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!

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!

Skincare Mistakes Part 2

Skincare Mistakes Part 2

Hope you guys had great weekends and Mondays! In my last post, I talked about a skincare mishap where I accidentally put nail polish remover on my face (fml) and how I handled it.

As promised, in this post I’m going to be talking about some of the biggest mistakes I made before I started researching skincare. I’m also going to be mentioning some products/ingredients you should avoid in your routine.

Most of these skincare mistakes took place when I was in middle school and high school, dealing with intense acne. Whenever I had a particularly bad breakout, I would deal with it by attacking it with harsh products. Since then, I have done much more research on how to take care of my skin and have learned the error of my cringe-worthy ways!

Here they are:

Mistake #1: Using lemon juice on my face.

Why?

Bad. Bad. SO BAD for your skin for so many reasons. Your skin’s natural pH is around 4.5-5 (slightly acidic), and the pH of lemon juice is 2-2.6. So lemon juice is way too acidic for your skin, it’s irritating, and can lead to a condition called Phytophotodermatitis (which makes your skin hypersensitive to UV light and looks like a chemical burn). Lastly, despite claims that “DIY Lemon Juice Treatments” will lighten your hyperpigmentation, over time it actually does the exact opposite – likely due to the photosensitivity it causes.

Story Time

In high school I discovered one of my favorite makeup gurus who I won’t name as I still love her videos. However, 3 weeks before my senior prom, I started breaking out from stress of finals and friend drama and prom worries, so I turned to her YouTube channel and found a skincare video where she advised using a lemon + sugar scrub. yikessss. I did this every other night and ended up going to prom with the worst breakout I’d ever had since finishing accutane when I was 12. I still love her and will take makeup advice from her in a heartbeat, but this was probably some of the worst skincare advice I’ve ever received.

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Vitamin C Serums: Sunday Riley CEO and DERMAdoctor Kakadu C

Alternatives

So, in general, you should avoid putting lemon on your face. However, another effective and natural way to brighten your skin is to introduce a vitamin c serum into your routine. Vitamin C is great for reducing hyperpigmentation, brightening your skin, and reducing the damage caused by UV light exposure. There are plenty of great ones to choose one. Some people also choose to make their own DIY vitamin C serum using L-ascorbic acid, however I don’t normally DIY my skincare so I haven’t done enough research to determine whether I recommend this method.

Mistake #2: Baking soda scrubs

Why

I want to scream every time I see baking soda used as a DIY skincare treatment. Even worse, there are plenty of brands selling products with baking soda still! Going back to pH’s, baking soda has a pH of 9 meaning it’s alkaline (or basic). Products that are too alkaline cause dryness and irritation for your skin. It can also make you more prone to acne since you need a certain amount of acidity to keep the bacteria on your skin in check. And people seem to love this ingredient because it’s “natural” but remember that something being “natural” does not automatically mean it’s better for your skin. So keep your baking soda in your fridge or in your toilet (or your cookies!) and keep it away from your face.

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Alternatives: Some of my favorite AHAs and BHAs include Krave Beauty Kale-Lalu-Yaha, The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid, and Stridex

Alternatives

For brightening and exfoliating benefits, try adding a BHA or AHA into your routine (like salicylic or glycolic acid). Or if you prefer a natural, DIY physical exfoliator, try some gentle colloidal oatmeal – which is even better if you mix it in with some raw honey for a mask!

Mistake #3: Over-washing my face and using harsh cleansers/scrubs.

Why

Yes, it’s possible to wash your face too much! Over-washing can strip your skin of it’s natural oils and damage your skin’s barrier causing moisture loss. This can cause your skin to have that “tight” squeaky clean feeling, develop rashes, acne, and can exacerbate your oiliness problem because when you dry out your skin, you start producing more oil to try to compensate.

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Alternatives: The CosRx Low pH Good Morning Cleanser is one of my new go-to gentle cleansers lately!

Alternatives

Switch to gentle cleanser that doesn’t leave you with a “tight” feeling on  your skin. Only cleanse 1-2 times per day (I don’t use a cleanser in the morning) so that you’re not over washing.

Other products/ingredients to avoid or be weary of:

Harsh physical exfoliators: St. Ives Apricot Scrub is widely hated among skincare enthusiasts for good reason – it’s pretty harsh on your skin. Many people that do see benefits with this product are likely just reacting well to the salicylic acid in the scrub – so instead try products like Cerave’s SA Cleanser or Stridex.

Cinnamon: It’s an irritant and can cause a burning sensation on your skin. There aren’t many benefits to using it. Some people use tumeric as an alternative which is an anti-inflammatory and doesn’t seem to irritate people as often. Eating tumeric or drinking tumeric tea can also be beneficial to those with acne (and those with back pain!).

Toothpaste: Not only is the idea of over-drying your skin bad, but toothpaste contains sulfates which can strip our skin of its natural oils (which help to keep good things in your skin and bad things from coming in).

Coconut Oil: This is one that isn’t a bad ingredient, but you definitely need to patch test and listen to your skin before incorporating it into your routine. I thought this was worth mentioning here because coconut oil has become a major skincare trend despite the fact that it’s known for being highly comedogenic for many people (meaning it is likely to clog pores and cause acne). Not everyone experiences this with coconut oil – and those that don’t break out from it love its benefits. But more often than not, I see that lots of people (including myself) do not react well to it, so always be sure to patch test!

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Before I sign off, I just wanted to point out how many of these skincare no-no’s were caused by me reading that “natural is always better.” While it’s great if you choose to use natural products, it’s important to remember that natural ingredients can still be harmful to your skin. And synthetic ingredients don’t automatically mean it’s bad for you. Often, synthetic skincare ingredients are made to produce the effects of naturally-occurring ingredients that aren’t widely abundant for our use.

No matter what you decide to put on your face, make sure to do your research on whether or not the ingredients are safe to use (natural or not-natural). One of my favorite ways to do this is searching the product on cosdna.com which gives you an idea of which ingredients you should be worried about.

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Thanks for reading and be sure to follow my Instagram @levitate.beauty for routine updates and product photos! 

2018 Skincare Resolutions

2018 Skincare Resolutions

Happy new year everyone! Normally, I start the year by making a list of goals I want to accomplish rather than making traditional “resolutions.” Some of my goals are to write at least once a week, to move up a level in my dance classes, and to go on a trip to South America.

But this year I thought it would be fun to switch it up by making a few skincare resolutions! In a perfect world, I would never commit any “skincare sins” but I’m only human. So here’s my list of resolutions for 2018:

Always remove my makeup before bed.

My favorite product for removing makeup: Garnier Micellar Water

I know, I know. I love skincare so you’d think I would never forget to remove my makeup – but I’m not perfect! I’ve definitely come home late on a Saturday night and passed out without taking off my makeup. And while it’s not the end of the world to forget for just one night, I know I can do better! So I’ve decided to always keep a bottle of Garnier Micellar Water on my nightstand. No more excuses!

Never leave my house without Sunscreen.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence is the closest I’ve come to finding my HG SPF!

This one has more to do with me not finding a sunscreen that both agrees with my skin and works well under foundation. The closest I’ve come is Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence, but even that breaks me out after more than a week of using it. So I’m determined to make 2018 the year I find my Holy Grail SPF! Next week, I’m going to make a list of all the sunscreens that have broken me out and try to narrow down which ingredients my skin doesn’t like.

Take time to de-stress.

Stress has such a negative effect on my acne. I’ve certainly gotten better at keeping my stress under control (especially since graduating), but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still need to a take a giant chill pill almost daily. My stress is at it’s lowest when I’m crocheting, doing yoga, or dancing – so one of my resolutions is to do more of these things! Hopefully this will leave my skin clearer and my body more healthy!

Always patch test!

My stash of The Ordinary products that I’m dying to use – but I haven’t gotten around to patch testing them yet!

Sigh. I have sensitive, acne-prone skin and I know I should always, 1000% patch test. No matter what. Period. Regardless of how excited I am to use a new product. It’s the best way to prevent irritation, rashes, or breakouts caused by using a product that doesn’t agree with your skin. I was pretty good with this in 2017, but I had that one moment when I was so excited for Glossier’s sunscreen launch that I used it every day with patch testing. I found out the hard way that my skin hates silicone!

Clean my brushes more often.

Makeup brushes accumulate bacteria, dust, and dirt. So when you don’t clean them enough you’re putting that grime all over your face and undoing all the hard work of your Skincare routine! Bonus reason to clean you brushes: it also keeps them softer and allows for better color application.

I typically clean them with baby shampoo and water since it’s gentle on the bristles. But I need to get better at washing them at least every other week. I recently purchased Sephora’s Daily Brush Cleaner spray so that I can also do a more surface-level cleaning every day. Best of all: it contains tea tree oil which not only kills the germs on brushes, but is also great for your skin!

And while we’re here, a quick PSA about BeautyBlenders: wash that thing! After throwing away a few moldy beautyblenders, I’ve gotten much better about cleaning them. I rinse mine with dish soap every morning (preferably Dawn. If it’s gentle enough for baby ducks then it’s gentle enough for my beautyblender!). For an even deeper clean, I’ll throw it in a mug of soapy water and microwave it for 1 minute. It works, I swear! I haven’t had a moldy beautyblender once since I started doing this.

Aaand fin! Those are my 5 top skincare resolutions for 2018. I have a game plan for most of them so hopefully I’ll be able to stick to it. What are your resolutions this year? Are they skincare related or just personal?

2017: My Favorite Products!

2017: My Favorite Products!

2017 has been a great beauty year for me! Working in beauty has allowed me to try out and compare so many different products. These are the products I tried for the first time this year that I absolutely loved!

The Ordinary: Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

What is it?

The Ordinary as a brand is probably the best thing to happen to me in 2017. Because what’s not to love? They’re effective, straightforward about their ingredients, and their prices are outrageously affordable compared to other brands. So going on a “The Ordinary” skincare haul is guilt-free! My favorite product of theirs is the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum. Both ingredients work together to reduce blemishes and balance sebum activity.

Why do I love it?

Well, for starters, all of the reasons I listed above! Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% has truly changed my skin. I apply it every night and I don’t find it too drying or harsh. I had noticeable results within just a week of using it and now, after 10 months, my PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) is almost completely gone, the texture of my skin has improved, and my skin tone has really evened out! Best of all, I’ve gotten less breakouts since using it!

Lime Crime Unicorn Dye in Chestnut

What is it?

This past October, Lime Crime released a line of semi-permanent Unicorn Dyes that work for brunettes! No bleaching or lightening necessary. They released 4 colors for brunettes: Chestnut (maroon), Squid (purple), Sea Witch (teal), and Gargoyle (grey).

Why do I love it?

I refuse to bleach my hair, which means I’ve never been able to dye it fun colors (after many failed attempts at dying my hair with Manic Panic, I’d all but given up having fun hair). But Lime Crime’s launch for brunettes has changed that! I purchased Chestnut, a maroon color and it actually worked on my dark brown hair. While the color isn’t as vibrant on dark hair as it would be on lighter hair, the color definitely shows up. It’s supposed to wash out over the course of 2 weeks, but it’s been over a month and the dye is still there! Once this color finally washes out, I’ll be moving on to Sea Witch, a teal color.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

What is it?

It’s a cleanser made up of Micelles (tiny cleansing oil molecules) suspended in water. You simply shake the bottle, pour it on a cotton pad and gently use it to remove makeup and cleanse your face. Best of all, it can replace your cleanser – no need to rinse after (although I recommend using a second cleanser to ensure your makeup is totally gone)!

Why do I love it?

It’s an easy and effective way to remove makeup. It makes my skin feel hydrated and it absorbs into my skin quickly (unlike Albolene Mineral Oil which I used to remove my makeup prior to Micellar water). I like to keep it on my nightstand so that no matter how tired I am, I never have an excuse to skip on removing my makeup.

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear 24H Foundation

What is it?

An oil-free, medium-coverage foundation that promises a matte finish and up to 24 hours of wear.

Why do I love it?

I’ve heard great things about this foundation for a while, but I finally decided to give it a try this year after my old foundation suddenly started making my face look too shiny. Lancome’s Taint Idole foundation has great coverage without feeling too heavy or oily on my skin. It also is very long-lasting, although I haven’t dared to test the 24-hour theory (15 hours seems to be true so far, though). But most of all, it really does look matte on my oily skin!

Thanks for following along! I loved all of these products so much and I’m happily keeping them with my in 2018.

What were your favorite products of 2017? Is there anything you’re dying to try in 2018?

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Be sure to follow my Instagram account, @LevitateBeauty for your daily dose of skincare tips and mini product reviews!

Levitate: A Beauty Blog

Levitate: A Beauty Blog

Levitate (v.): to rise; especially in seeming defiance of gravitation.

Hi everyone! This is my first ever post, so it’s probably a good idea to introduce myself and the blog. I’m Becca and I’m from New York. I studied Fashion Business and I work in beauty.

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I love playing with all things skin care and makeup. There’s nothing more satisfying than finding the perfect serum to battle my acne or stumbling upon the darkest, most smudge-proof liquid liner.

I’ve dealt with breakouts nearly my entire life, and my stress levels didn’t help. Up until this past May, I was in school and working full time. I was busy beyond belief and I felt like I didn’t have enough time to eat and sleep, let alone enough time to de-stress. But since graduating, I’ve made myself more of a priority and my skin has improved significantly! And, yes, some of this improvement also has to do with me getting more serious about finding a skincare routine 5 years ago.

But to me, the most important steps in any beauty routine start from the inside: practice self-care, self-love, and supporting others.

While my skin has improved a lot over the past 5 years (and even more over the past 6 months), it’s still far from perfect. There are some days I feel comfortable enough to leave my apartment without foundation, but on other days I still get breakouts, or have dry skin, and sometimes my face is an oily mess.

The purpose of this blog is to lift each other up and to lift up ourselves.  To not only work toward our skincare/makeup goals and experiment with fun products, but also to become more comfortable and accepting of ourselves as we are. While we may not be able to control every aspect of our skin, we can control the way we see and feel about ourselves.

So, I present to you the official Levitate Beauty Routine:

  1. Self-Care: Self-care is anything you do to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. For me, that’s playing with beauty, dancing, crocheting, trying a new cocktail, traveling the world, or reading a Stephen King book (preferably with a sheet mask and a glass of wine). For me, self-care has had the added benefits of improving some of my stress-induced flare ups of acne and psoriasis.
  2. Self-Love:  We’re often our own worst enemy, focusing on our flaws and things we wish we could change. One of my biggest challenges is learning to get along with my skin! As much as I try to, I don’t always have full control over my skin; however, I can control how I react to it and how I treat myself. And let me be clear: Self-love doesn’t mean giving up. It doesn’t mean I’m putting down my masks and serums!! But self-love means I can stop blaming myself for every thing “wrong” with my skin. It means I can feel good about myself, regardless of what challenges my skin throws my way.
  3. Support others: Help others learn to love themselves. We all know how difficult the self-love thing can be, so give people around a boost. Give genuine compliments often. Comfort people that need it. Be generally kind to each other.  Is it cheesy to write, “be the change you want to see in the world”? I’m writing it anyway.

While this blog will cover mostly skin care and makeup related things, I would also love to sprinkle in posts related to travel, exploring my city, and other things that relate to how I practice self-care.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you follow me through the rest of my journey!