Archive for the 'serum' Category

Josie Maran Argan Oil Review

July 15, 2009
Josie Maran Argan Oil ($48)
When Josie Maran began creating her cosmetics line she knew she had to include argan oil, her long time beauty secret, in all of her formulas. Produced in the semi-deserts of Morocco from the argan tree, argan oil has been used for centuries as both a nutritional and cosmetic supplement. Rich in essential fatty acids and Vitamin E, this multipurpose oil feeds the skin from the inside out and nourishes lackluster hair. It has been used for centuries to fade scars, heal acneic skin and smooth wrinkles.

I vacillated on whether or not to purchase Josie Maran’s Argan Oil for the longest time. At the time I’d never use an oil on my severely oily yet dry-patch riddled acne and hive prone complexion, and was plagued with visions of breakouts galore and angry, irritated skin. I mean doesn’t it seem counterintuitive to be applying oil to your face? I’d reconciled myself to the wonders of oil cleansers, but applying oil to my face and leaving it there was a whole different matter

Thank goodness for Nicole! As usual she came to my rescue and obviated the need for me to make any kind of decision by sending me this bottle of Josie Maran’s 100% pure organic Argan Oil.

How I Use It: I use this medium-weight golden oil primarily on my face as it’s too precious/expensive to use all over. I tried using this on its own as a serum and mixed into my moisturizer, and found that the mixed into moisturizer method worked best for me. I mix 1-2 tiny drops of argan oil into my moisturizer day and night and my skin is left looking plumper and feeling incredibly soft. No product has ever made my skin feel as soft as Josie Maran’s Argan Oil!

I have found using too much of this can cause me to break out a little bit unlike REN’s oil serums (you can find reviews of those floating around the blog) which never broke me out. I’m a little torn on this though: I love how soft the Argan Oil leaves my complexion and the radiance that I wake up to, but it doesn’t really seem to heal and soothe my skin’s underlying redness the way REN’s serums did. I’m perfectly happy to use all these products in conjunction with each other though until I run out!

Other Uses: While this is pretty expensive for a hair treatment, my hair really loves it when I run a few drops of Argan Oil through the ends while it’s still damp. It dries to a shinier, healthier looking finish and just looks better overall.

Would I repurchase? I’m not entirely sure, and luckily I won’t need to think about that anytime soon since this large bottle is going to last me for ages. I’m thinking I’ll probably end up sticking to my REN Omega 3 Overnight Lipid Renewal Serum (review HERE) for mixing into my moisturizers though as it effectuates more of a dramatic improvement in the look and feel of my skin.

RATING: 3.5/5

By the way if you’ve been wondering why some products receive a numerical rating while others don’t, it’s purely arbitrary. Some days I’m just too tired to dig up the photo icons for the ratings so I don’t bother, whereas other days I’m feeling a bit more energetic. If you’d like a rating for a particular review though, always feel free to ask! 🙂

Sustainable Youth Immune Performance Cream & Serum Review

June 16, 2009

The Claim: Sustainable Youth products are clinically proven to help improve skin elasticity and firmness up to 72 percent in only 8 weeks of use. Consumer case studies show visible signs of improvement in only 2 weeks of use and consumers report benefits in as little as 1 week of use. Sustainable Youth products containthe immune-stimulating, patent-pending blend Alasta™ that soothes and hydrates as it helps restore skin’s elasticity and firmness for the appearance of thicker, plumper skin.

The Reality: I actually gave this serum and cream to my mother for her to test out as her skin has been in need of a bit of a pick-me-up lately, and I have to say that she’s very very pleased! I didn’t tell her much about the product as I didn’t want to bias her, I just handed over these two bottles and told her to use them regularly. The results?

After just a week or so of regular use, she came to me of her own accord and told me that strangely enough, her skin feels thicker, firmer, and more resilient since she started using Sustainable Youth products. She’s been using the serum and cream in conjunction with my new favorite gadget, the Baby Quasar, and according to her, her small lines and wrinkles have decreased in depth and have been fading.

Now my mother is the type of woman who takes amazingly good care of her skin and looks more than ten years younger than she actually is, plus she’s incredibly picky about her skincare products and tends to love the super pricey items, so for her to say that she loves these products says quite a bit about their efficacy. I’m definitely impressed! Check out Sustainable Youth’s line of products for yourself HERE.

Lumene Vitamin C+ Energy Cocktail Intensive Care Review

March 30, 2009
Lumene Vitamin C+Energy Cocktail Intensive Care ($19.99)

Velvety soft intensive care soothes your skin and maintains its suppleness. Abundant natural antioxidants in the Arctic cloudberry seed oil and caring cranberry seed oil protect skin from stress factors. Together with vitamin C, which protects skin, and skin-softening vitamin A, these active ingredients work in perfect harmony with your skin to give it optimum care.
  • Arctic cloudberry seed oil strengthens and protects the skin from external and internal stress factors.
  • Arctic cranberry seed oil protects skin from UV rays, prevents premature aging and retains the skin’s moisture balance.
  • VitaOptimaleTM compound gives optimum care for skin: Vitamin C protects, vitamin A strengthens and softens skin.

On the left is what it looks like before shaking, on the right is after shaking.

Lumene’s Energy Cocktail is a fun-looking two-toned cocktail of great-for-your-skin ingredients that’s fairly light as oil serums go. The Cocktail separates into two distinct colors(ooh pretty!) and must be shaken prior to use. See the photo below to see what I mean:

Small squirt of Energy Cocktail. Kinda looks like a UFO egg no?

I purchased my Energy Cocktail for around $10 on sale at CVS months and months ago, and while I do like it, I don’t happen to think that there’s anything particularly spectular about it that would prompt repurchasing. It is an oil serum but it’s not nearly as moisturizing as others I’ve tried, nor does it give me the luminosity or glow that other products do.


All in all I’d say this is a decent option if you’re looking to try an affordable oil serum, and a lot of peopel seem to absolutely love this so it’s definitely worth a shot, but if you’re willing to splurge I highly recommend checking ou REN’s two oil serums, the Omegao 3 and the Rose Synergy (see my reviews HERE and HERE), both of which are pretty fabulous.

All blended!

I think I’ll be saving this for summer when my face doesn’t get nearly as dry as it does in the cold winter weather–I’m thinking I may notice more of a difference when my skin isn’t nearly as parched. For now I’ll be sticking to my REN serums and testing out Josie Maran’s Argan Oil (thanks so much Nicole for this!!) so expect a review shortly!

ABS’ Favorite Winter Serum: REN Rose Synergy O12 Restoring Facial Serum Review

March 9, 2009
REN Rose Synergy O12 Restoring Facial Serum ($80)

Been looking for that perfect serum to soothe your over-stressed, under-nourished winter complexion? REN’s Rose Synergy O12 Restoring Facial Serum is it! I know I raved on and on about Peter Thomas Roth’s viz-1000 75% Hyaluronic Acid Complex Intensive Hydrating Serum, and while I love its lightness and quick-drying finish for the summer, during the cold harsh months of winter I definitely prefer something a bit more substantial.

What I LOVE: Just about everything. There are few times when I’ve been able to say that a product has brought about a significant, marked improvement in the state of my skin, but this is definitely one of those instances. Prior to switching pretty much all my skincare over to REN I was suffering from some pretty severe breakouts, my skin was feeling parched (but of course super-oily in the t-zone just to annoy me), and it just wasn’t looking so great–lots of ruddiness in the cheeks, no youthful glow, etc. While I’ve been loving all my new REN products, I’d have to say that I think the Rose Serum has been key to the changes I’ve been seeing in my complexion. I was worried that since this is a pretty heavy duty oil serum I’d experience breakouts and blogged pores, but I’ve seriously stopped breaking out at all (a miraculous feat in and of itself) and my pores are happy as can be.

I’ve been receiving so many compliments on my skin since I switched over to REN, making me one happy blogger. My skin is more radiant and has a dewy look to it, and this product has really helped to alleviate some of the redness in my cheeks. People have been asking me if I’ve been getting treatments from a dermatologist and how I get my skin to look so glowy!

Love the packaging! Sleek glass bottle (that I’ve knocked over many many times) + handy little plastic cap to prevent accidental pumping = Happy Jen

More Info: REN’s Rose Synergy Serum is formulated to lock in moisture, prevent skin dehydration, restore and maintain your skin’s glowing softness, elasticity and comfort, and protect against oxidative damage and premature aging–whew that’s a mouthful! This luxurious serum employs REN’s Biomimetic Skin Complex, a unique delivery system rich in lipids that strengthens your skin’s moisture barrier, boosting hydrating while calming irritation and inflammation.

Check out some of these fabulous ingredients!

  • The purest steam distilled Rosa Damascena Oil to soothe and calm inflamed skin (and also to provide aromatherapy benefits–this stuff smells heavenly!)
  • Octacosenoic Acid from African Ximenia Oil to seal in moisture and increase hydration
  • Vitamin A from Rosehip Seed Oil to stimulate cell turnover
  • Arctic Cranberry Seed Oil fights oxidation and free radicals
  • In addition, the serum has a bio active complex of ceramides, phospholipids and omega 6 & 7 essential fatty acids boosts skin repair and softness.

Skin Post-Application ~ nice and dewy

How I Use It: REN’s Rose Synergy Serum is thicker and richer than their Omega 3 Overnight Lipid Renewal Serum (see my review HERE), but while it’s ultra-hydrating and soothing, it still absorbs quickly, never leaving your skin looking or feeling greasy. During the daytime I like to mix this into my moisturizer (one part moisturizer to one part serum), and in the evening I tend to apply this under my moisturizer/night cream. And on those days when my skin seems to be in need of a little extra TLC, I’ll take an extra 1/4 squirt or so of the serum and apply it over my moisturizer as well, just to the apples of my cheeks.

While I wouldn’t recommend this serum for those of you who are super oily, if your skin suffers from dryness or irritation, this may be a dream come true for you–it most definitely has been for me! I know it’s pretty pricey at $80, but a little really goes a long way with this product (I never need more than one pump) and even though I’ve been using this for a decent amount of time now, I’ve hardly made a dent in it.


REN is available at Space NK, Sephora, Blue Mercury, Barneys, Fred Segal, and @ They currently have a great promotion going on that I’ll be posting about in a few minutes, so pop by the site and check out two of my fave REN products, their Glycolactic Skin Renewal Peel and their Multi Mineral Detoxifying Facial Mask.

REN Omega 3 Overnight Lipid Renewal Serum Review

March 2, 2009
REN Omega 3 Overnight Lipid Renewal Serum ($60)

What It Is: Ideally used at night, this serum will boost the skin with essential bio active nutrients that stimulate its natural process of renewal and regeneration helping to restore suppleness and elasticity. In addition it stimulates the skin’s natural protection mechanism helping fight moisture loss and free radical attack. Vegetable Plankton Extract which is rich in Omega 3 promotes cell membrane development while Rosehip Seed Oil and Wheat Germ Oil intensively nourish and protect.

Feed your face…literally. REN’s Omega 3 Overnight Lipid Renewal Serum is high in lipid content,which is vital for cell hydration, longevity, and skin nourishment. I’ve been turning more and more towards oil serums as of late (although I still adore my Peter Thomas Roth serum), and REN’s Omega Serum is one of my favorites (although you’ll have to wait a day or two to find out what my absolute favorite is). It’s a pure blend of natural oils including rosehip seed, wheat germ, vanilla, chamomile, Vitamin E and Vitamin A that work together to soothe your sin, boost suppleness and elasticity, and even help to reduce the appearance of scars.

Half a quirt of REN’s Omega 3 Overnight Lipid Renewal Serum-see how light it is?

The Omega 3 Overnight Lipid Renewal Serum is light, quick to absorb, and doesn’t leave any unpleasant greasy-feeling residue on your skin. I absolutely love mixing a squirt of this serum into my moisturizer–it helps any cream to apply much more smoothly and just feels so incredibly soothing on.

Since I switched my entire skincare regimen over to REN, my skin has never looked better and I’ve been receiving so many compliments on my skin, which hasn’t happened in a long long time. I’m not sure exactly which REN product this is due to, but I don’t think I want to discontinue any of them to find out! If your complexion is mildly oily to combination or normal, I’d recommend giving this a try, particularly if you’re experiencing the early signs of aging and suffer from some slight dry patches.

All Absorbed

The serum does smell a little bit like fish oil to me, but it’s nothing all too unpleasant (think the fish oil capsules that you take) and pretty much disappears when you mix it into your moisturizer. Other than that one tiny little factor, I seriously can’t think of a thing I dislike about this product. I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to to test out REN Skincare–they haven’t disappointed me yet! I also swear by their Glycolactic Skin Renewal Peel Mask and their Multi Mineral Detoxifying Facial Mask, both of which were featured in my Best of 2008 Year End Round-Up.

Lierac Concentre Mesolift Toning Radiance Serum with Vitamin C Review and Swatches

December 3, 2008
Lierac Concentre Mesolift [Anti-Aging & Radiance] Toning Radiance Serum with Vitamin C ($60 for 1.1 oz)

Mesotherapy is a technique developed in France that involves injecting nutrients directly into the skin to activate collagen products and lymphatic drainage–cue Jen’s MAJOR needle-phobia!! Ewwww! But the labs at Lierac Paris have attempted to adapt this technique into a rapidly penetrating topical serum–Concentre Mesolift–minus the needles of course!

The serum is meant to address three skin woes: dull copmlexion, premature aging, and dehydration. The Concentre Mesolift is basically a cocktail of wonderful ingredients including:

~Vitamins (5%): A, C, E, B5 and B6 for cell renewal
~Minerals (5%): Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese
~Hyaluronic Acid (5%) for hydration–not nearly as high as the 75% in my PTR serum

Lierac’s Concentre Mesolift Toning Radiance Serum comes in a beautiful frosted glass bottle with eye dropper applicator (yay for germ-free skincare products!). It’s a decently thick liquid (unlike the Peter Thomas Roth Hyaluronic Acid Serum which is super watery/runny) and has a pleasant citrusy scent to it (I’d say it smells lightly of oranges). I squeeze two blobs onto my fingertips, and while the directions indicate that the product should be massage into the skin, I prefer to quickly apply it over the surface of my skin and then to let it sink in and dry on its own over the course of a minute or two.

LOVE: I really like the relatively light consistency of this product, and of course the packaging and scent. It sinks in quickly and dries to a nice non-sticky finish (at least if you don’t use too much), and of course I’m crazy about all of the great-for-my-skin ingredients this contains. It leaves your skin feeling super-soft and hydrated, and when I tested this out on the back of my hand for the photos I noticed an immediate difference; the texture was smoother and softer, and my tiny little hand-lines did a quick disappearing act.

NOT SO MUCH: On certain days this will cause my face to sting (I have pretty sensitive skin though)–I’m thinking thanks to the Vitamin C from blood oranges contained in this serum. It’s nothing unbearable but I also just happen to like my Peter Thomas Roth serum better. I do love this as a daytime alternative though, since I don’t need quite as much moisture during the day. I’m undecided on whether or not I’d repurchase this–we’ll say once I’ve gotten through this bottle, which should last me quite awhile.

Best. Serum. Ever. Peter Thomas Roth viz-1000 75% Hyaluronic Acid Complex Intensive Hydrating Serum Review

November 26, 2008
Peter Thomas Roth viz-1000 75% Hyaluronic Acid Complex Intensive Hydrating Serum ($65 for 1 oz.)

Product Info: A super concentrated 75% hyaluronic acid complex keeps the skin hydrated all day/night with an invisible veil of moisture. The serum ahieves hydration by attracting 1000 times its weight in water from the moisture in the air. It replenishes the moisture content of aging and environmentally damaged skin and restores a youthful radiance. It also helps increase the skin’s ability to retain moisture and smooths out fine lines and a rough texture.

The PTR viz-1000 Hyaluronic Acid Complex is fragrance free and contains sodium PCA, silk proteins, sea algae, honey, yerba santa, and mineral complex along with a slew of other great ingredients.

LOVE: Since I started using this serum my skin has improved considerably. Thanks to constant stress and the changing weather my skin had been crazy: breaking out, hives, irritation and itchiness, redness, and just all-around discomfort, and my face looked and felt like a disaster area. And testing out a million new products post Sephora F&F didn’t help my cause!

But this Peter Thomas Roth serum seriously calms and soothes my skin like no other. I squirt a pump of this liquidy serum into my hand, smooth it quickly over my face, wait all of 3 seconds for it to dry to a completely matte finish and I’m good to go-no stickiness, no long drying times-just great skin. While I don’t feel an immediate difference, throughout the day my face feels better and better (as opposed to before–it would just start to feel irritated) and when I wear this overnight I notice that my face looks plumper and dewier come morning. The serum healed the breakouts that I did have and hasn’t caused any new ones since which is miraculous in and of itself. Plus my skin hasn’t felt tight/itchy/dry even once which is rare for me when the weather gets this cold!

One squirt is enough for your whole face thanks to the almost water-like consistency.

Spread around a little.
2 seconds later…almost dry!

NOT SO MUCH: There are very few things I don’t love about this, and none of them involve the actual product itself. My main gripes are with the packaging. First of all I was expecting that for my $65 the serum would come packaged in a box of some sorts, but it was just the frosted glass bottle with a plastic seal on top; but at least I can tell myself it’s somewhat environmentally friendly! My main issue with this product is the pump. It’s super stiff (or at least mine is), meaning it’s ridiculously hard for me to press down and impossible for me to get anything less than a full pump. Plus often the product ends up squirting out in a rapid stream and not ending up on my fingers as intended since I have to use such great force to get any product out–and at $65 I really don’t want to be wasting any!

VERDICT: Run out and get this today, your skin will thank you for it. This is the first serum that I’ve ever really loved in my years of searching, and will be a staple in my skincare regimen!


La Mer ‘The Hydrating Infusion’ Review

September 10, 2008
La Mer The Hydrating Infusion ($95)


This high-potency treatment saturates the skin with a wave of hydration, smoothness and conditioning, preparing it to receive and boost the transformational benefits of Crème de la Mer.

The Hydrating Infusion’s vital ingredients—vitamins, minerals, tourmaline and Hydrating Ferments—are suspended within a serum-like gel network. This interactive sea gel works with exclusive Deconstructed Waters™ to deliver extraordinary activity on demand.”


One of my readers asked me to review some La Mer skincare products since I happen to be even more obsessed with skincare than I am with cosmetics, and I thought that The Hydrating Infusion would be a good starting point since I happened to already have photos of it on my desktop, plus it’s La Mer’s latest release in its lineup of bio-fermented products.

The Hydrating Infusion serves as a serum of sorts and preps and hydrates your skin so as to enhance the benefits of the Creme de la Mer. I’ve used it both in conjunction with my La Mer Oil Absorbing Lotion and with other non-La Mer products, and I have to say that I’m liking it a lot both ways. It gives my dry yet oily skin the moisture it needs without causing any irritation or breakouts and serves as a great foundation for whatever moisturizer I may choose to use that day.

The Hydrating Infusion has a thick watery consistency (think the consistency of jello right after you’ve added the water) which luckily comes with a pump dispenser so you’re not likely to make too huge a mess (unlike the Radiant Infusion).

I’m currently working my way through two deluxe samples of this which should last me quite a while since you really only need a small amount of this morning and evening, but once I’ve depleted those I’ll probably be purchasing a full size of this.