Beauty Review: Battle of the Deciem Brands, The Ordinary Buffet vs. Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age Serum

So I’ve been procrastinating writing a review of The Ordinary’s Buffet serum for a while now. Originally, I was just lazy. But then, I decided to try switching to the Hylamide’s SubQ Anti-Age serum. When I started using it, I thought maybe I’d hold my review of Buffet until I had an opinion of SubQ, since Deciem holds up SubQ as a more potent version of Buffet.

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I’ve only tried two other products from each range: Hylamide’s C25 Booster serum and Hydra-Density Mist, and The Ordinary’s Niacinamide + Zinc serum and Hyaluronic Acid + B5 serum. Of the serums, I find that Hylamide’s serums have a more sophisticated texture, in general, though I like The Ordinary’s focus on simple, one- or two-main-ingredient products so you can mix and match exactly what you want. I’ve had a problem in the past with some serums just offering too much, leading me to skip a serum that looks interesting because one of the other ingredients is unwanted. But “Buffet” is a different beast for The Ordinary. As per the company’s description, the name implies a comparison to an all-you-can-eat restaurant. But even this many-in-one formula remains relatively uncomplicated. It’s peptides and hyaluronic acid in several weights. In essence, this is what SubQ Anti-Age is as well.

The main difference in description is that SubQ Anti-Age is marketed specifically as an alternative to retinol products for anti-aging. This intrigued me, as I’ve been striving to avoid retinols and retinoids in my skin care routine as something I would have to give up if Fiancé and I decide to have a child. Why find something that works a miracle with my skin if I’m going to have to give it up for a year in the future? No, there’s plenty of time for me to experiment with non-retinol products now and save the retinoids for when I’m older.

So on to my own experiences. Buffet was the first serum I tried. As I’ve mentioned before, I have one relatively pronounced forehead line that serves as my yardstick for the efficacy of my skin care routine. I’m reasonably sure that nothing short of fillers or Botox would remove it entirely, but levels of hydration and effective chemical exfoliation will reduce its prominence. I found Buffet to be a perfectly adequate hydrator. It reduced the prominence of my forehead line enough that I felt like it was doing something. But I find find the texture a bit uncomfortably sticky. This is not a serum I would use during the day.

Enter SubQ. At first drop, the texture is much more pleasant. It sinks in quickly with much less stickiness. I actually find it absorbs so quickly that I had to play a bit with how I apply it. At first my skin drank it up so quickly, that I had to apply six drops directly to my face and pat it in in zones to get it spread out before it was sucked in. As I’ve used it over the last several weeks, I’ve found my skin a little less desperate to absorb it. That alone suggests that it’s doing something.

But then, this happened: I was sitting at our Sunday morning coffee date with fiancé and he stopped looking at his phone and started studying my face. I grew increasingly self-conscious and mildly annoyed and asked him what he was doing. “I was noticing how you have no lines on your forehead when I have a lot of lines on my forehead,” he said. Hmmm, I thought. I looked in my hand mirror and noticed that, indeed, my forehead line had faded to near obscurity. Given that I am nearly three years older than he is, it’s likely that any difference in our skin is down to genetics and good skin care. After that I started looking and noticed that I was regularly seeing less and less of my line. So I definitely find SubQ more effective than Buffet and to me it is worth the extra price.

So there is my comparison. I like the Deciem brands because their products seem to be well-formulated and price seems to correlate with activity, but even the lower-priced products are a good quality, well-thought-out product.

NB: I purchased both of these products with my own money and have been given no incentive to review them. None of the links are affiliate links.

Beauty First Impression: Deciem’s Hair is Fabric (HIF) one-step hair cleansing conditioners

This is going to be a bit of an odd beauty review post, as I usually test a beauty product for a bit longer before writing a review, but hair products fall in a bit of a grey area with that. Personally, I tend to know if I’m going to like a hair product or not within the first couple of times I use it. Sometimes something happens and I realize I don’t actually like something so much, or I won’t pay attention and not realize I like it for a while, but the first impression is generally where my opinion stays. So. First impressions.

Deciem’s HIF brand is a line of one-step cleansing conditioners intended to mimic the gentle treatment of dry cleaning, but for your hair. Now, as a person with very long hair, I’ve completely absorbed the advice to “treat your hair like an antique lace table cloth.” I mean, the ends of my hair are around 3-4 years old and cannot be repaired if damaged. So I went into this intrigued and appreciative of the idea. But still apprehensive because my scalp loathes having conditioner on it and traditional co-washing has never been a success for me. But HIF products actually use foaming agents to cleanse, so I was curious if they would work.

So first a bit about my hair. I have very thick, very dark, pretty long hair. It’s about to my mid-back right now, with mostly blunt ends. It has a very slight wave to it naturally, but it goes stick straight if I blow dry it (without even brushing) and it will hold a wave if I keep it in a bun or braid for a while. My scalp is pretty balanced, but does get greasy a couple days after washing, and my ends will get a bit dry solely because they are so long and natural oils don’t tend to travel down that far. My typical hair routine is a very cleansing shampoo applied just to the scalp and a nourishing condition applied just to the lengths and ends, followed with a few drops of oil on the very end after I’ve towel-dried it. I tend to lose a fair amount of hair when I wash, which is about three times per week. I use handmade, seamless combs from an Etsy vendor as my primary method of detangling.

Okay, so on to the conditioners. I started by purchasing two of the formulas — Intensive Detox and Straight Hair Support –but later purchased two more — Hydration Support and Growth Support. I have varying opinions of the individual formulas, but my primary general impression is that the line is probably aimed more towards people with shorter hair than I have. But since I’m considering cutting my hair after I get married, that’s not a dealbreaker. And of course, there are exceptions.

Intensive Detox: First, I tried the Intensive Detox formula because it was Sunday and I hadn’t washed my hair all weekend. It’s an interesting formula. It’s a very thick gel that goes milky when mixed with water and lathers up nicely. It’s quite concentrated so I found the best way to apply it was to put little blobs in my hands, lather them with added water, and apply to a section of my scalp. It took maybe 3 sections to get my whole scalp, and then another blob lathered and applied to the length. I wound it into a bun with an acrylic fork and let it do its thing while I did the rest of my shower. Then, rinse and see what we have. First of all, the scent is decidedly invigorating. I found when it dripped, it stung my eyes a bit. But it’s not a bad scent, just kind of minty-herbal. Second, I definitely lost quite a bit less hair than usual. I wonder if it’s because I only applied and rinsed once, though. Finally, in the shower, I noticed that after rinsing my hair actually did feel conditioned, which was surprising. That said, after my hair dried, I’m not sure it looked as smooth as when I condition it separately. But it wasn’t bad, and it looked just as nice as usual when kept in a braid or bun.

Straight Hair Support: This one is definitely the stinker of the bunch. And I mean that literally. In the tube, it had a light “clean” scent, but as soon as I applied it (using the same technique as above), it blossomed into a heavy, Axe-body-spray-like scent that I do not enjoy. It persists as long as your hair is the least bit damp, which made it all the worse that I used it to wash my hair in the morning and didn’t have a chance to dry it completely before putting it up. Ugh. It’s a creamy consistency, but I don’t find it much more conditioning than the Detox formula. At least the scent faded to the generic “clean” scent once I let my hair dry completely. But, no, I will not be repurchasing this one.

Hydration Support: This one has my favorite scent. It’s a very light, unisex, clean scent that lingers in an enjoyable way without getting stronger when mixed with water. While this formula isn’t supposed to foam at all, I found I got a bit of lather from it while applying it. My hair felt the most conditioned after using this one and I didn’t see any scalp irritation or increased hair fall from it. Indeed, like with the others, I seem to lose less hair when using this. I would probably be a perfectly happy camper to alternate between this one and the Detox formula, which is particularly fortuitous because they are the least expensive of the line. That said…

Growth Support: It irritates me to no end that this formula has left my hair the nicest of any of the four I tried because it is also the most expensive. Like the Detox, this is a gel formula, and I applied it much the same way. I actually gave this plenty of time to sit on my hair because I shaved my legs while it was “activating.” It smells a bit like chai and TweedCat decided that my wet hair smelled like something she should try to eat. It’s not terrible, but not my preferred hair scent. But it fades pretty quickly in dry hair. But oh my goodness, my hair is shiny and soft this morning. I woke up and was so entranced by the softness of my braid tassel that I made Fiancé feel it. So nice.

So there you have my first impressions of the Deciem HIF cleansing conditioners. I will definitely be repurchasing the Intensive Detox and the Hydration Support, and I will consider repurchasing the Growth Support if I continue to like it so much after using it for a few weeks. Have any of you tried this line? I’d be curious to hear your experiences.

Update: I have since realized that these cleansing conditioners do not condition my long hair sufficiently, and may actually be exacerbating a small patch of eczema on one ear, so I’m definitely not going to repurchase. I may use them once in a while between my normal hair care routine, though, particularly the Hydration Support, but for now, I’m encouraging Fiancé to help me use them up.

Beauty Review: Hylamide Hydra-Density Mist

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Disclaimer: I generally don’t get sent products for review, but I feel the need to disclose that this was provided to me free of charge by Deciem. Not for a review, but because I literally placed an order the day before it was released and was annoyed because they don’t ever give any estimate as to when they’re going to release things. I complained on Instagram and they contacted me for the order number and threw this in with my order. When it got to me, I realized they hadn’t charged me for it. Thanks, Deciem!

Alright, so this is another Deciem product, from their mid-range skincare brand Hylamide. I got this Hydra Density Mist on a whim (and for free, as per the story above) because Caroline Hirons always talks about spray-hydrating and I thought a nice moderately-priced hydrating mist would be a good addition to my morning skin care. And I started using it and basically just felt very “meh” about it.

So I resolved not to repurchase when I ran out. And then I started getting lazy about using it. And then I realized that it was actually doing something.

It’s really subtle, but I find this mist really brings a little burst of hydration to my relatively-uncomplicated morning routine. In the morning, I wash in the shower, Glow Tonic, Vitamin C serum, and sunscreen. This fits in between Vitamin C and sunscreen, and it gives a nice refresh to my skin after I’ve let my vitamin C serum sit for a bit.

This is not an exciting product. It’s not scented at all, nor does it really make a huge difference in my overall skin. But I just feel like my skin looks a bit better when I use it versus when I don’t. And that was enough that I actually bought a new bottle of it in my last Hylamide order. So that’s my endorsement: got to try it for free, but shelled out to replace it. It’s not going to do any miracles, but it will hydrate your face. Make sure and put something over it, though, to keep the hydration in.

And that’s really all I have to say about it.

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A Quick Review: Deciem’s Hylamide Booster C25

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve used Deciem’s Hylamide Booster C25 for a while now and that I’d post a review soon. Since it’s not an involved review, I thought I’d just do a quickie here on a Saturday. I don’t have a lot to say about it. I like it and I’ve repurchased it for when I run out, but I’m not asking a lot of it.

First of all, I think I should say a bit about why I use Vitamin C serum. A lot of people are looking for heavy duty anti-aging or brightening function from their Vitamin C serum. If that were my goal, I would certainly go for a proper L-Ascorbic Acid serum with Ferulic and Vitamin E for stability. Personally, a use Vitamin C in the mornings to give my skin a bit of an antioxidant boost and help my sunscreen along. Any brightening is purely icing on the cake.

So. This serum. This is a very light, watery-textured serum. It feels like a dry oil going onto the skin. It smells chemical-y, but not overwhelmingly so, with a slight hint of something fresh. It’s not fragrance, so they must just use a slightly fruity smelling solvent. It’s not unpleasant, though I have gotten used to it. I use 4 drops on clean, patted-dry skin in the morning. I let it sit for as long as I have to let it sink in, and then apply hydrating layers and sunscreen. It dries down quickly and leaves my skin feeling like skin so I don’t feel like I’m really layering a bunch of gunk on my face, which is how I like it in the morning (at night, however, gunk me up!).

And… that’s really about it. I mean, the main thing I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t break me out or irritate me. I’ve maybe seen a bit of lessening of the residual spots and pigmentation on my chin, but I have heavier-hitters in my routine that are more noticeable. But C25 is pretty consistent in my routine and I don’t care to see what happens if I remove it. It’s $33 for a 1-oz. bottle and I’m a bit more than halfway through it after 3 months of daily use. And I really use this every day unless I literally don’t get out of bed. And even then, if I get up for 5 minutes to make a cup of tea because Fiancé has abandoned me on my sickbed, I’ll swipe with some micellar water and pop into the vanity room to slap a little of this on. It’s that easy and makes me feel infinitesimally more human.

So that’s my review. Yes, there are ingredients with better research associated with them, but I like that I don’t have to keep this in the fridge or anything. It’s not exciting but it’s not going anywhere from my vanity any time soon.

NB: I purchased this product myself and was provided no incentive to review it.

Beauty Product Review: Deciem’s The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide Serums

Deciem is a company that has been on my beauty radar for a while. When I was dealing with the personal implications of my heavily-Asian-product-based skin care routine, I thought perhaps their Hylamide HA Booster could take the place of some of the products that had to traverse the Pacific. Of course, I am a slatherer of product, so the price point was still just over what I could justify when I could get more product for less from Japan. I do use their Booster C25 as my daily shot of vitamin C and couldn’t be happier. I’ll probably review it in the future, but it keeps slipping my mind because it’s become a bit of a given in my morning routine.

Then, they introduced a new line: The Ordinary. The Ordinary is a line of products with simple ingredients formulated to be inexpensive, yet effective. In interviews, their founder Brandon Truaxe has said that they keep the prices low through the formulations and that the business model is sustainable at those prices. Serums are generally about $6-15 for a 1-oz. bottle and feature single or dual-ingredient formulas targeted to a consumer to know what they want and are willing to do the research to choose the right formulation.

Well, good. After being generally dissatisfied with my Curology experience, I decided to start looking around at their formulas to see if I could roughly match what was helping me in my Curology medication. Of course, I was most interested in their upcoming Azelaic Acid suspension, but they haven’t released it yet and Deciem tends to like to keep consumers in suspense about release dates. In fact, I ended up having a bottle of their other brand’s hydrating mist thrown into an order I’d made a day earlier because they released it suddenly and I couldn’t plan to place the order one day later to add the mist. It would be nice to get a rough idea of when something plans to release, like a month or even a season. But that’s besides the point.

The point is that the first two products I purchased from The Ordinary were the 2% Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin B5 serum and the 10% Niacinamide and Zinc PCA serum. I’ve used the HA serum for over a month and added the Niacinamide serum about two weeks ago. And I have to say, I’m impressed.

The HA serum is no-frills and not terribly exciting, but it does hydrate my skin. It has totally replaced my Hada Labo lotion and I find that my lingering comedonal bumps on my forehead seem to be clearing up as well. The formula is a runny gel consistency and dries down to a slightly sticky finish at first, but this disappears as soon as I put another moisturizer on top of it. I use it every night, but I’ve thought about using it in the morning as well as soon as another product runs out. My test of any hyaluronic product is my one deep-ish forehead line and this seems to keep it plumped and softened.

The Niacinamide serum is a whole ‘nother beast. I made a foolish choice and used a poor cleanser for a few weeks this September, culminating in a gigantic spot on my right temple. It not only took a few weeks to clear but it left an angry red spot that seemed like it intended to stick around for a while. I decided to add the Niacinamide serum about a week or so after it became obvious this big red spot was attempting to make me decide on Jupiter as a Halloween costume. I mix the HA serum with the Niacinamide serum in a 1:1 ratio each time I apply (3 drops of each serum in the palm of my hand, swiped together and applied) at night. Their textures are almost identical so they mix easily. Please note that I mix the dose I’m applying nightly. Don’t mix and store skincare because you might disrupt the preservative system.

I swear, within 3 days the redness started to fade. I don’t think I’ve actually been this amazed by a non-active product ever. So color me impressed. Honestly, I wish I’d thought to take before-and-after pictures, but I really didn’t expect results like this and seriously why else would I take a photo of such a massive face eruption?

So there you have it. I heartily enjoy what I’ve seen from Deciem’s The Ordinary. I’ve purchased one more serum to try, their “Buffet” serum, which I hope will replace the plain HA serum. And I definitely plan to review more of Deciem’s products in the future.

NB: I purchased all products myself and was not provided any incentive to review them.