Shopping·9 min read

Bubble Skincare's Under-$20 Products Gave Us the Fresh, Dewy Skin of Our Dreams

bubble skincare header image
Design: theSkimm | Images: Bubble Skincare
September 25, 2023

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Welcome to Skimm Tested, where we put products to the test and then give them a report card. (Check out all of our tried-and-tested faves here.)

The assignment…

To see if TikTok-viral Bubble Skincare lives up to the hype. How would three of its popular products (including the just-launched Cloud Surf moisturizer) perform on different skin types? Even though the brand is geared toward people in their teens and twenties, can its products work for people of all ages? And how do these under-$20 products stack up against the products in our existing routines, from both affordable and luxury brands?  

Our testers…

  • Caroline: Normal-to-combination skin, leaning toward dry, with some sensitivity 

  • Lisa: Dry, sensitive skin

  • Celia: Combination, acne-prone skin

What we tested…

  • Cloud Surf: A water cream moisturizer formulated for normal-to-combination skin. It uses hibiscus extract, celery seed extract, and lilac extract to minimize the appearance of pores and control excess oil production, in addition to boosting hydration. ($16)

  • Day Dream: A vitamin C serum that also contains niacinamide and alpha arbutin to help retexturize and even out skin tone. A combination of ceramides imparts moisturizing and barrier-building effects. ($17)

  • Deep Dive: An exfoliating mask made with a blend of AHAs, PHAs, and fruit enzymes to gently break down dead skin cells. Azelaic acid also helps to lift dark spots and brighten skin overall. Since it’s a more targeted treatment, we had our colleague Celia test this one out to see how it performed on a third skin type. ($18)    

bubble skincare cloud surf
Design: theSkimm | Images: Bubble Skincare

Straight A’s in…

  • Results. My colleague Lisa and I both cited different favorite products, but we were both happy with how the three products felt and performed — and neither of us are in our twenties. We particularly appreciated that the serum and moisturizer worked well both together and in combination with other products in our routines, and they didn’t pill when layered.

  • Day Dream. This was my personal favorite. It has a creamy, lotion-like texture that actually imparts some hydrating effects — not strictly a requirement with vitamin C serums, but a nice bonus — unlike many vitamin C serums that feel too thin and watery for my liking. It also has no scent whatsoever. A good sign indicating that it’s free of added fragrances, and that it lacks the coppery tang of a vit C serum gone rancid. After about a week of daily use, I noticed an improvement in my skin’s overall brightness, evenness, and clarity — real glass skin vibes. I never experienced irritation as I have with more intensive vitamin C serums. That’s a testament to the formula’s smart combination of sodium ascorbyl phosphate (a gentle vitamin C derivative) and niacinamide, plus calming licorice and marshmallow roots. Lisa noted that the serum didn’t feel as hydrating on her skin, but it worked to immediately tighten the appearance of her pores. Over time, she also saw a reduction in dark spots and loved how it simply made her skin feel strong and healthy.

  • Deep Dive. Celia, our Deep Dive tester, liked using this mask to unclog and refresh her pores and confirmed that it felt comfortable on her skin. She says, “Some AHA and PHA masks can be super harsh and actually hurt your skin more than help, but I have found that this one is pretty gentle while also still helping my clogged pores.” Lisa also raves about the mask and cites it as her favorite product in the lineup. Her skin glowed beautifully after every use, and she likens the results to the way her skin looks after a professional facial. My experience was more varied. I didn’t love the texture, which is on the stickier side of creamy — like Vaseline, without the moisture content — and I had to use quite a few pumps to spread it evenly over my skin. I experienced some light stinging that lingered even after I washed it off, and my skin was slightly red around my nose and mouth for about 10 minutes after removal. But my skin looked truly glowy and clear the next morning. My makeup also applied more smoothly, thanks to the exfoliants’ retexturizing effects. Pro tip: You’ll need to remove this with a washcloth. It won’t budge if you try to rinse it off with only water. 

bubble skincare day dream
Design: theSkimm | Image: Bubble Skincare

Room for growth…

  • Cloud Surf. We didn’t feel quite as enthusiastic about Cloud Surf compared to Day Dream and Deep Dive. That’s likely because it simply isn’t formulated for dry skin, which both Lisa and I have. Lisa felt that it wasn’t moisturizing enough on its own and she was left craving a deeper punch of hydration. The fluffy, water-based consistency felt refreshing on my skin, and I liked that it didn’t leave behind a greasy residue. But my skin felt dehydrated soon after it absorbed. I found this worked best as the final step in my nighttime routine to seal in my essence, hyaluronic acid, and face oil. I’ll continue to use it this way over the colder months when my skin is in extra need of hydration. 

Works best for…

  • People who are new to the skincare world and want to build an accessible routine from the ground up. To make that even easier, the brand offers a few bundles that cater to specific skin types or concerns, like dry, oily, acne-prone, and a full day and night routine.

  • Anyone who likes to experiment with new skincare products. Between the affordable prices and effective formulas that complement other products nicely, this is a low-stakes way to switch up an existing routine. 

bubble skincare deep dive
Design: theSkimm | Images: Bubble Skincare

Gets extra credit for…

  • Price point. I’m shocked by how accessible Bubble’s price points are. More specifically, an under-$20 vitamin C serum that works this well is basically unheard of. I’ve cycled through dozens of vit C serums over the years, including some in the $100+ range that simply didn’t perform the way they promised. This one’s better than all of them.  

  • Availability. I was surprised to come across Bubble during a CVS run. Many newer brands are only available online, so it’s refreshing to know that people can pick up these high-performing products at the drugstore.  

  • Ingredients. Bubble’s products are dermatologist-developed, plant-based, and cruelty-free. They’re also free of ingredients that can be allergenic or cause sensitivity in certain skin types, like parabens, essential oils, mineral oil, and added fragrances. 

  • Packaging. Bubble markets mainly toward younger people, so it’s no surprise that the packaging is super cute. Are the bright colors and toy-like shapes a little juvenile? Sure. Do they make me happy when I sneak a peek at them on my shelf? Absolutely. 

  • Product line. In addition to the three products we tested, Bubble offers a healthy product collection. Everything you need, nothing superfluous — think a makeup remover, facial oil, toner, and two more moisturizers (one for dry skin, and one for oily skin). Bubble doesn’t currently have an eye cream, however.     

How we did our homework…

Over the course of six weeks, my colleague Lisa and I incorporated Day Dream, Deep Dive, and Cloud Surf into our regular skincare routines. We took note of how our skin felt immediately after application and over time. We also noted any visible differences in our skin throughout the six-week trial period. We used Day Dream and Cloud Surf together, as recommended. We also used them in tandem with other products in our regular skincare routines to determine how they interacted and whether they pilled when layered together. We recruited Celia to test out Deep Dive to see how this treatment mask performed on acne-prone skin.   


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