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: Glossier Solution

Empty Bottle Review: Glossier Solution

If you’re a follower of this blog, you know I’m a toner girl. I have been loyal to these stinky, burning potions since I hit puberty and honestly can’t imagine my skincare routine not including one. I was so excited to try Glossier’s new Solution I bought it way before I was even out of my current formula.

I had seen the rave reviews, the beautifully curated Instagram posts. I wanted it to be better than more expensive toners I tried.

It was good, but not as good as I wanted it to be.

I decided to use Solution at night to prep my skin for my stronger serums. I also tend to work out at night so I like a really deep clean to get rid of any sweat and lingering makeup residue (PLEASE REMOVE YOUR MAKEUP BEFORE EXERCISE. YOUR PORES ARE SCREAMING.)

One of the things Glossier does particularly well is packaging. I love the push down pump top of this product since I seem to constantly have butter hands that drop everything. I used 3-5 pumps to moisten (ew) a cotton round and then applied it to my face and neck.

I got quite the tingle from this product. While this doesn’t scare me, I don’t necessarily enjoy it. As I’ve gotten older and (maybe) wiser, I’ve learned skincare doesn’t have to hurt to work. But I didn’t notice any lingering redness, tightness or dryness so I won’t knock it for the burn.

The product absorbed quickly and I was able to layer all my products on top (including retinol) without any discomfort.

Based on all the reviews, I expected this pink bottle to keep hormonal breakouts at bay. Sadly, I still experienced some breakouts around my chin and jawline. Maybe for someone with a more consistent, all-over breakout this product will deliver those results, but after trying Solution and the Zit Stick, I’m just not that impressed with Glossier’s anti-acne efforts tbh.

Is it a quality toner at a reasonable price? For sure. But I remain loyal to my expensive, smelly P50 1970, the best toner I know.


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: Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

Empty Bottle Review: Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

I am NOT a morning person. So when I find something to look forward to at 7 am, that’s something. My favorite morning product currently the Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser, a product I tend to repurchase again and again.

The first thing that got me about the Brightening Cleanser was the smell. I loved the fresh, sweet smell from the strawberry seed oil in the formula. Like, worried I had Pica loved it. The scent helps to wake me up in the morning and I can safely report I haven’t eaten it.

Next up, this product has two uses. You can apply the cleanser to wet skin and start lathering right away for your normal 30 to 60-second wash or you can use Brightening Cleanser as a mask. Sometimes I’ll apply a thin layer to my dry skin before hopping in the shower, giving it 5 minutes to work it’s magic before I rinse it off.

The strawberry seed oil is combined with tomato extract and hydrolyzed wheat protein and coconut. This formula provides antioxidants like vitamin C and lycopene to help even the complexion. I find it gives my skin a gentle morning cleanse without stripping any of my natural moisture (god knows my pores make enough of it) and makes me look more awake. Every step of my routine applies smoothly afterwards and I arrive to work looking like I got more sleep than I probably did.

I adore this natural cleanser so much I made sure to purchase a travel size before our recent vacation to make sure I didn’t have to go two weeks without it.

If you’re in need of a morning pick me up, I highly recommend the Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser to help you start your day. It reminds me of that old school Strawberry Shortcake toy smell and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Empty Bottle Review: Era Organics Revive+ Scrub

Empty Bottle Review: Era Organics Revive+ Scrub

I’ve always been hesitant when it comes to face scrubs. As an acne sufferer, I’ve always thought scrubs would be make it worse. And while I still don’t advocate using an abrasive scrub on a very active breakout, I was pleasantly surprised by how well my skin tolerated Era Organics Revive+ Microdermabrasion Face Scrub.

Included in one of the LadyGang’s awesome boxes, this scrub peaked my interest because of one of its main ingredients, Manuka honey. This super honey is always in our house because of its skin-soothing and healing properties. Sore throat? Manuka honey in tea. Burn yourself on a curling iron or skillet? Manuka honey will stop the pain and help avoid a painful blister. Era Organics included Manuka honey in this scrub to fight bacteria, moisturize and firm the skin.

There’s also aloe vera and rapeseed oil in there and if microbeads hurt your hippie heart, not to worry — the little scrubbers in this product are actually broken up walnut shells. Like Andrew Zimmern, I can’t really stand walnuts (they just taste greasy to me, ew) but they left my skin so incredibly smooth and it didn’t feel like they were damaging my skin.

This is what I liked so much about this scrub from Era Organics. Using it 2-3 times a week at night helped brighten my complexion and gently remove dead skin so every product I applied afterwards absorbed better. No tightness. No burning when I followed with a toner a la Home Alone. My skin was moisturized and refreshed afterwards, not red and angry.

I chose not to use it as a mask which you certainly could, especially if you have an active breakout. You’ll still get the benefits of these amazing ingredients and washing it away with your hands will provide a bit of gentle exfoliation.

When an esthetician told me to add a scrub to my routine, I originally thought she was just trying to sell me something, but the Revive+ scrub from Era Organics was a sweet, all-natural surprise my skin ended up being thankful for.

See what else I’ve used up here.