As any beauty blogger will tell you, reviewing a product takes time. First, it must wait its turn amongst the scores of lotions and potions in the review pipeline (yes, I am a corporate lawyer in my other life, why do you ask?), then I have to make sure that the product a) works and b) doesn’t cause undesired effects like, say, my face falling off. So when I feel compelled to write about a product less than a week after it gets into my hands and onto my face, you know it must be something special indeed. And boy, is it! I know I am about to make a pretty big statement, but the Jao Face Crème might well be the best moisturizer I have used since switching to green beauty.

That’s a heck of a claim, isn’t it? Let me explain. I have two sets of criteria when evaluating a product. The first, and probably the most important one, is whether I enjoy it and whether it works. Does it smell good? Do I like its texture? Does it seem to have a positive impact on my skin? Does it cause any irritation? The Crème ticks all of these boxes: it’s unscented (which I love, since I am sensitive to smell and since I am bombarded with a dozen different scents from all of my oils, masks, etc.), it’s rich, fast-absorbing and non-greasy and it gives a lovely, velvety softness to the skin. I use it over several layers of oils and it leaves a perfectly dewey finish, but when used on its own, it absorbs completely and leaves no shine whatsoever – perfect for the oilier skinned folk. I have been using the Crème at least twice a day for a week now and have had zero irritation or allergic reaction and my skin feels, soft, hydrated and cosseted after each application.

The second evaluation criterion, and one that is much more difficult to implement in the regular course of reviewing products, is “extreme testing”. What I mean is that a product’s performance gets evaluated under extreme circumstances, which can make it stand out from the pack as the shining beacon of skincare perfection. It’s why, although I have a number of green deodorants I adore, the Meow Meow Tweet deo is my constant a-number-one pick for a fool-proof natural deo.

In the case of the Jao Crème, the extreme testing condition was winter in NYC. For anyone who lives in New York and, well, has a face, the words “winter is coming” sound even more ominous than they do in Westeros. The combination of dry cold air, frequent temperature swings and even more dry indoor heat wreak utter havoc on all, but the hardiest of skins, leaving many New Yorkers with haggard, flaky and cracked visages for at least two months out of the year. My own winter-related skin woes have diminished since I switched to green beauty and my skin became far less sensitive, but I still seem to age 10 years between July and January.

When I first started using the Crème, I was plagued not only with the usual winter dryness, but also with a lack of sleep and heightened stress levels, leaving me looking less than petal-fresh. I was hoping that the Crème’s combination of peptides, hydrating and occlusive ingredients would help my skin hang on to some much needed moisture. It’s safe to say that I was absolutely astonished by the results. After just a couple of uses, my skin started to look like it does on my best summer skin days: soft, plump, hydrated, glowing… It’s as if I was walking around in a protective bubble, keeping my face safe from the vagaries of New York weather. My skin also looked younger – it’s not that it got a visible lift, but the disappearance of the fine lines caused by dryness seemed to turn back the clock at least a bit.

I also started to get a disproportional number of compliments on my skin. A very glamorous mum friend from my son’s private school actually told me that she was tempted to text me one night to tell me what nice skin I had. She decided against it in the end, because… Well… It was possibly a tad Silence of the Lambs, but I certainly appreciated the sentiment. Oh, I should also mention that in addition to winter in New York, my skin was subjected to a 10-hour flight (with no sleep), a week of winter in Moscow (!) and a particularly nasty case of jet lag.

Granted, I have not been using the Crème alone, but rather as part of a fairly elaborate routine: In Fiore Fleur Vibrante face oil (a recent acquisition and a fast favorite), Odacité Marula + Neroli (new, awesome, love), Camelina + Chamomile and Moringa + Petitgrain serum concentrates under the Crème and, on extra-cold days a layer of La Bella Figura’s Rainforest Hydration Treatment over the top. At night, I replace In Fiore with LBF’s Aria Nighttime Treatment and sometimes add in serums and balms depending on how the mood strikes me. Still: the Jao Crème is the one constant and can actually feel the difference when I use it. Nonetheless, in the interest of highly scientific research, I will wait a bit (like, a day or two) before repurchasing the Crème once it runs out (which, tragically, will be soon because I have a heavy hand and because I use this baby religiously) in order to make sure that the results aren’t actually attributable to In Fiore’s gorgeous and divine smelling Fleur Vibrante, and should that be the case, I will make sure to update this post.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I need to mention that one of the reasons I love the Crème is that its texture is so similar to a conventional product. The only way to accomplish that, unfortunately, is to use a couple of ingredients that are not quite green beauty-approved. One is Potassium Sorbate – a preservative. Any product that has water needs to have preservatives and all preservatives are pretty much “meh” – not terrible for you, but not exactly great. It shouldn’t really cause you any trouble, but irritation is a minor possibility. The other ingredient is Polysorbate 60 – an emulsifier and surfactant that gets a 3 on the EWG Skin Deep database. The actual ingredient is completely harmless, but it could carry a risk of contamination. Frankly, I am fairly convinced by the quality of ingredients sourced by Jao and have no concerns whatsoever, but, of course, every consumer must decide for him or herself.

I am always wary of raving about a product, since every skin is different and since one person’s holy grail could be another’s downfall. That said, I am officially in love with this beautiful cream (that packaging! Swoon!) and if you are considering it, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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