By Brigid Anderson
If there is one thing I'm addicted to it's moisturizers. I simply cannot get enough of them. My combination skin craves it and without moisturizing daily my skin looks and feels drier than the desert.
I have purchased so many moisturizers over the years from drugstore and high end to everything in between. When I find a moisturizer that doesn't break me out, doesn't make my skin feel greasy, and provides hours or days of moisturization...I'm here for it.
I've recently discovered a completely different type of moisturizer that makes creams seem so last year. I'm talking about gel moisturizers!
I inadvertently bought two of these glorious gel based moisturizers within days of each other – Huxley Secret of the Sahara Grab Water ($58) and Vichy Mineral 89 ($29.50) – not realizing they were similar until I began to use them. Didn't I say I was addicted to moisturizers?
Now, I'm using the term 'gel moisturizer' at my discretion because neither of these products specifically call themselves moisturizers. Huxley Grab Water calls itself an “essence” and Vichy Mineral 89 is deemed a “fortifying and hydrating skin booster”. Names aside, they're both skin moisturizers in the form of a gel.
I Used a Different Gel Moisturizer on Each Half of my Face For A Month
Confused as to which I should implement in my routine, I decided to try a little experiment by using one on each side of my face for a few weeks. I wanted to see what, if any, differences there were between the two.
What Are They?
Vichy Mineral 89
Vichy Laboratories is a well known skin care brand based in France. Their products are infused with a mineral thermal water sourced from Auvergne's volcanoes and contains 15 essential minerals. Mineral 89 combines 89% Vichy Mineral Thermal Water with Hyaluronic Acid, the powerhouse hydrator. With only 11 ingredients under it's belt, Mineral 89 is free of parabens, silicones, fragrance, dyes, and alcohol.
Vichy claims their Mineral 89 “fortifies and makes skin more resistant to help protect against external aggressors like pollution and cold weather. It boosts hydration to replenish the skin's moisture barrier”.
Huxley Secret of the Sahara Grab Water Essence
Huxley is a newer skin care line from Korea that has been gaining a cult following like you wouldn't believe. Their products have been upping the Korean skin care ante by introducing cactus seed oil into their products. Cactus seed oil is on the rise and giving Argan a run for it's reigning title as 'Supreme'.
Cactus seed oil (or prickly pear seed oil) is rich in antioxidants, Vitamin E, anti-inflammatory flavanoids, and linoleic acid (a fatty acid that stimulates cell turnover).
If that didn't impress you, Huxley's Grab Water also contains peppermint oil, grapefruit seed oil, ceramides, and malachite extract (another massive antioxidant).
Huxley's packaging is stunning. I'm not going to lie, it makes Vichy's packaging look boring. It's simplistic, modern, fresh, and elegant. The clear glass bottle is topped with a white dropper that you'll want displayed somewhere in your bathroom. The Huxley Water Grab is 30mL 1.01oz and retails for $58.
I love droppers, but the dropper here can be a little tricky and messy. I've found that squeezing the dropper to pull product into the glass pipette before opening works better than trying to pull it in once the top has been unscrewed. The opening may make it difficult to get every last drop out of the bottle.
The Huxley box is also gorgeous but there are no directions or information in English. Unless you read one of the languages printed on the box you'll have to find the information and directions online.
The Mineral 89 bottle is glass as well but comes with a capped pump. There's nothing inherently wrong with the bottle, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. Mineral 89 comes with a tad more product than the Huxley with 50mL 1.69oz for $29.50.
Dispensing the gel with the pump is a breeze but if you're traveling with it you'll want to tape down the cap as it doesn't fit tightly and the pump does not lock.
Both products feel astoundingly refreshing as you're applying them to your skin. You can feel your skin drinking them both in as soon as they hit. Both products apply with a water like fluidity and neither feel heavy, oily, or sticky.
I use about two pumps of the Mineral 89 and one whole dropper full of the Huxley for one side of my face and one side of my neck.
The Vichy Mineral 89 is slightly thicker and more viscous than that of the Huxley but it is fragrance free and the Huxley is not. The Huxley has a very light, fresh cactus-floral scent to it. Even if you have sensitive skin that does not tolerate fragrance, I don't feel as if the scent in the Huxley would be irritating but you may want to do a patch test just to be certain.
In doing my side by side comparison, I noticed that neither leave your skin feeling sticky but they will both provide a tacky, moisturized finish upon application and the Huxley does remain a bit more tacky for a longer period. This immediately made me feel as though the Huxley is a bit more hydrating than the Mineral 89, but I prefer the more immediate absorption of the Mineral 89.
I did notice that Mineral 89 has a tendency to pill if applied over other products. After using a sheet mask and allowing the remaining serum to absorb, I applied each product to their designated side. The Mineral 89 began to pill, the Huxley did not. If you do choose Mineral 89 over Huxley I'd recommend keeping this in mind.
The Huxley provides more of a dewy finish than that of the Mineral 89. Depending on your skin type and your preferences, this could be a determining factor in which product would work best for you. I personally tend to gravitate toward dewy finishes because I'm all about the glow and less about the matte.
Effects and Results
One of the fantastic things about these products is that they are great for layering under your normal moisturizer. This in turn boosts the effects of your moisturizer and provides more hydration overall. When prepping your skin for makeup application both products provide a more hydrated base which will prevent the likelihood of makeup adhering and accentuating dry patches.
Even if you have oily skin, neither product exacerbates oil production and both moisturize oily areas effectively. This may be a game changer for those that keep moisturizers away from oily areas before applying makeup but who still need moisture in those areas.
The Mineral 89 calms my skin more than the Grab Water, especially when my skin is inflamed, irritated, or breaking out. However, I feel like the Grab Water leaves my skin feeling softer and more hydrated for longer.
They're both extraordinary at what they do and I feel like my skin is retaining moisture on a whole other level since implementing them into my routine. Flaky patches have become minimal, and they both have contributed to healing the hormonal irritation on my chin that flares up once a month. Judging by the results I've seen in the past few weeks, I honestly can't say I like one more than the other. They each have their own benefits and each provide what the other is lacking. I've decided to use Huxley's Grab Water in the morning to prep my skin for the day, and I use Mineral 89 in the evening to calm my skin.
Are These Moisturizers Recommended For Oily Skin?
They are both excellent for oily skin, combination skin, and dry skin.
I'd recommend the Mineral 89 for those with active acne, sensitive skin, rosacea, prone to irritation and breakouts, and those who use topical medications that may leave your skin dry and sensitive.
For those with chronic dry skin, signs of aging, hyper-pigmentation, uneven texture or scarring, I'd recommend the Huxley Grab Water.
Either way, you can't go wrong with boosting your moisture game by adding one of these essential gel moisturizers to your routine.
Vichy Laboratories Mineral 89, $29.50 available at Ulta.com
Huxley Secret of the Sahara Grab Water Essence, $58 available at Glowrecipe.com
Banish Starter Kit
Brigid Anderson has been a makeup addict for over 15 years and has worked as a freelance makeup artist and stylist for fashion labels and music videos. When she isn't writing about and using beauty products, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog Ivan, hoarding vintage clothing and vinyl records, and binge watching 'Game of Thrones'...repeatedly.