Empty Bottle Review: Joanna Vargas Daily Serum

Empty Bottle Review: Joanna Vargas Daily Serum

Living in NYC has presented plenty of challenges for my skin from pollution to the instant sheen of sweat I’m covered in after entering the subway (ick). This city is also home to some of the top skincare experts and one of them is Joanna Vargas. I had her Daily Serum on my list of products to try for months when I finally used up the vitamin C I had been working through and decided to bite the bullet.

I mean, anything dubbed “green juice for your face” was worth a try, am I right?

And let’s be clear. This serum is green. It also smells like those Flintstones vitamin C chewables we all took as kids, which is certainly not a bad thing. It has a gel-like texture and one pump was always enough for me to cover my face and neck. I would give it about 30 seconds to absorb before following with a moisturizer and didn’t experience any issues.

What I noticed most of all with Daily Serum is that it made me look fresher and more awake (much like I hope paying $10 for a bottle of green juice does). When I applied it, my skin was smoother and felt hydrated and fresh throughout the day. I layered it with both tinted moisturizer and regular moisturizer and added foundation on top sometimes. All applied smoothly and stayed put.

If you’re interested in adding a vitamin C product and a hyaluronic acid product to your routine, I suggest going for this one for the two-in-one benefit and saving a step (and some cash).

My one gripe would be the oil-balancing claim. I couldn’t say it made me any less shiny and I definitely wouldn’t call this product mattifying, so that was a bit of a letdown.

I would say the search continues on that front, but I think I just found the answer. Coming soon…

See what else I’ve used up here.

Empty Bottle Review: Environ Concentrated Retinol Serum 1

Empty Bottle Review: Environ Concentrated Retinol Serum 1

Whew… this summer left me faster than that high school soccer player who dumped me freshman year after I wouldn’t go to second base. It felt like we barely sat still this summer and today was the first morning where I walked to work and it really felt like fall was just around the corner. So, with the start of a new school year, I’m back with another review, this time for the Concentrated Retinol Serum 1 from Environ’s Focus Care Youth+ line.

It should come as no surprise I discovered this product through Rescue Spa, but since then Environ has become one of my favorite brands.

Retinol is everywhere these days and for good reason: she delivers. Like a mean girl with a sensitive side she can be tough, but deep down she’s there for you. I last used retinol back in 2014 but moved away from it after I felt like it wasn’t helping me anymore. But now that I’m post-30, I’m back on the sauce and happier than ever.

Retinol is your skin’s best friend after you turn 30. She fights those first wrinkles we’re trying to ignore and those fucking zits we’re still getting. Before you hit 30, I wouldn’t go the retinol route unless your dermatologist recommends it. I’ve seen much better results in this decade of my skincare life than I did the last and retinol can be harsh.

However, Environ’s Concentrated Retinol Serum 1 is a great entry into the world of retinol and all its pore-shrinking, wrinkle-reducing, dark spot-crushing, acne-fighting benefits. As the first serum of three in this series, which they call their STEP-UP SYSTEM™, it has the lowest amount of retinol, which is a form of vitamin A. It has wonderful texture, not watery but not a rich cream, and it absorbs really well. I didn’t experience any redness, dryness or peeling when I used it, even after moving from using it three times a week to nightly application.

The best part is this serum layers very well vitamin C. Vitamin A and vitamin C are soulmates for your face to help you achieve a brighter, more even complexion. They actually make each other work better. Like Chandler and Monica (sorry, Friends is my background noise). The key is to give the retinol 20 minutes to absorb before you add the vitamin C. If you’re short on time, they won’t not work, but you really get the benefits when your skin has time to suck up one serum before you add the other. I liked to add a moisturizer on top and then I was ready for bed.

Using this combo helped me wake up fresh faced and combat any painful hormonal zits. I’ve been on the anti-aging route for a while and was pleased to find a product that delivered results without any sting or discomfort. Just remember these two things:

  1. Skip the harsh toners/chemical exfoliants/physical exfoliants before applying retinol.
  2. Wear some goddamn sunscreen the next day.

Environ recommends using 2-3 bottles of each level before moving on to the next one. While I decided to try another brand of retinol for something stronger, I would certainly go back to this one.

If you’re ready to take it up a notch, I highly recommend jumping on the retinol bandwagon. Come on, everyone’s doing it.


Empty Bottle Review: Serum Amniotique E.

Empty Bottle Review: Serum Amniotique E.

I’m a sucker for an impulse purchase. Give me a good up-sell and I’ll probably bite. Within reason. For all my skin woes, I’m especially a sucker for a post-facial purchase. When my esthetician at Rescue Spa suggested Serum Amniotique E. from Biologique Recherche, I didn’t bat an eye at the $70 price tag (I know).

Ring that shit up.

She recommended I apply a few drops from this little vial at night at the end of my routine to give my winter skin a little extra love. But I decided to go another route.

I’ve known for a while hydrated skin is the best canvas for all the products that come after. So I decided to use this one after cleansing and toning and before my stronger serums. In particular, my retinol, to help prevent irritation. Because this serum has a very thin, watery texture, it made sense to apply it before creams or gels so my skin would get the most out of it.

I used just three drops for my entire face and my skin sucked it up in seconds. Everything else I applied after absorbed just as well.

I can attest Serum Amniotique E. got me through the winter without any dry skin (usually this pops up around my mouth and on my chin). But that’s about it. No adverse side effects and it made a great base for my other products, but I have to say I’ve gotten the same results from much cheaper options, like this one. I would imagine someone with more sensitive skin might see a greater benefit, but this greasy face didn’t really need it.

It definitely hasn’t turned me away from BR products (if you haven’t noticed already) but I’ll probably leave this splurge behind.

Empty Bottle Review: Biologique Recherche Quintessential Serums

Empty Bottle Review: Biologique Recherche Quintessential Serums

I used to think when it came to serums, it was a one-and-done type deal when it came to application. That you had to find the one product that either did it all or settle on treating just one thing at a time. Then, I started using Biologique Recherche and really learned the art of layering products, which is where their Quintessential Serums come in.

The Quintessential Serums are the OGs, the ride or dies, the serums you use to build the foundation of your routine. They are great for layering throughout your routine and highly concentrated. Since they don’t contain any perfumes — only natural ingredients — they (like all BR products) have a strong smell. In short, they’re great for anyone who wants to avoid added fragrances and dyes, but they take some getting used to.

The two Biologique Recherche serums I’ve come to love are Serum Placenta and Serum Complexe Iribiol. I use them in the morning after cleansing and toning.

First, I press four drops of Serum Complexe Iribiol into my skin, which contains zinc and iris extract. These ingredients make it a potent serum for balancing acnegenic skin. It’s recommended as a spot treatment, but I found using it all over was the best approach to help get my hormonal breakouts under control and keep new ones from popping up. It can also help with scarring.

After that absorbs (it only takes a few seconds) I go for the smelly stepsister, Serum Placenta. I refuse to live without this one and also use four drops. Serum Placenta promotes healing thanks to placental biostimulin protein extracts, making it ideal for those annoying marks acne leaves behind and other blemishes. You can also use it around your eyes for dark circles or on the marks ingrown hairs leave behind after shaving. Ugh.

Once both of these are dry, I will layer a spot treatment on top if I have a zit, otherwise I’ll move onto my moisturizer and sunscreen. This combo has made a phenomenal difference in my skin to clear it up without drying it out. They both actually calm my skin, reducing redness and they’ve never made me dry.

When purchasing these serums, I definitely recommend starting with a small bottle, since they’re pricey and you want to make sure you like them. They also expire in about six months.

I was told during my recent facial to move onto Serum Dermopore from Biologique Recherche now that my skin has cleared up. I’m a little nervous to leave Serum Iribiol behind but I’ll keep you posted…

What did we learn today? LAYER THAT SHIT UP.

See what else I’ve used up here.