The Experiment, Part Two: In Which Things Go A Little Bit Shithouse Crazy

Published on September 7, 2017 by   ·   No Comments

Skin 05Alright kittens: I hope you enjoyed the previous post where I outlined my typical skincare routine.  It’s worked for me for a little while now, but I was getting restless and I was ready for a change.  Or a few changes.  Or ALL THE CHANGES.  You know, whatever.

So here’s what I did (or rather, tried to do, though I was mostly successful at) for this experiment: for the two weeks I was in Arizona, I still did my typical skincare routine – Cleanse, Tone, Treat, Moisturize – but I used products that I had received as samples or minis from Sephora, ipsy, Birchbox, or other places.  There were a few products I used that I have sampled before (which I’ll talk about in the individual sections) but for the most part these were the first time I was using these products.  I wasn’t necessarily looking for products to change my life or to replace my go-tos (which are outlined in the previous post, HERE) but rather to just try out all of these fun products I’d been accumulating and maybe discover some great things to add to my skincare routine.

I’ll talk about each step in a separate section and talking about the products I used and what I thought about them; at the end I’ll give you a rundown of how my skin felt throughout the process and at the end, to see if anything changed or if I’ve decided to make any major changes to my regimen.

Here we go!

Indicates that I ended up using the entire tube or jar during the experiment

Skyn Iceland: Glacial Face Wash with White Willow Bark **
Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare Complete Clarity Daily Facial Exfoliating Polish
Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator – Exfoliating Cleanser
Befine food skin care Exfoliating Cleanser with Brown Sugar, Sweet Almond, & Oats

Skin 06I didn’t notice until I got to Arizona and I unpacked that 3 out of the 4 cleanser samples I had were exfoliating cleansers.  In my last post, I gave my thoughts on exfoliating on a daily basis (ICYMI, I’m against it!) so I ended up using all of the Skyn Iceland Face Wash.  It was good – it has a nice fresh smell to it.  It actually smells a lot like the FAB cleanser but without the unpleasantness.  It’s a generic face cleanser kind of smell: not bad, but nothing special to really get excited about.  It lathered up nicely and always made my face feel clean.  I don’t think I’ll rush right out and pick some up – at $30, it’s even with my GlamGlow and it wasn’t good enough to unseat that favorite!  But it worked pretty well on my oily skin and I was glad I had it so that I didn’t have to grind my face off every damn day with an exfoliator!

Of the 3 exfoliators, the Christie Brinkley was my favorite.  It had the smallest grit particles in it and had a light generic skincare scent.  It’s $35 which for me is too high – it was good, but not that good – but I didn’t have any problems when I used it.

The Vasanti was the least impressive to me.  The smell was ok, but as you worked it in it seemed to get a little bit sour.  Not sure why – maybe it was mixing with my skin oils?  If so, that doesn’t bode well for this product for oily-skinned users!  The grit was fairly small and not that aggressive, but there just wasn’t anything that would convince me to spend $34 on this product.

Finally, the Befine…what to say about this?!  First, I appreciate that it comes in 3 sizes, ranging from 1 to 4 ounces, costing from $10 to $24.  The “sample” which I got from ipsy is actually their 1 ounce size and would cost $10 at retail, which makes me even more impressed with ipsy than I already was.  I really like this product as an occasional exfoliator.  It’s got three types of particles to scrub you clean (brown sugar, oats, and almonds) so it’s effective but very aggressive.  The fact that this is being put forth as a daily cleanser makes me twitchy.  This is almost as gritty as the Burt’s Bees apricot scrub, and I can’t help but feel like it’s irresponsible not to have a warning in the directions about using this on a daily basis.  I liked it, but it would be a once every week or two treatment, not something daily.  Use at your own risk.

Indicates that I ended up using the entire tube or jar during the experiment

Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner *
fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Instant Infusion Treatment Toner *
Jurlique Activating Water Essence
belif Hungarian Water Essence
MAC Lightful C Marine-Bright Formula Softening Lotion (Retail Size – the Rack)

Skin 02I absolutely LOVED the Sunday Riley toner.  It was mattifying, and every day that I used it I felt like my skin kept the oil under control, even if I layered on a lot of the treatment products.  It was wonderful.  It was magical.  But $55 for a fucking toner?  You’re killing me, smalls!  This comes out as a light green gel and really does melt into the skin.  It has a light fresh scent that I really loved.  I just don’t know if I can justify the price tag, especially when I’ve got a toner I love for around $12, but this does make me more likely to consider other Sunday Riley products that I’m interested in.

The fresh toner was my next favorite, but it wasn’t nearly as good as they Sunday Riley – and you know if a bitch isn’t willing to spend $55 on a toner she really likes she ain’t gonna spend $49 on a toner she kinda likes.  No way, no how!  The smell was a little off, but it was light so it didn’t really put me off.  This felt nice enough on my face, but it didn’t clear up my oily patches as well as the Sunday Riley or my trusty Burt’s Bees.  Sorry fresh: you’ve got some great products, but this one won’t make it into my shopping cart anytime soon.

The Jurlique “Activating Water Essence” was nice, but I’m not sure exactly what it was supposed to activate.  It felt nice and clean, and the smell is nice, but it just wasn’t doing it for me.  Even though the Sephora page says it’s for all skin types, it goes on and on about helping to maintain moisturize so maybe it’s just not a good match for my oily face?  Plus, $55…what are all of these companies thinking?!  It’s a fucking toner!

Now the belif – I didn’t finish this sample during the experiment, and when it was over I threw it out.  Some of the products were lighter than others and some worked better than others with my oily skin, but there was only one day where I felt absolutely disgusting and oily all day – and that was the day I used all three of the belif products together.  To be fair, their website doesn’t have it listed under the toner section, so I could be putting faulty expectations on a treatment product but either way I used it twice and those were the two days where I really hated how my face felt and decided that this brand was at least partly to blame.

Because my selection of toners wasn’t that great, I decided that I could bend the rules a bit (since they are MY g.d. rules!) and add in a product that I found while perusing the makeup section at the Tempe Marketplace Nordstrom Rack.  They were promoting the fact that they had in MAC brand products, and I was very excited to see the Lightful C Marine Bright Formula Softening Lotion.  I’ve used one of the Lightful C moisturizers in the past (back when it was first launched as a limited collection, like a millennia ago!) and really loved it, and this product is no different.  It says that it’s a lotion, but the formula is a clear liquid and this cleared my face beautifully and I always had a smooth application for all of the products I used afterward, so whatever you call it I was happy!  It’s still available at retail from the MAC site; it looks like a packaging change is most likely what lead it to the Rack but I would definitely consider picking this one up again in the future!

*Indicates that I ended up using the entire tube or jar during the experiment

Clarins Shaping Facial Lift Total V Contouring Serum *
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream *
Korres Golden Crocus Ageless Saffron Elixir *
Skin Inc Replenish Hyaluronic Acid Serum *
Skin Inc Regenerate Vitamin A Serum
Skin Inc Revitalize Chlorella Serum
Caudalie Premier Cru – The Elixir
belif The True Cream – Aqua Bomb
Algenist Genius Ultimate Anti-Aging Cream
Ren Clean Skincare Flash Hydro-Boost Instant Plumping Emulsion
tarte Pure Maracuja Oil

Skin 01I generally liked the Clarins product; it had a nice tightening feeling that I have had from a Peter Thomas Roth product in the past and it’s nice to feel a product working sometimes – you have a better sense of getting your money’s worth!  And it will be a lot of money – this stuff retails for $81.  I liked it enough that if I were looking to add something or I wanted to add a treatment in for anti-aging I would try rotating this in, but it’s just not at the top of my list.  There are a few others on here that I liked better and those might keep me from picking this up.

The Cloud Cream was really nice, and $52 isn’t bad for a good Hyaluronic treatment product.  I’ve gotten two samples of it recently, so it must be a new product that they’re pushing, but you know I ain’t mad about it.  The scent is light and it’s non-greasy, so this is a nice treatment option for us oily folks.  I’m contemplating adding this to my routine in the near future, even if not for daily use.

The Golden Krocus serum is $98, which should have me running the other way…but for some reason, I’m not.  This has a sweet and musky scent, almost like a perfume, so if you like a lighter, fresher scent (or no scent at all) this might not be the product for you but I personally think it smells sexy and beautiful.  The price is high, but you really only need a few drops for a full application, so this bottle should last a while and I loved the way my face felt when I used it.  I mixed it often with the Skin Inc. serums and the result was fabulous!

Speaking of Skin Inc., these were another favorite especially the AHA Serum for moisturing.  I loved to add these into other products and the formulation melts right into the skin so that you barely even notice it.  Never any sort of heaviness.  I used all of the AHA.  The Vitamin A and Chlorella were ok, but they are supposed to Even Tone/Dark Circles and Brighten respectively, but I didn’t get a real sense that they were doing a lot.  Obviously you need to use something for a while to get really stunning, noticeable results but for something that is supposed to have visible results in terms of redness and dark circles, I wanted to see at least a small improvement.  They felt nice, but there wasn’t the same benefit that I felt with the AHA.  These are only $35 each, or you can get a kit that includes 3 serums and mixing bottle to custom create a serum just for you!

Skin 04The Caudalie was ok (Mama Champagne really liked the sample she tried, so maybe it’s better for drier skin?) but only if I wore it at night.  It’s oily, so going out in the day with this on, with my oily complexion, just wasn’t an option.  For $99, I could never justify it for night use for me, especially since I have several other night treatment products available that work just as good or better for less money.  Oily peeps, I wouldn’t waste your money on this – find something cheaper that will give you more bang for your buck.  Dry folks, get yourself a sample and see how you feel about it.  I won’t judge.

belif was once again a disappointment for me.  It felt too heavy – all three of the products I tried were talking about their water formulation but they all felt super greasy and I just wasn’t a fan.  I decided to keep these to finish up as occasional night treatments but I would never purchase these.

What to say about the Algenist?  I wish I knew.  I wish I knew what it was about this brand.  I wore this cream a couple of times and it felt nice, and it didn’t leave my skin feeling greasy.  I’ve read a ton of reviews online that seem to like them, and even the oily folks give them some love.  So why can’t I get excited about this brand?  I honestly don’t know why they always leave me feeling so meh.  The price isn’t outrageous ($75 – $112 depending on size) but there is nothing that’s jumping out and telling me I HAVE to have this product.  It’s a good product, but it’s just not selling itself to me yet.

Another Hyaluronic Acid treatment, the Ren Hydro-Boost was nice: it had a nice light smell, didn’t make me feel greasy, and made my skin hydrated and supple.  At $42, it isn’t badly priced.  Personally I’m more likely to spend the extra $10 to get the Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench, but if you want to make the decision based on price point, I don’t think an oily face will be disappointed with this product.

tarte Maracuja oil?  No.  Just…no.  The smell is off-putting, it’s terrible for oily skin especially in the daytime, and I just hated the way it felt on my skin even when I used it at night.  I’m keeping this sample around to use as a remover for stubborn liquid lipsticks but it’s not going on my face again.

*Indicates that I ended up using the entire tube or jar during the experiment

Sunday Riley CEO C + E Protect & Repair Moisturizer *
fresh Vitamin Nectar Moisture Glow Face Cream
Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer with Echinacea Greenenvy Honey
L’Occitane Crème Divine
belif The True Cream – Moisturizing Bomb
Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Cream

Skin 07Sunday Riley damn well did it again!  I love this moisturizer!  It’s got a gorgeous citrus scent and applies smoothly.  It’s a little heavier than I like, but not too greasy feeling.  And at $65 it’s less than $10 more than the moisturizer I’m using currently.  Vitamin C is one of the ingredients I see recommended most often for 50+ skin, but I’ve seen it show up a few times in recommendations for the 40s, so I might have to think about rotating this one in and see how it works with the rest of my “crew.”

The fresh moisturizer was another favorite and at only $42 it’s on par with what I’m already using (much cheaper than the GlamGlow but similar to the Ole Henriksen).  It has a light and, well, fresh scent that is nice and doesn’t feel too greasy – I’d say it’s even lighter than the Sunday Riley.  This is a great option if you’re looking for something natural that won’t break the bank.

The Farmacy was good, and it’s another great option if you’re looking in the $40 range, but it falls firmly in 3rd place for me.  The smell is nice and light and just a little reminiscent of honey, and it feels good on the skin except that it has a bit of stickiness when it dries down. Any time I used this, I would spray my face with some MAC Charged Water and it seemed to help, but that stickiness was a detractor for me, definitely.

The Crème Divine was…less than Divine.  I would not recommend for oily skin.  Any time I see that fancy French spelling of crème, it usually means that something is going to feel greasy af and this is no exception.  It’s a thick, stiffer formula and when it applies it melts and leave an oil slick.  No Bueno.  And it’s $110?!  Double no.  I’ll use it up as an overnight treatment, but this I would never purchase.

I’ve already talked about belif twice, and frankly I’m tired of it.  This one had the same exact problems, and I have no faith in this K-beauty brand.  Take a seat, belif!

The Amore Pacific cream has the distinction of being the product that had kind of interesting packaging and totally uninteresting product.  The smell is nice and light but the product didn’t wow me at all.  And for a moisturizer that starts…starts…at $150 for the smaller size, you’d better have some wow factor.  Sadly this just doesn’t.  I’ll take a pass.


dr. brandt PoreDermabrasion pore perfecting exfoliator
dr. brandt Microdermabrasion age defying exfoliator
Tatcha Polished Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder
Ole Henriksen Truth Sugar Glow Polishing Mask

Skin 03Since I had so much exfoliating going on with those damn cleansers I didn’t want to do too much more, but I had a chance to try each of these one time.

Both of the dr. brandt were really good and they felt like a good, fine grit.  The grit is about the same as the Christie Brinkley cleanser, but the instructions here say to use one to two times per week with at least 3 days in between uses, so I felt vindicated in my exfoliation beliefs!  These give you a nice gentle polish and my skin felt rejuvenated without being raw after use.  The Pore Perfector is $58 and the Age Defying is $79 so it’s up to you to decide how much the “age defying” stuff is worth – they both felt about the same to me and I didn’t notice any real difference in the results afterward.

The Tatcha powder, which retails for a staggering $65, felt fine but when you wet it most of the grit goes away and it just feels like a face scrub.  For that price, I’d better get at least a little exfoliation action.  I’m not sure if rice has something in it that’s a natural chemical exfoliant, but I don’t feel like this is doing much in terms of actual scrubbing.  Pass.

Ole Henriksen was good, but it’s a bigger, more aggressive texture so definitely use in moderation.  Personally, I think Burt’s Bees Apricot Scrub is a much better choice for around $10-15 as opposed to Ole’s $42 price tag.  Love his moisturizer, but just can’t get behind this.  I guess if you have far too much money…but I can always help you with that problem!

Skin 08

During the trip I also used some overnight treatments, eye treatments, and a shit ton of masks – but this damn post is long enough already!  Look for a part 3 coming soon where I’ll go over some of the specialty items that I played around with and how they fit in with all the shenanigans listed above!

For now, let’s talk about what effect this whole experiment had on my skin:

First of all, I think it was actually a great opportunity to try some new things and my skin only freaked out a little bit!  When your skin gets into a routine and then you go buckwild and change it all up, it’s going to react.  For oily beasts like me, that usually means increased oil production and potentially more breakouts.  I did notice that I had more oil for the first week, and I did break out a little bit – mostly in my usual area (the forehead/eyebrow area) but also a couple of spots on my cheeks – but it actually wasn’t as bad as I anticipated with the crazy glut of new products and the intense heat (temps ranged from 97-108 during the trip – wretched!).  I have new glasses that site right up next to my face so that probably contributed to the eyebrow breakouts as well.

Skin 09Overall my skin felt nicer, but there were some products that were definitely not made with us oily beauties in mind!  The belif trio…woof!  I wore all three of those one day when it was in the low 100s, and I swear you could have cooked an egg on my face!  They just felt heavy and greasy and…wrong.  If you tend toward dry skin, I bet your skin would drink those up and ask for more, but for me it was definitely not a win.

I was also glad to see that price for the retail size was the final determinant in how much I liked the products.  There were some very reasonable products that I enjoyed and that I think worked better with my skin than much more expensive products.  The Tatcha rice powder I mentioned above was a perfect example.  A jar of that will run you over $60, and it didn’t have any really strong exfoliating properties and it didn’t leave my face feeling any special kind of way.  Most of the products were on the more expensive side (at least compared to what I usually spend on skincare) but it’s less about how much coin you’re willing to lay out and more about how a product works.

So the moral of the story?  Sample, sample, sample!  I love service like ipsy and birchbox that allow you to get hand-selected samples every month based on your preferences, and Sephora and Ulta always include samples with their online orders (Sephora also allows you to select almost any product in the store as a sample, so pay a visit to the brick and mortar location near you!).  Skincare is expensive, and there is nothing worse than laying out a ton of money on something that isn’t going to benefit your individual skin and won’t make you feel pampered and wonderful.  And companies want you to sample – if they can win you over, a small sample is worth converting a long-term customer.

Skin 10That being said, all of of these stores and brands aren’t running a charity – if you’re going into your local Sephora to load up on some samples, make sure to make a purchase while you’re there.   It’s the same idea behind why bookstores have become an endangered species: people want to go in and browse the titles in a store, but then order online.  Bookstores don’t stay open that way bitch, and neither do makeup counters!  Support your beauty mavens.  I’m not saying you can’t order anything online, but show some love.  It’s good karma, and it means that those stores will still be there when you realize you’re out of an essential and need it right meow!

I hope this post was helpful and you enjoyed my thoughts on these products.  As always, it’s best to consult a dermatologist or an esthetician before making any crazy changes to your skincare routine and all of this is just my personal observations.  It’s not medical advice, so don’t fuck up your face and then try to sue me.  I done told you to be careful and ask the pros!  And keep an eye out for my follow up post where we talk about my favorite goodies from the trip!

Now Go Forth & Get Painted!



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