Beauty Review: Neocell Collagen serum and mask

NB: These products were sent to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. For more information, click here.

A little while ago, I was contacted by a rep from the company Neocell about trying some of their products. Looking up the company, I found that they primarily market collagen and other dietary supplements, so I politely declined, as I already have a supplement regimen in place and am not in the market for others. When she mentioned that they also sell topical products, I was intrigued, and agreed to test out a serum and a wash-off mask.

A couple weeks later, I opened my box to find a bottle of Collagen+C Liposome Serum and a jar of the Collagen Moisturizing Treatment Masque. The serum was in an airless pump, similar to the type of pump used by Makeup Artist’s Choice for their serums, while the mask came in a small jar. I tested the serum for a few weeks, while I only tried the mask once. Unfortunately, my (unrelated) skin freak out happened toward the tail end of testing these products, but I still feel like I’ve gotten a sense of how I like them.

The Collagen+C Liposome Serum is a translucent gel serum that contains soluble collagen, vitamin C (in the form of ascorbyl palmitate), amino acids, and vitamin E. While the exact percentage of ascorbyl palmitate is not stated, there is research that ascorbyl palmitate in topical preparations can have some of the same benefits of ascorbic acid, while being less sensitive to pH. Therefore, I do not worry about a wait time after this serum. There is actually limited evidence that collagen in topical preparations has much benefit beyond retaining hydration. So I did not go into this test with high hopes, to be honest. But I found that after replacing my COSRX Triple-C serum with this for two weeks, I did not notice new breakouts, and noticed my existing lingering marks fading nearly as quickly as they had been. While I would not buy this again for myself, it is a simple serum, containing a potentially-effective form of vitamin C, and that doesn’t require worry about pH, all at a very reasonable price, so I might consider suggesting this to a friend or family member who wanted to improve their skin routine without going all-in the way I have.

The Collagen Moisturizing Treatment Mask was different. It contains moisturizers and collagen, as well as several essential oils and plant extracts. I personally found the scent a bit strong for me — it smells fairly strongly of sandalwood and patchouli, which are not scents I’m fond of. I also don’t tend to use moisturizing wash-off masks, so I think I applied it a bit too thickly and had trouble washing it off. That said, despite the strong essential oils, this mask did not irritate my skin at all, and I did notice a moisturizing effect after leaving it on for half an hour. So if it were reformulated to reduce the scent, I would consider buying it again. And if you like sandalwood and patchouli, definitely give it a try.

Beauty Review: COSRX x Charlotte Cho Triple C Lightning Liquid

So I actually forgot to mention this beauty in my recent round-up of skincare things I like for a very simple reason: it’s quite easy to forget. Despite the attempts at making the packaging look luxe, and the hype that was generated prior to its release, this is not a terribly glamorous or exciting product. It’s a vitamin C serum. Like dietary sources of vitamin C (i.e., fruits and vegetables), it’s rather something you use everyday because you know its good for you, but that you don’t necessarily expect rapid, earth-shattering results from. Oh, I know it’s an acid, so it can provide exfoliation, but honestly, I use vitamin C for the long game, not the short-term.

And yet, I realized the other day that for the last month, my skin has been particularly well-behaved. No major breakouts, just one hormonal spot at the expected time, and even that has healed up rather quickly, with the marks fading nicely. And, honestly, the last thing I added to my testing routine was this serum. So go figure.

Anyway, let us back up. I bought this because it’s a touch cheaper than my current vitamin C serum, and it’s actually a low-pH, L-AA serum, so it’s made with the stuff that has the studies behind it in terms of collagen-building. I was frankly dubious about its claims of stability, so I do keep mine in the fridge, but I’ve seen only a mild color change from completely clear to ever-so-slightly-champagne colored over the last month. It certainly has a long way to go before I would consider tossing it. Compare that to the mini Drunk Elephant serum that came the color of orange blossom honey, and I’m honestly impressed.

The bottle is quite pretty. It’s a very, very deep indigo color, almost black, but with just enough color that you can see it when the fridge light shines through it just so. The gold-rimmed dropper is a nice touch. It would look lovely sitting on my vanity, if I would dare leave it out of the fridge (not specific to this serum; I store any L-AA serum in the cold). My only complaint is that there is a bit of crystallization that happens in the dropper, which did start to clog it after a few weeks, but I poked it out with a clean pin and continued on my merry way. A minor annoyance at worst.

The product itself is very watery, with an ever-so-slight “chemical” smell to it (but of course, I’m not alarmed because everything is chemicals). It feels light and refreshing on the face, with a slight amount of “slip,” but I attribute that to the fact that it is quite acidic and I find acidic things feel lightly conditioning on the skin and hair. I felt a slight tingle the first few times I use it, and now if I use it after a breakout, I might feel one or two pricks, but nothing remotely resembling “stinging.” It dries down quickly and I don’t experience any stickiness. I find it comfortable enough to not put on hydrating toner right away, so I try to give this 10-20 minutes to sit before I continue with my routine in the morning.

A note about timing usage: Soko Glam recommends using this at night because it is acidic enough to exfoliate. The fact is that AHA exfoliants cause sun sensitivity for days after application, so your level of sun sensitivity will not change whether you use it in the morning or at night. I also use a 15% lactic acid three times a week at night, so I keep this in the morning. And I like the idea of putting on antioxidants early in the day so their activity is high during peak sun hours. But that’s your choice.

Anyway, I apply it directly after my morning cleanser, which is with a low-pH cleanser, so I don’t bother with pH-adjusting toner first. I let it sit while I meditate or make matcha or gather my lunch supplies. On days when I go to the gym, I might just walk out of the house with just this on my face (if it’s humid) because I go to the gym before sunrise. Otherwise, I give it maybe 15-20 minutes of wait time and then continue with the rest of my morning routine. And, yes, I always use sunscreen during the day.

So far, with relatively generous daily usage, I’ve made it through about a third of the bottle in a month, which is about right for vitamin C. And I definitely see myself repurchasing this when I finish the bottle.

A Quick Review: Deciem’s Hylamide Booster C25

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.

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.