Reviewing four new beauty products + my current skincare routine!

I feel like it’s been forever since I have wrote about my skincare routine. I think the last one was over five months ago, and since then I have changed it up a little. If you’re new to Merci then first of all, welcome and second of all, you should know that I am obsessed with skin care. I am not a fan of makeup and keep that routine VERY simple (like less than five minutes), but I truly care about my skincare and taking care of my skin.

I have tested lots of products from different brands and different “genres” of skincare. By this I mean, “Natural vs Clean vs Drugstore vs Luxury” and all of the other names (genre) products can fall into. I am a lover of “Clean” skincare. So I want products that are safe for me to use, a little natural but also tested to ensure it’s not toxic or harmful (not on animals though). So using ingredients that are free of toxins and are as close to natural without blending up grass or increasing the risk of an allergic reaction. Since I may be making ZERO sense to some of you…. why don’t I throw in a beautiful definition from good ole’ Google.

“Clean beauty is used to describe cosmetics formulated without toxic ingredients. … Clean skincare uses nutritious, plant-based ingredients as much as possible, and safe synthetics as necessary for preservation or performance.”

Thank you, Martha Stewart!!
(Article linked below.)

Natural skincare works great for some people. But we all need to be cautious that these natural ingredients are not actually toxic — we are learning many essential oils are too strong for the skin — or causing visible and invisible reactions. I have a list of ingredients I looked for and avoid that are deemed toxic but also “natural” ingredients that could cause some issues. I have an entire blog about this topic where I go into extreme depth on everything I learned from studying ingredients and learning about skincare for a year if you want to learn a bit more about this!

Now that I have mentioned a bit about any brand and “genre” biases I have with clean skin care, I want to share my current routine before diving into my reviews of some new products I am trying. All of the products I mention will be linked so you can go check them out! Note: I am not a professional. These are all my personal opinions based on my research and experience. I have an oily skin type, so what works for me may not work for you. I always recommend talking to a dermatologist if you need skin support.

My Morning Routine:
Toner: Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner
Serum: Versed Stroke of Brilliance Serum
Eye Cream: Farmacy Cheer Up Eye Cream
Moisturizer: Graydon Phyto-Clear Cream + Organic Aloe Vera Gel
Sunscreen: Salt & Stone 30 SPF Mineral Sunscreen

My Night Routine:
Makeup Removing Balm: Pharmacy Green Clean Balm
Face Wash: Graydon Face Foam Cleanser
Serum: Versed Just Breath Clarifying Serum
Moisturizer: Organic Aloe Vera Gel
Sleeping Mask: Kora Organics Noni Glow Sleeping Mask

The News & Reviews

The Stroke of Brilliance and Just Breath serums are new(-ish) to my routine. I got these serums around two months ago and wanted to actually use them before sharing my opinion. I will be very honest that I don’t like the Just Breath Clarifying serum at all. I don’t think it really does anything and just feels like I’m putting water on my face. I have been more stressed lately so maybe this serum can’t even the handle the stress my skin is going through right now, but I think if you wash your face daily you don’t need to add this to your routine.

I am really enjoying the Vitamin C serum from Versed though. I think this is great for anyone who wants to introduce Vitamin C into their routine. It uses Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate which is a Vitamin C derivative and known for being very gentle and stable. I think my skin is looking more even and brighter thanks to the Vitamin C and Licorice Root Extract in this serum. It’s also received a lot of positive reviews so I trust that it’s been tested and tried! Only thing I need changed is the bottle. Vitamin C should not be in a dropper bottle because it can very easily oxidize. Vitamin C needs to be stored away from sunlight and closed properly so it doesn’t ruin the quality. @Versed, please change this!

Olaplex Shampoo
I have seen this all over YouTube and Instagram. It seems like every influencer has tried this or is currently loving this shampoo. Olaplex claims to repair and protect extremely damaged hair through healing broken “bonds” in hair strands. Heat or thermal damage is the leading cause of broken bonds, introducing dead hair and split ends. I have used it three to four times now and I have to say….

I don’t think my hair is dead enough.

I really enjoyed this product and will keep using it, but to see results and really understand why people love this shampoo I think I would need more damaged hair. This is a good reason for something to not fully work for me since that means my hair is in pretty good condition. I do like that you only need a little bit of product to thoroughly clean your hair. For the price, you can keep one bottle going for a while and it does make my hair feel extremely soft. But my favourite hair care brand will always be Amika.

Aloe Vera Gel
I saw that a vlogger I really enjoy watching, Amy Rauch, was using simple aloe vera with her First Aid Beauty moisturizer and decided to try it out. I did some research and a lot people really love using aloe vera gel and actually saw their skin change for the better when they introduced it into their routine. That being said, Aloe Vera is a very simple ingredient that pretty much everyone can use. You will not get any anti-aging or crazy actives in this product. However, if you want a cheap and accessible hydrator to add to your routine then I recommend find a good quality organic Aloe Vera gel. I am really enjoying it so far. It helps to lock in my products and keeps my skin hydrated all day, which is what a “humectant” is supposed to do! It also shouldn’t clog pores or cause breakouts because Aloe is super light on the skin.

Mineral Sunscreen vs Chemical Sunscreen
I started using mineral sunscreen years ago so this isn’t new to me, or a ground-breaking change in my routine. I have noticed the difference lately after using a Chemical Sunscreen for a little bit. I have mentioned the Salt & Stone Mineral 30 SPF Sunscreen a lot in past blogs and on Instagram because I truly love it. I ran out for a couple months and had to use the Neutrogrena Ultra Sheer Face Sunscreen. I don’t hate the Neutrogena sunscreen, I still think it’s a great drugstore sunscreen but should be avoided when there are better and cleaner options. This sunscreen contains a lot of ingredients that are proven to be toxic for our skin and bodies. For sunscreen, it’s always good to avoid Oxybenzone (especially this one, also called Benzophenone-3), Avobenzone, and Methylisothiazolinone. This suncreen also has BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene) in it, which is a tested endocrine disrupter and carcinogen (Hormone disrupter and cancer causing). I talk more about BHT in the skincare blog post I linked at the top and end of this blog! It’s super important we look into the ingredients in our sunscreen because some could be really toxic for our bodies.

The Salt & Stone sunscreen is the best sun-protectant I have ever tried and the clean ingredients make it even better. It uses Non-Nano Zinc Oxide to protect the skin — Non-Nano means there are no micro plastics in it which is a thing people — alongside formulated coconut oil (only time I use coconut oil is if it’s formulated with other ingredients), Sodium Hyaluronate, and Green Tea Extract. All of these are super hydrating ingredients that have their own benefits, so my skin is protected from harmful rays and getting some skin-loving benefits!


Martha Stewart, Everything You Need to Know About Clean Skincare

Merci, 3 things I learned about skin care after researching for a year