Winter in upstate New York means my thin, fair, 47-year-old skin is extra dry and easily irritated. I need a powerful moisturizer that won't wear off by the end of the day or cause me to break out. For the past month, VOYA My Little Hero Face Serum ($102) has fit the bill perfectly.
Voya calls My Little Hero a face serum, but it's really more of a facial oil, and that's how I've been using it: twice a day, right after cleansing, layered on top of either YBF Control ($160 in the shop) or Restore.
I am a big fan of facial oils for dry skin. In my experience, they absorb better than creams and don't leave a sheen, and their moisturizing effects are more even and continuous than I get with creams.
As facial oils go, My Little Hero is on the heavier side (slightly heavier than plain jojoba oil), so it's not one of those "oh my god, it absorbed instantly!" oils. It takes a couple of minutes after applying to fully sink in, but it does absorb thoroughly without any greasy residue, leaving my skin plumped and soft. The moisturizing effects last all day, even in freezing, windy weather.
The product seems to be doing a very good job keeping my skin balanced: pores stay small while delicate skin around the eyes stays plumped. Tightness and itchy roughness are banished. Best of all, this product does NOT make my irritable skin break out. In fact, it seems to help prevent my usual hormonal breakouts.
I'm not sure how well it would work on oily skin, or in the middle of summer, but I would definitely recommend it for dry/delicate skin in winter, especially for people who spend time outdoors and need a protective moisturizing layer against the elements. I'm tempted to try it on my poor rough hands, but I don't want to use the bottle up too quickly.
VOYA is a seaweed spa on the Irish coast and their products are made from organic, hand-harvested ingredients which are not tested on animals. My Little Hero contains no fragrance, so the only scent is the somewhat boring but not unpleasant smell of main carrier oil (sunflower seed). The next ingredients are jojoba oil (a big favorite of mine - it's supposed to be very similar to our own sebum and is good for preventing clogged pores), wheatgerm oil, almond oil, and avocado oil. There are a number of other therapeutic oils in the mix, including rosehip, lavender, ylang ylang, patchouli, clove bud, and vetivert oils, but as they are undetectable to the nose, I imagine they're used in very low concentrations (which is not a bad thing — some of these essential oils can be irritating to the skin in higher concentrations). The other ingredient of note is VOYA's trademark seaweed extract. which, according to the spa, is mineral-rich and has antioxidant and healing properties.
Because the oil is on the heavy side and spreads easily, the one-ounce bottle should last through the whole winter if used twice a day. Once summer comes it may be time to switch to something a little lighter, at least for my morning routine. In the meantime, my face feels supple, soft, and well protected.