For Christmas of 2020 I decided to treat myself to a luxurious advent calendar. There were many good ones, but I set my eyes on the one from CultBeauty. As it contained most of the products I’ve either planned on buying or wanted to test out. After sitting 6 hours refreshing the site I finally managed to order one! 5 minutes later they were completely sold out.
Overall, I’m so happy with the products and would definitely buy this sort of gift again! There were a few repetitive things, like three blushes, one that I already got, two of which were quite similar and not to my liking. I ended up selling/giving away about seven products from the calendar that I didn’t care much for. It’s like buying an album (remember those?), it’s rare to love all the songs, but at least I could give these a new nice home.
I haven’t been able to test out all products yet. Things like, the Jordan Samuels Retinol Oil, Oskia lactic acid peel, and Herbivore Prism glow serum, will have to wait. I already have a few retinoids and chemical exfoliants on rotation that needs to be used up before popping I pop a new bottle. So I will do a “part two”-series on this or they’ll be mentioned individually.
No further ado, here are some empties that I feel like talking about!
Because this turned into an awfully long post, click below to get to the review you’re most interested in:
> Glow Recipe Banana Souffle (DISCONTINUED)
> 111Skin Rose Gold Radiance Booster
> Votary Super Seed Oil
> Dr Dennis Gross B3Adaptive Stress Serum
> Dr Barbara Strum Night Serum
>>> Check out Part 2 <<<
Glow Recipe | Banana Souffle
Update 2022: This Moisturizer has sadly been discontinued.
Said to be calming and hydrating. Has a jelly souffle consistency and smells sweet of bananas. Some like the scent others don’t. I personally like the scent of bananas, and it wasn’t too heavy or lingering. This moisturizer is chock full of calming, soothing, and hydrating ingredients. I quite enjoyed this one very much. Which was a surprise!
Glow Recipe is one of those brands that’s been on my radar but didn’t interest me enough to consider. Like, the Banana Souffle wasn’t really the selling point of this advent calendar for me…
Being schooled by Paula Begun, I do hate the jar packaging. It has a narrow neck where the cream gets stuck and it’s hard to reach and scoop out. And I also do think the packaging made me take more than I actually needed. It lasted me about 2 months. But with 25ml, I do think it should’ve lasted me at least for 3 months. With that said. I probably enjoyed this product the most out of all the contents of the advent calendar. It simply does what it says it does (at least for my skin).
Of all the things in the advent calendar, the Glow Recipe Banana Souffle is one of the few things I’d consider repurchasing whenever I feel like I want a more advanced formulated moisturizer. The price point is right up my alley of what I’m comfortable paying for this type of product. I’ve been using expensive stuff like Allies of Skin Peptides Daily Treatment, but only because I found it on 50% off or more. Otherwise, I will usually use boring and simple stuff from the apothecary to moisturize and spend more on serums.
I think, because I wasn’t expecting to like this product, I like it even more. After this I am going to take a harder look at the brand, so perhaps will try more!
VERDICT: Would definitely recommend to try if you’re in the market for a new moisturizer. It does suit more normal to combination/oily skin types. But with a drop of face oil, even dryer skin types will like it.
111Skin | Rose Gold Radiance Booster
Described as a radiance booster that soothes and hydrates while leaving the skin with a radiant, illuminated finish. It’s an extension of their popular Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Mask, which I haven’t tried myself. The Rose Gold Radiance Booster key ingredients are niacinamide, rose water, and gold. Has fragrance, but I barely can sense it.
I was quite excited to try this out. 111Skin is another brand that, while I have heard about it, wasn’t truly on my radar. This serum seemed fun as it has gold shimmers that are supposed to “wake up” the skin and add radiance – perfect for winter! It can be used alone or mixed with your regular moisturizer.
Now, I have not experimented much with similar products, but I imagine that Glossier’s Future Dew gives off more glow than this one. My skin has been quite dry this winter, but this simply did nothing for my skin. The “glow” faded quickly as my moisturizer sunk in. While this has some nourishing ingredients, it wasn’t enough to hydrate or soothe my skin.
I’m happy to have tried it as it’s an expensive and luxurious product. But it did nothing special for my skin that would make me want to repurchase. I also wouldn’t recommend it to anyone as there are many cheaper products that do the same thing and are probably better.
Overall, I’ve had a look at some of the other products from 111Skin, and while some seem interesting, I’m not convinced they are worth the money. But again, if this or any other 111Skin product would be featured in a gift bag or future advent calendar, I wouldn’t complain.
VERDICT: Doesn’t really do what it says it does. Would not recommend or purchase.
Votary | Super Seed Oil
A brand I wasn’t at all familiar with until I placed the order. Suddenly people were talking about it, especially this product. It’s a full-size product, but without the pipette. Super Seed Oil is said to be formulated for dry, delicate, and irritated skin types.
This is quite an expensive face oil, but you get a lot and it will last you a very long time. I’ve used it for 3 months now, and I’m about 1/4 of the bottle in. It’s composed of a bunch of different oils, seems like the founder got mesmerized and tried to squeeze in a lot. From the look of it, the base of it isn’t very special though, grape- and pumpkin seed oil. It’s got Calendula flower extract, so indeed there’s something soothing. Overall, it’s got a great mix, but I personally think it’s a little overkill having so many different oils.
The oil itself is a bit on the thicker side. It’s a great winter oil. I never use oil alone, always mix 2-3 drops with my moisturizer. Depending on the humidity, I will probably be able to use it in the summertime.
I was surprised to see how many had this on their wishlist. For me, it was just another oil that would replace The Ordinary’s B Oil when I was done with it. And after using it for months I still don’t see what the fuzz is about?
Yes, it’s a nice oil, but so are jojoba, rosehip, and other various blends. What I do like about it is that it doesn’t have any fragrant essential oils added, which many expensive face oils do. And the added touch of calming calendula extract is a nice feature. But not £70 worth it. In a sense, it would be better off having fragrance as aroma would make the product feel more luxurious and reflect the price. Like, I’m not a fragrance person, but I still feel a pull to repurchase Korres Black Pine Oil because of the effect and luxurious feel from the aroma I felt when using it. Not to mention, Korres Black Pine Oil has some more oomph, like vitamin C and black pine extract.
I’ve been an avid face oil user for years so I’m hard to impress. For me it feels like the founder clearly wanted to make an expensive product as mixing so many different oils together is dumb. I wouldn’t necessarily repurchase this, although I do like it and it seems to be lasting me a long time. It’s just that, for the price point I don’t feel like you’re getting any real substance. If you are willing to spend cash, I’d rather spend it trying out their Broccoli Seed and Peptides serum instead, as that one has some more active ingredients in it.
VERDICT: I’m a bit torn. I like it and would recommend it. However, it’s nothing special for £70.
Dr Dennis Gross | B3 Adaptive SuperFoods Stress Rescue Super Serum
This was yet another product I was excited to get to try and see if it had any impact on my acne flareups. It’s an interesting product containing niacinamide, in what % is unclear though. Then there’s a long list of superfoods and adaptogenic herbs that are supposed to combat stress-related aging.
The B3Adaptive Stress Super Serum smells much of turmeric, which dissipates quickly after application. I personally don’t like the scent of turmeric, so it kind of takes away the pleasure to use it. It’s best applied on slightly damp skin. Otherwise, it has a way of sinking in quickly as it’s surprisingly not very hydrating. I was actually hoping this would be a hydrating and calming serum in one, but it’s mostly focusing on the calming and antioxidant effect.
This serum is suited for all skin types. And like the description says, definitely toned down redness, but I’d guess someone with rosacea would see better results. While I found it to tone down redness and even out my complexion it, disappointingly, had very little effect on actually calming down inflamed acne spots. At least, I saw it have no effect on breakouts in particular. Redness, yes. Cysts, no. Except for reducing redness, Dr. Dennis Gross does recommend this serum to be used with retinol and other actives, to alleviate any irritation that may occur. And I did notice being able to tolerate my high-strength retinol better when using this.
Besides reducing redness it did make my skin feel softer and more even and kind of have this radiance about it. However, I found it to be very similar to NIOD Modulating Glucosides, both in texture and description. Only that, I personally found NIOD MG to be more effective at calming down acne! So if you’re looking for a similar product like the B3 Adaptive Stress Serum but don’t like its price point, I’d recommend looking into NIOD’s Modulating Glucosides serum! The ingredients are of course not the same, but their focus is basically the same. Only that, in my opinion, MG does it better for less. On the flip side, if you have tried MG and for some reason, it caused irritation for you, you might want to look into B3 Adaptive rescue serum.
VERDICT: If apoptogenic herbs for the face interests you and redness is a big issue for you, then I say give this a try (or the NIOD MG).
Dr. Barbara Strum | Night Serum
This is one of the most expensive products that came in the Advent Calendar. A full-size product of 30ml costs about €270, which is the same amount of my rent plus parking spot! With that price in mind you, of course, expect miracles!
The Barbara Strum Night Serum is a regenerative serum focusing on barrier repair. Active ingredients include Cotton Thistle extract (not to be confused with milk thistle) that is supposed to help improve skin quality and been shown to help skin recover after invasive treatments. There’s also Cassia Alata extract that may reverse sun damage. Beta-glucan and Poria Cocos work on barrier function. And plankton extract helps reduce signs of aging.
Of course, the price point always makes me more skeptical about a product as my expectations get much higher. So naturally, my tone will be slightly more passive-aggressive. Especially when I feel like the product’s claims and ingredients seem much overvalued.
My issue starts with the direction of use. Strum says to apply “a pipette length”(!). Not a few drops. But a whole pipette! Which sounds very wasteful for such an expensive product. Not to mention that this is a very emollient serum, just two drops of this is enough for the whole face and neck! But apparently, for this to be optimally effective, you need to drench yourself in it. There’s even a video showing how much to take!
I’m just shook that a pricey product like this is meant to be used up so quickly?! Following the recommended amount to use, my little sample would have lasted me one week – two weeks tops?! The full size of 30ml will probably last you about a month, instead of the general two to three months. It’s easy to establish that Dr. Strum products are only for the minimum of €10 000/month earners. That’s at least how much I feel I need to be making to be comfortable buying it monthly.
Besides the direction of use, yes it is a lovely serum! It actually delivers when it comes to hydration and barrier function! Whenever I use this at night, I wake up to my skin feeling soft and calm. And probably, if I had the balls to use a pipette length of this stuff (which I tried once), my skin would also feel very hydrated and plump. However, I don’t find it special enough to feel it being an essential part of my routine to keep my skin in check. Also, I kind of need to say that because there’s no way at this moment in time I could afford having it in my daily routine.
There’s no other product like it at the moment, but I do feel there are other products that together give me the same effect for less the cost. I also don’t think I’m missing something essential in terms of anti-aging as long as I stick to having retinol and SPF in my routine. This serum is meant to help skin recover and strengthen the skin barrier, but there are other cheaper ingredients and products that do the same. Again, from an objective point of view, there’s nothing essential about the effect this serum gives that you can’t get from other sources.
VERDICT: If you can afford to spend my monthly rent on skincare, I’d say go for it. I personally do find there are other products in the same price range, I would rather spend my money on, like the Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense. However, I’d probably also have this in my cabinet… Although I would be cheap and use it only a few times a week. So I don’t know what good that would do.