Reviewing the L’Oreal Paris Midnight Serum

The L’oreal Paris Midnight Serum is a relatively new product. I was sent this bottle from Influenster to try out and review. With influenster I was asked to use the product for two weeks and then post a review on their site around the actual launch date of the product. Which I did. As it is a full sized bottle, I continued using it as part of my skin care. Now I have only a few uses left and will end up finishing the bottle either tonight or in the morning. Since it is such a new to the market product, I am going to post all of it’s details below and then I’ll get into my thoughts.

REVEAL MILLIONS OF NEW CELLS, VISIBLY YOUNGER SKIN. Age Perfect Cell Renewal Midnight Serum sets a new standard for luxury serums. In fact, WOMEN PREFER IT OVER THE #1 LUXURY NIGHT SERUM*. Formulated with an exclusive Antioxidant Recovery Complex, this powerhouse anti-aging serum works at night when skin reaches its peak of cell renewal. Millions of new cells are revealed for visibly smoother, more radiant and younger skin. EFFECTIVE FOR ALL SKIN TYPES & TONES, it is made without parabens or mineral oil, and is allergy tested – suitable for even sensitive skin.

WHAT IS AN ANTIOXIDANT RECOVERY COMPLEX? Our exclusive Antioxidant Recovery Complex helps boost skin’s renewal overnight by combining a powerful, L’Oréal patented antioxidant—derived from bitter orange—and Vitamin E to help reinforce skin’s barrier. This breakthrough serum replenishes skin’s antioxidant levels at night when it is most receptive to repair. Our formula also contains Hyaluronic Acid—a powerful hydrating ingredient that helps lock in moisture.

SMOOTH WRINKLES, FIRMER, MORE RADIANT SKIN: After 1 use, skin is refreshed and feels softer, smoother. In 1 week, skin appears brighter, more luminous and younger. Over time, wrinkles are smoothed, skin looks firmer and more radiant. Effective for all skin tones.

INDULGENT, LUXURIOUS FORMULA: Each drop of this lightweight serum provides intense hydration while leaving skin luxuriously soft to the touch. It absorbs quickly with a non-greasy, non-sticky finish and won’t clog pores.

CUSTOM DESIGNED, GLASS BOTTLE: With its sleek, modern design and gold finishes, this serum bottle was meticulously crafted to become an icon! Its beautifully etched glass provides an elevated look and uses recycled and recyclable glass material.


L’Oreal Paris

This serum retails for $43.99 and is available only at Walmart.

I had a very interesting time with this product. The bottle is lovely to look at and feels very lux. I really like that the bottle has ridges on it so that it doesn’t matter if your hands are still wet from washing your face, it won’t slip. The lines also make the bottle look a little more expensive, but they are also practical.

The colored class protects the product from light. There is a stopper at the top to limit air intrusion as well and the dropper works perfectly with the formula of the serum. In the paperwork that came with the bottle it recommended both morning and night time use for best results, which is what I did. The bottle lasted about two solid months with this sort of use. If only using at night, it would clearly last four months.

Personally I like knowing how much product there is in a container when trying to figure out if it is worth the purchase price. Of course the real factor in determining if a product is worth it’s price (whether it is $5 or $500) is if the product works.

For the first two weeks I used the product and really loved it. The scent was slightly edging into perfumy for me, but it was light and I was willing to ignore it based on how soft my skin felt. If you are sensitive to scent, this might not be for you. While it is a ‘skin care floral clean scent’ it is still a slightly perfume scent. It disappears after you apply it, but it is noticeable in the hand. I found it pleasant, but strong.

I will say that I agreed with the description in that after one use my skin felt softer and after a week, my skin did feel as though it was glowy. I didn’t really see much change in any of my fine lines, however it generally takes a month or so of steady use for a product to show actual results.

Skincare isn’t magic, it takes time to work.

However at the two week mark I had very high hopes. I loves the way my skin felt an looked while using the serum. Midway through week three I noticed a few drier patches on my skin. It wasn’t major drying, just small spots that looked a little dryer. As I applied my moisturizer after letting the serum sink in, the dry patches were quickly addressed.

They didn’t get any bigger, however I also didn’t see any reduction in the appearance of my fine lines. My skin still felt smooth and I attributed the dryness to the changing weather. We have had a rollercoaster of weather for the past few months and I figured that could be part of the cause.

Then I took a look at the ingredients list. Since the product was sent to me for review, I went ahead and tried it without looking over the ingredients because I didn’t want to bias myself. As I have no major allergies I can generally get away with doing that. If you have any sort of allergies, read the label first.

On eht ingredients list Dimethicone is listed pretty high up on the list. It is also listed pretty high up on the list for many of the primers I favor as they too make my skin feel soft. I am guessing that this is where part of the softness that I liked came from. While I clearly put this ingredient on my face a lot when using primers, I’m not so terribly keen to see it so far up on the label.

I’m also not too thrilled with the denatured alcohol featuring in the top ten ingredients either. It tends to dry my skin out the longer I use it. Paired with the salicylic acid that is also on the list, I think I know why I was getting a bit dried out. Murad and Peter Thomas Roth both make excellent cleansers featuring salicylic acid that I use when my skin starts breaking out. I actually have both of those cleansers in my skin care drawer on standby. They work well if I’ve spent too much of a week in a face mask and need to kind of dry out my skin a bit and tame down the break outs. They (pared with the Peace Out Acne Dots) work well, but I can only use them for a short period of time before they dry out my skin too much. So I will use them a day or two and then put them away for later. And that is mostly due to my skin type.

I think that the denatured alcohol which dries my skin out and the salicylic acid, which also dries my skin out were just too much. They hit the parts of my skin that are usually the driest. The moisturizer following right after took care of it though. In truth if the good ingredients like squalane had done wonders for my fine lines, I could have easily worked around the drying factor.

But it didn’t. I saw no real reduction in the fine lines.

I don’t mind paying $43.99 for a good serum. In fact i have spent a lot more on a good serum before and probably will again. There are also several L’Oreal Paris products I adore and in general, I like the brand. But given the dryness and the lack of fine line reduction, I don’t think this will be a repeat purchase for me. If I had oilier skin or even more acne prone skin, I could see this working a little bit better. It just isn’t for me.

Spring Into Clean Skin Campaign – Shop Curated Bundles


Trying out the Herbal Dynamics Beauty Vitamin C 25% Rejuvenating Serum

I know it feels like forever since I have done a skin care post. There are several reasons actually, the first is that since I was so focused on skincare that I didn’t get to talk about other things and I wanted to talk to you about more than just skin care. The other big reason was that I wanted to slow down my skin care trials and really give products their best chance of working and to do a little more research on them before I posted. I promise there are more skin care posts coming, soon actually as I am now past the thirty day mark on several products I’ve been trying.

Recently Herbal Dynamics Beauty gifted me a package containing several of their products for the purpose of review.  I have been using the Vitamin C 25% Rejuvenating Serum for several weeks now and am ready to let you know my thoughts about it.  I’m sure you know from past posts that I really like Vitamin C for my skin.

Vitamin C has all sorts of wonderful benefits for the skin.  It promotes collagen production and helps to reduce fine lines and it also protects skin from UV light.  All of which helps skin look fresher and more rejuvenated.

I was super excited by the chance to try out this Vitamin C serum not only because of my love of Vitamin C for my skin, but because it also contains Hyaluronic Acid.  I know you must be tired of hearing me rave about Hyaluronic Acid by now because it is in so many of the products I favor. But the truth is it is in a lot of skin care products because it is a good ingredient to help skin retain moisture and look plumper and firmer, thus erasing a lot of fine lines.  Plus, I tend to look for it in my skin care items, therefore there is a very high percentage of them in the skin care I use.

There are several things that I like about Herbal Dynamics Beauty.  First, before I even tried any of their products, I adored their Botanical Blog and spent quite a lot of time reading through their skin care articles.  I highly recommend it.  Their article on layering different skin care ingredients for the best effect is one I repeatedly return to in order to double check certain combinations.

I also like that their products are Sulfate free, cruelty free, paraben Free and phthalate free. Sulfates can often cause irritation and clogged pores. Parabens can cause skin irritations and can increase the risk of cancer and phthalates too have been linked to increased risks for cancer. All of those things are items I’d like to avoid whenever possible.

As someone who likes to read labels, I also appreciate that the Ingredients lists on all of the Herbal Dynamics products are very easy to read and don’t contain a mountain of ingredients.  Let’s look at the ingredients list for the Vitamin C 25% Rejuvenating Serum shall we?

Ingredients: Deionized water, Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera gel)*, Hyaluronic acid, Ethyl ascorbate ( Vitamin C), Green tea extract*, Vegetable glycerine, Dexpanthenol (Vitamin B5), Centella asiatica (Gotu kola) extract*, Alpine veronica extract, Carrageenan, and Vitis vinifera (Grape) seed extract*.


All natural / paraben free. Not tested on animals. Made in the U.S.A.

Herbal Dynamics Beauty

So Ethyl Ascorbate is just a fancy term for the kind of Vitamin C that skin care products tend to uses. We’ve already discussed Hyaluronic acid and we know it is fabulous for the skin.  Both of these ingredients sit really high on the list which makes me happy to see.  Water is the first ingredient, which as the Hyaluronic acid locks water into the surface it needs to have some water to do so and there for it is in the mix.  

Aloe Vera is an ingredient we have seen before and tends to sooth inflammation and skin irritations.  It does so in its natural state which is why I always keep an aloe plant in the house and use it to treat minor burns. It is great on sunburn.

Green tea is known for its antioxidant properties and my guess is that it helps with fighting that UV light. Vegetable Glycerine is something I’ve encountered before and it is used to moisturize and soften skin while Vitamin B5 promotes cellular regeneration.

Gotu Kola extract was a new ingredient for me so I had to do a bit of investigating. According to an article in Forbes Magazine it is an anti-aging ingredient that boosts collagen and helps keep skin from sagging.  It also worked well in fading scars and stretch marks. I think it is an ingredient I will probably be playing around with more in the future. The articles I found all made it sound like something I wanted to try out.

But that is for later.

This leaves us only three ingredients on the list.  The first is Alpine veronica extract. It is also known as Speedwell Flower extract and it contains high levels of free radical-scavenging antioxidants, sooths skin irritation and helps with collagen production.

Carrageenan helps bind waters to the skin without clogging pores and basically locks in all the goodness from the other ingredients while the final Grape seed extract, which is seen in a lot of skin care products, is an excellent antioxidant.

And those are all the ingredients.  Not a terribly long list when you look at it and each in it’s own way is a powerhouse.  Additionally, there is nothing that is really extra.  Everything in the serum has a reason for being there.

The Vitamin C Rejuvenating Serum comes in a pump spray bottle and two pumps of the product is all you really need.  After washing my face I patted the skin dry and then usually brushed my teeth to give it a few extra minutes to dry down a little bit more.  There is no real reason for doing so other than texture.  I found it my skin was wet instead of damp there was a very brief moment where it felt slimy. It faded almost immediately, but I didn’t like that. If I waited a minute longer, there was no slimy feeling.  So I waited. That was really just a personal choice. 

The serum is clear and feels like slightly thick water if that makes sense. It is one of those odd sensations where the serum goes on wet and then you can almost feel it absorb so that the surface of your face feels dry to the touch. Not as though your skin was dried out, but more like you patted it dry with a towel. My skin drank in the formula. Like with the Hyaluronic Acid 62% serum from Herbal Dynamics Beauty, I tested to see how much serum I really needed. One pump was not enough and three pumps was too much.

I’m pretty sure the number of pumps of product you need would be very much skin specific. My skin tends to ride the line most people term ‘normal’. which quite frankly I think is more of a dividing line than a designation, but I didn’t assign names. What that basically means is that my skin’s needs tend to be very seasonally dependent. In the summertime I am normal leaning towards oily and in the winter time I am normal leaning towards dry. Spring and fall tend to be an insane weather related yo-yo time for my skin and my routine changes almost daily until the weather settled back down.

With this serum I suspect that one pump would be all my skin wanted in the summertime. Maybe one and a half. One thing i really like about this style of pump is that if I only push it down halfway, I can actually get half a pump’s worth of product if that is what I need. which I consider very handy. At the moment though two pumps are pretty good for me. Normally for reference photos I go for a front shot so you can see my whole face. Because my fine lines tend to be around my eyes and my largest acnes scar (the one I am always trying to reduce) is on my cheek, I took side views of both before I used the serum and after. It isn’t the most glamorous view, but it does show the area best.

My skin at the beginning of the trial on the left and my skin this morning at the official end of the trial on the right

Over all, I really liked this serum.  It went on easily and regardless of wet or damp skin, it was soon absorbed into the skin and I was able to continue with my routine with no issues.  During use I noticed a little plumping of my skin, predominantly around the lines fanning out from my eyes.  My skin also felt plumper and smoother.  I was pleased with the results and am quite frankly surprised by how quickly I saw results with this serum.

I will certainly continue using the product until it is through and hope for continued improvement.  Now that my trial is over I will be pairing it with the Herbal Dynamics Hyaluronic Acid Serum and using them both.  I noticed that while the 62% Hyaluronic acid serum had a greater effect on my fine lines, this Vitamin C serum had more of an effect on the texture and firmness of my skin. Which from reading the labels shouldn’t be surprising. 

This Vitamin C Rejuvenating Serum has a lot of firming agents working for it while the 62% Hyaluronic acid was more targeted towards fine lines.  I don’t know if you can tell in the photos or not, but in person I have noticed a fading of the scar on my cheek. I find it to be not as prominent as it was and so I’m hoping that continued use will assist in fading it even further. I think given the angle of the photos the changes to my cheek scar don’t show up as well. As I didn’t think there would be any difference with it, I was taking the reference photos predominantly for my eyes. The lightening of the scar even slightly was just a pleasant surprise.

Even though this product was gifted to me, I have to ask the same question that I ask at the end of trying out any skin care item: Would I purchase this again?

Given the results I had with the initial trial I would have to say it is a resounding yes. I expect that as I continue to use this product moe effects will be seen. I was very pleased with the Herbal Dynamics Beauty Vitamin C 25% Serum and would certainly make an effort to replace it when it runs out. The Serum retails for $22 so it isn’t over the top expensive and if I can get a really good product like this for a price that isn’t astronomical, I am definitely all in.

I don’t mind paying more for good skin care, it is one of the few categories in my purchasing where cost is almost always secondary to effectiveness, but I am also very happy when the skincare I like does not cost an arm and a leg. Effective and affordable kind of make up my personal venn diagram sweet spot.

If you ae interested, now might be the perfect time to try out Herbal Dynamics. They have a sale going on, I’ll link the coupon code below.

Get 25% off using code WINTER

This is the third product I’ve tried from them and quite frankly I loved all three. The Intense Detox Cacao and Chamomile clay Clearing Mask was excellent at drawing deeply buried clogged pores to the surface so they could be cleared away, the Hyaluronic Acid 62% Serum was excellent with my fine lines and this Vitamin C 25 % Rejuvenating serum was an excellent addition to my arsenal against the spread of fine lines. I would recommend all three. And for those of you interested in learning more about skincare, I highly recommend their Botanical Blog. It is informative and very easy to read.

Herbal Dynamics Beauty

Trying out the Hyaluronic Acid 62% Hydrating Serum from Herbal Dynamics Beauty

Recently I was sent a bottle of Herbal Dynamics Hyaluronic Acid 62% Hydrating Serum.  As anyone who reads my skin care reviews knows, I am a huge fan of Hyaluronic Acid (HA) in my skin care products. My skin reacts really well to it.  

I know I have often gone on at length about the benefits of Hyaluronic acid, but as a quick recap, hyaluronic acid plumps skin and helps to erase fine lines.  For me it has also helped reduce the depth and distinction of the line across my forehead that I usually refer to as The Stress Crack. This year has seen it grow quite a bit and I am using every means at my disposal to reduce it.  I doubt anything that is noninvasive will ever actually erase it, but I can work towards making it look more like a surface crack and less like the grand canyon.

Truthfully, The Stress Crack doesn’t bother me all that much, but I do find it is the place where I see the most change in products.  If they work, then it is going to show there first.  So while I may need several months to see a serums effectiveness on the fine lines around my eyes and mouth, if a product is going to do something I can see the start of results on The Stress Crack in only a few weeks. It makes it the perfect litmus test for line shrinking skincare.

For those of you who have never heard of Herbal Dynamics they are, according to their website: Where nature meets science: Paring the finest botanical ingredients with cutting-edge science. Their products are also sulfate free, paraben free, cruelty free and phthalate free.

I recently tried their Cacao and Chamomile Detoxifying Clay mask and absolutely loved it.  The mask pulled deeply buried clogged pores to the surface that I was pretty sure a vacuum couldn’t touch. The link will take you to my full review of that mask actually, if you are interested. It is going to be one I will use for quite some time to come. So you will be hearing about it anytime my skin needs a detox.

But beyond the products they offer, they have their blog.  Oh my darlings, if you are interested in skincare, finding out more about how your skin works, what sorts of foods to eat for your type of skin’s optimal health or about layering different types of serums, I highly recommend checking out The Botanical Blog. It has some amazing information that will really help you make good choices for your skin.

But back to the Hyaluronic Acid 62% Hydrating Serum. I’m sure many of you are thinking, hydrating serum, hmmm, not just Hyaluronic acid then? Good Catch. This isn’t purely Hyaluronic Acid, but before we look into the ingredients, let’s find out what we should expect from the product.

According to the website…

Powerful, proven ingredients in the HD Beauty Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum are carefully combined to promote plump, youthful-looking skin and minimize fine lines. Hyaluronic acid, aloe and botanical extracts hydrate skin on a cellular level and aid the skin’s natural moisture retention process, promoting a healthy glow and elasticity.

Hydrates and plumps to soften fine lines, Soothes and calms irritation, Antioxidants repair and restore, Fights inflammation and redness and Supports radiant, smooth complexion.

Apply to face and neck after cleansing and toner, before moisturizing. Use morning and night.

Full Ingredients List: Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) gel*, Hyaluronic acid, Vegetable glycerin, Fucus vesiculosus (Bladderwrack) extract*, Sodium PCA, Anthemis nobilis (Chamomile) flower seed extract*, and Vitis vinifera (Grape) seed extract*.  

*Organic/ All natural / paraben free. Not tested on animals. Made in the U.S.A.

Herbal Dynamics Beauty

Okay so let’s take a deeper look at that ingredient list.  As you can see Hyaluronic acid is the second ingredient listed. I am perfectly fine with that and as we’ve already discussed it is the ingredient that plumps skin and targets fine lines. I’m glad it is so high on the list as it means that it really is included in a high concentration.

So first, up is Aloe Barbadensis or good old Aloe Vera Gel. Aloe Vera and I are long time pals.  Growing up there were always aloe plants around the house and we used them on everything from sunburns to minor skin irritations and even bug bites.  I still keep an aloe plant in my house and have ever since I left home.  Last spring when I got a really bad burn on my legs I used it to slather the burns.  It helped when few other things did. It is a plant that has a boatload of vitamins and minerals and does a fantastic job soothing skin. It is not greasy in the slightest and can generally be used by pretty much all skin types. Clearly if you have an allergy to aloe you can’t use it but anyone else, no matter how sensitive their skin usually can. It is a great plant to have around and a great ingredient to see kick off a skincare product.

Right after the Hyaluronic Acid is listed vegetable glycerin.  As I was not as familiar with it as I am with Aloe I had to look it up.  According to Heathline:

Vegetable glycerin may lead to better skin health by helping soothe skin irritation, protect against infection and promote wound healing. Studies show that applying glycerin-containing products may protect your skin against irritants and microbes, as well as soothe inflamed or wounded skin.


I can definitely see the point of having that in this serum

Bladderwrack extract was something I had never even heard of and so I again had to go in search of details. Again I found myself on the Healthline Website.  I’ll be honest it is one of my favorite websites for searches on ingredients.

Early research has shown that the antioxidants in bladderwrack, namely fucoidan, promote collagen synthesis in the skin, which may help improve the look of cellulite, increase skin healing, and delay premature skin aging.


Sodium PCA is naturally occurring humectant that boosts the effectiveness of Hyaluronic Acid by pulling in moisture. It actually holds several times its weight in water, and binds moisture to cells. Its kind of like a turbo boost for the hyaluronic acid.

Chamomile flower is something that routinely crops up in skin care as well as my mother’s collection of herbal teas.  At the first sign of a sore throat she broke out the chamomile tea and added a slice of lemon and a drizzle of honey. It was actually quite effective in making a sore throat less sore. It is actually a tie between chamomile and peppermint as the scent of winter in my family house growing up ad both were grown and dried in large batches for use when winter colds hit. While this serum doesn’t use the honey or the lemon, it has chamomile aplenty. Chamomile sooths irritation and calms inflammation and redness. It is what makes it good for both skin and sore throats.

And that brings us to the final ingredient in the list, Vitis vinifera (Grape) seed extract.  Grapeseed extract is another item that crops up in a lot of skincare, especially items designed to target aging. It is a potent antioxidant and is chock a block full of naturally occurring AHAs for a gentle exfoliation and toning.

And that is the ingredients list.  I know, take a second and count it up.  It is only seven ingredients.  However in their own way each of them is quite the powerhouse. It’s like hyaluronic acid joined some sort of skincare gang.  Admittedly, I don’t think it would be a violent gang. It seems like a gang that would encourage a dance off with its rivals and then offer a cleanser and fluffy towels to its opponents at the end of the dance battle.

Leaving skincare gangs aside, I have been using this serum every morning and evening since its arrival which was almost exactly thirty days ago (I think it might be 28).It is an interesting product.

two pumps worth

First, it comes in a clear plastic spray bottle and is a clear liquid serum.  I was surprised that the bottle was clear plastic as I would have thought it needed to be kept away from direct sunlight.  I hid the bottle behind my toner so it wasn’t in direct light.  I have no idea if it needs to be kept away from the light but I will say that I really like that I can see the amount of product left in the bottle. That is usually not the case with serums and they often come in dark colored bottles. 

After a month of twice a day use, I am about a third of the way through the bottle. So one of these small $20 bottles will last for three months. That breaks down to about $6.67 per month of use. It is a spray bottle which I really like as it does keep the air away from the product and it makes it easy to dispense. 

I really like the control this srt of pump gives for dispensing as well as keeping product away from the air.

I generally found that I needed two pumps for my face each time I used the serum.  So four pumps per day. You can, if you want push the pump down slowly and pump a smaller amount of product instead of pumping all the way down.  So if you found you needed one and a half pumps, for example, that is easy to do with this pump.  It sounds silly to say but I really like being able to decide exactly how much product I want to use.

And you know I sniffed the product as soon as it came out of the pump.  It has no discernable scent. So for all those who dislike scent in their skincare, this might be something to try.  There is no scent at all. 

In the hand, the serum feels like Aloe.  If you have ever used an aloe based product, you know the feeling, it is like a gel that quickly melts into liquid.   When applied to the face at first the two pumps feels like too much product.  However it sinks in fast and leaves your face feeling oddly dry.  Not like it has dried out but like your skin got greedy and cleared out the all you can eat buffet. I thought at first that I needed more and I applied a third pump but the third pump just sat on the skin as my skin was full.  I also thought I might get away with less so I tried one pump and it didn’t feel like enough so I then applied the second pump and my skin was happy again. Your skin might be a little different, but my skin wanted exactly two pumps of product.

I will say that in addition to the semi melting gel feeling, this serum has something else in common with aloe. If you have ever rubbed aloe on damp skin then you are familiar with the way it can momentarily look soapy. This serum does the same thing.  I generally wash my face, dowel it dry and then brush my teeth. That way my skin has time to dry completely.  If there was water on my face (or hands) when I applied the serum then my hands or face would get slightly sudsy before the serum meted in.  That is just the action of water meeting aloe and it fades away quickly.

So what was the result of using the serum twice a day for a month?

Start of month long trial left, end of trial right

I have noticed my skin feels pumper and more hydrated.  Since I am still walking outside for much of my exercise, I am constantly getting slapped around by the winter wind and I really think this serum helped to calm the redness from wind burn. As for The Stress Crack, I can see a lessening in its depth.  It is a minor topographical gorge rather than the Grand Canyon.  Is it gone?  No, but it really wasn’t going to be gone, especially not in a month’s time. 

However after a month of continued use, I can see definite improvement in both it and my fine lines.  I appreciate that. Feel free to zoom in if you want a closer look. I also appreciate the improved hydration and the calming of the redness that this product provides as well. Is it a miracle in a bottle? No, but it is a really good product and one I will continue using because I am sure I will see continued improvement in my skins texture the longer I do use the Herbal Dynamics Beauty Hyaluronic Acid 62% hydrating Serum. It may not cause time to go into full retreat, but it is slowly pushing back the line.

While they have a new orders discount as you can see in the ad below, at the moment they also have a deeper discount going on. I’ll link that one right above the banner ad below if you are interested.

Take 25% off site wide + free shipping on orders over $35

Herbal Dynamics Beauty

First Impressions: Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum

I have tried several Sunday Riley products in the past couple of years.  I know there are some people who adore everything the brand puts out and others who despise every product.  It just seems to be one of those brands that everyone either loves or hates.  To be honest, I am sort of in the middle.  Most of the products I’ve tried from the brand generally work well for me. None of them have ever caused me problems and a few I like enough to reorder.

One product I had not tried from Sunday Riley was the A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum.  I’d seen it around and I think it was an option in a subscription box a while ago, but I didn’t get it.  I can’t remember if it was because I didn’t choose it or because I just didn’t get it. Either way I had not tried it. 

In fact, I have not done much with retinols in general. 

It is one of those categories I have been meaning to investigate, but haven’t quite gotten around to working with.  So when I received this small sample in the November Birchbox, I thought it was a good place to start.  As the sample is small I knew I wouldn’t see any major results, but I figured I could at least try it and see how my skin reacted so that I could decide about retinol use moving forward. Since there aren’t a lot of visible results, I decided to basically record my first impressions of the serum as I figure out if i would want to try out a full sized version for a full thirty + days trial.

When I looked on the Sunday Riley site I was happy to not only see a little bit of product information but to see extra information regarding retinol use.  Normally, I try to keep the blurb I copy from the website short, but for this I did copy down the extra bits this time because they were extra useful.

A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum is an advanced-strength retinoid serum delivers a 6.5%solution of stablilized retinoid blends and botanical, retinol-alternative extracts into the skin.

Apply 1-2 pumps in the evening to clean, dry skin. For targeted instructions, see below:

For new retinoid users: Use two days on, two days off. Work your way up to every other day, then to daily, evening use. Follow with a hydrating oil or moisturizer, like C.E.O. Glow or Juno. Use an AHA serum, like Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, on alternate nights to sweep away dead skin cells.

For advanced retinoid users: Use daily, in the evenings. Follow with a hydrating oil or moisturizer, like C.E.O. Glow or Juno. Use an AHA serum, like Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, in the mornings to sweep away dead skin cells.

For sensitive skin: Apply a few drops of a gentle, hydrating oil, like C.E.O. Glow or Juno to your skin before applying A+ serum.

Ingredients: Water/Eau/Agua, Propanediol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Triheptanoin, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Hexyldecanol, Disiloxane, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Diheptyl Succinate, Propylene Carbonate, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, PPG-24-Glycereth-24, Phenyl Trimethicone, Retinol, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Honey Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Algae Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Extract, Opuntia Ficus-indica Fruit Extract, Bisabolol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Phospholipids, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Lecithin, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, 1,2-Hexanediol, 4-t- Butylcyclohexanol, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Caprylyl Glycol, Helianthus Annuss (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Sorbitol, Cetylhydroxyproline Palmitamide, Polysilicone-11, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Sodium Phytate, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Polysorbate, Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Stearic Acid, Brassica Campestris Sterols, PVP, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Sodium Benzoate, Alcohol, Potassium Phosphate, Decyl Glucoside, Phenoxyethanol, Hexylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopherol.

Sunday Riley

My Birchbox came in on the afternoon of November 27th so I decided to start that night.  As a new to retinoid user, I went with the new use plan.  I used it the 27th and 28th, skipped November 29th and 30th, used it December 1st and 2nd, skipped the 3rd and 4th, used it the 5th and 6th.  The sample size I had ran out of product on the sixth. 

On the nights I used it I followed the retinol up with the Malin + Goetz recovery oil (It is one of my favorite facial oils at the moment and one I happen to like a lot better than the Sunday Riley CEO Glow. This is actually my second bottle of this oil).  I happened to still have some Good Genes Lactic Acid treatment on hand (which is one of the Sunday Riley Products I will reorder) so I used that on alternate nights as directed.

I really like that the directions are very specific as to what types of products should be used and when.  As I am just learning about applying retinols I found this break down extremely helpful. Retinols are used to work on wrinkles and dark spots followed by oil to hydrate and alternated with AHA to get rid of dead skin cells.  It is well outlined. 

Did it work?

Well, given the amount of product I had to work with and the length of time I used it, expecting major results would be a bit much. I took a picture on the day I started and on the morning after I used the last amount of product. While there is little difference that can be seen, some of the dark sun damaged spots on my forehead have lightened. Thus far i haven’t had an product that I’ve tried that has done much with those spots. I think it may be a job for retinol. I do have high hopes that a longer trial might show some more noticeable results. 

Start of trial on the Left and end of trial on the Right

The product worked well with my skin and it is something that I could definitely see giving a longer trial, especially to see what it does with those dark spots on my forehead.  I think that at some point in the future I will be picking this up to test out further.  It also gave me a bit more confidence in trying out retinoid based products in the future as well.  There is so much talk of sun sensitivity that I was very cautious of the ingredient. while I am by no means laying out in the sun to work on my tan, I walk most days and in the summer i spend a lot of time working in the garden (I’m pretty sure the forehead damage is garden work related). I did use the serum only at night and even though the garden is buried under mulch and waiting for the spring, I was still walking outside most days. I had no extra sun sensitivity. I also use sunscreen. In fact I was extra careful to use sunscreen while I was testing this out.

While I would still be cautious and ease myself in to any retinol product I try, now that I sort of understand the system of layering it with other products and interspacing it with AHAs I am less hesitant to try out this category of products.  It may take me a little while to circle back to this, but given the way my skin felt as I used it, this does rank high on the list of products I want to test for a longer time period.

Using this product also brought home to me the need to use a product for a full month or longer to see results.  While I am going to be working through a few more samples this month and gathering first impressions, in the new year I think I am going to adjust how I review skincare, like serums and moisturizers, focusing more on longer term reviews for those products. There will still be first impressions though as I decide what products I really want to try out for a longer term. As a first impression, the Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum performed well enough to be put on the list of the full sized products to try.


Testing out the Balance Me Bakuchiol Smoothing Serum

Balance Me serum

I have to say when this Balance me Bakuchiol Smoothing Serum appeared in my beauty box, I was somewhat confused. (I can’t remember if it was a Glossy Box or a Look Fantastic Box).  I never heard of Bakuchiol before.  I had no idea what it was supposed to do or what I should expect.  Then the ingredient kept popping up in various places and it seemed like it was not as rare an ingredient as I thought.

While it isn’t talked about as much, mostly because wrapping your tongue around those syllables takes some practice, bakuchiol is an alternative to retinol.  While retinols do a lot of good things for your skin (work on removing fine lines, smoothing and plumping skin) They can also make you sun sensitive.  Retinols are the skin care that only comes out at night.

Like Vampires.

Except they don’t drain you and in fact plump you up.

Like an… anti-vampire.

Okay, so the metaphor isn’t perfect. Neither is retinol as the sun sensitivity can last in some cases even if you only use it at night.  Bakuchiol is supposed to have all of the skin care benefits without the sun sensitivity.

So let’s look at this Balance Me Bakuchiol Smoothing Serum specifically.  According to the product page…

Our natural plant-based retinol alternative without the side effect of sensitive and redness! Think radiance, improved texture, a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Our formula is enhanced with vital antioxidant, anti-pollution and anti-blue light protection.

Smooths, enhances collagen production, hydrates and provides vital antioxidant, anti-pollution and anti-blue light protection.

For all skin types, particularly dehydrated, dry, dull and pigmentation. Can be used when pregnant and breastfeeding.

All good things.  This is not the first Balance Me serum I have tried.  The last one was the Vitamin C serum.  While it worked well, it smelled exactly like the furniture polish, Lemon Pledge. I couldn’t get past the scent and so even though it worked well, I opted for another Vitamin C serum.

There was two weeks’ worth of product in my tube (it was not filled completely.)  I used it at night (while using other serums during the day).  While two week’s isn’t long enough to see a lot of results, my skin did drink up the serum and felt smoother to the touch.  It absorbed almost instantly leaving no greasy film behind. There was no fading of dark spots, and I have no way to test against pollution defense, but my skin felt very hydrated and the texture was definitely improved. I also experienced no sun sensitivity or any kind of issues really.  I think it I did continue using it I would probably see some pretty good results. It is quite frankly a very good serum.

However again I am stopped by the scent.  While its scent is not as strong as the Vitamin C serum, and doesn’t smell of Lemon Pledge Furniture polish (Incidentally this is nothing against Pledge.  They make a great furniture polish, I just don’t want to apply something that smells like it to my face.) It does however smell like some sort of industrial cleaner.  The notes are slightly more floral than citrusy but still the scent of it makes me think of newly cleaned bathrooms, not skin care.

The biggest problem is that even though the cream absorbs instantly, the scent lingers. And then it blends with everything else I apply, making everything smell like an industrial cleaner.

Again it isn’t a massively strong scent, and the product is actually really good on the skin. If you’ve had sun issues with retinol or are pregnant or breastfeeding and want to use a serum like this, I would say it is definitely one to look into. If you do not have issues with scent, then again, I would say this is a very good serum to try out.

It is a good serum. All of my skin likes it, my nose just vetoed it. I just don’t think I could get past the scent to use it every night. It is just that industrial cleaner scent. It is just too much for me.  I know that if I purchased a full sized tube, I would find reasons not to use it, just because of the scent.  (And yes there are some products I find excuses to use just because of the scent. It’s just the way I am built). So while the tube is now empty and journeying to my empties bin, I will not be repurchasing it.

If you are in the shopping mood, especially if you are into clean skincare, you might want to bounce on over to the Petit Vour site. They have a pretty large selection of Clean, vegan beauty items, ranging from skin care to makeup and their sale is 60% off with the code JOLLYSALE. I know you can find the B Kind Facial Scrub and the OSEA Cleanser on their site, both of which I highly recommend.

Skipping the Needle with Goldfaden, MD Needle-less Line Smoothing Concentrate

This Goldfaden, MD Needle-less Line Smoothing Concentrate came in one of my Petit Vour Boxes and was paired with the Gel moisturizer also from Goldfaden, MD.  It was suggested that the two be used together, but alas the gel cream only had enough cream in the tube for three days of moisturizing and thus ran out well before this serum.  I wasn’t terribly sad about running out of the moisturizer as it was sticky and not a moisturizer I wanted to use long term. 

The gel and the concentrate

This serum however was one of the Goldfaden products that intrigued me most when I perused their site.. I am beginning to get some fine lines fanning out from my eyes and I feel the longer I can keep them at bay the better, so this sort of thing is right up my alley.  However, the full sized version of this product costs $110 so having a sample size to try first so that I know how it reacts to my skin before I go out and purchase it, makes me much more comfortable in spending the money.  Well, it makes me more comfortable purchasing it if I like the product.

Having the sample to try for the Goldfaden MD Needle-less Line Smoothing Concentrate is extra important for me as Goldfaden, MD products and my skin don’t always get along.  But before we go into how I felt about this sample, let’s see what I have been led to expect from the product page.

Dr. Goldfaden’s smoothing concentrate is the ultimate non-invasive solution to reduce the appearance of fine lines and deep creases.

Pure Hyaluronic Acid and advanced Hexapeptides make skin feel plump, appear firm and diminish the appearance of fine lines and deep creases. Nutrient-rich Seaweed Extract promotes a long-term, youthful-looking glow. With continued use, your skin will reap the benefits of looking younger, feeling smoother, and appearing more radiant. Ideal for all skin types.

Ingredients: Seaweed extract, Distilled Water, Hyaluronic Acid, Acetyl Hexapeptide – 3, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Red Tea Extract

Goldfaden, MD

Over all that isn’t a massive list of claims or a massive list of ingredients, so let’s break them down.

Seaweed is packed with all sorts of vitamins and minerals that skin tends to like and  is there to help soothe, soften, and reduce sensitivity, boost hydration, and can work as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Distilled water makes sense to see as if you are trying to plump skin up with moisture you need to get the moisture from somewhere. I find it nice that the concentrate provides it.

Hyaluronic Acid is quickly becoming one of my favorite skin care ingredients.  It  helps retain moisture, making it one of the most effective ingredients for hydrating skin. When applied, it creates a protective barrier, so the moisture stays locked inside the skin. In a product designed to plump the skin and fight wrinkles and fine lines this is a great ingredient to see.

The Concentrate is a thin clear liquid

As you know I am not a chemist, I had to do some looking into this one.  According to the site FutureDerm (an excellent site for looking up skin care information in basic easy to understand terms by the way) Acetyl Hexapeptide – 3 also known as argireline, is a neuropeptide which is often used as a muscle relaxer. It is a shortened peptide sequence of BotoxTM that is able to be used over-the-counter. I highly recommend reading the article linked in this paragraph if you are interested in more about this ingredient.It is fact filled, but not overly science-y.

Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative that is useful for keeping all sorts of nasties from growing in your skin care and Ethylhexylglycerin is an emollient and humectant in skin care that boosts the anti-microbial performance of other ingredients to protect products from spoilage.

Finally, Red Tea extract is there as an anti-inflammatory agent that is said to fight dullness and fine lines and wrinkles.

So those are the ingredients that are in this Needle-less Line Smoothing Concentrate from Goldfaden MD.  I had a little over two weeks to try out the product. Unlike most serums you do not put this all over your face, you sort of spot treat the crow’s feet area and forehead wrinkles.  This of course uses less product so it will last longer. Normally, it takes thirty days to see real results, but I have to say I did see a small improvement after about a week of use.  Thus far it is actually the best Goldfaden MD product I have tried. 

I will say that when applied it also had a warming effect.  It was warm to the point where I double checked to see if it was burning my skin.  It wasn’t, there were no red spots or visible irritation, but this concentrate got uncomfortably warm on my skin.  The entire time I used this sample, I kept wondering if I was having a reaction to it. 

Now I will say that I had no actual allergic reaction.  There was no skin irritation, no inflamed patches or break outs. But every time I applied it, I felt very nervous. Even though it did plump out my fine lines, I was somewhat relieved when it ran out and my testing was through.  I think because my skin never got used to it, i.e. the burning lessening over time, I remained nervous.  Add to that the fact that I was putting it in my crow’s foot area right next to my eyes and the discomfort factor went up a couple of notches.  I am somewhat protective of my eyes.

Does it work? Yes. It worked well.

Will I by a full sized bottle? No. 

I just don’t like that burning feeling so close to my eyes.  If it went away the more I used it, this would be a different conversation, but it didn’t. My skin was uncomfortably warm and while the feeling faded after a few minutes of it on my skin I was very worried about how it would react with other products.

I think I panic researched every ingredient in every product I applied both before and after this concentrate to make sure there would be no reactions and even then, it just made me nervous to put something that burned that much so close to my eyes so often. Now in all fairness, there were no reactions.  So it could be just my paranoid nature speaking, but I also know myself.  Even though the serum did what it claims to do, I just wouldn’t use it if I purchased the bottle.  It would sit on my shelf and I would find excuses not to use it. I might dab it on once in a blue moon when I was going out and wanted to make certain my lines were as gone as possible, but I would not use it on a daily basis. So for me, this is not an item I will be purchasing. I wouldn’t chuck out a sample if it came my way again, but it would be used judiciously the week before a major event.

Three of the sites I used to provide more information regarding some of these ingredients are Simple Skin Care, Future Derm and the Paula’s Choice Skincare site.  If you are interested in learning more about skin care ingredients, you might want to check them out.  Paula’s Choice in general does a really good job of breaking down all sorts of ingredients. They also have really good products, but their articles about skincare topics are really great too.

Paula's Choice UK - General - 468x60

Trying out the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum

Normally I start with the introduction of the product and then cover what it is supposed to for, but I will be honest, I have flip flopped on my opinion and put off this review for the sole reason that I am very much on the fence about the Sulwhasso First Care Activating Serum. I figure it is best to just get that out up front so that no one is confused when I seem to waffle between pros and cons.

So the sample size of the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum came to me in an Allure Beauty Box. I have heard many people rave over this brand and I know two people who are just absolute die-hard fans. So the brand was on my list to try out, I just hadn’t quite gotten around to it yet, mostly because I wasn’t certain which product to try first. Having one appear in a subscription box really helped me with that decision. 

First off, it must be said, how stinkin’ cute is this bottle?  I was prepared to open it and have a little squeeze to drop the product into my hand and was pleasantly surprised to find  a tiny little pump. I don’t know why that gets me, but it does.  I just think it is adorable.

The product itself comes out in a brownish color.  It actually reminds me a bit of the Dermelect Self Esteem serum I tried (and loved) a while back.  It even has a similar scent.

Similar, because there is one big difference. But I will get to that in a moment, here I am going to pause and cover what the serum is supposed to be doing when I apply it to my face.

Formulated with JAUM Balancing Complex™, a potent cocktail of five Korean herbs, this unique prepping serum designed to be the first step post-cleanse that hydrates, nourishes and visibly firms, while boosting absorption of subsequent products that are applied on top.



Okay, it isn’t a long list of things this product is attempting to accomplish it is really only one thing.  It is designed to help other product absorb faster.  And to be honest, it does this really well.  Applying my moisturizer after this meant I spent less time waiting for it to absorb and could cut my getting ready time down a little.  I know the point isn’t making morning preparation shorter but to help your skin absorb more of the ingredients, but I don’t really have a way to measure absorption rate.  I do know that more of my moisturizer absorbed and it absorbed into my skin faster when I used this serum than when I didn’t.

In that sense it worked really well and was fantastic.

I know what you are thinking.  This is going to be another scent issue.

Only partially. 

This time it is scent with a side concern.

Remember I said it smelled almost like the Dermelect Serum but with one big difference? The Dermelect Serum smelled like many different herbs that had been distilled to create a single herbal-ly smelling serum that smelled very medicinal. 

This Sulwhasoo Serum smelled like similar herbs distilled in rubbing alcohol. The scent was somewhat strong actually and when you look at the ingredients list it is easy to see why.  Alcohol is rather high up on the list.  Which means there is a pretty high concentration of it. 

This is where my waffling comes in. Where skincare is concerned, I know that alcohol can be really good in the short term, but have rather bad long term effects on the skin.  If it is low on the list of ingredients I am less concerned by its presence, but when it sits that high on the list, I start backing away from the product.

So here is my final sense of the product. It works well, really well.  It does exactly what it says it is going to do. However because that alcohol sits so high up in the ingredients list and the product smells like herb infused rubbing alcohol, I think I am going to give it a pass.  I will poke around a bit more for information bout the product and its ingredients and talk to a few people whose profession is more in tune with the skin and ingredients upon it than my skin care junkie self, but for now, the alcohol in the product makes it a pass for me, despite how well it seems to work.

La Roche-Posay- ACD

Sunny side up with 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum from Timeless Skincare

A while back Timeless Skincare graciously gifted me with several of their products to try and I have been putting them to the test.  I slowly rotated each one into my skin care routine, so as not to bombard my skin with all new ingredients.  The fourth and final product from my Timeless Skin Care trial was the 20% Vitamin C + E and F Acid (retail . $25.95). I have been using it for one month straight. 

But before we get into how I felt about the serum, let’s look at what it claims on the product page…

Give your skin a mega dose of Vitamin C. Our 20% Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid serum brightens skin, builds collagen and evens out tone. Enhanced with Vitamin E & Ferulic Acid, this serum is a great pick me up for dull, discolored and stressed skin, while providing 24/7 protection against environmental pollutants. Recommended For: All skin types. As always Timeless Skincare is Paraben Free, Fragrance and Dye Free, Cruelty Free, has More actives, less chemicals and is Made in the USA.

Ingredients: Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Alpha Tocopherol, Polysorbate 80, Panthenol, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Benzylalcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid.

Timeless Skincare
the pump top

One thing I love about the Timeless skincare products I have tried is that their ingredients lists are not a mile long.  Admittedly this one has some tongue twister words so lets take a moment to break them down.  (As a reminder I am not a medical professional of any kind and I am certainly not a dermatologist, I am just a skin care enthusiast who really likes to try and understand what it is I am putting on my face.  At the end of this post I’ll like a few articles for those who want to look into more professional assessments of the ingredients I am breaking down. )

So first up there is water.  I am always happy to see that.  While many ingredients can lock down moisture, they need moisture to lock down, otherwise they are just sort of sealing in what you have and not adding anything.

the product in hand

Next up is the Ethoxydiglycol.  While a mouthful of syllables its purpose is to dissolve ingredients, increase the efficacy of the other active ingredients in the serum.  One of the ingredients it is increasing the efficacy of is the L-Ascorbic Acid which is a form of vitamin C very often used in skin care because it is a potent antioxidant and skin-soothing agent that can improve the appearance of signs of aging.

The Propylene Glycol acts as a humectant which means it secures the water and takes it to the outer layer of your skin.

Alpha Tocopherol is the Vitamin E listed in the name of the product and it also acts as an antioxidant  while Polysorbate 80 attracts and suspends oils, dirt, and other impurities that have accumulated on the skin and wash them away.  So essentially, if my understanding is correct the Vitamin E helps pull the bad things in your skin to the surface and the Polysorbate 80 acts as the bouncer who kicks them out of Club Dermatitis.

Full face before the trial (L) at the end of one month (R).

Panthenol softens and sooths the skin and helps it build up a barrier against water loss.

Ferulic Acid, the F mentioned on the product label, is an antioxidant that works to boost the effects of other antioxidants and  Sodium Hyaluronate helps to restore the skin’s moisture, promoting a more revitalized and youthful complexion. 

And finally we get to Benzylalcohol, whose chief function in cosmetics is as a preservative, and it’s among the least sensitizing preservatives in use and  Dehydroacetic Acid a non-toxic ingredient used to keep the product from spoiling and acts as a fungicide and bactericide .  Not very sexy ingredients to end the list with but very necessary.  After all there is nothing good about expired skin care.

While those are some very scientific words, the end result is that the ingredients are used to lock in moisture, while sending in a team of antioxidants and promoting healthy youthful looking skin.

While youthful looking skin may be a judgment call, I can say that my skin feels hydrated and soft.  I had no issues with clogged pores or redness with the sun as can sometimes happen with Vitamin C based products (at least it has happened to me a couple of times).

The scarring and sun damage on my cheek before the trial (L) after one month (R)

The product is in a yellow colored plastic dispenser.  The color of the container keeps the sunlight away from the product, which I appreciate, but it also prevents me from knowing how much product remains.  Foolishly I forgot to weigh it before I started my trial.  Unlike the other serums and oils, I’ve tried from Timeless Skincare, it does not come with a dropper, but has a pump that you press to dispense the serum.  I’m guessing it is to keep as much air out of the product as possible. 

One pump is all that I needed to cover my face.  The product absorbed into my skin quickly and easily.  As you can see in the photo it is clear and despite the fact that Panthenol often has a floral scent to it, this serum has almost no scent to it at all.  If you stick your nose right down into it, you might smell something, but then you have to be close enough that you risk inhaling the serum.  I do not recommend inhaling the serum.

I don’t think anyone recommends inhaling any serum actually.

But it means that for those of you sensitive to scent, there will be no problem.  I will say the photos aren’t as dramatic as with the Hyaluronic Acid serum.  In the front facing before and after photos you can see that some of the sun discoloration on my forehead has been reduced and in the side photo showing the scarring on my cheek, you can see a little fading as well.  There is more fading in the sun damage than in the scaring, but there is some noticeable fading. You have to remember that with skin care thirty days of use is generally when you start to see results.  I think that if I continue using this product, over time I would see more fading of the damage as the active ingredients went to work on my skin.  It is less dramatic than its HA counterpart, but still a very nice serum.  And to the touch my skin feels softer and more hydrated, which doesn’t show up as clearly in the photos. 

So will I continue to use this serum?  Yes.  I will be using it up completely.  Will I place this on my to be ordered list? Yes I think I will.  I have other serums in my skin care drawer I want to try, some of them Vitamin C based, but thus far this 20% Vitamin C + E and Ferulic serum has worked really well with my skin and is in the top five of the vitamin C products I have tried before. I am very happy that I got a chance to try this product out and share my thoughts on it. For those of you interested in more scientific break downs of some of the ingredients I listed out, you might want to look into and the Derm Review.

SodaStream USA, inc

Foil Packet First Impressions

a selection of foil packets from my skincare drawer

I have a strange relationship with foil packets. I never consciously pick them up. They always seem to come as a gift with purchase, or a bonus item in a subscription box.They get touched into packages and sometimes arrive unannounced.

And I always think, okay, I’ve got to try that and see if it is worth giving it a full trial, either with a larger sample or a full sized bottle. Oh yes, there have been foil packets that completely sold me on the full size before. It is rare though. Usually with foil packets I don’t try to determine whether or not I would purchase a full size but rather would I be willing to try it again.

It has a much lower threshold.

But what happens with foil packets, is I gather them, thinking I need to try them and then they languish until I go to pull something out of a drawer and then they come cascading out like a strange skin care slot machine. Because I honestly don’t reach for them a lot. when going through samples and testing them out, I gather up the small tubes and tiny jars and work through them. I tend to completely forget about the foil packets. Luckily there are no bells and flashing lights when they slide out and remind me they are there.

So I decided that I would take a selection of foil packets partially because there are a lot of them and partially because Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming and I want to start making my lists. If I don’t try the sample, I can’t know if i want to pick up the product. In addition to products I like and want to try, there are also lists of gifts for Christmas and unlike me, who was sensible enough to be born in June, most of my family was born between November and February.

I don’t mind actually as it makes my birthday THE event of the summer while everyone else is just a part of the celebratory series that starts November 3rd and ends February 12 leaving everyone gasping with relief when Valentine’s day hits and we have quiet until Easter.

But it also means that I make birthday lists around the same time I make Christmas lists. It also means that even though I talk about my list the most, the items I want tend to take a back seat on my shopping extravaganza and sometimes have to wait for the spring sales.

Such is life.

But sometimes, I make it through the list and still get to shop for me. So i still make the list. But enough chatter, it’s time to sample.

The links below will take you to the product page for the company. I get absolutely nothing if you click on them. They are not affiliate links. I just want you to be able to find the products if you are interested.

Snowberry Serum

First up is the Youth Renewing Face serum with eProlex. from Snowberry. I believe the sample came as an added bonus in a Glossy Box. The serum comes out as a clear liquid and even though it looks like it is more serum that I usually use on my face each morning, the packet contained just enough for my face, neck and upper chest.

Snowberry Serum in hand

It took a little while to soak in, but I have been spoiled by the Hyaluronic Acid Serum from Timeless Skincare. That tends to soak into the skin on contact. I started the Vitamin C Serum trial (also a Timeless Skincare) this week and even that had a noticeably slower absorption rate. I think I might have just gotten used to the HA Serum’s speed. Either way it took only a little longer absorb. Since on the back of the packet Snowberry recommends waiting five minutes before continuing with other skin care, that’s what I did. (and yes I set the timer.)

I also used the five minutes to set up the coffee pot.

It absorbed before the five minutes, but as I occupied myself I didn’t mind the wait. In five minutes it was completely absorbed. while the serum is clear it is not odorless. The scent is faint and not unpleasant. I just can’t identify it. When I try to describe it I want to say that is smells like a soft gray streaked with light pink. I know sometimes my brain is not terribly helpful. It is a clean and pleasant sort of smell though. I checked the ingredients list, which they thoughtfully provided on the back. while I am happy there are Niacinamides, which my skin loves (although I know some people have a sensitivity to)there was no ingredient where I could say HA that’s what i am smelling. So for now I have to say that my broken snifter and bent brain translates the scent into a soft gray streaked with light pink. It is however a product that, after my initial test I would like to see more of so I will be putting it on the list to try again in a larger sample or even a full size.

High Expectations oil

The next two items were also extras added to a Glossy Box I believe. they are both from High SkinCare. One is the High Expectations Facial Oil and the other is the High Five Cannabis Facial moisturizer. Oddly they both had the same slightly lemony scent to them rather than the more typically earthy scent I associate with Cannabis/CBD oil based products.

oil in hand

The facial oil is 32% cannabis sativa oil. There was far more in the packet than I actually needed for one application, so I did not use it all. There wasn’t enough to add to a container to try and use a second time. Or maybe there was but I didn’t really feel like using it a second time. This oil felt a little heavy on my skin. At the moment I am using Pure 100% Squalane oil from Timeless Skincare in the mornings and the Malin+Goetz Recovery Oil at night. neither sit quite as heavy on the skin. The High Expectations did not meet, let alone exceed expectations in this first impressions test. I do not think I will be adding it onto any list.

High Five Moisturizer

However, I would consider picking up the High Five Cannabis Facial Moisturizer for a longer trial. It has 20% Cannabis Sativa seed oil and the same lemony scent that the facial oil has. (I know some of you are thinking – at least she said lemony instead of yellow, but lemony doesn’t ping in my brain as yellow it usually comes across as a pale green, so ha. Plus I am familiar with the scent of lemons.)

moisturizer in hand

The High Five cream absorbed well into the skin and was quite moisturizing. Again there was far more in the packet than could be used in one sitting. This I did add to a small jar and use at night. Because of its consistency, I really liked using it at night. It is as thick as a traditional moisturizer (as opposed to a gel or water cream). Even though the temperature has dropped, the sun is still bright and I spent longer on the walking trail than I have in a while. This was a very good cream after too much time in the sun. Unlike the oil, I would definitely consider picking up a larger size to try out.

Next there is the First and Free CBD Cream. It came in a Pinch Me Box. I have to say I was very glad to see it as they always seem to want to send me bandages and candy. And yes I looked over my profile with them but somehow I have gotten into some sort of candy eating klutz category. So it was kind of fabulous to be offered any sort of body lotion. The First and Free CBD uses canopy growth for their products which if I remember correctly is more sustainable. I can’t remember the details. I have only just started delving into the CBD world and my research is still a little shaky. As I just started trying out a CBD Cleansing oil, I will be doing more research soon. I would also do more research on the effects of using only canopy growth should I try out a larger version of this cream or any other product from the First and Free Brand.

CBD Cream in hand

As I really liked this cream, I think that is definitely a possibility. There was little to no scent to it. It smelled like lotion. Just that cream scent that unscented lotions have. As almost every lotion in my currently large collection is pretty heavily scented, this was kind of a relief. Lately I’ve been running around smelling of cake batter and sugar cookies. It’s made me want to bake more. But that could also be the cooler temps. Regardless, I would actually like to try using this cream for a longer trial to see how I liked it over a longer period and if I would like to add it to my continue to purchase list of products. As a note, when you go to the First and Free Site they will ask for your location so they can determine which products they could ship to you. Which i kind of like. I’d hate to accidentally buy something that wasn’t legal in my locale. The company does sell edibles though and I think the restrictions are more on that end then on the body lotion.

So there you have it, four foil packets and my initial impressions of the products within. Three I want to try further and one I definitely do not. Not a bad trial run. I hope you’ve enjoyed my foil packet first impressions.

Testing out the Timeless Skincare Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin C Serum

Timeless Skincare recently gifted me a set of products to try out and review.  While these were gifted to me the reviews are my own opinions. This is not a sponsored post. I’m sure you recall me mentioning the HA (Hyaluronic Acid) Spray that was also in the package they sent over.  I’ve been using it in my Weekly Makeup Bag for the last two weeks and absolutely loving it.  But as I like to give skin care a full thirty days where possible before I make a determination, it still has another two weeks of use before I give you my final thoughts. You can see my initial impressions post by clicking here if you would like.

The only reason I mention it is that the HA Spray is listed in the product description as a lighter version of the Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin C Serum, which I’m reviewing today after a full thirty days of use.

So if you are looking at the ingredients list and thinking to yourself, wow that sounds familiar, then first of all congrats on paying attention to ingredients lists. Give yourself a gold star. Second, it is pretty much the same list.  The spray has cucumber extract added to it to give it the just from the spa scent (and cucumber extract benefits).  There are other scents with the spray as well, but as this is the serum review I’ll leave that for that post.

First let’s look at what the product claims and then we’ll get to the ingredients and my use. So first off…

Kick start your daily skin care routine with this essential serum. Vitamin C with its powerful antioxidants is the first line of defense for your skin as it brightens, clarifies and protects. Matrixyl 3000™ rebuilds collagen and firm skin, and Hyaluronic Acid pumps up the moisture levels. Your face appears luminous and bright, giving you that well rested, ‘just had a full night’s sleep’ effect. 

Recommended For All skin types, every day

Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin C Serum is composed of a 5% concentration of Vitamin C, a 1.5% concentration of Matrixyl 3000™ with an added 1% concentration of Hyaluronic Acid. The combination of hyaluronic acid with the best vitamin c serum for oily skin provides a super hydra-boosting serum brightens skin with natural vitamins and essential anti-aging ingredients, while replenishing skin volume and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles

Apply 2-3 drops to fingertips and smooth evenly onto cleansed skin, preferably at night-time. For external use only. Sunscreen use recommended after application.

Timeless Promise: Paraben Free, Fragrance and Dye Free, Cruelty Free, More actives, less chemicals, Made in the USA


Water, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Aloe Barbadensis, Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Matrixyl 3000™, Benzylalcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid.

Timeless Skincare

As the product is meant to hydrate I am not surprised water is the first ingredient on the list.  In fact, I would be pretty shocked if it wasn’t.  Most skincare products do have it as their first ingredient, which makes sense.  If a product is supposed to put moisture in the skin, it has to have moisture to give.

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is the vitamin C element that is mentioned in the description in case you are wondering why vitamin c isn’t plainly labeled on the ingredients list.  According to the Derm Store this is a form of Vitamin C that not only protects skin from free radicals and helps hydrate but it helps with hyper pigmentation and stimulates collagen. The link is actually to the Derm Stores full article which goes into much greater detail about this form of Vitamin C for those interested.  Personally, I think it is pretty interesting.

Aloe Barbadensis is essentially Aloe Vera.  I am a big fan of this.  It is an anti-inflammatory agent essentially.  I can personally attest to this.  Every house I lived in as a child had an aloe plant in it.  Sunburns, and non-sun burns, poison ivy, and any kind of itchy bite or skin inflammation saw a bit of the aloe plant snapped off and rubbed on the skin.  I was very glad this spring that I kept of the practice of keeping an aloe plant around when I got my massive sun burn this spring. It was icy cold and super soothing. My poor aloe plant is almost fully recovered from the ordeal. Needless to say I am very glad to see it in my skin care, especially since I have been spending so much time in the sun this summer.

Glycerin is a humectant, which essentially means it is what pulls the moisture into the skin and kind of locks it down.  It is pretty common in a lot of moisturizing products and kind of expected. The Hyaluronic Acid is also expected since this is a hyaluronic acid based product.  HA reduces fine lines and causes the skin to retain moisture, essentially plumping the skin to do away with fine lines.  It is not an acid as in evil villain slowly lowering you into a bubbling vat while spilling all of the details of his nefarious plot sort of acid.

As the TM by the term in the ingredients list implies the Matryxl 3000 is a proprietary substance but here is the simple break down of what the  Timeless Skin care Site had to say about it…

Matrixyl 3000 is an ultimate collagen booster derived synthetically and comprised of two skin active peptides, palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl-tetrapeptide-7. These two active ingredients stimulate the skin and work with the skin to enhance its natural anti-aging properties.

Timeless Blog Article

If you click on the site link it will take you to a more fulsome discussion of this ingredient, but the above is essentially the summation.

This leads us to the last two listed ingredients: Benzylalcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid. Benzylalcohol is a preservative designed to kill microbes and Dehydroacetic Acid is a non-toxic ingredient used as a fungicide and bactericide.  It’s job is to prevent the growth of microorganisms. So essentially these last two ingredients keep the product from spoiling and from mold and microbes from growing inside the product.  I am okay with that. I prefer all my skin care to not go rancid on me. 

Five drops of the product in hand

And that is it for ingredients.  There are eight of them.  Two designed to prevent spoilage and the rest to do the job for which the serum was designed. Overall not a bad list.  I have used quite a few products where breaking down every ingredient (even in the short non-scientific way I did here) would not be possible. I really like that no extras were added just to be added.

The serum comes in a blue glass bottle with a glass dropper. Despite the fact that the Hyaluronic Acid +Vitamin C Serum only costs $20.95, it feels super lux in the hand.  The glass is nice in the hand and the dropper is well made.  With glass bottles like this I have a love hate relationship with the color of the bottle.  I love that it is a solid color that prevents light from getting in and ruining the product, but I hate not knowing how much I used. The product is clear and odorless.  If you have a problem with scent in your skin care then you will be thrilled with this.  There is absolutely no scent to it.

Now while the website says it is ideally used in the evenings, the box it came in suggested morning and evening use.  So I used it in the morning and in the evening. I know that sun sensitivity with some serums can be an issue, but I didn’t have any sort of problems with it.  That being said, when I go outside I have SPF 50 sunscreen (courtesy of my Volition sunscreen) on my face and as extra security I have been topping all of my skin (arms, legs, and face) with a spray sunscreen (Neutrogena Beach Defense) in SPF 30.  So the sunscreen may have something to do with the non-reaction in the sun.

But I’m not giving up my sunscreen to check.   

I try not to deliberately try for skin damage.

The recommended usage is three to four drops.  I generally found that three covered my face perfectly well, my skin sucking the serum in almost immediately upon contact.

Seriously, it disappeared like magic. 

Since I like to bring my serums down my neck and onto my upper chest, I used five drops and it covered everything beautifully.  This is a serum you are going to want to dispense in your hand and then apply to the face.  If you try to use a cotton round, or any other cloth applicator, it will absorb into the cloth and you will just sort of lose the product.  Definitely apply it with your hands.  Any product that doesn’t go into your face will sink into your hands.  Which is not a bad thing.  Even in a glancing application, the serum has actually smoothed out a lot of my gardening based rough spots on my hands. I know that isn’t its intent, but it isn’t a bad side effect.  

I did take before and after photos of my face in an effort to see the difference thirty days made.  I know the difference is slight in only a month, but I did notice a smoothing out of my skin in the mouth and eye area.  I even noticed a slight reduction in what I like to call my stress crack – the line across the center of my forehead. It isn’t shrunk to nothing (I doubt very much that anything would completely erase it) but it hasn’t gotten bigger and it is a little less noticeable. The hyperpigmentation on my forehead is slightly lighter.

The differences I’ve noticed are really kind of hard to see in a photo. For one, my skin feels less dry.  As I am walking more instead of going to the gym, I am spending more time outside.  Between the walking and the gardening, the sun takes its toll.  While using this serum I’ve had to use less moisturizer to keep the sun dryness at bay. and I have been noticing a lot less clogged pores lately.

Don’t get me wrong, I think somehow I also assembled a crack team of products for this round of testing as in the past month a lot of my skin issues have cleared up. While this serum isn’t solely responsible for my skin’s improvement, it was a really big help.  The dark spots left by acne scarring haven’t really diminished so dealing with skin discoloration due to scarring may not be this serum’s strong suit despite the vitamin c, but it is excellent with retaining moisture and plumping up fine lines.  So two out of three isn’t bad.

I do have a second serum that was sent to me by Timeless Skincare.  It is the 20% Vitamin C + E and Ferulic Acid.  It is designed more for the pigmentation so I will be giving it a go.  In my month long trial using it morning and evening, I used up about half of the 1oz bottle of HA serum that was sent to me. I am going to switch to using it just in the evenings (which should give me another two months of testing with the serum, plus I don’t want the left over to go to waste and I really enjoyed using it so have no problem whatsoever in using every drop). 

I am going to then test the more heavily vitamin C serum during the day and see if that works better on my hyperpigmentation.  I have high hopes that the combination of the two serums will do well with my skin. Of course I won’t know until I try.  Which I will do starting tomorrow morning. 

Until then, I have to say I have really enjoyed this serum and am very glad Timeless Skincare sent it over to me to test out and review.  It is a serum I will be purchasing on my own in the future. I may even have to look into ther DIY Beauty Box in the near future as well. Thus far I am enjoying the products I’ve used well enough that rying out more from this brand seems like a really good idea.