First of all - Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a fantastic end to 2014 and a refreshing, wonderful start to 2015! May this year bring you all the joy, success, and peace that you hope for.
Today, I have a brief post for you guys reviewing some products. Recently, I decided to branch out a little and try an affordable line of skincare from a brand I absolutely love - albeit not for their skincare, but their food and produce! - Trader Joe's. Now, I realize that this will be a post only relevant to my readers in the United States, but I'll try and include some points that might be relevant to all of you around the world, as well. So, without further ado, let's get into it.
Firstly, for all of you outside the US: Trader Joe's is a really affordable and excellent grocery and fresh produce store, and that's where I've done most of my weekly groceries from for the last few years that I've been in Chicago. The best thing about Trader Joe's is that not only are their own brand's products humanely produced and usually naturally sourced, they also have really unique and similarly fair-trade organic products both by their brand and other brands available - at nearly the same price as non-organic. That's perhaps my favorite thing about shopping at TJ's - they make the 'hard decision' much easier for consumers who don't usually choose organic because it's too expensive. It's a different matter that I believe one should aim for organic produce regardless of cost, but when the price difference is under a dollar (10¢ to 50¢ in most cases) for most things, it's a no-brainer. Anyhow, long story short - I decided that it was time to give their skincare a try, especially since I've been impressed with almost everything I've tried from their brand.
Their skincare collection was limited to about ten products, more or less, which is typical of the brand. Fewer items, better quality is kind of their thing. The products I was particularly drawn to were the: Tea Tree Oil, Oil-Free Antioxidant Facial Moisturizer, All-In-One Facial Cleanser, and the Antioxidant Facial Serum. I'll get into details about each of these products now.
Let's start off on a positive note, shall we? I've tried tea tree oils from at least five different brands, and can happily say that this is a perfectly good one, and one of the cheapest I've found here (for more info on why TT oil is so good for you, check out my recent post on essential oils). At $6.99, it is much more affordable than the very similar product Whole Foods carries for about $11.99. This was most definitely a good buy, and this will indeed become my staple tea tree oil from now on. Nothing more to say about this one, except for "Thumbs Up!"
This cleanser, priced at $5.99, is your typical, run-of-the-mill, no-frills facial cleanser. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing special about it, either. That's not to say that they promised anything different, but I'm just stating my experience. Let's take a look at the four descriptive terms on the bottle. Cleanser: yes it's a good enough one. Exfoliant: I didn't particularly feel it had any exfoliating action. A physical exfoliant this cleanser cannot be due to the lack of any beads or exfoliating particles. However it does have Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin C, Ascorbic Acid, and probably one or two other mild chemical exfoliants as minor ingredients. That might be the clue to it's 'exfoliant' claims. However, I did not notice any particular difference in my skin while using this - I've used it regularly for about two and a half weeks now, as my morning cleanser. Next is 'Tearless': that it truly is. I've tested this claim out, and I hate cleansers that sting and irritate my eyes, so this is great on that count. Finally, 'Antioxidant Rich': again, like the 'exfoliating' label, I think they are over-reaching slightly. Does it have some known antioxidant-rich ingredients? Yes, it does. But do I think they are potent enough in their concentration to show any tangible effects? Nope. The verdict on this one is - it's a good enough, basic cleanser, and quite reasonably priced. Most importantly, during the harsh winter months, and for those of you with sensitive skin, this is quite gentle, as well. So, if you're looking for a cleanser that just does the job, go for it, I say. If you're going to get swayed by the claims that this will change your skin around with its 'exfoliating' prowess and 'antioxidant rich' ingredients, don't be.
Now, this is where the trouble begins. These last two products I wasn't personally too crazy about, but that is never to say - always keep this in mind with reviews! - that this product could not work for some of you out there. For my particular skincare concerns, needs, and type, this was not a good one. First of all, I believe, with all sorts of skincare, you must find out works for you - the formulation, the ingredients, especially. The major ingredients for this moisturizer were aloe, glycerin, synthetic preservatives (phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin, among others), xanthan gum, and a bunch of plant extracts (green tea, coffee bean, and vitamins A, B5, C, D, E) . Overall, this is a pretty light formulation and the fact that it's oil-free was what attracted to me in the first place. 'Oil-free' typically means that means it's free of natural, mineral oils which are usually comedogenic (they love to get into your pores, make a happy home there, and clog them up!). The preservatives listed above are quite good by industry standards - they have low incidences of causing skin irritation, and trust me, are far better than the formaldehyde-releasing preservatives that are still in wide use in the cosmetic industry to this day. At $5.99, I believe it can be a phenomenal value for someone for whom this works out, and I was hoping it would for me, as well. But there's something about the formulation combined with the really strange fragrance - or possibly lack thereof - that completely turned me off. Please note, I am not saying this is a bad product - if I felt it's bad, you can trust me I'd put my thoughts on here. There are no ingredients that leaped out to me as the typical trouble-makers in skincare - especially cheap skincare - and the formulation does seem light enough for people with very oily skin, like me. I will give this one another go once my skin is a bit more under control - yes, my skin has been completely off-kilter in the last couple of months, but that's a story for another day, another post! It is indeed a bad idea to experiment with new skincare when your skin is acting up anyway - and I told myself off for it - but for the time-being, this moisturizer is going bye-bye back to TJ's.
This was perhaps my least favorite of all the products I tried here, and while on a personal level it's my fault for not checking closer, but I'll explain why I think this is not the kind of product anybody should gravitate towards on a daily basis. So, I love myself a good serum, and I've tried plenty of excellent ones - both high end and drugstore. Now, right off the bat, when I pumped the first squirt of this serum onto the tip of my finger, I immediately knew this serum and I weren't going to be best friends. Not even close. Have you guys ever used one of those products - usually face makeup primers - that claim to "vanish your pores" and when you apply it to your face, there's that amazing, luxurious, slippy, smooth feel to your skin? Well, that feeling is because of silicones. In one line - I think silicones are a bad, bad idea for your skin. Period. No two ways about it from where I stand. The way they "vanish your pores" is by getting into those pores and filling them up. Now, for a lot of people out there who do not have troubled skin or skin prone to being clogged up often, silicone-based face moisturizers, primers, and makeup might appeal to you greatly. But honestly, even if you do not have troubled skin, I never think it's a good idea to intentionally apply products that clog your pore and are hard to cleanse out completely with just your fingers and a regular face wash. Just don't. As far as the review goes, I have nothing special to say, since I was not about to put something on face that I knew would break me out. In terms of ingredients, the top ones are: dimethicone (the silicone I was speaking of), alpha-lipoic acid, pomegranate, coffee, and green tea extracts, grapefruit seed and some other seed oils, vitamins K, A, D3, C, and a few others. The alpha-lipoic acid, pomegranate and green tea extracts are likely the 'antioxidant' elements to justify the name of the serum. To my knowledge, the skincare and anti-aging benefits of alpha-lipoic acid are at best debatable, and at worst non-existent. It is used as an internal antioxidant source for fighting various diseases of the digestive tract, but as a topical treatment? Yeah, I'm not convinced. This product is priced at $9.99 (which is why I got even more excited, since even at drugstores decent serums are had to come at under $20). I'm just disappointed in Trader Joe's for this one. Serums are perhaps the most potent, most essential step in your skincare, and good ones can do wonders for your skin, since their active ingredients are usually at much higher potency than in moisturizers. However, if the selling point of a serum is to only make your skin 'look' good by adding stuff to fill those pores, when they should probably do something to clean or reduce their appearance (nothing truly vanishes your pores - you have them, you better get used to them), then it's just a stupid gimmick in the name of effective skincare. That's my two cents. This one's going bye-bye, as well.
Anyhow, guys. That's my review on the few products I tried from Trader Joe's skincare line. Mixed feelings at best, but as I mentioned, I'll likely use up the face wash, and the tea tree oil I will most definitely be going back for. But the other two are duds.
Hope this was helpful for anyone considering these products. Let me know if any of you have had better luck with TJ's skincare or if your experience has been similar. Whatever it is, I'd love to know!