FutureDerm's Ultimate Bluemercury Shopping Guide: What to Buy, What to Pass By

Cosmetics, Skin Care

It’s summertime, and one of my all-time favorite things to do is go on a road trip! This past weekend, my boyfriend and I went to Washington, D.C. for the heck of it. Which means one thing to a beauty blogger:

Bluemercury in Georgetown

That’s right.  Bluemercury!  Started in 1999 by Marla Beck and her husband, Barry Jon Beck, Bluemercury is a store filled with handpicked, rather innovative beauty products where the sales staff is trained to give technical product knowledge, expert advice and friendly service.  (Sounds a little like heaven, without the calorie-free cheesecake.)

Nicki in Bluemercury
Me in Bluemercury on June 15. Dress is vintage Diane von Furstenberg.

Because none of their 30+ locations are in Pittsburgh – yet – I decided to stop in during my trip.  Here’s what I found:

Must Buy:  M61 Labs Vitablast C Serum  ($110.10)

M61 Vitablast C: A definite buy - if you don't mind the slight sticky finish.

Vitamins C and E have been proven to boost sun protection up to four times when worn under sunscreen (American Journal of Dermatology, 2005.)  For this reason, now that the CE Ferulic patent has expired, everyone and their brother seems to be formulating their own vitamin C and E serum, with a few variations here and there.

The secret to the M61 product, for instance, is gallic acid.  A new antioxidant on the market, gallic acid has been found to prevent the formation of pigment in human skin cells (Biological and Pharmacological Bulletin, 2007). The idea here is that gallic acid will further help vitamin C prevent and eliminate age spots on your skin.  Pretty genius – and this is the first product I’ve ever seen it in! My only reservation?  It dries a little sticky, so pass on it if you’re super sensitive about the way products feel on your face.

PASS BY:  Bliss Treat Yourself Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Eye Mask

Bliss Treat Yourself Triple Oxygen Energizing Eye Mask
Bliss Treat Yourself Triple Oxygen Energizing Eye Mask: Not a buy in my book, but a "pass by."
I feel bad knocking bliss – I really love a lot of their products and think they have a great brand image.  That said, I’m not a fan of any product that contains oxygen.


There are three reasons why.  The first is that oxygen is a gas.  No cream or lotion can actually contain oxygen gas.  Second, even if it did, it is impossible to infuse skin cells with oxygen from the outside.  Hyperbaric oxygen chambers can do this because you’re breathing in oxygen, supplying your blood vessels and hence skin cells with additional oxygen.  But putting oxygen on your skin would do nothing more than the atmosphere already does.  Lastly, while “oxygen facials” done in-house leave skin feeling moisturized and hydrated, this is only due to the hose-like attachment that squirts your skin with pressurized oxygen.  As Dr. dermatologist Ellen Marmur, M.D., says, “Oxygen, as a topical ingredient, is completely ineffectual.”  You’re better off investing in one of the other technologies in skin care available at Bluemercury.

Must Buy:  The Multiple by NARS Cosmetics ($39.00)

NARS the Multiple in Bluemercury
NARS the Multiple in Bluemercury - 10 shades, all quite foolproof. I also snuck in a photo of my boyfriend here, muhaha.

I’ve always been a huge fan of NARS Orgasm Blush, but I have zero patience for the whole “suck in your cheeks, contour, fill in” sequence.  I tend to snooze till the last minute, so I need to get out the door pronto most mornings.

So when NARS came out with their The Multiple Blush Stick, I knew that I was going to be hooked.  The formula is cream-based and medium-pigmented, so you can build color with additional applications.  It’s also light enough to be suitable for just about all except the most oily of skin types.  And the color?  The Orgasm shade is still right-on.    It lasts for a few hours, though I must say I did have to reapply by lunch hour (I applied around 9 AM).  Still, it’s definitely a must-try for everyone – and a must-buy for those hurried like me in the morning!

PASS BY:  bliss the Youth As We Know It Moisturizer

bliss The Youth as We Know It
bliss The Youth as We Know It: Not a buy in my book

I feel really bad knocking on bliss with this post.  But, truth be told, these oxygenating products are amongst the worst in Bluemercury right now.

The reason?  Again, oxygenation.  The Youth As We Know It contains hydrogen peroxide, which has been reported by Keyse et. al (amongst others) to create free radicals in human skin fibroblasts.  (Yes, the very same creatures antioxidants were designed to fight!)  The free radicals attack cells, proteins, and DNA, and are believed to play a significant role in the aging process.

Thankfully, the product contains hydrogen peroxide in extremely low concentrations, and contains numerous potent antioxidants, which can impede or slow the free radical chain reaction.  It also has a slew of other ingredients I love:  MMP inhibitors, peptides, ceramides, and retinyl palmitate.  But I’m not a fan of the hydrogen peroxide, and will never buy it or recommend it to anyone else, so long as that peroxide is still in there.

Must Buy:  Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads($128.00)

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel Pads
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel Pads: A Must-Buy!
My photography skills don’t do this product justice.  But, my rave review will.
These peel pads are sensational, with skin-refining, cell turnover-enhancing glycolic acid, salicyclic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid.  After just one use, your skin looks brighter – I swear, I use them before going out on a date or a big event at nighttime, and my face just has a healthy, light-reflecting sheen that says, “Yes, I am a beauty blogger who picks the right products.”

The major complaint I’ve heard against this product is that it contains a high concentration of denatured alcohol.  However, alcohol in skin care products is not always bad, despite popular belief.  [Read more:  Is Ethanol in Skin Care Products Safe?]  In this case, the alcohol helps the formulation be thinner, and hence penetrate into the skin better, creating faster – and better – results.  I’m a huge fan.

Bottom Line

I love Bluemercury, and hope to return soon.  Many of their products are quality, though I’m not a fan of anything that says “oxygenating,” particularly if it contains hydrogen peroxide.  That said, I feel the “must buys” right now are the M61 Vitablast C Serum, the NARS The Multiple blush stick, and the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel.

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  • @Leah – I’ll be sure to check that out next time I’m in Chicago! And see you, of course! 🙂

  • Chicago readers take note – Blue Mercury is opening a new store on lovely Southport Corridor in Chicago’s lakeview neighborhood!

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