Even though The Ordinary had its surprise debut last year and caused a major commotion in the industry, NIOD is the original game changer in my books. I remember the May 2015 newsletter so well because it was the first time I stopped reading to immediately order a product (CAIS) and considering how quickly it sold out, I’m so glad I did. From that very first purchase to now, NIOD has been, and still is, one of my most loved and most used brands. I don’t think I have gone a day without using something from them since it launched and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
When NIOD debuted it was exciting and very different to everything else out there, but most importantly it helped my skin in exactly the way I needed (and didn’t know I needed) and out-performed every product I had previously been using. I found the approach to skincare refreshing, logical and straightforward, despite the (at the time) somewhat confusing scientific “jargon” behind it all, but that sort of contradiction is quintessentially Brandon/NIOD.
Unlike the DECIEM brands that have come before and after NIOD, this one was a personal passion project for Brandon who wanted a space to “[push] science to its very edge” without concern for public perception or how understandable the products come across. I know that some find NIOD confusing or annoying, but that’s why the tagline is “skincare for the hyper-educated” or more correctly ‘hyper-excited’ as Gill stated in the June 2015 newsletter. You don’t have to understand the science behind NIOD to use the products (I certainly didn’t in the beginning), but it is aimed at those who want more and to know more when it comes to skincare.
It definitely seems like this is exactly what more of you are looking for because along with the recent exciting new launches, the unprecedented success of The Ordinary has thrown NIOD back into the spotlight as new customers find their way to DECIEM’s original disruptive brand. I have seen a big increase in the amount of interest in NIOD and this makes me very happy. I love what The Ordinary is doing, but NIOD has so much more to offer (in my opinion) and this review should hopefully help you understand how and why.
Non-Invasive Options in Dermal science (NIOD) was always meant to be about the science and not the “sell”. The products are primarily geared towards maintaining overall skin health and improving the lifespan and function of dermal cells so they age better. Unlike most brands, the beauty of NIOD is not in gorgeous scents or Instagram-worthy packaging, but in highly advanced ingredients and technologies that provide exceptional results. Of course, like any brand it won’t be for everyone and the products won’t work for everyone, but if they do, it will be game/skin/life changing.
Now, unlike almost every other brand out there (including The Ordinary) NIOD goes above and beyond when it comes to detailing each product. All the scientific information is right there on the product pages including full INCI lists as well as specifics of the main ingredients, pH levels and a handy guide to inclusions like oil, alcohol and silicone. Despite that, I want to fill in some gaps by delving into the tactile side of things (how do they feel etc) and by sharing my personal experiences with each product (usage, results, tips), so not only do you know how and why they work, but who they are for and what you can expect from them.
Copper Amino Isolate Serum
Of course this amazing product was going to be my first review. I have been using some form of CAIS (1% or 5%) ever since it launched in May 2015. I went out on a limb after just two uses and predicted this serum would be my “most favourite release of 2015” and it did not let me down. My love for it continued to grow with each use and I even started my blog so I could write more about it.
Also, to be clear, before we go on, copper peptides are not the same as copper, so you do not have to worry about inducing a “fenton reaction” (oxidative tissue damage) when you use either of these serums.
Copper Amino Isolate 1%
If you have been following me for a while or have read the article on ‘My Health Journey’ then you will know that when NIOD launched my skin was a mess due to my illness. I was consistently breaking out, then constantly picking at the breakouts and I was struggling to do anything substantial to help. What really grabbed my attention about CAIS (other than Gill hilariously wanting to marry it) was how the star ingredient, pure GHK-Cu tripeptide, was able to heal wounds. That’s all I needed to hear because at the time my face was covered in “wounds” as a result of my compulsive picking.
As soon as my order arrived I immediately put CAIS on my face and again that night, and the next day my wounds had significantly improved. Not just a little bit or if I looked close enough, they had very clearly 100% undergone an acceleration in healing that continued to improve with each use. For me, the results were nothing short of miraculous and I will forever be grateful to NIOD for what CAIS did for my skin back then.
Beyond the incredible wound healing properties of CAIS, what impressed me so much about this serum is that it really does it all, unlike anything I had ever used before. Through the high dose of Copper Tripeptide-1 (1% is a lot for this ingredient) it keeps the skin in a prolonged, heightened state of repair that tackles everything from hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, pores, elasticity, texture, tone and radiance. It will not only help prevent future damage but also correct existing issues and this something I definitely can attest to.
Not only that, CAIS also works to assist “immune function, collagen synthesis, blood vessel development, fibroblast production and anti-inflammatory responses”, which is why it worked so well for me because my immune function and anti-inflammatory responses where compromised due to my ill health. Most people won’t need this level of support and therefore might not see the same results as I did, but everyone could absolutely benefit from the overall improved skin health that it delivers.
For those who are new to this product I will quickly explain how you prepare it. It arrives in two bottles, one is the activator, which contains the majority of the ingredients and the other is the Copper Concentrate, which contains the prized Copper Tripeptide-1. You pour the Activator into the Copper Concentrate, shake for 30 seconds and then it’s ready to use. The Copper Concentrate should be a vivid blue that becomes a light, watery blue once mixed with the Activator. Luckily, this product doesn’t have to be stored in the fridge anymore, but do still keep it away from direct heat and sunlight to avoid any de-activation.
As for the product itself, it is incredibly watery and absorbs into the skin within seconds leaving no residue behind. It has a noticeable metallic/chemical scent (like most NIOD products) that doesn’t bother me (it disappears quickly) although I am generally very sensitive to scents both synthetic and natural. This should be applied onto clean skin after cleansing or after SDSM (you can also use SDSM after if you prefer) and certainly before any acid use. I recommend waiting at least 30 seconds before you move on to your next step (acid, toner, serum, moisturizer, oil, sunscreen etc) and how you apply it is completely up to you.
I like to either dispense a “line” along the tip of my index finger and quickly apply the serum to one specific area of my face (cheeks, forehead, nose/upper lip, chin) at a time or I slightly tip my head back and dispense individual drops to each area, either way works fine. I used to just dispense a few drops of the serum into the palm of my hands and apply from there, but I realized I was using more than I needed and I also didn’t like the idea of the serum sitting in my palms as the actives absorb within seconds. I wanted them on my face as fast as possible.
How much you use and how often is again a personal choice. When my skin is acting up I use slightly more than usual (usual being 4-7 drops) and in the beginning I used it twice a day, but now I use it once day when I’m not using the 5%. You don’t need a lot because of how watery the serum is and using more won’t necessarily prove faster/better results. I like to add an extra “layer” to blemishes or wounds to make sure they have been sufficiently covered and I will do that twice a day until they’re healed. I would recommend those with compromised skin (acne prone especially) to use the serum twice a day and unless you have mature skin you could use the serum just once a day, if you’re concerned about making it last longer.
This has become quite the “marmite” product with some seeing great results and others none at all. The point of CAIS is to “depart from the traditional thinking of addressing visible aspects of skin ageing individually and instead [form] a foundation to respect skin health”, which I fully believe it does. Some skin won’t necessarily show visible results and that can be frustrating, but as some of you have found, the proof that it is indeed “doing something” has come when you’ve stopped using it. Even so, it will not work for everyone and some will find it hard to commit to using it if they can’t see the effects.
For me, I have experienced both visible and overall results. Visually I can see my blemishes and wounds heal faster, as well as see my skin look smoother and more even. Beyond that my skin is less inflamed, breaks out less and responds better to whatever else I am using. I can’t necessarily speak about improvements in lines and wrinkles as I’m not quite there yet, but I expect to not see any for quite some time yet by using this.
Long time users of this will know that it has gone through a number of changes (it’s on Version 6.2.001) like it no longer needs to be refrigerated, powder to liquid copper concentrate and no more castor oil, but the biggest change is coming soon in the form of CAIS2. I cannot wait for this and as soon as I have my hands on it I will update this post to reflect the changes.
Copper Amino Isolate 5%
Now for the wonder product that we shall just call “the love affair that almost never was”, simply because even though I was fully aware this existed, I never thought to try it because I believed that it would be too much for my skin, but oh how wrong I was. As I have written before, I now credit this serum for everything and it is just as incredible as the 1% is, simply five times so, as expected.
When I first started using CAIS 1% it was the most advanced/active product in my stash and my skin responded exceptionally well to it. Fast forward a year or so and I began using it less and less as I became swayed by the novelty of other actives like acids and retinols, which lead me to mistakenly believe I didn’t need CAIS anymore. Again, how wrong I was and I realized that when I started using Retinol 1% from The Ordinary. My skin was flaky, sore and raw and nothing really helped until I started using CAIS again and then read India Knight’s article in The Sunday Times on her “all-time top five”, which included CAIS 5%.
I had an Oprah-style “aha moment” and realized that my retinol side effects were exactly the type of “trauma” Brandon was referring to when he talked about who the 5% was best suited for. Wouldn’t the 5% solve these issues quicker and faster? Yes, yes and yes. I started using the 5% that night and have used it ever since.
CAIS 5% is as close to skincare magic as I’ve ever seen and experienced. It truly does it all and has worked to (quicker than anything else) lighten and help prevent hyper-pigmentation and improve tone, texture and clarity. It was a key component in preventing a dairy induced skin meltdown and most importantly for me right now, it has completely changed how my skin reacts to retinol.
Now I have no dryness, a shorter peeling time and the skin that comes through after that happens? Completely different. It’s like it’s already healed. Before CAIS 5%, the peeling would reveal baby soft, insanely smooth skin that in some areas was slightly red, pretty sensitive and sort of “raw” in the sense that it would feel vulnerable and like a wound. Now it’s like the new skin comes through fully formed, but not only that, the retinol results have been even better. I have seen hyper-pigmentation start to visibly lighten in days and my skin looks even and clear. I think one of the best things about CAIS is that it helps whatever active serum you’re using to work even better and show results much faster.
I can understand what Brandon meant when he said the 5% was best for short term extreme recovery and not for long-term use, but I have been using it for about six months now and besides its impressive anti-aging benefits it is a brilliant product for preventing and healing inflammation, which could be huge for those who suffer with acne.
Anyone who has had more than the occasional blemish here or there knows that they come in stages and even when your skin looks clear on the surface, sometimes in direct sunlight you can see “invisible” acne lurking under the skin waiting to come through. This had happened to me (mostly when I eat dairy) and is basically a sign of crappy things to come for my skin, but thanks to this I don’t have to worry about that anymore.
My skin is now generally completely clear – both on the surface and below and during my most recent dairy incident the full face of “invisible acne” I had disappeared within a week and this product was the major reason why. I strongly believe this is a must have for those who are skin pickers because it shortens the life span of the blemish, heals the wound incredibly fast and drastically reduces the risk of PIH.
It’s hard for me to recommend any product that costs over £100, but if you suffer from re-occurring breakouts or persistent inflammation or pick your blemishes then this could really help. Of course, try the 1% first because that might be enough, but if it isn’t then give this a go. My results have “levelled-out” over the past few months as the product has gone from improving the health of my skin to maintaining it, but it is still doing it “better” than the 1%. I still stress-pick on occasion and with this at least I know the wound will heal as fast as possible and I won’t be left with horrible scarring.
This product has the same texture and scent as the 1% and should be applied in the same way. The colour is obviously a more vibrant almost navy blue and at the moment this strength still contains castor oil. Feel free to absolutely use this just once a day or as a targeted treatment on specific areas to make it last longer. You could also use it every other day if your skin is doing alright or even just save it to use once a month for a week to give your skin a boost.
I ended up having about a three-week break in between bottles and my skin was not happy. It broke out a lot and didn’t heal very well and I ended up with a few PIH marks as a result. My skin is just better when I am using CAIS and at it’s best with the 5%. As with the 1% it might not work for you and you might not need if you regularly use acids and retinols as those do a lot on their own, but as far as taking a 360 approach to anti-ageing and focusing on overall skin health and function, I haven’t tried anything that compares. It will treat, heal, protect and stimulate the skin and for me I can’t be without it.
After CAIS this group of product is probably my next favourite from NIOD and I love that so many of you have been enjoying them, too.
Sunscreen, like retinol, is one of the few products that has actually been proven to reverse, reduce and prevent the signs of skin aging. It is a must for everyone because it’s one of the most effective products you can use to tackle big concerns like wrinkles and pigmentation. Without sunscreen you are basically allowing the sun to undo all the work of your other products and leaving your skin prone to further damage.
Despite this, sunscreen is one of the hardest products for people to get on board with when it comes to daily use and I completely understand. I never used sunscreen consistently as a teen because, being Indian, most products would either leave me with the dreaded “white cast” if they were mineral based or cause me to breakout if they were chemical. I avoided sunscreen for many years and only really started using them again once the industry improved upon the technology and the formulas became more user friendly.
Now Survival is here and taken the concept of sun protection to the next level and I couldn’t be happier. I use either 10, 20 or 30 every day and love that I only need one product to achieve a multi-faceted approach to protecting my skin against sun and environmental damage. The products reflect more about pollution and light (infrared/blue) damage than about what the sun does and it makes sense. Oxidative stress goes beyond what the harmful rays from the sun can do and Survival addresses that.
Technologies shared in 0, 10, 20 and 30 are:
- Purified Lutein: a carotenoid derived from non-GMO marigold flower but also found in leafy green like kale and spinach works to counteract the negative effects of blue light as well as increase hydration, improve elasticity and reduce skin lipid peroxidation, which is what happens when free radicals cause cell damage.
- Yeast-Derived Superoxide Dismutase: one of the most important antioxidant defense systems in the body that protects against inflammation and ROS (reactive oxygen species) that oxidize the cells causing toxicity and can form as a result of UV and gamma rays, among other things.
- Dimethylmethoxy Chromanol: another extremely potent antioxidant that works to reduce ROS and oxidation in the transmembrane protein tyrosinase, which is responsible for the development of hyperpigmentation.
- Fractionated Melanin: photoprotection designed to selectively shield the skin from violet and blue light (HEV) and is partly responsible for the tint.
- Pycnogenol® – incredible antioxidant that helps reduce wrinkles and increase elasticity, reduce hyperpigmentation for even skin tone, neutralizes free radical to protect against photoaging related damage, increases skin stability during healing and stimulates production of new collagen and hyaluronic acid.
- Tomato Carotenoid Complex: potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that reduces sunburn cell formation, protects the skin’s immune system and inhibits melanin synthesis responsible for hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.
- Prebiotic Complex of Gluco-Oligosaccharides and Inulin – prebiotic complex that supports the skin’s natural microflora to protect against harmful bacteria as well as aid metabolism which produces essential enzymes, maintains pH balance and reinforce immune system function.
- Purified Deep-Sea Algae (Alteromonas Ferment): bacteria with the ability to bind water to the skin, soothe inflammation (including Rosacea), repair tissue damage and provide a protective barrier that also conditions the skin to improve texture.
- Purified Mediterranean Brown Algae (Padina Pavonica): clinically proven collagen boosting algae form of hyaluronic acid that works to soften wrinkles and fine lines, boost metabolism and stimulate water binding molecules important for healthy skin.
- Purified Knotgrass: botanical active with antioxidant abilities to scavenge free radicals, protect against infrared and photo damage, improve skin firmness and reduce the appear of fine lines and wrinkles.
The Survival products are like super serums that go way beyond merely offering sun protection. For some people Survival could replace a multitude of products for an extremely streamlined yet hyper-effective routine and for me, I feel way less guilty on days when I simply cleanse, spritz and apply sunscreen now that I use these.
Of all the products NIOD make this is easily one of the very best for so many reasons. Even though it offers no UV production, it is still a next level serum that protects against pollution, infrared and blue light, smog and stress. It’s designed to be used at night so you have consistent protection against oxidative damage or during the day with whatever sunscreen you already use.
Another reason this is such an incredible product is the user experience. It has a orangey-mustard colour and a lovely light, sweet scent that I enjoy more than I should. It is a pleasure to apply to due to it being a thin and light emulsion and it doesn’t form a film or leave residue as there are no silicones it in. It also layers very well with whatever else I use it with and you only need a few drops as it spreads very well due to how lightweight it is.
It is also an excellent Vitamin C alternative product for those who want the antioxidant benefits of this ingredient, but just can’t handle it (sensitive and acne prone skin especially) like me. Antioxidants are just as important as sunscreen when it comes to managing overall skin health, but using L-Ascorbic Acid or any derivative isn’t always the best option as they can cause irritation and breakouts that counteract the good they are doing for the skin. If you can’t use Vit C then try this.
I have been using it practically every night since I got it and if I were to recommend another NIOD product beside CAIS it would be this, or anything from Survival. These products are like nothing else and as well as the ingredients I have already talked about, contain a whole host of amino acids responsible for all manner of skin and cell health, multiple forms of hyaluronic acid (hydration, hydration, hydration) and Squalane and Jojoba Seed Oil for their additional skin benefits.
This could easily be your one night-time serum depending on your skin type and should be used in your serum step after SDSM/CAIS/MMHC (or whichever of those you use) and before HV or whatever moisturizer, oil or balms you use. This hasn’t caused me any irritation and should work fine for all skin types. The only thing to be wary of is possibly allergic reactions to certain ingredients.
Survival 10, 20 and 30
This trio is just like 0 with the addition of “silicone-dispersed UV minerals” in the form of zinc oxide and titanium oxide. The most fascinating thing about Survival is the information NIOD shares regarding the difference between UVA and UVB, what sun protection factor really means, the importance of understanding the UV index (get an app for this like I have) and the difference between 10, 20 and 30.
Even though these are not intentionally tinted, they are beige/tan in colour (30 is whiter) due to some of the ingredients like Lutein, Fractionated Melanin and Pycnogenol®, but this should not affect the colour of your skin unless you are very pale or in the case of 30 deeper in skin tone. 10 has the thinnest texture and pigment out of the three and completely disappears into my skin whereas 20 is slightly denser due to the higher SPF. I actually really like how this makes my skin looks and it almost acts like a very sheer tinted moisturizer giving me glowing, even natural coverage.
30 on the other hand leaves the faintest of white cast, again due to the higher SPF, but I easily fixed it by adding a drop of Photograpy Fluid 8% (more on that later) or applying my usual foundation on top. Regardless, all of them do not feel heavy or silicone-y on the skin and set really well leaving behind a comfortable finish that is not greasy but also not too drying. More than anything the texture feels somewhat oily, but that immediately goes away as you rub it in.
One thing to note with these three is you really have to be diligent when removing them at night. If you don’t double cleanse then now is the time to start and I would even suggest using a wash cloth in your first evening cleanse step if you don’t already. I found that if I didn’t use a washcloth I could still feel the product on my skin and a second cleanse with a wash cloth proved it as the tint showed up despite a first oil cleanse and rinse with water.
All three have performed perfectly well with my other serums/moisturizers and foundations (powder and cream) and they do not pill, ball up or rub off, even when I apply more than I need. I usually dispense about 1/3-1/2 of a pipette full and apply like a serum. It should be the last product you use in any daytime routine and which one you choose depends on the type of SPF you want.
NIOD recommend customizing use based on skin tone, UV index, season, time of day or level of desired protection. I like to focus on the UV index and use 10 when it’s low and/or I won’t be outside much or if I am sitting in front of a computer screen all day (don’t forget that pesky light damage). I use 20 most days because I am not usually in the sun long and I like that it offers higher concentrates of all those other amazing antioxidants discussed above. 30 is for when the UV index is high or if I am going to be outside for long periods of time.
If you want to just get one then I would probably recommend 30 if traditional UV protection is what you’re after or 20 if you want the best of both words with UV and multi-level antioxidant protection. I would recommend 10 if your foundation already includes SPF, but still want the benefits of Survival’s protection, or for people who spend all day at their desk, but didn’t realize the damage that our computer screens could potentially be doing.
I have been using Survival ever since they launched and they are the only sun protection I need now. The only issue I have is with the packaging, which isn’t the best for this type of extremely fluid texture because it’s messy use and really needs a pump, which I am told is in the works. I also wish they came in bigger sizes because it would be very easy to finish up a 30 ml bottle in a couple of months with daily use.
If you hate sunscreen then give these a go. They feel more like a skincare/make-up hybrid and even if you dislike silicones, this might convince you that they are not all bad. Sunscreen is one of the most important products you could use to help you skin age in the best way possible and Survival helps it do just that in a myriad of ways.
My next favourite NIOD category has to be the masques. There are currently four in the line-up and each one is unique and interesting in its own way. Of all the products the brand have, the masques are the ones most specifically geared towards healing and preventing acne, as well as improving clarity and brightness. I wish I had more time to use these because each one has impressed me for different reasons, but I don’t use them enough and it’s such a shame because they really are very good.
This was the very first masque NIOD launched and it is still the best one in my experience. It is a product like nothing else I have tried because it actually visibly reduces inflammation and helps keep my skin clear. I try to use it weekly or at least do the highly effective “accelerated method” at least once a month to keep my skin in check.
Even though FM is essentially a clay mask, it functions to deeply clean the skin, remove surface impurities and also protect the dermis from pollution that can lead to premature skin aging. It is much more than your typical mud mask and I am always impressed by how well my skin responds to it. There are three phases:
FM’s 3-phase system:
- Purifying Phase: breaks down water and oil soluble impurities, black Amazonian clay refines pores, white clay removes excess sebum and a Brazilian copper rich clay reinforces the surface barrier to protect from any irritation, while the delivery system increases oxygen supply that helps heal and rejuvenate the skin by being anti-inflammatory and antibacterial and stimulating collagen production.
- Protective Phase: provides a defense against external environmental build up by including ingredients like Polynesian sea polysaccharides to fight pollution, “an advanced analogue of resveratrol to protect against environmental browning”, protection against pro-inflammatory factors through the bitter orange peel derivative and an “ultra-pure” bisabolol (from German Camomile) to fight inflammation.
- Responsive Phase: focuses on the health and longevity of the skin through the inclusion of “a highly-purified flavanone” (from the inner white parts of citrus peel) to induce a non-inflammatory decongestion process and modified oleic acid to defend against inflammation. This stage is considered the most important which is why the mask is named after the star ingredient used in it.
As you can see, this has so much more going on with it than traditional clay based masks and that is why I use it more than any other mask in my stash. Not only that, I love the water-based thin texture that makes it so easy to apply and less uncomfortable on the skin because it doesn’t become hard and tight when it dries. Because of this I happily leave this on for hours knowing I am not doing any damage to my skin in that respect and have even slept in it (once dry) when my skin has been particularly angry.
FM has a deep terracotta colour and the scent is clay-like in a natural and mild way. It feels cool and wet (more so that usual clay masks) when I first apply it and like I said, dries really well. You only need a thin layer and can leave it on anywhere between ten minutes for a quick fix or hours like Gill does and what I do now.
This is easily one of the most hardworking and results driven masques I own and it’s definitely one of those products where the more you use it, the better those results are. I especially love the aforementioned “Accelerated Method”, which involves applying the masque for five days in a row to really increase the benefits and see quicker results.
It is important to note that while this masque is designed to not disrupt dermal balance, it can cause quite a strong stinging sensation when you remove it, but this is completely normal and shouldn’t be too uncomfortable. I have experienced different levels of stinging from none at all to moderate and I think it changes depending on the condition of my skin or the other products I have been using like acids or retinols.
This is a masque I would definitely recommend for most skin types, but if you have sensitive skin please do a patch test before using. For those who are inflammation prone (and not just the acne related kind) and deal with frequent breakouts, this has prevented more eruptions that I can count and is a great option for those who find traditional mud masks too aggressive or drying.
Next up has to be the brilliant Myrrh Clay because I completely under-estimated it when it first launched, but since I realized just how good it is it has become one of my favourite masks to use when I have active blemishes or extracted ones that need healing. Even though FM can and does help to prevent breakouts, they sometimes still happen and this is what I reach for when they do. Along with CAIS, this helps to shorten their lifespan and heal the skin quickly.
Myrrh is a wonderful ingredient that has been used for centuries in “Ayurvedic, Unani and traditional Chinese studies of medicine” for its wound healing, antioxidant, anti-aging and skin firming properties. The resin is derived from tree sap and is favoured for the “high content of terpenoids and sesquiterpenes”, which are antifungal, antibacterial and anaesthetic as well as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory.
Even though this masque has incredible healing properties, NIOD have focused on its ability to tighten and firm the skin, but to me, that isn’t the most important the thing that it can do. The base is a mix of humic-rich peat, which is full of nutrients that can decrease inflammation, help prevent pustule (red bumps filled with fluid or pus) formation and even suppress the flushing associated with rosecea. Not only that, fulvic acid, which is also found in peat, also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
The other base in this masque is Indian Multani Mitti clay (volcanic ash) also known as Fuller’s Earth Clay, which can be used to absorb excess oil production, heal and prevent blemishes and reduce inflammation. MC also contains antioxidant rich polyphenols and Wu Zhu Yu, a traditional Chinese medicine that when used on the skin helps to improve tone for a uniform complexion, as well as boosting firmness.
The texture of this masque is very smooth (with a little grit), rich and creamy like dark chocolate spread and the colour is a deep, dark brown to match. The scent is so unique and smells earthy and woody and I actually really like it, but what I love most is the results. I take a heaped teaspoon, apply a generous layer all over and leave it on for an hour before washing it off with warm water. It just leaves my skin looking better than before I used it and isn’t that exactly what we want from a mask?
MC is part of NIOD’s Yešti range that looks to the past in order to learn from it and I think, take a journey through nature to discover skincare before science took over. If you find FM too strong for you then give this a go. It’s completely understated in how well it works and its healing properties are the true stand-out results for me.
Another gem from the Yešti line-up is this masque, which wins the award for most unusual as it involves using a hairdryer! It is all about pore refinement and in an ideal world I would use this every morning because it actually works very well. Whenever I have the time to use this I can visibly see an improvement in the appearance of my pores around my nose and cheeks and my skin just looks better, yet I don’t use it nearly as much as I would like.
Mastic Must contains a “highly-densified sap from Greek mastic trees” and works by binding to congestion to purify and reduce the look of pores without drying out the skin. It does this because it is a dense gum that does not attract water or oil and the purification comes from the sap being anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
Not only that, the masque includes niacinamide to balance oil product and improve skin tone (among other things), cornflower extract for its anti-inflammatory, astringent and skin conditioning agents, soapnut for its gentle anti-microbial cleansing properties as well as honey, clay, amino acids, linoleic acid rich phospholipids that hydrate and protect barrier function and probiotics. It does also contain alcohol, but I think the other ingredients balance that inclusion and you only leave it on your skin for about ten minutes, so for me it’s not an issue.
If you are someone who struggles with enlarged pores or persistent congestion then this could be such a helpful product. It has a light, almost whipped creamy texture that feels very cooling when you apply it to the skin. You only need a thin layer of this and being conservative with how much you use will ensure that it dries quickly, so you can get the full benefits of it without having to worry about being late for work etc.
It smells quite nutty and the colour starts off as an off-white before becoming completely clear as it dries. When I remember to use this I apply it after I cleanse my skin and leave it on while I brush my teeth and get ready for the day. Sometimes I just apply it the centre of my face where my pores are more visible, but generally I like to use it all over because of how it cleans the pores of congestion.
I genuinely see good results with this and need to start using on a regular basis again. I might try using it at night, when I have more time to indulge in a multi-step routine because essentially the benefits of this are not just about how the pores look. Oh, and as for the hairdryer part – I have used it a few times and can say it does make a difference and I might just try it again now the colder months are upon us.
Who remembers this exciting launch where we had to guess the name of this on Instagram? Even before that fateful day (I guessed it!) I had been using this masque thanks to the lab samples Gill sent out with the purchase of Sanskrit Saponins. That was the very first time (since becoming more skincare savvy) that I had used a product without knowing what was it in and I don’t regret it all.
Aside from the quirky name, this masque has become a quiet hero in my stash as I use it on lazy nights when all I want to do is cleanse and then apply something that will do it all in one step. Not only that, it was one of the main products that helped my skin recover from a bad cycle of post-breakout, sun-exposure intensified hyper-pigmentation and it 100% made a visible difference. I used it 2-3 times a week as instructed and it helped to heal my skin and restore uniform tone without causing any irritation at all.
VM is an overnight masque designed to address uneven skin tone and “stressed” skin by improving communication between cells, so the skin can look healthy, bright and even. Most products address this issue in a more aggressive way, but that’s not always helpful. I chose this over stronger acids and retinols when I had a pigmentation issue with my skin because I wanted to use something that wouldn’t cause additional inflammation or be too much for my skin which was already quite compromised.
The star ingredient in this masque is Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, which is a fairly new probiotic ingredient that promotes accelerated skin renewal, improved skin barrier function and cell cohesion, as well as increased epidermal growth for better skin health and quality. It encourages the shedding of dead skin cells without causing any of the usual side effects seen with this type of product.
It also contains cornflower extract like in Mastic Must for the anti-inflammatory, astringent and skin conditioning agents, ferulic acid (hydroxycinnamic acid) rich oregano leaves, which also have depigmentation effects, edelweiss extract for its anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits, plantain for the moisturizing, soothing and toning abilities, melanin (as seen in Survival) and adaptive silicones “that lengthen dermal exposure time-frame, supported by a fractionated spectrum of molecular weight (instead of a specific one) of hyaluronic acid”.
I now use this about twice a week on alternate nights to retinol use and I find it so easy to incorporate into a routine because I either use it as a stand-alone product or after my serums as my all-in-one end step (moisturizer/oil) type product. It has a viscous, non-sticky gel-like silcone-y texture that smells quite smoky/woody and looks like a rich honey or amber tree resin.
You apply a thin layer either after cleansing or after cleansing, toning and lightweight serums. It doesn’t exactly dry down completely, but it isn’t gloopy and won’t run down your face. In the morning you rinse off the residue and that’s when I really see what this masque can do. I definitely notice an improvement in tone and my skin looks glow-y and healthy.
This is a category that I have put together to talk about the treatment products that don’t necessarily fit into other groups. Essentially everything that NIOD makes goes beyond the norm and is a “treatment” for the skin in some way or another and the following are some of the most important in the whole range.
Superoxide Dismutase Saccharide Mist 2
It is so interesting to think about how NIOD started and the number of products they have now because in the beginning I was longing for a complete set of products to use in a full routine and now I can do that with the following products:
SDSM2 is a treatment product that you would use in your toner step, although it is much more than simply a toner or mist. SDSM works to protect the skin against dehydration, oxidative damage and most importantly, inflammation. It contains a whole host of innovative and hardworking ingredients like Yeast-Derived Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), which “is the most important force against oxidation in the human body” and using it in this way is a skincare breakthrough.
It also contains Marine Exopolysaccharides (35% hydration increase) and Purified North American Four O’ Clock Flower (anti-inflammatory Aztec plant), which support each other for a super anti-inflammatory and advanced hydration preserving combination. While this works to help the skin retain moisture, it is not a direct hydration product and if you have dry skin it won’t replace the use of hydrating serums or moisturizers. Instead, it should work with those products to help your skin preserve the water from them more effectively. I know some people feel this doesn’t work because it’s not hydrating enough, but that’s not exactly the point of it. It is more of a dermal treatment product and unless you have oily or combination skin like me, you will need to still use hydrating products.
Even so, this does contain fern which is an exciting ingredient that supports the water storing ability of moss (another excellent ingredient in this mist) and it also provides “adaptogenic and anabolic effects”, which have the potential to make skin more resistant to stress and ageing, and could lead to an increase in natural moisturizing factors.
The newly updated version of SDSM includes a more potent yeast derived form of SOD and an extract of malachite rock (copper carbonate hydroxide mineral), which gives the mist it’s richer turquoise colour and adds another layer of defense against superoxide radicals. These anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress defenses make SDSM2 such a complimentary product to use with CAIS and/or Survival. The ingredients in the mist work in synergy with the ingredients in the serums or sunscreen to boost their effectiveness and add addition defenses.
I have combination skin, so this new version and the old one worked very well for me. The hydration retaining properties were enough, but most importantly, the anti-inflammatory capabilities have really helped my skin stay clear and balanced. I use this in a few different ways – after cleansing and before CAIS 1% without a cotton pad (but sometimes with), after CAIS 5%, before CAIS and then after if I am using Survival next. It really is a versatile mist and you don’t have to worry about using too much thanks to the large size.
It has a very faint scent that disappears immediately and it is incredibly light but doesn’t sink in immediately (there’s no alcohol) and it almost functions like an essence in that respect. I spritz liberally and definitely use more than necessary and it still absorbs well with no residue or tacky feeling left behind. I know some have experience issues with the nozzle, but I actually like it because I want to fully coat my skin. One last point about the nozzle, some have stated that theirs has “cracked”, but it’s actually just dried mist residue that can easily be wiped off.
What I love most about SDSM2 is the anti-inflammatory benefits and how it helps heal my skin from breakouts. This would work well for all skin types and could also be a great alternative for those who didn’t get on with CAIS, as it really is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. I am a huge toner/mist fan in general, but I have used this more than any of the others I own because it does so much more for my skin.
Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex 2
Like SDSM, this serum was recently updated and if you have dry skin, this would be great to use alongside it. I didn’t use the original of this much as I think my skin had a reaction to it, but this version has worked very well and restored my faith in the value of a HA serum.
MMHC2 is considered a core serum in a NIOD regimen because hydration is the basis of healthy skin. When your skin is hydrated and healthy oil production is balanced, the skin’s barrier is functioning properly and able to defend itself against harmful bacteria, it can heal itself quicker, it looks plump and uniform and overall you should find you breakout far less and sensitivity should be minimized.
If you struggle with your skin, dehydration is likely at the root of the issue, whether you are breaking out, suffering from excess oil production or experiencing dullness and the development of fine lines before your “time”. Dehydration contributes to and exacerbates pretty much every skin issue you can think of and it also makes things like hyper-pigmentation and acne look more noticeable.
No matter what you think your skin type is, you need to keep it optimally hydrated and using a hyaluronic acid serum is one of the best way to do that topically. This one contains a massive “15 forms of hyaluronic compounds, hyaluronic precursors and a hyaluronic support technology in a peptide-charged delivery system” and even includes 1% direct hyaluronic acid which is pretty rare.
This formula was also designed specifically to provide a non-clogging hydration retention barrier (I can agree with this in comparison to the old formula) as well as pro-repair support, improved barrier function, reduced water loss, increased hydration, pro-collagen abilities, surface hydration and atmospheric water retaining support.
It has an extensive and unique mix of ingredients to achieve all this like locust bean, mushroom and tamarind derived HA complexes, rapid, moderate and sustained reaction pre-cursors and low, mid and high molecular weight HA. This is one of the most advanced and active HA serums currently available and it is something I would recommend for everyone. You use it after CAIS and before everything else (except RE: Pigment).
One of the best things about this is the formulation. It feels like water, absorbs quickly, doesn’t leave any sticky residue behind and doesn’t ball up when you layer other products on top. It is translucent with a slight yellow tint and smells like wheat (maybe), It looks gelatinous in the pipette but is extremely fluid. You only need a few drops to cover your entire face but I love that you can apply more than one layer of this without it feeling uncomfortable. It is also alcohol, oil and silicone free, which is part of why this is such an excellent product.
This is the HA serum I have been waiting for. It is a pleasure to use and hasn’t caused my skin to breakout out like some others have. If you have dry, dehydrated or mature skin this is an obvious must use, but if you have oily, acne prone or sensitive skin, this is important for you too. I know from personal experience that when skin is hydrated it protects itself better, heals itself faster and just looks healthier, because it is.
This is NIOD’s most recent release and even though I have only been using it for a couple of months, it is a product that I am very excited about. Hyper-pigmentation is my number one skin concern and I love the idea of being able to tackle it through multiple pathways.
As anyone who has suffered from “post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation” will know, the mark left behind after a blemish has come and gone can be worse than what caused it, be harder to cover up and take much, much longer to treat. My skin is prone to hyper-pigmentation because of my ethnicity, but luckily it also responds very well to products designed to fade dark spots.
CAIS works well for me when it comes to keeping my skin clear and even, as well as azelaic acid, retinol and niacinamide. I like to attack my pigmentation with more than one ingredient, so this serum has been a hugely welcomed new addition to my arsenal. It contains ten core and supporting brightening technologies and so far has worked very well to improve overall brightness and targeted reduction of hyper-pigmentation.
The main ingredient is Diglucosyl Gallic Acid, which as a derivative of trihydroxy benzoic acid and it works to lighten pigmentation, inhibit melanin forming free radicals and prevent the formation of melanin in new spots. Benzoic acid on it’s own can be quite irritating and I believe it’s this ingredient that causes the tingling I feel when I first apply this product to my face.
Other ingredients include:
- Acetyl Glycyl Beta Alanine: an efficiently penetrating very low molecular weight brightening peptide that interrupts melanin formation to visibly improve clarity.
- White Shiitake Ferment: anti-inflammatory bio-derivative extract that focuses on degrading melanin and lightening the skin after just a week of use.
- Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate (Azeloyl Glycine): a powerful derivative of one of my favourite ingredients (azelaic acid) that works brighten, reduce redness and soften keratin lesions.
- Encapsulated Oligopeptide-68: reduces and controls melanin synthesis as well as rapid equalization of skin tone.
- Solubilized Tetrapeptide-30: a relatively new peptide that blocks melanin transfer, inhibits melanin cell activation and reduces lesions and melasma, particularly on ethnic skin.
- Red Evodia Fruit Derivatives: Wu Zhu Yu (like in Myrrh Clay) illuminates dull skin, promotes even tone and increases brightness.
As you can see this has many avenues for addressing hyper-pigmentation and I am so happy to be using it. It has an exceptionally runny texture (more than MMHC2) and is completely clear with a faint chemical scent. It definitely feels warming/tingly when I apply, but hasn’t caused any irritation so far, which is good. It feels very light on the skin, absorbs and layers well with other products and doesn’t leave a film or residue behind.
You only need about 4-6 drops to cover your whole face or you can just use a drop or two to spot treat stubborn areas of pigmentation. I am now using this five times a week at night, but you can absolutely use it every day, twice a day if your hyper-pigmentation is more severe. So far the results I have seen are moderate, but promising and I have high hopes that with continuous use this will help me reduce existing PIH and prevent new ones forming.
Non-Acid Acid Precursor 15%
When this first launched I immediately bought it because I was so excited at the prospect of a non-acid acid behaving product. At the time I was just coming to the realization that daily acid use was not for me and was only beginning to use “proper” retinoids. It was an immediate favourite of mine because my non “acid/retinol sensitized” skin really responded well to it and I appreciated the philosophy of gentle and regular epidermal resurfacing being better in the long term. As many of you will know by now, Brandon doesn’t believe in direct acids and retinols, which is why NIOD doesn’t have any and this is his answer to that.
My skin is prone to inflammation and the vicious cycle that acid (and even retinol) can create was ultimately less helpful than effective for me and this was the perfect remedy to that. It uses a relatively new to the market probiotic that “according to the manufacturer, positively influences both the speed and the quality of epidermal growth that results in better barrier function and overall skin quality. Yes, yes and yes again.
In addition to the probiotic, NAAP also includes peptides that promote retinoid like gentle peeling (I don’t experience any actual physical peeling) and cell turnover as well as multiple ingredients that support barrier function, aids in wound healing and hydration (through water and moisture-retention capabilities). As these technologies are so new they have not been thoroughly tested yet, but early data is promising for being acne safe and as a way to stimulate the skin’s own natural acids within the “microbiome”, which is a mix of microorganisms like “bacteria, yeasts, and parasites that live on your skin” (it’s not as bad as it sounds).
One of the reasons this is big news is because like with our gut health, many of our skin issues can come down to an imbalance in the bacteria on our skin. That means that beyond being a product to mimic the behaviour of acids and retinols, this could work really well for those who suffer from acne (as well as other skin issues) because it could help promote the good bacteria that support healthy skin function.
To give you some background information on my acid use, like a lot of you, I believed that acids were the key to good skin and my goal was to work my way up to higher strengths to continually see improvements. For a long time I used an acid toner and then moved on to something stronger/better and eventually made the leap to a 10% glycolic acid product that I would use pretty often as a toner/serum. This worked really well for me in the beginning and I loved how my skin looked.
The issues arose when I moved on to a 15% glycolic acid cream. The morning after I used it my skin was incredibly soft, smooth and looked even and bright. I was really pleased with the results until I saw my skin in direct sunlight. I was shocked. Underneath the surface my skin was incredibly inflamed and bumpy and it looked like I had acne all over my cheeks. I couldn’t feel it and I couldn’t see it but the irritation and inflammation that the glycolic acid had caused was 100% there.
I stopped using glycolic acid from that day and luckily NAAP launched shortly afterwards and stepped right in to save the day. One of the things that makes it so different to the typical exfoliating or resurfacing acid products is that it has a cream-serum texture so it feels very comfortable on the skin and isn’t drying at all. I also believe that the hydration it provides is the key to its great results because it helps keep the skin balanced, which is very important. It is very gentle and quite soothing, although I did feel a tingle on the first few nights I used it and I took that as a good sign that it was actually active enough to do the job of acids/retinoids.
It is creamy white and almost feels like a gel-milk emulsion (it is very similar to The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinol 2% Emulsion) on the skin because of how thin and lightweight it is. It absorbs extremely well leaving behind a smooth finish and is not sticky or tacky at all, which means it layers really well with other products. Bizarrely the scent reminds me of the “safe” glue we used to have in school and I really like it.
NAAP would work really well with all skin types but in particular, those who are sensitive and can’t use acids would really benefit from this, as well as those with acne or eczema. This should be used in your night-time routine and would come after SDSM2, CAIS and MMHC2 or after cleansing if you don’t use those. If you also use Survival 0 and/or RP, I would personally use it on alternate nights to RP and before Survival 0.
It might be hard to think about giving up acids and using something so different like NAAP instead, but it really makes so much sense and I can personally attest to how much better my skin has been without strong acids, even before this came along. I know that when your skin is freaking out it can seem like using more acids (or higher strength ones) will solve everything but it’s not the right solution for everyone. I’ve realized how important it is to treat my skin gently and ever since I started doing that it’s been better than ever. Calm, balanced, less reactive, nourished and just normal.
This product is one of the first I used from NIOD that I just did not get on with to begin with. I completely understood the concept and agreed with the technology, but I was a huge silicone and moisturizer phobe back then and could not get over the texture. I had never used anything like this as an end-step product and could not get my head around it for the longest time.
Despite that, I know SO many of you are completely in love with this and now I know why. It is definitely different and takes some getting used to, but it really works. As I learned more about my skin and actively wanted to kept it moisturized and hydrated, I knew this was the product to help. The first line of the description is “a breathing, adaptive hydration seal for the skin that helps protect against loss of Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF), and supplements the skin’s own moisturizing factors.” Yep, that’s what I was looking for.
As I have mentioned more than a few times throughout this article, hydration and barrier function are essential to healthy skin. Natural moisturizing factors are a mix of amino acids, sodium PCA, lactic acid, minerals and peptides etc. that work to protect the skin and act as barrier against water loss. When the skin is hydrated or the barrier is compromised it is open to all manner of issues and cannot protect and heal itself adequately.
For a long time I was happy to “moisturize” with oils and balms, having never found a traditional moisturizer that worked for my skin, but now that I use one (I actually have a few I like now) in addition to my oils and balms my skin is completely different. HV takes the concept of a moisturizer one step further and functions as a seal to properly protect dehydrated or compromised skin.
HV uses a mix of incredible ingredients that help rebuild water density, create a protective film that aids in preventing water loss, tissue saturation and hydration perseverance. The silicones I once hated in this are actually not bad at all and work very well, especially in the winter, to properly shield the skin from the dehydrating environmental elements.
I now use this in the winter when my skin is most susceptible to dehydration and compromised barrier function. This winter I will use it under Survival and I’m looking forward to seeing how that combo works out. This is definitely a fantastic product if you have dry, dehydrated or mature skin, or if your barrier function is compromised. You could use this a treatment product to fix that and I’m telling you, once you see what your skin is like when it’s hydrated and has a healthy barrier, it will be hard not to want to use this every day.
Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate
Eye products are not easy for me to get on with. My eye area is very sensitive and lots of serums or creams that I’ve tried have left them irritated, puffy and watery. For the most part I take CAIS around my orbital bone and for me that works well as an eye treatment, but when my eyes are looking a bit worse for wear (which is pretty often these days), I like to re-introduce this into my line-up for some much needed added support.
I am definitely lazy about my eye care, but the reason for that is most products don’t address my “issues”. I have hereditary and health aggravated dark circles, but rarely get puffy (unless I am having a bad reaction) and don’t have any fine lines or wrinkles yet (thank you, CAIS). I use this when my eye area is feeling dry/crepe-y or the dark circles look more prominent than usual. When I use this consistently it helps to address those issues within a few days and that’s what I like it for.
This product has one of the longest inci lists out of the NIOD products and it goes to show that the eye area is one of the hardest, yet most important parts of our face to support. This is definitely a “hyper-concentrated” serum as it includes 28 technologies to target expression (fine lines), collagen, pigmentation, fluid retention and regeneration. NIOD fully list each and every advanced pre-cursor, complex, peptide and enzyme, so I highly recommend looking them over, but I will tell you about some of my favourites.
Marigold helps reduce the look of dark circles as well as sensitivity (very important to me), Oleuropein Zinc Salt Bio Complex that helps rebalance the melanin formation under the eyes and Methyl-Glucoside-6-Phosphate (MG6P) “one of the most advanced peptides techonologies” that address firmness, elasticity and density all at once in less than two weeks. This serum is not messing around and if you’re looking for an eye product that targets all areas of eye aging then this is it.
One of the things I like most about this is the texture. It feels like dense water on the skin, spreads effortlessly and sinks in very well. It does not irritate my eyes at all and it doesn’t ball up under makeup or other products. It has an almost golden colour and the scent is very mild. I take just a drop for each eye and apply it after CAIS and before everything else. This would work well for all ages because it is never too early to start talking care of our eye area.
We are coming up to the time of year when my eye area need more help, so this will be going back in rotation. I am almost finished with my second bottle, so even though I am not consistent with using this, I do use it enough to see a difference and know it works.
Neck Elasticity Catalyst
For the longest time I didn’t really do anything to my neck area because to be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was part of my face (so I should put skincare products) or part of my body, so I just didn’t do anything. Obviously because of my age too I wasn’t really concerned about how my neck looked (it was fine/normal/just my neck), but as I get older I realize that I wanted to take care of that area better.
I have tried a few neck dedicated products and NEC is still one of my favourites because it actually works in both the short and long-term. Sometimes I get “crease lines” across my neck if I have slept funny or neglected the area and this helped make an immediate noticeable difference as it “fills in” those lines.
This reminds me of HV in many ways because it has the same texture and scent and they share a lot of the same beginning and end inci list ingredients. Unlike HV though, this is packed full of technologies that focus on supporting the skin’s elastin and elastic fibres to help reduce laxity and improve skin density. It contains a direct form of hyaluronic acid, plant biotechnology like Plantamajoside Phenylpropanoid Complex used in Chinese herbal medicine, a mix of caffeine, carnitine and ginger to improve tone and density.
As I said this is almost identical to HV in texture, scent and colour and it has that same buttery silicone-y feel. You would apply this after whatever skincare you apply to your neck area (CAIS/ MMHC), but if you also use HV, this comes first.
This is the type of product you probably won’t need if you already take your skincare products down to your neck and chest area, but if you don’t do this, or find that even with doing that you still get neck lines (different to wrinkles and fine lines) then this will help. I was very sceptical when I first started using this thinking it wouldn’t make that much of a difference, but it did for me and now I have practically my whole family hooked on it.
Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate
This is another product I was sceptical about at first, but it did not take long for me to realize that it is powerful stuff. The first time I used it I applied way too much and I was left with a very red ring around my lips and even though it wasn’t painful, it looked it. Lips are big business now with the trickle down effect of once celebrity only fillers now being seen everywhere, but if you’re not quite ready for the needle then give this a go.
In true NIOD fashion this does not scrimp on the ingredients even though it’s technically not skincare. It has a long list of technologies that help increase lip volume through multiple ingredients, increase sustained hydration, suppleness and firmness, boost natural tissue generation and increase the short term redness of the lips for a more pronounced appearance.
I recently started using this on a nightly basis again and I love the scent and texture. It is a translucent yellow and has an oily gel texture that doesn’t immediately disappear when you apply it and the scent is quite fruity, but not over-powering (it tastes good too). There is definitely more of a warming sensation than stinging feeling like with some lip plumping products and sometimes it definitely tingles, but not in an uncomfortable way for me.
This gets to work right away and I seriously recommend using it at night or quite some time before you go somewhere because even when I thought I had been careful I have still ended up with visible redness around the mouth and it’s not that easy to cover up. The other reason I recommend this to be used as night is because for some people the improvements they want to see with their lips are more about the outer parameters rather than the centre, so the redness around the mouth will be unavoidable.
You only need a tiny dot of this, so the 15 ml bottle should last you a very long time. I am currently about 2/3’s of the way through mine and I have been using for longer than the recommended six months usage and it still works perfectly fine.
The directions say to use this twice daily for 30 days and then once daily afterwards and I have to confess I have not be able to do that yet. I don’t always wake up with enough time to allow the redness to go down, so mostly use it at night and I am happy with the results still. My lips feel plump, hydrated and look smoother, which is more than I get from my normal lip balm.
Photography Fluid Tan Opacity 8% and 12%
Long before DECIEM’s foray in to the make-up world with The Ordinary Colours, these two launched to help create a light reflecting “foundation” that blurs the look of pores, increases hydration, boosts radiance using prismatic colour technology for skin that looks even, bright and healthy.
Photography Fluid 12% launched first, the response was huge and I can see why. It is a beautiful product that highlights the skin and just creates the most natural looking radiance. For me, with my light brown skin tone, it does not work for all over application. When I do that my skin looks bright and even, but also washed out. Even under make-up, something is not quite right, but I know so many people and make-up artists who rely on this as their “perfect skin secret” as one called it. I now use this as an under make-up highlight when I want more of a glow-y look, but I don’t actually want to apply a highlighter and I love it for that.
The 8% on the other hand is completely different. While the 12% is all about reflecting light, this one focuses on balancing light absorption with selective reflectiveness. This one is like an instant tan in a bottle, but so much better. It is a golden bronze liquid that feels more like a serum and makes my skin look so healthy. It is like the darker skin suitable version of the 12% and I love to use this all over before make-up because it helps me need/use less.
Both these products have incredible textures and even though they contain silicones they are so lightweight and set beautifully leaving no film or residue. The 12% is a brilliant creamy white colour that is slightly thicker than the 8% and filled with tiny golden particles.
These would work so well with the Survival range. You could use the 12% if you find the natural pigments too dark or yellow for your skin, or use the 8% like I do. I mix one drop with S 30 to make it more suited to my skin tone and it works very well.
The concept of “cleansing” is another controversial topic for NIOD, but I completely undestand why. It’s an important part of any functional skincare regimen and for most of us it’s the first step where things go wrong. I hated cleansing for years because the products aimed at my skin type would leave my face feeling dry, tight and uncomfortable, and I would end up more oily and with more breakouts because my barrier function had been compromised. A lot of cleansers out there really set us up to fail, but NIOD have two offerings that work very in different ways to offer a better solution.
Low-Viscosity Cleaning Ester
Another marmite product from the range and I can understand why. It absolutely works, but it also is so different to everything else out that it can just feel wrong for some people, me included. LVCE is all about respecting the dermal barriers and purifying the skin while regulating sebum. It claims to remove all traces of make-up at the same time as cleaning the actual skin in ONE STEP. Controversial and different, I know, but what else would you expect from DECIEM?
LVCE is detergent, water and cleansing plant oil free and works by using “isolated sugar and avocado esters” to clean the skin and this can be done with or without water. It also intentionally leaves behind a protective film that is supposed to help boost the delivery of whatever you use next, but if you don’t like that feeling (even from a traditional oil or balm) then this will feel really weird.
I have used this on and off since it launched and I have to say it’s a hard product for me to love, despite the fact that it works very well. It removes make-up perfectly and easily and my skin definitely feels hydrated and protected afterwards, but in my head that still feels wrong. Even so, I still like to use it on my eyes when I am wearing lots of product and these days I have been reaching for it help fully remove Survival from my skin.
This is such an interesting product because up until recently no other brands were really using this technology in cleansers and the inclusion of Gallic Acid Ester as a cleaning agent and antioxidant is so interesting because it’s “function is of significant value, offering tissue-adhering, water-free oxidative protection on a daily basis”. This ingredient also functions as a preservative and protects the fatty acids and oils from oxidation.
LVCE has a thin, watery, clear, oily texture and the scent is quite chemical-y, but it doesn’t last on the skin at all. You don’t need a lot because it spreads really easily and using less will make it feel less “present” on the skin after you remove it. If you use a cotton pad you will definitely still feel it and if you use just water, the bulk of it is removed and only a very slightly, barely noticeable “film” is left behind. If you use a washcloth, it is completely removed as much as possible and skin just feels normal.
This is pretty much a “get the job done” type of product and while I don’t love it like I do Sanskrit Saponins or my other cleansers, I get what it’s trying to do and think it’s an important option to have for those with dry skin or a compromised barrier. I will still use this when I use Survival 30 or 20 and I definitely recommend it if you find your cleanser leaves your skin tight, dry or “squeaky clean” or if you wear a lot of makeup and want to be able to remove it quickly and easily without damaging your skin.
Providing a complete opposite experience to LVCE, this “cleaning balm” draws from ancient Aryuvedic plant derived saponins (it’s the third featured in this article, but it was the first product in the Yešti range) that act as natural surfactants to deeply clean the skin without aggravating it. SS is all about maintaining and respecting the skin’s equilibrium, while also tackling congestion, blemishes, impurities and dead skin cells.
What’s interesting about NIOD’s approach to cleaning is they fully advocate the process of renewing the skin’s oil production in order to gently produce a “clean” and “refreshed” protective layer, that will ultimately keep the skin at its healthiest. This is such a novel approach to cleansing but one that fully makes sense to me and has really worked. SS deeply cleans the skin, refreshes the natural oil layer and refines the pores, all without being aggressive, stripping or creating imbalance.
NIOD have a lot of “thoughts” on the cleaning process and I love this product for how it takes an “old world” approach to the task. SS uses the plant saponins (shikakai, desert date and sapindus mukorossi), amino acids like lysine to clean the pores, “delete dirt” and shed surface dead cells to remove the build up that leads to congested and dull looking skin.
Even though this is described as balm, the texture is light, smooth and almost whipped and has a creamy paste-like feel. It has a lovely woody, nutty scent that reminds me of autumn (my favourite season) and I can’t help but love it even more because of that. This would actually work really well after LVCE for the ultimate barrier protecting, skin purifying double cleanse and I think I might try that.
I generally use SS 3-4 times a month as a weekly skin “reset” and I really enjoy the experience of using it and love what it does for my skin. It leaves it soft, smooth and purified, yet not at all overly dry. You can use this on wet or dry skin and I do either depending on how my skin is. Mixed with water is thins out and turns into a non-foamy milky lather that feels lovely on the skin. It doesn’t leave any residue behind and if you do feel a bit dry afterwards, don’t worry because that’s meant to happen.
This would be fine for all skin types depending on how often you use it. Those who are dry/ dehydrated should use this in conjunction with LVCE 2-3 times a week, those with oil/acne prone/combination could use as directed, every other day. Those with mature skin might find this too much, but if you are older and still suffer from congestion then definitely use this 2-3 times a week too.
NIOD recommend using this every other day and I would agree with that or even less often if your skin is quite dry. Any more and it will be too purifying and that would defeat the point of it. I know many of you like this because of it’s traditional sensorial texture and scent and I agree. I think the beauty of Yešti is it provides that elevated usage experience that might not come from the more scientific products and I hope they add more to the collection.
I absolutely did not intend for this article to be this long, but as you can see, when it comes to NIOD there is a lot to say. DECIEM are doing something very special with this brand and I know it’s not for everyone, but if you are an ingredients nerd or want the latest and greatest from skincare then this is the brand for you. I always feel like I’m back in school when I read the inci list on these products and love learning more about them. It’s also a refreshing change to discover that some unpronounceable word isn’t just another filler or preservative.
NIOD’s simple approach of wanting to support and promote healthy skin might seem underwhelming to some, but it is at the core of great skincare and from my experience it makes all the difference. When my skin is hydrated and healthy I don’t need to use harsh acids or acne products and most importantly, a slew of different products to keep it looking its best.
Brandon made it clear when NIOD launched that this was a personal indulgence and not necessarily for mass consumption and that is very obvious in how the products are communicated. They are not tremendously easy to understand, the acronyms can be exhausting to keep track of and the science is pretty complicated and confusing, but he knows that. NIOD is more concerned with leading with immaculate products, incorporating the latest science and technology and then delivering on promise.
I hope this article helps to explain each product a little better and give you an understanding of why, like Gill, I am such a NIOD fan. Aside from what the products have done for my skin, I just find what they are doing is so interesting and exciting; I cannot wait for what’s to come.