Beauty Review: Products I Like More Than the Things from Deciem Brands that I Have Liked in the Past

Update 11/5/2019: So as many in the beauty community may know, the problematic owner of Deciem to whom I refer in this post was pushed out and passed away in early 2019. In light of this, I’ve relaxed my decision not to support the company, though I have not returned to using any of the products I’ve reviewed previously.

So most of my traffic comes from a handful of posts, specifically my posts reviewing products from the brand Deciem. Unfortunately, in light of overwhelming evidence that the owner of the company is not someone I want to support, I’ve finally decided to stop patronizing the brand. But, honestly, I don’t really have any current favorites from Deciem anymore anyway, so it’s not such a hardship, so rather than just adding to the rhetoric against the brand (better writers than I have written about it), I’m going to share some of the products I’ve been using that are either replacements or even upgrades to previously-reviewed Deciem products.

Jordan Samuel Skin Hydrate Serum:

The first post on Deciem I ever wrote was a review of their Hyaluronic Acid serum. A little while after that, I wrote a post called “Battle of the Deciem Brands” where I faced off The Ordinary’s Buffet serum with Hylamide’s SubQ Anti-Age serum, which are both ultimately hydrating serums with peptides added. I came out on the side of the Hylamide serum, but I haven’t actually used either of these in over a year.  Since then, I’ve discovered one of my favorite new-to-me brands: Jordan Samuel Skin. Jordan is a joy to watch on YouTube, and an absolute doll to interact with on social media. He’s responsive, supportive, and just plain nice. AND he has a small-but-thoughtful line of products that are natural-led without neglecting science, and free of fragrance and essential oils. I’ve been using his Hydrate serum, which is a hydrating serum with peptides and a bit of stable vitamin C, for over three weeks now and I’m reasonably certain I can give it credit for how amazing my skin looks lately.

Heritage Store Lavender Water and Glycerin Mist:

Another product I reviewed positively from Deciem is their Hylamide Hydra-Density Mist, which is hydrating and soothing, but is ultimately a hydration step. Since then, I’ve stopped spending money on in-between steps meant to either hydrate or seal in hydration. So instead of buying expensive watery toners or mists, I go between steps with several sprays of Heritage Store Lavender Water and Glycerin. It has water and glycerin to grab hydration, and a light lavender scent. They also make a rose version. If you absolutely cannot handle scent of any kind, this isn’t for you, but my fragrance-sensitive skin loves it and it’s cheap at my local natural foods store.

Stratia Liquid Gold:

This isn’t a straight replacement, but that first Deciem review also included a review of The Ordinary’s Niacinamide serum. I’ve since stopped focusing much on niacinamide as a mainstay of my routine, but the 4% niacinamide in my favorite midweight moisturizer is plenty to keep my skin happy. As a bonus, the Liquid Gold also has ceramides and some lovely plant oils. And Alli is just so sweet a person. She also has a small but thoughtful line of products that are firmly science-led, and is highly responsive on Instagram.

COSRX Triple C Lightening Liquid:

Another of my early reviews was the Hylamide C25 Booster vitamin C serum. I liked that it was easy to use, cosmetically elegant, and seemed to give my skin a nice glow while still being shelf-stable and free of worries about oxidation. Well, I’ve done some research and there’s not a whole lot of evidence that ethyl-ascorbic acid is as effective as l-ascorbic acid, so I started investigating L-AA serums. I settled on the COSRX collaboration with Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam. This serum is a 20.5% L-AA serum with black chokeberry to help prevent oxidation. I do keep mine in the fridge and check the color regularly, but after two to three months of use, I haven’t seen it turn more than a pale champagne color. And it feels like water on the face. It is acidic, so there is a slight sting if you apply it on broken skin (i.e., a spot that might have mysteriously popped while you were doing your routine), but other than that, it’s benign and just serves to keep my old hyperpigmentation fading and my skin bright. I’ve actually done a full review here.

Innersense Beauty Hydrating Hairbath:

I’ve spoken in the past about my hair care routine and how some of my favorite products were the Hair is Fabric foaming conditioners. They’re basically an upgraded version of conditioning shampoo. Well, although I liked the way they made my hair feel, they all have unbearably strong scents, even after a supposed reformulation a while back. So I started experimenting with hair care again. And I landed on a winner: Innersense Beauty. I’ve started using their Hydrating Hair Bath during the week in a similar way to the HIF cleansing conditioners — as a moisturizing one-step cleanse in the shower, with a leave-in conditioner for extra nourishment. I also use their Hydrating Cream Conditioner as a deep conditioner once a week after a more clarifying shampoo, and I love their Sweet Spirit Leave-In Conditioner and Quiet Calm Curl Control Creme as leave-in treatments. The scents are all natural and the perfect balance of a pleasant shower experience without a lasting cloud of scent on my person. Also, they sell minis so you can try the products without a huge initial financial outlay!

Bonus: Stratia Soft Touch AHA:

Just before the most recent stuff hit the most recent fan for Deciem, I was testing The Ordinary’s 10% Lactic Acid serum as my thrice weekly chemical exfoliant. It’s cheaper than my previous serum and a similar potency. When I decided I definitely needed to try to move away from Deciem, I brought out a bottle of Stratia Soft Touch AHA 10% mandelic acid gel that I had (probably unfairly) tested and abandoned around the time I was recovering from my miscarriage. As I love the Stratia brand and I wanted to give it a fair shake AND I didn’t want to buy a new product after developing uncomfortable feelings about my remaining half-bottle of The Ordinary LA, I decided to try it again. And I’m so glad I did. It does the same job of keeping clogs at bay on my chin, it’s a similar price point to The Ordinary (it’s 2/3 more product), and it’s in an airless pump instead of a fiddly dropper. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, gentle AHA, give it a try.

NB: I was not paid to review any of the products mentioned here and purchased all of them at full price with my own money. See more about my policy around accepting products for review here.

Five Things for which I’m Thankful During a Rough Month

So I’ve made some vague, cryptic allusions to having a “tough time” lately. I’m not really ready to talk about it more concretely than that, but suffice to say, I’ve had a bit more than the normal amount of both physical and emotional hardships for the last month or so. As things (I hope!) start to ease up, I’ve been thinking about the things that I’ve really leaned on to help brighten my days, and thought it would be an appropriate post for today.

Multi-functional beauty products: I’ve been having a hard time either working up the motivation to do a skin care routine or finding the physical stamina to take long showers, so I’ve been leaning heavily on my Stratia Liquid Gold and HIF cleansing conditioners the past few weeks. When I don’t feel like doing a full routine, I can ask my husband to bring up the bottle of Liquid Gold (it’s distinctive color makes it easy for him to pick out on my vanity). Then, I just need to make it to the bathroom long enough to brush my teeth and doing at least one cleanse, and I can slather on a few pumps of Liquid Gold right before my head hits the pillow. And now that my hair is a bit shorter, a single wash with the HIF cleansing conditioner is enough to keep my hair happy for a bit. I choose Intensive Detox or Hydration Support based on how long it’s been since my last shower. I really wish they would get their 1-L bottles back in stock.

Trader Joe’s: We don’t shop at TJ’s often because the closest one is still not terribly convenient. But we’ve found ourselves in the neighborhood lately and have stocked up, particularly on their frozen food. It’s nice that for $40 or so, we can have almost a week’s worth of food that is easy to prepare and doesn’t contain the ingredients that tend to give me migraines, which are in a lot of prepared foods. And I’m not spending all our money on Seamless. My particular favorites are the frozen croissants, orange chicken, and tamales.

My 25-oz. Camelbak water bottle: I drink a lot of water throughout the day, and when I’m at home, that means getting up every hour or so to refill my glass. Since I’ve been spending more time resting on the sofa, I just fill up the bottle and save a few trips. I can also bring it with me when I’m going to be out for an unknown amount of time.

Leggings and thick socks: I’m not really a fan of socks usually, but it’s been cold. My standard uniform lately has been an oversize sweatshirt or tunic worn over leggings with a thick pair of socks. Sometimes I swap the top out for a tunic t-shirt and a long cardigan.

Pat McGrath LuxeTrance lipstick in “Beautiful Creature”: I bought this as a bit of a retail therapy back when this whole thing started at the end of October. I haven’t been wearing a lot of makeup lately, but when I feel really crappy, but I have to go out and I want to feel a bit more put-together, a swipe of really nice lipstick can go a long way. And this is really nice lipstick. The color is a deep rose pink that looks neutral enough not to look “dolled up,” but is dark enough to add a bit of contrast to my face. It’s a great autumn color. And the formula is amazing. It’s creamy going on, but sets to an almost-matte finish that does transfer, but also leaves enough color on your lips to not need a touch-up after drinking or light eating. Seriously, I wore this to the doctor’s office and it helped.

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

Update 11/5/2019: So as many in the beauty community may know, the problematic owner of Deciem was pushed out and passed away in early 2019. In light of this, I’ve relaxed my decision not to support the company, though I have not returned to using any of the products I’ve reviewed previously.

Update: Since writing this review, I have decided I no longer wish to support Deciem or any of its brands. See here to see what products I like instead.

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.