Dr Dennis Gross: C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum

Hilarie here! During the spring Rouge event @sephora I purchased the C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum by @drdennisgross ($78, 1oz). I had just finished another bottle of the C-Firma (my favorite) by @drunkelephant and wanted to try something new. I am a huge fan of the Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel pads, especially for travel, but I haven’t delved too far into this brand. Now seemed like as good a time as any!

I’ve been using the vitamin C serum consistently in the morning for approximately one month. First thing I would like to point out is the smell as many people have very specific preferences when it comes to the scent of products in this category. This one smells like vinegar and it dissipates quickly. I don’t mind the smell of vitamin c products, in general, and I prefer when brands don’t mask the scent of a product. I just want it to work! Here are my thoughts on this vitamin C serum: 💥Absorbs easily into dry skin and next steps applied well over it.
💥I used two pumps and applied to face and neck (and as always, excess always goes onto tops of my hands!)
💥Skin continued to look bright and luminous while using this product. I do not have hyper-pigmentation, so cannot speak to that.
💥I did not notice additional plumping of my skin. 💥My skin remained consistent while using this product. It responded well to this product, but I think my skin requires a bit more potency.

Anna Marie and I pretty much have opposite skin types. The biggest difference being sensitivity. I have very few issues, if any, while Anna Marie struggles with this. I think if you have sensitive skin, you may really like this product. Although my skin responded well to this serum, I prefer the @drunkelephant for my combo-oily skin. I am going to give Anna Marie the remainder of this, so she can test it.
If you are looking for a vitamin c serum, now would be the time to grab this (or another one) at Sephora given the customer appreciation event/sale.

Paula’s Choice: Resist C15 Super Booster


Hilarie here! A few months ago, I purchased a few items from Paula’s Choice Among them was the Resist C15 Super Booster (.67oz, $49). I know many of you use and love it, so I had to give it a try. Here are my thoughts. ☀️Although you can mix this with other products, I prefer to apply directly to my skin (patting it in). I apply after my #hylauronicacid Also, I apply any excess to the back of my hands!
☀️It absorbs quickly and layers well under additional skincare steps and complexion products.
☀️My skin really loves #vitaminc and I feel this effectively helped to achieve daily radiance. ☀️I’m that person who actually LIKES the smell of #vitaminc products (I know)! This was not intense as some, but it smells like it should. ☀️I like the size of this product (.67oz). I can use it up and with #vitaminc, I don’t want it sitting around for too long.

I did not expect to like this as much as I did. The one by #drunkelephant is still my absolute favorite, but this is a great alternative. I will be testing the one by #drdennisgross next, but I would absolutely repurchase this product.


*my bottle is in the old packaging.

First Impressions: Algenist GENIUS Liquid Collagen Lip

Hilarie here! Upon release, I purchased Genuis Liquid Collagen Lip by Algenist ($35, .34oz). I have NOT used their other liquid collagen product for enough time (yet) to form an educated opinion. Here are my #firstimpressions ✨I used this product a few times daily for nearly two weeks. ✨I would say that on average, I applied three times daily.
✨I really like the applicator, especially in terms of dispensing just enough product. There is no waste, which is great.
✨The consistency of the product is a bit odd. I found it more watery than I would expect. However, it does absorb extremely well once applied.
✨The scent is….interesting? The best description I can come up with is “sweetly medicinal,” but in no way is it completely off-putting. It’s just a bit different.
✨In terms of effectiveness, I’m not sure I see a noticeable difference. Now, my lips are more on the full side and not terribly lined (yet!). They did not look any fuller or smoother after each application. ✨My biggest complaint is that I found this product not hydrating. Algenist does recommend that a balm, gloss, etc be applied on top (which I did), but I do wish the product itself was hydrating enough for my lips.

I will continue to use this as I like aspects of this product. Curious as to how others are liking this and if they are seeing noticeable benefits.

CelleCle Skincare

When CelleCle reached out, I (Anna Marie) perused their website and really enjoyed some of their inci and was curious about their products. They sent us products targeted for anti-pollution and tranquility—which includes the Cellsurge Intensif, Microlift Shield and Detoxybright Mask.

A little bit about the brand—its a very interesting history. This company is the work of a private labeling company (YG laboratories) who have now made their own products since they know the space and technology so well. (We can talk about what I think about private labeling another time)-but I think it’s cool that they have created their own products. Clearly they know how to formulate!

Cellsurge Intensif uses plant stem cells and antioxidants to protect against free radicals and promote cell healing. It’s all about the protection from pollution, uv light, and city living. There are some interesting and high tech ingredients on the list, including roxisomes, that speed DNA repair, asthaxanthin-an antioxidant stronger than vitamin e (and gives the product it’s light peach hue). All these ingredients combine to help protect against free radical damage. After a few weeks of consistent use with my other products, while I can’t say my skin is more protected, it’s definitely brighter. It sinks in beautifully The cons of this product? It doesn’t smell pleasant but it does dissipate quickly. It’s on the pricier side ($130). I really enjoy this and hope to see some longer term benefits. For Hilarie, she had similar results with brightness and liked how the product layered with others.

Microsoft Shield is the moisturizer step that protects against pollution and damage. Again a complicated ingredient list—but most ingredients are moisturizers, humectants, and emollients such as polysaccharides, phospholipids, and squalane. This is amazingly lightweight but hydrating. I used this in the dry air of Park City, Utah and it kept my skin from freaking out, no dry patches and no eczema! The minuses-I think this (and not the CellSurge) is sometimes too much and causes pilling of my skincare. Even sometimes waiting hours later to put makeup on, I will occasionally pill using this combination above. But for those days where some sunscreen and out, this is perfect! Hilarie noted the same issue with the pilling, especially around the outer eye area. For her combo-oily skin, this moisturizer kept her very well-balanced and as with the serum, layered well with other products (especially sunscreen and light foundation).

Lastly, the DetoxyBright mask. Yes, as Hilarie showed in her videos, it sounds like pop rocks. It’s fun to use. The ingredients list is amazing including niacinamide and perflurocarbons—which is one of the main ingredients in biologique vip o2 series (we can talk about this ingredient another day!). And while fun to use, I didn’t see the immediate results that I was hoping to with this ingredient list. I probably didn’t use it as frequently as I should—only once a week—but I’ll keep trying because it’s so fun! And for Hilarie, in addition to this being a super fun mask, she did notice immediate brightness upon rinsing off and the glow stayed throughout the day (in conjunction with the serum and moisturizer).

Overall—based on the ingredients and products I’ve tried, this is a very interesting line whose team clearly knows their ingredients. I think that some of their ingredients list seem overly complicated but it’s also thoughtful. As another example—I’d love to try their AHA product—it contains glycolic, lactic, and mandolin acids but also uses different ways (time release, microdelivery)—so cool!

Sulwhasoo: First Care Activating Serum EX

We’ve both been testing the First Care Activating Serum EX by Sulwhasoo for a few weeks and here are our thoughts:
Anna Marie: I picked up a set of these for Hilarie and myself at the duty free store. This is meant to be the first step after cleansing. It is purported to help boost all the next steps in your skincare routine. It helps hydrate and balance the skin. I used this religiously, twice a day since about the end of January, other than when I was traveling. The bottle is lovely and hefty and was a pleasure to use. The scent was mildly herbal. To me, this is what luxury skincare should be like!
This definitely added to hydration of my skin. My skin had a nice bounce. Despite the twice daily use, I don’t think it was any brighter or glowing. I feel like it’s a lovely but perhaps not entirely necessary step. In the US, this bottle costs 84$ for 2 oz. it was slightly cheaper at duty free, but it’s still expensive!
As far as the ingredients list: it’s got a ton of lovely extracts used in Chinese medicine. It’s got hydrating ingredients such as beta glucan. While it doesn’t bother me, alcohol is the 6th ingredient which may be a deal breaker for some.
Summary: it’s a lovely hydrating step. While I will happily finish this bottle I will not be rushing out to repurchase.
Hilarie: I started testing this shortly after Anna Marie gifted me a bottle. I used this in the morning only, but very consistently. Do I think it boosted hydration a bit? Yes, but not nearly as much as a hyaluronic serum for my specific skin type. I did not notice any changes in terms of brightness (Vitamin C works best for my skin in that department). It absorbs beautifully and additional steps layer well on top. Would I purchase? Probably not (especially at this price point), but I will finish this bottle. And as Anna Marie noted, the packaging is lovely, substantial and feels luxurious. I know so many people in this community adore this serum, but for me, my skin liked it, but did not love it.

First Impressions: JKosmmune Skincare


We were so excited to try @jkosmmune_cosmetics—they generously sent us their serum and samples of their other products, including a new shampoo meant for oily hair.

Enzyme Cleansing Powder
As I’ve stated in previous reviews, I’m not a huge fan of water activated powder cleansers. I struggle with the ratios and ultimately, give up. I was expecting much of the same with this, but was pleasantly surprised! I tossed a few drops of water into the powder (in my hand) and built up a slight lather before applying to face. Lather felt effective, it washed clean and did not strip my combo-oily skin. I found this very nice primarily as a morning cleanser, but also as second cleanse in the evening. These little packets will be perfect for upcoming travel.

Lotion for Normal to Oily Skin
My goals for moisturizer are simple: hydrate, keep me dewy and layer well with oils and under sunscreen/complexion products. I only used this lotion during the day and I found that it was a match for my goals in this category. Also, we’ve had unusually mild weather and even with the low to high temps, this kept my skin balanced and I never looked like an oil slick!

I used this serum as part of my morning routine. I primarily used it as a layer of hydration following cleansing and toning. It applied well to skin and additional products layered well on top of it. I think for my skin, the main benefit is hydration (vs pore minimizing, elasticity, etc). I prefer a hyaluronic acid for this step, but this product helped keep my skin balanced throughout the day.

Shampoo for Normal Hair
This was the only miss in the products that I tried. My hair is fine, but I have a lot of it. I have an oily scalp and I do cleanse my hair every other day. First time I used this, I applied my usual post-cleansing products. Result? My hair was like an oil slick. Second and third time, I skipped additional products and hair was less oily, but very dull and flat. I am going to have Anna Marie try this sample to see if it works better for her.

Anna Marie:

When JKosmmune offered to send us some products I was super excited as I have read about beta gluten, and have used some products containing this ingredient. Beta Glucan is hydrating and penetrates the Skin and can be soothing and anti inflammatory.

Serum: This serum also contains purslane and centella, also skin soothing ingredients!
Serum: adore this serum. I’ve been using this daily and sometimes twice daily. It’s light and nonsticky. I find it a wonderful addition for my dry winter skin. I haven’t used it long enough to comment on the rest of the skin effects, but I will definitely be finishing this bottle!! The texture reminds me of MMHC.

Shampoo: another standout for me was the shampoo. Again, my hair is very dry and processed. This shampoo starts very watery and works into a nice lather. I would not use too much as it can weigh the hair down-but I find that even with a lighter conditioner my hair is in great shape.

Enzyme Cleansing Powder: the enzyme cleansing powder reminds me of @amorepacific powder cleanser. It’s light and lovely, lighting foaming. As @beauty_unplugged Commented, despite being foamy, it doesn’t dry out the skin! I do love the packaging for on-the-go cleansing. I’m so glad I got to try some more beta glucan products!