Moist is a monthly column that explores the overlap of skin troubles and melt downs, the spirals that ensue thereafter, and the wonderful products that sometimes solve both.
I rarely trust the reviews of a skincare product. When you look at Sephora’s website or any skincare stores’ online review section, it always seems a mixed bag of some “THIS IS A MIRACLE PRODUCT THAT SAVED MY SKIN, BUY THIS PRAYING HANDS EMOJI” and, “This is the worst product. I broke out immediately. I have been on hold with customer service for several days."
Okay, I'll admit, it is incredibly relatable and understanding feedback! I suspect a lot of reviews that start like, “I broke out immediately,” might come from folks who aren’t fully aware of what is already in their routine, suggesting the product they’re trying out might be instead interacting with something else they’re already using. This is not always the case, as I myself have incredibly sensitive skin to match my Cancer sun, but I believe the search for a miracle to cure our skin woes is what blinds us from taking inventory of current skincare ingredients and actives and understanding the power of what we already have.
A day before I left for Puerto Vallarta, I thought it would be nice to try a serum I’ve been eyeing: Byoma’s Hydrating Serum. It’s $16 at Ulta and this looks like the perfect thing for acne prone, dry skin folks: ceramides, squalane, and glycerin! Hydrating AND keeping the moisture barrier in check!
This definitely feels and IS way more hydrating than Hyaluronic Acid for me. Since Hyaluronic Acid pulls moisture from its surroundings, if you live in a drier environment it may not help you as much. Glycerin is becoming my hydrator of choice, so I was excited!
During the first few days of this trial, I knew I would be in the sun and ocean most of the day, so I did not apply my regular mandelic acid before. I had a hormonal pimple coming up already and the serum actually calmed it the first few days! I felt great. When we arrived in Mexico City (at this point, I was no longer exposing myself to so much sun), I started incorporating my mandelic acid again.
The next day, I woke up with two fresh, under the skin inflammation-soon-to-be-pimples and redness across a lot of my face. It had been exactly a week since I started using Byoma’s Hydrating Serum. Knowing my skin well at this point, a week is exactly the amount of time it takes for me to see if a product flares my acne. However, I didn’t trust that this product could do this to me.
Before I buy a new product, I will copy and paste the ingredients through a non-comedogenic ingredient checker to make sure whatever product I want to try doesn’t have anything that will clog me immediately. I knew something was up because before I bought it, I ran the Byoma Hydrating Serum ingredients through the Sofie Pavitt Ingredient Checker and it contains no pore clogging ingredients! I started looking at the rest of the ingredients individually in the bottle: Glycerin? Cool. Squalane? Nice. Butylene Glycol? Okay, fine. I looked through everything and found something unnerving: Lactic Acid. It all made sense.
For those of you unfamiliar, Lactic Acid is a really awesome alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)!. AHAs are derived from sugar cane or other plant sources and help in exfoliating dead skin cells and aid in increasing collagen production. It has a larger molecule, which means it does not penetrate as deeply as other acids, and is a great gentle exfoliator option. These are all things I love! However, I was already getting ALL this (and a little more gently) from my mandelic acid, which is also an AHA! I had unknowingly been using TWO AHAs on my face at the same time, which caused the irritation that’s now all over my face! I caused this moisture barrier upheaval to myself!
Look, I’m not scared to be humbled. In undergrad, I once brought a scene up for a scene study class in which a teacher told me, “You thought to bring this today to the T*sch School of The Arts? Wow.” Skincare is crazy though. Most of the time, it's YOU humbling YOURSELF by your own doing! I was subconsciously searching for one magical product to solely solve my hydration crisis: one single star to take away all my problems with my dry, tired, husk. Instead of focusing on my ensemble of hydrators who are already working, I jeopardized their roles by adding something that had a different role entirely, like adding a reality TV star to a Chekov play (a bold choice).
Reading the label of the product you’re wanting to use is key to knowing how to use it and how to not irritate your skin. Since this whole fiasco, I’ve been using a moisturizing mask the last few nights and making sure mandelic acid is my only active during the day, aiding in replenishing my moisture barrier. So far, the course is reversing!
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a correct, science-backed review since I clearly used it incorrectly. I can see this is probably an awesome serum for folks using this as their only active ingredient, and it WAS on the days that this was my only active (even when I didn’t know it). Based on my explanation of what this product does, you can see if this is something you’d want to try incorporating. Just make sure you read the entire label.