BRAND REVIEW: Stubborn Cosmetics

People, if you love Krave Beauty, Dr. Sam, you absolutely must check out this brand, especially if you live in the U.S. of A!

Stubborn Cosmetics is an indie American brand that is literally a one-woman show providing products with my favourite combo: scientifically proven ingredients paired with beneficial ingredients from nature.

The founder Annalisa, runs the show and here are the many hats she wears:

  • Lead Cosmetic Scientist
  • Production Engineer
  • Procurement Agent
  • Graphic Designer
  • Lab Technician
  • Operations Manager
  • Cleaner
  • the first Customer
  • the “We”

Stubborn Cosmetics currently is focused on creating moisturizers for all skin-types, and she goes so far as to offer a customized moisturizer, based on your quiz results. Recently she formulated an anti-oxidant face mist and it’s been a hot minute since I’ve used one!

Here’s the site’s blurb that sums up what they’re about perfectly, and something I appreciate:

“We’re an indie skincare company with the mission of creating cosmetics that bring together the best of the natural world with the best of scientifically studied ingredients. Our aim is to share skincare that is effective, fun, and positive by nature. We’re not going to scare you with buzz words like “toxin- and chemical-free”. That wouldn’t be in line with our ethics. Instead, we curated a selection of naturally derived ingredients and scientifically proven synthetic actives (like peptides and vitamins) because they are just too good to be given up.

We believe in nature and science. We believe they can coexist in harmony. We believe in community, we believe in hugs, we believe in kindness, we believe in well-formulated products as well as in a personal approach to skin care. These beliefs are the essence of our creations. Others call it skincare – we call it personal skin love.”

Here are the products I’ll be reviewing, all purchased myself.

  • Custom Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Combination Skin, $40 USD
  • Face Hug – for Dry Skin, $25 USD
  • Face Cuddle – for Normal Skin, $25 USD
  • Skin Mercy Anti-Oxidant Face Mist, $22 USD

QUICK FACTS:

  • Every moisturizer has 4% Niacinamide
  • Cruelty-free
  • Made in the U.S.
  • Custom Moisturizers are made-to-order based on a mandatory Skin Quiz, and get PIN for repurchase
  • Shelf life ~6 months after opening
  • Products are only scented from aromatic plant extracts
  • Most products are vegan; Face Hug only moisturizer not vegan because it contains silk amino acids (sourced from vacant cocoons)
  • International shipping
  • pH levels are 4.5-5.5 (based on blog post “How to Use Moisturizers“)

CUSTOM MOISTURIZER

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This was my first purchase as I was curious how Annalisa would formulate a product for my all-over-the-place skin. I’ve mentioned it before, but right now I’m normal to dry, get easily sensitized from dry environments, but I still get pretty oily by the end of the day, and I still have acne! I was sent a card with my Skin Quiz results, Product PIN for re-ordering, and the ingredients list. Unfortunately, I cannot find the card ;_;

PACKAGING: 30 ml plastic bottle with airless pump. Love that there are 2 pumps – teal for normal areas, white for dry.

USAGE: 1 pump of each.

TEXTURE: A thin, thick cream (if that makes sense).

FRAGRANCE: Custom Moisturizer has the option to add fragrance in via phyto-scents (plant extracts); I chose raspberry, tangy and zesty! It’s not too strong.

APPLICATION: Green pump on my T-Zone, White for my C-Zone; Sometimes I like to mix the two.

FINISH: She may be thin, but she feels very moisturizing. I do have a glow and it doesn’t make me look super matte (which I like).

INSTANT RESULTS: Moisturized skin.

LONG-TERM RESULTS: Skin hasn’t been experiencing congestion and my sebaceous filaments haven’t been looking awful. Sometimes I feel a bit dry near the end of the day, but my work environment is pretty freaking dry, as is my country’s climate (Canada). I also lack in water-drinking skills :3  Overall it performed well in the colder months here in Canada (haven’t tried it in snow mode yet).


FACE HUG & FACE CUDDLE

PACKAGING: 30 ml plastic bottle with an airless pump.

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USAGE: 2 pumps to cover face and neck comfortably in the morning before SPF.

TEXTURE: Face Cuddle – gel cream, Face Hug – more emollient version of a gel cream.

FRAGRANCE: I’m not sure how to describe it, but there is no added scent and it’s just the smell of the formula.

APPLICATION: Massage into face.

FINISH: If you don’t apply the moisturizer properly, it looks like there is a film on your face. If you take your time, it leaves a nice moisturized, not overly glowy look.

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Top: Face Cuddle, Bottom: Face Hug

INSTANT RESULTS: Moisturized!

LONG TERM RESULTS: Skin hasn’t been experiencing congestion and my sebaceous filaments haven’t been looking awful. Moisturized feeling lasted better in summer months here in Canada. Sometimes these both sting my face.


SKIN MERCY

PACKAGING: 4oz, glass bottle with a spray top.

USAGE: I typically use this in the mornings, because that’s when I like using antioxidant based products the most (like Vitamin C).

TEXTURE: Watery.

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FRAGRANCE: Smells like pine – the cinnamon peppercorn type of smell!

APPLICATION: Spray spray spray.

INGREDIENTS:

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FINISH: The watery consistency is quite deceiving, for I find this moisturizes my skin pretty well on it’s own and it leaves a moisturized film on my skin.

INSTANT RESULTS: Skin feels moisturized, tingly and bright.

LONG TERM RESULTS: Currently, this in rotation with my Jordan Samuel Hydrate the Mist. I usually reach for Skin Mercy when I feel like I need more of an oomph for my skin.


FINAL THOUGHTS

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PROS:

  • INCI list is out of this world. I’ve never seen a list where I have all the major ingredients I want – Niacinamide, Ceramides, antioxidants, peptides, Beta-Glucan, Hyaluronic Acid…
  • Offers customization. Especially handy if you’re super sensitive, and I can’t help but wonder if this would be a great moisturizer for those with fungal acne!
  • No bullshit. Love the marketing and they’re not about fear-mongering, but educating consumers on awesome ingredients despite their chemical name!
  • Prompt shipping. I’m pretty sure all of us had a moment (or multiple moments) when we’re ready to drop $100 and then the shipping fee just cuts that shopping joy in half! Well despite a charge for international shipping, it’s speedy, and you can expect your moisturizer within a week (obviously depends where you are in the world and weekends not included).

CONS:

  • Both Face Hug and Cuddle occasionally sting my face and pill on me.
  • As much as I love the INCI list, it’s a bit daunting to figure out what’s causing the moisturizers to sting my face (at first I thought it was from using a chemical exfoliator beforehand, but sometimes it still stings even with a basic routine).
  • Skin Mercy’s pump stopped working for me after a few uses. It almost feels as if it’s stuck :\

IN-BETWEEN FEELS:

  • Price / size. Another classic “stupid Canadian dollar” type thing. WHY CONVERSION, WHY!? Aside from this, I can see this as a pretty fairly priced moisturizer to Americans and anywhere else in the world that doesn’t have a shitty dollar.

Overall, a lot of love and effort goes into Stubborn Cosmetics and Annalisa is making it available internationally. On top of that, she does not do any BS marketing whatsoever and tries to accommodate all skin types and needs.

I’d personally repurchase the Custom Moisturizer because it is suited for my skin needs, but I’d still like to try out any new items that SC comes out with!

WHERE TO BUY:
Official site: https://stubborncosmetics.com/

Hope this review helped you out!

xo, M

REVIEW: The Innate Life Small Complete Hair Care Bundle

Inspired to take care of my scalp more + the desire to try something new, I purchased Toronto-based brand Innate Life products and had to share my thoughts on their products!

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I’ve strayed away from Green Beauty marketing-based companies when it comes to skincare, but when it comes to my hair I find that’s when these types of products benefit me the most! I decided to purchase their Small Complete Hair Care Bundle with the small sizes of the following products:

  • Scalp Treatment for Problematic Scalp
  • Herbal Hair Mask
  • Rose Hair Elixir

As I just mentioned, the Innate Life is a Toronto-based Canadian brand that takes an ayurvedic approach to hair care! Every product contains their signature blend of the following ayurvedic herbs, all supposed to promote either hair growth and overall scalp health:

  • Bhringaraj
  • Brahmi
  • Amla
  • Tulsi
  • Neem

My personal opinion: I do believe traditional medicines serve a purpose and have some promise since it’s based off of thousands of years of trial and error, which is why I occasionally like using these kinds of products. It is consistent long-term use for potentially long term gain, and sometimes it’s hard for them to compete with new Western medicine, especially when you’re living a modern lifestyle of different  (and more often than not, a lot more) stresses (environment, food, etc.).

The Innate Life Small Complete Hair Care Bundle with tax cost $55.53 USD / $76.19 CAD have used this bundle for a couple of months now, so I am ready to share my thoughts!


Scalp Treatment for Problematic Scalp

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Hair growth starts at the root. The Scalp Treatment is the ultimate product for hair growth because it nourishes and stimulates the scalp. It’s packed with natural goodness that will benefit your scalp and hair in ways you never thought possible! Used a couple times a week, The Scalp Treatment will provide intense hydration and repair the scalp for ultimate growth. It’s relaxing herbal scent makes it an essential part of any self-care day.

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AMOUNT: 2oz
INDIVIDUAL PRICE: $20 USD

Coconut Oil as the main oil is also great for hair health, for it is able to penetrate the hair shafts, create a water-blocking layer, and prevent protein loss. The ayurvedic and other plant extracts in the list are shown in herbal medicine to have soothing properties – definitely a must when applying potent essential oils on the scalp and trying to lower irritation from buildup. The essential oils listed, particularly Rosemary Oil, have studies on how they contribute to hair growth (Rosemary Oil was compared to be just as effective as Minoxidil (key active in Rogaine) but without irritation!). Pair all of these ingredients with the act of scalp massaging, it sounds like this is a go-to product for literally getting your head in the game of scalp health.

I’ll leave the following links below if you’re interested in the read:

Human studies:

2015 Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial

Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue

In vitro & in vivo:
Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage.

Animal studies:

2016 Study Hair Growth-Promoting Effects of Lavender Oil in C57BL/6 Mice

Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic signs

USAGE: 2 hours before I planned on washing my hair, every wash. My scalp was quite irritated at the time, and I confirmed with Innate Life that I was able to use this every wash (for me that’s every 2-3 days).

SCENT: Light herbal scent, the Peppermint Oil is the most noticeable scent.

TEXTURE: Runny, make sure to take little amounts rather than a lot in one go.

APPLICATION: Parted my hair in sections, and massaged thin layers directly on the scalp. After my entire scalp area was covered, I massaged it for 3-5 minutes.

FEEL: While massaging, I felt my scalp heating up. Not in an irritating way, moreso that there was a lot of blood circulation gong on. This feeling lasts from 30 minutes to an hour.

WASH: Need to shampoo twice to make sure all the oils from my hair are out.

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON THE SCALP TREATMENT FOR PROBLEMATIC SCALP

PROS:

  • My scalp became less itchy; Usually it gets itchy by the 2nd day, and I haven’t experienced that since using this treatment
  • In combination with the shampoo and conditioner I am using (see Haircare Haul), I’ve been told my hair looks fuller at the front
  • I’ve noticed baby hairs that I usually don’t see finally sit on my head differently and look more visible (they already existed, the photo does not show brand new growth)
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CONS:

  • Not a fan of the clear, jar packaging. It is great that it’s in glass, the essential oils act as a natural preservative, and I can keep it in a dark cabinet, but it should be in an opaque package with a small dispenser to further prevent any ingredient degradation.

Overall I have seen benefits while using the Innate Life Scalp Treatment. My scalp feels less irritated, baby hairs are coming out to play, and it is not difficult to wash out.


Herbal Hair Mask

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Dry and damaged hair rejoice! The Herbal Hair Mask is the answer to your prayers. This intensive once-a-week hair mask has the power to naturally transform hair into a silky dream. Formulated with over 15 plant-based botanicals, The Herbal Hair Mask keeps hair soft, silky, and shiny. Natural detanglers leave strands tangle-free and manageable. This Mask also reverses damage caused by heat tools and hair dyes. For sad-looking locks, The Herbal Mask is sure to cheer them up!

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AMOUNT: 4oz

INDIVIDUAL PRICE: $25 USD

USAGE: 2 hours before I planned on washing my hair, once a week alongside the Scalp Treatment on dry hair. I tried damp and after-conditioning as well; I did not notice a difference between the application methods, so I stuck with the pre-wash.

SCENT: Citrusy Lavender. Definitely took a handful of whiffs while applying it!

TEXTURE: Light cream.

APPLICATION: Massaged product in from the mid-length to ends on dry hair, making sure it was properly coated.

FEEL: Like a light oil, not as overwhelming as Coconut Oil on its own.

WASH: Rinses out pretty easily without using shampoo at the ends.

OVERALL THOUGHTS OF THE HERBAL HAIR MASK

PROS:

  • Smells divine – I definitely enjoyed this while applying.

CONS:

  • Hair feels the same, nothing crazy different
  • I get similar results from just leaving conditioner in my hair for a couple of minutes

Overall this was my least favourite product out of the 3. Not just the Innate Life Herbal Hair Mask, but I find conditioning masks in general don’t do much for my hair. Maybe my hair is less damaged than I thought? If you’re looking for a light hair mask, still consider this one – lots of other users have benefitted from this hair mask!


Rose Hair Elixir

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The Rose Hair Elixir is the Holy Grail product of hair care. Formulated with over 15 organic oils, this Elixir is potent and serves a number of purposes. It can be used daily or whenever your hair needs a quick pick me up. It can be used on dry hair to nourish split ends, tame frizzy hair, repair damaged hair and add shine. This little bottle does it all! It even works as a heat protectant before styling or on damp hair as a leave-in treatment. If that’s not enough for you, it’s intoxicating rose smell will have you coming back for more.

AMOUNT: 20ml

INDIVIDUAL PRICE: $15 USD

USAGE: 2 times a day, morning and night before brushing my hair.

SCENT: Starts off smelling like rose. It isn’t overwhelming, but I definitely liked sniffing my hair throughout the day. After a few hours the scent wears off and your ends smell like a mix of oils.

TEXTURE: Similar to a silicone-based hair serum, but feels like an oil, if that makes sense…

APPLICATION: Apply 4 drops to my mid-length to ends, more of a focus on the ends.

FEEL: Does not weigh down my hair and does not leave an oily look.

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON THE ROSE HAIR ELIXIR

PROS:

  • First oil-based hair serum that performs well
  • Ends feel very soft and healthy
  • Lovely, subtle scent of rose

CONS:

  • Another deduction for packaging; Clear bottle and the dropper doesn’t even reach the bottom, you’d have to poor out the oil when you’re near the end

Overall this is my favourite oil-based hair serum I have tried to date. I personally preferred silicone-based hair serums because I saw better results, but I’m happy to have discovered the lovely formula that is the Innate Life Rose Hair Elixir.


FINAL THOUGHTS

OVERALL PROS:

  • All products have very promising ingredients that contribute to scalp and hair health, particularly Coconut Oil, Amla, and Rosemary Oil
  • Fairly affordable price and lasts fairly long considering I have long hair
  • Quick delivery once ordered – being in Toronto in particular it takes 3-5 business days
  • Saving $10 when buying the bundle as opposed to the individual products
  • The Scalp Treatment in particular was the catalyst for paying more attention to my scalp, leading down the endless hole that is haircare

OVERALL CONS:

  • The packaging on the Scalp Treatment and Rose Hair Elixir needs to be updated for better function and product preservation
  • Just like other brands, I am not a fan of the scare-tactics type of marketing; They use the “no chemicals” and “non-toxic” approach to their products. If they changed their marketing to show the real scientific-based plant power going on in their products and promote these beneficial chemicals, they could definitely gain more of a following and trust with their brand

OVERALL IN-BETWEEN FEELS:

  •  I’m going out on a guess, but these products are not made by a chemist or in a proper lab. There’s no guarantee you’re getting controlled amounts of “actives” in these formulas like the studies would do. I obviously don’t mind using the products either way, but it is still a point I address for general caution if you’re particularly sensitive, even with wash-out products
  • Adding to the previous point, would love it if they included percentages for how much of the actives they are using
  • Scalp Treatment and Herbal Hair Mask can be left on overnight, but I didn’t notice much of a difference than if I were to just keep it in for 2 hours

The Small Bundle is a great introductory purchase for the Innate Life products. On top of the sensorial experience from each product, 2/3 products actually delivered for my hair type and have played an essential role in gaining and maintaining healthy scalp and hair. It was easy to consistently use these products, especially knowing that they wouldn’t run out so fast.

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I already repurchased their Long Hair Bundle which contains full sizes of the Scalp Treatment (Problematic Scalp) and the Rose Hair Elixir. They’re definitely part of the reason I’ve been loving my hair state lately and will continue using them and supporting a Canadian brand!

All products were purchased at https://theinnatelife.com/ (not affiliate)

Have you tried these Innate Life products? They also have a shampoo and conditioner, let me know what you think about them in the comments if you’ve tried!

xo, M

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REVIEW: Dr. Sam’s Perfected Basics

Back in February I had a “treat yo’self” moment, so I decided to splurge on the entire Dr. Sam skincare line (so far) called Perfected Basics. I purchased the following products and have rotated them in my skincare the past few months:
Dr. Sam’s Flawless Cleanser
Dr. Sam’s Flawless Moisturizer
Dr. Sam’s Flawless Sunscreen

As usual, after giving them a good trial run, I am ready to share my experience!


Who is Dr. Sam?

Her official bio says it best:

“[She] is a London-based cosmetic dermatologist specializing, quite simply, in great skin – she’s widely considered to be a beauty insider’s best-kept secret.

She’s passionate about making a dermatologist’s advice more accessible and helping women understand that a visit to her office is not just for serious skin conditions. Through her media and TV work, as a presenter on TLC’s Extreme Beauty Disasters, Dr Sam helps bridge the gap between traditional dermatology and beauty. She is sought-out for her expert opinion in countless fashion and beauty publications.”

I’ve been following her Youtube channel for a while now, and I find her videos to be very digestible and to the point when it comes to our common questions about skin and ingredients. Actually, it’s pretty much this strong trust she’s built through her social channels and in-person patient visits that pushed her to create her own skincare line.

QUICK FACTS:

  • Fragrance free
  • Not tested on animals
  • Vegan
  • Gluten free
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Contains no SLS, parabens, pthalates
  • Worldwide shipping
  • Products manufactured in the U.K.

Here’s what the site has to say about their 3 Dr. Sam’s Flawless products:

“We want you to build an effective skincare routine by starting from a position of strength.
That means nailing your basics. We call them Perfected Basics.”

If that isn’t a wholesome dermatologist philosophy in a nutshell, I don’t know what is!


FLAWLESS CLEANSER

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ABOUT

PRICE: £16 / ~$21 USD / ~$28 CAD
AMOUNT: 200ml / 6.8 fl oz
CLAIMS:
– Suits all skin types, even redness-prone, sensitive skin
– Thoroughly removes make-up, sunscreen, oil and grime whilst respecting the skin’s natural barrier
– Specifically suitable for acne-prone, grown-up skin
– 1 minute to cleanse
– No oily  residue
pH: 5.0


INGREDIENTS: Aqua (Water), PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Poloxamer 188, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Polysorbate 20, Allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Disodium EDTA, BHT

EXPERIENCE

USAGE: Sometimes in the A.M. as my morning cleanse, but mostly in the P.M. as my 2nd cleanse.

SCENT: Smells like a raw, no masking fragrance product.

TEXTURE: Jelly!

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APPLICATION: One pump for my 2nd cleanse, massage for 1 minute. I tried to use 2 pumps to remove waterproof sunscreen, massaged for 2 minutes max, and it still didn’t remove everything. As I am massaging the cleanser on my skin, there is no foaming whatsoever!

FINISH: No residue, but my skin feels very soft and doesn’t feel like it’s going to dry up.

INSTANT RESULTS: Clean, happy skin.

LONG-TERM RESULTS: Skin still feels clean and happy!

FINAL THOUGHTS ON DR. SAM’S FLAWLESS CLEANSER

PROS:

  • Love the texture – most pleasant cleanser I’ve used to date (even my bf said the same thing)
  • I don’t think you need a full pump, I can use less to achieve similar results for a 2d cleanse

CONS:

  • From what I recall, Dr. Sam is not a fan of the double-cleanse method in the sense that you need to buy another product as the first step of removing makeup or SPF. I tried massaging 2 full pumps of her cleanser on my face to break down LRP’s Anthelios Tinted SPF, which is water resistant. While it removed most of the SPF, it wasn’t 100% (and I massaged the cleanser on my face for over 2 minutes). I’ll stick to my tried and true double-cleanse method and happily use her cleanser for the 2nd step

FLAWLESS MOISTURIZER

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ABOUT

PRICE: £25 / ~$33 USD / ~$43.50 CAD
AMOUNT: 50ml / 1.7 fl oz
CLAIMS:
– Bouncy gel cream
Suits all skin types
– Absorbs rapidly
– Leaves skin comfortable
– Long lasting hydration
– Layers beautifully with your serums and sunscreen
Won’t clog pores
– Contains 5% niacinamide, a master of all trades ingredient

  • Brightens and boosts skin
  • Keeps pores clear and skin calm
  • Makes your skin more tolerant of retinoids

INGREDIENTS: Aqua (Water/Eau), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Cyclopentasiloxane, Niacinamide, Propanediol, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Panthenol, Xylitylglucoside, Polysilicone-11, Stearic Acid, Anhydroxylitol, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Allantoin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xylitol, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid

EXPERIENCE

USAGE: A.M.

SCENT: No fragrance.

TEXTURE: At first it feels a cream, on application however…

APPLICATION: 1.5 – 2 pumps for face and neck, and surprisingly glides on like a gel. It really does feel like it adheres, or hugs my skin!

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FINISH: Moisturized and gouda.

INSTANT RESULTS: Comfortable, moisturized skin.

LONG-TERM RESULTS: The moisture doesn’t feel long lasting throughout the day. I also don’t find my skin looks noticeably brighter, something I usually get from using a product with high % of Niacinamide.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON DR. SAM’S FLAWLESS MOISTURIZER

PROS:

  • Love how the product literally hugs my skin
  • Niacinamide is bae, and 5% is an awesome amount in a moisturizer

CONS:

  • Skin doesn’t look even and/or bright from it
  • Too little amount for the price

FLAWLESS DAILY SUNSCREEN

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ABOUT

PRICE: £29 / ~$38 USD / ~$50.50 CAD
AMOUNT: 50ml / 1.7 fl oz
UV FILTERS: 11.8% Zinc Oxide, 7% Octinoxate
CLAIMS:
– Cosmetically elegant
– Soft focus, non-greasy primer-like finish
– Weightless daily shield for skin
– Contains 5% Niacinamide
– Suitable for all skin types
– Won’t clog pores
– SPF 50
– 3 pumps = 1/4 teaspoon, the general recommended amount of sunscreen you must apply to your face

INGREDIENTS: Aqua (Water), Zinc Oxide (nano), Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Niacinamide, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Squalane, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lactic Acid, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Polysorbate 60, 1,2-Hexanediol, Disodium EDTA, Isostearic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sorbitan Isostearate, Biosaccharide Gum-4, Citric Acid.

EXPERIENCE

USAGE: A.M.

SCENT: No fragrance.

TEXTURE: Cream.

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APPLICATION: I know the recommondation is 3 pumps, but after measuring my face and finding out I only need 64% of 1/4 tsp, I decided to use 2 for my face. It’s very easy to glide on te skin and feels like a moisturizer.

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WHITECAST? Yessssss 😦 Even at my palest, my skin’s undertone is still strong and I see a contrast.

INSTANT RESULTS: Casty, shiny, extra-moisturized skin. Skin feels smooth.

LONG-TERM RESULTS: Just like the Flawless Moisturizer, the moisture doesn’t feel long lasting throughout the day.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON DR. SAM’S FLAWLESS SUNSCREEN

PROS:

  • Primer-like finish
  • Offers good sun protection
  • Packaging makes it fool-proof to not apply the standard adequate amount
  • Good moisturizer for normal-oily skin types

CONS:

  • Caaaaaaaaaaaast
  • Too little amount for the price

FINAL THOUGHTS

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OVERALL PROS:
Cosmetically elegant products. Loved the texture on all of them and enjoyed using them.
– I haven’t emptied a product yet so this is based on comments in Dr. Sam’s Skincare Club on Facebook: once you run out of the moisturizer, it’s all gone! No need to try to crack open the bottle. It has been confirmed by numerous customers that you get everything down to the last dollop through the pump.
Gentle. The key component to these products being part of the Perfected Basics. My skin never reacted badly to any of them  and I never felt like my skin was sensitized.

OVERALL CONS:
Amount. Especially for the Moisturizer and SPF.
Longevity. Tied to amount, even with minimal use of every product they will not last and you’ll have to stock up frequently.

OVERALL IN-BETWEEN FEELS:
Price. I get it, that British pound conversion is quite a doozy, more so than the American Dollar! Also, all her products are manufactured in the U.K., that has to contribute to the price point as well. There is a shipping rate for international shipping, adding to my wallet hurting. Seems like Dr. Sam’s Perfectd Basics are better cost-wise for my friends across the pond!
Can be suitable for all skin types, if you want to work with it. Eg. The sunscreen is VERY shiny after application, but for oily skinned peeps you can probably just use it to moisturize as well (Caution to the very sensitive skin: I’ve read many a reviews that the 5% Niacinamide was too much and caused redness and irritation).

I hope you found this review helpful! As much as I really enjoyed the products, it would have to be too frequent of a repurchase and my wallet may bite at me and hide. Maybe eventually if they ever offer free shipping I would consider repurchasing the cleanser and moisturizer.

xo, M

WHERE TO BUY:
Dr. Sam’s Official Website

HAIRCARE HAUL: She’s a big one!

Hey everyone!

I haven’t done a hair specific post before, but I’d thought no better time then now since I bought a LOT of items to improve my scalp and hair.

I’ve tried every single product listed below, but will wait another month to give them proper reviews. All you have to know for now is I’ve been getting positive comments on how my hair has been looking! My friend says it visibly looks smoother, my mother even noticed it looks thicker and fuller, particular at the front, and I’ve noticed my hair feels super soft despite having bleached/dyed ends.

My hair:  Long (underboob length). Dark brown that gets natural highlights in the summer, tips are dyed because I’ve been growing out my natural hair – haven’t dyed my hair since December 2017. Pretty much straight 24/7 – although when I get a haircut there is a slight wave. Would say mostly my hair is 1A. Low porosity. Not thick like typical Asian hair but still considered thick (if that makes sense).

My Scalp: Used to be super inflamed when I bleached for years, to the point where I developed a disgusting amount of dandruff. Now it is fairly balanced – no dandruff, but scalp gets itchy by the 2nd day after washing. Scalp can get quite oily. I tried “adjusting” to wash my hair only 1-2x a week for a year and it never adjusted (yes, even without using heat, using SLS and silicone-free shampoo / conditioners, dry shampoo).


CALIA NATURAL

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Broken record intro, yes, I heard about this from Holistic Habits lol.

I actually contacted Calia Natural customer service because they actually have such a huge selection of products, catered to any hair type! After explaining to them my current scalp and hair situation, they recommended for me the Purifying line for dry hair, the Balancing line, and to do a conditioning mask every so often. I opted for the smallest sizes of their Purifying Shampoo, Balancing Conditioner, and Intensive Conditioner. I’ve used these a handful of times and holy moly, my hair feels AMAZING. I’m no stranger to SLS-free, silicone-free shampoos and such. I’ve actually been using them for years. I think the biggest standout about their products is that they are attentive to the pH of their products. Their shampoos are around pH 5.5 (like the scalp) and conditioners around pH 4.5 (like the hair shaft). I am VERY impressed with these products so far, and totally get the hype around them.


THE INNATE LIFE + HASK

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This brand has also been mentioned by Holistic Habits, but it was actually OrganicallyAnna’s review that convinced me to give this the Innate Life a go. I purchased their small bundle which contains their Scalp Treatment for Problematic Scalp, Herbal Hair Mask and Rose Hair Elixir. I have had an irritated scalp for years, and have always bought serums to help. Not once however, did I ever intently massage my scalp, or did I ever use something so oil-based for it before! I tried coconut oil in the past and honestly w-t-f is the point if I need to do 2-4 shampoos to get it out!? So far though the Scalp Treatment has been fairly easy to wash out, and very enjoyable to use! I love the scent of the Herbal Hair Mask, but it performs kinda meh; I’ll have to try it in different ways to see how it performs best.

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Usually for hair oils, silicone always performs the best for me, hence why I purchased an amazingly affordable one from Hask – their Monoi Nourishing Shine Oil. I love how a small amount goes a long way and makes my bleached, dyed ends feels soft. However, I am equally as impressed and more obsessed with the smell from the Innate Life’s Rose Hair Elixir. O-M-G, yes, you smell like roses for majority of the day if you use this in your hair. Both hair oils have great scents actually, not super strong, quite subtle, but I prefer the natural scent from the Rose Hair Elixir.


BEACH COSMETICS

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After giving spot-on recommendations, I trusted OrganicallyAnna with another one of her favourites, Beach Cosmetics Mellow Out Leave-In Conditioning Detangler. After having horrid results from using Carina Organics Sweet Pea Leave-In Conditioner, I steered clear from leave-in conditioners for a while. I tried a sample-size of the Briogeo one and actually seemed decent, but I opted to support a more local brand made by a Canadian actress! I’ve used this detangler the least amount of times compared to the other products, but I still enjoyed using it the couple of times I did! It’s a lovely fine spray, leaves my hair actually detangled, feeling soft, and smelling like a cookie! It’s a bit too faux-fragranced for my liking, yet I can’t stop smelling my hair and feeling delicious. Either way while it’s in my hair it’s not overpowering and I don’t smell it unless I willingly sniff my hair (admittedly more often than usual). I may consider the Briogeo one in the future but for now I’m happy with the one I just got!


TEK BRUSHES + KITSCH

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The only tools / accessories purchased in this haul! I feel like almost every channel I watched, TEK Brushes were ALWAYS mentioned! And on top of that, I haven’t found a brush that looks quite like it (well, I did, but the quality was poo-poo). I caved and bought TEK’s Oval Brush, which I have been loving! Basically a wooden brush is supposed to help massaging your scalp, help distribute your natural oils throughout your hair strands, and not cause a lot of breakage to your hair when brushing. So far the head massages have been nice and gentle, and I can’t really tell if the “oil distribution” part is doing much. Either way this brush definitely performs and is great quality! As for the Kitsch Microfiber Hair Towel Wrap – I like how microfiber absorbs a lot of water from my hair, for this has helped reduce the amount of heat I use significantly! I already had a microfiber cloth, but Kitsch offered a turban towel so I had to get it. I’m happy to report that it fits all my hair easily!

Honourable Mention: Revlon One-Step Dryer and Volumizer. Check out my Instagram post on it if you want to know more about why I love this tool!


And that’s that for the haul! I’m going to attempt to explain my haircare routine in the future, and I’ll be reviewing some of the products at a later date (I’m thinking July, since some of these products are made by Canadians!).

xo, M

BRAND REVIEW: Krave Beauty

I know – I’m Canadian, and I have all 3 Krave Beauty products. I was actually super fortunate to win an Instagram contest Krave Beauty was hosting back in September 2018 – suggest a new title for their skincare book!

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I gave my honest input about it, and before I knew it, it was the most popular one in their comment section and I’m being tagged in their story! The prize was full sizes of all 3 following products: Matcha-Hemp Hydrating Cleanser, Kale-aha-uya, Beet the Sun SPF 47+ PA++++, shipped from their Seoul facility.

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When their skincare book comes out, just remember, *this girl named it*

I’ve been rotating these Krave Beauty products in my current skincare routine for a few months now and I am ready to share my thoughts with you all and whether or not Canadians and anyone else outside the U.S. and South Korea should continue their fascination with Krave Beauty. Please note the standard information on the products I share is based on Krave Beauty’s official U.S. website, even though I got the products from Korea.

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If it isn’t clear: I won these products in an instagram giveaway. They were not sent to me for review purposes. I’m reviewing it because I want to.

All thoughts are my own, always. *casts doe patronus*


ABOUT KRAVE BEAUTY

Founded by Liah Yoo (formerly known as YellowyCream), Beauty Youtuber. I’m not sure of her educational background, but she has been working in the beauty world for a handful of years now and has been an avid product junkie since before I started watching her. As a subscriber, I always noticed her thoughtfulness towards acne-prone, sensitive skin like hers when reviewing products. I’m glad that in the past couple of years she switched gears and started getting more educational; She has a research team that debunks skincare myths, talks about efficacious, science-based ingredients, but maintains an open mind about new ingredients coming into the skincare game. Although she is classed as a Beauty Expert, I find her to be a non-BS one. Even if I didn’t win her products, I have had a high interest in Krave Beauty since she launched it and wanted to purchase it for myself. Krave Beauty combines the benefits of plants and science-backed ingredients, all the while making sure it can accomodate the most sensitive of skin types. This sounds like my cup of tea!

Krave Beauty itself is all about pressing reset on your skin. Stop with the 10 step skincare, and just listen and feel for what your skin craves (Krave… get it?). Her line started off with the 3 products I’m about to review, and she has since followed up with another product launch, with most-likely more to come!

QUICK FACTS:

  • Sell only skincare
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Cruelty-free
  • Formulated without fragrance, essential oil, colorant
  • Wants to be a transparent company
  • Wants to #PressReset on your skincare routine and all the noise from the beauty industry
  • Create products that considers your skin’s health
  • Prioritize simplicity in their products while providing quality ingredients and care

A very suitable excerpt from their site:

“Skincare should be easy,
Skincare should be a stress-free zone,
Skincare should be a supplement to our lifestyle.
And most of all, skincare basics should be, basic.

It’s time to #pressreset.”

I also like how Krave Beauty just launches products at its own pace. These past couple of years the makeup market became extremely saturated (how many eyeshadow palettes do we need people!?), and now you see skincare getting lots of hype and making its rounds, especially on Instagram!


Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser

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ABOUT

PRICE: $16 USD
AMOUNT: 120ml / 4.05 fl oz
pH: 5.0 – 6.0
CLAIMS:
– An antioxidant cleanser that doesn’t mess up your skin barrier
– Lifting everything your skin doesn’t want while leaving what it needs—healthy pH, hydration, antioxidants and no irritation
– Matcha and hemp seeds are here to boost the skin’s intake of antioxidants and essential fatty acids
– Contains 40% matcha

INGREDIENTS

HIGHLIGHTED INGREDIENTS:

Matcha

One of the most antioxidant-dense sources on the planet. Basically, we thought it’d be awesome to splash matcha every day on our skin.

Hemp seed oil

HIGH in essential amino acids, HIGH in linoleic acid, oh yeah, it’s so HIGH-drating! Great for all skin types, even for oily skin peeps. Hemp seed oil has a natural antibacterial property that helps to relieve inflamed skin conditions.

Coco -betaine, Coco-glucoside, Decyl glucoside

A group of mild and gentle cleaning agents. These surfactants are less likely to compromise your skin barrier whereas harsh surfactants (like SLS) can strip away everything including your natural lipids. And these, you don’t want to surrender.

Vitamin B5 & Sodium PCA

Skin-barrier strengthening ingredients replenishing hydration.

Krave Beauty U.S. website

FULL INGREDIENTS LIST:
Camellia Sinensis Leaf Water, Water, Glycerin, Coco-Betaine, Methyl Gluceth-10, Ethoxydiglycol, Dipropylene Glycol, Methylpropanediol, Sodium Chloride, Butoxydiglycol, Diglycerin, Glycereth-26, Xanthan Gum, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Powder, Quillaja Saponaria Bark Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Diethoxydiglycol, Coco-Glucoside, Caprylyl Glycol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Decyl Glucoside, Pentylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Butylene Glycol, Octanediol, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Citric Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sodium PCA, Disodium EDTA

COSDNA

Love that it has 40% Camellia Sinsesis Leaf Water in the formulation; For me, it makes it a standout cleanser and it’s unlike other ones I’ve tried. I’ve washed my face with green tea water before (literally steeped warm water for like, 5 mins and splashed my face for over a minute) and I find I achieve similar results of skin softness and evenness, only the Matcha-Hemp Hydrating Cleanser can actually perform as a great 2nd cleanse. Not sure why they didn’t highlight Oat Kernel Extract and Quillaja Saponaria Bark Extract, I personally think they’re worth mentioning about this cleanser!

EXPERIENCE

USAGE: Evening as 2nd cleanse.

SCENT: None!

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TEXTURE: One of the more interesting textures I have tried from a cleanser – A brown, chunky gel.

APPLICATION: From a pea to more than a nickel-size amount and lather on the face and neck.

FINISH: I keep my face slightly damp before going into my humectant products. However this cleanser does speed up water evaporation, and there were times when my face felt unpleasantly squeaky-clean.

INSTANT RESULTS: Face feels soft and hydrated after 1 minute of cleansing.

LONG-TERM RESULTS: Overall skin hasn’t been compromised despite the quick drying feeling it brings. No breakouts, my reliable 2nd cleanse for removing even the heaviest of layers of makeup, face always looks even tone and bright.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON  THE MATCHA-HEMP HYDRATING CLEANSER

PROS:
– Base is 40% Camellia Sinesis Leaf Water
– Good size
– Fairly affordable considering the amount and how much you need to actually use

CONS:
– Dries my skin too fast, even when it’s damp


KALE-LALU-yAHA

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PRICE: $25 USD
AMOUNT: 200ml / 6.76 fl oz
TYPE OF EXFOLIANT: AHA – Glycolic Acid 5.25%
pH: 3.0 – 4.0
CLAIMS:
– Skin resurfacing exfoliator that kicks your dead skin cells to the curb
– Revealing youthful, healthier skin while also feeding it delicious antioxidants from dark, leafy greens
– Kiss good-bye to the appearance of discoloration, sun damage, and fine lines with regular use

INGREDIENTS

HIGHLIGHTED INGREDIENTS:

Glycolic Acid (Sugar cane derived) 5.25%

A real game changer in your skincare routine! Glycolic acid is an effective chemical exfoliant that gently resurfaces skin texture and prevents clogged pores. With regular use, this nudges your skin’s cellular turnover slowly, fading the appearance of hyperpigmentation, sun damage, and fine lines.

Dark, leafy greens (kale, spinach, parsley)

A vital energy booster for the skin, the antioxidants packed in these greens are the best thing you can treat your skin with—and that’s why we call it Kale-lalu-yaha! Not just that, it’s also chock-full of vitamins and minerals too. What more could you ask for?

Aloe + Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin B5

These are all natural hydrators which replenish, hydrate and soothe skin. Once you apply, you’ll feel instant hydration, especially if you pair this with a moisturizer that locks down it all down.

Allantoin

Allantoin soothes skin while buffering any possible irritation from the chemical exfoliation process. This is an absolutely wonderful ingredient which brings both moisturizing and soothing relief to a sensitive, inflamed skin.

Krave Beauty U.S. website

FULL INGREDIENTS LIST:
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water
, Water, Butylene glycol, Brassica Oleracea Acephala Leaf (Kale) Extract, Glycolic acid, 1,2-Hexanediol, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Spinacia Oleracea (Spinach) Leaf Extract, Carum Petroselinum (Parsley) Extract, Chlorella Minutissima Extract, Malus Domestica Fruit (Green apple) Extract, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Betaine Salicylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Allantoin, Pseudozyma Epicola/Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil/Glucose/Yeast Extract Ferment Filtrate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Bacillus/Folic acid/Soybean ferment extract, Coptis Japonica Root Extract, Malachite Extract, Polysorbate80, Disodium EDTA

COSDNA

I know you can only highlight so many good ingredients, but I’d like to point out this AHA  toner also has Chlorella and Green Apple extract as greens in this product. There’s also Glycerin, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), and Sodium Hyaluronate for moisturizing properties!

EXPERIENCE

USAGE: Evening. Started using it every other day. When I incorporated prescription-strength Differin, only 1-2x a week max.

SCENT: While first using it I didn’t smell anything. Now that I’ve opened it a handful of times, there’s a slight sour smell when you open the cap, but not on application.

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TEXTURE: Watery.

APPLICATION: Sometimes I use my hands to apply a couple of swigs. If I feel particularly congestted, I apply it to a Klairs cotton pad (compressed or sponge).

FINISH: Slightly moisturized.

INSTANT RESULTS: Skin looks smooth and even.

LONG-TERM RESULTS: No surprise that the moment I incorporated this into my nightly routine, my texture improved. I find Glycolic Acid is the most effective when tackling these haunting atrophic scars.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON KALE-LALU-yAHA

PROS:
– Base is Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water and not plain old water
– Improved my skin’s texture
– Not too irritating for my skin – I have used 8-10% AHA in the past, but now that I use a retinoid I’m happy for a lesser percentage.
– Non-drying – skin feels normal and sightly moisturized after use

CONS:
– Crystallizes at the dispense area

IN-BETWEEN FEELS:
The amount 5.25%; I’m an experienced chemical exfoliator user, so I could do with a higher percentage. On the other end, this is a fairly high amount if you consider it in the K-Beauty Market. Most of the chemical exfoliators in that market don’t go past 2%.


Beet the Sun SPF 47+ PA++++

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U.S. NAME: The Beet Shield
PRICE:
 $20 USD
AMOUNT: 50ml / 1.7oz
UV FILTERS:
– Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate (Uvinul A Plus)
– BisEthylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine (Tinosorb S)
– Polysilicone-15 (Parsol SLX)
CLAIMS:
– A gentle, antioxidant-rich day fluid that protects your skin from harsh environmental stressors
-A lightweight, non-white cast leaving formula
– Charged with beet root extract and antioxidants to fight against the free radicals so you don’t turn beet-red

INGREDIENTS

HIGHLIGHTED INGREDIENTS:

Beetroot extract

An underrated yet amazingly antioxidant-rich vegetable, the beetroot holds skin enhancing properties like preventing signs of aging, reducing pigmentation and blemishes and moisturization! A true underdog superfood.

Allantoin

Allantoin soothes skin and relieves skin irritation. This is an absolutely wonderful ingredient which brings both moisturizing and soothing relief to a sensitive, inflamed skin.

Vitamin C, Resveratrol, EGCG

This powerful tag team of antioxidants is proven to shield skin against external stressors and neutralize free radicals.

Krave Beauty U.S. website

FULL INGREDIENTS LIST:
Water, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Dibutyl Adipate, Beta Vulgaris (Beet) Root Extract, Alcohol, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Glycerin,  Pentylene Glycol, Isoamyl p-Methoxycinnamate, Polysilicone-15, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Tromethamine, Methylpropanediol, Isohexadecane, Caprylyl Glycol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, 1,2-Hexanediol, Polysorbate 80, Lithospermum Erythrorhizon Root Extract, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Sorbitan Oleate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Allantoin, Epigallocatechin Gallate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Butylene Glycol, Resveratrol

COSDNA

EXPERIENCE

USAGE: AM routine as the last step of skincare of course!

SCENT: None!

 

TEXTURE: Krave Beauty describes it perfectly – condensed milk! It also doesn’t feel sticky or greasy.

APPLICATION: I apply ~64% 1/4 tsp (I did a rough measurement of my face and I calculated this to be the amount needed to get the SPF and PA protection on my face).

 

FINISH: Shiny and moisturized. The shine eventually fades. No cast.

INSTANT RESULTS: Skin looks smooth and even, feels more moisturized.

LONG-TERM RESULTS: Provides good sun protection. Face feels slightly dry after I use this with foundation. Foundation-free days I do not get this.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEET THE SUN SPF 47+ PA++++

PROS:
– The base may be just water, but I love the texture! *Cosmetic Elegance*
– Uses modern, photostable filters
– Despite Alcohol in the top 5 ingredients, it doesn’t dry my skin too much

CONS:
– Some days it stings my face (depending what I used the night before)
– I know this ingredient factors in formulation, but in my personal experience, using a product with Alcohol constantly (even in makeup) weakens my skin. I’m willing to purchase this SPF again, but I am wearing about what my skin would look like with consistent use. This is in a sunscreen rather than moisturizer foundation, so I hope this different formulation will not do the same thing

IN-BETWEEN FEELS:
– The amount 50ml is perfect as a travel-size SPF companion, but you’ll run out of this quickly if it’s your go to sun protection product. I wish they offered a larger size


FINAL THOUGHTS

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OVERALL PROS:
– Thoughtful formulations: first set of ingredients are actually key ingredients, and if you look at the ingredients list as a whole, there’s a lot of good stuff in it that look as if it makes up the bulk of the formulation.
– Affordable. Considering the quality of these products, I find the pricepoint very good, and you get a considerable amount for most of the products.
– Liah herself actually uses her products consistently. Sure it’s self promotion, but she DID want the formulas to work with her skin type as well. She’s also the public tester for her brand and we can see her skin’s progress.

OVERALL CONS:
– Not. Available. In. Canada. I wish they made it available in Toronto at least! Their U.S. facility is in New Jersey and we’re but a mere 6 hour drive away :3 We also sell SPF with Tinosorb in it so I’m sure it can get approved to be sold as an SPF here.

OVERALL IN-BETWEEN FEELS:
– Suited for MOST skin-types. Like I mentioned, the SPF was mositurizing at first but throughout the day my face dried if I wore foundation with it, and the cleanser leaves my skin feeling very dry if I don’t act fast with my humectants.
– You can make it work and you don’t have to alter your routine significantly when using these products.

I will make this clear: If I COULD purchase, I WOULD. I even want to try their new release, Great Barrier Relief! But alas, Canadians are always jipped, jipped I say!! I hope the Krave Beauty team offers international shipping soon, I know a lot of fellow skincare lovers want to try what they have to offer. Aside from that, if you are able to purchase Krave Beauty, I hope this review helped in solidifying your decision!

WHERE TO BUY:
U.S.: kravebeauty.com
SK: kravebeauty.co.kr

xo, M