Are They Dupes?: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic VS Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum

skicenuticals ce ferulic timeless vitamin c ferulic acid dupes

Since Skinceuticals launched CE Ferulic serum a few years ago, a lot of brands have tried to come up with alternatives that promise the same benefits but at a fraction of the cost. One such brand is Timeless. Their 20% Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum contains the same active ingredients of the Skinceutical’s best-selling product. But does it work as well?

Ingredients Analysis


L-Ascorbic Acid

L-Ascorbic Acid is the most common form of Vitamin C used in skincare. It is a powerful antioxidants that can fight free radicals and boost collagen production. A 2008 study has also shown that l-ascobic acid can reduce transepidermal water loss and increase moisture content in the skin, thus helping to keep it hydrated. Like that weren’t enough, it has skin-lightening properties that can help reduce dark and sun spots.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? So, what’s the catch? There are two. One: l-ascorbic acid is very unstable and degrades, becoming ineffective, quickly when exposed to light and air. Luckily, both products are packaged in air-tight, opaque bottles that will prevent its spoilage.

Two: l-ascorbic acid can cause irritations in some people, especially those with sensitive skin. To avoid this, try using the serum only 2 or 3 times a week, and, if your skin can take it, increase frequency gradually. Concentrations also matter. The Timeless serum contains a higher amount of l-ascorbic acid (20% vs 15%), so if your skin is sensitive, Skinceuticals would be a better option.


Alpha Tocopherol

Alpha Tocopherol is a form of Vitamin E. Naturally present in the skin, it is an excellent moisturizer (it can strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, reducing water loss).

It also is a powerful antioxidant that works even better when used with Vitamin C. They are network antioxidants that can enhance the beneficial properties of one another. In addition, a 1996 study has found this combination has photoprotective properties (Vitamin C works better against UVA while Vitamin E against UVB rays) that can help prevent sun damage. They shouldn’t be used as a substitute for sunscreen, but in conjunction with it to enhance its effectiveness.

wheat ferulic acid

Ferulic Acid

Ferulic Acid is another powerful antioxidant. It helps prevent the formation of wrinkles by fighting three types of free radicals: superoxide, hydroxyl radical, and nitric oxide. Very powerful on its own, it is even more effective when used with Vitamins C and E. A 2005 study has found that “its incorporation into a topical solution of 15%l-ascorbic acid and 1%alpha-tocopherol improved chemical stability of the vitamins (C+E) and doubled photoprotection. [...] This combination of pure natural low molecular weight antioxidants provides meaningful synergistic protection against oxidative stress in skin and should be useful for protection against photoaging”.

Ferulic Acid may even help treat hyperpigmentation. According to a 1999 study, it “suppresses melanogenesis, possibly by inhibiting tyrosine hydroxylase activity in an indirect manner.” However, people who are allergic to grains such as wheat, corn, or barley, should consider a doctor before using products with ferulic acid to avoid negative reactions.


Ethoxydiglycol & Propylene Glycol

Both Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum have very lightweight textures. That’s due to Ethoxdiglycol and Propylene Glycol, two alcohols that thin out formulas. They can also enhance the penetration of active ingredients into the skin.

But wait, isn’t alcohol bad for skin? Well, both products contain enough antioxidants to neutralize any potential side effects of alcohol. But what Propylene Glycol? isn’t that used as anti-freeze? Yes, but in 100% concentrations. In skincare products it is used in lower, safe, doses.

Further considerations on the formulas

Both products contains the same active ingredients and work well at fighting premature signs of aging and hyperpigmentation. They also have some moisturizing properties. Both serums contain the humectant (a substance that attracts water from the environment into the skin) Sodium Hyluronate, which can hold up to 1000 times its wight in water and works well both in high and low humidity conditions. But Skinceuticals CE Ferulic also contains another humectant, glycerin.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Ingredients:

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

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum Ingredients:

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Alpha Tocopherol, Polysorbate 80, Panthenol, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Benzylalcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Fragrance.


Skinceuticals CE Ferulic retails at a whopping $153.00! If you’re interested in trying it, I recommend you buy it at Amazon, where it is currently offered at a 35% discount. Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum, which costs only $24.95, can be purchased at Timeless Skincare.

The Bottom Line

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum is a great alternative for those who want the same benefits of Skinceuticals CE Ferulic but at a lower cost. But, because it contains more Vitamin C than Skinceuticals, it is more likely to cause irritations in people with sensitive skin. For those, Skinceuticlas, despite its high price tag, would work better.

Have you tried these serums? If so, what do you think of them?

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Wash Your Hair With Beer: Redken For Men Clean Brew Extra Cleansing Shampoo


Would you wash your hair with beer? I know several ladies who tried it and said it made their hair soft and shiny, but any man I asked was horrified at the thought of wasting a bottle of good brew to wash their hair. They’d rather drink the stuff, and who can blame them?

Now, thanks to the Redken, men too can try a beer rinse without wasting good beer. The Redken For Men Clean Brew Extra Cleansing Shampoo contains a new Anti-Grit Technology featuring a blend of three common ingredients found in beer: malt, brewer’s yeast, and orange zest that’s supposed to cleanse and nourish your hair. But does it work?

What Redken says:
Anti grit technology, with a premium blend of malt, brewer’s yeast and orange zest, intensely cleanses to eliminate dirt and oil while helping to purify the scalp.
Removes styling product buildup from clays or waxes
For normal to oily hair

Ingredient Analysis

sodium lauryl sulfate chemical structure

Sodium Laureth Sulfate & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Redken For Men Clean Brew Extra Cleansing Shampoo cleanses hair extremely well, removing dirt, oil (maybe even too much of it) and styling product buildup. But that’s not due to anything found in beer. The “culprits” are Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, two surfactants that help dirt and oil mix with water so they can be washed off. While the former is gentle, the latter can strip too much sebum from hair, causing it to become dry, and irritate the scalp, which is why I always recommend people to stay away from it.

While most brands have removed Sodium Lauryl Sulfate from most of their products, it is still widely used in cleansing shampoos designed to remove heavy oil and styling product buildup and make hair squeaky clean. These shampoos are supposed to be used in moderation (never more than once week, but you can use it once a month or even less if your regular shampoo cleanses you hair ok) and followed by a nourishing conditioner.

If you follow these instructions, then you may be able to use this shampoo without side effects. At least if you have oily hair. I still wouldn’t recommend a shampoo with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate to those with dry hair. It will just make their hair even drier.


Yeast Extract

Yeasts are a group of fungi that ferment sugar. The type usually used in beauty products, which is also the one commonly found in beer, is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. According to a 2008 study, Saccharomyces cerevisiae can reduce transepidermal water loss and increase skin moisturization. So, in theory, yeast should be able to nourish hair and make it soft. But I’m worried that a lot of it will be removed by Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, and end up down the drain.


Hydrolyzed Malt Extract and Orange Peel Oil

Malt is the term for grains that are “made to germinate by soaking in water, and are then halted from germinating further by drying with hot air.” This process allows them to develop the enzymes required to turn starch into sugar. For use in cosmetics, malt is usually hydrolyzed, which means it is made to react with water to form a modified substance. The result, hydrolyzed malt extract, has hair conditioning properties.

Orange Peel Oil has conditioning properties as well. But its main function here is probably to give the shampoo a lovely and fresh citrus scent. This oil can cause irritations in some people, but there’s only little of it here so I doubt it will cause any negative side effects.

Final considerations on the formula

Redken For Men Clean Brew Extra Cleansing Shampoo does a great job at cleansing hair. But I’m worried that the nourishing ingredients, which are present only in small amounts, may be removed, at least in part, by the surfactants, reducing their conditioning properties. The formula also contains a small concentration of salicylic acid which could help fight dandruff somewhat. Colourants are added to give the shampoo the amber hue of beer.

Full Ingredient List

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Cocamide MEA, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Hexylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool, Orange Peel Oil, Hydrolyzed Malt Extract, CI 19140/Yellow 5, Yeast Extract, CI 15510/Orange 4, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid


Packaged in a 8.5 oz bottle that resembles a beer, Redken For Men Clean Brew Extra Cleansing Shampoo is available at Amazon and Look Fantastic. Price vary according to the retailers, but it is usually around $12.50.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a cleansing shampoo to remove excess oil and heavy styling products buildup, Redken For Men Clean Brew Extra Cleansing Shampoo is a nice option to consider. But I wouldn’t buy it for its beer nourishing properties. Its conditioning ability is minimal, so you’d still have to use a conditioner afterwards to keep hair soft and moisturized.

Have you ever used this shampoo? What do you think of it?

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Product Review: Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm Shea Butter & Vitamin E SPF 25

jack black intense therapy lip balm shea butter vitamin e

Name: Intense Therapy Lip Balm Shea Butter & Vitamin E SPF 25
Brand: Black Jack
Size: 7g
Price: $7.50

From Jack Black’s website:
Enriched with superior skin conditioners and antioxidants, this emollient balm soothes and relieves dry, chapped, irritated lips. Unlike waxy sticks, it penetrates quickly to provide instant relief. Offers broad-spectrum sun protection with an SPF of 25; also guards against windburn and temperature extremes.

What I liked:
– very moisturizing, leaves lips soft and smooth for hours
– comfortable, doesn’t feel heavy or greasy on the lips
– longlasting
– contains SPF
– delicious vanilla flavour
– the packaging

What I didn’t like:
– sunscreen ingredients are very stable, so the lip balm must be reapplied often when outdoors

Usually, it’s men that steal our beauty products. They use our shampoos and shower gels in the shower, complaining about their feminine scents but avoiding to mention not a drop is left in the bottle. And, when in winter their skin becomes too dry and their lips chapped, they may even ask to use our moisturizer and lip balm.

Ladies, next time your man asks you to borrow your lip balm, refuse. Instead, demand he buys a tube of Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25, and then steal it from him and use it yourself. Designed for men, this stuff is awesome for women too.

The lip balm is available in seven flavours: Grapefruit & Ginger, Black Tea & Blackberry, Black Cherry & Pomegranate, Asian Pear & White Tea, Mint Tea & Shea Butter, Lemon & Chamomile, and Shea Butter & Vitamin E. I have the latter, which oddly tastes and smells of vanilla (it’s lovely though). I guess that’s because there’s very little shea butter and even less vitamin E. Instead, its very moisturizing action is due to Petrolatum. There’s a whooping 40.2% of it here!

Petrolatum: safe and effective
Wait, isn’t petrolatum dangerous? Is Black Jack trying to kills us? Of course not! Although petrolatum is derived from oil, it undergoes a strict purification process that gets rids of all the impurities and toxic stuff in it. The result, cosmetic grade petrolatum, is completely safe, harmless, and very moisturizing. It works by forming a film on the lips that prevents moisture from evaporating. But there’s more. It can block some UVA and UVB rays too!

SPF degrades rapidly
While petrolatum has some UV blocking properties, it shouldn’t be used a substitute for sunscreen. Luckily, this lip balm has its own in-built sunscreen. The active ingredients are Octinoxate and Avobenxone. Octinoxate is an UVB rays absorber, protecting skin from sunburn and UV light-induced DNA damage. Avobenzone, instead, protects against UVA rays, converting them into a less damaging form of heat. While this combination provides broad spectrum protection, it has a couple of drawbacks.

First, when Octinoxate is exposed to sunlight, it degrades both itself and avobenzone. This means that, in the absence of stabilizing ingredients, the protection it afford is less longlasting than that provided by other sunscreen agents (or combination of them) such as Zinc Oxide or Mexoryl. In other words, if you spend a lot of time outdoors, you just need to reapply it often.

Also, both ingredients can penetrate skin and, in a lip balm, be ingested too. While they are safe for most adults, it is recommend that pregnant women should stay away from them. It is just a precaution, as the effects of these ingredients on them haven’t been studied yet.

Personal experience
Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm Shea Butter & Vitamin E SPF 25 has a texture that reminds me of vaseline, only quite lightweight and not greasy. It doesn’t completely absorbs into the skin, yet it doesn’t feel heavy on. It’s quite comfortable, and has a hint of shine too. The blue tube dispenses just the right amount of product, so you never apply too much.

As soon as I apply it, my lips instantly feel soft, smooth, and moisturized. The effect is quite longlasting too. I only need to reapply it two or three times throughout the day, as opposed to every couple of hours, like I do with most lip balms. But I spend most of my time indoors. You’d have to apply to reapply it more often if you’re often outside on sunny days and want to reap the full benefits of the SPF. Even in winter. On cold days, it prevents your lips from getting chapped too.

Avobenzone 3.0%, Octinoxate 7.5%, Petrolatum 40.2%, Avocado Oil, Beeswax, Butylparaben, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Cocoa Butter, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cyclomethicone, Flavor, Hydroxy Polyester, Isobutylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Lanolin, Microcrystalline Wax, Ozokerite Wax, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Shea Butter, Tocopheryl Acetate.

Available at: Amazon, Sephora, and Ulta

Black Jack Intense Theraphy Lip Balm Shea Butter & Vitamin E SPF 25 is the most moisturizing lip balm I have ever tried. It leaves lips soft, smooth and moisturized for hours and protects them from harsh weather and UV rays. Unfortunately, the sunscreen agents chosen aren’t very stable, which means you need to reapply the lip balm often when spending time outdoors. Had it contained a more stable combination, I’d have given this a 5.

Rating: 4/5

Disclosure: my friend Janessa gave me this lip balm. In addition, the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.
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5 Lip Sets For Holiday 2014

lip sets holiday 2014

Lip sets are some of my favourite holiday offerings. And this year, they are particularly pretty. Here are my fave picks (and there’s something for the nails too!):

This set is not just a treat for your lips, but your nails too. The elegant case contains 8 lipsticks and 8 nail polishes in nude, red, and dark shades. The lipsticks included are: Pink Dusk, Spanish Pink, Bruised Plum, Nude Vanilla, Casablanca, Indian Rose, True Coral, and Cherry Lush. The nail polishes are: Toasted Sugar, Mink Brule, Bordeaux Lust, Smoke Red, Carnal Red, Pink Crush, Viper, Fever Pink. Available at Neiman Marcus.

This kit features everything you need to keep your lips soft, nourished, and protected. Deluxe Whipped Cherry Fruit Scrub exfoliates your lips, leaving them smooth; the leave-on Agave Lip Mask replenishes moisture; BB for Lips protects them; two Lush Lip Wipes remove colour. Available at Sephora.

This lip set contains an interesting shade selection. It features both classic nude and red shades that scream holidays, but also edgy purple and black shades for daring women who like a dark and mysterious look. The shades included are: Countess (matte hot orange red), Agatha (matte pale peach nude), Adora (metallic golden red), Sexer (iridescent fluorescent pink), Wonderchilde (iridescent neon lilac), Bachelorette (matte reddish fuchsia), Mötorhead (matte black cherry), Lovecraft (matte mauve pink nude), and Hexagram (matte blood red). Available at Amazon.

This set contains 12 portable Lip Tar Liquid Lipsticks in different finishes, plus a lip brush to apply them! The shades are: Interlace Matte (palest peach cream), Zhora Metallic (peach/pink shimmer), Annika Matte (pale neutral peach), Cha Cha Matte (pale tangerine), Grandma Matte (clean, classic coral), Vintage Matte (deep burgundy), Harlot Matte (neon popsicle red), Nylon Matte (neon bubblegum pink), Digitalis Matte (pink-tinged lavender), Sebastian Matte (plum-toned taupe), Iced Metallic (pure white frost). Available at Sephora.

The set features seven Fresh Tinted Lip Treatments shades, infused with a tasty lemon flavour, to keep your lips soft and hnydrated. The shades included are: Sugar Berry (berry), Sugar Passion (vibrant yet sheer rouge), Sugar Cherry (sheer red), Sugar Honey (warm nude), Sugar Rosé (sheer rose), Sugar Tulip (sheer hot pink), and Sugar Petal (pink blossom). Available at Sephora.

Which set is your favourite?

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Benzoyl Peroxide: Friend Or Foe?

benzoyl peroxide friend foe

If you’re suffering from acne, chances are someone has recommended you use Benzoyl Peroxide (BP). They mentioned how good it is at treating acne, but a quick search online unearths so many potential side effects to scare you away from it for life. Is Benzoyl Peroxide really that bad?

Benzoyl Peroxide: what is it and what does it do?

Benzoyl peroxide is a peroxide (an unstable bond of two oxygen atoms that can generate free radicals). Although its mechanism of action is not completely understood, it is thought to work by generating free radicals. These free radicals kill Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria that causes acne, by interacting with their cell walls. Benzoyl Peroxide also has a peeling action that keeps the pores clean, preventing them from getting clogged. This helps avoid breakouts. The best thing about it, though, is that bacteria don’t develop a resistance to it.

Does Benzoyl Peroxide makes skin age faster?

Free radicals are one of the main causes of premature aging. Benzoyl Peroxide can generate them. So, we should stay away from it, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Not all free radicals are created equal. There are several types, the worst being hydroxyl radicals. These cause lasting damage, but, luckily BP doesn’t generate them. Instead, it produces phenyl radicals.

According to Paula Begoun: “Phenyl radicals are not as damaging as hydroxyl radicals, and since the reaction leading to damage occurs quickly [BP can deplete 50% of vitamin E naturally found in your skin within 30 minutes], the damage is brief and fleeting. This is no more harmful than the free radical damage that occurs to your skin from simply being surrounded by oxygen, and such a reaction is easily countered by products containing antioxidants.”


Does Benzoyl Peroxide has any other side effects?

Yes, it does. BP, especially when used in high concentrations, can cause irritations, allergies, and dryness. Luckily, studies have shown that low, 2.5% concentrations of Benzoyl Peroxide have the same benefits as higher doses, but with fewer side effects.

How to use Benzoyl Peroxide

While I don’t recommend anyone try Benzoyl Peroxide as a first treatment, for many people it is the only one that works. This is especially true for people whose acne has become resistant to other treatments. In that case, it’s best to use a small concentration of BP, and apply it only on spots rather than the whole face.

Can you use Benzoyl Peroxide with Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic Acid (SA) is another great anti-acne ingredient. Thanks to its ability to penetrate the pores, it can exfoliate them from within, removing all the gunk that causes breakouts. While BP works even better when used with SA, this combination is often too harsh for many people, causing their skin to become dry and irritated, and flake. If you want to give it a go, try using SA in the morning and BP at night, or use them on alternate days.

Best products with Benzoyl Peroxide

My favourite products with Benzoyl Peroxide are Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide (which is also infused with soothing agents), Proactive & Proactiv+ Pore Targeting Treatment, and Epidue Gel. They all contain only 2.5% concentrations of BP.

The Bottom Line

BP is a very effective anti-acne ingredient, but, because of its side effects, it should be used only in small doses and on affected areas, and never as a first treatment.

Have you ever used Benzoyl Peroxide?

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Product Review: Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick In Midnight Plum

maybelline color sensational lipstick midnight plum 01

Name: Color Sensational Lipstick in Midnight Plum
Brand: Maybelline
Size: 4.2g
Price: $1.00 on Amazon

From Maybelline’s website:
Fall in love with color, all over again:
• Crisper color from pure pigments
• Creamier feel from nourishing honey nectar
• Lipcolor so rich, so stunning…it’s sensational

What I liked:
– great colour payoff
– not drying
– longlasting
– pretty packaging
– the price

What I didn’t like:
– applies and fades unevenly
– some people may be put off by the strong scent

Midnight Plum was one of the three Color Sensational Lipstick shades in Maybelline’s fall 2013 collection. Now discontinued in the US, this shade can still be purchased in some European countries as well as online. But is it worth the hassle of tracking it down?

In the tube, this deep plum shade looks very tempting for women who are into dark, sultry looks, or those who are looking for a cheap dark lippie for Halloween. The hue would definitely work well to create witch or ghoulish looks that would scare your friends at upcoming parties, but it is also flattering enough to be worn everyday by the most adventurous beauty junkies.

maybelline color sensational lipstick midnight plum 03

But the formula… Oh the formula! It really pains me to say this because the lipstick was given me by my good friend Janessa (thank you hun!), but the formula is awful. It is impossible to apply it evenly. I’ve tried everything. I’ve applied it straight from the bullet and with a brush. On bare lips or on top of a base. I even exfoliated my lips. Nothing worked.

Although in real life it looks ok, in pictures every flaw is revealed. Application is very uneven, and the lipstick even settled in lip lines. The stain it leaves after eating or drinking is uneven too, forcing you to reapply it immediately. If you don’t have a meal or even just a snack, you won’t have to retouch it much throughout the day, though. It easily lasts several hours when left untouched.

maybelline color sensational lipstick midnight plum 02

But at least it’s not drying (although not moisturizing either). And colour payoff is quite good too. One coat is more than enough for an opaque, although quite tame, coat, but you can always intensify and make it really dark by applying another one. As for the scent, I’m on the fence. It smells strongly of vanilla and wax. It’s not bad, but it’s not good either. You can’t smell it once on the lips, so I don’t think it will be a problem for many women.

So, should you buy it? It depends. I’m not a fan because application is too hard and uneven. But, as it looks decent to the naked eye, those who want to experiment with this kind of shade without spending a lot of money may want to give it a go. It’s only $1.00 on Amazon after all. But, frankly, I’d opt for the new deep purple shades from Makeup Revolution or NYX.

Available at: Amazon and Superdrug

Maybelline Color Sensational in Midnight Plum is a pigmented deep purple shade that lasts long. However, it applies and fades unevenly.

Rating: 2/5

Disclosure: the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.
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