not even available there at the moment — and ended up having to pay a bit for shipping consequently and it wasn’t worth the hassle. I will say it was nicely creamy and moisturizing and left me with defined shiny waves and curls that had body. The lighter weight creamy gel was fantastic for refreshing, I must say.
This gel is a favourite of mine that I recently finished up, but was mainly using last winter and spring. It has a thick and gummy souffle kind of texture that only works well on drenched hair but when used in this way, it creates awesome hold and clumps without stickiness or stringiness when it dries. I get the best results when I use a curl cream underneath but I can use it on it’s own too. It contains glycerin along with other more complex humectants — including film-forming ones — and coconut oil. This gel has given me some of my best hair days but only when I use it on soaking wet hair properly. I repurchased it. It’s a hard hold gel and holds up particularly well in high humidity.
I knew that buying this incredibly thick and sticky oil-rich gel was a risk for my fine wavy curls, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. My best results were thinning out the gel slightly in soaking wet hair to evenly distribute the gel and form the best multiple-day curl clumps, using this gel as my sole styling product. It’s one that takes a while to dry and smells like boozy grapes but has given me some of the best hair days, especially in humid wet east coast winter weather. It contains a lot of protein but is offset with humectants and oils. Even though it’s a pain to get in Canada and the texture is borderline repulsive, I’d repurchase. It gives me smooth, defined and shiny curls that clump together nicely. The hold is firm in my opinion, even in my long porous strands that seem to eat up product. This would be great for parched frizzy tighter curls.
This curl-cream-stroke-leave-in was a thinner, slippery-er texture than I usually prefer but I loved it, nevertheless. It’s not a styler I would use on its own except in a refreshing capacity, but it encouraged my curls and waves to spiral underneath a gel and left my hair with texture and bounce. It contains irish moss, your usual slip agents, hydrolyzed pumpkin extract and cranberry seed oil. It’s also fragrance-free. I’ll repurchase when I’m making an order on a site that sells it and ships affordably to Canada.
During the past number of months, I finished two different tubes of this mascara. It has solidified its place as my favourite everyday mascara. It’s a lightweight volumizing and separating mascara with a football-shaped synthetic brush. It doesn’t get clumpy easily and does lead to a wide-eyed effect that isn’t a pain to remove with a balm cleanser. I’m onto a new tube now.
As a winged eyeliner addict, I really enjoyed using this traditional brush-tip liquid eyeliner. The tip was firm and creates precise thin lines but I will admit that it requires a steady hand, which isn’t always my thing. It was super black and stayed black for months and months. It doesn’t smudge or anything, yet removes easily with cleanser. It was good enough that I repurchased it before dumping the old one into my empties bag.
I’ve been using this brush-tip-pen-hybrid eyeliner happily for years. I think the serum claims are semi-ridiculous but it does create the fastest and most fool proof flick. I repurchased and will repurchase again. It removes easily with cleansing balm or any oil-based cleanser and doesn’t smudge unless you nap, laying down on the wing precisely.
I’m not sure if I got an iffy pen or what, but there wasn’t much liquid in this pen and it wouldn’t even let me fill in one eyebrow without running out of ‘brow juice’. The colour was alright — medium in tone but a bit warm for my cooler brown strands. I used it to fill in the tail of my eyebrows on minimal makeup days but after months, I got sick enough of it that I gave up.
Well, 2020 has been a year. It has definitely been a year of skincare for me. All of the mask-wearing and hand-washing played a definite toll of my skin barrier and my eczema. Also, the ritual of doing my skincare routine likely helped to keep me sane in this quite frankly weird time. Here are my absolute picks for skincare products I used to keep myself sane and/or to keep my face and body from flaking off:
This non-foaming cleansing milk both works as a gentle morning cleanser, second cleanse in the evening or to remove a lighter face of makeup and sunscreen. It contains some essential oils low on the ingredient list but actually remains gentle enough to remove makeup from my sensitive eyes without stinging. It contains gentle surfactants and soothing ingredients including oat, green tea and liquorice root. It goes on as a light milk that rinses completely clean when water is added, but leaves moisture in the skin after removal. This is both a gentle cleanser that never stings and a nice treat. I will acknowledge that this cleanser is rather expensive, especially for a brand that I haven’t heard much about, but it is so concentrated I’ve had it on the go for maybe nine months… And when my face was raw and sore this was one of the only cleansers that didn’t burn or sting. Did I mention it doesn’t burn or sting?
I didn’t actually realize this oil-rich cream cleanser was a favourite until I put this post together. It was included in the Caroline Hirons Summer Kit and wasn’t an instant favourite in the summer. It’s quite expensive but I do enjoy this ultra gentle cream cleanser. I could do without the fragrance, but fortunately it’s towards the end of the ingredient list and isn’t offensive. For a cream cleanser, this cleanser is both ridiculously gentle and rather good at removing makeup and sunscreen. It doesn’t burn my very sensitive eyes and actually does remove eye makeup well. This cleanser is formulated with super gentle cleansing agents, a number of plant oils, soothing milk proteins, honey and a teensy bit of lactic acid. This is a cleanser that I adore especially in the dry winter months alongside my prescription retinoid.
This is the chemical exfoliant I have happily been reaching for most days in the latter half of the year. It contains lactic acid, gluconolactone, niacinamide and soothing black tea extract. It has been easy enough to tolerate in a routine with a prescription retinoid and leaves my skin radiant, even in tone and texture and with very few clogged pores. Using this toner, I find my skin looks resurfaced and bright.
This year, I discovered a new milky toner or rather moisturizer in liquid form. It’s fragrance free,has a short and benign ingredient list and really helps to soothe, hydrate and calm the skin. It’s a godsend at any point but was particularly useful when my skin barrier was compromised and my skin was red, raw and sore. It contains glycerin, meadow foam oil and the antioxidants, white tea extract and vitamin e.
Although it’s marketed as an essence, this was my favourite serum discovery of the year. It contains wound healing and reparative snail slime, sodium hyaluronate, soothing allantoin and barrier-repairing panthenol. It might feel a bit slimy but I enjoy the instant comfort it provides and the hefty dose of humectants it imparts into the skin. After using this, my skin was always plumped up, calmed and significantly more hydrated. This was a godsend, especially in a world where everyone was going overboard with the active ingredients. It resulted in generally less pissed off hydrated skin.
To my chagrin, this gel-cream textured humectant — which I use as a kind of serum-moisturizer hybrid underneath my sunscreen during the day or underneath a heavier moisturizer at night — comes in a pot and is substantially cheaper on Amazon than anywhere else. It contains glycerin, mandelic acid, gluconolactone, acetyl glucosamine and squalane. The acids it contains are larger molecules and therefore are gentler on the skin and the polyhydroxy acid performs as a humectants while exfoliating. The acetyl glucosamine is an interesting skin brightening ingredient and squalane adds extra nourishment.
This whipped comforting shea-butter-containing moisturizer really helped me to get through a really rough bout of flaky, red, sore and raw skin at the beginning of the year and I haven’t stopped buying since. Actually, I love this whipped cream so much that I was a bit panicked when my container was empty and the product was out of stock. It never burns or stings with it’s gentle fragrance-free formula and is soothing. It relies on shea butter, omega-rich plant oils, ceramides, fatty acids and replenishing ingredients including sodium hyaluronate.
If I hadn’t tried this moisturizer in a sample, I don’t think I’d have ever tried it from the ingredients list alone. It’s packaged in a jar, contains a bunch of potentially irritating plant extracts, contains some fragrance and doesn’t contain many barrier reinforcing or reparative ingredients. It can sting a little on skin with a compromised barrier but I must say, I love the cushiony silicone-y feeling of this moisturizer that soothes the skin, immediately sinks in and imparts lasting hydration. It contains glycerin, silicones, macadamia oil, soothing fermented extracts, panthenol and oat kernel extract.
My favourite sunscreen discovery of the year was this tinted mineral sunscreen. The sunscreen, while marketed towards normal, oily and combination skin types, works well on my dry skin, especially throughout the hot and humid Summer we had. The finish of this sunscreen is semi matte and still flattering on drier skin but doesn’t lean shiny and the tint on it is a fairer subtler grey-beige. It doesn’t offer much for coverage but was enough for a base on its own for me a lot of the time, diffusing redness and evening out the skin. It’s a fragrance-free formula, enriched with a number of antioxidants and soothing ingredients and iron oxides for additional visible light protection. I love that it works for me on top of a serum or moisturizer and doesn’t cling to dry patches.
This was another tinted mineral sunscreen that I happily discovered in 2020. It uses nano sized particles but still offers robust protection and includes even more iron oxides for added visible light protection. It has a beige tint and offers substantially more coverage, suiting light to medium skin tones best — I can get away with it, particularly when I have fake tanned or when I accidentally have gotten a bit of colour in the summer, on my fairer skin. It has a glowier, more moisturizing finish that can get kind of shiny, when sweating is involved. The formula contains numerous emollients and tocopherol and not much else. My favourite way to use this sunscreen was actually mixed with the aforementioned Paula’s Choice option to get my perfect colour and finish.
This mineral-sunscreen-moisturizer-hybrid was one of the products that got me through early lockdown, when my was red, raw, sore and flaky. It has a moisturizing lotion kind of vehicle and contains antioxidants, skin-soothing ingredients like liquorice root, a peptide, fatty acids and barrier repairing ingredients. From what I’ve read and experienced, the particles are nano sized but this allows for the soothing mineral sunscreen to not cling to dry patches and apply evenly, with basically no cast. On my fairer skin, I basically do not experience a cast; instead, it has a slight grey-beige cast that diffuses redness without depositing any kind of colour. I will note that the finish it leaves is dewy and it does have a glowy kind of sheen to it but it never angers my skin, even in the phase where everything was angering my skin. It’s also a fantastic sunscreen choice when you’ve overdone it with the acids or retinoids.
2020 has been a year of eczema outbreaks for me on body, unfortunately, but I have become better at dealing with it as a result. This cream is one that I’ve repurchased multiple times and have used twice daily to decrease itchiness and irritation and help to repair my quite frankly damaged skin barrier. This fragrance-free cream contains 1% colloidal oatmeal to soothe the skin and act as a skin protectant, mineral oil and castor seed oil, soothing liquorice root extract and a barrier-repairing ceramide. It feels comforting on the skin and doesn’t sting on super irritated patches.
This thick and kind of greasy balm has helped me tremendously throughout the year, allowing for some painfully itchy and sore eczema patches to heal. Applying it regularly on these patches allows them to heal, and keeps the dryness and itchiness at bay to a certain extent. If I’m feeling very broken out, I’ll use it all over areas but I usually just use it on patches of dry irritated skin. It contains glycerin, fatty alcohols, dimethicone and oat to seal moisture in and repair the skin. The formula is very bare bones and fragrance free but it works incredibly well to seal moisture in super dry and irritated areas.
I originally fell in love with this petrolatum and mineral oil based ointment as a lip balm for my chronically dry, flaky and chapped lips. However, I came to rely on it to keep moisture in chapped patches of skin from mask wearing or random causes around my mouth, eyes and nose. It also contained panthenol, glycerin and bisbolol so it’s healing in the sense beyond being just a pure occlusive agent. It does contain lanolin as well, which can be an issue with some people prone to eczema.
I’m one of those girls who lives and breathes for the Fall; however in typical me tradition, my skin went super dry and dehydrated and I came down with a bad combination case of allergies and flu-cold- virus-hybrid when the season truly emerged. I was exhausted, dry and itchy and not sleeping well at all. These are the products that I heavily relied on during this time and continued to use even when I started to feel better, but still kind of felt like my skin was cracking. They also were a lifesaver when it got actually cold and my skin freaked out yet again.
This acid toner that I tried in the Caroline Hirons Summer Kit had become — and continues to be — my most frequent choice for a chemical exfoliant and it’s been a godsend as my skin went sore, parched and a bit more sensitized. It features a blend of lactic acid, gluconolactone, niacinamide and a few barrier-enforcing ingredients. It’s a gentler choice and helped my skin remain bright, even in texture and minimally flaky.
This is the mist that changed my mind on mists. I honestly was starting to believe mists were watered-down milky toners until I tried this one. It contains only eight ingredients and works wonders to plump up and to sandwich in the moisture underneath my milky toner and serum. It contains glycerin, soothing allantoin and the peptide carnosine. Best of all, it never stings on pissed off skin.
I have zero qualms about putting snail slime on my face. I’m not entirely sure what that says about me. Nevertheless, this gel-serum is 96% snail mucin and also features betaine, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol and allantoin. It’s a fantastic humectant serum that is really healing, deeply hydrating and delightfully non active. It’s great for plumping up that kind of sick tired skin and injecting moisture. I also reckon it would be amazing on hungover skin…
This was another product that I was introduced to by the Caroline Hirons Summer Kit and likely wouldn’t have tried otherwise. It’s an expensive milky serum, with niacinamide, squalane, plant oils and a bunch of soothing plant extracts with antioxidant activity. I found it to be concentrated enough to maybe even be worth the money — it’s lasting me months — and definitely barrier reinforcing. I will note that on my most irritated skin days, there was a tiny hint of a sting around the eyes — but this is likely due to the few essential oils it contains. Essential oils aren’t my favourite but I’m pleased that they aren’t citrus or peel oils. This is an awesome serum for sensitized skin and a pissed off skin barrier. It’s so moisturizing, I could get away with using without a moisturizer on top on my dry skin.
I’ve been loving having this fluffy shea butter containing moisturizer back in my life, especially dealing with dry, dehydrated and irritated skin. It has omega-rich plant oils, fatty acids, ceramides and squalane. It’s really great on sore skin and helps to maintain a healthy skin barrier. Not only is it a favourite to apply after serums and treatments at night, it also wears fantastically under makeup. It’s a good one also to wear underneath a mask to help protect sensitive skin from being aggressed further.
For months, it had been so hot and humid that I wouldn’t dream of reaching for an actual foundation and instead was relying exclusively on tinted sunscreens. Now that cooler weather is in bloom, I’ve been enjoying using a small pump of this lightweight skin like foundation applied with my finger tips. It has a luminous finish and sits in the versatile medium-coverage category. It feels lightweight and doesn’t require being set.
On the days I can muster the energy to do more than get myself out of bed and slap some skincare on my face, I have been really enjoying playing with eyeshadow. I recently tried out this palette and have been loving the quality and warm, neutral and smokey colour story. There are a bunch of mattes that serve as blending colours, crease colours and deeper shades to add depth, pretty satin and sheeny shades and fun metallic shades and micro glitters. The shadows are easy to work with and wear well. I enjoy the variety of light to mid-toned shades to use as lid colours and the overall burgundy-plum shift to the palette. The blue duo chrome shade is also to die for. I love that I have so many options with this palette and don’t find myself needing to pull from other palettes or single shadows.
Despite being a fine haired gal with a head of waves and looser curls. I’ve been loving using this thicker richer styler as a cream paired underneath a gel. I have high porosity hair that forms juicy clumps with a richer kind of cream and I’m enjoying this one in soaking wet hair. I’m liking how much control this cream gives to my hair and how concentrated the product is. I enjoy the boost of protein along with the glycerin, castor seed oil and shea butter. It also works well to keep my hair in clumps for multiple days and revives clumps on subsequent days. I can also get away with this cream as a single styler.
Ever since the chill has come into the air, I’ve been happily wearing this fragrance that’s actually from the men’s line. It’s a warm boozy vanilla that isn’t too sweet or too overpowering. It’s not so intense that it’ll last an obscene amount of time but I find it easier to wear on more casual occasions as a result. This is warm and cozy in a bottle and definitely reminds me of Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon that’s no longer available.
I legitimately have spent enough money at Sephora to maintain my VIB Rouge status from these biannual — or sometimes more frequently if we’re lucky — savings events the last three years. Starting today, October 30th, VIB Rouge members will have access to 20% off until November 9th. Beginning November 3rd, VIB members will have access to 15% off until the 9th as well and beginning November 5th, any Beauty Insider member will have access to 10% off until the 9th as well. The code is HOLIDAYFUN and can be used as many times as one desires. Here are some products I’m interested in or would suggest you think about:
The Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Hair Mask might actually be my holy grail deep conditioner and those aren’t words I use lightly. This kit also comes with a full sized deep conditioner along with their scalp scrub shampoo for only a little bit more than the price of the deep conditioner alone. The mask is lightweight, silicone-free and contains a myriad of oils, biotin and some hydrolyzed proteins. It always leaves my wavy curls bouncier, clumpier and moisturized — the slip is also out of this world fantastic. The scalp scrub shampoo is a more recent discovery of mine and I enjoy using it as well — and it’s expensive so this kit is appealing. It doesn’t contain sulfates but it has more deep cleansing surfactants than I would usually use, leaves my sensitive scalp feeling soothed and refreshed and my hair not dried out. I’m usually against essential oils but I love the peppermint when I’m in need of clarifying.
Because the very thought of running out of the cult-favourite hair mask gives me feelings of anxiety and because I’ve wanted to foray into their other mask offerings, I picked up this set during the Friends and Family Sale. I must say that for the price of the full-size classic deep conditioner — and a full sized product — this holiday kit provides excellent value. It has a full sized honey rendition of the classic mask that I’ve always wanted to try and two smaller tubes of the classic Don’t Despair, Repair and the new protein-free Be Gentle Be Kind Avocado + Kiwi Mega Moisture Superfood Mask.
While the most heat I’ve used on my hair in a year has been a diffuser, I would still recommend this leave-in cream for those of you who blow dry or flat iron slash curl your hair. It contains silicones to smooth out the hair and, lock out humidity and protect the hair from heat damage — but I never experienced build up using a sulfate-free shampoo either. It doesn’t provide loads of hold but leaves the hair smooth, shiny, moisturized and super-soft. It’s a particularly great cream to use while blow-drying even wavy-curly hair into a smoother style.
I’ve always been a curl cream kind of girl and that hasn’t changed since I’ve started or restarted the curly girl method. However, I’ve been struggling with finding the right one to help my waves and curls clump and form nice curls — especially since that whole Devacurl debacle began and I can no longer recommend their creams. Despite this being marketed as a custard and for way tighter textures, it’s an excellent medium to rich textured cream with light-medium hold. It’s silicone-free but contains castor seed oil, fatty alcohols, shea butter, hydrolyzed proteins and amino acids, glycerin and plant oils. I tend to pair it with a gel but I don’t have to and I actually don’t have to use much product in my thirsty, high-porosity waves and curls.
I’m borderline fanatical about using a balm or oil cleanser to dissolve sunscreen and makeup thoroughly with ease and minimal disruption to my admittedly fragile skin barrier — and this is one I’ve had my eye on. I’m not even sure if it’ll be eligible for a discount but I’m not sure I care. It’s fragrance-free, in tube packaging and contains sweet almond oil and oat kernel oil, along with soothing oat extract. It’s no frills but I’ve heard amazing things.
This milky toner and moisturizer hybrid might seem boring as sin but it’s been a love of mine since I discovered it. It has a thick milky toner-lotion consistency that adds loads of hydration, soothing action and can function as a toner for drier skin types or a liquid moisturizer for the more sebum-blessed. It has an incredibly short and simple ingredient list: glycerin, meadow foam seed oil, vitamin e and tea extract. I’ve found it helps with hydration, protecting and repairing the skin barrier and leaves the skin luminous.
This warm peachy-coral toned neutral palette is among my best makeup purchases of 2020. Ever since I bought it, it’s been my daily go-to palette; it’s easy, simple and has all of the shades I find myself reaching for on a daily basis. I love the variety of finishes and just how easy the drier formula shadows are to work with. I’m enjoying this edit format of Viseart’s palettes, as you get the versatility of one of the larger palettes and a variety of finishes. I would highly recommend Viseart shadows in general, but this format is my specific pick.
This is actually a pick in my current small cart for the sale. A close friend of mine absolutely raves about the Huda Beauty shadows — I’ve never tried before — and in particular, this palette. I like the combination of some neutral shades in a variety of finishes, along with some pops of colour. Some of the colours are a bit outside of my comfort zone but I’m excited to play with the blues and purples — both shades are notoriously difficult to formulate but I’ve heard great things about these versions.
Those who have been long time readers of my little old blog here and those who I’ve waxed poetically about makeup to in real life will be aware of my love for the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder formula. I have a bunch of the blushes — which I absolutely love –, a highlighter — that I’m not in love with — and a semi-shattered palette of the original powders but I’ve held off on buying the larger palettes they tend to release each year. The large palettes are very expensive, kind of impractical — I mean, I don’t always reach for large face palettes in my day-to-day makeup life — and are worse value for money than buying the original individual products but I’m happy with this one that I bought in the Friends & Family Sale. It features the powders in Diffused Light and Dim Light — which are the two shades I’d be most likely to use anyway, a pretty champagne highlighter, Glistening Strobe Light, two blushes in Mood Exposure and Vibrant Flush and Natural Bronze Light. The powders are some of my favourites as a powder-disliking gal on the fairer end of the spectrum.
Will you be buying anything in the sale? Maggie, x.
I feel the daggers being spliced into my eyeballs any time I ever mention that I’m kind of over the heat and humidity of the summer and am looking forward to fall. Regardless, I’ve found some essential products in this season of heat, humidity, sweat and mask wearing. Can you tell I’ve had this post sitting in drafts for a while? Regardless, let’s get to my product staples that helped to keep me sane over the summer:
While this non-foaming cleansing milk does contain a bit of fragrance, it has become one of my favourite gentle cleansers, especially because it both removes makeup and gently cleanses the skin. It’s one of the few cleansers I can massage into my eyelids without stinging or irritation and it does remove makeup fairly well — but not quite as well as an oil or balm — and cleanses, leaving the skin hydrated and soothed. I use it as a first cleanse when I’m not wearing shedloads of makeup or as a second after I use a balm or oil. It contains soothing oat, antioxidant tea extract and liquorice root extract. It was a blessing, especially when dealing with an impaired skin barrier or generally angry skin.
Honestly, since the whole pandemic situation, I think I’ve been rather lucky on the mask-ne front. I dealt with some chin breakouts at the very beginning when I was dealing with the horrifically irritated skin. I accredit my skin staying clear to using this acid toner along with Differin a few nights a week. This contains a mixture of AHAs — but no glycolic acid –, salicylic acid, polyhydroxy acid and niacinamide. Vinegar is used as a stabilizer which you can definitely feel and smell on the skin but I find my skin brighter and resurfaced when I use this exfoliant 3-4 times a week. I would not describe it as a gentle entry-level kind of exfoliant, however. I’m still rolling my eyes at the stupid tingling marketing; the tingle is not indicative of the acids working, the tingle is indicative of the vinegar the formula uses to stabilize it.
I’m not sure where to even categorize this gel-cream in terms of my routine but I’ve been enjoying using it as a humectant-slash-pre-spf-moisturizer. In the cooler months, I’ll sometimes use a full-on moisturizer underneath my spf-containing moisturizer but in this generally sweaty weather, I’ve been happily applying this cream to combat dehydration, draw moisture to the skin and add some general protection from the elements. Some of the ingredients would do better in different packaging but I do love the cream inside. It contains mandelic acid, polyhydroxy acid, glycerin, acetyl glucosamine and squalane. These ingredients almost all function as humectants, drawing moisture to the skin and a few work by imparting a brightening effect via surface exfoliation. I also like the brightening effect this gel-cream offers via its sheer pink tint it has.
A reoccurring theme this summer has been sweating and complaining about humidity and thus, I’ve enjoyed a tinted sunscreen with a lighter texture and more of a semi-matte finish. It’s a fairly pale greyish tint that has sheer to light coverage and matches my relatively fair skin — but I get my best match when I add a bit of the Avene Tinted Mineral Fluid to add some warmth, match my body and add back a bit of glow. It’s super lightweight and is somewhat mattifying but does not dry out my already dry skin when I use a moisturizer underneath. I’ve been enjoying using this as my daily sheerer base with added sun and antioxidant protection.
On days that I’m leaning drier or am going to wear more of a traditional foundation, I reach for this mineral SPF-moisturizer hybrid. With a serum underneath, I enjoy that I don’t reach for a separate moisturizer — unless I’m feeling extra — and am left with my redness diffused, my skin brightened and more luminous skin overall. There’s a very very very faint greyish cast that fades quickly but you are left with a glowy kind of sheen that isn’t for anyone wanting to look anything close to matte. The vehicle is a lightweight but hydrating lotion with soothing liquorice, kiwi, ascorbyl glucoside, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and niacinamide as antioxidants, along with a peptide and fatty acids. It’s great for dry sensitized skin along with anyone else looking for a glow and a robust formula.
An everyday staple in my makeup routine has been this cream bronzer. The formula is creamy, easy to blend and lasts all day. The colour is actually a nice warm caramel that’s light-medium in tone and adds shape to the face while helping my face match my darker body. The colour is buildable — but builds quickly — and melts nicely even into dry skin. It actually wears well over sore, dry and flaky skin, which was a godsend.
This palette is more of a recent addition but it’s the perfect everyday eyeshadow palette for me. It’s a warm neutral palette — how shocking — with a mixture of mattes and shimmers and leans a bit peachy-crimson in the overall tone selection. These shades are really flattering on my blue eyes and slightly warm-toned fairish skin and blend like a dream, have the most minimal fallout and have a nice buildable formula that lasts. The shimmers are creamy and the mattes are on the drier end of the spectrum but are my favourites to work with, as per usual. I love how compact the palette is while having a mirror and twelve sizeable shades.
Have you tried any of these products? Do you have any favourites to share?
As promised, I’m following up with the remaining products that I’ve used up over the summer. If you’d like to hear me ramble on about products for fine wavy hair and eczema, read on.
Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream ($15.49 CDN | 226g)
This is one of the better moisturizers I’ve used on my eczema prone areas (legs and inside of elbows) that actually has helped with the tightness and areas of dermatitis. It never stung even on more active eczema patches and actually had a soothing effect. It’s fragrance free, contains 1% colloidal oatmeal, glycerin, castor seed oil, mineral oil, fatty alcohols, liquorice root, a ceramide and piroctone olamine (an anti fungal ingredient). Using this cream daily might actually have decreased the itchiness and inflammation and I would buy again. The texture was a thick and moisturizing but not unpleasant cream. I did buy again.
While this body moisturizer wasn’t one that I reached for during an eczema flare, I’m definitely going to repurchase. It’s fragrance-free, free of irritants and has a nice lightweight soothing lotion texture that’s enough for dry and tight skin in my experience. It contains 5% urea, shea butter, a myriad of barrier-restoring ingredients (sometimes called natural moisturizing factors), a little bit of lactic acid and a ceramide. I really liked using this on my back, chest and upper arms that’s prone to blemishes, keratosis pilaris and general bumpiness/roughness. It worked well overall in keeping my skin hydrated, smoothed and soothed. I noticed an improvement to skin texture and was enjoyable to use with a lightweight texture and easy to use pump packaging.
Cerave Moisturizing Cream ($26.99 CDN | 539 g)
This cream is a tried and true favourite of mine. While it doesn’t cure my eczema and can kind of sting when going over irritated and broken skin, it’s one of those rich but not overly heavy creams that decreases itchiness when used daily and helps to heal my extremely fragile barrier on my body. I love the new jar with a pump on it packaging, as you get the ease of a pump but can get every last bit of the emollient cream out with minimal effort. It contains glycerin, fatty alcohols, ceramides, emollients and a bunch of natural moisturizing factors. I will always repurchase. It’s actually a decent moisturizer for the face too, especially when your a bit irritated and dry.
Cerave Renewing SA Lotion ($17.99 CDN | 237 mL)
As a teenager and into my early twenties, I dealt with stubborn moderate acne on my chest and back that was resistant to just about anything. One of the things that really helped was using gentle products and using a leave-on acid-containing exfoliant. This lotion is a comforting option that contains 3% salicylic acid — but at a slightly higher pH which mitigates any sort of sting and irritation — along with mineral oil, ceramides, fatty alcohols, lactic acid, vitamin d and natural moisturizing factors. It works well to keep my back and chest clear — and to heal the minor blemishes quickly without irritation – and to keep the texture on my arms smooth. I actually find it gentle enough to use on my eczema-prone areas as well. Too bad it seems to be out of stock everywhere in Canada…
Bioderma Atoderm Hand + Nails Cream ($9.90 CDN | 50 mL)
This was actually a gift but I could see myself buying it if the mood struck me. It has a nostalgic scent, the slightly floral spa-scent of their Hydrabio line. It has a nice comforting texture that doesn’t take too long too sink in. I liked using it, especially during the current era of frequent hand washing. The fragrance can definitely be irritating but I don’t mind using it on my hands and dry patches throughout the day. It has some glycerin, some shea butter, a bit of niacinamide and their typical soothing blend of sugars.
This is a favourite of mine for my fine tangly but full head of waves and curls. It’s great bang for the buck as I don’t find I actually have to use a substantial amount of the bottle to smooth through and detangle my hair. It contains some protein along with the butters and oils and helps to clump my curls together. It doesn’t weigh down my hair unless I leave in an excessive amount. I’d buy again.
This is my favourite hair mask or deep conditioner that I’ve ever tried. It’s a nice balance of moisture and protein with a number of plant oils, hydrolyzed proteins and biotin. It has amazing slip for detangling purposes and requires very little product to see results even on my super-long head of hair. It’s very lightweight but still adds lasting hydration, body and shape to my wavy curls and always guarantees a good hair day afterwards. I repurchased right after I ran out. It’s silicone free and doesn’t contain anything drying or otherwise problematic.
As I Am Dry & Itchy Scalp Cowash ($14.99 CDN | 454 g)
I actually ended up really loving this cleansing conditioner of sorts. It offered significantly more cleansing power than a typical ‘cowash’ or just using conditioner as a cleanser, and did help with my dry itchy scalp throughout the cold winter months. Despite usually being sensitive to essential oils, I did really enjoy the peppermint and tea tree smell in this cowash and it lasted days on me. The best part about this cowash is that it offers amazing slip and really moisturizes the hair while cleansing and therefore is a great multitasking product, as you don’t even need a conditioner step afterwards. I tend to alternate using this with a regular sulfate-free shampoo. It also contains 1% of zinc pyrithione, and I’d buy again. I’m using their original cowash at the moment, however. It’s silicone-free as well. I’d buy again. I’m currently using their classic formulation.
I’m both proud of and slightly horrified by the number of products — mostly skincare — that I’ve used up since early spring. I’ve been slowly downsizing the excessive products that I own — not that I haven’t broken down and purchased a few more than I needed — and here are my thoughts. I’ve actually gone through so much body care and general skin care in recent months, especially dealing with horrifically angry skin from wearing a mask, increased hand washing and the like. Let’s get to it, or rather to the first part of my empty products to be reviewed…
Cerave Hydrating Cleanser ($17.99 CDN | 355 mL)
This is a great gentle soap-free cleanser for skin that is dry, undergoing sensitizing treatments or is just prone to irritation. This was a saviour when I was reacclimatizing to using Differin and experiencing irritation from wearing a mask. It’s fragrance-free and contains ceramides, glycerin and hyaluronic acid. The texture is a thicker gel that never foams and feels quite soothing on the skin. It’s a forever repurchase for me and I’m happy to see that it’s now available in a larger size as well.
Despite normally being the kind of girl whose face feels tight at the very thought of a gel cleanser, I loved this one. It contains a number of gentler surfactants but no soap of sulfates, goes onto dry skin as a soothing gel and later emulsifies into a frothy milk. It feels refreshing without being anything resembling drying with soothing ingredients like amino acids, green tea, liquorice root and fatty acids. I will be repurchasing. It also doesn’t sting my eyes and actually removes makeup pretty well, whilst being a ‘skin’ cleanser.
Laneige Bright Renew Original Serum ($59 CDN | 40 mL)
Sadly, Laneige appears to have phased out this milky serum when they kind of rebranded their brightening line. It contains squalane, niacinamde, green tea, liquorice root and beta glucan and offered lightweight hydration when patted into the skin. It contains ingredients that I found helped my skin remain bright and radiant, fade hyper-pigmentation and added a dose of anxtioxidants. The Laneige Bright Dew OriginalEssence seems to be the replacement, although it’s a bit more expensive and appears to have the niacinamide replaced with ethyl ascorbic acid.
Kate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Serum ($110 CDN | 30 mL)
This was the perfect type of serum for me to incorporate over the last four or so months when my skin was freaking out from the mask wearing and when I decided to reintroduce a prescription retinoid into my routine perhaps a little too quickly and hastily. I really enjoyed it but it was quite expensive and I want to explore other options. If I came across it on a good sale, however, I would buy. This is a soothing, calming and barrier repairing milky serum, loaded with glycerin, ceramides, nourishing plant oils, antioxidants and anti-irritants. I appreciate that the bottle is opaque and thus the antioxidants will remain stable after being exposed to light.
Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($37 US | 30 mL)
I finished up my second bottle of this AHA-serum hybrid a few days ago and happily moved onto my third bottle — in the new slightly improved packaging as well. It’s not cheap but I don’t mind spending on such a sophisticated formula and I often find good sales from Paula’s Choice. It contains a 10% blend of glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid and tartaric acid, along with 0.5% of salicylic acid to keep pores clear and congestion at bay. The serum has a slightly milky water-gel texture and along with the alpha hydroxy acids, contains peptides, ceramides, liquorice root extract, green tea extract, oat bran extract, chamomile and allantoin. I tend to use it up to a few times a week in the place of my usual chemical exfoliant and serum. Also the packaging keeps the antioxidants and replenishing ingredients stable and protected from light. It’s an effective AHA that’s easy to tolerate, in a nutshell. It pleasantly doesn’t ever sting my skin, despite containing glycolic acid.
The Ordinary “B” Oil ($9.20 CDN | 30 mL)
For years, I’ve loved using a few drops of an oil blend — preferably one formulated without essential oils or other irritants — in the treatment stage as a skin soother, to add additional antioxidant protection and to sandwich in moisture and comfort. This is a medium weight oil blend that follows that criteria and is housed in appropriate packaging. It contains squalane, the antioxidant, bisabolol, marula, argan, baobab, patula, brazil nut, inca inchi, rosehip and borage oil, and an interesting amount of a micro-algae. I would consider buying again after I’m finished with the oils I currently am using. It was very soothing and anti-inflammatory.
When I wasn’t using the above mentioned facial oil, I happily used this classic essential-oil-free oil blend. It’s an investment buy for me but I found myself buying yet again for the third time, when I found this oil on another good sale. It smells like a good Greek salad dressing in the best way and contains a mixture of omega-rich and antioxidant-rich oils including blackberry seed oil, blueberry seed oil, grapeseed oil, cranberry seed oil, meadow foam seed oil and cumin seed oil. Afterwards, my inflammation goes way down, my skin glows and retains hydration.
Bioderma Sensibio AR ($25.90 CDN | 40 mL)
This was a really good moisturizer with a minimal ingredients list that was replenishing and soothing. It contains glycerin, mineral oil, probiotic ingredients, liquorice root extract, allantoin and green tea. It never burned or stung on my reactive skin, even when it’s quite irritated. It’s fragrance-free and has a minimal but effective ingredient list that definitely targets dryness, dehydration and inflammation. It was effective without being heavy in the slightest. I don’t plan on repurchasing soon but I wouldn’t be opposed to using again.
This was an item I actually chose from Fabfitfun to receive and I didn’t realize that I was a fan of it until I chose to receive it again. This packaging looks a little different than the airless jars because it’s your traditional jar with limited edition packaging composed of 25% plastic ocean waste. It’s a nice soothing runny cream that I got along well with and would think even those with a more combination or acne-prone skin would enjoy. It’s almost fragrance-free — there’s a plant extract or two that contain fragrance — and feels comforting and lightweight on the skin. It contains soothing lactose and goat’s milk which have humectant properties, boost barrier function with the fat molecules they contain and combat inflammation and redness. It also features witch hazel flower water which has antioxidant activity — but can be slightly irritating when used in higher concentrations — and antioxidant-rich plant oils. I would prefer it housed in the airless jar but regardless, I enjoyed it, particularly on my sensitive neck and chest.
This is a fantastic moisturizer with antioxidants, soothing ingredients and barrier-repairing ingredients that also contains SPF 50 sunscreen with chemical filters. What I love is the hydrating lotion vehicle and that my sensitive and reactive skin can actually tolerate the chemical actives without experiencing irritation. I repurchased as an everyday sunscreen-moisturizer hybrid, even though the sunscreen actives aren’t the most photostable; it’s a joy to apply and you don’t have to worry about a cast or any sort of clinging to dry patches. It contains shea butter, allantoin, niacinamide, liquorice root and oat extracts which I think help my skin tolerate the chemical actives. This was so good that was cut in half and used to the last drop so it didn’t appear in the picture.
I’ve been using and loving this hydrating mask for years, despite the fact the ingredients list does not particularly thrill me. It’s always contained a bunch of fragrance, potentially irritating plant extracts and citrus peel oils galore. It’s actually been reformulated so it has niacinamide but also has some drying alcohol towards the middle of the list but the fragrance, citrus oils and plant extracts remain. What I love about this mask is that it has a pleasant creamy thicker texture that feels soothing on the skin and sinks in, leaving long-lasting hydration. I have repurchased it before but I think I’ll try something else first. Also, I dumbly forgot to photograph this one!
With the pandemic going on in the world and many of us spending hours each and every day wearing a mask, I think many of us have been taking skincare more seriously and have been following a routine of sorts much more diligently. Following a routine has helped me in two drastic ways: one, it helped me get through the phase of sore, reddened and sensitized skin and two, the ritual of following a routine and taking time to unwind has actually been quite therapeutic. I thought it seemed fitting that I share some thoughts on products I’ve been incorporating more recently.
I don’t think I would have come across this comforting cleansing cream if it weren’t an option in my Fall 2020 Fabfitfun box but it’s one I’ve been enjoying using, especially as the weather is changing and my skin is getting dehydrated with the change in season (yet again). It contains glycerin, sweet almond oil, fatty alcohols and soothing plant extracts towards the top of the ingredient list. It leaves my skin moisturized and not stripped — which is no surprise because it contains only one mild detergent — and feeling soothed. It contains some fragrance at the bottom of the ingredient list but just the synthetic kind; it doesn’t strike me as irritating and it’s an appealing spa-like gourmand scent. It’s also a middle of the road kind of makeup remover.
Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking with this cleanser. Not only is it laden with fragrance, it does contain those fragrant essential oil extracts that I can tend to react to. I think I was just overexcited about adding a new cleanser to my rotation. It’s a hydrating, lotion cleanser that’s soap-free and doesn’t contain any sort of harsh surfactants. It does have a kind of pleasant herbal scent and I can enjoy it in small doses, especially as a refreshing second cleanser. However, I would avoid the eye area completely with the essential-oil-based fragrance and salicylic acid it contains. I’d actually quite enjoy this cleanser, if they omitted the lavender, rosemary and citrus peel essential oils.
Neutrogena Bright Boost Gel Cream ($34.99 CDN | 50 mLs)
Although I wish it wasn’t packaged in a semi-translucent jar, — but honestly is that any worse than a clear dropper bottle???? — I do love this humectant-rich gel cream. It contains a potent dose of glycerin, mandelic acid, gluconolactone, skin-replenishing and theoretically exfoliating acetyl glucosamine and squalane. It binds water to the skin and is quite brightening whilst being gentle. It does contain a wee bit of fragrance, contains some gentler acids to help resurface and even and deposits a slight pale pink tinged luminescence that has a slight blurring and brightening effect. I love using it either in the morning before sunscreen or in the evening pre moisturizer.
This was another skincare item that I chose in a recent Fabfitfun box that has impressed me. Can you believe it’s actually the first hyaluronic acid serum I’ve tried? It contains a few different kinds and molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, panthenol, glycerin and castor oil. It left my skin plumped and hydrated. I liked it as an active-free serum that I used prior to my moisturizer. I appreciated that it was fragrance-free and gentle.
Paula’s Choice Probiotic Nutrient Moisturizer ($42 US | 50 mLs)
This is a sophisticated fluffy gel-cream textured moisturizer that contains prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics along with the usual suspects. It’s a lighter weight moisturizer than I might usually go for — I go for heavy duty soothing moisturizers — but it’s really helped to appease my easily angered skin barrier without the heaviness of a richer cream. I’ve loved it in hot and sweaty humid summer weather. It also contains green tea, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, peptides, a ceramide, niacinamide and a number of barrier reinforcing substances. It smells very much in the same vein as fermented foods, but I don’t mind. I notice a great decrease in inflammation when I use this moisturizer, which I expect is related to having a happier skin micro biome.
Paula’s Choice Super Hydrate Overnight Mask ($34 US | 88 mLs)
Despite being one of the biggest Paula’s Choice cheerleaders around, this mask is not my favourite product for my reactive, dry and dehydrated skin. Due to maybe a combination of the pH of the gel cream, my skin still dealing with sensitivity from mask-wearing and using acids, adalpalene and azelaic acid, my skin stings a minute or two after I apply this — even after incorporating it for a while. The interesting part is that there isn’t really anything in the ingredient list that explains the sensation. It does dissipate, however. It has a lightweight gel cream texture that tackles dehydration really well without much weight — I kind of wish it had more emollients and a richer texture. It contains some really interesting soothing extracts including chrondus crispus, cloudberry, mushroom and some berry-derived extracts — most of which function as antioxidants.
I never thought that I would love a sunscreen lauded for it’s semi-matte finish but in the out of control heat and humidity we’ve been experiencing this summer, I’m in love. I don’t find this light textured tinted mineral sunscreen drying, but I do find myself needing a moisturizer underneath and the slightly grey-tinged fairer tint has been what I’ve been using as a foundation most of the time. The sunscreen sets to a semi-matte finish but feels comfortable even on my dry skin and never feels heavy or greasy, even in hot weather underneath a mask. I’ve actually been mixing it with the Avene Tinted Mineral Fluid recently, as together they leave more of a satin finish that I can prefer as it’s starting to get closer to fall and to warm up the tint slightly. The vehicle doesn’t contain much in terms of emollients but it has a whole host of antioxidants which help to fight free radicals.
Have you added anything to your skincare routine?
Especially with the current horrific state of the Canadian dollar, Paula’s Choice products aren’t as affordable as they once were. However, I have no problem shelling over my funds for their fantastic sunscreen formulas. There’s this weird thing with sunscreen where it only works if you find yourself wanting to apply it. The Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 retails for $29 USD for 2 ounces or 60 mLs, but they offer a nice smaller size to try and run really great sales often. At first I thought this sunscreen was a really nice moisturizer-sunscreen-hybrid that had an impressively minimal white cast — as in seemingly non existent on my fairer skin. However, I would now say that it has a slight beige glow tint to it that may not show up on the skin but is enough to diffuse redness and add a glow. It reminds me of a glowy makeup primer but it’s a sunscreen and a solid protection mineral one at that.
The vehicle of this product is moisturizing enough to be used in the place of moisturizer, but it’s not heavy or greasy. It’s a lightweight and nourishing lotion that features soothing liquorice root, kiwi extract, argan oil, linoleic acid, reservatrol, ascorbyl glucoside and niacinamide. There aren’t visible shimmer particles in the lotion but it leaves a glow behind on the skin. I think a variety of different skin types would enjoy this formula but anyone trying to look matte would likely hate it. When my skin is very dry and in the cooler months, I tend to use this on top of a separate moisturizer but in the hotter months, I get good results using this as my moisturizer.
As someone prone to dry patches and uneven texture on the face, I often find that mineral sunscreens tend to cling to these drier patches in an unflattering way, even if they aren’t drying in formula. This is not the case with this zinc oxide and titanium dioxide containing formula. The cast is minimal and the formula is cosmetically elegant, even over dry patches, but the particles are nano-sized. The slight tint it offers is a result of the ingredients it contains, not the addition of iron oxides, which can offer additional protection from hyperpigmentation. It contains a variety of soothing and brightening ingredients that actually work. I’m kind of over this blue light and pollution protection nonsense but it does offer ample protection and antioxidants.
Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30contains 5.25% titanium dioxide and 6.12% zinc oxide, offering robust protection from all wavelengths of UV light. I note that it does not make claims about water-resistance or sweat-resistance. It’s really comfortable to apply on skin with a compromised barrier and is a joy to wear on its own and underneath makeup. However, I will note that it’s not necessarily a SPF moisturizer I would wear underneath super heavy makeup as it can exacerbate shininess; it does wear fantastically underneath more lightweight sheerer bases. My best guess is also the sheerness of the tint on this sunscreen will make it work on a broad range of skintones, from the fairer end of the spectrum to maybe the deeper end of medium-tan.