Category Archives: skincare

Moisturizer Speed Review: Switch It Up for Spring?

With the weather being warm and sunny, your clothe is not the only thing that needs to be switched. If you are using a rich cream or thick oil as moisturizer for winter, now is a good time to switch it for a lighter option since Sephora is having its Spring Sale. It is 10% off everything for Beauty Insider (everyone) and 15% off if you are VIB or Rouge. Some brands like Algenist, Glamglow or Philosophy may have up to 40% sales on the brand website if you subscribe to their mailing list. However, now is a good time to stock up on brands that almost never go on sale like Tatcha or Dior.

There’s so many exciting new moisturizers that came out recently that I’ve been asking for samples at Sephora and Nordstrom whenever I can. It’s good to reexamine your moisturizer occasionally to see if they still work for you. Some moisturizers are too thick and end up sitting on your skin instead of being absorbed and provide hydration deep into your skin, so your skin end up feeling greasy and dehydrated. Even if you have oily skin, oil and water are different, so you still need hydration from a good moisturizer (albeit a lightweight one). Moisturizers protect the skin against free-radical damage/environmental stress and seals the hydration/active ingredients in. Without moisture, your skin isn’t able to properly repair itself so you end up with irritation on top of  dry flaky or oily skin. Here is a speed review of some nice or new moisturizers I’ve been playing with.  Continue reading Moisturizer Speed Review: Switch It Up for Spring?

Dupe or Not? Mario Badescu Drying Lotion or EradiKate?

I used and reviewed Kate Somerville EradiKate before and it worked great for me, but it looks exactly the same as Mario Badescu Drying Lotion so I decided to go for the cheaper option this time. I previously tried Mario Badescu Drying Cream and it worked great in reducing red, bumpy under the skin acne. However, it was in a jar and I don’t need that much. If you get breakout very often then I’d definitely recommend it. 20161116_152920

The KS EradiKate and MB Drying Lotion both contain a clear liquid on top with pink clay sediments on the bottom. The pink part is the actual acne medication. To apply, you need to dip a cotton swab in until the tip reaches the pink clay sediments and apply the pink solution onto your acne.  Continue reading Dupe or Not? Mario Badescu Drying Lotion or EradiKate?

Super skincare! DDG Clinical Concentrate Boosters

“Clinical concentrate” sounds kind of scary doesn’t it? like something potent that doctors do that we probably shouldn’t touch. Well, these Clinical Concentrate Boosters are from Dr. Dennis Gross, but they seem pretty foolproof. Having combination skin means my skin gets very oily sometimes and very dry at other times, so this set of clinical concentrate boosters is perfect for me. The blue is a hydration booster for dry or dehydrated skin, the orange is a radiance booster for dull skin or dark spots, and the green is a purifying booster for large pores and blemish prone skin!DDGboosters1 DDGboosters3Aside from the colorful dropper bottles, what caught my attention is the “water-free” claim. Now, why would you want something to be water-free? There isn’t a lot of conclusive scientific evidence, but basically a lot of active ingredients are water soluble so they may be less effective or unstable in water-based solutions. Water-free skincare may also penetrate the skin better than water-based skincare (maybe due to the fact water is a cleansing agent?). And lastly, water is often the first or second ingredient in a lot of skincare product so 50% of that fancy skincare product you buy is the same as what came out of your faucet. With that said, quality and combination of ingredients are more important than whether it contains water or not, so let’s not put the cart before the horse. Continue reading Super skincare! DDG Clinical Concentrate Boosters

Speed Review: Scrubs and Peels

In theory, all your skin need is cleanse and moisturize. But to keep your skin in top condition, you need at least a good sunscreen and a good exfoliator as well. Human skin constantly renews itself and replaces itself completely every 27 days. If you don’t exfoliate, dead skin accumulates and your complexion may start to look dull, feel flaky and your skincare may not absorb as well. What exfoliator should you use? Check out this fantastic breakdown of exfoliators by my skincare buddy lylysa! The post talks about different types of physical and chemical exfoliators as well as the pros and cons of each and everything else you’ve ever wanted to know.20170118_144957

I usually prefer an exfoliant with granules to scrub off the dead skin and some form of acid to clear out the pores, but without making my skin dry or sensitive. My holy grail exfoliators are Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion and Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder. Both are a little expensive but absolutely worth it. Besides, Dr. Brandt do 40-50% off every fall if you subscribe to their email list and Tatcha often has vouchers on Gilt City or Ruelala that brings the price down 30-40% every year so I never had to buy them at full price. Even though those two are my holy grail, there are plenty of nice exfoliators out there that I haven’t tried yet, so this is a round-up of some promising exfoliators that I’ve gathered.

Continue reading Speed Review: Scrubs and Peels

Want Some Honey? Guerlain, Fresh and Farmacy Mask Review

Honey is a great skincare ingredient. It is moisturizing since it is a humectant, anti-aging due to the antioxidants, clarifying/purifying due to enzyme and it have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. I previously did a review of honey sheet masks before, but I then fell in love with Fresh Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask, which is pretty expensive at $150 a jar. My friends love the much cheaper option, the Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask so I have to give it a try. And last time I was at a Guerlain counter, the sales rep was telling me how amazing Guerlain Abeille Royale Repairing Honey Gel Mask was so I decided it’s time to try and review them all.20170128_145410

Of course, if you don’t want to spend $50 to $150 for a honey mask, you can also try pure honey instead. I’ve used normal honey, manuka honey and raw honey as masks before. While they do exfoliate and hydrate, they are sticky, messy to use and the skin doesn’t feel as smooth as from these masks since there’s other skin nourishing ingredients added. Continue reading Want Some Honey? Guerlain, Fresh and Farmacy Mask Review

Ingredients and Brightening Masks

Coming from an Asian country, it took me a few years to realize “whitening” and “brightening” refers to different things. Whitening refers to bleaching the skin to make it shades lighter/whiter and may damage the skin while brightening focus on getting rid of dark spots, acne scars and dull skin. While almost everyone is familiar with glycolic acid and vitamin C, there are quite a few other effective brightening ingredients that you might have noticed. Not everything is appropriate for everyone, so here’s a brief introduction:

  • Hydroquinone – a skin lightener to treat pigmentation. It is banned in some countries due to concerns about risk of cancer, and darkening of the skin for people of color. Small concentration seems to be okay if you don’t have dark skin.
  • Kojic acid – a plant extract to treat pigmentation. It has been found to be less effective than 2% hydroquinone but more effective than arbutin. However, it may cause sensitivity. It is unstable and may break down when expose to heat and light.
  • Arbutin – plant extract that treats discoloration. It’s gentle and works well for sensitive skin. Research has shown that synthetic form (deoxyarbutin) may work better than natural extract. Since it is glycosylated hydroquinone, there is similar concern about cancer risk, which has not been proven yet.
  • Glycolic acid – an alpha hydroxy acid that treats pigmentation by exfoliating off the dull skin and quickens cell turnover, which reduces fine lines and rough skin texture. However, it can make the skin more sensitive and irritated.
  • Vitamin C – it treats sunspots and dull skin and is mildly effective on fine lines and skin firmness. There’s not really any risks or side effects, the stability and strength depends on the type of vitamin C used. Instead of breaking down in sunlight, it helps to defend the skin against UV rays so it’s great to use during the day.
  • Niacinamide – also known as vitamin B3. In addition to even the skintone, it also has anti-inflammatory properties, improves the skin’s protective function, and stimulates collagen production. It’s great for acne-prone and sensitive skin.
  • Licorice extract – it is a brightening ingredient with soothing anti-inflammatory properties. Anti-inflammation is very important when skin brightening because irritation may lead to an increase in melanin production.
  • Algae extract – it evens the skintone and helps to fight against surface redness. It can revitalize and moisturize stressed skin as well.
  • Azelaic acid – it reduces pigmentation but has no risk of irritation or darkening the skin when used too much, thus good for sensitive skin.

If you have brightening products, then you probably has seen several of these ingredients in it. However, if you don’t use sunscreen consistently then all your hard work is wasted. 

But today, we are talking about brightening sheet masks. Dr. Jart+ Brightening Infusion Hydrogel Mask, My Beauty Diary Arbutin Brightening Mask and Leaders Coconut Gel Mask. Some of them seems to have gotten new packaging recently, but the ingredients are the same so the reviews should still hold. Continue reading Ingredients and Brightening Masks

Origins Treatment Lotions and Toners!

The first thing I do when going to a mall is to dump my empties at the recycle bin in the Origins store. Every single Origins store and counter have a recycle bin. Not only are their products natural, they also supports earth friendly practices and all the sales reps I met are knowledgeable and nice. They recently implemented a rewards program where you can earn points to redeem for products, and recycle counts for points as well! I previously used Origins 95% Organic toner, United States toner and A Perfect World. Since I enjoyed them, the sales rep made samples of two treatment lotions she think I’d like for me to try. 20170201_143349

Origin has a category for toner and a category for treatment lotion. Toners are more lightweight and for oily/combination skin while treatment lotions are more hydrating and for combination/dry skin. Basically they are the same step in your skincare routine. I accidentally recycled my full size of United States toner before this picture (it’s here in spirit?).  Continue reading Origins Treatment Lotions and Toners!

Speed Review: Let’s Start with Cleansing

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a speed review, so I decided to start with my cleanser samples first. Lylysa did a wonderful breakdown of different types of cleanser, but there are a few other things to remember as well. You don’t need fancy ingredients such as antioxidants in cleansers since it gets washed off, but you do need to use the cleanser appropriate for your skin type and condition. What I do is I cleanse, pat dry, then wait for 20-30 seconds then touch my skin. If it feels dry and tight, or stuffy and unclean, then try a different cleanser. 20170108_120903

Even though some cleansers state that it can remove makeup, most cleansers can take 1+ minute to completely remove makeup while makeup removers (cleansing water, oil or balm) can remove the same makeup in 20-30 seconds. So before you ditch that cleanser because it didn’t clean, did you try removing makeup first before cleansing? Did you try massaging the cleanser for 30 seconds and rinse thoroughly? If so, then no matter what rave reviews other people give, try a different one. My favorite cleansers are Boscia Purifying Cleanser and Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser, but I’ve seen good reviews for some of these samples, so I hope to find a few more favorites this time.

Continue reading Speed Review: Let’s Start with Cleansing

January Skincare Journal, And Donkey Milk?

I’m kind of proud that I’ve been consistently using my samples and minis as well as exercising daily, which were my goals this year. I haven’t been eating as healthy as I should or lose weight yet, so that’s something to work on in Feburary. Spring is when all the new skincare products come out. There were some fun new releases as well as some interesting finds, such as this Soo Ae Donkey Milk Mask. Why donkey milk? Just like cow milk, it’s soothing and moisturizing so it’s great for those with sensitive skin and eczema. Moreover, it has over four times more vitamin C than cow’s milk but with less allergens. 20170105_123035

The Soo Ae Donkey Milk Healing Skin Gel Mask is a thin, textured cloth sheet soaked in a milky gel serum with a mild floral scent. The floral scent probably comes from the camellia flower water, licorice root extract, witch hazel and various plant extract in the ingredients. There’s only .5% donkey milk in it so there’s no pungent milky scent. My face feels moisturized after taking it off. The gel serum is a little sticky and takes some time to absorb but it is not stuffy or greasy. It’s got pretty good ingredients for a $3ish mask. It’s a nice moisturizing and healing mask for dry combination skin.

Aside from the various skincare I got myself, I was also sent some products from the latest brand Sephora carries, Skin Laundry, for being active on BeautyTalk. I reviewed the Sleepcycle Pillowcase, Gentle Foaming Face Wash and Hydrating Facial Sheet Mask here. If you like effective and gentle skincare with simple ingredients, it’s worth checking out.

Continue reading January Skincare Journal, And Donkey Milk?

Care for Some Vitamin C? PTR, Sunday Riley and Murad Moisturizer Reviews

Everybody loves vitamin C. It helps combat environmental pollution, sun damage, dark spots, and fine lines. I usually prefer vitamin C in serums, such as Ole Henriksen Truth SerumPerricone MD Vitamin C Ester Serum or Klairs Vitamin Drop. While I’ve tried and reviewed plenty of vitamin C serums, I haven’t paid that much attention to vitamin C in moisturizers. Since Murad and Sunday Riley just came out with some vitamin C moisturizers, I got some minis and samples of the ones that look interesting to compare.

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The moisturizers in the little sample jars are enough for 4-7 uses each, which is not enough for me to see significant brightening but enough for me to feel a difference. Back when I lived in downtown Philly, my pores looked dark and my skin felt bumpy even when I cleanse and exfoliate. After adding Ole Henrkisen Truth Serum, my pores looked clean and my skin felt smoother as well. When testing these moisturizers, I can feel the same difference, so they do contain a decent amount of vitamin C.

Continue reading Care for Some Vitamin C? PTR, Sunday Riley and Murad Moisturizer Reviews