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These are the musings of a skincare junkie + writer + brand guru with 25+ years of product wisdom put into action to demystify skin care. 

You can change your skin’s destiny.™


I’m perpetually ashamed that I never finish anything. It’s not good, I know; but we all have our vices. It’s also a bit of an exaggeration. I do finish some things. Like a good sesame bagel with tofu cream cheese, pastrami lox, a slice of tomato and a little bit of onion. It would be a complete travesty to not finish that. And next to impossible. I was sitting in Fort Greene park this morning with that bagel extravaganza from the iconic NYC Jewish deli Russ & Daughters. I had eaten half of it and wondered if I should just take the other half home and eat it later. You can imagine how that went. So, you see, I do finish some things!

Oh, I also finish good skin care! Really good skin care never gets wasted. Everything else, the mediocre stuff, the products whose textures I don’t care for or that contain high amounts of fragrance, fragrant plant oils and alcohol? Well, that all goes to my mother and not-as-picky friends.

I had a lot of fun working on my first blog article about my empties back in April — which you can read here, if you’re so inclined. So, I’ve gotten myself into the habit of hanging onto those empty tubes, bottles, and jars for a piece about my empties every three months or so. As I said then, what intrigued me most is what I said about a product after a week, two weeks, a month of using it — and what I think of it by the last drop. And, would I miss it now that it’s gone.

So let’s take a look at the nine products I want to feature this time around — all of which have been completely depleted.

It’s a little sad when you finish a product you love.

It’s a little sad when you finish a product you love.

Skin Regimen 15.0 Vitamin C Booster

What I said about it: I only recently discovered the luxurious high-science Skin Regimen. I’m not gonna lie, I was wooed by the modern apothecary packaging — black glass, prescriptive labels, even the caps and droppers. Each of the Skin Regimen products looks like a work of art.


Their 15.0 Vitamin C Booster is, as the name implies, powered by 15% Vitamin C in the form of Sodium Ascorbate and Ascorbic Acid — the purest, most effective, and most unstable form of Vitamin C. That’s why Skin Regimen keeps the Vitamin C separate from the rest of the formula, until you’re ready to start using it. It comes in 2 parts, what Skin Regimen calls bases. Base one contains water and penetration enhancers Propanediol and Dimethyl Isosorbide — a clear, slightly oily-feeling liquid that functions as a solvent and is a terrific alternative to damaging denatured alcohol.

There are several other antioxidants in the form of soothing botanical extracts. Comprised of 92.8% natural-origin ingredients, what makes the Skin Regimen Vitamin C treatment perfect for my quick summer skincare routine is its light-as-water texture. Most of the Vitamin C serums I use are stable, oil-based formulas, meaning I have to add in extra time for absorption and layering. This one absorbs instantly. But because it’s a water base, you have to use it up quickly (a month or 2 max) in order to benefit from the Vitamin C before it breaks down. Discover the products I assembled for my quick summer skincare regimen on the Skincarma Blog — and on my YouTube channel.

What I think now: I loved this formula! It just so super easy to layer into a skincare regimen. And because it’s in a water base, I generally applied it right after my Hyaluronic Acid serum and before other heavier serums, including Retinol or those that are oil-based. It absorbs so well. Again, because it uses the purest form of Vitamin C in a water base, you have to use it up within two months or so.

Will I miss it?: Yes, it pains me.


Mxt. x Carmine Deep Hydration Fluid Treatment

What I said about it: Hands down, the most intriguing of the ten summer moisturizers I’ve been reviewing is the one I created myself! I didn’t do it alone, I had help — from the articifal intelligence technology at LA-based skincare brand Mxt.

The Mxt. x Carmine Deep Hydration Fluid Treatment is next level!

The Mxt. x Carmine Deep Hydration Fluid Treatment is next level!

Mxt. was founded by a team of creatives and beauty industry professionals who asked themselves a simple question from the very beginning: “What if beauty products weren’t always in stock, but rather were custom made to consumers’ needs and specifications?”

Quite intentionally, I was thinking about hot, humid weather when I made my Mxt. x Carmine Deep Hydration Fluid Treatment. With the help of the questionnaire and a menu of active ingredient add-ons, I created a super light, milky emulsion that delivers protective antioxidants, soothing botanicals, replenishing plant oils, nourishing ferments and, of course, potent humectants that lock hydration in my skin. It’s devoid of fragrance, fragrant plant oils, alcohol, silicons, and any other potential irritants that I want to avoid in my skin care. Honestly, Carmine’s Deep Hydration Fluid Treatment is the perfect formula!


Here’s how cool the Mxt. technology is:

The initial prescription for my custom Hydration Fluid (I assume this is where the AI was working its magic) included a particular form of Hyaluronic Acid that I’d never heard of before. All I knew before now was that there are multiple molecular weights of HA — the larger are often found in pulpier serums, the smaller in lighter, often watery serums. The Mxt. AI was formulating with an HA molecule called 130 kDa Hyaluronic Acid. But I had the option in the personalization step to add in an additional HA molecule: 50 kDa Hyaluronic Acid.

My skin couldn’t be happier.

What I think now: Amazing formula — and really solid options from Mxt. across the board. You almost can’t go wrong, unless you initially start with a base formula that’s not well suited to your skin type or skin concerns. If you haven’t checked Mxt. out yet SWYD and have a look!

Will I miss it?: Yes, I’m going back to the drawing board and making it again in the fall.

Yes, I’m going back to the drawing board and make it again.

Yes, I’m going back to the drawing board and make it again.

The Inkey List Snow Mushroom Cream

What I said about it: Today I present the fifth of my super lightweight summer moisturizers recommendations. The Inkey List’s new Snow Mushroom cream sounds like something out of a fairy tale. It hasn’t hit the market yet, but with Inkey’s accessible pricing strategy, I have to assume it’ll be offered at about £8.99 or $10 — well under the brand’s $15 pricing maximum! It’s coming, and it’s gonna be cool.

[N.B.: by this writing, it has been released and is available for purchase here.]


I’ve heard of snow mushrooms in Chinese cuisine but really did have to Google it. In fact, there’s a lot of great reading about snow mushrooms online. I’m not particularly wowed by exotic sounding ingredients in skin care — but if the ingredient works, I’m down. This one line from an article on The Zoe Report called, Snow Mushroom Skincare Products Could Replace All Your Hyaluronic Acid Serums caught my eye: “With its capacity for locking in moisture, snow mushroom in skincare products is about to replace hyaluronic acid as the gold-standard.”

Wow, that’s a high bar. Inkey’s Snow Mushroom moisturizer is ahead of the trend. With a very tight ingredient list — comprised of just 15 ingredients — it’s got a translucent, thick gel texture. But it’s not watery and doesn’t absorb instantly like Naisture’s Water Drop Cream reviewed earlier in the week. It’s deceptively rich and quite a high-performance moisturizer with two standard humectants. There are no added antioxidants in the formula — again, it’s quite simply focused on locking water and moisture in the skin. Stay tuned…and don’t miss this week’s article on my summer weather moisturizer recos on the Skincarma blog!

The sadly empty Snow Mushroom cream from The Inkey List.

The sadly empty Snow Mushroom cream from The Inkey List.

What I think now: This stuff is just plain dope. It’s rare to find a seemingly innovative product that actually contains some sort of innovation, not marketing spin. I loved the texture especially. It’s a bit gummy without being sticky. It seems like real innovation is where Inkey is heading and I’m eager to see what the brand comes up with next.

Will I miss it?: For sure.


MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème 48


What I said about it: Summer is right around the corner and while sunscreen should be worn year-round — when that sun is blazing closest to where you are on Earth, sun protection is no laughing matter. This week on the Skincarma blog, I reviewed the SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50 — IMO the best sunscreen for the eye area on the market. I also talked about the SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50. While I love the formula, I don’t love using the product on my entire face. It’s just too heavy for my skin — especially in the spring and summer. (But, as I said on the blog, it’s great for the eye area!)

I picked up a tube of the MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème 48 [N.B. This product is now called Mineral Crème 50] at the spa convention in NYC three months ago and was saving it for summer. I’ve long been aware of MDSolarSciences and intrigued by their dermatologist founded brand. Wait. Why is the brand spelled as all one word? I thought that lunacy went the way of JonBenet?! RIP!

This was my first love of all of MDSolarSciences’ amazing sunscreens.

This was my first love of all of MDSolarSciences’ amazing sunscreens.

Ideal for all skin types and particularly oilier skins, Mineral Creme SPF 48 is a lightweight sunscreen with a light magnifying effect that doesn’t feel too heavy on the skin. Its formula is a mineral complex of 2% Titanium Dioxide and 17% Zinc Oxide with a few antioxidants thrown in for a relatively well-rounded facial sunscreen formula. Funny, I think they upped their own game a notch. From what I can tell Mineral Creme 48 is now known as Mineral Creme 50! With hot, humid weather upon us, this one’s a good option.

What I think now: I can’t say it enough, it’s essential that you find a sunscreen you love. If you love it, you’re more likely to use it! This was my first love of all of MDSolarSciences’ amazing sunscreens. And I went on to review an additional five of them on the blog last week. Check it out here.

Will I miss it?: No, because I won’t have to. It’s already been replaced by other equally amazing sunscreens from the brand.


Use code SKINCARMA20 to receive 20% off all MDSolarSciences sunscreen products! Follow the link below to the MDSolarSciences site and use the exclusive code.

Use code  SKINCARMA20  to receive 20% off all MDSolarSciences sunscreen products!

Use code SKINCARMA20 to receive 20% off all MDSolarSciences sunscreen products!

Kosmetic Immunity Beta Glucan Serum


What I said about it: I’ve been hearing more and more about Beta Glucan recently so I was naturally intrigued by an entire brand whose formulas are all infused with high levels of the irritation-soothing humectant. My skincare muse Paula Begoun gives it her top rating as one of the best ingredients for your skin! Beta Glucan is defined as a “polysaccharide sugar derived from yeast or oats. It has some antioxidant properties and is a skin-soothing agent. Beta-glucan is considered an excellent ingredient for improving the look of redness and other signs of sensitive skin.”

If you’re curious like I was to compare it to tried-and-true Hyaluronic Acid, Beta Glucan has been proven to be 20% more hydrating than HA. Intrigued yet?

I was super excited to have the chance to test out this hydrating treatment from indie K-Beauty brand JKosmmune (since renamed Kosmetic Immunity). It’s a silky smooth serum that’s not very watery, but not very pulpy either — how I think about HA serums. It’s always one or the other depending on the size of the HA molecules in the formula. Kosmetic Immunity’s 99% pure, all-natural serum is a tight formulation, comprising just 7 ingredients: Water, Glycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Beta Glucan, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract and Butylene Glycol. I’ve been using it daily as my HA serum step and have to say it’s been a perfectly acceptable alternative to HA with the added irritation soothing benefits of both the Beta Glucan and Centella Asiatica Extract. It’s clean, it’s simple and it’s effective. What more could I ask for? Except more Beta Glucan products!

What I think now: I loved this formula, and the science behind it — so much that I ordered three more so I always have it in back stock. It’s like an unsung hero and the brand deserves so much more recognition. I know the brand name is a bit weird, but who cares — the skin care is next level.

Will I miss it?: I would have if I hadn’t quickly replaced it.


Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10%


What I said about it: I love anything that’s freshly activated. I live above a pizzeria. Five minutes out of the oven and the pizza is at my door. Now that’s fresh! Freshness is particularly important with an ingredient like Vitamin C due to its remarkable instability, particularly when it comes in contact with water, air and a multitude of other ingredients used in skin care. That’s precisely the wisdom behind using a separate Vitamin C serum in your skincare routine, rather than relying on the efficacy, potency and stability of the Vitamin C found in your daily moisturizer.

So, I’m naturally intrigued by the Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10%. It’s been on the market for about a year now. I’ve played around with it in the AM — and the great thing about it is it’s just a week-long commitment. You get four to a pack — a one-month supply. How smart is Clinique for this? You activate each vial by pressing one end to burst an inner sac, which I presume mixes a liquid activator with a Vitamin C powder. How do I know it’s potent? Because it tingles like hell on application. And Ascorbic Acid — the most potent form of Vitamin C — is the second ingredient. As an added benefit, it’s also fortified with several non-fragrant plant oils to nourish, soothe and replenish skin. You get extra antioxidant benefits from plant extracts and even a few replenishing peptides and Sodium Hyaluronate — the salt form of Hyaluronic Acid that’s actually most compatible with skin. Bravo, Clinique!


What I think now: The stuff was bomb the first time I tried it — and I’ve been through probably a dozen of them since. They last about a week, a wise move on Clinique’s part for sure. It’s so easily layered — as with the Skin Regimen Vitamin C serum. All good stuff!

Will I miss it?: Replaced it already and try to always have some in back stock!


Yummylicious Skin Serum

What I said about it: There’s just something different about this stuff, something I’ve never experienced before. I love coming across a product that doesn’t remind me of anything that came before it. When I think of a serum I almost always imagine a lightweight water-based formula. There’s no rule that says a serum has to be water-based. And good thing because there’s no water in the Yummylicious Skin Serum. There are only 10 ingredients: Argan oil, Almond oil, Jojoba extract, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Lemon extract, Lavender extract, Chamomile extract, Rosehip oil & Sandalwood oil.


I’ve been testing it for 2 weeks now in my AM regimen and in my PM regimen. It seems to work better for my skin at night when I like heavier oils. That’s not to say that the Yummylicious Skin Serum is heavy, but it’s rich in non-fragrant plant oils that I prefer to use before bed in heavy doses. It has the silky texture of melted butter and is oddly savory. (It smells savory; I didn’t taste it!) It’s that melted butter texture I’m talking about when I say it’s somewhere between a heavy facial oil and a watery serum. That’s what makes it so unique. And like melted butter, it feels decadent as it infuses skin with nourishment. I love this, too: “In lieu of using a fancy packaging, which would be thrown away, we make a donation of $3 to a charity. We believe the policy helps keeping our planet clean, while helping others.”

What I think now: What an intriguing formula. I never figured out what makes it create this delicate foaming effect that disappears instantly into the skin. Such a cool brand, though. Come to think of it, I need to write up a full blog article on Forest Rhapsody.

Will I miss it?: Yes, oh yes. It’s too buttery to forget about!


Laneige Fresh Calming Toner


The Laneige Fresh Calming Toner might be the unsung hero of the brand’s new Fresh Calming collection. It’s a super refreshing, well-formulated toner with a very tight ingredient list, meaning it’s ideal for exactly what I want to use it for: the 7-Skin Method! Like the Fresh Calming Mousse Moisturizer I posted about yesterday, the Fresh Calming Toner is powered by nutrient-rich Deep Sea Water and polyphenols from antioxidant-rich Lychee Peel Extract. It’s a water-light, deeply hydrating formula and with the addition of nourishing Vitamin E, a near-perfect formula for use in the 7-Skin Method. Read more about the collection on this week’s Skincarma blog…

What I think now: Good stuff! Seriously, if you’re looking for just the right toning formula for use with the 7-Skin Method, this is it!

Will I miss it?: Yes, oh yes.


Bioeffect EGF 2A Daily Duo

BIOEFFECT. Until recently, it was one of those uber niche science brands that intrigued me from the sidelines. But I’ve had my eye on them — and their innovative growth factor technology. I didn’t Google this, but it seems to me like BIOEFFECT was one of the first (if not the first) skincare brands to use epidermal growth factors (EGF) in a serious way.

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It was founded by three Icelandic scientists who discovered a way to bioengineer a plant-based human replica of EGF, which are proteins naturally produced by our bodies. When applied to skin, studies have shown that this barley-derived EGF has unique regenerative properties, helping to boost production of collagen and elastin. The first of two BIOEFFECT treatments I’ve been using is the EGF + 2A DAILY DUO — a 2-step EGF-powered serum with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. You use them one after anther. Serum #1contains the brand’s EGF complex plus Sodium Hyaluronate and delivers the regenerative actives to the skin. Serum #2 is an antioxidant treatment that repairs and prevents damage. Interestingly, Azelaic Acid helps brighten the complexion and even out skin. The second BIOEFFECT product I’ve been test-driving is the EGF Eye Serum. It’s similar to serum #1 in the facial duo, with regenerative barley-derived EGF and Sodium Hyaluronate to hydrate and lock in moisture around the eyes. The silky texture is bomb! Have you tried any BIOEFFECT PRODUCTS? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


What I think now: I love high skincare science — and BIOEFFECT’s proprietary EGF is as high as it gets. I’ve been lucky enough to try several additional formulas and a blog review on BIOEFFECT is in the works!

Will I miss it?: For sure!

That’s it, guys! I never thought I’d be this excited about empty bottles, tubes and jars in my life. Let me know what you think in the comments below. See you again in three months.




Orpheus finishes everything!

Orpheus finishes everything!

The Ingredient List of the Skin Regimen 15.0 Vitamin C Booster:

Base 1: Aqua / Water / Eau*, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Propanediol*, 1,2-Hexanediol, Aristotelia Chilensis Fruit Extract*, Carnosine, Disodium Edta, Spinacia Oleracea Leaf Extract / Spinacia Oleracea (Spinach) Leaf Extract*, Sodium Metabisulfite, Carrageenan*, Citric Acid, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Xanthan Gum*, Tephrosia Purpurea Seed Extract*, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate.

Base 2 : Sodium Ascorbate*, Ascorbic Acid*.
*Natural-Origin Ingredients.

The Ingredient List of the Mxt. x Carmine Deep Hydration Fluid Treatment:

Water, Squalane, Propanediol, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Aqua (and) Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment (and) Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment (and) Saccharomyces/Magnesium Ferment (and) Saccharomyces/Iron Ferment (and) Saccharomyces/Silicon Ferment, Hyaluronic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Glyceryl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Sodium Hyaluronate, 1,2 Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, EthylhexylGlycerin, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Sodium Hydroxide.

The Ingredient List of the The Inkey List Snow Mushroom Cream:

Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Caproyl Prolinate, Lecithin,Tremella Fuciformis (Mushroom) Extract, Carbomer, Madecassoside, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate.

The Ingredient List of the MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème 48 :

Actives: 2% Titanium Dioxide / 17% Zinc Oxide
Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Isostearate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Silica, Dimethicone/ Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Polysilicone-15, Iron Oxides, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract.

The Ingredient List of the Kosmetic Immunity Beta Glucan Serum:

Water, Glycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Beta glucan, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Butylene Glycol.

The Ingredient List of the Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10%:

Water\Aqua\Eau , Ascorbic Acid , Glycerin , Dimethicone , Squalane , Butylene Glycol , Dipropylene Glycol , Acetyl Glucosamine , Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract , Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract\Extrait D'Orge , Molasses Extract\Saccharum Officinarum\Extrait De Mélasse , Laminaria Digitata Extract , Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 , Algae Extract , Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 , Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 , Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 , Alcaligenes Polysaccharides , Caffeine , Sucrose , Betaine , Whey Protein\Lactis Protein\Protéine Du Petit-Lait , Salicylic Acid , Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein , Sodium Hyaluronate , Caprylyl Glycol , Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul'S Wort) Extract , Bis-Peg-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane , Propylene Glycol Dicaprate , Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake , Allyl Methacrylates Crosspolymer , Carbomer , Glyceryl Polymethacrylate , Tromethamine , Xanthan Gum , Potassium Sorbate , Peg-8 , Calcium Chloride , Polysorbate 20 , Sodium Citrate , Disodium Edta , Phenoxyethanol.

The Ingredient List of the Yummylicious Skin Serum:

Argon oil, Almond oil, Jojoba extract, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Lemon extract, Lavender extract, Chamomile extract, Rosehip oil, Sandalwood oil.

The Ingredient List of the Laneige Fresh Calming Toner:

Water / Aqua / Eau, Propanediol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ppg-13-Decyltetradeceth-24, Butylene Glycol, Sea Water / Maris Aqua / Eau De Mer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium Edta, Litchi Chinensis Pericarp Extract, Tocopherol.

The Ingredient List of the Bioeffect EGF 2A Daily Duo:

Step 1 Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Isopentyldiol, Sorbitol, Sodium Chloride, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Barley (Hordeum Vulgare) Seed Extract, Egf (Barley Sh-Oligopeptide-1).

Step 2 Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Propylene Glycol, Isopentyldiol, Polysorbate 20, Glycerin, Azelaic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Ferulic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tetrasodium Edta.