shu uemura Fresh Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil
shu uemura Fresh Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil ($67.00 for 15.2 fl. oz.) is designed for combination to oily skin types as a cleansing oil that “effectively remove[s] make-up and ipurities … while maintaining the skin’s necessary moisture level.” It is “empowered with Sakura Complex” to “[minimize] pores by eliminating excess sebum and visibly [smoothe] the skin’s surface.” According to shu uemura, sakura leaf extract is “known to reduce inflammatory mediators that can cause skin redness” and “improve skin texture.” It also contains salicyclic acid and cherry extract. It is available year-round in a regularly pink-tinted bottle but has been relased in special packaging for the ob collection. It’s sold out (in this packaging) online, but if you are located where shu uemura is still sold in stores, you may find it locally.
I’m a big fan of shu uemura’s Cleansing Oils, and I hadn’t tried the Fresh Pore Clarifying formula yet. The last bottle I used was a limited edition bottle released with last holiday season’s wkw collection, which was the “White Recovery EX+ Brightening Cleansing Oil Advanced Formula” (which doesn’t seem to be available in regular packaging on the U.S. website). One giant bottle lasts me anywhere from four to six months. I didn’t love this one as much as the other formulas I’ve tried, because it is very thin–almost water-like in texture. The others were slightly thicker but not so thick that they felt oily or heavy, but this one is so thin that it took some getting used to. I needed to pump it into my hands over the sink, as it would leak through my fingers or pump beyond my hands and get onto the counter/in the sink. I just never noticed this as an issue with the two or three bottles I’ve used previously (different formulas, all cleansing oils). The formula has a very light floral scent that’s pretty muted.
Aside from the consistency/packaging issue, the formula worked well to break down and remove makeup, dirt, and whatever else happened to be on my face. I take two to three pumps and then massage and work it into my skin, and then I rinse my hands under water and then work the oil into a small lather. After that, I rinse my face with lukewarm water and pat dry. I never experience any oily residue, no squeaky clean/tight feeling, or have issues with my eyes clouding during the rinsing process. shu’s cleansing oils are definitely a go-to for me when I’m wearing a full face of makeup, because it gets it all off and I don’t need to follow-up with another cleanser.
Olay Fresh Effects Bead Me Up Exfoliating Cleanser
Olay Fresh Effects Bead Me Up Exfoliating Cleanser ($7.99 for 6.5 fl. oz.) is supposed to be a foaming cleanser that contains microbeads to “gently purify and lift away dirt … [and] softly scrub your skin.” A couple of weeks ago, I grabbed this cleanser to try for an evening cleanser for light makeup days, and I wanted something more budget-friendly. I’ve only used it a handful of times, because every time I use it, it’s like spraying a bottle of perfume on my face (and in my mouth, because it’s so potent, I feel like I can taste it, even though I’m not putting it on my mouth!). It’s extremely high in fragrance; it’s a strong, floral scent. I can’t recall coming across anything that was this strong in fragrance, where I felt like I could taste it (but I know there was a moisturizer, by another brand, that was so heavily scented, I didn’t test it for long either).
The texture is a thick, creamy consistency that squeezes out of the tube. It lathers and foams well, and the beads are there but not in a high concentration, so it is very gentle and seemed suitable to my skin on a regular basis. It didn’t leave my skin feeling stripped or “squeaky” clean, which I liked, and it was able to cleanse away daily dirt and grime–but it doesn’t work well on makeup. It left noticeable amounts of eyeliner, mascara, and medium-coverage foundation when I tried it when I did wear light makeup (I will note, though, that it doesn’t call out removing makeup, but since I know a lot of us like double-duty cleansers, it was still something I tried it with in case it did). I can’t speak to any long-term effects, because it’s really not something I wanted to keep using.
Water, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Oxidized Polyethylene, PEG 200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, Sodium Myristoyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Acrylates Copolymer, PEG 7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Citric Acid, PEG 100, Titanium Dioxide, Fragrance, Lauric Acid, Polyquaternium 10, Disodium EDTA, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Niacinamide, Ascorbic Acid, BHT, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone
Bioelements Ray Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen
Bioelements Ray Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen ($42.00 for 4 fl. oz.) is described as a “hydrating broad spectrum SPF 30 moisturizer to protect skin.” It contains several active ingredients so that there is protection from both UVA and UVB rays (to help remember which is which, I think of “A” for aging and “B” for burning, but you want a broad spectrum sunscreen!).
It has more of a cream consistency, so it is thicker, but it doesn’t feel heavy on. This does make it easier to apply the amount you need for good protection. The spreadability is fairly good, though I do prefer to do half the face at a time to ensure even coverage. It doesn’t feel oily once applied, but it doesn’t fully set for fifteen to twenty minutes. The cream seems white initially but after spreading and working the moisturizer into the skin, the white cast disappeared.
Despite the thicker consistency, the hydration seems appropriate for normal, slightly dry, and slightly oily skin. It didn’t give me quite enough moisture when I had a couple of drier areas on my face during the time I used this (I occasionally get dry areas from over-swatching, especially on cheeks and eyes), but it worked well for most of the time I’ve been using it. It does smell like sunscreen (not coconut and sunscreen or the beach, just sunscreen), which lingers for an hour or so. I had no trouble with applying makeup over this, and it didn’t seem to interfere with the wear of any of the foundations I used. However, if this gets in my eyes, it is painful, so I wouldn’t wear this if I was going to be active outdoors (enough to sweat on the face) or heading into water (pool, ocean, lakes, etc.).
Overall, I liked it, and I think it works well: it gives broad spectrum protection and hydrates the skin. I only wished it absorbed faster, because I can imagine that if you were layering this on and needing to apply makeup right after before heading off to work or school, it could be a deal-breaker.
Active: Avobenzone 2.0%, Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5.0%, Octocrylene 7.0%, Oxybenzone 5.0%
Inactive: Allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Carbomer, Cetyl Alcohol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantium (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Leaf Oil, Cyclopentailoxane, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycol Distearate, Isohexadecane, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, PEG-100 Stearate, Polysorbate 80, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Sodium Hydroxide, Stearyl Alcohol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Titanium Dioxide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Water (Aqua, Eau)
MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator
Finally Permanent: MAC Volcanic Ash
MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator ($28.00 for 3.4 fl. oz.) is supposed to be a “foaming, cleansing, and exfoliating scrub” that combines volcanic ash with sugar crystals that is supposed to “leave skin feeling soft and comfortable clean.” I’ve been using this exfoliator on and off since it originally debuted in 2008. Why any brand rolls out limited edition skincare (or other basics, like eyeliners) is beyond my comprehension, but MAC has continued to re-release this exfoliator since 2008 in limited edition quantities. However, it is now part of the permanent skin care range!
It’s a great sugar-based exfoliator that spreads evenly, easily, and foams and lathers up as you massage the granules against the skin. It definitely leaves skin feeling softer and smoother in a few minutes. I prefer using this in the shower–still, even after all these years!–because it also has black ash that creates a gray lather, so it’s easier to make sure it all washes off and doesn’t stay on the counter in the shower. I haven’t used it in awhile, but I used it last night, and it is really a nice exfoliator. It’s simple, effective, and is fun to use.
I was looking back on my previous reviews, though, and I was surprised to see the price of this change $8.50 over the past three years ($9.00 over the past four years, plus after it re-released the first time and they put it in a new tube and did some reformulation, quantity went down by about 25%). It’s more observation than anything else, as I so rarely repurchase skincare that I’m not certain how much other brands increase skincare prices year-to-year. MAC says it can be used on both face and body, but at this price point, it’ll just be a facial exfoliator for me!
Lancome Bienfait Multi-vital SPF 30 Sunscreen Cream
Just Hydration — by Lancome
Lancome Bienfait Multi-vital SPF 30 Sunscreen Cream ($45.00 for 1.70 oz.) is supposed to have 24-hour hydration with a greaseless formula and contains SPF 30. For sun protection, the active ingredients are Avobenzone 3.0% (UVA I) Octisalate 5.0% (UVB), and Octocrylene 7.0% (UVB), so the formula does not protect against the UVA II portion of the spectrum.
I tested this moisturizer out, because I was looking for something with sun protection (ideally, you’d get full coverage across both UVA and UVB ranges, but many sunscreens miss UVA II part of the UVA range) and didn’t want a juiced-up, hopped-up, anti-aging-injected moisturizer. I just wanted something that would 1) hydrate and 2) offer sun protection. I’ve really tried to reduce the amount of skincare products I accept for testing, particularly those that are high in price and (supposedly) high in anti-aging benefits, only because I don’t feel I can adequately test the efficacy of most anti-aging products to ever justify a three-digit price tag. Check back with me in a few years
It’s a thicker cream, but I felt like it was rather airy–so it didn’t feel too heavy in the jar, and it had great spreadability on the skin. It took about fifteen to twenty minutes to absorb and really sink in, but after that, it didn’t feel greasy or look oily. I wore it under makeup numerous times, and it did not interfere with the longevity of my foundation, blush, and the like. It hydrated incredibly well; my skin never felt dry or parched in the evening, and some lighter-weight moisturizers can leave me anxious to take off my makeup and apply my night cream.
The elephant in the room is the amount of fragrance Lancome puts into their skincare range. Bienfait Multi-Vital was tamer compared to other Lancome moisturizers I’ve tried, but it was still heavily scented with a nondescript floral perfume. Because of the scent, amount, and that it’s not a scent I want to tolerate, I wouldn’t purchase a jar.
I only tested this product for three weeks or so, because Shaun was also using this (mostly) daily in the morning as well–much to my dismay, of course. If I don’t give him his own moisturizer, he will steal whatever is my section of the bathroom counter! I did ask him for feedback, and he didn’t have much, other than it has a strong scent but otherwise worked well for him.
NARS Skin Aqua Gel Luminous Oil-Free Moisturizer
Lightweight, Quick-Absorbing – Better for Oily Skin Types
NARS Skin Aqua Gel Luminous Oil-Free Moisturizer ($58.00 for 1.8 oz.) is described as a “aqua-rich gel-cream that hydrates, revitalizes, and fortifies the skin.” It’s supposed to improve water retention, keep skin feeling supple, and soften fine lines. It is “synthetic fragrance-, paraben-, alcohol-, and oil-free,” according to NARS.
In the past, I’ve used the previous version of the Aqua Gel, and I really liked it and found it hydrating enough for my skin type (normal-to-dry; more normal when I was testing this, as it was during the summer). It was actually a go-to product for when my skin was getting dry. A lot of what was great about the original is true here: it’s lightweight, feels and glides on like a gel-based moisturizer, and it sinks into skin quickly. There is a little tackiness, though, even if it doesn’t look or feel oily/greasy. It has a pleasant smell, though it is hard for me to articulate the scent; it’s not quite herbal, but it seems natural enough–not perfume-y or anything like that. During the summer, it was lovely against the skin, because it felt cool when applied.
This moisturizer is much more suitable for combination to oily skin types; it was not hydrating enough for me with normal skin. I would use it at night, but my skin really need more moisture. NARS says it is ideal for normal to combination/oily skin types, but it was not hydrating enough for when my skin was normal. I went through the jar in a month, only using it at night time. I didn’t notice an impact on minimizing or softening fine lines.
Ultimately, this is a lightweight, quick-absorbing gel moisturizer that will be most suitable for oilier complexions.