First Use Perricone MD High Potency Face Finishing and Firming Toner

This product was sent to be by BzzAgent for the purpose of review. As always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Everything I have used from Perricone MD I have really enjoyed. One was actually a makeup Item. It was the No Makeup Lipstick. It has a light really natural look wash of color and SPF 15 mixed in. I tend to forget that lips need sunscreen too and when I when I know I am going to be out in the sun, this lipstick is a life saver. Just make sure your pay attention to the expiration date, because when this product expires it is done.

The other two items I used were skincare. Both were eye creams and both were really good. The Hypoallergenic CBD Sensitive Skin Hydrating eye cream was really nice however the Cold Plasma firming eye cream was out of this world fantastic. So I was absolutely thrilled when BzzAgent sent this bottle to me to try. The Perricone MD High Potency Face Finishing and Firming Toner is…

This daily, rose-scented lightweight toner gently sloughs off dead skin cells & unclogs pores of impurities, oil & dirt while visibly tightening, smoothing & reducing the look of enlarged pores for a firmer, more refined, even-looking complexion. Revitalizes, hydrates & soothes, leaving skin looking radiant, refreshed & healthy.

This is a first use post, so the pictures in this post are really going to be a base line for comparison after thirty days. There were some notables from the first use though so lets get into that.

It is, first off, a toner. Toners are used after you wash and dry tour face to make suer that every drop of dirt, makeup and other gunk is gone from your skin before you continue. The best toners also have extra skincare properties. The toner pad I am using is reusable and light blue. While my skin was clean with the first use, I did notice that there was a slight darkening to the toner pad after use that is deeper than just the wetness of the product on the pad. That is generally what happens when I use an exfoliating toner or really any chemical exfoliant actually. I’m guessing it is the dead skin cells and other particles being removed. (I will pick up a small pack of disposable cotton rounds for a better look in the follow up post. with both the color and nap of the reusable rounds the details are lost if you aren’t in person.

The scent is Rose, but it is a light, natural scented rose. If you really have an aversion to rose scents you won’t like it, but for me it was light enough and it dissipated quickly enough that I didn’t have to worry about the scent for too long.

There are AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) in the toner. AHA’s are really good chemical exfoliants. My skin always reacts well to it. Initially I do get a little pinking of my skin. So I will look flushed right after I use it and then the flushed feeling/look will fade. This was no different. I applied the toner to my skin and about the time I set the toner pad down, my face started to flush.

The red flush lasted only the length of time that it took for the toner to dry down on the skin. This isn’t a product you wash off, it is one that you let dry down and then continue on with your skin care. After my skin dried I did run my fingers over my skin to see how it felt when it was dry, Many items with AHAs can leave your skin feeling a bit sticky.

This did not feel sticky at all. The toner dried down and my skin felt silky soft. usually after I apply an AHA my skin is more than ready for a moisturizer. To me it always feels as though with the older dead skin and gunk cleared off the new skin feels just a little too exposed, Like someone unexpectedly pulled the blankets off of you on a cold morning when you weren’t quite ready to get up. I think of adding the moisturizer right after like adding on thick fuzzy socks to suddenly cold feet.

Except that i didn’t have that feeling with this Perricone MD High Potency Face Finishing and Firming Toner. I think that might be the soothing effect of the rose water. I know rose does help soothe and settle my skin, which is why I was not really surprised that the AHA redness disappeared so quickly. I thought it was probably due to the rose and it’s vitamin C infused goodness, which it probably was. But that some goodness also made my skin feel comforted after the exfoliation. I still applied the rest of my skincare but my skin felt clean and soft instead of cleaned and stripped back.

I can say that with a single use I know it is a good toner. For the other skin care benefits, only time will tell. But I am more than happy to keep using this toner and hope that with regular use the other skincare benefits will come along. For now, this is how my skin stands as the Perricone trial begins. It will be interesting to see the thirty day comparison photos’ as the product really settles down to work. But for now I am just happy with its use as a toner. I am hoping for good results though. And I will admit that hopes are high, not only from how the first day turned out but because I hae always had fabulous results from the brand.

LovelySkin Valentine's Day Gift Guide 2023

Top Toners

That’s right the list of 2022 Favorites continues with the toners. There are three that fell into this category. All three I would use again. The Thayers of course is a long time favorite and has been for a few years, so Le’ts start with that.

1- Thayer’s Facial Toner in Rose Petal

  • you may see the name and think, I don’t like rose’. It doesn’t actually smell like rose. The rose inclusion just takes the edge off of the witch hazel. Personally I really like witch hazel in my toners. It not only helps remove the left over makeup bits but it sooths the skin. Incidentally witch hazel is great on minor skin irritations like those caused by poison ivy. It was a huge part of my childhood and it stillmakes a great toner.

2- Byroe Bitter Greens Toning Essence

  • this is sort of a combination of toner and essence and honestly one of the few multi purpose products that really does both well. It works as a great toner and it is an excellent essence. It removes the last remnant of dirt and makeup and opens the pores to get them ready to recieve the following skincare benefits. It even feels thicker than just a liquid when you dispense it on to a toner pad. This is a fantastic product and one I will reach for a lot moving forward.

3- Alpha H Liquid Gold

  • This is an exfoliating toner that you should only use every other day instead of every day. It is a chemical exfoliant rather than a physical one so there are no rough bits to it. It does exfoliate well and it is gentle enough to use every other day, just don’t use it more often or you run the risk of over exfoliating. Also skip any other exfoliators when you are using this (for the same reason). It is a great products and like the Byroe one of the few good two in one products that I have tried.

I know it is a short list, but most of the toners I tried were just simply useful while they were there and not worth the trouble of picking up, These three were fantastic. And while two of them are pricy, the best general toner is the Thayer’s which can be picked up at target for relatively little money. the other two are treats for the skin but the Thayer’s is the day in and day out product I turn to. Somehow it always tickles me when that happens. I think it is just proof that not all expensive things are good and not all inexpensive ones are bad. It just tickles my soul to be reminded of that every now and again.


Reviewing the Akar Skin Balancing Toning Mist

For the past three or so months I have been using the Akar Skin Balancing Toning Mist as my toner. Because I am using the Byroe Toning Essence in the mornings, I have only been using this in the evenings. I actually chose to put it in the evenings and not in the mornings due to the product, but I’ll get into that as we discuss my thoughts on using it.

I know Toners aren’t the sexiest category of skin care. They are often skipped and not really talked about. They are however important. what they do is make certain that every last little bit of makeup that your cleanser might have left behind is gone. In fact you know your cleanser is working by looking at the proof on your toner pads. But they are more than just cleanser insurance. They help restore your skin’s PH balance and can help improve the texture of your skin. The right toner can also help add backup to the serums that you plan to follow with after you’ve finished toning.

I am personally a big fan of them.

Well I’m a big fan of the right toners anyway.

So let’s look a little closer at the Akar Skin Balancing Toning Mist.

This alcohol-free, 100% vegan, hydrating toner was deemed the “Holy Water” by Allure magazine. Rose and Neroli flower waters form the base for our superfoods formula, creating a non-sticky mist that both improves elasticity and maintains the pH level of the skin at optimum.

In addition, Balance also enhances the skin’s ability to absorb nutrients thanks to anti-microbial and exfoliating salicylic acid from White Willow Bark, which prevents build-up in pores; as well as antioxidants and carotenoids from Saffron stem cell extracts, which aid the skin in repairing and regenerating. Balance is the ultimate staple for all skincare routines and skin types.

Full Ingredients: *Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Water, *Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Flower Water, Aqua, Salix Alba (White Willow) Bark Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Crocus Sativus Meristem (Saffron) Cell Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment
*Organic or Wildharvested

Okay this is an ingredient list I like. It is short and to the point without a lot of extras cluttering up the space with hard to pronounce words. Seven ingredients in total including water. Water as we all know is good for the skin and since there were no claimes put to the water (like minerality or special sourcing) we’ll just leave it with: Water Good and break down the other six ingredients. Are you ready? Fabulous.

Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Water: In general a flower water is a diluted version of an essential oil derived from a flower. In this case rose, it still has some of the same qualities as the essential oil, but less concentrated and tends to cause less sensitivity.  Rose flower water has been used in skincare for literally centuries and contains some antioxidant and antimicrobial compounds, as well as some fragrant components. (don’t worry we’ll cover secnet after we run through the ingredients.)

Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Flower Water: Like the Rose, this is a flower water, although derived from Neroli. While this does have some skin toning benefits (although every source I looked into was vague about what they were) it is mostly there for scent as the scent has been known to promote relaxation.

Salix Alba (White Willow) Bark Extract: This is an anti-inflammatory and was actually used as the precursor to aspirin. Most of what I have found has been about new studies regarding its use in pain relief. This Ingredient Spotlight suggests that it is helpful in diminishing wrinkles, always a plus in my book.

Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate is an antimicrobial preservative that also moisturizes and conditions the skin. I’ve used this in several different products and I tend to like seeing it on a list.

Crocus Sativus Meristem (Saffron) Cell Extract has anti inflammatory properties and in addition to being one of the most expensive spices in the world, saffron may actually have anti-aging and possibly even anti-cancer benefits. I went down a rabbit hole with medical journals on that one. No one seemed to be conclusive, but it is an interesting group of studies. I suspect if it is true the cost of saffron will go up as well. But that is another discussion. Since so many ingredients are demonized for the possibility of causing cancer it is nce to see something that is being studied for helping to prevent it. I’m sure it is is here for the anti-aging parts but I just thought that was neat. (and yes I am geek enough to go diving into the medical studies over the weekend when i have a little more time.)

Lactobacillus Ferment is a probiotic with anti-acne benefits.

Okay so those are our ingredients and I have to say the list looks good. But a list can look as fabulous as it wants, it is how it works that matters. First off, as I am sure you can see from the above photo and probably guessed from the term mist in the name, it is a spray toner. I’ll admit, at first I didn’t like spray toners. They are however growing on me. This one sprays well and evenly. I also have to say I love the frosted orange glass bottle that it comes in. It is really pretty and looks luxe as well as feels luxe in the hand. I know, looks shouldn’t matter, but I feel really fancy using it.

The scent is predominantly neroli with a hint of floral from the rose. It is far more orange than rose. I know some people have issues with the Rose scent, but it really just keeps the neroli from smelling like orange juice. The scent is, in my opinion, lovely. It lightly lists on the skin and then I take a reusable round to wipe off the excess and remove the last of the dirt and makeup residue from my skin.

Here is the trick with this toner though. If you are too heavy handed with the spray, your face will feel sticky and it will take forever for the toner left behind from the cotton rounds to absorb into your skin. This is one of the reasons I started using it only at night. I have more time in the evenings and to be honest I like breaking my nightly routine down into sections and drawing it out. Don’t get me wrong, some nights I am exhausted enough to just wash my face and slap some moisturizer on before falling into bed, but most nights I kind of luxuriate in a lengthy night time ritual. It helps me unwind before bed and is sometimes the only quiet time in the day.

So the fact that I have to wait for the toner to settle down a bit isn’t a problem in the night time routine.

And it is very easy to apply too much (because the spray feels nice) and to get a little sticky.

Beyond that, my skin really loved it. I had a couple of days where there was too much sun (even though I did use sunblock) and this toner did help calm and sooth my skin as well as take off the remnants of the day. I was over all very impressed with it. I will continue using the toner until it is gone and add it to my products to repurchase list. I will still only use it at night however as it does need more time to settle than I generally have in the morning. Over all though, I am happy to have this Akar Skin Balancing Toning Mist in my skincare routine and will certainly look into other products by the brand for future skincare trials.

Cruelty-Free Beauty Box

Derma – E Essentials Toner Review

The Derma E Essentials Radiance toner is a trial size that came to me in a Beauty Box recently. I have to say I was very eager to give it a try.  I’ve seen Derma E around for a while, but never managed to pick anything up from the brand so I was curious to try it.  I’d heard pretty good reports about the brand and it has been on my list to try out for a while. In case you are wondering about cost, at Lovely Skin, where I end up picking up a lot of skincare products actually (because I can add multiple brands to the cart at the same time and lock in on good sales) the full sized Derma E toner retails for $14.95. Currently it is on sale for $10.47.  

Personally, I happen to like toners.

I know toners are sort of the blah category of skin care.  They aren’t as debated as moisturizers and not as sexy as serums, and they are often forgotten. They are quite useful in a good skin care regime, though.  Their first (and primary role in my book) task is to provide back up to your cleanser. Your cleanser says it’s taking off all of your makeup, but the toner is going to come along behind it and make sure the job is well done. It’s like your cleanser’s supervisor. The toner helps you know if your cleanser needs a promotion and a raise or if they aren’t worth their salary (ie. Retail cost) and need the boot.

As it checks in on the cleanser, it provides your skin a hit of other skin care benefits.  What those are depends on the toner.

The Derma E I’ve been testing out for the past month promises…

Our alcohol-free, exfoliating, beauty toner with Glycolic Acid helps to tone, tighten and brighten for a soft, smooth and luminous appearance. A must-have essential for radiant-looking skin. Benefit:  Tighten and brighten for a soft, smooth and luminous appearance 

All in all it sounds pretty good.  So let’s look at the actual product. First up, because it is me, we will take a sniff from the top.  I’m sure there is some product somewhere that I won’t automatically sniff when opening, but thus far I haven’t come across it. 

(I even sniff the coffee jar every morning when I open it even though it doesn’t really change.  Admittedly that is partially because one year my aunt decided to substitute my regular coffee with the hazelnut blend she preferred and it caught me off guard.  I’ve been checking ever since.)

The scent is very floral.  It is best described as a general floral mix that leans heavily towards rose.  While the scent isn’t completely overpowering, it is very noticeable.  It also lasts.  It isn’t the sort of scent that dissipates as soon as you close the bottle.  The scent is on the toner pad and as you apply it, you are surrounded the entire time you are using the product. While this isn’t my favorite scent, it isn’t a deal breaker scent either.

For me a deal breaker scent is the one where even if I knew a product worked really well I would find reasons not to use it because of it’s scent. While this isn’t a scent I would naturally be drawn to, it isn; one I would avoid if I purchased a full sized bottle.

Just the toner on the cotton round

Of more concern is the color of the toner.  I know that sounds really strange, but stick with me a moment. When I dispensed it on to the cotton round, the white cotton was immediately stained a tannish color. (it is more noticeable in person than in the pic, but can still be seen there.)

Since one of the primary functions of a toner is to let you know how well your makeup removers worked by taking off the last traces I wasn’t too keen on the color of the toner. Foundation is usually the last product standing and the one the toner has to clean up after.  I do judge my cleansers based on how much foundation is left on the toner pad. The problem is that the toner is kind of a tannish color on the cotton and the foundation is sort of a tannish color on the toner pad.

You see the issue?

With a little practice i was able to work with it. I mostly had to use the toner on my face a few times when I wasn’t wearing any form of makeup to see how the cotton round looked after being used in general so that it was easier to see left over product. Also as I do a double cleanse the amount of product left on my skin by the time i get to the toner isn’t usually a lot. But it was a relatively quick adjustment to make. It’s just a personal preference more than anything else. I tend to favor toners that are clear.

But in addition to policing the cleanser, the toner has other benefits. This particular one is supposed to tighten and brighten with the glycolic acid doing the heavy lifting in that department. Glycolic acid breaks down the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin and sweeps them away. This did a pretty good job of that.  My skin did not have any dull patches or dry spots appear during my trial.  I wouldn’t say I was luminous but my skin looked clean and fresh. In the end, it is a very good toner.

Because of the color of the fluid and the scent, it isn’t going to be my favorite go-to toner, but I can say that I don’t mind using it and wouldn’t mind picking it up again. In fact, the travel sized toner wouldn’t be a bad addition to my travel bag, once I pack it up again (I took my travel bag apart so I could use up the products and not have them go bad while waiting for me to travel again).  Glycolic Acid toners are where I tend to lean when traveling as it is an ingredient that really seems to help my skin out when I travel.

The color is a personal annoyance, but after working with it a bit (using the toner when I didn’t have foundation on) I was okay with it.  If you have issues with floral scents, specifically rose, I would recommend avoiding it.  Otherwise, it is a decent toner, sold at a decent price and I wouldn’t mind using it again.

Pixi Skin Treats Clarity Tonic Clarifying Toner

I picked up this Pixi Skin Treats Clarity Tonic Clarifying toner because Target was out of the Pixi Glow Tonic that I actually went in to buy.  I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t like this toner.  The simple reason was that I was used to the exfoliating toner and while I was using it, my skin looked really good.  I had some sort of magical combination of products in the late summer early fall that just made my skin fabulous.  Then the weather changed and what worked for me at that time started to not work as well for me.

Because this was the point where I ran out of the Pixi Toner I was using and picked up the new Clarity Tonic, I was inadvertently harsh on this toner for the first week I used it.  I just started using it at the wrong time.  But I pushed through and adjusted my skin care routine for the seasons and the products I was using.  I made up for the lack of exfoliating toner and used a different exfoliator and jiggled things around a bit for the seasonal change. I was on pretty good footing.

Then I started having to wear masks more. 

Not that I wasn’t wearing them before, cause I was.  I just wasn’t leaving the house all that much so the mask time was limited.  For the past month or so things have called me out of the house more.  Holiday and birthday shopping, meetings, fall garden needs and several things needed for home repair pre winter as well as the regular grocery shopping all meant more time in a mask.

It all added up, and my skin started to show it.  While I am prone to clogged pores on the lower curve of my orbital bone, the mask just makes it worse.  I also started getting clogged pores and whiteheads on my chin. This is where this Toner came in really handy.  According to the Pixi site…

Clarifying tonic with potent AHAs, Antioxidants, and balancing Probiotics helps to clear skin and minimize the appearance of pores.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Propanediol, Glycerin, Sodium PCA, Betaine, Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Glycolic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Salicylic Acid, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Centella Asiatica Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugarcane) Extract/Extrait de Canne à Sucre, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract, Lactic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol

Pixi Beauty

I can’t say that it did much for the enlarged pores on my cheeks. But oh my darlings, this did amazingly well on my clogged pores under the eyes along the mask line and on my chin.   I went from not really liking this toner to absolutely adoring this toner. It is a clear liquid in case you are wondering why there are no pictures really just showing the product. It just looks like water.

Now I am about a week away from emptying this bottle of toner.  Surprisingly, I have three other toners (not Pixi) lined up in my skin care drawer and ready to test out.  I rarely keep toner backups in the drawer to be honest.

So even though I will not need to run out and pick up a toner as soon as this runs out, I will be very sad to see it go and will be soon picking up another bottle of this.  To be honest at this point in time, this may actually be better than the Pixi exfoliating toner I used before.  I think as long as I am using the masks, having a product like this on hand may just be a good idea for me. I will certainly be buying this toner again.


Superfoods Box

Using the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads

Until this year the last time I used pre-moistened toner pads was back in middle and high school where they were acne fighting toner pads.  Then I picked up the Elemis exfoliating tone pads and I thought, Wow, what have I been missing?  I really liked them, so I was thrilled when another set of toner pads, the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Toner Pads came my way via a subscription box.  I had other products to work through and since I know they tend to start drying out once you open them, I held off for a while before opening to give this a try. 

Recently I had a very good experience with the Coconut Water gel cream from First Aid Beauty.  I tried a sample and instantly wished it was a full sized version.  It is high on my list of full sizes to pick up in the near future.  So because of both my recent positive experiences with both toner pads and First Aid Beauty, I was excited to try these out.  But first, let’s see what the product is supposed to do.

A daily treatment pad that contains just the right amount of Lactic and Glycolic Acids to safely and effectively exfoliate, tone, and brighten all skin types, including sensitive. Facial Radiance Pads are safe for daily use by all skin types—even sensitive. Cucumber and Indian Gooseberry help tone skin while Lemon Peel and Licorice Root leave the complexion looking bright and glowing. Regular use of these pads will smooth the skin’s texture—providing the perfect canvas for flawless makeup application.

FULL INGREDIENTS: Water/Aqua/Eau, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Chrysanthemum Parthenium Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Polysorbate 20, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, Citrus Nobilis Fruit Extract, Citrus Limon Peel Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, EDTA, Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

First Aid Beauty

Okay, so I broke the seal holding all the moisture into the toner pads and committed to using them until they were gone.

Thin but slight textured for light exfoliation

First, the scent.  They smell vaguely like soap but other wise, I could detect no real scent to them. The toner pads themselves are a little thin and have the tendency to roll up on themselves when you swipe across the face, but this isn’t a major issue and easily fixed when it happens. They are textured which provides a nice light exfoliation, helping to sweep away the dirt and makeup.

The pads themselves are a little wetter than I would like and they do leave a fair amount of serum on the skin. I found myself patting my face dry after using them because the serum used in the product isn’t one that absorbs well into the skin. At least not my skin.  I think it is a serum designed to exfoliate, not really absorb.

I will say my skin did look good while using these toner pads.  The Facial Radiance Pads from FAB are safe to use daily.  On my skin there was no problem using them daily, and they did help with texture issues.  Most of my texture is caused by clogged pores creating bumps under the skin. The serum in these pads did a very good job clearing out those clogged pores and giving the skin a much smoother appearance.

However, the serum left my skin feeling sticky.  I have looked over the ingredients list multiple times, but I cannot identify the culprit.  But whatever it is, my skin felt sticky.  What I found myself doing with these pads the longer I used them was to use a cleansing oil or balm to remove my makeup, then use the Facial Radiance Pads, then I would wait a little while, leaving the bathroom to do other things before bed, and then coming back washing my face with my regular cleanser, then toning and following with serum and moisturizer.  I just could not leave the serum from these toner pads on my skin without feeling like I needed to wash it.  So I gave it a little time to work it’s magic and then washed it off to continue with my routine.

Used this way, the Facial Radiance Pads were extremely effective.  It required a little thinking and planning to use them to their full advantage, but they were effective.  They are kind of like the prima donna of the skin care routine.  You have to schedule them and give them their space.  Then they will perform.

This leaves me with divided thoughts on this product as I finally finish the last Facial Radiance Pad in my little jar.  Do they work? Yes.  Would I mind keeping them around? No, not at all.  I think they would be nice to keep around.  I just wouldn’t use them everyday.  And there is the issue.  Because  pre-moistened toner pads start to dry out as soon as you open them and so you have to pretty much commit to using them every day once you open the product or you risk wasting them as they dry out.  That is just their nature. 

Now there is a compromise.

The full sized version of this product contains 60 toner pads.  The smaller size (which I have) is 28 toner pads. While for me, the large would just be too many, I could see getting the smaller 28 ct jar ad using it the month before a big event.  I could see opening it a month before my skin needed to look it’s best and then adjusting my skin care routine around just for that month.  It means that all of the pads could be used before they dry out and I wouldn’t have to commit to a two month ritual.  While the 60 ct jar is $34, the $28 ct jar is only $17.  I could very much see myself adding this to my pre even prep a month before the event, especially at that price. I just know I wouldn’t use them on a daily basis.

Peter Thomas Roth has two sales starting today that you might want to take advantage of. The first is BOGO Masks (buy 1 mask get one 30% off). This deal runs through 10/31 and you will need to use the coupon code  BOGOMASK at checkout. I highly recommend the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask as it is one of my favorites. It smells fabulous and works fantastically.

The second sale is the Fall Back Sale 20% off Sitewide. It starts today and runs through november 1st. You would use the Coupon Code: FALLBACK for this one. In addition to the Pumpkin Enzyme mask I would recommend the PTR Skin to Die For Primer and the Hungarian Thermal Water Mineral Rich Moisturizer. All three are on my to be purchased list. I am also thinking of the mask set (pictured below as a christmas gift this year for a cousin who loves skin care as much as I do (and in fact recommended the Pumpkin Enzyme mask to me in the first place)

My Current Skin Care Line Up

I know I talk a lot about different products, but I thought you might find it interesting to see the full regime as it stands now.  First off, I ought to say that I have a staggered rotation system for skin care. I like to have an older product I’ve been using for a while roll into my trial for a new product so that I’m not changing out every item at the same time. 

For example I am currently testing three Timeless Skin products (gifted to me by Timeless Skin for testing and review purposes for which I am extremely grateful).  The Hyaluronic Acid Serum I have been using for two weeks now (Labor day started week three so I will be reviewing it on the 21st after 30 days of use), while the while the Squalane Oil from Timeless skin is just starting its second week of use and the HA Spray is on its first full week of use.

The same can also be said for my Purlisse Blue Lotus 4-in-1 Cleansing Milk.  I used it for a month but will use it a little bit longer since I just started with the HA spray. I’ll use the same cleanser while I figure out how everything reacts and then I’ll start a new cleanser trial.  I generally find that staggering new products keeps my skin from freaking out with the new so I get a more accurate opinion about how things work.

Now I do have one disclaimer, my skin care routine is slightly jumbled a bit because I am trying to get in several workouts  and don’t want to just sweat off my products, so I’ll try to put those in here as well.

current cleanser

In the mornings, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I am trying to get in about twenty minutes of strength and flexibility training.  This is mostly with youtube videos, wii fit and yoga.  It is done in doors and because I have the tendency to talk myself out of it, I find it is easier to start with the workout before I’m fully awake.  So on those mornings I splash water on my face to rinse off the remnants of my night cream, towel off and after dressing, do my planned work out.

Get free products and coupons with the Purlisse Perks program

After I turn on the coffee pot and cool down a bit, I start in on my morning skin care. I start by washing my face, currently with the Purlisse Blue Lotus 4-in-1 Cleansing milk. 


I then use a toner.  I just finished the Akar Balancing Toning Mist and am now trying the Pixi Skin Treats Clarity Tonic.  Typically with Pixi I tend to go for their exfoliating toners so this was a new one for me.  While early in my use thus far I have been liking it.


After toning I use a serum on my face, neck and decollete.  Currently, the serum I am trying out is the Timeless Hyaluronic Acid Serum.  And I did remember to take before pictures this time so I will have before and after photos from 30 days of use. 

I’ve actually noticed a positive change actually, but I will get into details with the full review.  At the moment I can say that I really like this serum and am turning into a pretty big fan of Hyaluronic Acid in skincare.

After I apply the serum, I brush my teeth while it takes it’s time settling in.  While this serum sinks in fast, I really like to give it a little extra time to settle in before I move on. You can probably see it in the background of the above photo but I am a big fan of the Aquafresh Extreme Clean toothpaste.  It has been my go-to for years.  I like the taste better than I like the regular aqua fresh.  Although sometimes the foaming can be a bit much.  But it is a good toothpaste.


Then once I have wiped up all of the toothpaste fall out, I apply my eye cream.  Currently I am using the Glossy box Skin Care Eye Boost Cream (I’ve almost finished my month of use so a review will be coming soon).  With eye cream I not only use it around my eyes, but on the fine lines around my lips. 

The same formulation that helps eye cream work on the delicate tissue around the eyes also helps it on the fine lines around the lips. It was one of my grandmother’s favorite tricks and one I use increasingly as I get older.  In its own way that skin is just as delicate as the eyes and a little extra help in fighting those lines doesn’t hurt.

Squalane Oil

After the eye cream I use the oil.  At the moment I am using the Timeless 100% Squalane oil.  Oddly enough, I am finding that I can use it both morning and night unlike many other oils which I have only been able to use at night.  I think it’s because squalane’s main purpose is to simply lock in moisture and it really is just one type of oil (it’s also a really affordable oil as these things go). I’ve just started using it so I’ll have to see how it works moving forward.  Right now I am really enjoying it.  I use three drops and apply it to my skin and then follow with my moisturizer. I like applying the oil first rather than blending it in with the moisturizer. No real reason, it is just what I prefer.


The moisturizer I am currently using is the Dior Dream Skin Capture Totale. It was sent to me by Influenster and comes in a refillable container.  I can already tell you I am going to want to get a refill.

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At the moment it is running about even in my moisturizer preferences with the Peter Thomas Roth Hungarian Thermal Water Mineral Rich Moisturizer and the Volition Celery Green Cream. 

Those three may be my top three moisturizers of 2020 at this point.  Still the year is not over.


Speaking of Volition, after I apply the moisturizer I top it off with my Volition Prismatic Luminizing shield with SPF 50. I keep trying other sunscreens and I keep going back to this one.

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You will notice there is a second sunscreen in the picture however.  This is the Polaar Fluide Solaire also with SPF 50. While it is a good sunscreen, I don’t like it on my face.  It feels just a little too heavy.  It is perfect for my neck and upper chest where v-neck t-shirts expose the skin and I have really been enjoying using it there to give my skin some extra protection. 

lip masks, the maple day cream is in the tube and the night mask is in the jar.

I then add my Bite Beauty Agave Lip mask in the scent Maple to my lips.  It really does smell like maple syrup.  And it tasks kind of like it too.  I generally find that not only does it keep my lips wonderfully soft but the scent makes me feel like I’ve already indulged in some delectable treat and thus makes it less likely that I will feel like snacking.  I sort of feel Like I’ve already snacked.

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And skin care done I sit at my desk and get a few hours of work done.  I don’t put makeup on at this point as my meetings tend to be in the afternoon and I still have my daily walk to get through.  All my skin care has a couple of hours to soak in though. 

Then I take my walk.  Before I leave the house I spray myself all over with a spray sunblock.  I’m partial to one from Neutrogena. Even with the sunblock underneath, I like to be extra careful, especially after my bad burn earlier in the spring.

In general I sweat profusely during my walks.  Which is fine.  I like to think of the seat as encouraging my weight loss.  However I am a mess when I return.  While I often employ the Busy Beauty Showerless wipes to get me through until I can take my evening shower, and have various ways of dealing with my hair, my face is a different matter. 

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If I don’t wash my face after my walk I am just going to feel gross the rest of the day.  But I don’t want to strip my skin.  So I tend to use a gentle cleanser that will just wash away the sweat (and sometimes pollen) residue from my walk in the park/walking trail. 

Post work out cleanser

The cleanser I have consistently used for a while has been the Olay Cleanse Gentle Foaming Cleanser.  It is an excellent oil free, no frills cleanser that just makes my skin feel less gunky after a good sweat. 

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To be honest I have been using this as my post workout cleanser since I started my weight loss journey.  I have lost track of how many times I have used up and replaced this bottle. It is also the cleanser I grab when another cleanser is giving me problems because I know it is effective and reliable. So I use it after my walks.

post workout serum

Something new I am trying, because it came to me in an IPSY box, is the 111Skin Cryo ATP Sports Booster.  It is a serum you are supposed to use after a workout.  So because I wanted to see how it worked, I have started adding it to my skin after my quick wash with the Olay.  Previously I just did the quick wash and then moved into my makeup.

After the 111Skin has had a few minutes to settle in, I apply my makeup for the day.  While I usually end with a setting spray, the HA Spray with Matrixyl 3000 sent to me by Timeless claims to be able to be used as a setting spray as well as being skin care, so this week I started using it to set my makeup.  There will be more on that later this week.  But I will tell you now that is it wonderfully refreshing and smells like cucumbers.

skin care based setting spray

And then I go about my day.

At the end of the day I use a cleansing balm or oil to remove my makeup and then I use a cleanser like the Purlisse.  I just finished the Province Apothecary Moisturizing Cleansing oil and tonight I will start using the Kahina Giving Beauty Oil Cleanser.  It too came in a Petit Vour Box and I am looking forward to testing it out. 

upcoming cleansing oil/makeup remover

Often times I will remove my makeup after dinner and then use a mask of some sort while reading or watching television or you tube.  With my mask I will apply the Bite Beauty Agave Nighttime lip therapy mask to my lips.  It is more intense than the maple one I use in the mornings, although with less of a scent. 

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It also keeps me from snacking while watching television.  I know it is technically supposed to be left on over night, and sometimes I will re apply it just before I lay down but I find when I am watching movies or television with my babydoll in the evenings I am tempted to snack.  This really keeps me from snacking, even after the face mask is removed.

Eventually, I will migrate to the bedroom.  I do my night time skin care before I start to read in bed.  Once or twice a week I will use an exfoliator.  At the moment I am using the Avant Gentle Rose Beautifying Face Exfoliant.  It is an extremely gentle physical exfoliate but I don’t like to use them too often lest it damage the skin. 


After the exfoliate is rinsed off (on the nights I use it) I go back in with my toner, followed by serum, teeth brushing, eye cream, oil and moisturizer. Depending on the moisturizer I am using I will either use the same one I use during the day or a night cream.  The Dior is good for both day and night, but on a few days where I have been outside a bit longer, I replace my moisturizer with a night cream.  Currently I am trying out the Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Sleeping mask.  I only use it a couple of times a week.

Then I read in bed for an hour or two and go to sleep.

night cream

I know, that’s a lot of different steps to my skin care.  Personally, I enjoy the ritual of it and I really like taking the time to work on my skin.  At the moment, my skin is doing really well.  Most of my acne has faded. I still have a few clogged pores where my mask presses into my face, but really that is a combination of mask and sweat.  Some combination of elements in the last week has really been doing my skin well. 

This is another reason I like rotating products.  I can check in with my skin and see what I was using when things start to get better and I can monitor it as I stop using certain products and see where things change.  I helps me to figure out what is actually working and what is not.  It is also why I am not opposed to taking extra time in my routine.  To be honest, written out it looks like it takes a lot longer than it actually does.  It only really takes me about twenty minutes in the morning and then another twenty at night (not counting the mask) so it isn’t really as onerous as it looks on paper.

But there you have it.  Even though some of the products rotate out, the sequence and system remains more or less the same.  There are always changes based on products though.  Sometimes the oil I’m testing is one I only want to wear at night and so I skip it in the morning.  Sometimes I will try two different serums, one at night and one in the day because one reacts poorly to the sun. Sometimes my skin needs more or less exfoliation.  But in general, this is my daily skin care regime.

Trying out the Akar Skin Balance Toning Mist

I’ll be honest, most of my thoughts involving toner include things like ‘I really need to pick up some reusable cotton rounds instead of using the disposable ones’ or ‘I don’t like the scent of this toner.’ And of course there is the, ‘wow my makeup remover really left a lot behind if that is what’s coming off on the toner cotton round.’

It is the skin care product that in the past I have not given a lot of thought to. Which is strange really when I think about it.  There have been times where I have skipped moisturizer or serums, but I never skip toner.  I have been washing my face and then using toner since middle school. Admittedly then it was mostly an acne fighting toner, but it still counts.

Perhaps it is that I now have more acne from wearing a mask in the heat than I have had since my teen years that has caused me to think about this.  Either way, think about this I have and I am starting to pay more attention to toners.

Now for those of you wondering why bother with toners at all, I was always taught that they remove the last traces of the day from your face.  They take away whatever dirt, excess oils or even any residue left behind by your face wash. It is essentially the tag team partner for the face wash. When used in the morning it gives you a clean canvas for whatever you put on during the day and at night it takes everything off so that you can sleep without whatever life put on your face sinking in over night. (or clear the path for your night time products).  Then of course there are the ingredients included in the mix that are supposed to do something other than just take off the day.  Each product is different. 

According to the product page for the Akar Balance Toning mist

Deemed as the “Holy Water” by Allure, spray your way to glowing, healthy skin. This non-sticky Rose and Neroli scented mist sets gently into the skin, providing deep hydration, improving overall elasticity, while simultaneously keeping the pH value of the skin’s acid mantle layer at the optimum level. Salicylic acid from White Willow Bark is both anti-microbial and exfoliating, helping prevent build-up in pores as well as acne-related issues. Stem cell extracts from the rare Saffron flower contain antioxidants and carotenoids which aids the epidermis in repair and regeneration. Last but not least, Balance enables greater absorption of nutrients by lowering the skin’s surface tension, which means that all the good stuff – in this toner, and everything you apply next – will be fully absorbed, right into your skin.

That seems like a lot for this toner and to be honest, I am not entirely certain how to actually test many of those claims.  But let’s go through what I am capable of testing at home.

First of all, it is a spray.  To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of spray toners. I’ve used them before, but it isn’t my preferred method.  I really do prefer that I dispense it onto the cotton round and then apply it to my face rather than spritzing my face first and then wiping it around. I will say that it is a very fine mist and sprays out nicely. And the spray is not a deal breaker.

The rose and neroli scent was interesting. For me I think it was a little odd mostly because I tend to like perfumes with neroli in them.  It is a scent that I like.  (For those not familiar with it, the scent is slightly orang-y – like the fruit not the color – but not overly sweet, more of a tart orange). It does blend well with the rose and it is a lovely scent.  However combined with the spray application it made me feel as though I was spraying perfume on my face. I knew I wasn’t, but it sort of felt like I was.

Also, it is a sticky spray.  Not oh my goodness I’m coated in honey sticky but tacky to the touch. I didn’t mind this all that much, especially since the description listed it. It was relatively easy to get used to thought.

But it is really all about the effect on the skin.  Now I have been getting more break outs recently.  I did find that with this spray, the blemishes that erupted weren’t as red and painful and tended to heal more quickly with less scarring. With the exception of the places where the mask connected to my face (where I tend to get an outline of clogged pores if I wear it in the heat) I did notice I had less clogged pores appearing on my face as I used this toner.

To be honest, it was a very good toner.  My skin did like it and it did really keep the irritation down on my break outs.  Personally I’m attributing that to the willow bark. And despite my early qualms I did enjoy using it. 

Would I enjoy using it again?  Absolutely. 

Do I think that it works so much better than my regular toners that I would be willing to pay the $55 price tag on a regular basis? No. I do not.

I understand that some of the ingredients, like saffron are quite expensive.  I have a family recipe that calls for saffron that I make once a year and I am always stunned by its price when I have to buy it. So I understand why this toner is so expensive.  My regular toners are between $5 and $10 (generally speaking Thayers and Pixi products).  Occasionally I will splurge and try out a toner in a higher price range, there are several that I really do like that are higher priced. However, for me to pay $55 for a toner on a regular basis, it has to be a lot better than my standard toners.  While I am willing to admit that it is a bit better than my other toners, it is not far enough above them in function to justify the price.

Will I keep this on my list of products to look out for if there is a skin care sale?  Absolutely.  If there is a sale that knocks $10-$15 off the price I would scoop this up in a heartbeat. I would then use every drop. It is a great product.  It is just slightly over priced for what I feel I get out of it.

Would I feel differently if it weren’t a spray? I don’t believe so.  I really think that it comes down to a benefits versus price scale.  Truthfully if it were $15 less I would be willing to forget about the spray (and slightly perfume-y scent) and purchase this anyway. Perhaps if I did buy a full sized and saw benefits over a longer period of time, I would feel differently.  This sample sized toner spray that came in my August Allure Box lasted two weeks. It contained 1.5 mL worth of product. The full size is 70 mL.  So there is the full size would last a little over a year and a half.

There is something to be said for that, however the little expiration jar on the back of the sample sized Akar bottle claims the product expires in 6 months.  I don’t know if the larger bottle has the same expiration date.  If it does, I don’t know if I could use the product completely before it became expired.  I think I would have to look into that before making a purchase.  If it didn’t expire in under 12 to 18 months than I could almost see the price being justified.

While my thrifty soul will still be holding out for a sale, I will be looking into the expiration date as well.  Meanwhile it was a lovely glass bottle that I enjoyed seeing in my skin care line up and enjoyed using.  I was glad it came in my subscription box and I am now adding it to my empties bin.  Perhaps it will return, perhaps it won’t, but it was a very good product to receive in my Allure Beauty box.

EssenHERB Toner Pad review

Recently I received a trial sized pack of EssenHerb’s Tea Tree 90 Toner Pad. While I like toners and have been using them in one form or another since I was a teenager, the only pre-packaged toner pads I ever used were the acne fighting ones. Normally I use a bottle and cotton rounds. I have no real problem with the prepackaged ones in general, I have just never gravitated towards them. As for Tea Tree oil. I have tried it on my hair before, but not as a skin care product, so I was intrigued.

First of course, let’s take a look at the product claims so expectations can be made.

Interestingly, finding the site proved complex. I generally like to get my product information from the company website instead of a secondary one, but in this case the website I found that looked like it traced back to the company was all in Korean. Alas I can not read Korean. Not even a smidge.

So I had to go to a secondary site, in this case that also proved interesting. I found several sites that offered the trial size that I was testing. I also found a couple of sites offering a full sized bottle of the toner in a bottle without the added pads. I found a cream whose packaging and branding were nearly identical to the image on the front of the pack. Finally I found a site offering the full sized product for a retail price of $31.57. This is where I got the product description. Incidentally if you are interested in just the toner without the pads it retails for $22.47 and you can click here to get you to that site. (and yes those are the prices on the site, I’m guessing it was converted from a different currency and no one wanted to round out the numbers.)

So the product info:

(This is a) Dual Function: Whitening & Anti-wrinkle Ultra-adherent calming pad with tea-tree toner that helps balance oil & water, moisturizes and soothes your irritated skin. 90% Melaleuca Alternifolia(Tea Tree) Leaf Extract, 1% Oryza Sative (Rice) Bran Extract, Contains Botanical Complex Extract

Pretty simple in its claims, but what I found intriguing was the how to use section which is:

How to use: Place on forehead, cheek and chin, remove after 10 to 15 minutes, then tap lightly to absorb. or On a busy morning, put the pad on your skin and try to remove the pad after the hair dryer. Helps makeup boosting.

The very thin individual pads. They are difficult to separate and you can’t use them as you would cotton rounds as they roll up.

Normally, I apply the toner to the cotton round and wipe it around my face. I was unprepared for the mask like timing of this product. I will say though, that the toner pads included in the package are designed for the sit and leave on application method rather than the simply apply to the skin method. If you try to wipe them across the skin, the thin pads roll up and are absolutely useless. they are simply too thin to use in that format.

I will say that I don’t often have an extra fifteen minutes in the morning to sit with toner pads on my face. Their secondary recommendation for busy mornings involving a hair dryer to speed up the process is interesting, and I will admit, I tried it.

First I tried the regular method of applying the toner pads to my skin and letting it sit for fifteen minutes. I will admit I did not do this in the morning, but rather at night when I had a little more time and wasn’t trying to get out of the door. It feels very much like having sections of a sheet mask on your face. As they dry, the edges tend to curl up a little. Mostly they stay moist though, it is just the edges that dry out towards the end of the fifteen minutes.

Toner pads applied to the face. In my opinion they leave a lot of skin bare. Plus I couldn’t get one to stay on my nose.

After sitting for fifteen minutes, I removed the pads from my face and patted in the remaining serum. My skin felt a little sticky but either the serum soaking the pads evaporated or my skin soaked it in as they were no longer dripping wet when I removed them.

Next (on a different evening) I tried the blow dry the applied toner pads. I did not care for this method as even on low heat I didn’t like directing that much direct heat to my skin. It shaved off a little time for the toner pads to sit, but it was cumbersome and somewhat annoying to have to haul out the hair dryer for my face. Also as I pull my bangs back with a headband when using skin care, the blow dryer just insured they were standing up when I was done.

Finally, as I used all of the toner pads, I applied some of the serum to my regular cotton rounds and applied it to my face in traditional toner style.

As a toner (with the cotton rounds) it is not bad. I liked the scent of the tea tree oil and my skin felt nourished. I applied extra and patted it into the skin as well and I did like it. When leaving it to sit with the pads on my face left the sections under the pads feeling a little sticky and over saturated and the rest of my face sort of dry. I think it is a pretty decent toner serum over all, but I can’t get down with those pads. If I was specifically targeting a dark spot, I might get more use out of them, but I tone my face in both the morning and the evening and not only is this more of a spot treatment, it is a lengthy one. While I might consider purchasing a bottle of the toner on its own to see how the tea tree essence works with my skin, I am going to have to pass on these toner pads. this product is not for me.

Quick note, one of the products I use consistently is the Makeup Eraser. It is reusable and long lasting and one of the things I started using after I stopped using makeup wipes. Anyway, I am posting a couple of codes you might find useful if you are interested in trying it out. Both are from Makeup Eraser. They come in a range of colors and styles and they help keep you from ruining your washcloths. Hope they help anyone shopping.

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