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

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.

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

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.

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 Review: Hylamide Hydra-Density Mist

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.

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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

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.

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.