Arcona Advanced “A” Serum

What it is: A facial treatment serum

What it does: Clarifies the complexion and regenerates the skin

Star ingredients: Retinaldehyde (Vitamin A), Matrixyl 3000 and Matrixyl Synthe’6 (peptides), Lactic Acid, Aloe


This is an all-encompassing nighttime treatment serum that is filled to the brim with tried-and-true actives for skin brightening, smoothing, and plumping. The main ingredient is Retinaldehyde, one of the many derivatives in the vitamin A family and one that does not appear very often on the market as it is difficult to work with. However, when formulated properly, it is very efficacious and delivers results with minimal negative side effects such as irritation and redness that often occur with traditional retinol. Boosted by an assortment of peptides to support skin firmness and complemented by lactic acid to resurface and hydrate, this is a well-rounded formula which should be beneficial to most skins.

It is very lightweight and sinks into the skin almost as soon as you start to rub it in. It has a somewhat fruity, floral scent due to some flower extracts that lingers quite strongly for a couple minutes and then dissipates. I used it for several months underneath a hydrating serum and moisturizer and it did not cause any pilling or layering issues. Having been a consistent user of retinol for some time before starting this product, I cannot say that I experienced a dramatic change in my skin while using it. However, that really wasn’t what I was expecting. It kept my skin feeling balanced, healthy, and strong, and I felt good about it when I looked in the mirror. And that’s really all that this product is meant to do. I imagine if this had been my first step into the vitamin A pond that I would have had more of a dramatic result with it.

I would recommend this for anyone who is looking for a good retinoid product to begin with or to incorporate into their existing routine to keep their skin “up to date,” as it were. If your skin is more on the dry/dehydrated side I would make sure to include a good hydrator in your routine for added moisture, as it probably won’t be hydrating enough on its own.

Price: $85


Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser

What it is: A facial cleanser

What it does: Nurtures skin (especially dry or sensitive) with a gentle, hydrating cleanse

Star ingredients: Goat Milk, Avocado Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, Manuka Honey, Glycerin


I never thought I’d be someone to really enjoy a cream cleanser. I’ve always preferred the lightweight gel formulas, but this winter my skin had been experiencing some surface dehydration and I could not for the life of me figure it out. My routine was on point in terms of hydration and protection, so I was a bit confused until it finally entered my brain that maybe my cleansing process had something to do with it.

I had this cleanser on hand so I decided to swap the others out for this one. I was a little nervous at first because one of them included salicylic acid and that was how I was incorporating that ingredient into my routine. But a few days in and it was obvious that my problem had been remedied. My skin no longer looked dry after cleansing (like there was a layer of translucent skin sitting on the surface of my face) and it felt very calm and balanced. The products I applied afterward also seemed to settle in and do their thing more efficaciously. I have continued to use it since then and am still thoroughly appreciating it.

It has the rich, slick texture of an oil-rich cream, but does not feel heavy or suffocating. It spreads very easily and creates the tiniest bit of lather when introduced to water. It cleanses thoroughly and rinses off completely with no feeling of residue, yet the skin doesn’t feel like it has been depleted of moisture. I use this as the second step of my double cleanse, but I have used it as the first step as well and it performed very well at destroying the layers of sunscreen that I typically wear. The scent is very light and refreshing and makes this step of my routine a bit more enjoyable. I may go back to my gel cleansers in the summer when the heat and humidity level is much higher and the dryness might not be an issue, but as of right now I have no reason to stop using this product. Easily my favorite product out of the few cream cleansers that I have tried and I highly recommend it.

Price: $38

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Special shoutout to Gino for appearing in the photo.