Supersize Me… At Sephora!

Skin Care

We all love bargain buys, especially when looking at department store products. Here are three excellent jumbo-sized options that I’d recommend.

Philosophy Mouthwatering Watermelon Shower Gel ($25 for 32 oz; usually $16 for 16 oz)

Watermelon-scented skin? Yes please!

For me and I’d imagine for most people, the only reason for spending the extra money on shower gel—something that can be purchased at the drugstore for $5 for 32 oz, is for the fragrance and “experience” that the more expensive one can offer. This indeed smells like watermelon-flavored candy and is pure olfactory bliss! My shower routine is just that much more enjoyable with this.

Detergent-wise, this primarily uses the sodium laureth sulfate anionic surfactant and a bit of its sulfosuccinate cousin, which are both significantly less potent than sodium lauryl sulfate (1) due in-part to larger functional head groups (2). The surfactants are balanced by the inclusion of a PEG-related thickener, a foaming agent, and an emollient. Overall, the lush texture emulsifies into a rich lather that cleanses well, while leaving a lingering (and yummy) scent on the skin, which I want! Oh and forget about the other beneficial ingredients included, such as vitamins B5 and E, green tea, and aloe vera because this is a cleanser! They’ll be washed down the drain, not to mention that the amounts are most likely, present in very low concentrations.

Verdict: Watermelon may not be my favorite Philosophy scent (I like the Vanilla Birthday Cake and Classic Fudge Cake ones more), but I will definitely repurchase this when I run out.

Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Face Serum ($98 for 2 oz; usually $65 for 1 oz)

This is perfect for first-time retinol users with normal to combination-oily skin types.

Marketed as one of the most popular Kate Somerville products, this is basically a low-strength non-aqueous retinol serum. Wrapped up in an elegant silicone base with a touch of stearic acid to enhance penetration (3), this contains I’m guessing, somewhere between 0.1% to 0.25% retinol, along with a vitamin C salt, and vitamin E.

The inclusion of the vitamin C salt is irrelevant because it cannot dissociate and convert to L-ascorbic acid, due to the absence of water. Not to mention that when applied, the skin’s natural pH is not low enough to allow for adequate penetration (pH needs to be < 3.5). On the other hand, the inclusion of vitamin E has a two-fold benefit: to act as an antioxidant in its own right, and to increase the stability of retinol, especially against UV light (4). This makes sense since both ingredients are lipid-soluble.

Now, because this product doesn’t have a pH, make sure not to apply it over anything that’s acidic, as a more neutral pH is required to optimally convert retinol to tretinoin. For more information on this topic, click HERE.

Verdict: While quite expensive even with the discount, this serum would be great and effective for first-time retinol users who have normal to combination-oily skin types.

*Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Ethylhexy Stearate, Cyclomethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Ethylhexyl Cocoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Water, Retinol, Sodium Ascorbate, Tocopherol, Lecithin, Glycolipids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caprylyl Glycol

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 ($58 for 3.4 oz; usually $43 for 1.5 oz)

One of the BEST tinted moisturizers for normal to dry skin types!

Available in two select shades, this tinted moisturizer is one of the best on the market in terms of coverage and finish. The lighter of the two shades, Nude, is appropriate for people who are about NC20-NC25. Sand, the darker of the two, is better for those around NC25-NC30. This has light-medium coverage and a beautiful satin finish.

Ingredient-wise, this contains a dash of a vitamin E ester, a vitamin C salt, and the humectant sodium hyaluronate. However, the concentrations present will most likely, have no measurable or significant effect on the skin.

What’s more important to note is that this does NOT provide adequate UVA protection. But before you panic, know that even if it did, not enough would be applied to achieve adequate sun protection, at least not enough to skip a regular sunscreen. I have personally tried to apply as much of this as I do with my regular sunscreen, and it caked up and separated like you wouldn’t believe. This primarily happens because if too much is applied, the pigments (usually some type of metal oxide salt), will seep through the vehicle, resulting in a blotchy mess.  As for the vehicle, the texture is a sublime lotion-gel that is best for normal to dry skin types, due to the use of modified castor oil.

Verdict: Despite some formulary cons, the cosmetic pros of this product warrant a huge thumbs-up from me. If I had normal skin, this is probably all I’d use on a daily basis.

Have you guys tried any of these? What are you favorite beauty staples that you wish had supersized-version? Let us know down below or on my blog!



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  • John


    Hey there! The Estee Lauder BB cream, only has 1.1% titanium dioxide to provide protection against both UVA2 and UVA1 rays, albeit much less of the latter. But regardless of that fact, 1.1% is definitely NOT enough even if you applied enough product to the face.

    As for how much you need to apply, that depends on how large your face is, which is where I’m assuming you apply this product. (I hope you’re applying a different sunscreen product to your ears, neck, and other exposed areas like the hands!) The average human face is 600 cm^2, and most medically-relevant organizations recommend 2 mg of sunscreen to be applied for every cm^2 of skin, so that’s 2 mg/cm^2. That works out to be 1,200 mg of sunscreen, which converts to 1.2 g, or about 0.04 (fl) oz. While oz and fluid oz are distinct, for our purposes here, we’re going to assume they are approximately equal. An example of how much 0.04 fl oz is, if you get a pre-packaged sample of Chanel foundation, the ENTIRE packet is 0.03 fl oz. So you’d need to apply an entire package PLUS a third of another to get 2 mg/cm^2 of protection, assuming you have a 600 cm^2 sized face. And that will definitely make you look like a cake face. 🙁

    Now if you’re like me, and you have a larger than average face (surface area-wise), you’ll need to apply more. Furthermore, I prefer to use 3 mg/cm^2, rather than 2 mg/cm^2, just to be sure. I mean, no amount of sunscreen can block all UV rays, and some will inevitably sweat off, be rubbed off, etc… I’m just factoring in margins of “error. ” xD

    Anyways, to answer your dime reference, it depends how “high” your dime-sized amount is. If it’s really flat, that’s definitely not enough. But it’s a nice-sized “dollop,” you should be fine. But that much of a tinted product tends to get cakey in my experience, but if you can work with it, that’s fine. But going back to topic, the Estee BB cream in itself, in my opinion, does not provide enough protection against UVA and UVB rays.

  • Susan

    I like the LM tinted moisturizer too but had read prior to this over @cosmeticcop about the lack of UVA protection. I am now using Estee Lauder’s new BB cream, SPF 35. According to the ingredients list (and Paula B.) this product has sufficient UVA/UVB protection. As such, I have not been using my regular sunscreen underneath (just going to & from work, not beach). I apply what I’d say is slightly less than a dime-sized amount to my face… is this enough (of any sunscreen containing product)?

  • John

    @Leah Argento

    I love it too! Only reason I switched was because my skin is too dang oily! 🙁

  • I used the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer for many years and LUV it! The only reason I switched to a MAC foundation was for more coverage. I highly recommend this product.

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