Monday, May 22, 2017

Battle of the Bottles - Holysnails Shark Sauce vs Stratia Rewind

If you have been visiting/lurking over the r/asianbeauty subreddit, Shark Sauce should be no stranger. If you are not, let me first reassure you that no shark or shark part is involved. Shark Sauce is a DIY serum originated from the subreddit (by Chel of Holysnails), where is has gained a cult following. 
I started testing out Shark Sauce last summer and later on ventured into a comparable niacinamide serum (by another redditor Ally of Stratia) called Rewind.  Having finished a bottle each I thought it's time to do a little comparison. 

Shark Sauce was first created when a user/ friend of Chel (Jude Chao of Fifty Shades of Snails) wanted a simple 5% Niacinamide serum with N-acetylglucosamine (two known ingredients that helps with hyperpigmentation) and seaweed. It was formulated and later put into (what I understand to be) one woman production and BOOM, it got really popular and everyone was talking about it, including mainstream magazines.

Shark Sauce (29$) comes in a light plastic bottle with squeeze nozzle and labeled with paper (non-splash proof) sticker label. The packaging is very plain but at least it gets the job done. 
The product has a very light watery gel texture that feels hydrating and blends into a non-detectable finish. On warmer summer days, this alone functions as my sole moisturizer. It has been generally very pleasant to use, except that it smells like drool.

While I was testing out the sample (cutely named Dwarf Lantern) last summer, I was suddenly getting those  angry breakout on my face that I promptly stopped using it in the process of elimination. 

It took me a few weeks to realize that the culprit was the La Roche Posay sunscreen (and  later I concluded that I was sensitive to most chemical filters). Anyway, Shark Sauce itself is gentle (non peeling or exfoliating) but do keep in mind that the ingredients niacinamide and seaweed can cause reaction on some individuals. 

As for the effects, Shark Sauce does indeed deliver the fading of acne scars and overall evening of skintone. The process is subtle, gradual and continuous. I only noticed its effects after several weeks (much slower than what I get with vitamin C) but it was effective yet gentle enough for me to keep using it. I like it both as a standalone item (for spot) or to alternate with certain vitamin C (which are more effective and sometime harsh).

After I finished my first bottle of Shark Sauce (I bought two at a time to save on shipping), I started to search for similar products because 29 dollars is rather expensive for indie skincare. While money isn't a huge issue for me, I prefer spending that much on an established brand with research and quality control.
Shark Sauce on the left and Rewind 
Stratia Rewind ($16) is an comparable serum that's much more affordable. Beside the 5% niacinamide and N-Acetylglucosamine that I was looking for (and minus sea kelp ferment), Rewind is mainly marketed as an anti-aging serum with DMAE to undo past damages, including hyperpigmentation.

Rewind has a frosted glass bottle with dropper, labeled with thicker sticker. Presentation wise, it's a streamlined and more professional-looking. While its texture is more fluid, Rewind spreads more like lotion on the face, leaving face a bit of dewy finish that's a little sticky at first but goes away after a few minutes. There is a very faint smell, nothing like drool though.

During winter, the combo of Rewind and Liquid Gold (reviewed here) kept my skin smooth, moisturized and free of flake and it has given the same gradual evening of skintone. For the current weather, I can use it by itself but admittedly I prefer the surge of hydration I get from Shark Sauce, something also saves me a minute or two of dry time before sunscreen. 
Ingredients of Stratia Rewind

Overall: Both serums are effective on me but the two are different enough that one might prefer one over the other. For Holysnails Shark Sauce, the gel feels really nice on the face and they have been coming up with monthly edition of special sauces (like Lemon Shark, Honey Shark etc.) to satisfy the fickle minds (I can't keep up with the new releases so I never bothered). 

Stratia Rewind in the other hand, has a low key personality (that doesn't generate as much hype on reddit). I like its price, brand philosophy and presentation. While I prefer the feel of Shark Sauce just a little bit more, I am more likely to repurchase (I have repurchased both) Rewind next time. 


  1. interesting! I'm trying out Paula's Choice niacinamide, but this gives me some options to test later

    1. They are worth trying out when you are bored by what you have. I checked the price of Pauls's choice and I guess it's more economical to rotate between the two I have.


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