Finished Five: My Impression of First Impressions, Glo-Minerals, Saje, ZO by Zein Obagi, Hylamide, and Kat Von D, and questionable ethics of skincare companies

I want to give a genuine opinion of a product once I know how it works on my skin type through and through, and that is why I’ve started waiting until I entirely finish a product before discussing it. Of course this doesn’t work for items like eyeshadow palettes or powder bronzers, because I don’t think I know anyone who has ever entirely hit pan on every single shade in an eyeshadow palette, but for just about everything else, it does. Particularly for items like skincare and foundation, it’s really essential to see how the product performs over time, especially when you’ve got oily, acne-prone skin like mine.

I understand that many bloggers and Youtubers like to do “First Impressions” because it lets their viewers and readers know that they’ve purchased a product and will be testing it out further, and also because it is easy and quick content to throw out there. I used to watch First Impressions videos back when they first became popular, but I never really understood the purpose of them. Having someone use a product once, or not even use it, but just swatch it, does nothing for me. I can do that online or in a store by simply looking at a product or poking it. If I really want an influencer’s opinion I want a hearty, meaty review. I want them to have used the product for weeks and know all of its strong-sides and weaknesses, I want them to know exactly how to utilize the product, I want wear-tests with different primers, I want before and afters when applicable. I want, well, actual content and an actual review. So while I understand why folks do create “First Impressions” content and can’t really blame them for doing so, First Impressions are of no use to me, so I will continue to review fully-finished and mostly-finished products when possible from here on out.

For myself as well, I’ve found that only reviewing (most) products after fully finishing them has been good for my own product consumption and my skin. If I know I can’t post a review until a product is fully finished, I’m more likely to focus in on that cleanser or toner or foundation and use it consistently until it is all gone. This is way better for my skin than jumping from product to product within a week, and confusing and stressing my skin. I still have a slightly excessive collection of skincare, but in using up products one at a time I’ve been able to rein in this hoard a fair bit.

Finally, here are my most recent Finished Five!

Recap of my skin type:
-Olive, oily, hormonal acne-prone (PCOS), mid-20’s
-White heads and blackheads, rarely have cystic acne
-Redness in T-zone
-Dry hands and legs

  1. Name: Saje carrot nourishing mango & shea body butter
    Price: CAD $24.95
    Size: 200mL/6.8 fl oz
    Cruelty-Free and “Natural”

    The carrot and patchouli scent of this product seems strange at first, but it changes once applied to the body and ends up smelling really great. I always seem to get compliments on how I smell when I wear this! It’s super thick, hydrating, and isn’t irritating unless you’re applying it over razor burn. I LOVE the product itself (and a decent portion of Saje’s other products as well), but I’ve got beef with the packaging of this product. You’ll notice in the picture above that my lid (shiny brown in colour) is different than the matte black lid displayed on the website. This is not only because Saje finally revamped the packaging of their body line (Great move, imo!), but because the original shiny lids were actually cutting people’s hands. I can vouch for this, as I got a lovely cut right along my palm from opening this, even though I knew about the dangers of the lid as I worked at a Saje at the time. I’m happy that Saje would give refunds for people who had been cut by the lid with no questions asked, but very unhappy that they continued to sell this product that was literally slicing open people’s palms instead of recalling it. Even after receiving the new, re-branded carrot body butters, stores were still told to sell through the old ones first. Not impressed by that! If you do decide to purchase this product make sure you go in-store and pick up one with the matte-black lid. I doubt that many stores still have the shiny-lidded versions in stock as it has been a few months since the rebranded products appeared online, but just in case, avoid the shiny-lidded ones at all costs.
    Will I repurchase? I’ve purchased two of these in the past, but there are other body moisturizers out there, and I’m on the fence about whether or not I will continue to purchase from Saje as I’m a little rattled by the company’s ethics and how they treat their employees (pressure to maintain a specific diet when working in the store, company culture tools and products that appropriate other cultures, etc.) Saje does a lot of great things, but in my my mind I’m grappling over whether or not these good things outweigh the bad things, for myself personally.
  2. Name: Deciem Hyladmide High-Efficiency Face Cleaner Balancing Face Cleaner and Makeup Remover
    Price: CAD $21.00
    Size: 120mL/4 fl oz
    This is about the fourth or fifth bottle of this cleanser I’ve gone through. It’s a strange gel consistency that gets somewhat milky as you lather it up, and it leaves a slight residue after you wash it off. I found with this cleanser that it didn’t strip my skin, and the residue can easily be wiped off with a towel. It’s an excellent makeup remover and can be used on eye makeup as well. HOWEVER, I do not support Brandon Truaxe (founder of Deciem) and what he has been publicly doing on Deciem’s Instagram accounts these past few months. I don’t want to go into detail about it here as I am not the best authority on this situation, but Truaxe fired a number of important members of the Deciem team who genuinely loved the company and were doing incredible things for the company and its social media. Truaxe then took over their Instagram account and has been posting painfully transparent and often aggressive content. Not only has he been tastelessly roasting customers in the comments section (which I am fine with regular people joking around and clapping back when people target them, but not with brand’s attacking their consumers, as it is unprofessional imo) but he has posted Anti-Semitic jokes and other harmful comments. I ethically do not feel okay supporting Deciem and its umbrella of brands (The Ordinary, NIOD, Hylamide, etc.) anymore. I’m not okay with Anti-Semitism, targeting customers, or taking over a company Instagram for your own personal, unprofessional joyride. This is unfortunate, because The Ordinary produces many affordable, incredible skincare products that are widely recommended in online skincare communities. I just don’t feel comfortable supporting Brandon Truaxe anymore though, and will not be repurchasing any products from Deciem as I use them up. We as consumers have the power to voice our concerns of ethics and what sort of behaviour we endorse with how and where we spend our money, and I think it is ever-so-incredibly important to remember that and practice that when we are able to.
    Will I repurchase? No.
  3. Name: Glo Minerals Pressed Base in Beige Dark
    Price: CAD $63.00
    Cruelty-Free
    Size: 9.9g/0.35 oz
    I have so much love for this pressed base. It’s the only powder foundation since high school that I’ve actually entirely hit pan on. It feels great, you can build it up to be foundation on its own or use it on your oily spots after liquid foundation. It just looks really smooth. If there is one thing you ever buy from Glo, buy the pressed base! It works well on my oily skin but also works well on the dry clients at my workplace.
    Will I repurchase? I already have! But in a shade more suitable for summer.
  4. Name: Zo Skin Health by Zein Obagi Oclipse Sunscreen + Primer SPF 30
    Price: CAD $75.00
    Cruelty-Free (non-prescription ZO products are not tested on animals, apparently!)
    Size: 30mL/1 fl oz.
    Honestly it’s not a bad primer! While it’s not super mattifying or pore filling, it does a good job as a general primer and I like the added SPF 30 aspect (but keep in mind you would need to apply some sort of sunscreen over your makeup every 90 minutes after initial application to keep your skin genuinely protected). The one I used was not full-sized as it came in one of their older kits, it was half sized (15mL). The packaging is really sleek, especially with how the pump pops up when you twist the cap. However, the way the pump is positioned in relation to the cap makes getting product out a little difficult closer to the end. The product itself isn’t clear, it does appear to have a bit of a tint, but this tint did not show up on my olive toned skin. Overall I think the product is great, but the packaging could use a bit of improvement.
    Would I repurchase? At the moment I have a lot of other primer and sunscreen options I’d like to use up, but I could definitely see myself using this again in the future.
  5. Name: Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lolita II
    Price: CAD $24.00
    Size: 6.6mL/0.22 oz
    Cruelty-Free and Vegan
    I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with the Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks. They’re not the most drying as liquid lipsticks come, but they are still a liquid lipstick at the end of the day and are still a fair bit drying. Lolita II is a lovely little terra cotta nude, and this was a favourite summer work shade for me for awhile. I only had a travel sized one (about half of the full size) and despite using it several times a week for a number of months I was not able to use it all up before it expired. If you do want this, I recommend getting the smaller Lolita duo rather than the full-sized full-priced Lolita II.
    Would I repurchase again? I’m not really feeling liquid lipsticks as of late, but I may eventually purchase it in lipstick bullet form when I reduce my lipstick hoard a bit.

Thanks for reading through this lengthier than normal Finished Five! Have you finished any products lately that you genuinely love or despise? I’m curious to hear what everyone is using.

Glycolics and Hormonal Acne Trial Run

A few folks from my PCOS FB support group were interested in more posts about my trials with products for hormonal acne, so if that’s what directed you here, hello! Happy to have you here!

I’ve had acne for the past decade, and it’s always been difficult to treat. It became even more difficult to treat when you threw in a lovely hormonal imbalance (from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) on top of all of the usual dietary, environmental, and stress-related triggers. Recently starting training to become a full-time skin laser technician has given me access to many different products and treatments to help with my acne, including the Celazome Gly-Trio.

The feature ingredient of the Gly-Trio is glycolic acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), and acts as a chemical exfoliant. The kit features a cleanser, a daily lotion, and repair cream. With these products it’s recommended that you start using them one day a week and gradually increase usage to three days a week, alternating every other day.

For myself, when I started using these I initially broke out. However I googled around and asked around, and apparently this is normal! They call it a “purge” phase, when all of the gunk, crud, and breakout material is first brought up to the surface. Week One was a breakout, Week Two was recovering from the breakout, but by Week Three I was noticing that my skin had really improved. I still had zits for sure, but they were fewer than before, and in the areas where I didn’t have breakouts my skin was significantly more smooth. By Week Four I wasn’t left with much of a breakout, and the mostly clear skin I had continued even after menstruating, which is when I typically have my worst breakouts. Here’s a few pictures of my skin after about a month of using glycolic products:

I look like I just got out of bed because I literally did–in the morning I typically answer snapchats from the night before, and when I opened up the app I was like “DAMN your skin has improved! What?! You need to document this!” Of course you can still see my wonderful accumulation of acne scarring and a bit of the usual redness around my brows, nostrils, and lips, but the majority of my breakouts cleared up.

My favourite product out of the trio is the Gly-Repair Cream because it’s a cream texture that actually feels pleasant on oily skin, and it’s a little fighter with salicylic acid, glycolic acid (10%), lactic acid, malic acid, and citric acid. I didn’t find that any of these product dried me out, but again, I have a substantial amount of oil, so that may be a contributing factor. My skin has been less oily since incorporating glycolic acid, which on its own makes it worth it for me.

I feel awful recommending these specific products, because Celazome is currently incredibly difficult to find. The Celazome plant in the southern United States was hit by a hurricane this past summer, and they have had to resanitize and rebuild, which is expected to take quite awhile. This means that all centres that carry it are unable to order new product, and that the products are not available online from the Celazome site. However, there are SO many other good products out there than contain glycolic acid if you are unable to find somewhere that still has Celazome in stock near you. I will be sure to mention different substitutions in the future as I need them and try them out!

Other contributing factors that may have played a small part (in my opinion) in clearing up my skin and making it feel good lately are drinking green tea (wicked anti-inflammatory properties and makes me feel less awful than coffee), drinking much more water, and taking my vitamins regularly. Right now I’m taking a multivitamin, Vitamin D, and Evening Primrose Oil. I’m not knowledgeable about supplements AT ALL, but I want to look more into evening primrose oil as it contains omega-6 and linoleic acid, which I’ve heard good things about here and there.

e.l.f. Oil Control Primer Mist

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I wanted to share this oily skin hack because it doesn’t cost half a month’s rent and it’s worked really well for me. Props to e.l.f. for stepping up their skincare and makeup game this past year or so! I’ve been buying more and more of their products as of late, and picked up this mist during their Black Friday sale.

There are a couple of different ways I’ve used it:

  1. After my sunscreen on days where I don’t want to wear makeup, but don’t want to feel self conscious about the amount of oil pooling on my face.
  2. As a primer on days where I don’t want to wear a whole lot of makeup, usually underneath a mineral powder.
  3. As a setting spray on both minimal and maximum makeup days.

It’s cheap, it works, it doesn’t dry out your skin, it doesn’t smell like chemical sludge, and it dries down nicely. The only downside is that it gives off a spray and not a mist, therefore making your face quite damp at first, but if you hold the bottle far enough away from your face you should be fine. 10/10 would recommend because honestly this works better than the $30-$50 setting sprays and priming sprays I’ve purchased from luxury brands! Save the extra $30 bucks and buy yourself a pizza.

Fungal Acne: I needed this video a year ago!

About a year ago I got this weird rashy breakout on my forehead, and I could not figure out what to do about it. I worked at a spa at the time and the estheticians just told me it was likely a stress rash, and told me to keep using the acne products that I had from there. Eventually it did clear up, but it was really quite stubborn and caused me a lot of grief. Not to mention it was unbelievably frustrating because I didn’t know specifically what it was or how to fix it.

Then this video popped up on my subscriptions feed last night, and I knew instantly that this had to be what I had on my forehead last year. I can’t say for certain obviously that it was for sure fungal acne, as it was never diagnosed by a dermatologist, but the pictures, causes, and symptoms all align with my experience of it.

I am so grateful for Youtubers like Liah Yoo who work so hard to do their research and do more than recommend whatever expensive skin care line is trendiest at the moment. I wish I had known how to treat fungal acne last year!! At least this time around I am prepared in case it ever comes back full force.

Biophora Acne/Oily Skin Kit Test Run

On November 25th I started with the Biophora travel set I received from work, and took some before pictures to show what my acne looked like beforehand.

I had a fair bit of acne lingering on the lower half of my face above my lip, on my lower cheeks and jawline, and on my chin.

The kit itself contains their Bioactive Cleanser, Bioactive Solution, Bioactive Gel, Light Hydration, SPF 30, and Antibac Veil. It is recommended that the Bioactive Cleanser, Solution, and SPF 30 be used in the morning, with the Bioactive Cleanser, Bioactive Solution, Bioactive Gel, Light Hydration, and Antibac Veil. The Bioactive Gel is to be “used as tolerated”.

For myself, I found that my skin was too dry to simply go without a moisturizer in the morning routine, so I use the Light Hydration during the day as well. The Bioactive Gel was quite strong, so although I did try it in the morning as well, I cut back to every evening or every other evening. In the evenings too, I found that after the Bioactive Gel and Antibac Veil my skin stung slightly and felt really dry, so I put on additional moisturizing products as well.

After three weeks, my skin looked like this:

I think there have been slight improvements on my upper lip and chin, as well as my cheeks. Nothing drastic, but still a bit of a reduction. I really don’t mind this line. It is quite strong, so I definitely would not recommend it for those with acne and sensitive skin. In the winter it is far too drying though, so additional hydrators are needed. The smell of these products isn’t enjoyable or horrible. I don’t think these products alone would necessarily get rid of all of my acne, because a large portion of my acne can be blamed on PCOS hormonal imbalances, stress, and diet.

Out of all of these products, I would probably purchase the Bioactive Solution, the Bioactive Gel, and the SPF 30. The SPF 30 does wear quite well under my makeup, and has a nice consistency.

The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation

It is pretty much on my bucket list to try out everything that Deciem and The Ordinary make because I have had such great results with their skincare. Deciem is the Canadian, cruelty-free parent company to a number of different lines, The Ordinary being just one of nearly a dozen. The Ordinary one of their more affordable skin care lines, and the line also offers a few different foundation options.

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I finally ordered their serum foundation in the shades 1.2 N and 2.0 N for $6.70 CAD each. The bottles seem small in comparison to other foundation bottles, but actually hold 30mL, very similar to Fenty Beauty Foundation that comes in 32mL, and Tarte Rainforest of the Sea that is 30mL as well. It’s crazy how packaging can be manipulated to make it seem as if there is more or less product in a bottle! That’s been a big lesson for me this past year, to always look at the mL/g of a product instead of just eyeballing the container and guessing how much product I’m getting for my dollar.

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I did my usual skin care routine and then applied the Becca First Light Priming Filter. I applied the serum foundation in 2.0 N by dabbing some on my face with my fingers, and then blending it out with a beauty blender, and used my Tarte Rainforest of the Sea water concealer on my forehead, nose, and chin. I finished it off with my Physician’s Formula CC powder, highlighter, bronzer, and blush. I didn’t use setting spray so that I could see how fast it would break up on my T-zone.

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The foundation itself, true to its name, has a very thin, watery, serum-like consistency. The plus side to this is that it feels lovely and light, and didn’t feel drying. Of course, I do have very oily combination skin, so it may be a little different for someone with dry skin. It offered sheer to medium coverage, and I found I could layer it up a bit in areas that I needed it. It didn’t fully cover up my acne or redness, but it covered it pretty well and made my skin appear smoother than it actually is.

I put it on at 4:40pm before my evening class, and after about four hours I did notice it starting to break up where I had applied concealer. This is likely partially because of the foundation itself, partially because of my highly oily t-zone, and partially because of the concealer I used. I would personally contribute it largely to the concealer, as it didn’t break up much on my inner cheeks near my nose where I normally get very oily as well, but I did not apply concealer there. I think I could definitely extend the wear time longer if I used a good setting spray and ditched my Tarte concealer.

For me personally, the comfortable feel and the low price point of this foundation makes up for the fact that it isn’t the most invincible when it comes to wear tests. I find that most foundations that do last 6+ hours on my super oily skin are irritating, drying, and uncomfortable to wear, so I’m willing to sacrifice flawless wear time for my comfort and sanity. Though it can’t compete with say Fenty’s shade range, it does offer 21 shades ranging from 1.0 to 3.3, which I thought was pretty decent considering The Ordinary doesn’t offer many makeup products to begin with (yet!). Though they do offer decent options for the lighter side of the spectrum, they definitely need to improve on their shade availability for POC.  Overall, as a broke university student I think this is a decent foundation, especially as someone who goes through about 3-5 different shades as the seasons change, and I’d definitely repurchase. I’m curious to see what their full coverage foundation is like as well!

The last thing you need or want: another Fenty Beauty review

First things first, I broke my no-buy. Technically, I was running low on foundation, but I really didn’t need to purchase highlighter or lipgloss. This isn’t good, but I shall continue on as best as I can with my no-buy.

I really want to congratulate Rihanna and the folks at Fenty Beauty for creating one of the most inclusive mainstream beauty lines we have seen in awhile. Everyone from those with albino skin  to those with very deep skin are finding perfect foundation matches with Fenty Beauty, some for the first time in their life! I’m really hoping the hype and accolades that this foundation line has received will push other makeup big wigs to broaden their foundation lines and quit with this 5-shade or 12-shade mostly-white nonsense.

To find my foundation shade I just eyeballed the pictures on the Fenty Beauty website and Sephora, and watched a few different Youtube videos to kind of gauge where my skintone would fall. I ordered 220 and it’s a pretty darn close match for my summer-tanned-olive skin.

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This isn’t the best picture to show it, but I thought that this was a decent compromise between my really tanned face, shoulders, and arms, and my very pale neck. If you use a wet beauty blender you get more of a barely there dewy look, but if you use a foundation brush as is recommended by the brand, then you can definitely get medium to full coverage. It’s a nice matte, and doesn’t feel very heavy. I don’t have a ton of experience with different foundations but it was similar in weight to the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea water foundation, but with much more coverage. Again, it’s best to use a foundation brush as the Fenty foundation is also a water foundation and a beauty blender will soak most of it up. I wore this foundation without primer for over eight hours and only noticed deterioration on the middle of my forehead where I hadn’t used as much product. From all that I’ve read, watched, and experienced, this foundation is great for combination to oily skin and for those who live in humid climates, but probably not the best for those who experience dryness. Be aware of oxidization as well, as that has been a common complaint.

I purchased the Killwatt duo in Ginger Binge and Moscow Mule. Very soft, very gorgeous. Very similar in quality to Anastasia Beverly Hills and Becca highlighters!

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To give you an idea of how the shades look next to other copper tones, I compared the duo to some Becca and Tarte products. The top two are Fenty’s Ginger Binge and Moscow Mule, and the bottom two are Becca Luminous Blush in Blushed Copper and Tarte Make Believe in Yourself Eye and Cheek palette in Wings. The top two are more rosy, whereas the bottom two are more orange and brown based. Depending on your skin tone I think the duo is great as a highlighter or blush/blush topper.

As for the lipgloss, all that I’ll say is that normally I don’t wear lipgloss, but I really don’t mind this one. It’s a very flattering shade on everyone I’ve seen it on, the glitter isn’t too in your face, and it’s not too obnoxiously pink!

The packaging for everything is gorgeous, but you already know that from every single social media outlet over the past week! I appreciate that although it’s not drugstore priced, it’s not painfully expensive, and that the brand has tried to be as inclusive as possible with its shade selections. I’m still lusting after Trophy Wife, but it is so close to a Becca highlighter that I have, that I really don’t think I can justify buying it. So, on the Christmas wishlist it goes!