Long before becoming skincare obsessed, I was naive (read: lazy) and way too invested in the Western idea of covering up problematic skin. I suffered for over a decade with raging hormonal acne, and after having my boy, my skin also got super oily. Until getting sane and diving head first into the AB community, I spent a disproportionate amount of resources investigating full coverage, matte foundations to cover my terrible skin, and using highly pigmented shadows to create overly heavy eye looks to distract from the war zone that was my jaw line.
Fast forward and my hormonal acne is completely under control. Thank you, little baby Jesus!! But the celebration stops there, because I am still oily as hell, and large portions of my cheeks are still super red. Unfortunately, the redness I have had nothing to do with the cycle of breakouts. And so, despite having the best skin of my life, the red pigment in my cheeks is so intense, that I still feel compelled to wear a high coverage base. Plus, I work long days in an environment where a good portion of my time is spent running around like a lunatic in a suit and heels. All of this adds up to some serious, melting makeup. Makeup breakup is the story of my life. And the bane of my existence.
All of that leads me to how I’ve come to be reviewing the Jill2 7:00am Energizing Morning line. Back in March, Tammy from Althea Korea (Hey, girl!!) reached out to me to see if I would be interested in picking out some stuff from their shop. Having already had a weird Insta Crush on their shop for a few months, it was easy to say a resounding Hell Yea!! Not wanting to haul a bunch of stuff I could get anywhere, I went on the hunt for particular items I had never seen before.
That turned out to be relatively easy to do, since the shop offered tons of brands I had never even heard of. I was drawn in by the minimalist packaging from Jill2, and further intrigued by the name of the 7:00am Energizing Morning line of products. I know this is insane, but it caught my eye because I had recently undergone a pretty radical shift in my scheduling at work… and I have been working a lot more early days. Plus my new apartment is insanely bright, and sleeping past 6:30 is basically non-existent for me now.
Did I actually think I needed a new line of products because I would be consistently waking up earlier?? WTH? I am the weirdest.
Once I started reading about the line, I soon realized the main claim is actually deep hydration in order to help “balance skin and maintain makeup.” Well, then. What lovely happenstance.
Before I move on, I would like to note that in an attempt to create a control for this experiment, my daily am routine consisted of these three Jill2 products, the Huxley Be Clean, Be Moist Cleansing Gel, Biore Watery Essence SPF, Urban Decay B6 Vitamin-Infused Complexion Prep Spray and De-Slick Oil-Control Setting Spray, and Peripera’s Ink Drop BB, just to make sure any differences in performance couldn’t be attributed to other product changes. At no time did I use any other skincare or makeup products that would aim to prevent or control oil production.
On to the products. The Jill2 7:00am Energizing Morning line consists of a toner, essence and cream. Since all three products are formulated to deliver deep hydration, in doing so share some common ingredients , cinnamon extract being the main ingredient focus, yet, there are some interesting differences among them.
The toner is a classic light, watery formula with a fresh, but very minimal scent. The specific claims to the toner include: removing skin waste (AHA from sugarcane), sebum control (cinnamon extract), and a deep moisturizing effect (humectants: glycerin, butylene glycol, 1,2-hexadiol, peg-32 and pantenol). The formula is also pH adjusting at 5.5. The product does contain fragrance and a blue dye as its last two ingredients. The formula receives an EWG ingredient safety rating of 2 (on a scale of 1-9). According to CosDNA the formula contains two possible comedogenics: butylene glycol (comedogenic level 1) and hexylene glycol (comedogenic level 2). The toner retails for $22.80, but is carried on Althea Korea for $10.25.
The essence is actually more of am ampoule in texture (which reminds me a lot of the Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule). It is clear with a light, fresh scent. The essence/ampoule aims to soothe (apple water and hydrolized cliff swallow flower extract), moisturize (glycerin, butylene glycol, hyaluronic acid and xylitol work together to boost moisture retention and control sebum. The essence/ampoule also has fragrance but no added color, and also receives a 2 on the EWG safety scale and has the same two comedogenics, butylene glycol and hexylene glycol. It’s also worth noting here that the dropper on this bottle absolutely sucks. Like bad. Not unusable, but it’s really annoying. The essence retails for $25.40 and can be found on Althea Korea for $12.75.
The cream is a true gel cream, fresh and light. The cream is a pale blue, with the same fresh scent as the other two products. The cream claims to soothe skin (carrageenan extract) and deeply moisturize (cinnamon extract, glycerin, pantenol). Just like the other products, this cream rates a 2 on the EWG Skin Deep database for ingredient safety and uses the same to comedogenics butylene glycol and hexylene glycol. The jar containes a generous 2.5oz and retailes for $30.60, but is sold on Althea for $12.75.
Pretty quickly after beginning to test these products, I was really impressed with the entire line. The toner and ampoule felt so fresh and light and sunk in immediately. The cream felt amazing on the skin. It has that lovely density you expect from a true gel cream, yet it still sank in quickly. The finish of the products was beautiful, my skin felt insanely hydrated. I have never had such a thorough, yet quick am routine before.
Every morning, I looked forward to this routine. The smell was invigorating, the products smelled amazing, and everything felt beautiful on the skin.
About a week into testing, I noticed closed comedones forming in my old trouble zones, either side of my chin and at my temples. Maybe, this is just product adjustment, I thought and pushed forward. After a few more days and a few more bumps, I had to quit. It took me too long and too much money (via Sunday Riley Good Genes) to get rid of these pesky bumps, ya girl ain’t playin’ with these.
I got to thinking, though that I hadn’t really been up on my usual actives schedule (Cosrx BHA and Stratia Soft Touch AHA 3ish times/week), so I hopped back on the acids bandwagon. Things got better immediately, and were completely resolved after about 8 days.
The two glycols mentioned above weren’t heinously rated for their comedonegenic threat, so I figure it might be more to do with the drop in acids rather than the products, and so I picked up daily use again. I don’t think it will surprise anyone that after a few days, bump city was beginning to form again. Le sigh.
I decided to give up for good, but felt an itch to do some research into really beloved products, to see if either of these glycols were relevant in other items I use regularly. If you have ever read an ingredient list, ever, you no doubt have seen butylene glycol. That shit is literally everywhere. Things I use and love now… my very first kbeauty products… stuff I’ve repurchased again and again… butylene glycol is in nearly everything. Not the culprit.
Now, I have searched about two dozen products that I currently use or have used int he past, and what I can’t seem to find anywhere is hexylene glycol. Plenty of HG products conatin level 2 comedonegenics, like my beloved Scinic Honey All In One Ampoule has butylene glycol (level 1) and triethanol amine (level 2). Hell, the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick is up to it’s eyeballs in high level comedenogenic threats, coconut oil (level 4), myristic acid (level 3), palmitic acid (level 2), stearic acid (level 2), castor oil (level 1), olive oil (level 2), and our good friend butylene glycol.
The only thing I have left to conclude, is that I have discovered my very first skin trigger! Oh, joy!! Luckily, it doesn’t seem to be super prevalent, and at least I know to look out for it now.
So, with all these little bumps I’ve been fighting with… can I recommend these products? I think I can, but here’s to who: if you don’t have a significant history of dealing with closed comedones, and you need a quick but thorough hydrating am routine on a budget, this feels like a solid recommendation. If you are unsure about your ability to handle hexylene glycol, maybe do a scan of current product you own and have no adverse reaction to. New to kbeauty? Don’t have an expansive collection to study? Too lazy? Althea Korea offers a 30 day return policy for cases just like this.
Unfortunately I was unable to test these guys long enough to experience any relief in makeup breakup. However, the line has inspired me to keep my “oil control” products to the side and continue testing hydrating products morning and night to see if addressing dehydrated skin will do the trick. Also, I’ve decided to give spearmint capsules a try, so I will report back on both these topics later!