Are They Dupes?: Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Treatment VS Alpha Hydrox Retinol ResQ

dupes philosophy alpha hydrox retinol night treatment

Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Treatment was voted best night treatment in the image beauty awards 2013. But at $49.00, it can be pretty pricey. Luckily, in the world of skincare, it is only a matter of time before someone will copy and tweak your formula and sell it at a much lower price. That’s exactly what Alpha Hydrox did with its Retinol ResQ treatment. Here’s how the two formulas compare:

Ingredient Analysis



Retinol is an anti-aging superstar anyone should incorporate in their skincare routine, at least after they’ve turned the big 3-0. One of the few ingredients that can really reduce fine lines and wrinkles, it can boost collagen production and firm skin. But there’s a catch. Retinol can be irritating at first, causing redness, peeling, and a slight tingling sensation.

That’s why, until your skin has gotten used to it, you should apply it only every other day or so. Then, slowly increase frequency. Both products, though, use a time-delivery technology, which reduces the risks of irritation. How? By simply releasing retinol slowly over a period of several hours rather than all at once.


Tocopheryl Acetate & Ascorbyl Palmitate

Tocopheryl Acetate is a form of Vitamin E. This vitamin is a wonderful moisturizer capable of strengthening the skin’s natural barrier and thus slow down water loss. Because of its antioxidant properties, it can help prevent the signs of aging too.

Ascorbyl Glucoside is a stable form of Vitamin C. A powerful antioxidant, it helps fight free radicals and boost collagen production. It’s therefore a strong ally in the fight against premature aging.

These antioxidants work even better when used together, as they enhance each other’s effectiveness, and provide some additional protection from UV rays (but they should never be used as a substitute for sunscreen!).



Dimethicone is a silicone widely used in skincare products for its ability to fill in fine lines and wrinkles, making them look less obvious. It also enhances the spreadability of a product, allowing an even application, and makes skin silky smooth to the touch.

Dimethicone gets a bad rep because it has been accused of suffocating skin, but that’s simply not true. Silicones have a particular molecular structure, which is made of larger molecules with wider spaces between each molecule, that allows them to create a barrier that protects skin but still allows it to perspire.

glycerin molecular structure

Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, C10 30 Cholesterol/Lanesterol Esters, & Cetyl Ricinoleate

One of the most commonly used ingredients in skincare, glycerin is a humectant that draws water from the environment into the skin, thus helping to keep it hydrated.

Cetearyl Alcohol is a fatty alcohol, ie a good type of alcohol that has emollient properties. Non-irritating, it helps to keep skin moisturized. Other emollients present in the formula are C10 30 Cholesterol/Lanesterol Esters, a blend of cholesterol and fatty acid ester from lanolin, and Cetyl Ricinoleate, a fatty acid made from castor oil. Together, these ingredients leave skin soft and smooth for hours.

Further considerations on the formula

Both Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Treatment and Alpha Hydrox Retinol ResQ help prevent and reduce wrinkles (although I would have loved to see more antioxidants included in both formulas) and moisturize skin well. They are more suitable for normal to dry skin.

Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Treatment Ingredients

water (aqua), caprylic/capric triglyceride, glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, c10-30 cholesterol/lanosterol esters, cetyl alcohol, dimethicone, cetyl ricinoleate, polysorbate 60, benzyl alcohol, retinol, tocopheryl acetate, ascorbyl palmitate, methyl methacrylate/glycol dimethacrylate crosspolymer, stearic acid, peg-10 soy sterol, phenoxyethanol, cyclopentasiloxane, magnesium aluminum silicate, cyclohexasiloxane, methylparaben, triethanolamine, disodium edta, bisabolol, bht, polysorbate 20, propyl gallate, ascorbic acid.

Alpha Hydrox Retinol ResQ Ingredients

Water, Capric/Caprylic Stearic Triglyceride, Emulsifying Wax, Glycerin, C10 30 Cholesterol/Lanesterol Esters, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Benzyl Alcohol, Cyclomethicone, Retinol, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Acrylates Crosspolymer, Bisabolol (L-Alpha), PEG 10 Soy Sterol, Magnesium Aluminium Silicate, Stearic Acid, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Propyl Gallate, Polysorbate 20, Triethanolamine


Packaged in a 1.05 oz tube, Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Treatment Ingredients can be purchased at Sephora. It costs $49.00. Also housed in a 1.05 oz, Alpha Hydrox Retinol ResQ retails at a more affordable $12.39. You can buy it at Drugstore.

The Bottom Line

Although not exact dupes, Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Treatment and Alpha Hydrox Retinol ResQ are very similar. The latter will give you the same results as the pricer Philosophy product, allowing you to save quite a bit of money.

Product Review: My Beauty Diary Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Mask

my beauty diary hyaluronic acid moisturizing mask

Name: Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Mask
Brand: My Beauty Diary
Size: single mask or a box of ten
Price: single mask $2; box of ten $13.17

From My Beauty Diary’s website:
Classic and popular moisturizing ingredient, hyaluronic acid, is treated to a hi-techhydrolysis process to further reduce the size of their elements. The elements of hyaluronic acid are tiny after undergoing hi-tech hydrolysis process and these treated Hyaluronic acid elements offer excellent moisturization to skin. This substance is able to quickly enhance skin by facilitating microcirculation, purification and moisturization of dry skin. Thus, the moisture content of the skin is maximized, forming a protective transparent water molecule screen, securing moisture in the skin.

What I liked:
– very hydrating, makes skin soft

What I didn’t like:
– because of the huge size, it is tricky to apply
– doesn’t brighten skin much
– not suitable for sensitive skin

Do you use sheet masks when you’re home alone too? I wouldn’t be particularly embarrassed if someone saw me with a sheet mask on. I just don’t want to give anyone a scare. They can make you look like a psychopath from a horror movie. And that’s never a good look.

Once you’ve made sure no one’s around, take your time to apply the masks. This part can be quite tricky, like I learned when I tried My Beauty Diary Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Mask. I don’t think its size is that different from the other masks the brand makes, such as the Collagen Firming Mask. It is still huge, but the holes for the eyes are quite small and close together and I could feel the edges slip too close to my peepers.

I had to continually adjust the mask because I was scared some of the solution it is infused with would slide into my eyes and make them burn. Luckily, that didn’t happen. But wearing the mask was pretty uncomfortable, so I only kept it on for the recommended minimum amount of time, 20 minutes. You can remove it after half an hour or slightly more if it fits your face better.

Was the mask worth the discomfort and scary appearance? If your dry skin needs a quick pick-me-up, then yes. The mask is loaded with humectants, such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid, that hydrate skin by drawing moisture from the environment into it. Hyaluronic acid is particularly good at this. It can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water and works well both in high and low humidity conditions. Doesn’t matter where you are, you can always use it and get great results!

Thanks to these humectants, after use your skin is very soft, plumper, and hydrated. Because of its benefits, this mask is particularly useful after a plane ride. Air on a plane can be very dry, sucking all moisture out of your skin and making it look dull and lifeless.

A hydrating mask like this, which can be easily carried in your hand luggage, would restore some much-needed moisture in just 20 minutes, allowing you to go on with your day looking your best. It is also best used in the summer, when, unlike in the cold winter months, the refreshing sensation it provides will make it a pleasure to use.

Instead, I didn’t see much of a brightening effect. I can’t say I minded that. The mask is infused with citrusy extracts that are supposed to provide a light exfoliating action, but these can be irritating, especially if you have sensitive skin. My combination skin tolerates them well, so I didn’t experience any negative reaction.

That could be thanks to the soothing properties of aloe vera. Still, I wish these extracts weren’t there. There are much better ways to brighten skin, such as glycolic acid for instance. But if your skin only needs a hydration boost, then this mask will do the job nicely.

Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Pineapple Fruit Extract, Apple Fruit Extract, Lemon Peel Extract, Ruscus Aculeatus Root Extract, Grapefruit Fruit Extract, Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Polyglutamic Acid, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Lactate, Arniuca Montana Flower Extract, Nasturtium Officinale Flower/Leaf Extract, Polysorbate 20, Treithanolamine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Citric Acid, Sodium PCA, Codium Tomentosum Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Lecithin, Mallow Flower Extract, Sugar Cane Extract, Sugar Maple Extract, Orange Fruit Extract, Polysorbate 80, PEG-15 Hydroxystearate, Carbomer, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Glycosphingolipids, Tocopheryl Acetate.

Available at: Amazon

My Beauty Diary Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Mask provides some much-needed hydration to dry skin, leaving it soft for hours. But it doesn’t brighten skin much, and is not suitable for sensitive skin.

Rating: 3.5/5

Disclosure: this item was a gift from a friend. In addition, the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Product Review: Burberry Lip Cover In Tea Rose

burberry lip cover tea rose 02

Name: Lip Cover in Tea Rose
Brand: Burberry
Size: 3,5g
Price: £23.00

From Burberry’s website:
Burberry Lip Cover adds a touch of radiance.
The lightweight combination of nourishing oils and gel dispersed pigment ensures intense moisture and long lasting colour.

What I liked:
– beautiful shade, complements any look and can be worn for every occasion
– good colour payoff
– slightly luminous satin finish
– creamy texture, glides on smoothly and doesn’t dry out lips
– practical and luxurious packaging

What I didn’t like:
– not very moisturizing
– average staying power

Burberry, the clothing brand, has never spoken to me. The dishvelled elegance it is famous for is not really my style. I prefer neat, classic, and sophisticated elegance. I like to get all glammed up.

But Burberry, the makeup line? That’s a completely different story. The luxurious packaging, the beautiful shade selection… I was instantly intrigued, and I knew it was only gonna be a matter of time before I tried something from the brand.

burberry lip cover tea rose 03

Sadly, the Burberry makeup line isn’t available in my little town, and I was hesitant, at this high price point, to buy something online, sight unseen. I needed to see the range in person before making a commitment. The opportunity finally came late last year, when I found myself in the duty free area at Stansted Airport.

Usually, at duty free shops, I prefer to shop for gift sets. I think I get better value for my money that way. But that day at Stansted, it was the Burberry counter that kept drawing me like a moth to a flame. The SAs must have thought I was crazy as I kept eyeing their counter, only to move away looking for something cheaper, and coming back again a few minutes later.

Then, I saw it. Burberry Lip Cover in Tea Rose, a medium rose pink with a satin, slightly luminous finish. It must have cast some sort of spell on me, because I knew I couldn’t leave the airport without it. I was a bit surprised about it because, usually, lipsticks don’t have that effect on me. I have always been a lipgloss kinda gal. Is this a sign that I’m getting older?

burberry lip cover tea rose 04

If so, who cares? A few months later, I’m still as infatuated with Tea Rose as ever. It’s a beautiful, feminine shade that can be worn with any look and for any occasion. It is perfect for a natural look for the office, but also nicely complements a smokey eye for a night out with friends. It even looks good when paired with bright eye makeup. You just can’t go wrong with it.

Tea Rose has medium colour payoff. One swipe is pigmented enough to provide an opaque, but delicate coat of colour on the lips. If you want a more intense look, you’ll have to layer it. That’s what I did in the face swatch above (you know, I love bold shades). And no, it doesn’t feel heavy when you do so.

Although I don’t find the formula particularly moisturizing, it is lightweight, creamy, and doesn’t dry out lips. It glides smoothly on the lips and feels comfortable on. But sadly, that also means that, after two hours and a half, it already starts to fade. If you eat or drink, it’ll disappear sooner.

burberry lip cover tea rose 01

But, for once, I don’t mind reapplying. It’s such a pretty shade that I love wearing it even if it needs some retouching every now and then. You don’t even need a mirror for that. The top of the case is very reflective and doubles up as one. Very convenient, isn’t it?

The magnetic closure is very handy too. Even if you don’t close it properly, it will eventually slide into place on its own. But the tube is not just practical. It is also beautiful. Like the bullet inside, it is decorated with the Burberry trademark check pattern. Such a luxurious touch.

Available at: Harrods and Net-A-Porter

Burberry Lip Color in Tea Rose is a medium rose shade with a satin finish, good colour payoff and a creamy, but not very moisturizing texture, that glides on smoothly. I just wish it lasted longer on the lips.

Rating: 4/5

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

Product Review: Rouge Bunny Rouge Arcadia

rouge bunny rouge arcadia

Name: Arcadia
Brand: Rouge Bunny Rouge
Size: 50ml
Price: €97.00

What I liked:
– if you like metallic, floral woody scents, this is for you
– full of contrasts
– good sillage, tame and wearable
– good staying power
– beautiful bottle

What I didn’t like:
– if you like very sweet or very bold scents, this is not for you

When I think of Arcadia, I think of an untouched, unspoiled natural paradise inhabited by nymphs and shepherds. Men live peacefully in the wilderness, in harmony with a nature that boundlessly provides for their every need.

So, I was surprised when Arcadia, a new fragrance by Rouge Bunny Rouge, revealed its perfumey nature. It doesn’t smell synthetic nor chemical. Just abstract. Rather than the reminiscence of a pastoral life, Arcadia embodies the idyllic myth someone watching that world from afar has created of it in her mind.

It may be close to the original, but it never gets real. Because Arcadia isn’t real. It’s just a myth that lives in our imagination. And a beautiful one too. Just like the scent it has inspired.

Thomas Cole's The Arcadian or Pastoral State

Thomas Cole’s The Arcadian or Pastoral State

Its perfumey vibe is present from the very beginning. Arcadia opens with a fresh burst of ozonic notes that evoke a storm just passed. Trees, grass, and flowers are still glistening with raindrops. An amaretto accord adds a touch of bitterness, which is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of plum and saffron.

The heart is a beautiful bouquet of sweet lily of the valley and fruity-smelling osmanthus laced in incense. The incense is quite tame. It smoulders softly in the background, never overpowering the rest of the accord or taking a more prominent part in it. A mineral note, dry and hot, finishes off the accord, creating a nice, but subtle, contrast with the floral bouquet.

The drydown is, compared to the rest of the composition, quite boring. It’s a sensual and woody blend of vetiver, oak moss, and cedarwood that evokes the forests of Arcadia. Again, it is quite tame. The whole scent is. It’s what makes it easy to wear despite its many facets.

Arcadia is full of contrasts. It’s ozonic and woody. Sweet and bitter. Hot and cold. Dry and humid. With a hint of spiciness thrown in for good measure. Yet, it doesn’t scream for attention but neither does it hide too close to the skin. Sillage is just right, and so is staying power. I spritz it on in the morning and, in the evening, I can still catch whiffs of it as it is slowly fading away.

Available at: Rouge Bunny Rouge and Twisted Lily

Rouge Bunny Rouge is a tame metallic floral woody composition full of contrasts. Both sillage and staying power are good.

Rating: 4/5

Disclosure: this item was sent by PR for consideration. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Best Foundations For Acne-Prone Skin (Without Salicylic Acid)

best foundations for acne prone skin without salicylic acid

Recently, a reader asked me what the best foundations for acne-prone skin are. The only caveat? They shouldn’t contain salicylic acid. I’m not sure why she doesn’t like this ingredient.

Salicylic acid is wonderful for oily, acne-prone skin because it exfoliates the pores from the inside out, preventing them from getting all clogged up and causing breakouts.

But not everyone reacts well to this ingredient. In some people, it can cause irritations. In others, it may not work at all. And it can’t be used together with retinoids because it inactivates them.

In all these cases, a salicylic acid free foundation works best. Here are my favourites:

clinique stay matte oil free makeup

Clinique Stay Matte Oil-Free Makeup ($23.00)

Clinique Stay Matte Oil-Free Makeup has a creamy, slightly fluidy texture that provides medium to full coverage, helping to cover breakouts and other imperfections. Longlasting and easy-to-blend, it has a matte finish and oil-absorbing properties that keeps excess oil at bay (but you may still need to use blotting paper during the day). There are 20 shades available, but they are mostly warm-toned. If you are cool-toned, you may struggle to find a good match.

laura mercier smooth finish flawless fluid foundation

Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Fluid ($48.00)

Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Fluid is available in 24 warm, neutral, and cool shades, so most people will be able to find a good match for their skintone. The coverage is light to medium, but can be easily built up to full, and covers redness and small pimples well. The foundation blends like a dream, drying to a matte finish that looks very natural (but it can accentuate dry spots, so if you have any, moisturize well before application).

rimmel stay matte foundation

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation ($4.99)

Are you on a budget? Then try Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation. One of the few matte options available at the drugstore, it provides medium to full coverage. But application can be a bit tricky. A little goes a long way, but, because the foundation dries really quickly, you may at first apply more than you need. Another drawback is the small shade selection. There are only 8 available, mostly with a neutral undertone. But if you can find a good match, this is definitely worth a try.

makeup forever hd invisible cover foundation

Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover Foundation ($42.00)

Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover Foundation has a creamy but fluid texture that blends like a dream. It provides medium to full coverage, which hides all imperfections, and a natural matte finish that makes you look your best both in real life and in pictures. With 25 shades, in all kinds of undertones, available, it’s impossible not to find a good match.

What are your favourite foundations for oily, acne-prone skin?

Product Review: Avon Clearskin Blemish Clearing Pads

avon clearskin blemish pads 02

Name: Clearskin Blemish Clearing Pads
Brand: Avon
Size: 30pads
Price: $4.49

From Avon’s website:
Clears up acne pimples & helps prevent new blemishes. Battles blemishes with every clean sweep.

What I liked:
– gets rid of pimples in 2 or 3 days

What I didn’t like:
– contains alcohol, which can irritate and dry skin
– packaging is not very practical.

“Yay! A pimple! Finally!,” I excitedly exclaimed when an ugly reddish bump started announcing its appearance, a few weeks ago. No, I’m not losing my marbles as I’m getting older (at least I hope I’m not). I was never glad to see a pimple before and doubt I will ever be again.

But, months before, a friend had given me a jar of Avon Clearskin Blemish Clearing Pads she wasn’t using anymore and I was impatient to put it to the test and confirm her words that they really get rid of pimples fast. Of course, then, not a single zit raised its ugly head for months. They always turn up to ruin an important date or meeting, but when you need a tiny, little one, it’s nowhere to be found. Typical!

Maybe they suspected what was in store for them, and decided to keep safely away. But, finally, timidly, one appeared. Quickly, I grabbed the jar, opened it, and took out one of the 30 pads inside. Each pad is round, quite big (just slightly smaller that a Tarte Amazonian Blush), and soft enough not to be rough on the skin.

Each pad is also wet, infused with a blemish clearing solution. The instructions say to apply 1 to 3 times a day to blemish prone areas only. So if you get pimples regularly, they won’t be a good investment, as they’ll run out pretty soon. But, for the occasional blemish, something like this can come in handy.

avon clearskin blemish pads 01

With the help of the Avon pads, it took me about 2 days and a half to get rid of a small pimple on my chin. The merit goes to salicylic acid. Derived from the bark of the willow tree, salicylic acid can penetrate inside the pores, slowly removing all the gunk that’s clogging them up. Glycolic acid, by exfoliating the surface of the skin and accelerating cellular turnover, helps to prevent more breakouts from occurring.

Sounds amazing, right? Unfortunately, the formulators felt the need to ruin the formula by including a generous dose of alcohol. Alcohol can irritate skin and dry it out. To compensate, skin produces even more oil! Not exactly what you want!

It’s true I have experienced no negative reaction, but then I used it only on a tiny area. This is not something I would want all over my face. And yes, it works, but would it have worked better and faster without the alcohol? Probably yes.

The packaging is also a concern. You need to be very quick to grab a pad and then close the jar again, or those left inside may get all dried up and useless. A classic, alcohol-free spot treatment packaged in a tube would be easier to use and more convenient to carry around with you.

Aqua, Alcohol Denat, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Thiodipropionic Acid, Ammonium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Trioxaundecanedoioic Acid, Parfum, Triticum Vulgare Germ Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Extract.

Available at: Avon

A jar of Avon Clearskin Blemish Clearing Pads contains 30 pads infused with a solution that gets rid of pimples in 2 or 3 days. But it also contains alcohol, which can be drying and irritating. Plus, the packaging isn’t practical.

Rating: 2.5/5