Product Review: CeraVe SA Renewing Cleanser

Of all the beauty products in my arsenal, the one I am happy to pluck from the drugstore shelves and will never be convinced of a need to do otherwise is a facial cleanser.  There are literally thousands out there shouting from the rooftops about this ingredient and that, but the reality is that all you need is to get a good formulation appropriate to your skin type (dry, dehydrated, oily, congested) that can tackle the appropriate amount of dirt and makeup removal from your face while not stripping your skin and causing irritation.  A face wash stays in contact with your skin for less than one minute, so all those fancy ingredients don’t have the time or strength to do much of anything miraculous. Save your money on those pricey cleansers!

CeraVe’s SA Renewing Cleanser has been my go-to and permanent staple to my beauty routine for about two years.  I found out about it as a loyal CeraVe fan (their products contain excellent ingredients and technology for the money and convenience) and because I needed something a bit more heavy duty on makeup removal than their hydrating version.  My skin is also sensitive, so I needed something gentle enough not totally strip my skin and to keep it balanced.

What is it?

This one is going to be targeted to those who are combination/oily and are clog-prone. It is also a good option for a transition cleanser for those who get more oily in the summer time, or when you need a heavier-duty formula to combat that super SPF.

It does not contain dyes or fragrance (yay for sensitive skin), foams up which is an indicator that it’s going to break through oil and grease, and includes salicylic acid which lightly exfoliates and penetrates pores to clean them out and also gives it it’s namesake.  The description on Ulta’s website does a nice job of summing it up:

CeraVe’s SA Renewing Cleanser exfoliates and detoxifies to remove dirt and oil while softening and smoothing skin. Unlike some exfoliating cleansers, CeraVe’s SA Renewing Cleanser does not contain harsh beads or grains and is gentle on skin. It better prepares skin for essential hydration by helping to slough off dead skin cells while cleansing. And, like all CeraVe products, it hydrates and helps restore skin’s protective barrier.

Benefits:

  • Developed with dermatologists
  • Detoxifies and exfoliates to remove dirt and oil
  • Salicylic acid softens and smooths skin
  • Three essential ceramides help repair the skin barrier
  • Enriched with antioxidant vitamin D
  • Gentle and non-drying
  • Non-comedogenic and non-irritating
  • Fragrance free

Ingredients:

What I like about CeraVe products is that they include an impressive array of ingredients that benefit the skin barrier – glycerin, niacinamide, ceramides and hyaluronic acid.  Together these help to nourish and protect the top layer of your skin that keeps moisture in and bad things out. I guarantee you won’t find a better-priced option with all the goodies in there like this one.

Purified Water, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Glycerin, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Niacinamide, Gluconolactone, Sodium Methylcocoyl Taurate, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, Salicylic Acid, Ceramide 6-11, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol Sodium Benzoate, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Cholecalciferol, Phytosphingosine, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide

Application:

I found that one whole squirt was too much, so I do about a half.  It comes out in a clear watery-gel like consistency with no smell and no gritty particles. I rub it in the palms of my hands with some water and it begins to suds up into a rich soapy lather.  I then rub it around in circles on my face making sure to spend extra time in my trouble areas – on and around my nose, forehead, and chin.  I do rub this on my eye makeup and luckily don’t have to tug much for it to be effective.  I do double-cleanse because I’m so clog-prone and get oily throughout the day, but those of you who don’t have those problems or don’t wear heavy makeup should be OK with one pass.

I wash my face and it feels clean but not squeaky clean.  Just a pleasant clean with a good foundation for my serums and moisturizers.  There’s not leftover residue, however this stuff does get pretty sudsy so if you do too much you can feel like you have to keep rinsing to get it all off.

Packaging:

This is a nice frosted clear plastic pump bottle.  It closes easily for travel, and I’ve never had a problem with it leaking.  It always pumps out what I expect it to, and stands up sturdily in the shower.  No frills, but nice for the category.

Overall:

Overall I love this cleanser because it does what it’s meant to do, at an affordable price, and conveniently available at almost any drugstore.  It has better ingredients than what you’ll find in most, and it’s a reliable formulation that helps keep my pores clean while being appropriate for my aging (cry face) skin. Whether or not the ceramides, SA and HAs actually can get deep down to do what they’re meant to do, I really don’t care.  Even if it’s a little bit, it helps.  And if it doesn’t, the product still works appropriately and I’m not counting the dollar signs after each wash watching the formula go down the drain.

It’s sensitive enough for me to use after peels, and I use it on my face, neck, chest and upper shoulder/back area with no issues.  All places I can break out (blegh).

If you’re in the market for a new cleanser because you find yourself seeing a lot of leftovers when you tone, or were oily and need something that will help with acne that doesn’t feel like a tingling nightmare on your face, this is one I highly recommend.  I’m going to take off .5 stars though, because I do have to double cleanse.

Overall: 4.5/5

Packaging: 5/5

Price: $$$$$

Have a CeraVe product you love? Drop us a line in the comments.

Product Review: belif’s The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb

As ReadHead readers and friends will know, I am pretty upfront about the struggles of my skin both as an early teen and continues in adulthood.  While I’ve thankfully never struggled with the extremes of the worst, I’ve experienced, and continue to experience, the bits of bad things that add up to being detractors of beautiful skin.

One of the hardest products for me to find is a suitable moisturizer.  I am guessing there are a lot of you out there like me, the Goldie Locks of moisturizers – too oily, not enough moisture, ingredients break me out, causes skin irritation, not enough skin-beneficial ingredients….on and on.  I definitely don’t turn my nose up to drugstore finds which have some excellent products with good technology for the money (I’ll review a few of those) but I’m also willing to drop some coin on the thing that will work for me because most just do not.

The Introduction:

I ran into the JC Penny Sephora since it was closer to where I was running errands to pick up what I was currently using that I used up the last drop.  They don’t offer all the same products as a true Sephora store and didn’t have the Drunk Elephant La La Retro I was currently using, so I went on the hunt to see if there was a new relationship to be made.  La La Retro is pretty good, but we were transitioning from winter to spring which changes my skin, and it wasn’t HG (holy grail) status for performance or price.

I was also doing some research for a client looking at packaging and in a sea of overdone sameness this one caught my eye as a Korean brand and therefore worthy of a closer look.  It has about ten lines of ingredients ranging from every botanical and antioxidant you could think of on the box, so I pulled out my phone to look up reviews on my trusted sites and into my bin it went.

THIS, the True Cream Moisturizing Bomb from belif, IS my holy grail.  For a skincare expert to say HG status, well, that’s a league all in its own and its also a Certified ReadHead best.  Read on!

What it is:

Belif is a Korean skincare brand that touts itself as the most truthful skincare company that focuses on superior botanical ingredients, safety, honesty and efficacy originating from Europe hundreds of years ago.  They are definitely on the natural and botanical side and approach skincare as a natural benefit vs. the scientific cutting-edge new innovation to hit the interwebs.

I’m typically the science-buyer focused around results and clinical studies, so this one is a bit off the radar for me. Truthfully their brand positioning pangs me in a way that my day-job background just won’t let me let go, but their product is so good that I’ll give them a pass. ::Belif – call me!::  This one definitely got consideration due to reviews and ingredients.

There are two belif products that have entered cult status – the Aqua Bomb and the True Cream Moisturizing Bomb.  The Aqua Bomb is a lighter formulation geared towards those with oily skin and may be a better option for some in the summer and in humid climates.  The True Cream is for those who are on the dryer side.  I use a lot of anti-acne and aging ingredients which can dry my skin, so while I’m oily/combo by nature, I went for the option that would help keep my skin barrier in tact and hydrated.

Ingredients:

Remember me mentioning the ten lines of ingredients on the package?  They are impressive.  There’s no fillers in there.  Where I will say that it’s not always the case that more is better, if your skin likes natural products it will love this.  It does have traces of alcohol and ‘cones in it as well as a slight fragrance that occurs naturally, which could be problematic if you’re very sensitive to these ingredients.

In happy excess are hydrators like glycerin and traces of oils (traces being the optimal word here to someone who gets clogged pores), and botanicals/extracts. Noticeably absent is SPF and targeted anti-aging ingredients like retinoids or AHA/BHA acids.  This means you’ll need to apply them separately.

Derivatives of vitamin C like L-ascorbic acid that you’re typically used to seeing will not be listed.  You’ll have to do more digging into the benefits of botanicals to really understand what they’re bringing to the table and quite honestly is one of the frustrations I have with natural products over the more straightforward scientific approach.

belif – and other natural brands that fall into this camp – should better educate their consumer about why they are choosing what they are and the benefits of those ingredients.

From Sephora’s website:

-Comfrey Leaf: Detoxifies skin, leaving it smooth, soft, and clear.

Water, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Dipropylene Glycol, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Triethylhexanoin, Stearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, PEG-40 Stearate, Saccharomyces/Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Saccharomyces/Imperata Cylindrica Root Ferment Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteayl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sorbitan Stearate, Stearic Acid, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Poncirus Trifoliata Fruit Extract, Panthenol, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, *Nepeta Cataria Extract, *Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, *Baptisia Tinctoria Root Extract, *Stellaria Media (Chickweed) Extract, **Alchemilla Vulgaris Leaf Extract, **Viola Tricolor Extract, **Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, **Spiraea Ulmaria Flower Extract, **Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Achillea Millefolium Flower Extract, Euphrasia Officinalis Extract, Thuja Occidentalis Leaf Extract, Menyanthes Trifoliata Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Chelidonium Majus Extract, Urea, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium EDTA, Tromethamine, ***Fragrance, Citronnellol, Limonene. *Napiers Original Formula. **Napiers Moisture Formula. ***Fragrances of Natural Origin.

Packaging:

The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb comes in an understated box with a texturized cardboard feel, light blues, black and white.  It’s appropriate for it’s earthy vibe and it’s price tag.  The jar itself is a sturdy and white plastic jar with a black plastic top.  It feels sleek, does the job, but I always prefer a pump for sanitary and product stability reasons.

Application & Consistency:

I opened the jar to find an opaque white cream that was heading more towards a typical moisturizer with a bit of a gel-like consistency and some slip, rather than anything super heavy or whipped.  It had a very slight clean, citrus smell to it which didn’t scream chemical, and wasn’t overpoweringly flowery or earthy as some botanicals can be.  These are both deal-breakers for those with very sensitive skin (or noses).

I use a Q-tip to apply my moisturizers from a jar to save any contamination from my fingers.  I scooped some up, dabbed it across my face, and here’s where the magic comes in – smoothed it on.

This spread on like a dream.  Thin yet substantial, moisturizing but not oily, calming but not tingling.  It sank right in to my skin and left a matte yet hydrated look in impressively appropriate timing – meaning not instantly which means watery and alcohol-filled, and not forever and risking too heavy or emollient.  I didn’t glow like a disco ball, but when I touched my skin you felt that moisture was there.  Wow!  Did I just stumble upon the 8th Wonder of the World? This porridge was JUST. RIGHT.

As we all know with skin care and skin like ours that is finicky and reactive, the true test is the days afterwards.  This stuff continued to power through and provide me unparalleled moisture and if anything, helped to clear up some of my pimples likely caused by the stress of products on my skin.  I’ve been around the block and don’t overhype products for that reason, but my skin has never – even after peels and scrubs – felt so soft.

I’ve noticed my skin elasticity on my neck getting a little firmer because it’s being more properly hydrated and bouncy (and not breaking out praise the Lord) and my decollete, which is prone to wrinkling due to being blasted by the sun over the years mixed with how I sleep and that I have to wear substantial over the shoulder boulder holders to function everyday, is soft and hydrated more than it ever has been.

I actually look forward to and enjoy putting this on each time.  I haven’t said that about a moisturizer in well…maybe ever.

Overall:

I went into this purchase with no expectation given it was a brand I had never heard of, and was in a category which has let me down in the past.  This is absolutely, hands down the best moisturizer that I have ever purchased.  And, the fact that it has out-performed and cut my cost in half to replace my other go-to, puts a smile on my face and some dough in my pocket.

For you to love this you’ll need to really understand it’s purpose because it’s going to do only that – hydrate and calm your skin so that it functions in an optimal way.  It’s not a super anti-ager, nor is it a multi-tasker to get you out the door in one step.  This is designed for the no-frills simple-yet-effective type of person who is ingredient-conscious, or those like me that already have targeted products to take care of the heavy lifting.

For $38 for 1.68 oz, it’s not outrageously priced, either, and is approachable for the average skin-conscious consumer.  I’ve had it for about two months and use it twice a day.  I see it lasting for another month or so.  As I mentioned I’m using the heavier/more moisturizing option and that seems to be OK for me in the summer, albeit right at the line on the most humid days.

Anytime a product does what it says, is affordable, improves my skin complexion and function AND doesn’t break me out in pimples or a rash, it’s miracle-status.

This is one I highly suggest you run out and try (or get a sample of) yourself.  I’m looking forward to using this for years to come.

Overall: 5/5

*Certified ReadHead Best

Packaging: 4/5

Price: $$$$$

 

Have you tried the belif brand?  Drop us a line in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

ReadHead 2 Head: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic vs. Drunk Elephant C-Firma

If you’ve been around the cosmeceutical (that’s cosmetics/skincare with a pharmaceutical mentality) world for the past few years, you’ve likely heard of Skinceuticals’ C E Ferulic serum. Newer to the game is Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma serum, which leaves a girl to ask – who does it better?

A little background.

Skinceuticals, a subsidiary under the L’Oréal parent company, was one of the first to bring skincare + science to the masses and in ’94 brought their revolutionary skincare technology closer to the consumer by partnering with physicians to bring medical-grade ingredients to those like you and me. Launched around 2012, the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic was a serum ahead of it’s time, incorporating proven and new ingredients with promising results.  It boasts winning 24 beauty awards and quickly grew to beauty care cult status…for those who could afford it.

New to the skin care game and bringing with it a loud voice and a big stick, Drunk Elephant has exploded in the industry and quickly gained loyal followers.  Created by Tiffany Masterson and based off the promise of effective products that leave behind the known irritation triggers, Drunk Elephant’s unique ingredients (including it’s signature Marula oil) are both high-grade and effective while leaving those who are a bit more cause or source-conscious like a happy pachyderm.

The products

A lone star for many years, Skinceuticals C E Ferulic continues to grow in popularity but people can’t help but wonder if the Drunk Elephant C-Firma is a true dupe (meaning duplicate) for the high-end serum and half the cost.

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic

  • Cost: $165 USD
  • Size: 1 oz.
  • Packaging: No frills dark glass bottle with a dropper.  It’s straight forward and looks clean + clinical
  • Application: 3-4 drops to face and neck.  Smells like typical vitamin C and ferulic acid – like hotdogs.
  • Consistency: very watery and clear
Key Benefits & Ingredients:
  • 15% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) provides visible anti-aging benefits, brightens skin and helps protect against oxidative stress
  • 1% vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) neutralizes free radicals and replenishes lipids
  • 0.5% ferulic acid enhances the antioxidant benefits of vitamins C
  • Shows improvement in the appearance of lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness and brightening your complexion
  • This vitamin C serum remains effective for a minimum of 72 hours
  • Evens skin tone and diminishes discoloration
  • The pH of the SkinCeuticals is patented, so no other product on the market has a pH between 2.5 and 3.0.  This is what keeps other companies from copying their serum verbatim.

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Laureth-23, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate

Drunk Elephant C-Firma

  • Cost: $80 USD
  • Size: 1 oz
  • Packaging: Opaque plastic pump with a twist top.  It’s bright and fun with a pop of orange on top of it’s oatmeal-colored earthy beige, and highlights it’s signature elephant logo
  • Application: 3-4 pumps for face and neck.  Newer versions have toned down the smell to be more earthy vs. hotdogs
  • Consistency: orange and a watery, viscous gel-like formulation.
Key Benefits & Ingredients:
  • Potent Antioxidant Complex (L-Ascorbic Acid 15%, Ferulic Acid, Vitamin E 1%): Works to firm and brighten the look and feel of skin while defending against the signs of photo aging, pollution, and other environmental stressors
  • Chronocyclin: An antiaging chronopeptide that provides the antioxidant benefits of vitamin D to skin.
  • Pumpkin Ferment Extract and Pomegranate Enzyme: Work to enzymatically digest surface dead skin cells.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer: Hydrates and plumps the appearance of fine lines while acting as a free-radical scavenger.
  • Has a pH level of 3.3 to 3.5, which Drunk Elephant believes is the key to a non-irritating, clinically-effective formulation that delivers real results

*Duplicated ingredients from Skinceuticals are in orange

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Tocopherol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Acetyl Glucosamine, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Glutamylamidoethyl Imidazole, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Glycine, Sucrose, Maltodextrin, Propanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 60.

And the winner is

I have been a Drunk Elephant fan-girl since this product came out, and have turned my nose up at purchasing something twice the price.  Especially since Drunk Elephant has produced results and has lots of great ingredients.

It was only after I received a great promotion on Skinceuticals that I decided to give it a go and I have to say that for my acne-prone skin, it is the winner.

Why you ask?

Skinceuticals had the least amount of ingredients, which my finicky skin appreciated.  It was not greasy and sunk in quickly.  The smell, although not my favorite, comes with the territory of medical-grade ingredients.  It seemed to perform the best on me by showing results and keeping my skin clear.

Although Drunk Elephant has a lot of great antioxidants and moisturizers in their product, the reason this doesn’t win overall is that my skin just does not do well with oils.  It performed on me, but it caused me to have clogged pores (which are already craters) continuously due to the Marula oil.  It also had a tendency to oxidize a bit at times and show a bit of an orangeish hue which could cause issues for the very fair skinned. It does excel in engaging packaging and providing additional benefits with more antioxidants.  Also, THAT PRICE.  You can’t argue with that.

So when it comes to the question on if C-Firma is a complete dupe, I have to say no.  However, I can’t say I don’t struggle with the price of Skinceuticals, and if I ran out and there wasn’t a sale, I’d be OK with DE.  Drunk Elephant still performs really well and those that have dry skin or aren’t prone to clogging may really dig this one.

Have you tried either?  Do you agree? Drop us a line in the comments.

 

 

Putting It To the Test: Drinking Collagen (Part 1)

Collagen is a noteworthy buzz word in the world of skincare and biology.  It’s the thing you never think of until you rapidly start losing it.

Let’s nerd out a bit about what collagen is.  We’re going to get slightly scientific here, but stick with me.

Collagen comes from the Greek word “kolla,” meaning glue.  That’s a great way of thinking what collagen’s function is in the body.  Made of up naturally-occurring amino acids in the body, collagen plays a major role in protein function.  We all know protein is important for strong muscles; think of collagen as important for making the protein work as it should.  Collagen also provides a connective network within the skin that provides support, repairs trauma, and outwardly maintains a youthful, glowing and bouncy appearance to the skin.

Over time our collagen levels deteriorate, and at an exponential rate around the age of 40.  This leads to sagging, dull skin that loses the bounce and glow.  I like to think of the pinch test – imagine pinching the cheek of a five year old (it feels firm and bounces right back) and then pinching the cheek of old Granny Glenda (feels malleable and more like loose skin than firm muscle).  Collagen breakdown starts to show up in hallowed eyes (sunken under your eye lids), deflated cheeks and jowls (flaps of skin under your jaw caused by gravity).

OMG.  We are going to be SO SEXY when we’re older….

The rate at which this happens is driven by genetics, but is also further exacerbated by sun exposure, smoking, diet especially high in sugar, free-radical stress and constant strain like running (think of your face constantly being stretched as you bounce upon the pavement).  I knew I had an excuse for not working out…I digress.

Medical News Today has a great write up if you want to further satiate your appetite for science.

Collagen in beauty care

You will hear collagen as a touted ingredient in skin care until you’re blue in the face.  The idea seems promising as it makes sense that if you know you’re going to lose it, why not slather/ingest/inject yourself with it to give yourself what your body needs.

For as many believers in collagen, there are seemingly as many nay-sayers.  The skeptics say that while there are benefits to the moisturizing effect, the molecules that make up collagen are too large to be absorbed into the skin and therefore any skin-building properties would be lost.  Injected collagen from fillers disappears over time, and ingested collagen likely doesn’t make it past the acids in the stomach and digestive process.

Collagen is also usually derived from bovine (cow) sources which prove to be issues for those who live a non-meat lifestyle, and can pose health risks if being derived from speculative sources.

Time to experiment

Admittedly, my skincare routine is on-fleek but my diet is left TBD (to be desired.  It’s definitely determined – lackluster at best).  I have noticed that I don’t get enough protein and was on the hunt for a protein shake.  They basically all suck in my opinion when it comes to drinkability and after five thought all hope was lost.

I had been reading posts about people drinking collagen for my hobby job (this) and found one while doing a brand exercise for my day job.  I ended up purchasing the powdered version from Vital Proteins, which has the backing of Jennifer Anniston and professional athletic teams.  The goal is that I will get more protein in my diet which will alleviate those sudden pangs of BURGER NOW and because I’m a sucker for anything that will make my skin look good I’m willing to give it a go.

I’m going to drink it for 90 days, checking in with ReadHead readers around day 30 and again at 90 to give you the update on before and after pics, and my experience collagen-ing.

What do you think?  Believe the hype or think it’s fluffier than a newborn bovine’s ears?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.