Skyn Iceland Brightening Eye Serum

Today’s spotlight is on the Brightening Eye Serum from Skyn Iceland.

This is a hydrating, lightweight gel that sinks into skin quickly. A little truly goes a long way: I use one small drop for both eyes. I chose this because I tend to get irritation and puffiness around my eyes and thicker gels/creams always exacerbate it. This provides immediate and long-lasting hydration without feeling heavy. I have not seen any skin brightening from this product, but I appreciate how it decreases any redness I may have and slightly plumps and smooths. I typically use this once a day in the AM.

Skyn Iceland focuses on stressed skin with their products, and with that in mind this eye serum is brilliant. Ingredients include a vast array of peptides, glycerin, centella asiatica extract, chamomile extract, cucumber extract, and their signature Icelandic Complex. Previous to this, I had been using Niod’s Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate, another eye serum which mainly targets signs of aging and is highly favored in skincare circles. For my needs, I prefer the Brightening Eye Serum. It quickly targets my concerns, which are dehydration, stress, and puffiness. It is also slightly thicker than FECC and seems to boost hydration in the skin for a longer period of time.

Overall, I love this product, and even at $40 retail price it is worth the purchase for me.


Skyn Iceland Brightening Eye Serum | Ulta Beauty

*at the time of writing, this product is on sale at Ulta for $30

Spring/Summer Morning Skincare Routine (featuring Dermalogica)

These products are the current staples in my morning routine. I recently incorporated the serum (so I only have a first impression of that so far), and some mornings I add in a self-tan product and/or an eye product.

The Active Clay Cleanser is a clay-based cleanser featuring prebiotics, bioflavonoids, tea tree oil, glycerin, and aloe. It helps to balance out excess oil while cleansing and leaves skin feeling refreshed and calm. It is not stripping at all to skin; it feels like a typical hydrating gel/cream cleanser with the added benefit of the oil-control ingredients. Love it for the warmer months when my face tends to get sweaty and oily.

Multi-Active Toner is the perfect lightweight layer of hydration to prep skin after cleansing. It delivers natural moisturizing factors to the skin to boost up hydration and soothes skin with Arnica, Balm Mint, and Lavender. Coming in at 8.4 oz, you can expect the full size bottle to last awhile. The spray can be a bit messy and forceful, but I get around this (somewhat) by spraying in half-pumps instead of pressing down all the way.

Smart Response Serum is officially being released on June 3rd here in the US. Being the freak that I am, I took advantage of a pre-release Dermalogica offered during their official announcement of the product. It boasts next-generation technology which activates the ingredients in the formula only when it senses the skin’s need to utilize them, and that intrigued me enough to purchase it. The actives featured are Oligosaccharides from Beta Glucan (which target dehydration), Hydrolyzed Wheat Flour (which targets dark spots), Japanese Cornelia Cherry (which targets redness), and Mannose-6-Phosphate (which targets fine lines and wrinkles). Other ingredients include Glycerin, Niacinamide, and Hyaluronic Acid. It is on the thicker side of the serum segment, verging on a lightweight lotion texture. It spreads easily and immediately hydrates and slightly smooths the surface of the skin. I find that I prefer to skip moisturizer when wearing this and go straight to SPF. I have used this for three days now, so my only thoughts at this point are that it is a pleasure to use and it keeps my skin hydrated throughout the day.

Lastly, Prisma Protect has been a staple SPF in my routine since I first discovered it. It is a light-to-medium weight formula that provides a beautiful satin sheen to skin without being overtly glowy or shiny. It smells like citrus candy when first applied (dissipates quickly, though). It utilizes traditional chemical filters, so there is no trace of white cast or grittiness. It feels smooth and luxurious to apply and hydrates and moisturizes without feeling heavy, greasy, or irritating to skin. It does look a bit shiny when first applied, but when it has set up on skin for several minutes it looks and feels amazing. It is not water or sweat resistant, so if I am going to be outdoors or working up a sweat then I make sure to reapply periodically. I have reapplied using a number of other sunscreens and they have all set up smoothly and without pilling. Love. Period.

Dermalogica has been a brand that has consistently delivered and been a pleasure to use, and I always look forward to my routine when their products are in the mix.


Cleanser: Active Clay Cleanser, Prebiotic Cleanser, Charcoal Face Wash For Oily Skin | Dermalogica®

Toner: Multi-Active Toner, Hydrating Spray Toner | Dermalogica®

Serum: Smart Response Serum | Dermalogica®

SPF: Prisma Protect SPF30, SPF Face Moisturizer | Dermalogica®

Zelens Z Hyaluron Hyaluronic Acid Complex

What it is: A facial serum

What it does: Intensely hydrates and plumps skin

Star ingredients: Encapsulated multi-molecular Hyaluronic Acid, Beta-Glucan, Glycerin, Kaempferol, Succinic Acid, Algin


This is not your average hyaluronic acid serum. Loaded with the precise skin-nurturing ingredient formulations and technology that Zelens is known for, this is a powerhouse hydrating/feeding/protecting serum that easily sails to the top of my skincare favorites. Per the Zelens product description, it combines “three types of hyaluronic acid at different molecular weights encapsulated into niosomes for improved delivery to the skin. Supercharged with bioflavonoid that inhibits hyaluronidase (the enzyme responsible for HA degradation) and plant derived succinic acid for renewal support.” It boasts twelve active ingredients and promises to leave skin “looking plump, smooth and supple.”

There are three main points in which this stands out for me. First, the texture of the product. It is a “heavy” watery fluid that isn’t quite thick enough to be classified as a gel but it stays in it’s place for the most part when you dispense it onto the hand. And it spreads like a dream. One dose from the dropper is enough for my face and neck. It sinks in quickly and doesn’t leave a residue. Second, the initial burst of hydration when applying is extremely satisfying. It feels like the hydration is actually going into the skin rather than just sitting on top. And third, the moisture retention in my skin throughout the day is phenomenal. I have dehydration-prone skin and am currently wearing a mask for 8+ hours a day and I can feel the moisture in my skin for several hours after putting on my mask. Overall it leaves my skin much happier and calm at the end of the day.

Personal tip: when applying this serum, I prefer to sandwich it between mists. Meaning I do a light spray before I apply it and also afterwards. I find that this boosts the hydrating properties and it really makes a difference in how long the hydration lasts during the day. It also helps in spreading the product around and massaging it into the skin. These layers of hydration aid in plumping up fine lines and wrinkles and achieving that “glass skin” look. Don’t forget to apply moisturizer as a final layer to seal it all in.

Final verdict: skincare gold. You get what you pay for with this product and it delivers as promised.

Purchase: Z Hyaluron Hyaluronic Acid Complex Serum Drops – Zelens Limited 2021

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


Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Hyaluronic Cloud Moisturizer

What it is: A facial sunscreen

What it does: Protects from UVA/UVB damage while hydrating skin

Star ingredients: Sun protection filters (Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene), Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Argan Oil, Vitamin E, Ceramides


The latest release in the popular Water Drench line, this is an SPF 45 version of the classic moisturizer. It is very light, silky, and hydrating, providing a generous layer of moisture to the skin while not feeling heavy or oily. I would say the major departures from the original formula would be the color (it is white before blending into skin) and the overall feel of the formula on the skin. It is slightly more…nourishing? When I used the original moisturizer as the last step in my skincare routine I would often feel the need to apply something heavier afterwards. I don’t feel the need to do that with the SPF. That being said, it is still super lightweight and fluid-like.

Being a traditional “chemical” sunscreen it leaves no trace of white cast. It is very comfortable to wear on a daily basis (with one negative that I will get to) and reapplies with zero fuss. It leaves a glowy finish without appearing greasy and generally sinks in and smooths out the skin.

Now for the negative aspect: it stings the crap out of my eyes. I tolerate most sunscreens around my eyes, chemical and physical, and this one had me weeping. I decided to keep using it on the rest of my face and avoided my undereye and eyelid, and I have not experienced any irritation since then. The downside is that I am forced to use a separate SPF for my eye area, which is an extra step that I can usually avoid.

All in all, it is a usable formula for the face and body in general and has worked very well for me during the hot summer months. It has the potential to be a favorite, however considering how cruel it is near my eyes I am not rushing out to repurchase it.

Price: $52


First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer

What it is: A face moisturizer

What it does: Soothes, moisturizes, and repairs skin without feeling heavy

Star ingredients: Glycerin, Collodial Oatmeal, Squalane, Allantoin, Urea, Ceramides, Green Tea Extract, Licorice Root Extract


If you need a product that gives a lightweight, comfortable layer of moisture, then this is the product for you. Not to be confused with the cult favorite First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, this is a non-greasy, non-intrusive hydrating cream that performs well in a variety of situations on a multitude of skins. It is packed with powerhouse ingredients to soothe redness and inflammation, even out skin tone, brighten the complexion, and repair the skin barrier.

One of the ways this product has become a superstar for me is as an after-shave treatment. Most of the after-shave products on the market are too irritating for me and this calms down any inflammation I may have and provides an essential barrier on my skin without suffocating it. I also love this during the hot, humid summer months when anything too thick feels unbearable. It has layered well with every other product I have combined it with in my routine. I would recommend it for almost any skin situation, with the exception being dryness or severe dehydration. If that’s you, you would probably appreciate something more along the lines of the famous sibling, the Ultra Repair Cream.

Overall, this is a great product with an amazing cocktail of ingredients at a reasonable price. I have yet to find another moisturizer with such a great mix of reparative, beneficial actives in such a lightweight formula. I keep this in my collection at all times and usually have a back-up as well.

Price: $26


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.

Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum

What it is: A facial serum

What it does: Hydrates, evens skin tone and texture, encourages cellular renewal

Star ingredients: Retinol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Coq10, Honey, Algae Extract

Review: I have a soft spot for this product, as it is the first retinol/vitamin A serum that I ever used and it brought about remarkable change to my skin. I started using this when my skin was very dehydrated, sensitive, rough, and prone to breakouts and I was desperate for some “remodeling.” I was hesitant to start using a retinol (let alone a prescription-strength retinoid) because of the irritation and skin peeling that is a common side effect, and chose this product because it is a very hydrating, soothing formula and because the retinol is encapsulated, which means a sustained, gradual delivery into the skin. It is a lightweight, runny lotion that feels very hydrating when applied and sinks in quickly, leaving a silky finish on the skin. It has sort of a funky smell that lingers for awhile after it is applied, however it was not pervasive or bothersome for me. I did not experience any noticeable irritation or redness with this product, and I used it nightly and would follow it with a light moisturizer. It was worth the investment: after about a month and a half of consistent use my face felt completely different. The inflammation and sensitivity in my skin was gone and I could not believe how smooth it was to the touch. After struggling with my skin since my early teens, I cannot tell you how amazing it was to see such positive change in my skin. Needless to say, retinol and other vitamin A derivatives have become a pillar of my routine. If you are looking for a retinoid product that will improve your skin at a low risk of irritation, I highly recommend this option.

Price: $85-$122

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Supergoop! Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40

What it is: A facial sunscreen

What it does: Protects against UVA/UVB and lightly color-corrects the skin

Star ingredients: Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxides

Review: This is a mineral sunscreen with a slight tint, ideal for sensitive or fair skins but could be enjoyed by most individuals. If you are looking for a mineral sunscreen but are put off by the typical white cast, or if you find that most tinted sunscreens give an unpleasant color to your skin, I would highly recommend trying this one out. It has a fluid formula which spreads out very effortlessly and settles into a smooth finish. The tint in this product has a very peachy undertone, so it blends into skin quite well without giving it an orange hue. It is very easy to tolerate on the skin and does not sting around the eyes. It is very hydrating and, unlike most other mineral sunscreens i have used, it does not feel drying or tight throughout the day. If you have drier skin or if you have not particularly enjoyed the feel of other mineral sunscreens, you would enjoy this one. However, if you have very oily skin and want to reduce shine or are looking for something that dries down to a matte finish, this product stays pretty “glowy” on the skin for at least a couple hours. It is also not my favorite sunscreen to reapply throughout the day. It has either pilled or left my skin with a streaky finish most times that I have reapplied, either using this sunscreen to reapply or using a different product on top of it. All in all, this product has been one of the most tolerable mineral sunscreens for me to use and one that blends into my skin and perfects any color variations quite nicely (first application, that is).

Price: $42

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