Products That Make You Go Uuuuhhhh…


If you suffer from acne and you are in your late twenties and beyond, it is very hard to handle your acne AND general skin maintenance.  I love my Rx retinoids and will never be without them because I know they have kept me wrinkle-free and sandblasted acne off of my face, but I also know I am overstripping my skin with overzealous use of these ointments.  No – I do not use a pea size for my whole face.  I bathe my skin – affected and unaffected -in these prescription strength retinoids.  What results is dry, irritated skin EVERYWHERE by the second or third day of use.  I am ok with this because I find ACNE far worse than dry, irritated skin.  Also, there is not a single, OTC product that can handle all of the different types and causes of acne I experience.  So, it is very hard to coordinate usage of retinoids with some non-retinoid preventative products that are meant to reduce oxidative, or other cumulative damage to skin, connected to the environment.

This does not stop me from looking for products to preserve the elasticity, tone and moisture in my skin. I am always on the look for a blockbuster product to incorporate into my skincare routine, which will ALWAYS incorporate an Rx retinoid.  One of the big buzzwords in skincare maintanance AFTER SUNSCREEN is antioxidant protection.  I am all about prevention but antioxidant protection is kind of like the emperor’s new clothes.  You don’t actually see what it’s doing because it is supposed to prevent what might happen in the distant future.  I like results I can see, somewhat immediately.  This is why Vitamin C serums are awesome because unlike Green Tea, Idebenone, Vitamin E and what not, you can actually see visible results with Vitamin C after a few weeks.  Your tone evens out as dark spots are dispelled, your pores get smaller, your skin gets tighter.  I love Vitamin C – a proven collagen builder, but when I am super aggressively using retinoids, Vitamin C becomes a little too much.  So, I figured why not try OTHER antioxidant damage prevention products.

The problem I have, once again, is the fact that you can’t actually SEE any improvement with your skin.  I purchased the following products and used them over an extended period of time and I think in order to feel encouraged to use these products, you need to see SOME results.  Ultimately, I decided that these products may be best suited  for those NOT being affected by acne, or those who don’t mind NOT seeing any improvement with the condition of their skin.

1. Topix Replenix Power of Three Serum, 1.0 oz for $68.00

This brown tinted serum contains 90% green tea polyphenols, resveratrol and caffeine in a hyaluronic acid base that is suited for oily, acne-prone skin, as well as more sensitive skin types, courtesy of the  extra calming ingredients: bisabolo, chamomile and cucumber flower extract.   The combination of the most active component within green tea (90% polyphenol isolates) and resveratrol (extracted from red whine) act together to reduce oxidative damage from free radicals, while caffeine acts as a booster to the antioxidant protection provided by green tea.  There is also a light exfoliant in the form of glycolic acid near the bottom of the ingredient list for light sloughing of old skin cells.

I found that this serum worked perfectly well with whatever condition my skin was in whether dry, irritated, clear, broken out, or oily.  It sinks in quickly and I experienced no irritation or sensitivity. It did not interfere with other creams, lotions or serums because of how quickly it absorbed into my skin.  Problem?  It doesn’t actually feel like it is doing anything!  My skin is no worse or better after using three bottles of this product over the last couple of years.  It’s weird to purchase this over and over again and yet not notice anything different with your skin.  This product has a lot of great reviews…but they don’t really mention how it’s enhanced their skin quality.  I am kind of wondering if I am being a dumb dumb about this product.  I have decided to hold back from purchasing this again, until I try OTHER antioxidant protection products that offer some noticeable skin enhancements or maintenance.

Ingredients: Purified Water,  Caffeine U.S.P., Sclerotium Gum, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Polyphenols, Sodium Hyaluronate, Resveratrol, Bisabolol, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, , Chamomilla Recutila (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Glycolic Acid, Polysorbate-20, Sodium Benzoate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol.

2. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, 5.1 oz for $155.00

I have been reading about this pitera-rich miracle water for the last couple of years in fashion magazines and I finally bit the bullet and bought it.  The stories, the ingredients, the beauty editor exclamations…and nothing.  First, this product is annoying to apply.  Second, this product has a scent I do not particularly enjoy.  Smells kind of like a very faint doughy yeast by-product.  I am not a fan of smells I do not find alluring.  (SK-II needs to take a page from Nuxe on what a pleasant smell is in skincare…Nuxe’s Nirvanesque line smells HEAVENLY.)  So, what is this awesome pitera?  Apparently, it’s the component scientists isolated from a yeast fermentation process that resulted in soft youthful hands for the brewery worker who came in constant contact with it.

This watery lotion should be patted into the skin, but sometimes I preferred spritzing myself with it.  It can be used at at any age level providing sebum-balancing moisture and evening out dark spots.  I noticed that when my skin was irritated and dry that applying this to my skin soothed it tremendously.  Obviously, you apply this after you have cleansed and toned your skin, and before any other heavier liquids, creams, or serums.  Due to my dislike of the application of this product (and my dislike of the smell), I ended up giving away the remaining 1/3 of the bottle to my mother.  While I don’t like watery lotions that are to be pressed into the skin, it doesn’t mean I won’t do it.  I actually don’t find the Hado Labo Shirojyun Lotion as annoying to apply for some reason, but this may have to do with the fliptop, plastic bottle and the fact that it is only around $20 and not $155!  The cost of this water makes me extra careful about not losing a SINGLE DROP.  Could you imagine?  Either way, I don’t see myself repurchasing this until I am older to try it again.  This didn’t do much for my skin.

Ingredients: Saccharomycopsis Ferment Filtrate**, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Aqua (Water/ Eau), Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben, Sorbic Acid. *Pitera

3. Prevage Anti-Aging Eye Serum by Elizabeth Arden, 0.5 oz for $100.00

I don’t even feel like doing separate reviews for the Prevage products, but I will.  Prevage came out with a new blockbuster stabilized form of the antioxidant called idebenone, considered to be one of the most powerful antioxidants out in the market.  Problem was, the surrounding base mechanism in which it was delivered was kind of irritating to the skin.  They souped up these serums with a few other skin friendly ingredients, but as you can see from the ingredient list, it’s chock full of non-skin enhancing parabens and other non-beneficial skin ingredients. 

The eye serum is supposed to enhance firmness of skin, lighten darkness and remove puffiness.  But I didn’t notice any of those things with my under eye area.  However, I mentioned in my other eye cream post, that I don’t have issues with my rather youthful looking undereye area.  There is nothing moisturizing about this though, so you would not need an additional eye cream if you needed moisture.

Ingredients; Cyclopentasiloxane, Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Sea Water/Maris Aqua/Eau De Mer, Dipropylene Glycol, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Butylene Glycol, Algae Extract, Peg-11 Methyl Ether Dimethcone, Hydroxydecyl Ubiquinoyl Dipalmitoyl Glycerate, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Extract, Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Chrysin, Sodium Hyaluronate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Pca, Trehalose, Urea, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Phospholipids, Polyphosphorylcholine Glycol Acrylate, Trisiloxane, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-5, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Polysorbate 20, Steareth-20, Acrylamide/Ammonium Acrylate Copolymer, Polyquaternium-51, Polyisobutene, Peg-8, Nylon-12, Dimethylmethoxy Chromanol, Disodium Edta,  N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Mica, Benzoic Acid, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Propylparaben, Sorbic Acid, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Chlorphenesin, Iron Oxides (Ci 77491), Red 40 (Ci 16035), Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Yellow 5 (Ci 19140).

4. Prevage Anti-Aging Daily Serum by Elizabeth Arden, 1.7 oz for $159.00

The serum is supposed to improve tone, firmness, and brightness of skintone, but I noticed nothing.  I did not like the feel of these products on my oily skin and it may have actually caused a few breakouts, but I can’t be too certain.  This also created issues with other products I layered on top.  I feel as far as antioxidant protection is concerned, there are other just as effective products that would probably be more conducive to my skin, friendlier to my wallet, and have a more noticeable effect.  I haven’t finished either product yet, even though I have owned both for OVER A YEAR, but I will make a point to do so just to clear space.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Peg-8, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Butylene Glycol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glycerin, Hydroxydecyl Ubiquinoyl Dipalmitoyl Glycerate (Idebenone), Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Ergothioneine, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Arundinaria Gigantea Leaf Ferment Filtrate, Peucedanum Graveolens (Dill) Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caprylyl Glycol, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Pca, Trehalose, Urea, Phospholipids, Polyphosphorylcholine Glycol Acrylate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Sodium Acrylate/Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polyquaternium-51, Polyisobutene, Xanthan Gum, Dimethylmethoxy Chromanol, Tetrasodium Edta, Mica, Parfum/Fragrance, Benzoic Acid, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Propylparaben, Sorbic Acid, Chlorphenesin, Red 4 (Ci 14700), Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891)

Did you add up the total of these ‘Uuuuuuhhhhh” products? 





  1. I was looking to try SK II but I’m afraid I’ll end up disappointed. That’s what happening to me now that I’m using the entire Obagi skin care line. It’s overly hyped. My doctor recommended it to me. I gave in despite the steep price because of the raves but just didn’t work for me. It did to my mom though. So yeah,

    • I’ve read the same thing about the Obagi system. Apparently, the real star products are the Blender and the Retin-A which diminishes dark spots. I’ve tried it and it worked. But everything else overpriced nothing. I feel like SK-II is one of those brands where it works for those individuals who have dy, sensitive, fragile skin, so even the mildest active has an effect. But honestly…eh. I will give it another shot though later on in old age…Too expensive for nothing.

      • The only reason I caved is that my mom looked 10 years younger after a few months of using Obagi. But for some reason, the blender and tretinoin combination didn’t do anything to my skin. Surprisingly, given that most or all of the Obagi products contain glycolic and some other whitening/bleaching agents, it still didn’t work. The first set i got was from HK and I thought it was fake coz it didn’t work for me so this second set is from my doctor, but guess what? Didn’t work too. I’m just finishing them and gonna shift back to topical solutions that works and even cheaper! Guess it also depends on your skin :/

      • wow. that is unusual. that’s actually AWESOME! Myabe you have super resistant skin which means nothing’s getting through that sucker, which means your skin will look amazing as you get older…thinking on the positive side of things! 🙂

  2. I didn’t like Obagi at all! I used the Rx system and it made me not only peel but look sunburnt at all times. I know it’s supposed to get worse before it got better but I couldn’t stick with it. I use RetinA now and it helps..but I don’t actually see a BIG difference. What do you guys use as a moisturizer the morning after using RetinA. Still haven’t found anything that moisturize sand takes the flakes away. Moreover, I can’t find a primer that helps either 😦

    • Whoah! Well, i never used Obagi system, but I did use the Blender with the retin-a and that did an amazing job of getting rid of my acne marks, and melasma, but I stopped using it because I became scared of long term use of hydroquinone. I never actually peeled on it. But my skin was far less sensitive then then it is now. When my skin flakes or peels too much from retin-a or tazorac, I sometimes bathe my skin in essential oil serums by Decleor or Pevonia. Lately, I have been bathing my skin the Decleor rose d’orient balm, wait for it to sink in AND THEN add retin-a to my skin. I wake up with hydrated but toned skin. I don’t do this unless my skin is really sensitive and flaking but I am still afraid of breaking out. It basically acts as a buffer. What type of skin do you have though before use of retin-a and how does it react after aside from the flaking?

      • Oh thanks! I’ll have to try the products you mentioned! I have combination oily skin and the funny thing is, after I used retin-a my skin became normal to dry. I only use retin a on my forehead and chin (trouble spots) so it definited helped with the oils. When you used the Blender, did you spot treat or use it all over your face? I’m really thinking about using it. I only have a patch of skin with 3-4 age spots I want to get rid of 😛

      • I used blender all over my face which is why, I think, I became hesistant about using it long term. My skin was FLAWLESS, but then it all depends on how your skin reacts. It’s too bad Decleor is no longer carried by Sephora, otherwise, I would tell you to get a sample of the oils and balms before you bought. I am trying to think of a product that is similar to Decleor that you could sample from Sephora. Like if you need moisture, perhaps Boscia’s Tsubaki oil would be great. It has camelia oil in it, which is known for it’s moisturizing properties. I tried a sample and it was quite nice on my skin. I got a little over half a dozen uses of the sample. It doesn’t have the multi-purchase history I have with Decleor’s AMAZING Rose’D’Orient, but if you ever feel curious, then Skinstore sells it and they often have sales (coupons).

        As far as a moisturizing primer for dry skin, Hourglass’s No. 28 Serum Primer is pretty freaking great. I haven’t done a review for it yet, but it feels wonderful and smoothes and conditions the skin. The only reason why I haven’t used it recently is because I kind of fell in love La Roche Posay’s SPF Primer (more matte amd more drying but I love on my super oily skin) AND L’Oreal’s Miracle Blur, which is actually a less drying, more moisturizing primer with SPF 30 that still provides matte, perfected skin. You still would need to use a moisturizer underneath both though.

        Top 4 reasons why I fell in love with La Roche Posay’s/L’Oreal’s primer right now: High SPF, blurring technology that deemphasizes my large t-zone pores, hours of matte skin, and it allows me to use MUCH LESS makeup (either strategic concealer or light dusting of foundation powder). I am sold on these two products actually. The Hourglass No. 28 Serum Primer, however, is amazing for colder, drier winter temps on irritated, dry skin. Probably not the greatest for the summer, so I will be shelving until the fall.

      • I’ll definitely have to consider buying the Blender. Thanks for all the info. I’m now excited to start my weekend off by maybe perusing some products online 🙂 And thanks for being so interatcive with your readers/fans—-> Me 🙂 Have a great weekend!

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