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?

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?

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.

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.

Is Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate For Deep Wrinkles Gentle Enough For Sensitive Skin?

murad time release retinol concentrate for deep wrinkles

Retinol is one of my all-time favourite ingredients and a staple in my skincare routine. It can really improve the signs of aging and help you age gracefully. But there’s a catch. It can be irritating, especially if you have sensitive skin. But not all retinol serums and moisturizers are created equal. Some are gentler than others and can be used by everyone. Like Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate For Deep Wrinkles:

What Murad Says:

This Anti-aging triple-action wrinkle-fighting formula softens and smooths on contact, reduces the appearance of deep wrinkles, supports natural cell turnover and helps boost natural resilience.

Ingredient Analysis


Glycine Soja (Soybean ) Oil

Glycine Soya Oil is an oil derived from soybeans. It is rich in fatty acids, a group of substances that have emollient properties. They help keep skin moisturized, smooth, and soft. Soybeans also contains antioxidants, such as Vitamin E, which can fight free radicals and help prevent the formation of premature wrinkles.



Retinol is an anti-aging superstar that boosts collagen production, which helps firm skin, and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and discolourations. But retinol can also be irritating, especially for sensitive skin. To prevent this, the retinol in this serum is time-released. What does it mean? Rather than getting the full force of retinol all at once, the ingredient is slowly released over a several hours period. That way, you’ll still get the benefits without the side effects.


Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38

Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, also called Matrixyl® synthe’6® is a peptide developed by Sederma. According to the company, it “fills in wrinkles from the inside both on the forehead and the crow’s feet for a visibly smoother and plumper skin.” It works by stimulating “6 major constituents of the skin matrix and the dermal–epidermal junction”. I couldn’t find any independent studies confirming this which is not surprising considering it is quite a new ingredient. So, while I would never purchase this moisturizer because it contains this peptide, it’s good to know it’s there, just in case.

Further considerations on the formula

This moisturizing formula also contains humectants, such as Glycerin and Sodium Hyaluronate, which can attract water from the enviroment into the skin, thus helping to keep it hydrated; emollients like Cetyl Alcohol, a good type of alcohol, and Shea Butter, that keep skin soft and smooth for hours; and silicones, like Polymethylsilsesquioxane, that create a protective but breathable barrier on the skin, help fill in fine lines and wrinkles temporarily, and give slip to the cream. The formula is also fragrance-free, and so suitable for sensitive skin too.

Full Ingredient List

Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Glycine Soja (Soybean ) Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Lauryl Lactate, Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Butylene Glycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Retinol, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Urea, Yeast Amino Acids, Trehalose, Inositol, Taurine, Betaine, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Laureth-23, Trideceth-6 Phosphate, Triethanolamine, Ceramide-3, Punica Granatum Extract, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Zinc Gluconate, Ascorbic Acid, Chitosan, Propyl Gallate, Disodium EDTA, Carbomer, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5


Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate for Deep Wrinkles is packaged in a 0.5 oz opaque tube. Available at Sephora, it retails at $65.00 (but you can find it at a much cheaper price on Amazon ;) ).

The Bottom Line

Although there is only so much a topical cream can do for deep wrinkles, Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate for Deep Wrinkles contains ingredients that can improve them (and other signs of aging too). And it is gentle enough for sensitive skin.

Looks: Midnight Plum

midnight plum

Dark lip colours intrigue me as much as they scare me. I’m always afraid they will look too harsh against my pale skintone, which is why I rarely buy them. But, recently, a friend of mine has given a dark purple lipstick and I couldn’t wait to put it to the test. It looks more like a dark berry than a deep plum in photos, but I still like the result.

Here’s how you can recreate this look:

Products used:
Too Faced Shadow Insurance
Sleek Makeup I-Divine Showstoppers Eyeshadow Palette
Sleek Makeup I-Divine Lagoon Eyeshadow Palette
Neve Cosmetics Pastello in Liquirizia
Sleek Makeup I’m Conditional Mascara
Dior Diorskin Nude Foundation
Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit
Illamasqua Powder Blush in Naked Rose
Benefit High Beam
– Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Midnight Plum

1. Apply an eyeshadow primer. My favourite is Too Faced Shadow Insurance
2. Apply a shimmering white shade (I used Bad Girl in the Sleek Makeup Showstoppers Eyeshadow Palette) on the lid.
3. With a pencil brush, apply a matte black shade (I used Noir in the Sleek Makeup Showstoppers Eyeshadow Palette) on the outer V and blend. Apply it on the lower lashline as well.
4. Sweep a pale shimmer lilac (I used Reflection in the Sleek Makeup Lagoon Eyeshadow Palette) on the crease.
5. Apply a shade that’s very similar to the colour of your skin (I used Paraguaya in the Sleek Makeup Showstoppers Eyeshadow Palette) on the browbone.
6. Apply a reddish brown shade (I used Au Naturel in the Sleek Makeup Showstoppers Eyeshadow Palette) on top of the black eyeshadow both in the outer V and lower lashline to feather it in.
7. Line your upper lashline with a black pencil eyeliner (I used Neve Cosmetics Pastello in Liquirizia). If you want to make the look darker and more intense, apply the eyeliner on the upper and lower waterlines too. I chose not to do this because it would have made my small eyes look even smaller.
8. Apply mascara.

1. Apply foundation and concealer as needed.
2. Sweep a medium rosy pink shade with slightly blue undertones and an almost matte finish (I used Illamasqua Powder Blush in Naked Rose) on your cheeks.
3. Apply a white highlighting shade (I used Benefit High Beam) on top of your blush.
4. Apply a dark plum lipstick (I used Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Midnight Plum) on your lips.

What do you think of this look?