[REVIEW] Naruko 60 Actives Youth Activating Enhancer

Enhancers and Activators are quite an interesting skincare
category. I’m not even entirely convinced it’s a worthwhile product to use. By
complete unofficial definition, activators are products used before ANYTHING. I
mean like if you use a First Treatment Essence this would go even before
that!!! WOW! (See my skepticism of their worthwhileness?) They are supposed to help penetration and absorption
while providing some other mild benefits. However, this is formulated, feels, and even looks like a hydrating toner and can be used as such.

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Naruko’s 60 Actives Youth Activating whatever is one of two I’ve
thought to be worthy of testing. It being the cheaper of the two (Sulwhasoo’s
First Care Activating Serum was the ladder) I decided to give it a go after finding
little info except a rather helpful review from fiddysnails and this cosdna posting of the full ingredients.

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Naruko (this is pulled from their Malaysian website) touts 4 key factors of this enhancer. Hyaluronic Acid, vitamin C (in Ascorbyl Glucoside flavor), their ‘60 actives’ botanical blend, and Dimethyl Isosorbide. I don’t think the botanical blend has anything worth mentioning since the list is so lengthy it most likely does little to nothing. More on the nothing side.

Why do I get excited about Dimethyl Isosorbide? It’s because this and two other products (Dr. Dennis Gross Firming Peptide Milk & PTR 3% Retinoid) that use this ingredient absorb REALLY WELL! That’s really the purpose of this ingredient. It prevents ingredients from oxidizing, making that overwhelming list of extracts, and vitamin C safe for a while longer. It is listed higher than most of the ‘actives’ in this product and you can definitely tell by the slight oily texture.

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Its scent is also pretty nice. To me it’s ‘soapy rose’ but i’m sure that smell is more ideal than all of those extracts havin’ their own party.

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I rarely use this product at night as I have other actives I am using and waiting on, but I use this almost every morning. As a carrier of Ascorbyl Glucoside, I pair this with my vitamin C serum in the morning as my ‘actives’. The fresh cool feeling of hyaluronic acid and glycerin are usually welcomed as well as the relatively quick absorption without any type of residue. Just perfectly prepped. But is it prepped? Or is your youth activated? That’s none of my business.

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However, if you care about my business. I give this ‘enhancer’ a 6/10. It was also next to impossible to ship to america, I found it on ebay for an alright price but it’s nowhere to be found now.. It wasn’t my hopes and dreams of a product that’d make my face act like a literal sponge. But did it help product absorption? I think it did in the beginning steps, but over the course of the routine I can’t say I could feel a major difference.

Texture: 7/10 — a tad oily? but hydrating. Difficult is a good word.

Packaging: 5/10 — kinda weird, product builds up really easily in the cap and can get gross.

Scent: 8/10 — soapy rose… I think I love it ? But sometimes I’m not in the mood.

Performance: 6/10

Overall: 7/10

[REVIEW] Kate Somerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream

Move over Peter Thomas Roth, I got a new favorite retinol eye cream. You may remember my rave post about PTR’s 1% Retinol PM Fusion eye cream, I’ve since tried 2 more retinol eye creams and Kate’s has won my heart over.

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When ingredient hunting down the list, the first ingredient that caught my eye was Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, the second active ingredient in this product right behind Retinol itself. Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate is like ‘Retinol 2.0′ is shows very similar results to Tretinoin (commonly referred to as ‘prescription’ retinol) with little to no irritation compared to retinol itself. Next is Bakuchiol, pronounced ba-koo-chee-all. (I love saying it to people and watching their face) It is considered to be an alternative to retinol as it shows similar reparative and acne fighting properties. Three great actives making one powerhouse of an eye cream. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin is also present to help water retention and give a ever so slight cooling effect.

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But why a retinol eye cream? If you’ve noticed you’re a little too late to the eye cream party, or have had bad luck with your under-eyes, Retinol can oftentimes be your savior in an antioxidant. Retinol is responsible for encouraging cell renewal. Because it helps our skin speed up how fast it is produced and disposed, it makes it a great treatment for just about any common major concern. Fine lines and wrinkles, retexturize(for eyes, reducing millia!) dark spots, and even loss of firmness. As a kid I never wore sunglasses or sunscreen and I spent a substantial amount of time outside, so when first starting retinol under my eyes I noticed great improvement all around.

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Supporting ingredients are also pretty interesting. The first to note is Lime Pearl extract or Microcitrus Australasica. I have only seen this ingredient in one other product and that is Sunday Riley’s C.E.O vitamin C moisturizer. Lime Pearl isn’t a new thing but definitely isn’t commonly used. I found a great information sheet on it by one of the manufacturers. The main reason I found Lime Pearl so interesting is that it shows signs of moderate exfoliation without any irritation.

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Sporting a gorgeous gold flexible applicator, it stays cool to the touch to encourage depuffing. When I first saw that the applicator I was a little confused since I was assuming it was just for PM use. However that is not the case! Kate recommends AM and PM application. It absorbs quickly making it great under my concealer. The finishing touch is a light diffusing optic to help blur any imperfections, and to remind you, you can use this twice a day!

[REVIEW] Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream

I have a bad habit of moving directly on to another moisturizer after finishing (or growing tired) of my current one. But Sunday Riley has made the FIRST moisturizer I had to come back for more of. 

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Tidal claims to be hydrating and brightening. It hydrating with 2 forms of Hyaluronic Acid, a low molecular weight HA to penetrate deeply and hydrate over time, as well as your regular HMW-HA to give surface hydration. You find Jojoba Esters as the seconds ingredient providing moisture very similar to human sebum without feeling like an oil or heavy butter. So we know with this moisturizer we are getting both some hydration and also some moisture (without the weight!) 

Tidal’s brightening effects I feel like are actually a bit understated. Papain, or papaya enzymes help lightly exfoliate, which in my use have helped cut down how frequently I exfoliate noticeably. 1% Alpha-Arbutin is the power ingredient however, which is up to 20x more effective than Beta-Arbutin or commonly known as just ‘Arbutin’. While Arbutin is a natural ingredient (you can find it in Bearberry extract) Alpha-Arbutin is a biosynthetic powder that is manufactured and MUCH more expensive than it’s Beta brother. What is arbutin? It is a brightening ingredient that is related to hydroquinone but is much less harsh and doesn’t have nearly as many safety risks included. Another point to note is the cool use of papaya enzymes, generally we see them in powder washes like Tosowoong’s (Review here!) or AMOREPACIFIC’s enzyme peel. Some have concerns of these washes not actually exfoliating much, if at all because the enzymes are not left on long enough/ are not strong enough. Since the enzymes are being left on they have a chance to exfoliate to visibly smooth and retexturize over the course of a few uses. 

This is my second jar now of this gel-cream. It has a subtle floral/earthy scent with zero added fragrance and a beautiful light teal color with a subtle iridescence. Tidal isn’t you’re average hydrating moisturizer, it’s actually a very active treatment as well. I recommend this for clients who often times want an all-in-one moisturizer, but they actually want it to show results. 

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I don’t pick favorites, but if I were to this may be it. No complaints here, man. 

[REVIEW] Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cloud Cream

After much anticipation and great experiences with his VIZ-1000 serum (now known as the Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum) Peter Thomas Roth launches his first hydration line, following with many other brands preparing for summer/ Sephora’s hydration skin care animation.

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If you aren’t familiar with Peter Thomas Roth, their products are no-nonsense and straightforward. The Water Drench Cloud Cream follows this theme. It is fragrance and oil free and relies on skin identical ingredients (or ingredients that are found naturally present in our skin/replenish those substances)

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Our skin relies on both water and lipids. So PTR sneaks around the more-often-than-not-uneducated scare of products containing oil by using Ceramides EOP, EOS, AP, NS, Cholesterol, and Capooryl Sphingosine to deliver these lipids without using a potentially pore clogging oil or substance. We produce ceramides natural and we find them lubricating our skin cells. Cholesterol is used as a water binding ingredient as well as Capoorly Sphingosine or known by the brand name “Sphingokine NP” by the brand Evonik. Evonik has a publication posted about it’s use with the listed ceramides and cholesterol showing improvements in Transepidermal Water Loss.

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While I am obviously very interested in the moisture content of this moisturizer it’s key ingredients are actually it’s 3 weights of hyaluronic acid to provide instant surface hydration (large), and medium and low weight hyaluronics to provide deep, long lasting hydration. There are also 5 types of saccharomyces ferment derived from minerals! But I would like to point out that the 30% Hyaluronic Acid complex is most likely not 30% Hyaluronic Acid. I can’t tell you how many store employees I’ve heard say this. Adding that word ‘complex’ means you can include it’s water content because hey, Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant that draws water in. Therefore sure, it’s a part of the complex. We see an obvious example in the Water Drench Serum, if it has 75% HA Complex why is water the first ingredient? That shouldn’t be possible if the product is a whopping 75% HA. (Also that much would have a thick jelly consistency)

The consistency is light but leaves your skin feeling cool and primed. There’s no fragrance which makes this great for sensitive noses and easily irritated skin. This combination of ceramides and hyaluronic acid is the perfect team to battling oil imbalances. I give this product a 9/10 my only complaint is I wish the ingredients rated lower on safety scales, but there’s nothing too scary listed.

[First Take] The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Brands like the Ordinary make me worry about large cosmetic resellers like Sephora and Nordstrom. Effective, affordable, attractive. Asian Beauty brands are one thing because uneducated westerners don’t know how to really shop the products, let alone the different product types they’re used to seeing. But brands like the Ordinary and their parent company DECIEM bring a different philosophy to selling skin care that I’m all about. 

DECIEM created The Ordinary after their two core brands N.I.O.D (Non Invasive Options in Dermal Science) and Hylamide. These two brands offer more advanced formulations and other types of products such as ‘boosters’ and ‘finishers’. NIOD being their attempt at the ‘Ferrari of skincare’ provides people with incredible formulas using the latest technology in active ingredients and dermal science. You can find products from them like Sanskrit Saponins which is a pH balanced, raw saponin cleanser to actually cleanse the skin instead of stripping or purifying it has Lysine an essential amino acid to help optimize skin functionality. They tout the brand as the brand for the hyper obsessed about skin, while I agree it’s definitely a brand of it’s own class, but there’s a lot of exaggeration in the description of some of their products. The Ordinary is the ‘essence’ of these two brands, it essentially delivers  minimalist versions of some of their core brands’ products. So to better understand the differences between these 3 brands lets quick compare their 3 hyaluronic acid serums:

NIOD (top end) – Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex – 12 forms of HA – peptide delivery system ($35/.5oz)

Hylamide – Booster – Low Molecular HA – 5 forms of HA ($20/1oz)

The Ordinary – Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – 3 forms of HA – Panthenol ($6.80/1oz)

Kinda classist but hey, even the most expensive is NIOD at $35.00 for .5 oz you could also go to any cosmetics store and find some very basic hyaluronic acid serums for about the same price point. 

This is my first Ordinary product. I kinda forgot about reviewing it until one of my favorite coworkers asked me if I’ve tried anything from them. I got it during a black friday sale for $1.00! However the company didn’t process anything in a timely matter and it took until about a week before christmas to show up at my door. The company also failed to inform customers of the delay. No note in the package, email, or compensation. I literally just got a product a month late that I figured got stolen because it was taking so long. But awful customer service isn’t the formulators fault and they did a pretty good job themselves but it’s worth mentioning before potentially throwing money at them.

Now onto the the HA + B5…

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I was pretty impressed with what 6.80 can buy you as far as a Hyaluronic Acid serum goes. It contains HA crosspolymer to give surface hydration, as well as two lower weight forms to insure penetration and deep hydration. The Ordinary notes that when using just regular HA, because of it not being able to penetrate into our skin it can actually pull hydration from the surface of our skin and this is why they use 3 forms. HA is great at pulling that hydration in, but where does it get that hydration from? Generally we expect from the environment, but HA serums will almost always contain a decent amount of water to insure you’re ‘feeding’ that newly absorbed HA. (Also if you live someplace where it’s dry AF the HA isn’t gonna do a lot for you unless it has water to absorb in the product) It also contains Panthenol or B5 to lock in that moisture too.

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Here is the ingredient list. Just goes to show how incredibly simple they keep their products. 

Smart formulation, simple and effective. I think as people catch on to brands such as the Ordinary and CosRx we’ll see the beauty industry shifting their skincare market. High end brands have already been hustling to get new improved, more concentrated formulas out on the shelves to sway people back to loyalty. Something western brands get that most Asian Beauty brands do not get! I will definitely be trying some more products out from the Ordinary as well as NOID since this product went well for me. 

I give this HA serum a 8/10, I hope I would give the NIOD version a higher rating but comparing this to my Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Serum, I still prefer Caudalie. For comparison it has 3 forms of HA, peptides, resveratrol and a patent from Harvard University but an $88 price tag. I want to compare the NOID 12 forms to it soon. So we’ll see! HA show down?!

Peter Thomas Roth: Killing the under eye game

Peter Thomas Roth has always been a favorite of mine. With super effective, tried and true ingredients combined with some great innovation. Peter Thomas Roth has found his way into many people’s beauty drawer. But these are two new kick ass eye products that I can personally vouch for! 

I started this blog a few months ago but haven’t posted much since the beginning and I’m going to change that! (It may be shorter posts but it’ll keep me posting!) But the main reason I haven’t had time to write is because I’ve been relocating from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle, Washington. Being my first move, it’s been tough! But because of this move I’ve had a lot of late nights, or draining days with not enough sleep in-between it really started to take a toll on my eyes. Well, my whole body but my dark undereye circles turned into basically two black eyes. Peter Thomas Roth came to my rescue and just in time. In just a few weeks my eyes were looking better than honestly I could remember. 

I’m gonna start with the newly appointed king retinol eye cream, Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Eye Cream. Retinol is considered to be one of the best anti-aging ingredients out there. Commonly prescribed from Dermatologists to clients coming in with anything from acne to wrinkles, this ingredient is great at smoothing texture (all my fellow friends with milia hello!!), improve skin tone, and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles micro encapsulated at a smooth 1% to be released over 8 hours. This is the new age of beauty sleep! 

(okay but not the most luxurious packaging ever?)

Now I could rattle off just a couple more ingredients that are helpful but I mean seriously this this is FILLED with them. Here’s a helpful list:

  • Caffeine – depuff 
  • Vitamins A, C, E – antioxidant protection/ conditioning
  • Hyaluronic Acid – hydrating humectant
  • Squalene – moisturizing
  • Echinacea & Camellia – superior antioxidant protection
  • Aloe – hydrating, soothing
  • Allantoin & Panthenol – softening/smoothing/conditioning 
  • Ceramides – restoring lipid layer/ moisturizing

Like, guys there’s more but I didn’t feel like going any further. Let’s talk about texture. It’s a fairly thick cream and it dries down completely. I actually notice a bit of ‘hold’ like the same feeling you get with a heavy duty under eye concealer. I was told by a brand representative that this is to help the absorption of the ingredients with the eye area having smaller pores it can be a little more difficult.

TRY IT!   

Then my guilty pleasure are the 24k Gold Lift&Firm Hydra-Gel Eye Patches. If you can’t get your 8 hours these will make you not only look but feel like you did. 

These bad boys are packed as well! 

  • Niacinamide – antioxidant protection, brightening, conditioning
  • Allantoin & Hydrolized Collagen – moisturizing/conditioning
  • Caffeine – depuff
  • Hyaluronic Acid & Glycerin – hydrating and plumping humectants 
I’ve never had as many astonished faces after taking these off clients compared to any other product I’ve used in consultations. These are crazy fast acting, and not to mention super relaxing. Whether you’re not feeling it when you wake up or have to look your best for a night out these lil guys will always have your back for puffiness, dark circles and dehydrated/tired eyes
I didn’t mention the gold found in these on purpose, it’s something many people believe has no/little effect on the skin topically and can be relatively gimmicky at times like how many people advertise collagen as a ‘unwrinkle’ ingredient but in reality it is beneficial as it’s very soothing/moisturizing but we don’t see much documented evidence it helps with firmness and elasticity and we know for sure it does not ‘add’ or ‘synthesize’ collagen production. 
I know I said i was going to make these smaller probably and looking at the size of this, I’ll start with the next one.