REVIEW: Sunday Riley Space Race

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After enjoying my first Sunday Riley Purchase earlier this year, I was eager to try more of their products. And since I’m constantly looking for products that control oil and treat acne, I decided to test out the Space Race collection which includes the: Martian Mattifying Toner, UFO Oil, and Martian Mask. I’ve slowly goldilocks-ed my way through each of the 3 products, one of which was absolutely not the right fit for me and another that I’d repurchase in a heartbeat.

Here’s my review for each in the order in which I purchased them:

Sunday Riley Martian

My mom was kind enough to get me something that had been on my wish list for a while: Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner for oily and acne-prone skin.

The packaging boasts an impressive key ingredients list including:

  • Bentonite Clay to mattify and absorb excess oil
  • Marhsmallow and Green Tea to soothe and reduce redness
  • Manuka to smooth and mattify

I was sold! This sounded like something I wanted to slather all over my face every morning to keep it matte throughout the day. But upon trying this toner I noticed it smelled strongly of alcohol. Lo and behold, I took a look at the full ingredients list (not just the ones highlighted by Sunday Riley) and the second one on the list: Alcohol Denat. Sigh.

It’s mostly my fault because I occasionally get so excited about a product that I don’t fully check the ingredients until it’s physically in my hands. But I was more than a bit disappointed by this. It’s misleading that they state their key ingredient, Bentonite Clay, is responsible for reducing oil when clearly alcohol is responsible for the doing the mattifying.

Just to get into alcohol denat. quickly, I’m not 100% against all products that contain it. When you spot it towards the bottom of the ingredients list, it’s probably there for purposes of preserving the product or making the texture smoother and more “luxurious” feeling and it probably won’t cause irritation unless you’re especially sensitive. But when it’s one of the first ingredients, it will often cause irritation, dryness, and breakouts for most people. Furthermore, alcohol denat. can damage your skin’s protective barrier, making your skin ineffective at keeping moisture in, which will then lead to your skin overproducing oil to compensate.

So this toner was a no-go for me. But I didn’t let this deter me from testing out the remaining two products.

Side note: since drafting my review on this product a few months ago, Liah Yoo has posted an incredibly useful video about alcohol in skincare!

Sunday Riley UFO

I’ve been using Stridex as my BHA of choice for years! But while it’s incredibly effective at reducing my breakouts and exfoliating, it’s also quite drying. During my search for a new BHA, Maria (of Maria Likes Makeup) brought up Sunday Riley UFO as an option, although she still prefers Stridex to anything else she’s tried.

Sunday Riley UFO is a quick-absorbing oil that contains 1.5% Salicylic Acid. Sunday Riley lists Tea Tree oil and Black Cumin seed oil as their “key oils,” (although the ingredients list a total of 12 other oils including Milk Thistle, Cucumber, and Pomegranate, so while it didn’t irritate me, be extra diligent about patch testing in case one of these many oils irritates you).

I’ve been using UFO on and off for a little over a month now and while I do find it effective at controlling my breakouts, I’ve had a hard time fitting it into my routine because of the fact that it’s an oil combined with a BHA, so I can’t use other oils on my BHA days. So while I like UFO, it doesn’t really fit my needs currently and I won’t rush to repurchase if I run out (especially at $40 for a .7 oz bottle). I’m more likely to go for a BHA toner or switch back to Stridex so that I have the option of using other oils on the days that I exfoliate. However, if you don’t mind combining your BHA and oil into one step, I think it’s worth trying.

Sunday Riley Saturn Mask

Sunday Riley’s Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask is my most recent Sunday Riley purchase and my favorite by far! A few of the mask’s main ingredients are Niacinamide, Sulfur, and Zinc, which I already know my skin loves. It comes out of the tube as a really fun bright green color! Sadly, it’s not as insta-worthy on your face because it’s transparent when you apply a thin layer, but I won’t give it any points off for that.

The directions say you can also use it as an overnight mask although I haven’t tested that suggestion because I’m worried it’ll be too much for my skin.  I highly recommend it to my fellow oily/acne-prone peeps because it’s not overdrying, unlike most of the clay masks I use to keep my oiliness at bay in the summer. 10/10 would mask again and would repurchase.

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Have you had any recent skincare hits or misses? Tell me in the comments below!

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Follow me on Instagram @Levitate.Beauty for your daily dose of skincare tips and mini reviews!

MINI REVIEW: Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 25

Kiehl's Butterstick Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 25 Naturally Nude

Do you need to use sunscreen on your lips?

The short answer is yes: sunscreen is necessary on every part of your body that gets exposed to the sun. And a few weeks ago I realized I’d been making a terrible mistake: I wear sunscreen every single day without fail, but my lips have been totally unprotected! So I picked up Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment in shade “Naturally Nude.”

It has an SPF of 25 and uses 3 UV filters: Avenobenzone 3%, Octinoxate 6%, Octocrylene 6%. It contains a blend of hydrating ingredients like Coconut Oil, Squalene, Shea Butter, and Cocoa Butter. And best of all, it gives my lips a natural pink tint on days that I don’t feel like wearing lipstick. It also comes in several other shades, including an untinted option. I’m constantly putting it on my lips because it’s so soft and hydrating.

Budget-Friendly Sunscreen Lip Balms

At $19.95, the Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 25 is a bit pricey for a lip balm in my opinion, but I’d repurchase because I find it really hydrating and I love having a tinted lip balm with the added benefits of a sunscreen. I’ve been really impressed with every Kiehl’s lip product I’ve tried this year and this one is no exception. But more budget-friendly lip sunscreen options (although untinted) are Coola Liplux ($12) and Supergoop AcaiFusion ($9.50).

Are you using a sunscreen lip balm? What’s your favorite?

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Follow my Instagram @Levitate.Beauty for daily skincare routines and product reviews!

Do Fermented Ingredients Benefit Your Skin?

IUNIK Rose galactomyces toner Korean skincare kbeauty

I recently received this Rose Galactomyces Essential Toner to test from iUNIK, a Korean-based brand focused on helping your skin with its offering of minimalist, natural products at a reasonable price point. I love rose toners because they smell great and they’re gentle, hydrating, and calming on my skin. But the word ‘galactomyces’ really threw me off – I had absolutely no idea what Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate (GFF) was in the ingredients list so I decided to do some digging.

As it turns out, Galactomyces are fungi! They’re a byproduct of fermented sake and they’re used quite often in Japanese and Korean skincare products. It’s even the star ingredient of SKII’s toner (which they call Pitera)! GFF is beneficial for brightening and evening skin tone, moisturizing, controlling sebum production, decreasing acne, and reducing pore size.

iunik rose galactomyces toner, vitamin hyaluronic acid vitalizing toner, centella calming gel cream

iUNIK’s Rose Galactomyces Essential Toner contains 70% Rose Damascena Flower Water and 10% GFF. It claims to moisturize, rebalance, and soften sensitive skin. Of the 3 products I’ve tried from iUNIK, this one has been my favorite by far. It’s a very thin, watery consistency and absorbs into my skin almost immediately. I find that my face feels softer and more supple/hydrated after I use it.

I honestly think this is a great toner to use after cleansing and since learning about how beneficial fermented products are for my skin, I’m excited to continue using it in my routine. At it’s price point of $22, I wouldn’t hesitate to re-purchase.

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iUNIK’s toner was gifted to me in exchange for my honest review.

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Follow my Instagram, @Levitate.Beauty for more product reviews and skincare updates!

First Impressions: Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy Mask

First Impressions: Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy Mask

It’s been pretty hard to miss these gorgeous Herbivore Botanicals products all over Instagram and I’ve been dying to know what all the hype was about. So I finally gave in and bought the Blue Tansy Mask and Lapis Oil Duo! And because I’m always up for some exfoliating, I went for the Blue Tansy Mask first.

Prior to using the mask, I had no idea what Blue Tansy was, so I did some digging. Like all Herbivore Botanicals products, the mask is made with natural, food-grade ingredients and is cruelty free. Blue Tansy is a Moroccan chamomile whose terpenes (like that sticky stuff you find on conifer trees) are naturally blue and supposedly smell really sweet. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (the way most chamomile’s do) and because it’s so aromatic, it can help your body regulate hormones and de-stress. And in addition to the Blue Tansy, this is an exfoliating mask that contains both AHA’s and White Willow Bark (a naturally occurring BHA) so it’s great for inflamed or acne-prone skin.

I decided to patch test this only on my left cheek for the first time because that’s where my texture issues are. Despite the vibrant blue color of the mask, it’s basically clear when you apply a thin layer to your face.

Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy Mask Lapis Oil Levitate BeautyI can definitely attest to the aromatic qualities of the blue Tansy ingredient. The mask smells different, but not bad. It’s a very herbal, somewhat sweet scent. The box says you may feel slight tingling sensations, but I didn’t experience any tingling at all.

I chose to leave it on for 10 minutes the first time to make sure I didn’t have any reactions to it, but you can leave it on for up to 20. After time was up, I wiped it off with a wet cotton round as directed. It wiped off very easily and I was left with glowing, baby smooth skin!

So far I really enjoy it as a luxury feel-good product and for the soothing smell and benefits of the Blue Tansy. Plus, I’m a sucker for pretty packaging! But if you’re on a budget and looking for a similar exfoliating mask, try out the Deciem AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.

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Keep an eye out for a mini-review of the Lapis Oil later this week! And as always, don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on Instagram @Levitate.Beauty for daily skincare updates and reviews.

Adding Vitamin C To Your Routine

Levitate Beauty Sunday Riley ceo

Normally I keep my morning skincare routine pretty simple: splash my face with water, apply moisturizer, and finish up with sunscreen before starting my makeup. But recently I introduced vitamin c into my routine in the form of Sunday Riley C.E.O. (which is arguably their most instagrammed product). My skin has visibly benefited from this addition within a few short weeks! My skin looks more glow-y and my hyperpigmentation has gotten lighter within the short time I’ve used it.

What are the benefits?

If you read my post about Skincare Mistakes, you’ll remember that I recommended vitamin c as a safe alternative to using citrus on your face (which can be quite harmful to your skin).

Vitamin C has so many great benefits including:

  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Promotion of collagen production (making your skin firmer and more youthful looking)
  • Brightening of skin tone and reduced appearance of pigmentation
  • There is also some evidence that it reduces the damage caused by UV light exposure. So it’s a great addition you your routine along with (but not instead of) sunscreen. Just to be incredibly clear here: you absolutely still need sunscreen. Every day. Don’t skip this step!

So What Is Vitamin C Exactly?

Levitate Beauty Sunday Riley ceo derma Doctor Kakadu c

Vitamin C serums can come in different forms: L-ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate and THD ascorbate. L-ascorbic Acid is most common because the most vitamin c research has been done on it (Paula’s Choice states this as the reason they only use L-ascorbic acid).

Sunday Riley, however, uses what they call the “gold standard of vitamin c”: THD Ascorbate. THD Ascorbate is supposed to be more “lipid soluble” meaning it penetrates the skin better than many other forms of vitamin c that are water soluble and can’t penetrate the lipid barrier to reach the dermis. Reaching the dermis is important because this is where collagen is made.

When Do You Use It?

Cosrx Low ph good morning cleanser Biore Uv aqua rich sunscreen levitate Beauty

After patch testing successfully, start introducing it every other day and slowly increase if you want to. Because it helps prevent UV damage I choose to use it every morning, rather than at night. I added it to my morning routine in the following order: Splash with water (or cleanser), Sunday Riley CEO, Moisturizer, sunscreen.

Which Vitamin C Should You Choose?

While I’m currently using Sunday Riley’s CEO, there are so many different brands to choose from. However, when purchasing vitamin c, it’s important to remember that it should come in an opaque or dark tinted bottle, as prolonged exposure to air and light can make it ineffective (unless it comes as a powder, in which case it’s stable enough to see sunlight).

Here are some of my recommendations:

Sunday Riley CEO ($85) –

 sunday riley ceo Vitamin c serum

Drunk Elephant C-Firma ($80) –

C-Firma Day Serum Airless Pump Drunk Elephant

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster ($49) –

Paula’s choice c15 vitamin c serum booster

Clinique Fresh Pressed Vitamin C Booster Set of 4 ($79) –
Clinique Fresh Pressed Vitamin C Daily Booster, 4 vials

Budget-friendly pick:  The Ordinary 100% L-ascorbic Powder ($5.80) –

The Ordinary Deciem Vitamin C L-ascot if Acid Powder

Do you use Vitamin C in your routine already? What’s your favorite?

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Be sure to follow my skincare journey on Instagram @Levitate.Beauty!

How My Facial Roller Changed My Life

From Skeptic To Believer

I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical of facial rollers for a while. They always seemed like a silly, unnecessary luxury. But now that I have one I can’t imagine not using it!

A few weeks ago I had my first facial and the face massage part felt SO relaxing that I finally gave in and bought my own roller. I’ve only ever seen jade and rose quartz facial rollers before, but I searched specifically for an amethyst roller because, back when I used to read about crystal healing, I read that amethyst (a type of quartz) is really beneficial for acne due to its cleansing and detoxifying effects. It’s also a crystal used often in meditation to clear the mind of negative thoughts, stress, and anxiety. And whether you believe in crystal benefits or not, there’s no denying that amethyst rollers are a gorgeous addition to your shelfie!

In any case, the internet is magic. A quick Amazon search showed that amethyst rollers are in fact a thing! I got mine from Peace Essential on Amazon for $25USD.

Facial Roller Benefits

Before buying it, I decided to take a minute to look up the various benefits of facial rolling and here’s what I found:

  • It boosts blood circulation and reduces swelling making it useful for puffy eyes/face and dark under eye circles.
  • It smooths fine lines and wrinkles.
  • It can help your skincare products penetrate deeper into your skin.

Once it arrived in the mail, my first question was “where in my routine do I use it?” and my second question was “Is there a proper way to use it?”

When To Use Your Facial Roller

From what I can tell you can use it at any point in your routine! Some people use it immediately after cleansing and others at the very end of their routine. My preference is to use it over my sheet mask.

I’m not always the most patient person and after putting on a sheet mask I always find myself wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do while I wait. Enter the facial roller. Now I just slap on a mask and roll away! By doing this, you’re simultaneously giving your face a relaxing massage and helping the sheet mask essence penetrate into your skin. I find this especially helpful when the fit of a mask isn’t great, as I can just roll over to make sure the product is sinking in evenly.

How To Use Your Facial Roller

First things first, let’s talk about where to store your facial roller. It seems that most people store theirs in the fridge to make sure it’s extra cold and soothing. I tried that once and it was too cold for me personally (I mean, it’s still basically winter in New York!) but this is probably a great option for summer. I find that the roller already gets cool enough in my chilly apartment.

Secondly, it turns out there is a proper way to use it. You should use it from the inside of your face out. Start from each of these points (on each side) and follow through toward the direction of your temple:

  1. Jawline
  2. Middle of your lips
  3. Corner of your nose
  4. Under each eye
  5. Over each eye
  6. Over each brow
  7. Over the forehead

Each time, making sure to roll toward your temple. After you’ve massaged each area a few times, you can move onto your neck, starting from the top and moving toward your collarbone each time.

Now that I own a facial roller, there’s no turning back. I use it every night and have seen so many benefits already. But the biggest and most important benefit for me is: it feels amazing! I tend to grind or clench my teeth throughout the day or furrow my brows when I get stressed or if I’m concentrating. It’s such a great feeling to come home from work and massage those muscles Now that I’m addicted, what other skincare tools do I need to add into my routine?

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Be sure to follow my Instagram @Levitate.Beauty for your daily dose of skincare tips and mini reviews!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Dr. Jart+ Transfoam Clay

PRODUCT REVIEW: Dr. Jart+ Transfoam Clay

A few weeks ago I bought the Dr. Jart+ Transfoam Clay Mask Set! It comes with 3 different masks (Calming, Moisturizing, and Refreshing) which makes it a great set for multi-masking! The cool thing about these masks is when you rinse them off they transform (or “trans-foam,” if you will) into a foamy cleanser that’s supposed to wash away oil and dirt.

The packaging also says it can remove base makeup but I’d say this should NOT replace your makeup remover. I’d stick to using my normal Micellar Water and cleanser first.

I chose not to multi-mask because my skin has just been generally dry all over, so I pulled out the Moisturizing Pink mask and went for it. I let it dry for 3 minutes (as the instructions recommend). When I rinsed, it did foam like a cleanser which was cool!

After rinsing, I wouldn’t describe my skin as feeling hydrated, but the mask was significantly less drying than my normal clay masks which I loved. I’ll definitely continue to use it throughout this winter over my Queen Helene mask which feels too drying right now. I’d say this is a great mask for oily or combo skin.

I have been able to try the other two masks over the past few days and here’s what I thought:

White (Calming)

My skin wasn’t irritated when I used this so I feel like I can’t have a fully accurate review of it yet. But it did feel nice on my skin and when I rinsed my skin felt smooth and it does contain chamomile which is a calming ingredient.

Green (Refreshing)

This one felt very similar to Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Mask. It has somewhat of a cooling/tingly/minty feel to it. My face felt a bit dry after using it so be sure to follow it up with a moisturizer or a sheet mask! I’d recommend it for oily or combo skin.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I wouldn’t let these replace my normal cleanser, but I did like them a lot as masks! They felt much gentler than other clay masks I’ve tried and I liked that they dried within 3 minutes, so it’s not as much of a time commitment. My favorite was the pink hydrating one because it didn’t leave my skin feeling dry – I have a feeling I’ll be using that one the most!

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Try these masks for yourself! Head over to my instagram (@Levitate.Beauty) and enter my giveaway!