When you buy a skincare product, what do you expect to find in it? If it’s a moisturizer, probably some sort of oil. If it’s a vitamin C serum, then obviously vitamin C somewhere. However, the ingredients list often contains chemicals you may not recognize such as emulsifiers, preservatives or stabilizers. Or even if you do recognize them, you might be thinking “why does my ____ have ___ in it?” When I say filler ingredients, I don’t mean the ingredients of your Botox/wrinkle fillers, but ingredients that seems to serve no real purpose in your skincare.
Sometimes you may discover that a high-end product is more effective than its drugstore counterpart even though both have similar ingredients list. However, ingredients list do not tell you the concentration and the higher end product might have a higher concentration of beneficial ingredients while the lower end product might have more cheaper “filler” ingredients. Some of the ingredients that almost every skincare has are water, alcohol and silicone. But do they have any purpose? Continue reading Skincare 101: Filler Ingredients?
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.
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?
“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! Aside 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
Pretty much every other skincare product contains aloe vera. It’s everywhere and for good reasons. It’s hydrating, smoothing and contains antioxidants. I’ve done reviews on aloe vera sheet masks before, but I was feeling fancy at Whole Foods so I picked up this 99% aloe vera gel last year. It is a jelly gel, feels watery going on the skin and a little sticky as it dries. It does moisturizes and soothes but leaves a sticky residue that flakes off when it dries. Ok, so if you are looking for aloe vera gel to moisturize the skin, look elsewhere. BUT! While I was trying to use it up, I applied it on my scalp for a pre-shampoo treatment and it was AMAZING! Basically I squeeze the gel into my hand then rubbed it onto my scalp.
I usually wait 5-10 minutes for it to dry before stepping into shower. It turns slippery and rinses off easily, allowing the shampoo I applied after to clean and foams much better. After my hair dries, I can feel that my scalp feels more refreshed and cleaner than before. It is great for hydrating, purifying and soothing sensitive or oily scalp. If you want soft, shiny hair and clean scalp but find creamy masks and oils make your hair greasy and heavy even after shampooing, then I recommend this. Although any pure aloe vera gel will probably work just as well. Highly recommend! Continue reading February Skincare Journal: Aloe Vera Gel for Hair!
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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!
I usually use Bliss body butter or Bath and Body Works body butter. They are moisturizing but absorbs well and comes in a variety of scent. However, my skin is a bit more picky in the winter. When it starts to get ridiculously dry, itchy or flaky, I switch my soap to shower oil or milk and start looking for products with shea butter. Shea butter is naturally rich in vitamin A and E. It is anti-inflammatory, attracts moisture to the skin and nourishing to the skin. The two body butters that I’ve been using this winter are Clinique Deep Comfort Body Butter and L’Occitane Ultra Rich Body Cream. The key ingredient in both are shea butter.
L’Occitane Ultra Rich Body Cream contains 25% shea butter. While I don’t know the percentage for Clinique, shea butter is the second ingredient and it’s rich but absorbs well so it works for me. Continue reading Body butter for the driest skin: L’occitane or Clinique?
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.
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