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Reviews Skin

Mermaid Marissa: I Tried The Mighty Patch, And I’m Never Going Back

No matter how many times I wash my face, drink water, and use clean face-friendly-products (like non-comedogenic sunscreen – I live on a boat, after all!), it seems like I am still prone to zits. So, I’ve done plenty of research and read tons of reviews on products that not only cover the problem spots, but also heal them – which is when I came across this little gold mine of a product: Hero Cosmetics’ Mighty Patch.

 
 
 
 
 
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To be honest, I was skeptical of this highly-reviewed product: how could something so simple be so good? Hero’s Mighty Patch was relatively inexpensive, so I loaded a pack into my cart to give them a try and, at the very least, write a review for QUILL.

There is nothing “wow” about this packaging; it is very straightforward. But as always, it is what is on the inside that counts. So, I ripped open the package and peeled off a patch to place on one of my problem spots and let it do its magic. 

 
 
 
 
 
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The patch was well-hidden against my very pale complexion (like one scoop away from being vanilla-ice-cream white) and was quick to start absorbing all the “yuck” in my skin. The Mighty Patch uses medical-grade hydrocolloid to gently absorb pimple gunk throughout the day or night.

It was kind of satisfying to peel away the sticker and see the white spot where all the “ick” went! 

My problem spot was a problem no more, and there was no popping necessary. I was really impressed by the product’s ability to deliver what it had promised and bought a new pack as well as their larger patches for the bigger problem areas. However, the acid in the patches do make the areas I put them on dry (hello, that’s the whole point), so I make sure to use a very heavy moisturizer after the fact.

Additionally, I will note that the patches blended well into my skin for a great low-key-camouflaged-blemish moment, but I was severely disappointed to see that there are no shades to accommodate for darker skin tones. There are clear options, but even those are obvious and fail to blend in.

 
 
 
 
 
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Overall I give this product 4.5/5 stars. Want to try it for yourself? Grab Hero’s Mighty Patch and share your review with us!


Read More Skincare Articles:

Target’s Hydrocolloid Pimple Patches Are Life-Changing
I Tried Peace Out’s Blemish Balm, And My Skin Is Spotless
Categories
Profiles

Megan Behnke Is Creating Genderless, Clean Skincare

Megan Behnke, the founder of genderless, clean skincare brand Ralphie and Alice, Zooms in from her workshop in Southern California, about a six-hour drive south from QUILL’s headquarters.

I cannot help but immediately tell her that her skin is glowing, and she can’t help but tell me that she’s always down for a last-minute chat with another founder fighting for genderless beauty.

Our conversation lasts 30 minutes, in which we share laughs and rolled eyes and running over the other’s sentences. But my favorite part? When I ask who Ralphie and Alice are. It’s a unique name, after all, for a company.

Behnke smiles gently, divulging that the names are those of her grandfather and grandmother. 

ralphie and alice standing together in cowboy hats

I was raised by a single mother who was an artist. She worked all the time just to make sure that me and my siblings were taken care of,” she tells me. “And on weekends and during the summer, we would always get schlepped off to my grandma and grandpa’s house.”

Clearly, this had an effect on you, I say.

Behnke nods eagerly. “Being with them was like my happy place. It was just the best thing ever.” She starts to tear up. “Even just talking about them, I’m feeling really emotional. They’re literally my best friends!”

Having lost my remaining grandparent at 20, I often wonder what it would have been like to be close to a grandparent for this long.  (Megan and I are near the same age.) How would it shape me? Would we be best friends? Would I name my company after them? If I were to go off of Megan’s experience, the answer would most likely be yes.

But there’s more to starting a brand than being lucky enough to be best friends with your grandparents, so here’s Megan Behnke’s full story. Aka, why one badass gal is revolutionizing the skincare industry by cleaning it up and demolishing gender stereotypes in the process.

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Megan Behnke can only wear clean beauty products. (More on that later.)

megan behnke side profile

So, like the rest of us, she loves browsing skincare aisles to see what’s out there; after all, it’s easier to “go and buy some face wash instead of having to figure out how to make it myself, but with clean ingredients.”

But the stark difference between gender identities – and only two gender identities, of course – bewilders her each time she looks at skincare products. “I can’t believe that there’s still separation by gender,” she exclaims, eyes wide. Sure, AESOP is there, but AESOP isn’t affordable to all; Jergens says they’re unisex, but women-only marketing implies otherwise. “Even the scents – the girls have the rosy, soft, flowery scents and pink packaging. Then the guys have the burly scents and aggressive names.”

She had been running Ralphie and Alice for a few years when she had the epiphany while strolling through the cosmetics aisles: “to offer a clean, gender-fluid product, one that can allow the focus to be on oneself rather than an outdated marketing tactic.”

products from ralphie and alice

Much of this came from her own personal experience. Previously, Behnke worked at a clothing company that primarily targets Gen Z. She was responsible for product research and design, and she fell in love with the freedom and fluidity Gen Z was exhibiting in their self expression.

“I wholeheartedly believe that they’re the people who are gonna push us through the future,” she says, naming them as her target market. Her smile grows as she glimpses away from the camera. “I just think they’re so badass. And really inspiring!” 

On top of this, Behnke grew up with brothers, and she enjoyed the convenience of 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 products (again, like me. Efficiency for the win, right?). “The only thing is, they are all very, very outdated. I’ve yet to see a clean 2-in-1 or ‘multi-tasking’ product.” And again, they are mainly marketed toward men – women are still marketed an arsenal of seven different products for the same purpose.

Clean, clean, clean. I’ve dropped it so many times. But it’s not because I’m teasing you – it’s because Behnke is only just starting to talk about this herself, and she’s given me the honor of being one of the first publications to mention it in-depth. 

With your promise of gentle eyes, I’ll dive in.


Megan Behnke has a one-two-punch of mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) and lupus.

“When I was younger, I didn’t know what it was,” she confesses.

baby megan behnke

“I thought I was someone who was unlucky and always caught the flu. When it started affecting my skin, I thought I had severe acne or even eczema.” On top of that, “I was constantly getting very sick and going through a bunch of different immune system related issues.”

So she cut everything toxic out of her diet, and then she began cutting everything toxic out of her skincare. The problem: “clean” is an unofficial declaration, with no actual meaning behind it. There’s Clean at Target and Clean At Sephora, and they share similarities in terms of ingredients they exclude, but “clean” itself? You won’t find one definition online or in the Beauty Encyclopedia.

For Behnke, “clean” required being a totally vegan formula filled with healthy ingredients that benefit the skin, and absolutely zero fragrance.

Unsurprisingly, this left few options for Behnke. So, “I started cooking up products in my kitchen, one by one.” And when she made a batch that was a bit too big? “I would share it with family and friends, they’d beg for more, and that’s kind of how the ball started rolling.”

embed photo of model with ralphie and alice stix

That was seven years ago. Then the epiphany in the skincare aisle happened, and Behnke was left all the more determined to start a clean, genderless skincare brand. She continues to perfect her craft, but so far, her products have multiple five-star reviews raving about the benefits of the products. Behnke credits her personal experience for the inclusion of the ingredients.

For example, her Pop Stix – a tinted lip and cheek balm – has nourishing shea butter and avocado oil, moisturizing and healing rose damask oil, and dry hibiscus for itchy and irritated skin. The Lip Stix, another popular product, has only five ingredients, which include shea butter, candelilla wax for its glide, avocado oil, rosehip seed oil for healing, and jojoba oil for moisture. The vast majority of the ingredients are organic, too.

Behnke is still learning how to talk about her illnesses. “I feel I’m at a place where I am accepting of – and strong enough – to talk about the pain and trauma that comes along with having an auto-immune disease,” she says.

photo by andrew wallerPhoto by @ANDREWALLER

“I was misdiagnosed for a long long time. And because of that, I was mentally left in limbo and physically started getting really severe pancreas issues that I continue to still deal with daily… like, every single time I eat food.” She shrugs in a way many chronically-ill people do, myself included.

On top of talking about her diseases, Behnke is taking action, too: Ralphie and Alice is currently in the process of being certified by the National Eczema Association. “We have a ton of customers who have eczema and who absolutely love the performance of our products,” she explains.

But, let’s be real: as if that’s the only way Behnke is giving back with her platform.


Meghan Behnke describes herself as an empath.

“That’s another thing that I’m extremely passionate about: just, helping people. I don’t like seeing people struggle or even hearing of people struggling.”

So, not only is she providing clean products to the world, talking openly about a diagnosis that has impacted her life significantly, and still fitting in time to spend with her family and friends (this entire time, Behnke has been radiating adorable joy in a Betty Boop T-shirt, post-niece play-session; “it’s anti-fashion,” she jokes) – she’s also a philanthropic fiend.

Behnke rallies her community to make change every month. “Our community picks a theme or the issue that they want to raise awareness and money for, and we work with customers who are graphic designers to come up with a nice design.” They then sell the apparel exclusively for 10 days, though Behnke notes they’re hoping to sell all designs on a regular basis.

it's a beautiful day to give a shit tee shirt from ralphie and alice

“At Ralphie and Alice, we’re not just making a post online because it’s Pride Month or Black History Month. We work towards being year-round allies, doing our part in educating, connecting, and raising money,” she says. As someone who has worked for places both performative and genuine in their activism, I can tell Behnke means what she says. It’s yet another reason why our meeting feels kismet. 

“Kismet,” I repeat silently to myself: a perfect word to fit in the article title.

My emails with Behnke the day before official feature month begins changes the title significantly. Here’s why.


THE PRELUDE: 

We are nearing feature week, and I have excitedly sent an email to Megan Behnke about it.

The response I get breaks my heart: they lost dear Ralphie less than a week before.

ralph, the inspiration behind ralphie and alice

But, she says, she’ll rush to get Ralphie and Alice assets to me by EOD.

I tell her to take a week. Celebrate his life and grieve, and QUILL will be right here when she’s ready to have the feature go live. She thanks me, and we agree to talk in a week.

In this past week, I considered starting the article multiple times, but I put it off the second I sat down at my computer. I was distracted by anything and everything else. It wasn’t quite avoidance, so what was it?

And then, thinking about the way she talked about Ralphie, it hit me; her relationship with him reminds me of the one I have with my mom. And even though the OG Siri, as I like to call her (her name is literally Siri), is alive and kickin’, it’s crossed my mind once or twice that my hero won’t live forever.

So, as I sit down to write this article the night before, I want to dedicate this piece to everyone’s Ralphie, whoever they may be. A Ralphie that believed in you, took care of you, and loved you unconditionally, right until the very end.

And I want you, dear reader, to know that you are their Megan, who was lucky enough to have loved them right back.

megan behnke and her grandfather ralph, half of the inspiration for ralphie and alice

 


Thank you to Megan Behnke for sharing her story. You can shop at Ralphie and Alice’s site and follow on Instagram!

Categories
Profiles Skin

Rex Chou: The Man Behind The Ghost

I’m not going to lie: I’m nervous when Ghost Democracy founder Rex Chou appears on my screen for our Zoom conversation. 

He seems relaxed, but his demeanor is hard to read. It’s nothing he’s done, and entirely my nerves and slight intimidation.

But I’ll cut to the chase: Chou is one of the funniest, wittiest, best “brain dumpers” I’ve met. He speaks his mind but is never mean, jokes but never with malice, and says what he believes with conviction. It’s admirable, really, and I feel extremely blessed to be having this conversation… Until I drop that I have no skincare routine.

But the response I get? Not what you’d expect. But let’s start the story, first.arrow

Born in Dallas, Texas, Rex Chou was supposed to be a suit-and-tie businessman. He went to college for finance and had plans to work on Wall Street. Well, loose plans – he ended up at L’Oreal for a marketing opportunity instead. “I was like, that sounds fun. I’ll do that for a couple of years,'” he starts.

rex chou smiling at camera

And then a couple turned to 12. “Beauty is something that everyone can relate to, even though the word beauty makes people think, ‘oh, that’s just a women’s industry.’” He laughs. “Guys also sometimes don’t want to leave the house when they have a huge pimple on their nose, you know?”

His love for working in the beauty industry took him all over – New York, Madrid, London – and then, when he got tired of moving every three years, he found himself in New York again. This time, however?  He had an opportunity to launch his own brand on the West Coast.  Why not give LA a shot? (Time to pick up and move again.)

“We saw the growth of cosmetics during social media; skincare, not so much,” he says. And when people were suddenly obsessing over what’s in their laundry detergent and what they eat and what’s “clean,” Chou says “skincare had really been driving the growth.”

While there is no one definition of “clean” in beauty, there are guidelines that lend themselves to the term. And while clean skincare is now blowing up, “when you walk into Sephora, everything is millennial pink. It’s light, pastel pinks, very feminine, very untouchable, everything’s $90 to $120,” he says.

“I felt that there was an opportunity for a clean skincare brand that was effective to look different, act different, speak to consumers in a different way, and also be gender neutral, because guys are starting to care about their skin as well.”

man and woman applying ghost democracy skincare

After working in beauty for so long, Chou was also aware that “skincare consumers are exceptionally smart and they do their research.” He didn’t want to lead them astray or provide them with a false sense of security and knowledge when they applied his products.

“There are big brands that are like, ‘oh, this is a vitamin C moisturizer.’ But really, when you look at the ingredient label, they put one drop of vitamin C in it, and you’re paying for filler ingredients,” Chou says, rolling his eyes.

So, clean skincare that was transparent. Got it. But branding… how do you say you’re one of the first without saying you’re one of the first? How do you stick out among so many other clean brands that claim they’re doing something that you are… when they aren’t actually doing it?

Answer: go against the grain and be unique. 

“Skin and beauty brands tend to shy away from blue because they’re afraid that people will think, ‘oh, it’s only for nighttime,’ or, ‘oh, it’s for guys.’ And I think we’re way beyond the binary now,” Chou tells me. So, he ran with his love for the color blue, rather than the whites and Glossier pinks you’re so used to seeing.

“I wanted it to be inclusive,” he explains. “I think that my target consumer is the intelligent, conscientious person who’s looking for quality. My consumer is someone who doesn’t care about levels of masculinity. They just want something gender-neutral.”

And then there was the name. “It was the hardest thing,” Chou laughs. “I was like, ‘what’s clean and transparent?’ The first thing that came to mind was ghost. And I thought, ‘that’s weird, but I’ll stick with it because I think a ghost could be cute, and it’s also transparent.’”

And cute they made it – each bottle has a little ghost on it, and the tissue paper within the packaging is dotted with adorable little transparent guys.

Okay, ghost. Cute ghost. Where did democracy come from?

“My mission is to democratize clean skincare and make it more accessible to more people,” Chou says. “It shouldn’t just be reserved for the elite. I don’t think it should only be for Gwyneth Paltrow, you know? It should be much more inclusive,” he declares. He had a goal of democratizing skincare, and… wait, there it is.

Democratization was too intense, so he ran with Ghost Democracy – weird, but usable, at least temporarily. “Then, as I floated it around the office and with some friends, they’re like, ‘ghost, what?’ And that’s exactly the reaction that I wanted.”

So, the name stuck. With brands like “Green Pure” running the clean circuit, “now we’ve got this bold brand that’s blue. That has a weird name,” Chou says excitedly. So, when his target consumer is mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, they’re immediately drawn in. “It’s kinda like ‘ghost what? and they sell what?’ and then they click through, and that way you break through the clutter.”

rex chou smiling on tha blue background with ghosts and beauty products by his head

It’s breaking through the binary. It’s breaking through the barriers. And it’s also breaking through the bullshit.


I mention to Rex Chou that skincare has become oddly inaccessible, even when the price is almost too nice. The Ordinary is the brand I bring up as an example – it’s ridiculously affordable, but its wording is not. Or there are the fun, lighthearted, easy-to-understand brands that charge $18 for a 0.13-oz. lip balm (cough looking at you, Drunk Elephant).

“[Ghost Democracy] talk[s] a lot about ingredients. We educate a lot. We are very straightforward and we say exactly what the ingredient is, and what it does,” he responds. “We cut all that romance copy, because no one has time for that fluff anymore, and I think that consumers are smarter than that.”

I reflect on our conversation so far and how many times Chou has complimented consumers of skincare and beauty in general. Whereas some brands utilize trickery like a strength, Chou relies on his experience in the beauty industry – what works, what doesn’t – and, with help from his investors, does what he thinks will best serve the consumer.

Why is he so dedicated? It’s simple: “because, ultimately, everything I do is for the consumer,” he says point-blank.

Coming back to the education: Ghost Democracy combines the best of both inaccessible worlds to create a ridiculously-accessible line. 

“My target consumer just wants great, simple, straightforward skincare, and doesn’t have time to mix eight different products. But yeah, you don’t need to say it works on the lower level of the epi– no. Just tell me what it does and what my skin’s gonna look like afterward. Let’s start from there,” he says, and I snap at the camera. He’s saying what many beauty consumers are saying: we’re smart, we care, but we don’t necessarily know what every product on a bottle is unless you tell us what it is, as well as what it does.

This vision of his consumer guides his process. “The way that I approach product design is, ‘Hey, I wanna make the best hyaluronic acid serum. This is exactly what I want to put in it. I also want it to be soothing. So let’s put 4% niacinamide in it,’” he tells me, outlining the process. While first submissions usually aren’t so great, they work through them until they have a formula that meets his and the brand’s standards, “rather than going ‘hey, I only have $2 to make this formula – what can you put in it?'”

Each bottle has every active ingredient listed front and center, so you know exactly what you’re putting on your skin, and each ingredient serves a purpose. All products are fragrance-, essential oil-, dry alcohol-, silicone-, and paraben-free, as well as vegan and cruelty-free. High quality is of the utmost importance to Chou.

collection of ghost democracy products

In fact, he divulges to me, “when I first approached the labs, they were like, ‘these are the most restrictions we’ve ever had.’ And I said, ‘yeah, because I want it to be really, really clean. Take out all of that nonsense filler and replace it with active ingredients that work. But don’t irritate the skin.’”

So uh, yeah, the products are clean, in case you couldn’t tell.

He tells me that it matters so much to him to make the formulas correctly because he loves hearing what they’ve done for people. 

“That’s what gets me up in the morning every day: reading reviews that say things like, ‘oh my God, I’ve never used a vitamin C that didn’t burn my skin. This is amazing.’ Or, ‘Oh, my God. It’s only been three days and I have already started to see results, what is in this?’’

It’s here where I have to ‘fess up to Rex Chou. I don’t want to, but I have to. That vitamin C serum I asked for, which he sent to me… along with the cleanser, moisturizer, and hyaluronic acid serum?

… It’s the first I’ve ever owned. I’ve never had a skincare routine.

I prepare for the outrage. The apocalypse. A bloodbath between those who would die for skincare and those who still use soap – if anything at all.

Okay, dramatic, yes. But a skincare founder being told, “hey, you sent me this nice stuff, and I don’t know what to do with it?” Not the best feeling.

Rex Chou is excited.

So excited, in fact, that he walks me through the entire routine, so I know exactly what I’m doing. It’s so obvious that he loves this, as he recites the ingredients in each product without looking and explains what they do. “I can’t wait for you to just start this skincare journey,” he says, smiling. 

He tells me about how the vitamin C serum. That filler? None here – the vitamin C serum only requires a few drops for your entire face, because it’s one of the few on the market that’s entirely waterless. Still, it won’t burn your skin or irritate the epidermis – Chou made sure of that.

He also loves “slathering” on Ghost Democracy’s hyaluronic acid – like, uses an entire pipette to slather it on – because it calms, plumps, and makes your skin dewy.

Chou isn’t wearing any of his products, as I had called for an early meeting on his day off. (Sorry, Rex.) But he is absolutely glowing, only emphasized when he moves closer to the camera. “You can see, it just naturally gives your skin that moisture that it loses.” 

woman with pipette applying ghost democracy's hyaluronic acid serum

Chou is glowing, yes, but it’s more than a healthy slathering of hydration – he also emanates joy as he talks about Ghost Democracy, and it comes through in his skin’s radiance. The twinkle in his eye and huge smile are small indicators, as well.


I ask Rex Chou what’s next for Ghost Democracy: adding more products? Growth? Just chill’ and seeing what happens?

One thing is certain: it’s not to rush to put out 20 new products, something most skincare companies can’t relate to.

“If I see opportunities in the portfolio, great, but at the same time, If I don’t see that something makes sense necessarily – for example, an acne spot treatment – I’ll always recommend another brand that I trust,” he says. “Ghost Democracy is all about simplicity and we really believe in our core values, and part of that simplicity is not being a brand that has 80 products.”

Not having 80 products means being at odds with other rapidly-growing skincare companies. But it also gives Ghost Democracy the chance to better their line – including when it comes to sustainability. “We’re focused on improving our existing products, improving our sustainability, our carbon footprint, everything that we’re doing, we want to do better before we start to branch off and launch body care or hair care and other things.”

Plus, with conversations opening up between brands and consumers – “it’s a two-way conversation and they do want to know who’s behind the brand” Chou says of consumers – Ghost Democracy is also focused on nurturing relationships with its current customers, not just promoting to potential customers. 

group of ghost democracy. models smiling

“I think it’s just getting the word out, speaking to people like you, and partnering with other people and getting the word out about our little brand,” he smiles. “It’s not about being everything to everyone. It’s about being the best for whatever that person needs from our brand.”

Speaking of which. I call Chou the Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain of Ghost Democracy – I had to google and find him on LinkedIn to reach him, I couldn’t just click on the “About” on the site. Is this on purpose?

“I have a story to tell, but I wanted the brand to really be front and center. I didn’t want to be a founder brand,” he says. I reflect on other unmentioned brands that sell with a face, rather than with a product. He emphasizes: “I do wanna share my story of how it is being a man in the beauty industry, what it means being queer in the beauty industry, and also what it means when you don’t really see a lot of Asian people in the boardroom.”

To see a person who is not your stereotypical skincare consumer (though that is changing!) NOT actively try to prove themselves as experts (or as a Rexpert, as I refer to him in my review of his skincare products), is a breath of fresh air. Instead, it’s exciting to watch someone come in and say, “I have the skills, the accolades, and I’m gonna do this right” without plastering their face everywhere, or resorting to gaudy, inaccessible marketing practices.

“I don’t believe in flying influencers out to Morocco to take a selfie for a new product launch. I want to use that money and put it into my formulas to give the best quality to my consumers,” he says adamantly. “Whatever your economic situation is, it shouldn’t prevent you from feeling confident.”

I tell him that Ghost Democracy is changing the game, because affordable, effective, informative, high-quality skincare isn’t really out there. 

He smiles and looks down, glow coming out in full force when he looks back up and meets my eyes.

“Thank you,” he says, genuinely. And then: “I’m really glad that Ghost Democracy is able to be a part of that.”

rex chou smiling with arms crossed on a blue background


Thank you to Rex Chou for taking the time to talk with Tess. Follow Ghost Democracy on their Instagram, and learn more about their products on their site!

Categories
Reviews Skin

Frank Body: Does It Scrub You The Wrong Way?

From the rise of social media, came the rise of ‘frank body,’ an Australian skin-care brand that affectionately calls you and 6 million others, Babe. Launched in prehistoric times (2013), the iconic Original Coffee Scrub was debuted. The internet went crazy for this bag full of coffee grounds, skyrocketing ‘frank body’ to the top of the skin-care scene. Landing an article in Forbes, ‘frank body’ became a multi-million dollar company showcasing their notably vegan, and sustainable products. Now that’s the type of company QUILL can get behind! With credentials like this, I just had to review ‘frank body’s’ newest adaptation of their iconic scrub; the Cacao Coffee Scrub.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Denisa☆SKINCARE&MAKEUP GEEK (@deni.miklosova)

The product features an impressive list of ingredients, headlining robusta coffee, cacao extract, and vitamin E. Using these VIP components together, your skin is promised exfoliation, hydration, and brightness.When it comes to my own skin, the voice of my dermatologist rings in my ears, preaching about my persistent acne, “stop touching!” and “use this $200 cream!” So, with the Cacao Coffee Scrub’s promise of fading stretch marks and toning uneven skin all at a price of $18.95, I was sold. 

Upon setting eyes on my pastel purple package, my 13 year old self squealed with feminine delight; which gave me, now 21, pause. Upon further inspection, the words, “Warning: contents smell like cake and boys may fight over you like you’re the last slice.” made my recently broken heart recoil. Ugh. My new self-care routine is now taunting me – I do that enough myself! Taking it with a grain of sal– coffee bean, I decided violence is never the answer, but the smell of cake always is, so I must try it anyway. 

I opened the package, and my nose was greeted with the dizzying smell of…chocolate flavored coffee beans. Ground until grainy and slightly moist to the touch, the scrub seemed to live up to the product description.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Kelly (@beauty_by_birdy)

As instructed, I got naked, turned on the shower and took a handful of the scrub out of the waterproof pouch. The handful covered both my legs, but another two were needed for the rest of my body. As I began to rub the scrub into my skin, I basked in the exfoliating factors, thoroughly enjoying the rough feel of the grounds. As I washed away the areas that had been scrubbed, I immediately felt the hydrating factors. My skin, usually quite stale and dry, felt soft and flexible wherever the scrub had been. After one use, my skin felt like it had been reborn, genuinely defying all expectations. 

The downsides? Although most ‘frank body’ products tout their acne benefits, when dealing with sensitive acne-prone skin scented scrubs are not your best bet (I learned this the hard way). Similar to a trip to the beach, when put on wet skin the grains stuck like sand to damp feet, making cleanup a bit tedious. This is further seen when it comes to drainage—since the grounds are not granules, they do not fully dissolve, leading to drain issues on my end. 

‘frank body,’ you have truly thrown me for a loop. The Cacao Coffee Scrub primarily intrigued me with its ingredients, then confused me with its packaging/cryptic messaging, and finally surpassed my expectations with effectiveness.

As a sustainable, vegan, PETA approved, skin-care line, ‘frank body,’ hits many targets we have yet to see with mainstream products. This type of dedication is notable, and is a large part of why this company was reviewed. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding; when credible ingredients are used, the skin it is treating is effectively nurtured. I admire this brand for this reason and would recommend it for efficacy. 

However, for a company that promotes inclusivity there are clear deficits. Skin is skin, no matter the gender, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity. There is no need to gender products so bluntly. Unfortunately, the society we live in conditions us to perceive certain colors, and words to be feminine or masculine, which is especially prevalent in the world of marketing.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by frank body (@frank_bod)

Gaining mass popularity, ‘frank body’ should be mindful of their gender leaning products– which promotes a heteronormative culture. If the Cacao Coffee Scrub becomes part of someone’s self-care routine, messaging that emphasizes self-worth be determined by men is damaging. A product that is supposed to nourish, and rejuvenate should do just that, without projecting ideas about femininity. For this, I close my coffee scrub review by saying ‘frank body,’ do better. 

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Did my review of Frank Body’s Cacao Coffee Scrub help you? What are your thoughts on their overtly-sexual marketing? Sound off in the comments.


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Reviews Skin

I Tried Peace Out’s Blemish Balm, And My Skin Is Spotless

The chemistry of the skin is a very delicate thing; some people are more sensitive than others, and it’s all about finding the right skincare regimen.

Personally, I have always struggled with consistency and finding products that really work for me… until Tess sent me another “care” package (which at this point is more like a “guinea pig” package). Inside the Sephora bag was a product I had never heard of but would soon never be able to live without: Peace Out’s Blemish Balm.

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Just like their brand name, Peace Out really tells blemishes to “Peace Out” with a plethora of products dedicated to giving you the best skin possible.

peace out skincare products

I really liked the Blemish Balm formula because it had a light exfoliation aspect to it, keeping my skin super clean and soft to the touch. I also noticed an immediate change in the appearance of my skin, which boosted my confidence and inspired me to write this review.

So, you have heard me rave about the product, but let’s break down the science of why it’s so great. 

Made with oily and problematic-skin in mind, Blemish Balm combines physical (biodegradable cellulose) and chemical (salicylic acid) exfoliation into one powerhouse formula to help refine skin texture and minimize the appearance of pores, while ceramides help ensure skin is never left feeling stripped. It gently washes away dirt and preps skin to better absorb acne-fighting products, making it a perfect first step in your daily skincare routine!

peace out blemish balm on orange background

So seriously, out of everything I have tested and recommended on this site, I sincerely hope you give this one a try. You won’t regret it!

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Have you tried Peace Out’s Blemish Balm? Do you love the brand like me? Tell us in the comments!


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Beauty Reviews Skin

Sephora’s Supergoop Sampler: A Review

“They will be there soon,” is the vague text I got from Tess (QUILL’s Editor-in-Chief) on a random Thursday afternoon. I had no idea who “they” were or what their business visiting me was, but I was absolutely certain that if Tess was involved, I would be putting another product to the test very shortly. The Sephora bag was delivered by a kind Shipt woman and inside was a case of Supergoop’s best-selling sunscreens. I. Was. So. Excited! Here’s my 100% honest review of Sephora’s Supergoop sampler.

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Supergoop are commonly known as the Experts in SPF – so much in fact, that it is part of their Trademarked slogan! For more than 15 years, they claim that product has been their purpose, but their mission is about so much more than just sunscreen. 

This sunscreen brand is all about finding a formula for everyone, which is why their product line is pretty expansive for SPF. They are reef safe, which I find ironic since the bag their “SPF Best Sellers” came in was wonderfully reusable… whereas their products themselves were contained inside gross, basic, plastic (come on Supergoop – do BETTER!). Although I would like to hold their seemingly greenwashed attempt at being eco conscious against them, I decided to look past their shortcomings and put what was on the inside to the test. 

Right away I noticed that there were no funky smells like you experience with some sunscreens (ah, the smell of “summer”) and that the consistency was silky. I applied the product to my face and exposed skin and was pleased that it didn’t leave my skin feeling greasy or sticky like other sunscreens. Shortly after, we untied the lines and went sailing, enjoying the sunshine that melted onto our skin like butter. So, how did Sephora’s Supergoop sampler stack up against the Big Ol’ Ball in the sky?


Supergoop Play

supergoop play everyday sunscreen

Applied to chest, arms and any exposed skin below my face

I wasn’t a sunscreen fanatic until I turned 25 and my friends that were 5+ years older than me bestowed some very helpful advice upon me. They said if they could go back in time and tell their younger selves one thing, it would be to wear sunscreen – say no more. Ever since, I have been well-shielded from the sun. However, with my active lifestyle, it could be hard to find a sunscreen that really stuck to my skin without being sticky, smelly or greasy. Supergoop’s Play formula is perfect because the lotion melts into your skin leaving a healthy subtle glow while keeping you “ick”-free and – most importantly – burn-free while you play all day in the sunshine.

BUY NOW – $22 (2.4 oz)


Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen

supergoop review unseen sunscreen in sephora's sampler

Applied to face

When I added sunscreen to my daily regime, it was important that I found a sunscreen that would be a good base for the rest of my makeup if I so chose to wear any. The oil-free formula of their Unseen Sunscreen is totally invisible and weightless. Because of that, it works well as a makeup primer or as a mattefying finish after your daily moisturizer, meaning you can’t go wrong with however you choose to use it!

BUY NOW – $36 (1.7 oz.)


Supergoop Glowscreen

supergoop glowscreen sunscreen in sephora's supergoop sampler

Applied to face 

Alright, so I thought the Unseen Sunscreen was impressive… but O.M.G! Glowscreen is amazing with its gel-like texture that blends in clear and feels weightless on skin – much like Supergoop’s other products. However, this SPF 40 formula is also packed with brightening antioxidants and ingredients that nourish your skin, like hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, and niacinamide. The result is a pearlescent finish. The hydrating formula also acts as the perfect base for makeup, locking everything in from lightweight foundations to concealer and bronzer, so you can go as full-glam as you want, whenever you want, while protecting your skin from harmful UV.

BUY NOW – $36 (1.7 oz.)


My Final Thoughts

 
 
 
 
 
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Supergoop has so many incredible sunscreen products, but we hope that this review of Sephora’s sampler helps give you an idea of where to start with your sun protection journey. Don’t forget to grab your favorite reusable water bottle and stay hydrated – an important part of every beauty routine!

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Have you tried Supergoop sunscreen before? Tell us in the comments or tag us on social media!


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Makeup

These 8 Beauty Brands Are Fully Embracing Gender Inclusivity

Here at QUILL, we believe in gender inclusive beauty. It’s not just for women – it’s for everyone.

But so often, there are beauty brands who do not include this necessary mission in their company. They may believe in gender inclusivity – they may donate to LGBTQ+ causes, or support during Pride Month, too – but nowhere do they mention that their products are gender-neutral.

In fact, many use the words “she” and “woman.” It’s probably (hopefully) subconscious, but it feeds into the stereotype that beauty is only for women – aka, not genderless.

But then there are brands who ARE gender-neutral. Beauty brands who ARE gender inclusive and say so on their site, in their makeup, in their missions. 

QUILL wants to spotlight the amazing brands that are working hard to destroy gender-based stereotypes in the beauty industry. Here are some of our favorites, plus the products we can’t get enough of.

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Natch Essentials

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Natural Personal Care Products (@natchessentials)

Natch Essentials is dedicated to clean, sustainable beauty – none of those gross, toxic chemicals that we accidentally put on our bodies every day. But they also state in their about that they are “completely genderless.” You’ll notice it right off the bat. There are no pinks or blues, no obvious signs of “for her” and “for him.” Instead, the products are in minimalistic green and/or white bottles, and each description emphasizes that the product is genderless.


We Are Fluide

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by We Are Fluide (@fluidebeauty)

We Are Fluide is run by six team members, all of whom firmly believe in the brand’s mission: making accessible, clean beauty available for everyone, regardless of your gender identity. They believe makeup is fun, and that no one should feel excluded because of who they are. Founder Laura Kraber (she/her) founded We Are Fluide to celebrate gender inclusive beauty and encourage and support younger generations’ self-expression. No matter your pronouns, We Are Fluide has a place for you.


Jecca Blac

Jessica is all about safe spaces, creating a studio where she could teach trans women how to experiment with their makeup. Her studio was a place for private lessons, helping trans women feel confident in themselves and how they presented. Following the founding of her studio, she voluntarily provided lessons to trans prisoners in Parc Prison in Wales, a category B prison… that was all-male. Eventually, Jessica took her knowledge and created Jecca Blac, and the rest is history.


Morphe

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Morphe (@morphebrushes)

If you’re looking for a brand that’s here to fight stereotypes, and fight them HARD, Morphe is the brand for you. They describe themselves as a “ride-or-die fam,” and this beauty fam and its community are totally gender inclusive. Created for creators, there’s something for everyone at Morphe, and the possibilities to create your own looks? Endless. You want color? You wear the damn color, because stereotypes are BS, and you deserve to look fabulous in whatever Morphe makeup you choose.


Milk Makeup

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Milk Makeup (@milkmakeup)

As of June 2021, 50 employees reported their ethnicity and gender identities. The findings: 2% identified as genderfluid (2% chose not to disclose). Every June and December, Milk shares their accountability progress, rather than hiding their diversity from the world. Since June 2020, they’ve donated $50,000 to The Center, and 1% of all sales go to The Center as well. They also brought on a team member who had completed an internal leadership and team climate and culture assessment and provided Bias and Allyship training for Milk’s team.


NOTO Botanics

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by NOTO botanics (@noto_botanics)

Founder Gloria had a mid-life crisis, so she went to Thailand to recenter. After a month, she finally felt ready to pursue her dream: owning her own beauty line. She went home to California and started the line in her kitchen, making cosmetics for the people that weren’t shown in the media. NOTO’s mission is all about representation and inclusivity, no matter your gender, age, size, or race. NOTO encourages you to own your individuality and live authentically, no matter what that means to you.


(MALIN+GOETZ)

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by MALIN+GOETZ (@malinandgoetz)

We love (MALIN+GOETZ) for their dedication to clean, natural, luxury skincare, specifically made for all genders. Its packaging is also neutral, with white bottles and a variety of colored fonts that aren’t directed at specific genders. The fragrances are also unisex, so no smell will be completely avoided by one gender. The products can be worked into any skincare routine and the fragrances feature no alcohol, so your skin will thank you.


TooD Beauty

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by TooD Beauty (@toodbeauty)

“TooD” is short for Attitude. Shari Siadat was teased for her unibrow growing up and attempted to hide it for years. But when she became a mother, she was dedicated to changing her attitude and showing her daughters that EVERYONE is beautiful. Shari believes it’s time for the world to welcome you for who you are. As Shari puts it: “No longer should anyone have to cover up who they are. Isn’t it about time we live in a world where we are fully embraced? As is?” She’s right.

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What is your favorite gender inclusive brand? Did we miss any? Tell us in the comments!


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