Allure Best Moisturizers 2014: Are They Really Worth It?

allure best moisturizers 2014

Do you remember when magazines were our only source of beauty information? How, at the end of every year, we would eagerly peruse the Elle or Allure award lists to find out what products were worth investing in? And how often we ended up disappointed when they didn’t perform as well as they claimed?

Magazine awards haven’t changed much since then. Their lists are still full of lots of duds and average performers. But now, thanks to the internet and blogs, we’re much better informed and can check out whether a product really deserves an award before splurging our hard-earned money on it.

Last month, Allure unveiled its 2014 Best of Beauty winners, and, as always, a lot of their picks are questionable. The moisturizers are particularly disappointing. Here’s why:

caudalie premier cru la creme riche

Caudalie Premier Cru La Creme Riche ($158.00)

Caudalie is a big believer in the anti-aging power of grapes. This cream contains several extracts derived from grape seeds, which are rich in antioxidants such as proanthocyanidins, polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. The most potent is resveratrol, which can prevent UVB-induced damage. The cream also contains other antioxidants, such as Tocopherol (a form of Vitamin E), and peptides, but their concentrations are too small to work well. Also antioxidants degrade quickly when exposed to light and air, which happens every time you open the jar. The rest of the formula is made of emollients and humectants that keep skin hydrated and soft.


An average moisturizer with some good anti-aging properties derived from grapes. Too bad it’s packaged in a jar.


Water, Glycerin*, Glyceryl Stearate Se*, Coco-Caprylate*, Pentaerythrityl Distearate*, Cetearyl Glucoside*, Cetearyl Alcohol*, Octyldodecyl Myristate*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil*, Ethylhexyl Palmitate*, Jojoba Esters*, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein*, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate*, Imperata Cylindrica Root Extract*, Polyglycerin-3*, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer*, Palmitoyl Grape Seed Extract*, Hydrogenated Apricot Kernel Oil*, Diheptyl Succinate*, Propyl Grapevine Shoot Extract Olivate*, Tribehenin*, Parfum (Fragrance), Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Polyacrylate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Benzyl Alcohol, Tocopherol*, Palmitoyl Grapevine Shoot Extract*, Pentylene Glycol, Citric Acid*, Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Xanthan Gum, Acacia Decurrens Flower Wax*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Wax*, Carbomer, Ceramide 2, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Carboxymethyl Beta-Glucan, Sodium Phytate*, Polysorbate 20, Dehydroacetic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Citrate, Ci 77491 (Iron Oxides), Ci 77492 (Iron Oxides), Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Geraniol, Linalool, Citronellol, Coumarin. *Plant origin.


Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Moisture Cream Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($50.00)

This moisturizer contains ceramides, a group of lipids that makes up about 50% of the skin’s natural protective barrier, which helps prevent water loss; humectants like Glycerin that help draw water from the environment into the skin; emollients, like Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, that keep skin soft; and silicones, like Dimethicone, that temporarily fill in fine lines and wrinkles, making them look smaller. It also features Vitamin E, but its antioxidant properties won’t last long. Every time you open the jar, it loses a bit of its effectiveness. The real anti-aging properties of the cream are due to the SPF. It contains Octinoxate, Octisalate, and Oxybenzone, which protects skin against UVB rays, and Avobenzone, which is effective against UVA rays. But that doesn’t mean you can skip sunscreen. Rather, you should use the cream in conjunction with it.


A basic moisturizer with SPF.


Active Ingredients: Octinoxate, 7.14%, Octisalate, 4.75%, Oxybenzone, 4.00%, Avobenzone, 3.0%; Inactive Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Adenosine, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Bisabolol, Caprylyl Glycol, Caramel, Carbomer, Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 LI, Cholesterol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fucose, Glucose, Glucuronic Acid, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein, Jojoba Esters, Kefiran, Panthenol, Parfum/Fragrance, Phytosphingosine, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Tocopherol, Xanthan Gum, BHT, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Salicylate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Limonene, Linalool, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Red 40 (Ci 16035).


RoC Multi Correxion 5 In 1 Restoring Night Cream ($28.99)

The winner of the Allure Breakthrough Award in 2013, it has made it into the best skincare products list this year too. What makes it so special? Hexinol, a molecule with anti-inflammatory properties that can decrease the signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles, photodamage, and uneven pigmentation. Too bad the only studies showing it works were conducting by the company. Ascorbyl Glucoside, a form of Vitamin C, can help reduce those signs of premature aging as well, but it won’t do much in this cream. Why? There is just too little of it, and the jar packaging won’t keep it stable and effective for long anyway. The rest of the formula is pretty basic. It contains humectants, like Glycerin, to draw water into the skin, emollients, like Shea Biutter, to make skin soft and smooth, and silicones, like Dimethicone, to fill in fine lines and wrinkles, making them look smaller temporarily.


A boring formula that can moisturize skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but only temporarily. It won’t help prevent more from forming either.


Water, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Propylene Glycol, Steareth-2, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Hexylresorcinol, Steareth-21, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Behenyl Alcohol, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Sclerotium Gum, Mica, Methylparaben, Titanium Dioxide, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Ethylparaben, Fragrance, Propylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Xylitol, Sodium Hydroxide.

shiseido ibuki refining moisturizer

Shiseido Ibuki Refining Moisturizer ($45.00)

The only award Shiseido Ibuki Refining Moisturizer deserves to win is Most Boring Formula. Where are the antioxidants? The retinoids? The Alpha Hydroxy Acids? The skin-lighting agents? The sunscreen actives? All it contains is a bunch of humectants, emollients, and silicones that will keep skin hydrated, smooth and soft. All things a moisturizer is surely supposed to do, but at this price point I expected a lot more.


A very basic moisturizer. It moisturizes skin, leaving it soft and smooth, but don’t expect anything more.


Water Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Dipropylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Triethylhexanoin, HDI/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Trehalose, PEG-5 Glyceryl Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Stearic Acid, Isostearic Acid, Behenic Acid, Alcohol, Carbomer, Aminopropyl Dimethicone, Betaine, Fragrance, Silica, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycyl Glycine, Sodium Metabisulfite, Disodium EDTA, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Benzyl Benzoate, Linalool, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Witch Hazel Leaf Extract, Lamium Album Flower Extract, Citrus Junos Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Zingiber Aromaticus Extract, Benzoic Acid.

The Bottom line

Don’t trust magazine awards. Instead, always research the ingredients to find out whether a product can really deliver what it promises. It will save disappointments (and money).

Do you buy beauty products that win magazine awards? And have you tried these moisturizers?

Does Epicé Makes The Best Skincare Products For Eczema & Psoriasis?

epice skincare

Finding the right skincare products is difficult for everyone. It becomes even more difficult when you suffer from eczema and psoriasis, two skin conditions characterized by red and itchy skin. Eczema sufferers can also experience dryness and pimple-like eruptions. Unfortunately, there is no cure for both, but there are several things you can do to keep them under control.

One of these is using gentle skincare products free of fragrance, alcohol, and irritating preservatives. So I was very surprised to find these ingredients in many Epicé products. Epicé, founded by dermatologist Michael S. Spicer, MD, is a skincare line that specializes in therapeutic moisturizers for children with eczema and psoriasis.

It’s true, though, that recently the brand has expanded  to include skincare products to help everyone, not just eczema and psoriasis sufferers, protect, achieve and maintain healthy skin. And ingredients that are problematic for sensitive and inflamed skin can work well for other skin types, so many people will be able to use these products without experiencing side effects. But are they worth checking out?

epice hydrating facial cleanser

Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($27.00)

The Hydrating Facial Cleanser uses Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, a surfactant derived from coconut that allows water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed off. Not to be confused with its harsh cousin Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate is considered gentle and effective. Glycerin, a humectant that draws water from the environment into the skin, also helps to leave skin soft after cleansing.

The cleanser also contains a bunch of antioxidants such as green tea, retinyl palmitate (a weak form of Vitamin A) and Ascorbic Acid (a form of Vitamin C), but these don’t really do anything in a cleanser (bar make the price go up). They just end up down the drain. I’m also not thrilled that fragrance was added to the product, but as a cleanser isn’t supposed to stay in contact with the skin much, it shouldn’t cause any harm.


An effective and gentle cleanser. But it’s a bit too pricey for what it does.


Purified Water, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Cocoamphodiacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Fragrance, Macadamia Glycerides, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Dextrin, Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Aspartic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, FD&C Yellow 5, FD&C Blue 1

epice restorative toner

Restorative Toner ($27.00)

Epicé describes it as a “gentle skin toner” that “provides a cool, refreshing feeling while hydrating the skin and reducing inflammation,” yet the second ingredient is SD Alcohol 40, which can be both drying and irritating when used in high doses! Antioxidants rosemary and witch hazel also contain compounds that can be irritating, especially to people with sensitive skin. But at least these are present in smaller amounts.

To soothe inflammation, Epicé has included a high dollop of aloe vera. Made mostly of water, this plants also contains glycoproteins that help speed up the healing process by reducing pain and inflammation, and polysaccharides that stimulate growth and repair. The cleanser also contains Mandelic Acid, a Alpha Hydroxy Acid with exfoliating and antioxidant properties.


Poor. Although it contains some antioxidants and soothing ingredients, the high amount of alcohol can cause problems for all skin types, especially sensitive.


Purified Water, SD Alcohol 40, Aloe Barbadensis, Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Mandelic Acid, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit, Polysorbate 20, Vitis Vinifera (White Grape) Fruit, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary), Humulus Lupulus (Hops), Phenoxyethanol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Caprylyl Glycol, Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail Plant), Cymbopogon Citratus (Lemongrass), Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal), Honey Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Sorbate, Hexylene Glycol, FD&C Yellow 5,.FD&C Blue 1.

epice therapeutic 8 moisturizer

Therapeutic 8 Moisturizer ($15.00)

This scent-free moisturizer contains a blend of emollients, moisturizers, and soothing agents that hydrate, heal, and soften dry and sensitive skin. Safflower Oil, Shea Butter, and Cocoa Seed Butter create a barrier on the skin that slows down water loss. They may also have antioxidant properties. Glycerine attracts water from the environment into the skin, thus increasing its moisture levels.

Aloe vera helps soothe skin, reducing inflammation, and stimulates growth and repair. My only criticism is the inclusion of Methylisothiazolinone, which is considered one of the most irritating preservatives used in skincare. There is only a tiny amount in here, but it may still cause a negative reaction to those predisposed to it.


Despite the unfortunate choice of preservative, I think this is a good, but basic, moisturizer for dry and inflamed skin, helping to keep it soft, hydrated, and healthy.


PurifiedWater, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Glycerine, Emulsifying Wax, Glyceryl Monostearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii, (Shea Butter), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, TEA Citrate, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Benzyl Alcohol, BHT, Carbomer, Methylisothiazolinone.

epice epicell recovery serum

Epicell Recovery Serum ($75.00)

Stem cells are all the rage now. Too bad they don’t work. Stem cells are living cells with the potential to become any type of organ so they could, in theory, be used to create new, smooth, and healthy patches of skin. But for that, these stem cells must be human and living. Those used in skincare, though, are dead, so useless. Epicé doesn’t even use human stem cells, but apple stem cells. Plant stem cells can growth leaves, fruits, etc, so I have no idea why they would help skin. But hey, it makes for a good marketing story.

Instead, what this serum does is hydrate skin. Carrageenans, a polysaccharide that’s extracted from seaweed, has excellent water binding properties. So does Sodium Hyaluronate. It can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water and works well both in high and low humidity conditions.


Good and hydrating, but overpriced.


Purified Water, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenans) Extract, Ethoxydiglycol, Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture Extract (Swiss Apple Stem Cells), Sodium Hyaluronate, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Xanthan Gum, Glycerin, Camellia Sinensis (Green tea) Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape seed) Extract, Lecithin, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance, Hexylene Glycol.

epice hydrating facial mask

Hydrating Facial Mask ($35.00)

This mask contains aloe vera to soothe skin, sunflower oil to moisturize it, glycerine to hydrate it, ceramides to restore skin’s barrier function (which is often impaired by eczema), and a bunch of antioxidants, such as retinyl palmitate and tocopheryl acetate (a form of vitamin E) to help fight premature aging.

Yet, I’m hesitant to recommend it to people with dry skin. Why? It also contains Kaolin Clay and Bentonite, two types of clays with absorbing properties. Although they are considered gentle enough for sensitive skin, their ability to soak up excess oil, which is very beneficial for oily skin, may cause dryness in those with dry skin. Still, the other hydrating ingredients in the formula should help prevent this and keep skin soft.


A good mask best suited for those with normal to oily skin.


Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Sunflower Seed Oil, Kaolin Clay, Glycerine, Bentonite, Propylene Glycol, Olive Squalane, Titanium Dioxide, Aluminum Magnesium Silicate, PEG 100 Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Emulsifying Wax, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenans) Extract, Glyceryl Stearate, Ubiquinone 50, Steareth 2, Allantoin, Panthenol, Jojoba Esters, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Benzyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum, Butylene Glycol, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Extract, Phytosphingosine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Malus Domestica (Apple) Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Cholesterol, Arnica Montana Extract, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Extract, BHT, Macadamia Glycerides, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid, Hexylene Glycol, Copper Chlorophylin, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Dextrin , Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Aspartic Acid.

epice purifying exfoliant

Purifying Exfoliant ($32.00)

This is basically a cleanser with polyethylene beads thrown in. These beads, when massaged onto the skin, help remove dead cells that are accumulating on the surface of the skin. The Purifying Exfoliant also contains a bunch of gentle surfactants, such as Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, and PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, that cleanses skin by allowing water to mix with dirt and oils so they can be easily rinsed away. Glycerine is added to add some moisture to the skin. I would have preferred if Epicé hadn’t included a fragrance here too though.


A good, if a little pricey, exfoliating cleanser.


Purified Water, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Polyethylene, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, PEG 150 Distearate, Emulsifying Wax, PEG 13 Carboxylate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG 100 Stearate, Jojoba Esters, Grapeseed Oil, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Cetyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Lanolin Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Dimethicone, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Sodium Chloride, BHT, Hexylene Glycol, Fragrance, Butylene Glycol, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail Plant) Extract, Pinus Silvestris (Pinetree) Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary Extract), Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxide.

The Bottom Line

This is just a sample of what Epicé has to offer. Overall, it is a good line with some great, if a bit overpriced, products, and a few duds. But I can’t help but be a bit disappointed. Because the line was created by a dermatologist, I expected the products to contain more antioxidants and gentler ingredients suitable for sensitive skin too.

Have you ever tried Epicé products?

4 Ways To Handle Flaky Foundation

Winter is coming. And it’s bringing with it holiday cheer, delicious warm foods, and… harsh temperatures and cold winds that suck all the moisture out of your skin! And dry skin = flaky foundation.

That happens to me every winter. As my cheeks and the area around my nose get drier, foundation starts clinging to these flaky patches and looks awful! The solution? As foundation needs a smooth canvas to adhere to, we need to take better care of our skin, ensuring it always remains well-hydrated, even in winter.

Here’s how:

1. Opt for a gentle creamy cleanser

You don’t want to strip too much oil from your skin. Oil is the skin’s natural moisturizer and dry skin badly needs it! So, stay away from harsh or gel cleansers and opt instead for creamy formulas that contain gentle surfactants to remove dirt and makeup and emollients that leave skin soft and smooth.

My favourite is Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. Other good options are Yes To Cucumber Gentle Milk Cleanser and Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm.

2. Switch to a richer moisturizer (and apply it on wet skin)

The lightweight moisturizer you used in the summer will probably not be moisturizing enough to keep skin attacked by harsh weather outside and hot temperatures inside in top shape. Switch to a heavier duty formula that contains humectants, such as Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin, that attract water from the environment into the skin, and emollients, such as petrolatum and shea butter, that prevent water loss.

Apply the moisturizer on damp skin. That way, it will seal in the moisture on the surface of your skin. The result? Hydrated, and smoother, skin.

Some of my favourite moisturizers for dry skin are Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer, Skin Remodeling Complex, Clinique Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer, for Very Dry to Dry Skin, and Bioderma Sensibio AR.

3. Exfoliate

Dry skin needs to be exfoliated too, but gently. Scrubs are too harsh. Instead opt for a AHAs exfoliant. AHAs, such as Glycolic Acid, don’t just remove dead skin cells and flakes, but also boost collagen production, reduce small wrinkles, and act as humectants, attractingmuch needed moisture into the skin. Use it only two or three times a week. Only if your skin can take it, increase frequency gradually.

Some wonderful AHAs exfoliants are Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir, Olay Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% Alpha Hydroxy Acid, and AHA+.

4. Choose a moisturizing foundation

The type of foundations you use matters too. Avoid powders, which can be drying, and opt instead for liquid formulas that hydrate skin while hiding imperfections. If you hardly have any, choose instead a tinted moisturizer. Enriched with hydrated and moisturizing agents, tinted moisturizers even out the complexion and ensure skin stays soft and smooth for hours.

Some hydrating foundations to consider are Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Reveal Lift Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 25, Josie Maran Argan Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30, and Clinique Supermoisture Makeup.

Does your foundation flake too in winter? How do you deal with it?

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.

Product Review: Pupa Viso Di Velluto 3 In 1

pupa viso di velluto 3 in 1

Name: Viso Di Velluto 3 in 1
Brand: Pupa
Size: 150ml
Price: €17,10

From Pupa’s website:
Soft and comfortable emulsion for the total beauty of the face.
Result: skin is bright and velvety soft, perfectly clean. Ultra-soft lips.
It’s the ideal product for those who don’t have much time and want something practical.

What I liked:
– makes skin soft, smooth, and moisturized; great for dry skin
– removes makeup well
– sinks quickly into the skin
– practical and sleek packaging

What I didn’t like:
– doesn’t help control shine; not suitable for oily skin
– floral scent is quite strong
– tastes awful

As a broke teen, I loved multi-tasking beauty products. They saved me both money and time in the morning. But that came at a price. Usually, they only did one thing really well and the rest only so-so. I didn’t much mind then but these days I prefer to buy separate products. It may be a bit more expensive, but the results are worth it.

But there are times when I still find multitasking products very useful. Such as travelling. With all the restrictions on what you can bring in your carry on luggage on a plane, a multitasking product such as Pupa Viso Di Velluto (Velvet Face), which works as a moisturizer, lip balm, and makeup remover, ensures you have all the essentials with you without breaking any laws. Handy, isn’t it?

But does it work? As a moisturizer for dry skin, really well. The cream contains humectants glycerin and Sodium Hyaluronate (it can hold 1000x times its weight in water and works well both in high and low humidity conditions), which attract water from the environment into the skin. Shea Butter, and a bunch of synthetic ingredients such as Ethylhexyl Stearate and Cetearyl Alcohol (a good, moisturizing type of alcohol) have emollient properties that make skin soft and smooth. Finally, Dimethicone gives the product slip and skin a silky soft feel, and fills in temporarily fine lines and wrinkles.

As a result, this white cream leaves skin baby soft, smooth, and moisturized for hours. It’s perfect for those with normal or dry skin, while oily-skinned girls will be frustrated by the lack of anti-shine ingredients. After a few hours, my t-zone was oily again. The consistency is on the thick side, but it still feels very lightweight once applied on the skin. It sinks into it instantly too.

Pupa Viso Di Velluto works well as a makeup remover too. A small amount easily takes off everything but waterproof mascara. For that, it takes a little more product and time, but it is doable. It’s not my makeup remover of choice for every day though. I prefer a bilayer remover, especially for eye makeup, because I think it does the job more quickly, but in an emergency, or while travelling, this gets the job done. That’s just me, though. If you prefer creamy and moisturizing makeup removers, you’ll appreciate it a lot more than I did.

Instead, I hated it as a lip balm. The texture may be on the thicker side, but it is still too runny to be used on the lips. Because of that, I always end up ingesting some of it, and while that’s not dangerous, it’s not pleasant either. This stuff tastes horrible! But if you can put up with that, it will make your lips soft and smooth. It’s best used before going to bed. Then you won’t be doing any talking or eating and the chances of ingesting it are much, much smaller.

Another thing I’m not too fond of is the scent. It is floral and quite strong. It only bothers me during application because, thank goodness, once on the skin, it fades away quickly. But, as much as I love perfume, I much prefer my skincare products to be fragrance-free. That’s because fragrances can be irritating, especially if you have sensitive skin. Pupa Viso Di Velluto didn’t irritate my skin, though. And it didn’t cause breakouts either.

Aqua, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Glyceryl Stearate, SE Cycnoches Cooperi (Orchid) Flower/Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Parfum, Dimethicone, Carbomer Sodium Hydroxyde, Sodium Saccharin, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Ehylhexylglycerin, Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Hydroxyisohexyl 3 Cycloexene Carboxaldehyde, Citronellol, CI 17200.

Available at: Italian beauty shops

Pupa Viso Di Velluto 3 in 1 is a basic moisturizer for dry skin that can also be used as a makeup remover and a lip balm. It makes skin soft and smooth for hours, and takes off dirt and makeup quite easily, but its texture makes it uncomfortable to use it as a lip balm. It tastes awful and the floral scent is too strong too.

Rating: 3.5/5

Are They Dupes?: Creme De La Mer VS Nivea Creme

creme de la mer nivea dupes

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Creme De La Mer, a fancy moisturizer with an outrageous price tag. Despite having been developed by a NASA scientist, its formula doesn’t contain anything revolutionary. Its main ingredients are so basic and common that can be found in most creams, including Nivea Creme. In fact, the two are said to dupes! But is that hoping too much?

To find out, let’s take a look at the ingredients of all three creams. No, that’s not a typo. There are two versions of Nivea Creme. The German version, sold in Europe and almost impossible to find in the US, and the US version, which is sold, well.. in the US. Let’s get started:

Ingredient Analysis

mineral oil cosmetics

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil gets a bad reputation because it is derived from oil, but half of the ingredients used in cosmetics are. And nope, they’re not dangerous. That’s because all the nasty and toxic stuff has been removed through a rigorous purifying process.

Cosmetic grade mineral oil is one of the most moisturizing ingredients available today. It works by creating a barrier on the skin that slows down water loss. But that’s not the only reason why it is so widely used. Mineral oil is also non-irritating and noncomedogenic (although if you use products with comedogenic ingredients, they will get trapped under the barrier mineral oil creates, which could lead to breakouts).

jar vaseline


Like mineral oil, petrolatum is derived from oil, purified and safe. It doesn’t penetrate skin, but rests on its surface, where it forms a water-repellent film that keeps skin moisturized. It also helps reduce inflammation and heal skin. Only Creme De La Mer and the US version of Nivea Creme use this ingredient. This explains why the German version of the cream has a less greasy and sticky consistency.

glycerin molecular structure


It seems like every skincare product contains glycerin, doesn’t it? That’s because glycerin is a good humectant that can attract water from the environment into the skin, hydrating it. Together with mineral oil and petrolatum, it makes these thick creams godsends for dry skin.


Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone

I was disappointed to see that both the US version of Nivea Creme and, especially, Creme De La Mer use Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone as preservatives. People make a big fuss about parabens, even though there is no proof (at least yet) that they’re bad for our health, yet the ignore Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone, which are considered to be the most irritating preservatives used in skincare. Is that because their names are so difficult and impossible to remember that no one pays any attention to them? Well, if you have sensitive skin at least you should. Just so you can avoid them. It’s true that a lot of people can use them without experiencing any side effects, but even so, I’d have expected fancy Creme De La Mer to have a better, safer preservative system. Nivea is cheaper, so I’m more forgiving towards them.

Further considerations on the formulas

Those mentioned above aren’t the only ingredients all three creams have in common. They use the same emollients and thickening agents, such as Mycrocrystalline Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, and Magnesium Stearate. This means the base of Creme De La Mer and Nivea Creme (US version) is pretty much identical. The base of Creme De La mer and Nivea Creme (German version) instead is almost identical, the main difference being the lack of petrolatum in the latter.

However, these formulas aren’t identical. Creme De La Mer contains a bunch of antioxidants, which, at first sight, make it a much better option than the Nivea Creme. And they would, if only the cream weren’t packaged in a jar. Antioxidants are very delicate ingredients and they lose a bit of their efficacy every time they are exposed to light an air (every time you open the jar, basically). So, if you favour Creme De La Mer because of its antioxidant content, you’re wasting your money.

Creme De La Mer also contains seaweed extract, which undergoes a fermentation process that makes it produce lactic acid. Lactic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) that has exfoliant properties that can help skin look brighter, smoother and more even-toned. But there really is no need to spend so much for it.

Creme De La Mer Ingredients:

Seaweed (Algae) Extract, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Petrolatum, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Extract, Microcrystalline Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Magnesium Sulfate, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Seed Powder, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Meal, Sodium Gluconate, Potassium Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Calcium Gluconate, Magnesium Gluconate, Zinc Gluconate, Paraffin, Tocopheryl Succinate, Niacin, Beta-Carotene, Decyl Oleate, Aluminum Distearate, Octyldodecanol, Citric Acid, Cyanocobalamin, Magnesium Stearate, Panthenol, Limonene, Geraniol, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Benzyl Salicylate, Citral, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Alcohol Denat., Fragrance

Nivea Creme (German Version) Ingredients:

Aqua, Paraffinum Liquidum, Cera Microcristallina, Glycerin, Lanolin Alcohol (Eucerit®), Paraffin, Panthenol, Decyl Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Aluminum Stearates, Citric Acid, Magnesium Sulfate, Magnesium Stearate, Parfum, Limonene, Geraniol, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Citronellol, Benzyl Benzoate, Cinnamyl Alcohol

Nivea Creme (US Version) Ingredients:

Water, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Petrolatum, Glycerin, Microcrystalline Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, Beeswax (Apis Mellifera), Panthenol, Alcohol, Magnesium Sulfate, Decyl Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Aluminum Stearate, Fragrance, Citric Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone


Creme De La Mer, which costs an outragoeus $160 for 30ml, is available at Nordstrom and Harrods. Nivea Creme (US version) can be purchased at A 200ml jar costs only $7.49. The German version is available at Boots for £3.39.

The Bottom Line

Creme De La Mer and Nivea Creme are very similar but not exact dupes. They are both fairly basic moisturizers that make even the dryest of skin soft and smooth for hours. Creme De La Mer is slightly better because it contains seaweeds that produce lactic acid, but that’s not enough to justify the price tag. Personally, I’d go with Nivea and use the money so saved to buy a AHAs exfoliant or antioxidant rich serum. And, that way, I’d still have plenty of money left to splurge on makeup. ;)

Have you tried Creme De La Mer or Nivea Creme?