InstaNatural Vitamin C Moisturizer and Vitamin C Serum

InstaNatural is US company based in Florida with beauty and skincare products inspired by nature.  They pride themselves on using natural and organic ingredients from the around the globe.  Today is the 6th and final installment of my reviews on InstaNatural’s products.  I saved the best for last, because these two vitamin C products are my favourite from InstaNatural’s line!

You can read my earlier posts on other products in InstaNatural’s line here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.

76L0OV3hRiOMjvyhrHqK_FrontVITAMIN C MOISTURIZER

Key Ingredients:

  • 20% Vitamin C
  • 5% Niacinamide
  • 5% Hyaluronic Acid
  • Plant Stem Cells
  • Peptide Complex

This moisturizer has an attractive ingredients list.  In addition to the vitamin C, it has two of my favourite ingredients – niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid.  When it comes to moisturizer, texture is very important to me.  This moisturizer comes in a pump, and is a light lotion-cream with no discernible fragrance.  It applies smooth on the face and does take a little time to absorb, but is not unpleasant or tacky.  I used this as the last or second to last step (if I apply sunscreen) in my routine in the AM, and although I love the ingredients, I’m a little skeptical on how well the vitamin C can work because generally products with active ingredients should be used as one of your first steps after washing, not the last.  Regardless, this is a nice feeling moisturizer that does keep my face hydrated through the day.

71yEY9k9lAL._SL1500VITAMIN C SERUM

Key Ingredients:

  • 20% Vitamin C
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Ferulic Acid
  • Sea Buckthorn Oil
  • Argan Oil
  • Rosehip Oil
  • Plant Stem Cells
  • Pomegranate

This serum comes in an opaque dropper bottle, and it is milky yellow with a pleasant citrusy scent.  The consistency of the serum is not too watery, and in my opinion it is the perfect thickness for a serum.  The type of vitamin C used here is sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which is more stable than L-ascorbic acid, and can perform at a higher pH.  That’s nice because I don’t have to worry about keeping the serum out of light/in the fridge or trying to use it up quickly.  I have been using this serum every other day for 2 weeks in the AM.  In my routine, I use it immediately after washing and wait for it to dry before applying toner, moisturizer and sunscreen.

Because I used both vitamin C products in conjunction, I can’t say which one worked the magic, but magic happened!  I noticed a significant improvement in fading hyperpigmentation, especially for newer acne scars.  Although some stubborn discoloration remains, the time it took for my new acne marks to go away was cut short by a few days, which makes a huge difference for me.  Going forward I plan to just use one product or the other, to avoid stressing my face.

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InstaNatural Retinol Serum and Retinol Moisturizer

This is part 4 of my series on InstaNatural‘s skincare products.  Today I’ll be giving you guys a lot on two retinol formulas, a serum, and a moisturizer.  You can read my earlier posts on other products in InstaNatural’s line here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 5.

Retinol is a type of vitamin A which can help clear away hyperpigmentation from sun damage and acne scarring, as well as smooth out fine lines and improve skin texture in general.  In my opinion, retinol may not be for everyone as it is very potent, so YMMV.  The last time I used a retinol product (Philosophy Miracle Worker), I experienced great results in the beginning, but it soon became too much for my skin, and I gave it up after struggling with constant dullness and flaking skin.  So, when using a retinoid, please start slow and work your way up to ‘full dose’, and remember to constantly evaluate the health of your skin. Because my current skincare routine contains both a BHA and an AHA product, and I’m currently trying InstaNatural’s Vitamin C serum for an upcoming review, I decided not to use these two retinol products on my face at the moment.  I decided to still do a post to share my thoughts on the packaging, texture, and smell, and to talk about the formulas’ ingredients, so please keep in mind that I am not evaluating performance.

AGE-DEFYING RETINOL SERUM

4NqjsbOMRbaMFu20KYfQ_5a394f1ad6b414e749dbd9ceb2ed3d05b1a24497Key Ingredients:

  • 2.5% Retinol
  • 20% Vitamin C
  • 10% Hyaluronic Acid
  • Plant & Fruit Acids

After looking at the ingredients, I think InstaNatural’s marketing department needs to get a pep talk, because this isn’t only a retinol serum, but also has an high concentration of hyaluronic acid as well as vitamin C.  In fact, according to the ingredient list, this has more vitamin C (3rd on the list) than retinol (7th), though of course this is because a higher concentration of vitamin C is needed than retinol for it to be effective.  For comparison, a vitamin C serum I reviewed a few months ago also has 20%.  While it’s fine to use both retinol and vitamin C in  your routine, I worry that having these two ingredients together takes away the option of finding out how your skin reacts to each, and also it may make it too intense for people looking to start using either ingredient for the first time.

This serum comes in a brown dropper bottle, and the product is milky-clear and fairly watery, to the point where the dropper will drip on its own.  I find this kind of annoying because it will drip before I’m ready to spread it.  The product smells like citrus, and a little bit can spread over a large area.  I do find that it takes a bit of time to absorb.

ADVANCED ACTION RETINOL MOISTURIZER

HpiPAnTzRxSJ7MxfO5pc_f0412b4cc55e0ae1938b722627ecdc5667c7cf60Key Ingredients:

  • 2.5% Retinol
  • Vitamin C
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Shea Butter
  • Green Tea

Again, this moisturizer also has retinol AND vitamin C.   While the bottle doesn’t disclose the percentage of vitamin C, it is 8th on the ingredient list, so I feel like it doesn’t give me the same concerns as I had with the serum.

The moisturizer comes in a pump bottle, and the product is creamy but light.  It is fragrance free and does not have any ‘chemical’ smells.  Again InstaNatural opted to use aloe instead of water for the first ingredient, and I enjoy the cooling sensation when you first apply this product.  I tried this moisturizer on my neck and decolletage, and it absorbs well without a film, leaving behind noticeably softer feeling skin.  Between the retinol serum and the retinol moistuzer, I much prefer the moisturizer, and I think it would be a good choice for people not wanting to introduce an extra serum step into their routine.

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Samples Showdown: Exuviance

Today’s Samples Showdown features three products from the same company.  Awhile ago, Exuviance sent me a set of deluxe samples to try, which were the Performance Peel AP25, the OptiLight Essential 6 Serum, and the Evening Restorative Complex.  To be honest, I was a little scared of using the peel since I have sensitive skin, and also recently just recovered from some mad beach sunburn.

PSX_20140907_232252

EXCUVIANCE PERFORMANCE PEEL

Exuviance’s Performance Peel comes in two pouches, an activator pad and a neutralizer pad.  Upon opening the activator pad, I was hit in the face with some serious chemical smell that reminded me of a perm.  Thankfully, this went away after application, which was surprisingly gentle.  After a few minutes of leaving it on my face, the product became tacky to the touch, and my skin started tightening.  There was minor tingling, but redness or discomfort.  Following their directions, I removed the activator after 10 minutes using the neutralizer pad, and then rinsed with water.  Immediately I could feel that my skin felt smooth and firm.

THE VERDICT: If I’m ever shopping for an easy-to-apply peel, this would definitely make the list.  But I don’t think this is something I’ll need to buy for a long time.

EXCUVIANCE OPTILIGHT SERUM

I can’t say much about the OptiLight serum since I haven’t been using it long enough.  In terms of smell and texture, it’s unassuming but also not memorable.

THE VERDICT: Bleh.

EXCUVIANCE EVENING RESTORATIVE COMPLEX

This is a pretty nice moisturizer.  In a gel-cream formula, it feels light and absorbs quickly into the skin. It’s biggest downside is that it’s not quite moisturizing enough for my combination skin.

THE VERDICT: If you have oily skin, this will probably work for you as a nighttime moisturizer!

 

Samples Showdown: The Face Shop

Today’s Samples Showdown is a seedy one – not because things look sketchy, but because all of the samples are from The Face Shop’s Seed In Seed line (sorry, I can’t resist a pun!).  I got these samples from my recent The Face Shop Haul, which is great because all three products are ones that I haven’t heard of or tried before.

CHIA SEED FRESH CLEANSING FOAM

PSX_20140819_202933

I was pleasantly surprised by how fine this cleanser was, but it doesn’t foam much despite its name. My face felt squeaky clean afterwards, but I’m skeptical about the deep pore cleansing as advertised on the package since I could still see foundation residue on my nose.

THE VERDICT: Skip it.

CORE SEED PURIFYING ESSENCE

PSX_20140819_202702

This is advertised as being a great base for The Face Shop’s Seed In Seed moisturizers (on the back, it recommends combining it with different moisturizers depending on your skin needs).  I’m sure that’s true, but from my short term use I can’t really tell.

THE VERDICT: Requires further testing, but I don’t feel motivated to buy the full size to do so.

CALMING SEED SKIN RESTING CREAM

PSX_20140819_202439

My favourite of today’s three samples – it is a gel cream that is light and retains moisture well.  This kind of texture is exactly the kind of moisturizer that I love for my combination skin.  Plus, it smells soooo good, in an herbal spa sort of way.

THE VERDICT: Baby buy buy buy (better than the N’Sync song)

That’s it for today’s Sample Showdown!

Samples Showdown: Nars, Kiehl’s, and Kate Somerville

Do you have a huge stash of product samples?  I always have a bunch on hand.  Here I’ll tell you which to buy, and which to say buh-bye to.

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
Ugh, what happened here?  I received this in St. Moritz, a supposedly neutral medium.  I can’t even tell you if this is any good because I had to remove it right away – it’s soooo orange.
 
THE VERDICT: Pass.
 

Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica Lightweight Cream

kiehl's rosa arctica lightweight cream
This formula is a gel-like cream, feels instantly refreshing, and smells like spa heaven (aka lavender).
 
THE VERDICT: Would buy, like, yesterday.
 

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intense Exfoliating Treatment

2014-07-19 18.03.37_edited
The package is a lie, because it’s all orange and cheery, but the product itself is slime green.  It worked really well, but it wasn’t a miracle considering this brand’s price point.
2014-07-24 21.13.55_edited
THE VERDICT: Sure, if you’ve got the dough.
 
 
 

 

Philosophy Haul

Aaaah Philosophy.  I have a lot of memories tied up with this brand and their products.  When I first started working at Sephora, Philosophy was just getting really big – probably due to the Oprah bump.  It was one of my manager’s favourite brands, and we were encouraged to introduce their products as the first line of skin defense.

philosophy haul
The goodies!

Purity, of course, is the original workhorse of facewashes.  A gently foaming formula that is good for most skin types and purposes (but be careful around the eyes, this animal bites).  Back in the days when I worked at Sephora, we used to use Purity to clean the brushes from the makeup stations.  I loooove how it smells, but not how it feels.  I don’t really use Purity as a facial cleanser, but it’s become a habit to use it as a beauty tool cleanser (I’m looking at you, grimy sponges).

Hope In A Jar is not for me either, but there’s something about the whipped texture of that moisturizer always gets people excited.  After all, it was one of Oprah’s “Favourite Things!”  Ergo, it serves as a fantastic gift for a fellow product junkie.  In this case, mommy dearest.  The Microdelivery Peel and Philosophy’s new fragrance Loveswept was also put aside for mom, which leaves only one product: Miracle Worker.

Philosophy Miracle Worker

Miracle Worker is one of the products hitting the market that is reviving the retinol hype.  It is billed as “miraculous anti-ageing retinoid pads” with “next-generation retinoid technology that helps maximise skin’s rejuvenation potential, while minimising the risk of irritation commonly associated with traditional retinols.”  Outside of anti-ageing, many reviewers remarked that Miracle Worker eliminated blackheads and drastically decreased the size of their pores.

It comes in two parts – a bottle of oil, and a tub of 60 pads.  You pour the oil onto the pads, allowing the product to be soaked up before use.  One pad really does go a long way; I’m able to use one pad for the entire face, neck, and both hands and arms.  The pads are honey-combed and a little bit abrasive, which gives an exfoliating effect.  Philosophy recommends using Miracle Worker every day (with a healthy dose of sunscreen too!), which I did for a few weeks, before I decided to tone it down.

Why?  Honestly, it was just too much exfoliation for my skin to handle.  My cheeks began flaking and my entire face began to look a bit dull.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with the product, just that I have sensitive skin.  Miracle Worker definitely works.  Of all the products I’ve used to close up those pesky pores, none has worked so well or so quickly as this one.  Just don’t use it too much!