Facial Retinol Oil: The Mara Beauty

Hilarie here! I posted a #firstimpressions of this retinol face oil by Mara Beauty several weeks ago. Just wanted to add….. finished it and loved it! Absolutely falls into the repurchase category! I think multiple skin types will benefit from this formula. It was a lovely, last-step in my evening skincare routine. Thank you (again!) to Prince Kristopher for recommending this!!

Algenist: Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel

Hilarie here! For years, I swore by the Bi-Phase Peel by Algenist. It worked beautifully on my oily skin. I would use weekly (Sunday nights) and the effects were baby soft, smooth and glowing skin. An absolute #holygrail product until…..they discontinued it 😐 Algenist, in its place, created the Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel (1.5oz, $85), which is essentially a 20 minute mask. I’ve used it several times over the past few months and wanted to share my thoughts. 


This product is described as a “vegan resurfacing and exfoliating peel that reduces the look of dark spots and hyperpigmentation while visibly smoothing texture, evening tone and brightening.” 


The gel-like product is dispensed from a pump, which I really like and, as the name would suggest, is greenish-blue in color. It also smells of chamomile and blue tansy which I am 100% here for! Very light, beautiful scent. To apply, massage onto clean, damp skin, let sit for 20 minutes and remove with warm water (I used a cloth dampened with warm water then applied moisturizer).


After several uses, I like it, but it is a very different product than it’s predecessor. This, in my opinion, is a mild mask/peel that is suitable for multiple skin types. I understand creating a product for a larger population however, there is still a place for the Bi-Phase Peel. My oily skin misses it dearly 😢  If you purchase the newer product expecting a similar reformulation, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for a good treatment mask that is gentle, but effective, I think you’ll like this one.


I know that Bart compared the two a while back and that review encouraged me to try the mask. Has anyone else tried one or both?

Dr Dennis Gross Cleansers

Hilarie here! My love of the Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel by Dr Dennis Gross is very well-documented on our IG. It was pretty much love at first wash! I posted an extensive review a year or so ago and since then, it has remained by #1 facial cleanser. 

About 15 years ago (yes, 15!) I routinely bought DRx All in One Cleanser with Toner also by DDG. I used to buy it at our local Blue Mercury, but I do not think they carry the brand any longer. It has been years since I used it, but I thought it would be interesting to try it years later and compare it to their newer cleanser.

The All in One is still an effective cleanser (mostly for my morning cleanse), but the Alpha Beta cleanser feels like it was made for me. The latter is suitable both AM and PM, never irritates my eyes and leaves my skin clean and balanced. I will finish the All in One, but the fact that I always have a back-up of the other speaks volumes. 

Dear DDG, please make the Alpha Beta cleanser available in a 16 oz size with pump!

Gisou Honey-Infused Haircare

Hilarie here! A few months ago, I purchased the Honey Infused Haircare Set ($55) by Gisou I’ve been on a haircare kick lately and this brand started to appear more and more in my feed. I’m pretty sure I purchased this during the fall sale at Sephora.


My fine (but lots of it!) hair enjoyed all of the products. I felt the shampoo, condition and mask were lovely. However, the star of the show is the hair oil. And, if you’re thinking, “the set contains a much larger hair oil mini,” you’d be correct! I had a super-mini (.10 oz) that I decided to test first. A little goes a long way and the mini from the set will last me probably a year or more. Great value! For reference, the sizes and prices are:

 .7 oz, $24

1.7 oz, $46

3.4 oz, $87

With my hair, I cannot use much product otherwise, I’m a flat, oily mess. No one wants that. 2-3 drops of this oil on dry hair (not near my roots!) gave me the softest hair! It’s a really lovely product!

Who else has tried this line?

Trying New Products: Featuring Act + Acre, Lovinah Skincare & Shaz & Kiks


Hilarie here! Just a super, busy week, but some newness just arrived that I am super excited about!
Comb by Shaz & Kiks and scalp detox by Act + Acre. Both purchases inspired by Chris (@tophcam)! The comb is lovely to use and I am excited to use the scalp detox!

Cleanser by Lovinah Skincare This too was inspired by Chris, and also raved about by @AlineonBeauty and @hiddenharmonyworld Check out the lovely bag that came with it! So excited to use this!

What have you been inspired to try lately?

Current Morning Skincare Routine

Hilarie here! I realize that it has been ages since we’ve shared our #skincareroutine 😬 2021 goal is to be a little bit better about that! Here is what I’ve been using steadily (in the morning) 👇🏻 My goal is always healthy, hydrated and protected skin:

Youth to the People Cleanser is absolutely wonderful! We’ve talked about this before and I’m almost done the jumbo. Smells so fresh, bright and green! Would recommend for all skin types.

Good Molecules Niacinamide Toner. This is my third bottle? Gentle, hydrating and brightening. Love the thicker texture.

I am pretty much never without Hadalabo! This is one of my favorite (and super cost-effective) hyaluronic acids. I pat onto my damp skin for proper absorption.

Loving the vitamin c serum by Drmtlgy. I apply this a few minutes AFTER my previous step has absorbed.

I like this serum By Deciem for the eyes. I’ve been topping with the deluxe sample of eye cream by Amore Pacific. I don’t have an opinion on this yet….to come!

African Botanics makes absolutely exquisite products! This balancing oil is #holygrail for me! I’ve been using this as my last step. This is great for oily skin folks like me! 

After everything has absorbed (20 minutes or so), I top with the #spf by Drmtlgy. I’m really enjoying this and I like the universal tint. And for most days, it’s enough coverage and I just add a little concealer.


I’ll share my evening skincare routine soon. There are also some new products (to us!) that we’ll be testing/sharing in the near future!

Lip SkinCare: Featuring Dr Dennis Gross, Restorsea, Algenist & Dermalogica

Hilarie here! I know we don’t often talk about it, but we both are both advocates for lip skincare. Lips deserve a little love beyond the regular balm. During the day, I try to ensure that I have #spf on them as well (even while wearing a mask!). I thought it would be fun (and good for my lips!) to test out a few products and see how they compare. Here’s what I’ll be using:


Right before it’s release, we were introduced to the Hyaluronic Marine Collagen Lip Cushion ($30) by Ms Carrie Gross. Since then, we’ve both repurchased several times over (I have two backups!). Liz Alaska recently spoke about this product and mentioned how it is a consistent part of her #skincareroutine 

We were introduced to the amazing Restorsesa line by Margo Weishar, MD and we both loved the PRO Lipmagic (this one has a wand applicator). I just repurchased ($35) during the sale Harben House.

I did not love the GENIUS Liquid Collagen Lip ($35) by Algenist when I first tried it (a few years ago) as I found it a tad drying. I purchased again to see if my opinion will change. 🤞🏻

And finally, I purchased the Nightly Lip Treatment ($49) by Dermalogica. Excited to incorporate these into my routine and see which ones give my lips the most love! 

Any others we should check-out?

Favorite Dry Shampoos: Featuring Living Proof, Ouai, Oribe, Amika and DryBar

Hilarie here! A round-up of some of my favorite dry shampoos! I wash my hair every other day (my scalp is a bit oily) and use #dryshampoo on my in-between days. Because my hair is fine (but a lot of it!), I rely on dry shampoo to not only soak up the oil, but to give me a little bit of volume, which I would otherwise NOT have! I’ve tried many and these are ones that consistently perform well.


Both Living Proof (4oz, $25) and Ouai (4.5oz, $24) are #holygrail products for me! They never disappoint and I consider them the champs of this category!

Oribe (6oz, $48) doesn’t have as much umph as the previous two, but adds a bit of volume and is just…..luxurious. Oh, and the scent! One of the most beautiful! This is kind of like a special treat and NOT one that I use regularly.

I recently posted an empty of Perk Up by Amika (5.3oz, $25) Really enjoyed it and does NOT leave a white cast. Would absolutely re-purchase!

This one surprised me: I adore Bubbles & Berries by DryBar (3.5oz, $23) I bought several back-ups while this is on sale Sephora ($18). It is still available Ulta and is LE. This is almost a champagne color upon application, so for my blonde hair, it is almost unnoticeable. Brushed out easily and my hair looked (and felt) great. I need to try more dry shampoos from this brand.


What are some of your favorite dry shampoos?

Vitamin C Serums: Featuring Maelove, Drmtlgy and Sunday Riley

Hilarie here! We are both huge fans of the #vitamincserum by Drunk Elephant (1 fl oz, $80). Why? Because it works! Bright and firm skin is what I hope to achieve/maintain with this type of product. Earlier this year, I decided to try a few other products to see how they performed on my combo-oily skin.

The CEO Serum by Sunday Riley (1 oz, $85) worked extremely well and I’ve already repurchased twice. I liked the slightly thicker consistency of the serum and it felt a little active upon application. The pump was effective, but I did have to take that off to scoop up the last of it. For some reason, I feel that I go through this more quickly than others (I feel like I’ve seen similar comments from others).

Maelove is a brand that was new to me and high on my list to try! The Glow Maker (1 oz, $27.95) is at an amazing price point and focused on hydrating and brightening. The consistency of the serum is very thin. Although I think the potency of the other two are more effective for my specific skin, I really enjoyed this product! I found it to be a gentler alternative that supports a “hydrated glow.” This may be wonderful for those with slightly sensitive skin or, anyone with dry skin. Would repurchase!

And finally, the Advanced CE Ferulic by Drmtlgy (1 fl oz, $69). I discovered this thanks to Penn Smith Skincare. This product is positioned as a dupe for the serum by Skinceuticals (1 fl oz, $165). Years ago (10-15?) I used the one by Skinceuticals, which is a beautiful product! However, it is quite pricy and I was hoping to find an alternative that was well under that price point! I’m halfway through the bottle and I’m a fan! Consistency is thin, but absorbs fairly quickly. Skin is bright, firm and hydrated. Will repurchase.

To wrap-up, these are all excellent products and some may work better for different skin types. I still love my DE, but my skin will be happy with all of these products. I hope one or two of these products may work for you!


What other vitamin c serums should we try?

Body Scrubs: Featuring Tree Hut, Ouai, Frank Body, Glossier and Prim Botanicals

Hilarie here! For today’s #bodyseries post, let’s talk body scrubs. I ❤️ A good scrub! It’s invigorating, helps prevent ingrown hairs in places and preps my skin for moisturizer and/or body oil. So, what are some of my favorites:

My most used for “every day scrubbing” is the Shea Sugar Scrub (Coconut Lime) by Tree Hut. Not only does it smell amazing and make my skin super soft, but it does so at a great price point (18oz, ~$7). I always stock up on these Ulta.


About a year ago, I purchased my first scrub by Frank Body After that? Hooked! I just bought this set, but I’d recommend the original coffee scrub to start (7oz, $16.95)


Ouai has probably been my most purchased brand of 2020. I went in hard this year! 😂 I had several deluxe samples of this hair/body scrub and finally bought the full-size (8.8oz, $38). I do not like this for my scalp, but it is amazing on my body!


About to test the new #bodyhero exfoliating bar by Glossier (5oz, $14) Has anyone else tried this? Thoughts??


Sadly not pictured due to usps, but my #1, holy grail body scrub is…..Debauchery Detox by Prim Botanicals (8oz, $25) It is one of the most unique, gorgeous products! I’ve gone through so many!! This was recently repackaged and the price lowered 🙌🏻 btw, Prim has amazing customer service and is on top of package delay/missing communications.