Are They Dupes?: Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream VS Studio 35 Micro Shaping Cream

dupe for olay micro sculpting cream

Olay is my favourite drugstore skincare brand. True, some of their moisturizers give me pimples (damn you, palmitates!), but most products are well-formulated, and fairly cheap.

So, when I’ve heard that Walmart store brand Studio 35 is selling a dupe for Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream, my curiosity was instantly piqued. Could Sudio 35 Micro Shaping Cream be even better?

At first glance, the creams look identical. The name is pretty much the same: Micro Sculpting Cream vs Micro Shaping Cream (not much fantasy there!). Ditto for the ingredients. But when I inspected them more closely, I notice a key difference that makes one better than the other.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

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Declare War On Blemishes With Neutrogena Visibly Clear Spot Stress Control Ultra-Light Spot Treatment Moisturizer

neutrogena visibly clear spot stress control

Name: Neutrogena
Brand: Visibly Clear Spot Stress Control Ultra-Light Spot Treatment Moisturiser
Size: 40ml
Price: £4.47

From Neutrogena’s website:
NEUTROGENA VISIBLY CLEAR® Spot Stress Control Ultra-light Spot Treatment Moisturiser is ultra-light and contains MICROCLEAR® technology, to penetrate deep down and help clear spots whilst hydrating skin.

What I liked:
– helps get rid of blemishes faster
– thin texture, sinks quickly into the skin
– doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind
– moisturising enough for oily skin, leaves it soft and smooth
– gentle, doesn’t irritate skin
– cheap price

What I didn’t like:
– if you have dry skin, this won’t be moisturising enough for you
– some people may dislike the cucumber scent
– small size

A month ago, my flatmate asked me to go shopping with him. His nose had been invaded by blackheads, and he wanted something that got rid of them all quickly without breaking the bank. So, I dragged him to Superdrug, where I spent 20 minutes browsing through exfoliants, moisturizers, and spot treatments with salicylic acid, while he complained that I was taking too long… Mmm, talk about gratitude!

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Can You Use Serum As Makeup Primer?

serum as makeup primer

A few weeks ago, we talked about how a serum can double up as a moisturiser (if you have oily skin). But can it do the job of a makeup primer as well?

That’s something I wondered when I came across this video by Paula’s Choice Skincare Team. The lovely Desiree assures us we can, but I am not so sure. I admit the idea makes sense in theory. But problems start when you try to put it in practice. Here’s why:

Why Using A Serum As Makeup Primer Makes Sense

Makeup primers contain ingredients (usually silicones) that create a protective layer on the skin. This layer prevents the oils in your skin to come in contact with your makeup, allowing it to last longer. It also provides a smooth base for foundation to glide on more smoothly. Silicones can also fill in fine lines and wrinkles, thus helping them look temporarily smaller.

A lot of serums, like Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum and Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum, are infused with silicones too, so they provide the same benefits.

And more. Serums are also chockfull of anti-ageing ingredients, like antioxidants and retinol, that can help keep new wrinkles at bay. Some are rich in skin-lightening agents that can help reduce the appearance of dark spots too. Primers usually lack these goodies, or contain them in minuscule amounts that don’t benefit skin much.

So using a serum as a primer seems to make a lot of sense. You’re saving money, and time in the morning, but getting double benefits, right? Not so fast.

The Problem With Using Serum As Makeup Primer

In the video, Desiree says that you should apply your skincare routine as normal, and then, at the end add a thin layer of primer. I took this to mean you should apply serum after moisturizer, which is why I have doubts about this method. Then, she says that, if you are using a separate sunscreen rather than a foundation with SPF (you should be using both anyway!), primer goes before that.

Again, I find this order of application odd. The general rule is to apply skincare products with a thinner consistency, like serums, first, and those with a thicker texture, like moisturizers and sunscreens, later. That’s because they contain occlusive ingredients, like petrolatum and shea butter, that moisturize skin by creating a protective barrier that prevents water loss.

But this protective barrier can prevent whatever you are applying next from penetrating into the skin. As we already know, makeup primers rarely contain active ingredients that benefit skin. They just form a nice base for makeup, so you can safely apply them after moisturizer and sunscreen.

But the goodies in a serum may not be able to penetrate skin as well if you apply it last. If you, instead, apply it before moisturizer or sunscreen, then you’ll get its anti-ageing and/or skin-lightening benefits and, if they contain silicones, your wrinkles will look smaller too. But your foundation and sunscreen may not provide as smooth or longlasting base for makeup.

Even if your skin doesn’t need moisturizer, sunscreen isn’t optional. And a primer, as Desiree said, should always be applied before that. So, according to its place in your skincare routine, a serum can usually act only as a serum or as a primer. If you try to use it as both, it is likely you won’t get its full benefits.

The Bottom Line

Although I usually agree with the advice dished out by Paula Begoun and her team, I don’t think that using serum as a primer is as beneficial as they make it out to be. Applying skincare products in the right order is essential if you want to reap their maximum benefits. If you apply primer too soon, it won’t make a great base. Too late and you may compromise its anti-ageing properties. Better stick to a separate makeup primer, if you really need one.

Have you ever used a serum as makeup primer?

Dr Brandt Needles No More: A Topical Alternative To Botox?

dr brandt needles no more

I am a needle-phobic. I’m terrified of them. Even just looking at a needle makes me nervous. I can’t even watch a medical TV show (or any other show where someone is having an injection, real or fake, for that matter) without turning my head away the second a needle comes onto the screen. Blood tests cause full on anxiety attacks.

There is absolutely no way that I would ever allow a needle to pierce my skin unless it were for a serious medical emergency. That means I’ll never have a tattoo done, won’t pierce my ears, and definitely won’t do Botox.

Even if I were to overcome my fear of needles, Botox still wouldn’t appeal to me. There’s also the pain. The downtime. And the risk of having my face frozen in an awkward position for months should something go wrong. No, thanks. I’ll keep my wrinkles.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful if a topical product could provide the same benefits as Botox without the needles, and all the other side effects? Dr Brandt claims the new Needles No More can do just that. But is that really true, or just another overblown promise that will have us disappointed? Let’s investigate:

What Dr Brandt Says

The revolutionary needles no more wrinkle relaxing cream targets lines & wrinkles on the forehead, between brows and crow’s feet. A powerful tri-blend of wrinkle relaxers provide a targeted delivery of the wrinkle relaxing ingredients to where they are most needed. Instantly relaxing and smoothing expression lines, while helping to soften and reduce the appearance of lines & wrinkles and defend against future expression lines.

Ingredient Analysis


Perfluorohexane, Perfluoroperhydrophenanthrene, & Perfluorodecalin

Needles No More contains an “exclusive tri-blend wrinkle relaxer” made up of perfluorohexane, perfluoroperhydrophenanthrene, and perfluorodecalin. These ingredients can deliver oxygen to the skin, but can that relax wrinkles?

I could only found one study testing the efficacy of a cream with an oxygen carrier. The scientists wanted to know if the cream improved moisture levels and reduced fine lines and wrinkles, but the results were so subtle, they couldn’t tell how well it worked.

We do know, instead, that too much oxygen can generate free radicals, one of the main causes of ageing. That’s why I personally stay away from any cosmetic product that claims to contain or deliver oxygen. I’d rather fight wrinkles with the tried and tested, effective, and safer retinoids, antioxidants, and alpha hydroxy acids., With so many options available, why choose oxygen?

methyl methacrylate crosspolymer


This cream also claims to encourage “a superficial tightening action, preventing contraction and providing quick relaxation”. This tightening action is due to film-formers polymethyl methacrylate, sodium acrylates copolymer and methyl methacrylate crosspolymer.

When they dry, they contract, providing a tightening effect. This results in a “blurred look” that makes fine lines and wrinkles look smaller. But it’s only a temporary solution. Once the film formers are removed, your wrinkles become noticeable once again.

Shea Butter

Another trick to reduce the appearance of fine line and wrinkles is to keep skin hydrated. That’s because hydrated skin looks plumper. In this cream, this job falls to shea butter.

Shea butter forms a protective barrier on the skin that reduces transpidermal water loss. It does this a lot better than even mineral oil, one of the most moisturizing ingredients used in skincare. And its effects last for at least 8 hours.

But that’s not all. There is also some evidence that the unsaponifiables contained in shea butter may boost collagen production, helping skin stay younger for longer. But that takes time. The immediate improvement you see right after you apply the cream is due to the moisturizing properties of shea butter (and the film formers mentioned above).


X50 Myocept Powder

You won’t find X50 Myocept Powder in the ingredient list. Not with this name anyway. It is a complex formed by Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-52, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Palmitoyl Heptapeptide-18, and they are all listed separately on the label.

According to the manufacturer, this complex “targets skin neurons for an improved Botox like ingredient. It minimizes neuronal exocytosis by inhibiting calcium entry at receptor level and Inhibits the formation of the SNARE protein complex,” two functions that can relax muscles.

Does it work? Difficult to tell without properly conducted independent studies confirming the claims. Even if they were true, the complex may still not work well for everyone. Argireline, another peptide that can inhibit muscle movement, seems to work well for people with thin skin, but hardly do anything for those who have thicker skin. It just doesn’t diffuse through it that well. This new complex may very well behave in the same way.

Final Considerations On The Formula

Far from being the miracle product it claims to be, Dr Brandt Needles No More reduces the appearance of wrinkles by filling them in and hydrating skin, but the results are only temporary. If you have thin skin, there is a possibility the muscle relaxing ingredients in the formula may do something for you, but you certainly won’t get Botox like results.

Full Ingredient List

Water, Perfluorohexane, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Perfluoroperhydrophenanthrene, Perfluorodecalin, Butylene Glycol, Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Magnesium Gluconate, C12-16 Alcohols, Palmitic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Isopropyl Palmitate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Prolinamidoethyl Imidazole, Cetearyl Alcohol, Menthone Glycerin Acetal, Glutamylamidoethyl Imidazole, Tocopherol, Lecithin, Stearic Acid, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Phytate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Silanediol Salicylate, Adenosine, Tromethamine, Linalool, Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-52, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Palmitoyl Heptapeptide-18, Methylpropanediol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract.


If you’re still interested in giving Dr Brandt Needles No More a try, you can purchase it at Sephora. The 0.5oz bottle will set you back a whooping $89.00!

The Bottom Line

Dr Brandt Needles No More can temporarily reduce the appearance of expression lines and wrinkles, but it doesn’t work as well as Botox. No topical product does.

Have you tried Dr Brandt Needles No More?

Lindi Skin: Best Skincare For Cancer Patients?

lindi skin cancer care

Chemotherapy, radiation, and other cancer treatments take a huge toll on the body, causing all kinds of side effects, including nausea, fatigue, and hair loss. They also severely dry and thin skin, leave it more prone to irritations, infections, and rashes. And they make patients uncomfortable and very self-conscious.

Lindy Snider noticed all this when she saw friends being treated for cancer. They struggled to find skincare products to suit the needs of their now very sensitive skin. At the time, skincare lines for cancer patients didn’t exist. So Lindy decided to create her own, Lindi Skin.

She formulated her products with the help of dermatologists, oncologists, nurses, patients and skincare formulators to ensure they are as gentle, soothing, and effective as possible.

Her mission? To “help individuals feel better, both physically and emotionally, and gain a greater degree of control over the side effects they experience,” and help them look their best even during this difficult time in their lives.

A worthy endeavour no doubt, but are Lindi products really so special? Should cancer patients invest in them? Let’s investigate:

lindi face wash

Face Wash ($2.00)

Surfactants are some of the harsher ingredients used in cosmetics. In a way, they have to be. Their job is to remove makeup, dirt, and other impurities from the skin. The milder they are, the less well they cleanse. But if they are too potent, they irritate and dry out skin. The trick is to find a combination of surfactants that’s effective but gentle for the skin.

Luckily, these days we have lots of surfactants, some harsh, some gentle, some something in between, to choose from. Lindi has picked two of the mildest, the silicone based Disodium PEG-12 Dimethicone Sulfosuccinate and coconut derived Coco Glucoside. The latter foams well too.

These surfactants are so gentle they are often used in shampoos for babies and children, so they are more than suitable for the delicate skin of cancer patients. Keep in mind, though, that if your skin is really dirty or you are using some oil-based makeup product, it may take a bit longer to cleanse it well.

My only problem with this cleanser (and most of Lindi products) is the inclusion of lavender oil, which can cause irritations and allergies in some people. I suppose it is there to add a lovely scent to the face wash, but it isn’t necessary. Anything formulated for very sensitive skin should be fragrance-free. Yet, in such a small amount, it is unlikely to cause problems.


A very gentle face wash suitable for very sensitive and delicate skin.


Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Disodium PEG-12 Dimethicone Sulfosuccinate, Coco Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Maltooligosyl Glucoside/Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Glucose Oxidase, Lactoperoxidase, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Citric Acid

lindi face serum citrus

Citrus Face Serum ($40.00)

The Citrus Face Serum is infused with natural oils, extracts, and vitamins that nourish skin and help it look its best. Soybean oil and avocado oil moisturize skin. Vitamins C (Ascorbyl Palmitate) and E (Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocotrienols, and Tocopherol), and astaxanthin all have antioxidant properties that can fight oxidative stress.

The serum also contains one of the gentlest, but least effective, form of Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate), which has been proven to reduce wrinkles. I know that even just thinking of wrinkles when you are fighting cancer seems ludicrous. But some cancer patients still want to look and feel their best, and this serum can help. It won’t just fight wrinkles, but also improve the texture of your skin, making it softer and smoother.

Again, my problem is the scent. There shouldn’t be one. Besides, citrusy scents can be particularly problematic. As fresh and lovely as they smell, some citrusy ingredients contain compounds that can irritate skin. The dose is really low, though, so again, it probably won’t cause problems for moist people.


A hydrating and anti-ageing serum that helps delicate skin look and feel its best.


Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Astaxanthin, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Ceramide 2, Tribehenin, PEG-10 Rapeseed Sterol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Retinyl Palmitate, Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Echinacea Purpurea Extract, Algae Extract, Hydroxydecyl Ubiquinone, Thioctic Acid, Bisabolol, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Tocotrienols, Tocopherol, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Vaccinium Myrtillus Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Crocus Sativus Flower Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Extract, Pinus Strobus Bark Extract, Portulaca Oleracea (Purslane) Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Rhubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Betula Alba Bark Extract, Parfum (Fragrance), Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Leaf Extract

lindi face moisturizer

Face Moisturizer ($38.00)

This moisturizer is my least favourite product in the line. It does contain a lot of goodies. Humectants (like glycerin) to attract water into the skin and emollients (like shea butter and soybean oil) that keep skin soft and moisturized. It also features a small amount of antioxidants, including green tea, which has both anti-ageing and soothing properties.

But in addition to the fragrance, it also contains alcohol denat (probably to thin the formula), which can cause irritations. Witch Hazel is a mixed bag. It has some anti-inflammatory properties, but also contains compounds (tannins) that can be irritating. It is usually distilled with alcohol, which can be problematic as well.

Once again, all these ingredients are present in low doses, so the risk of them causing a negative reaction is minimal, but in a moisturizer formulated especially for cancer patients, they shouldn’t be present at all.


A hydrating moisturizer that keeps skin soft and smooth. But it also contains a small amount of problematic ingredients for sensitive skin.


Astaxanthin Extract, Cyclomethicone and Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Aqua (Deionized Water), Propylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxyethyl Acrylate, Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer , Squalane (Olive Oil), Polysorbate 60, Glycerin, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide 3, Camellia Sinensis Tea Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Alcohol Denat., Phenoxyethanol (Plant Derivative), Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Arginine, Algae Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (Chamomile), Parfum (Fragrance), Hydrolyzed Soy Protein


If you are suffering from cancer, know someone who is, or simply have very sensitive skin, you can buy Lindi Skincare products at Amazon, Dermstore and Lindi Skin. They are available both separately and in sets.

The Bottom Line

Most of Lindi Skin products are well-formulated and gentle enough for cancer patients and anyone who has very sensitive skin. I just wish they stopped adding a scent to their formulations. That would make them safer, if less pleasant to use.

Have you ever tried Lindi Skin products?

What Are The Best Ingredients For Oily Skin?

best ingredients for oily skin

Excess oil, clogged pores, acne… oily skin can be a nightmare to deal with! But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many ingredients that can help alleviate its symptoms and keep excessive oil production, with all its nasty consequences, under control.

But what are they? How do they help exactly? And where can you find them? Read on to find out:

philosophy clear days ahead toner moisturizer

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid, part of the beta hydroxy acid (BHA) family, is by far my favourite ingredient for oily skin. Derived from the bark of the willow tree, this ingredient is able to penetrate deep inside the pores, removing all the sebum, dead cell, and other gunk that’s clogging them.

It can also exfoliate the surface of the skin by dissolving the “glue” that holds skin cells together. This dual exfoliating action prevents and remove blemishes, blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples, while, at the same time, reducing signs of premature ageing, such as roughness, wrinkles, and dark spots. Like that weren’t enough, it also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help treat acne.

Now, for the bad part. Salicylic acid, like all exfoliants, increases skin sensitivity to the sun. So it should always be used with sunscreen. Even then, salicylic acid is not for everyone. If you have a zinc deficiency or are allergic to salicylates (including aspirin), you should stay away from salicylic acid. Pregnant or nursing women should instead consult their doctor before using any product with this ingredient.

Best picks: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion and Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Oil-free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment & Moisturizer

md formulations moisture defense antioxidant hydrating gel

Hyaluronic Acid & Glycerin

In an effort to remove excess oil, we can often go too far and dry out our skin. When this happens, skin reacts by producing even more oil! That’s the last thing you need.

To help skin stay hydrated, you need to trap water into the skin. This is usually done by adding oils to moisturizers. Once on the skin, they create a protective barrier that prevents water from evaporating.

But oil-based moisturizers are often way too greasy for oily skin. Enter humectants. These ingredients are capable of attracting water from the environment into the skin, hydrating it without the need to use oils.

The most famous humectants are Glycerin and Hylauronic Acid and its close derivative Sodium Hyaluronate. Hyaluronic Acid and Sodium Hyaluronate are particularly effective because they can bind 1000 times their weight in water and work well both in high and low humidity conditions.

Best picks: MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel, Olay Regenerist Regenerating Lotion with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50, and Paula’s Choice Skincare Hydralight Moisture-Infusing Lotion

paula's choice skin balancing oil absorbing mask


Although I don’t believe that primers and maks are a must, when they contain oil-absorbing ingredients they can certainly be very useful for oily skinned girls. They help to keep sebum production and shine under control during the day, so you won’t have to blot excess oil away with absorbing sheets and retouch your makeup so often.

My favourite oil-absorbers are kaolin and bentonite, two types of clay commonly found in masks. Silica, magnesium aluminum silicate, and sulfur also help keep excess oil at bay. At first, you will probably need to use them daily but, as you start getting your oily skin under control, an oil-absorbing mask once or twice a week should be enough.

Best picks: Marcelle Hydra-C Ultra-Light Mattifying Fluid and Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Absorbing Mask

proactiv pore targeting treatment

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is one of the most powerful weapons in an oily skinned girl’s arsenal. As such, it must be used carefully, sparingly, and strategically.

Benzoyl Peroxide has a peeling action that can keep pores clean, and thus heal and prevent breakouts. It can also kill P. Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. And, best of all, bacteria don’t seem to develop a resistance to it.

Unfortunately, Benzoyl Peroxide is quite harsh and can cause dryness and irritations. It can also generate free radicals, which are one of the main causes of premature ageing. But at least this can be easily countered by applying a serum or moisturizer chockfull of antioxidants afterwards.

Even so, whenever possible, it is best to use Benzoyl Peroxide only as a spot treatment. Only when your acne isn’t responding to other treatments, you should consider using it all over the face.

Best picks: Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide and Proactive & Proactiv+ Pore Targeting Treatment

Do you have oily skin? Which ingredients are you using to deal with it? What’s working well for you?