Vanicream Is Not Disappearing Lotion

DID YOU KNOW Amazon has a sample program? You probably already knew that. Have you tried it? BECAUSE I HAVE.

Not the big Beauty Sample Box I got a while back. That one was pretty okay, mostly because I knew I’d be able to happily use the credit on some random Acure thing. No, now they’ve got individual samples, with the same “get a credit for purchase amount, apply to later purchase of full-size item.” The good news : you don’t have to use the credit toward a full-size of the exact item you sampled — it can be applied toward ANY item in the same category. The bad news : predictably, items and even brands are fairly limited. The “facial skin care” category only has twenty items (and it’s the largest category in the Beauty & Grooming division), and only stuff from Vanicream, Jan Marini, Vichy, Garnier, Elizabeth Arden, and a couple brands I’ve never heard of. (However, the number of products you can use your credit for is much higher — same brands as the samples, but 423 products instead of 20!) This kind of program is ideal for me — far better than blind or even “curated” [scoff] subscription boxes, and something I’m much more likely to gamble on — so here’s hoping they expand their offerings.

ANYWAY. For a whopping two bucks, I got three teeny little tubes (.2oz each, so .6oz total) of Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser, which is billed as “for sensitive skin.” The full-size bottle retails for a similarly whopping $8.99 for 8oz (which is pretty damn cheap). It’s also available at Target for the same price, and usually at drugstores too. I’ve never actually seen this in a drugstore, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there — it just means that the bottle design is something my brain translates as “this is a product for diaper rash or possibly shingles or fading your liver spots” and so my eyeballs just slide right off of it.

WHY HAVEN’T YOU TRIED THIS STUFF BEFORE THO

Honestly? Because I gravitate toward things that are Fancy, or things that look Fun, or (ideally) both. The Vanicream packaging pretty much screams “I use this because I have a weird rash.” It looks decidedly no-frills, and kinda medicinal. Which, that’s fine! But it’s not fun.

Howeverrrr, I really wanted to try the Amazon Samples dealio, and really this was the only thing that sounded compelling to me (other than possibly the Vichy Pureté Thermale gel cleanser, which I also might try at some point). But my skin was being pissy at the time as usual, so I figured the gentler and more nondescript, the better.

It sez, “I’m boring as crap, but I won’t aggravate your eczema.”

WHAT’S IN THERE

Not very many things! This stuff has the shortest ingredients list of a cleanser I’ve maybe ever seen :

INGREDIENTS : purified water, glycerin, coco glucoside, sodium cocoyl glycinate, acrylates copolymer, caprylyl glycol, mica, sodium chloride, 1,2-hexanediol, titanium dioxide, sodium hydroxide, disodium EDTA

Yay, glycerin, as per usual. Coco glucoside is a super-gentle surfactant, and I’m reading that it is a non-ionic surfactant, and then I started reading about ionic, non-ionic, and anionic surfactants, went down a deeeeeeeeeeep rabbit hole of stuff I don’t really understand, discovered that “zwitterionic” is in fact an actual word, and then I gave up so let’s move on. Sodium cocoyl glycinate is an amino-acid-based surfactant, also super gentle, and also derived from coconut stuff. Acrylates copolymer is one of those “this stuff is in everything” ingredients — it can function as a film-forming agent, as part of an adhesive, or as a suspension agent (to keep your other ingredients mixed together smoothly without stuff sinking out). Caprylyl glycol is a humectant moisturizer that also has some anti-microbial properties so it functions partly as a chill preservative too. Mica is ~pearly rocks~ and is in much of your eyeshadow etc, titanium dioxide ditto (both are probably here primarily to lend a bit of opacity and thickness). Sodium hydroxide is lye, commonly used in soap-making, and I honestly don’t know why the salt is in there but okay, there’s salt. 1,2-hexanediol is a humectant that also serves as a binder for other ingredients, and disodium EDTA is another “it’s in evvvverything” — it’s used primarily to adjust texture/viscosity.

WHAT’S IT LIKE THO

It’s mostly clear with a bit of pearly white sheen (thanks, mica and titanium dioxide! and the acrylates copolymer for keeping you in suspension!). I’d call the texture “medium-bodied” — it’s not the thickest I’ve ever used, but it’s certainly not watery. In fact, in the blorp-on-hand macro shot below, I dumped a bit of it on and went to take a photo and oh damnit then wandered around the house for five minutes hunting for my little clip-on macro lens (which was inexplicably on the back-corner living room end table next to the rattlesnake, idk why) — and in that time, the blorp not only didn’t run off my hand, it BARELY expanded. So if you abhor thin watery cleansers? Not here! Also, if you’re scent-sensitive? There’s no added fragrance, and this stuff barely smells like anything at all.

Ooo look at that sheen. Let’s have another one :

HOW DOES IT DO?

It does just fine! Honestly I half expected this stuff to fall into the “so gentle it’s actually non-functional” category, but NOPE. It lathers nicely but not aggressively, and it feels like it cleans pretty thoroughly and well, and even takes off a full face o’ slap including my usual long-wear eyeliners and such! If I’m wearing a hardcore strongly-pigmented eyeshadow that’s prone to staining or leaving dregs behind? Yeah, there might be a tiny trace of it left. But otherwise, this stuff seems very effective, and it doesn’t take a ton of product (like a large green pea or small chick pea amount is sufficient) to work well. I’ve been using it on and off for a week or so now, and it definitely hasn’t caused any breakouts or other skin grief. Woo!

THE VERDICT : Amazon Samples is GOOD! Vanicream Gentle Cleanser is also GOOD! In fact I’ve already ordered the full-size bottle … but I’m gonna dump it into an empty Thank You Farmer gel cleanser pump bottle because I prefer things to be pretty (and also because the TYF bottle dispenses the perfect amount and fits well in my shower). DO YOU NEED IT? If you need a pretty effective yet extremely gentle cleanser, if you have easily-aggravated skin (unless it’s aggravated by coconut-derived products), I’d say yes, this is totally worth trying. I feel like it might also be good for the second step after an oil cleanse? DO NOT GET THIS IF : you don’t like boring-looking things and/or can’t be bothered to decant it, or maybe if you wear heaaaaaavy makeup and/or a lot of super hard-to-remove products and want a cleanser that’ll take it ALL 100% off in one step.

Tried it? Gonna? Tell meeeeee.