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A continuation of the Purge Pile series (check out previous instalments here) aka ongoing attempts to declutter my bloated beauty collection. Today we have a buttload of skincare that didn’t work for me and will go to better homes 🙂

Purge Pile #4 – Oskia, Paula’s Choice, Ole Henriksen

Oskia – Renaissance Mask

I really wanted to love this mask because it smells absolutely heavenly, like authentic turkish delight. Somewhere between a balm and a jelly in texture, the Renaissance Mask promises to increase cell turnover and exfoliate with Lactic Acid and Papaya Enzymes.

Upon rinsing, I notice… nothing? My skin looks and feels exactly as it did 30 minutes earlier. I suspect my tolerance to chemical exfoliants/enzymes has far exceeded the potency of this mask and I can’t justify keeping it for the smell (omg nom nom nom). However, I do think this would be a brilliant entry-level mask for chemical exfoliant beginners – one lucky friend is going to adore it, I’m sure! Can be purchased here.

Oskia – Renaissance Cleansing Gel

Same line as the mask, same delicious aroma OMYGAH but enough about that. I see a lot of British Youtubers describe the Renaissance Cleansing Gel as a one step solution to makeup removal and facial cleansing. It reminds me of a cleansing oil – the pump dispenses a jelly which turns into an oil when massaged into the skin, add some water and the product becomes milky and rinses ‘clean’.

I say ‘clean’ because I do notice an oily residue unless removed with a cloth. No big deal except my skin won’t tolerate muslin or washcloths anymore (oh hey broken capillaries). If you enjoy balm cleansers and are looking for a lightweight alternative, Renaissance Cleansing Gel will likely float your boat. Can be purchased here.

Emma Hardie – Moringa Cleansing Balm

Eek! Don’t hurt me, I know some people are die hard for this cleanser. As mentioned, I can’t do cloths nowadays so that pretty much eliminates all balm cleansers. Delicate skin aside, the Moringa Cleansing Balm smells very herbal (lovely) thanks to an abundance of essential oils that gave me a sandpaper rash (not so lovely). I dunno, some love it! Can be purchased here.

Paula’s Choice – C15 Super Booster*

Stable vitamin C treatments are often considered to be the holy grail of skincare for fading pigmentation and brightening the complexion. I’ve tried many different formulations, including the C15 Super Booster Serum, and have never noticed a discernible improvement. That being said, I’m 25 and don’t struggle with pigmentation so I guess I’m not the target market. Seemingly useless review, soz. Can be purchased here.

Pixi – Glow Tonic Exfoliating Toner*

When skincare guru Caroline Hirons raved about Glow Tonic, it quickly became a cult product. Essentially it’s a glycolic toner designed to exfoliate (among the gentler chemical exfoliants in my collection) but WHY hasn’t anyone mentioned the smell?! It’s like mashing a bouquet of white flowers up the nostrils. I love white floral scents but damn, it’s just overwhelming. Can be purchased here.

Arcona – Magic Dry Ice Hydrator*

Marketed as a hydrating gel/serum for dry skin types but DOOD, I’m proper dry and this felt like fancy water on the skin. Then I broke out in a weird rash, which is a very personal response and not an inherent fault of the product but that aside, no hydration. I’ve included the Gentle Solution in the picture above (another glycolic product that was too gentle for my skin) to indicate that I’ve purged all my Arcona skincare. Magic Dry Ice can be purchased here.

Ole Henrikson – Featherweight Moisturiser*

An ultra lightweight gel moisturiser (as the name would suggest) and a wonderful option for oily skin types. I adored it as a base for makeup but for the health of my skin, imma need something richer. Can be purchased here. 

Shiseido – White Lucent Luminizing Infuser*

I attended the PR event for this skincare line and I gather this product is among the Asian-inspired essences; a very thin fluid that is designed to soften the surface of the skin so that additional skincare can be better absorbed. I don’t know whether that science is solid but for me, it was an additional step that didn’t reap any rewards and y’all know I like to keep my routine asap (as simple as possible?). Can be purchased here. 

PS: Let’s ignore the little black tube that made its way into the above shot, cheeky little thing wasn’t meant to be there.

FYI & bla bla disclaimer

I don’t believe in ‘bad’ makeup, just products that don’t fit preference or skintype. I don’t throw cosmetics away, unless it’s mascara. I collect my purge pile until it’s sizeable and my friends and family make a feast of it 😉

Have you tried any of these products? What products have you purged recently?


* Denotes products sent for consideration. I’m always honest with my reviews, clearly! Some of the links above are affiliate links.

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  1. Thank you for mentioning the smell of the Pixi Glow Tonic. I’ve been thinking of purchasing but I really don’t like floral scents to be too strong on or near my face! Thanks Karima!!!!

  2. I kind of like the Emma Hardie balm but agree the smell is not that great! And it is good to hear less-than-favourable reviews for once of the Oskia stuff and the Glow Tonic. I feel like I am missing out sometimes as I’ve not tried any of those products and thought I must be missing out on a skin miracle somehow, but it’s refreshing to read that it’s not a ‘one product fits all’ scenario. Like you, I think my skin may be used to more hardcore exfoliants, so I don’t think some of these would work for me either.

    I love your blog by the way!

  3. OMG YES, the Pixi has a horrid awful bleugh smell and noone else mentions it! I like the product in theory but I just can’t deal with the scent. i’m looking for alternatives, so please, do another blog post on exfoliators/peels/treats!

  4. I think my sense of smell must be bonk because the Pixi Glow Tonic doesn’t bug me. What really makes me gag in the morning is the smell of the P50 from BR. Even though I think the P50 is a more effective exfoliant, I just can’t tolerate the smell! πŸ˜€

    1. Typically smells don’t bother me, I wonder if Pixi changed their formula somewhere along the way. AND YES, P50 is so intense I can’t wear it during the day. If I wear it at night, my boyfriend won’t go near me D:

  5. goes to show that you gotta try things for yourself. love the glow tonic, i think i am use to the smell now. LOL side bar my new favorite cleansing water is the Koh Gen Do cleansisng water, low pH

  6. Out of the products you mention, I have only tried the Pixi Glow Tonic (the others are a wee bit out of my reach pricewise), and I must say that I love it. I like both the results on my skin and the scent (and for the record, I hate the smell of while flowers πŸ˜› ). That being said, I’m not an acid exfoliant “connoisseur” like you and my skin is combination with a very oily T-zone. In any case, you are still one the “beauty gurus” (I hate that term) whose opinion I value the most and I have discovered many wonderful products thanks to you πŸ™‚ Your friends and relatives are SO lucky being able to feast on these amazing purge piles! Oh, how I wish I were one of them…

  7. I like Caroline Hirons and have nothing against her, but she seems to like scented skin products and sometimes she will rave about the scent of a product. I also saw on her vlog she was working for Pixie doing facials at an event, so there is that too. Most of us people with sensitive skin would do better with fragrance free products. I also just hate putting something strong smelling on my face as it can be cloying and trigger headaches.

  8. These posts are great, Karima. I’d wanted to try both the Emma Hardie and Oskia cleansers despite the fact that my skin cannot deal with muslin cloths or washcloths. Thanks for saving me the redness!

  9. I think the important thing to takeaway is to try things out for yourself and your skin. I really appreciate Karima is clear why something didn’t work for her- ie, her skin can’t handle washcloths, a scent, etc., because it makes it easy to consider, “ok, this didn’t work for this blogger and here’s why, are these things that are issues for me?”

    Personally, I don’t notice the smell of Glow Tonic much and don’t have same reaction to Emma Hardie, so I enjoy both a lot, but that’s because my sense of smell and skin are different and can tolerate both. I realize this isn’t the case for everyone. People’s skin react differently.

    Same goes with nothing being wrong with Caroline liking scents if her skin can take it, and she does always note in her reviews if essential oils/scents might be a problem for sensitive skins. Likewise I can see why people don’t like strong scents and so that can inform how they respond to a review or products she may like. I generally love most of her recommendations, but stuff that’s worked for her doesn’t work for me. It happens.

    That’s the nice thing about such a diverse range of products- even if one person’s treasure is another’s purge, there’s enough variety for you to explore and find what works for you.

    Karima, you might like Boots No 7 Beautiful Skin Melting Gel Cleanser. It has the similar principle of a beauty balm where it starts off a bit creamy (in this case more a gel) then melts to be milkier, but you don’t necessarily need a washcloth to get the cleanser wiped off. A couple good passes with water and fingers should work. Same for Trilogy Cream Cleanser, but I think you already are familiar with Trilogy?

    1. Exactly, my experience may differ from someone else and that’s okay! I use oil cleansers nowadays for makeup removal but honestly, I dislike most films so I finish with a rinse cleanser of sorts.

  10. Karima, I find these posts very helpful (plus they’re a blast to read)! You are always respectful and thorough in your description of why a particular product didn’t knock your socks off and I appreciate that. Before buying a product recommended by someone online, I compare their reviews of products I already have/tried to see how our perspectives align. Let’s just say you’ve never let me down. πŸ™‚
    I was wondering what moisturizer you would recommend for someone who has more sensitive, combination dry skin. The flaking is trying my patience, especially since this didn’t used to be a problem and I haven’t changed a thing! I figured instead of recreating the wheel, I’ll ask my favorite beauty expert! πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    1. Yay! Glad to hear you find the reviews helpful. Skincare is so personal so recommending a moisturiser is sorta a stab in the dark, have you tried Avene Skin Recovery Cream? I often recommend it to sensitive skin types because it’s bland but hydrating.

  11. I am a bit confused, did you not like the Pixi Tonic purely for its scent but the products still works? I understand this isn’t meant to be a huge review but I think it is important to articulate if a products works but you don’t like the smell/texture/delivery system, which you did for the Oskia products but not for the Pixi.

    1. You’re always welcome to ask questions in the comments section! The Pixi Glow Tonic is one of the weaker chemical exfoliants in my collection so I didn’t notice much difference but I suspect it would be sufficiently potent for glycolic beginners.

  12. If you want to give oil cleansers one last go, I’d recommend the Elizabeth Dehn for OLO Vitamin B Cleansing Oil. It’s the only formula I’ve tried that can actually wash off with water. It really does remove makeup and leaves the skin feeling soft and supple. The only thing is it has a semi-strong fruity smell. Some people love it. I personally don’t like it but I have yet to find a similar plant based/all natural cleanser that can out perform this one. Love your work xx

  13. I’m guessing my sense of smell is different somehow. To me, Pixi Glow Tonic smells more fruity than flowery? In any case, I don’t mind it. Vive la difference. πŸ˜‰ Of your list, it’s the only thing I’ve tried. I like it.

    (That said, I’m wondering if I’m now ready for somewhat stronger chemical exfoliants.)

  14. I got Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel for the same reason – saw British Youtubers raving about it… I just don’t understand… I like my cleansers to be strong enough to remove most of my make up but gentle enough to be used on the eyes. And this stuff was neither! It would burn my eyeballs out but still would leave a lot of make up on plus a very unpleasant oily mask. Even removed with a cloth it would not take all the make up off and would leave my skin feeling very dry. Still get shivers remembering this and although I get that no skin is the same, I would not recommend this to anybody.

  15. I’d be really interested to know what exfoliants you rate highly if the Pixi is a miss, which are the stronger exfoliants in your collection?

  16. Love the Purge Pile series, Karima! I’m right there with you as to chemical exfoliants – been using ’em so religiously that I guess some are powerless against my skin πŸ™‚ . Pixi Glow Tonic does nothing for me but it might be a good, affordable starting point. Would you consider doing a chemical exfoliant smackdown?

  17. Hi Karima.. I have been loving purge pile series. I recently laid my hands on Oskia Rennaisance mask and Pixie Glow Tonic. I am on fence with Glow Tonic but I am liking my Oskia Mask, so far so good! I was curious to try the Rennaisance cleanser though, but, not sure now!

  18. Hi Karima, love this series – it’s always so helpful to see your mini reviews.
    Quick question, what are you going to do with these products? They seem to be quite new still….

  19. I’ve purged many of the exact same skincare products. EH cleansing balm, too smelly and leaves a film even with a warm cloth. Same rash. Got both Renaissance products as samples with purchases. The mask gave me a rash and the cleanser left a film that was too hard to remove. Pixi Glow Tonic, ugh the smell! I’ve gotten to the point that when Caroline does a deep inhale and says it smells lovely, I know I will probably find the scent too overwhelming for my taste. Luckily, I buy much of my skincare from Nordstrom here in the U.S. and they are generous about taking returns, even for opened products. I tried a sample packet of Paula’s Choice Resist serum with Vit C and found the texture to be too silicony and oily at the same time. Woke up the next day with fine flakes of dryness ALL OVER. What was up with that? I was expecting moisture, not more intense dryness than I already have. Sigh. Other than that, I’ve been tossing a lot of sample sized products, mostly for the overwhelming smell of most of them.

    1. Hmm yes maybe Caroline enjoys scents, whereas synthetic scents bother me. Vit C treatments can irritate, I don’t think they’re designed to hydrate really but it sounds like perhaps you had an allergic reaction?

  20. Dear K,
    Will you do an updated makeup removal night skin care routine? Like you, I suffer from delicate skin and wash cloths have actually broken the capillaries around my nose and cheeks πŸ™
    i’d love to know how you are removing your make up these days

  21. Wow, ok so that Paula’s Choice – C15 Super Booster… thanks for that purge review b/c I seem to have unknowingly dodged a purchase bullet.

    I almost bought that one, but ended up getting Moogoo’s Vitamin C eye serum instead (was considering getting the Paula’s Choice if Moogoo’s didn’t work). I chose Moogoo’s in the end b/c it was an oil-based Vit C, has great concentration of Vit C, and less prone to immediate oxidization. Also b/c it’s oil-based it absorb very well into skin. I’ve been using 2-3 drops on my face (sometimes mixing it /w my moisturizer), and so far so good!

    Re acids I’ve heard really great things about COSRX (a Korean brand) and their acid products. The BHA Blackhead Power Liquid + AHA Whitehead Power Liquid in particular get a lot of love online, so if you’re willing to give Korean products a go maybe those acids could work for you? Their Snail essence, and Galactomyces essence is meant to be the bomb too! πŸ™‚

  22. Dear Karima
    Please do a post on all the chemical exfoliators you own and which you will suggest to begginners, of different skin types etc etc