photo aztec-mess_zps0a762b67.png

Friday, 6 November 2015

Cleansers Round-Up Reviews

You know you're due for a blog post when you try to rave a cleanser to your boyfriend and he just continues mindlessly playing his Minecraft without batting an eye. This then leads you to groan in frustration, which manages to carry an eery resemblance to the noises the zombies make in the game... So since I have realized I'm wasting my time explaining to him brilliant ingredients and formulations, I thought I'd just let you guys all in on the amazingness instead.

I have 3 reviews ready for you in this post, so fasten your seat belts cause it's gonna be a slippery ride! (cause of oil cleansers, get it?? get it?? ha...)

Let's start off with the one I was most excited for and sadly most disappointed by:

Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Water, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Glycerin, Sucrose Laurate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Prunus Avium (Sweet Cherry) Seed Oil, Prunus Cerasus (Bitter Cherry) Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, Xanthan Gum, Retinyl Palmitate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Limonene, Citral, Annatto (CI 75120).

Oh, how I wanted you to be good! This cleanser manages to fail at being a 1st cleanse and 2nd.
It's not efficient at breaking down makeup, which I think might be because it does not have enough "melt" to it. It doesn't really melt into an oil like most balm cleansers do, but rather it remains in its jelly form. You need to do a lot of massaging in order to break down most of your makeup, but it doesn't manage to remove 100% of it. Nor does the cleanser itself wash off completely. Doesn't matter how much water you splash on your face, you're always left with an unpleasant slimy/oily residue on your face. A second cleanse by a different cleanser will remove the residue, but nonetheless, it's not a feature a cleanser should have.

And it doesn't make a good second cleanser because the main ingredient (Ethylhexyl Palmitate) of the cleanser tends to clog pores when left on the skin. I noticed a huge increase in blackheads when trying this cleanser out as a second cleanse/morning cleanse. You will always have some residue left from a second cleanse, which can be good (if the ingredients aren't clogging), but in this case wasn't. That's why it's main purpose is make-up removal, which sadly it fails miserably at.

Aqua (Water/Eau), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter Oils, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Esters, Sorbitan Stearate, Polysorbate 60, Synthetic Beeswax, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Panthenol, Disodium EDTA, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil, Linalool, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Leaf Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Pantolactone, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil

Now this a goodie. Simple and practical. Can we just start with the packaging? This is the best packaged cleanser I have ever had, it's BRILLIANT for travelling. This is what I'd call the perfect morning/2nd cleanse. It's very much a cleansing milk in terms of consistency, which is my personal favourite for second cleansers. It's also very moisturizing for a cleanser, which I believe is down to the almond oil. My only complaint is that it's not ideal for those with sensitive skin down to the essential oils. I'm normally fine with most essential oils, apart from lavender oil, which this cleanser does in fact contain. Every now and then I would feel my skin react every so slightly during application. But I loved it all the same.

Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Water, Cetearyl Octanoate , Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside , Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Myristyl Myristate, Glycerin, Ribes Nigrum (Blackcurrant) Seeed Oil, Hellianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Seed Extract, Oryzanol, Bisabolol (source Chamomile Oil), Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) Berry Oil, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (source Aminoacid), Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil, Cinnamomum Linalloliferum (Ho Wood) Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Oil, Limonene, Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool.

This is my newest obsession in terms of skincare. One of the best cleansers I have ever tried in fact. It's a beautiful creamy cleansing milk that just does the job without questions. Not to mention, it has stellar ingredients, which feel amazing on the skin during application. This is absolutely perfect for anyone with sensitive skin. It's not as moisturizing as the Soap and Glory cleanser, but it's in no way drying either. The packaging is also very solid.

So these are the cleansers I've been trying out for the past few months. Let me know what your thought are on them! :)

Friday, 11 September 2015

The Skincare Guide: Multi-Masking

Trends come and go with skincare, such as Clarisonics, Sleeping Masks, etc. But when I heard of this one, that actually sprung up on Instagram, I was very much on board! Mainly because I had thought of the idea on my own almost a year ago and loved the results, but now it actually has a name and is being practiced by the thousands! I thought it was sort of a no-brainer idea, but apparently not. So today I'll go into the magical details of what is now known as "Multi-Masking".

There are several different types of skincare masks out there. The standard approach to them is that you apply one all over your whole face. However, that's not the case with Multi-Masking, and you know what, it makes a lot of sense as to why. Take for example clay masks.

They are known for clearing out blackheads and dealing with breakouts. So why would you apply that kind of mask, which is typically slightly drying, all over your face rather than just the trouble areas (usually the T-Zone)? If your cheeks don't have issues with blackheads and breakouts, don't apply the clay mask to them.

Boscia's examples using their masks

So what is Multi-Masking then? Well, it's essentially just applying more than one mask onto your face. Each mask has its own designated area, depending on your personal needs. For example: clay mask on nose and chin, hydrating mask on cheeks and forehead, and depuffing/cooling mask under eyes.

However, your needs change on a daily basis. You need to listen to your skin and act appropriately.

Here's another example, this time using the Peter Thomas Roth masks pictured above:

I have Rosacea and occasionally it flares up and my cheeks burn, so in that kind of situation I would apply the green mask (Cucumber Gel Mask, which I keep stored in the fridge to keep it cool) on to my cheeks and under my eyes for some depuffing. Then let's say I've just popped a couple of spots on my chin and forehead. I will then continue by applying the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask (an AHA mask) onto the spotty areas, and perhaps my nose if it's in need of exfoliation. And as a final step, I'd apply the Rose Stem Cell mask onto any areas that have redness/scarring from a healing spot/spots that I want to fade and heal faster.

It's as simple as that! So go forth and give this new skincare approach a try! Happy Multi-Masking ;)

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Skincare Guide: Night Time Routine

It seemed only natural for the next post to be a Night Time Routine since I've already written a Morning Routine (read here). So without further adeu, let's get cracking!

Just to clarify: this routine is to be administrated the moment you come home. As I mentioned in my last few posts, there is absolutely no reason to keep on wearing your makeup until bed time. Clean your face asap, not during the last minute before crawling into bed. Your skin will thank you for this. This way, it has more time to properly absorb ingredients before you smear it all away on your pillow, as well prevent spots by decreasing the amount of time dirt, sebum, spf, and makeup is on your face.

Step 1: 1st cleanse/remove makeup & spf.
This is typically done with a cleansing oil or cleansing balm. I know some people prefer micellar waters to remove their makeup, but they're really not as effective as an oil, nor do they remove sunscreen properly.

Step 2: 2nd cleanse/cleanse your face
Once your face is free of any gunk, you can proceed to actually cleansing the skin itself. Typical products to use would be a cleansing balm or cleansing cream.

Read here for recommended cleansers.

Step 3: Retinol OR Acid Toner
If you're not using retinol that evening, then step 3 would be an exfoliating toner. If, however, you are using a retinol treatment that evening, then you skip the exfoliating toner and step 3 becomes instead your retinol product.

Read here for recommended retinol treatments and here for acid toners.

Step 4: Serum
This is when your skin gets some lovely active ingredients, such as peptides, niacinamide, vitamin E or C. Serums are designed to penetrate the skin quite deep, unlike creams that just sit on top of the skin and hold moisture in.

Read here for recommended serums.

Step 5: Moisturizer
Self-explanatory. You need to keep your face hydrated and plump.

Step 6 (optional): Sleeping Pack/Mask
this is for those with veeerry dry skin, those who wake up with dry skin, and need an extra oomph of moisture.

Recommended Sleeping Masks:

Laneige - Water Sleeping Pack
Origins - Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask
The Body Shop - Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask

Next time on The Skincare Guide: Multi-Masking

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Skincare Guide: Dehydrated Skin

Before I delve in with this post, I want to make something clear very quickly. Dehydrated skin is not a skin type. There are 4 skin types: dry, normal, combination, and oily. Every single one of these skin types (aka everyone) can have dehydrated skin, it is simply a skin phase/current state, not type. For example, I have combination/oily skin, but my skin craves moisture like no other and is constantly on the verge of being dehydrated.

The best way to combat dehydrated skin, as well as treat those with dry skin types, is layering. Layering products will become your new best friend. And there are several ways of doing it.

#1) Hydrating Serum: these serums are designed with only 1 goal - to add a boost of hydration. They usually contain the following ingredients: glycerin and hyaluronic acid (usually listed as Sodium Hyaluronate). Glycerin works by attracting water and helps maintain the outer barrier of the skin. Hyaluronic acid works similarly to glycerin but it has a bit more oomph because it's capable of absorbing up to 1000 times its weight in water. By using these ingredients you're essentially making the most out of your moisturizer, it acts like a magnet or glue and attracts all the moisture from your cream.


#2) Hydrating Toner: similar to serum, but different consistency. I'm currently using the Benton BHA toner, which lists Sodium Hyaluronate as the second ingredient! Incredibly hydrating and calming on the skin.

#3) Facial Oils: probably one of the best and quickest cures to dehydrated skin, works with all skin types, including funny enough those with combination/oily skin types. I know those with that particular skin type will be shocked to hear this, but the best way to fight oil is with oil! Think about it. Your skin is producing oil, usually excess oil, because it thinks it's dehydrated and thus needs to supply the skin with oil to prevent further loss of moisture. But if your skin already has oil on it, specifically the good nourishing kind, then it won't feel inclined to produce oil of its own. And in the long run, your skin will become more balanced. Facial oils are especially great during winter time.

There are some really nice facial oils out there, and yes some are better quality than others, so paying more does make a difference in what you receive. Some nice essential oils to seek out for include: rosehip, jojoba, pomegranate, flax seed oil, etc. There are too many to count ingredients out there, so you can go ahead and try out to see, which one you like best.


This is my go-to facial oil. I always wake up with good, supple skin with this one. 

Sunday Riley facial oils are the creme de la creme of skincare. They're ridiculously expensive, and luxurious, but also give amazing results and have to-die-for ingredients. Obviously, don't buy these if you don't have the budget or the will. They'd make wonderful birthday or anniversary presents. If you're a skincare fanatic, then obviously this will be on your wish list (it's certainly on mine).

#4) Moisturizers: an obvious answer, but nonetheless important. A good moisturizer will impart moisture as well as seal off all the moisture that you've been layering with the previously mentioned products. My personal favourites tend to include Shea Butter, an incredibly rich moisturizing ingredient. However, I do avoid it in my nose area because it's too heavy for areas with big pores and can possibly lead to blackheads for some. But it's great for areas prone to dryness, like your cheeks. Here are a couple of recommendations for those with really dry skin, so probably not ideal for those looking for a light moisturizer:

#5) Sleeping Packs: if you really want to sandwich as much moisture as possible before going to bed, then a sleeping pack is right up your ally. It essentially works as a sleep-in mask that you put on top of your moisturizer and seals in all moisture, leaving you with soft baby skin in the morning. If you're not a fan of facial oils, then this would be a good alternative. It's another good addition to your skincare routine in the winter time. They tend to be silicone heavy, something to keep in mind.


Next time on The Skincare Guide: Night Time Routine

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Skincare Guide: Bad Lifestyle Habits for your Skin

Nobody will be innocent in this post, myself included, but nonetheless I will persevere (though likely with my head low). Most of these points will be total no-brainers, but some might not be so obvious or well known among your average person.

1) Smoking: probably one of the worst there is. Horrible for your health, and thus your skin as well. And you can always tell if someone's a smoker just by looking at their face - it usually has a slight grey tinge to it and looks as dry as the sahara desert. I'm a huge anti-smoker campaigner, so if you are a smoker, here's my advice: quit NOW (stress is no excuse, there are millions of healthy alternative stress-relievers), and if you're not a smoker - GO YOU! *fist pump*

2) Sugar: the number one evil in our diets, sadly. Obviously, it's virtually impossible to completely to cut it out of your life, and if you did it'd be a very a sad life, so just try and keep your intake low. The current recommended daily amount by the World Health Organization is 7 teaspoons (more info here). Of course, you can still have your cheat days, just don't expect your skin to greet you in the morning looking air-brushed with zero whiteheads. Same goes with all junk food (e.g. greasy pizza, burgers, etc). You are what you eat. 

3) Alcohol: again, bad for your health, makes your liver work harder to get it out of your system, incredibly dehydrating and thus results in dehydrated skin. If you don't drink - great, if you do - keep your intake low (e.g. 1 glass of wine). Some alcoholic drinks tend to also contain a ton of sugar as well, especially cocktails.

4) Stress: an unpleasant sensation for all of us no doubt, but also wreaks havoc on your skin. Stress causes hormonal imbalances, which can lead to break outs. I know it's hard to avoid stress, so just keep it mind if you're wondering what could be the cause of recent breakouts.

5) Lack of Sleep: I would go as far as to say this is the biggest cause of breakouts. Sleep is when your body restores itself and balances hormones. Thus, if you had to sacrifice some sleep and only got 7 hours of sleep or less, it will immediately show. It throws your body completely off balance, especially with hormones. I personally break out every time I get a bad night's of sleep and my boyfriend does too. Luckily, the solution is simple: get some sleep! Ideal would be 8-10 hours. 

6) Dairy: When I say dairy, I am mainly referring to milk. Milk tends to promote inflammation within the body, and inflammation is exactly what tends to bring about acne. The red puffiness around a spot? Yeah, that's inflammation. If you can avoid milk all together, or substitute it with something like almond milk, brilliant! If not, then try lowering your intake.

7) Sunbathing: refer to this post for further information. But to sum it up, there's no such thing as a safe tan, if your skin browns then that's your DNA being damaged. The UVA rays from the sun age you, so if you don't want to look like a shrivelled prune when you're only 30, then stay in the shade and wear sunscreen!

Next time on The Skincare Guide: Dehydrated Skin

Monday, 10 August 2015

The Skincare Guide: Tips You Probably Don't Follow, But Should

This post will be a bit on the random side, but nonetheless very valuable. After all, it's the little things that will make a difference in the long term. So here are my random tips that you most likely aren't aware of when it comes your skincare routine:

1) Always use a fresh towel/flannel with every cleanse: this one isn't obvious to most people but my god, is it important. Anything that has been damp is a bacteria magnet and you really don't want to be rubbing old bacteria and leftover dead skin cells onto your freshly washed face. It's the same thing as wearing the same pair of underwear for several days, aka naaasty. Just keep a stack of face towels near your sink and throw used ones into the laundry basket once you're done. Finito!

2) Wash your hands before ever touching your face/applying products: this one should be a no-brainer. Picture all the bacteria infested things you've touched today and then imagine putting those things onto your face. Yuck.  And if any of your products are in jars/tubs, like a moisturizer, then you're also reducing the amount of bacteria you're putting into the product when scooping it out.
This tip will surely reduce the number of breakouts you get. Especially if you also avoid resting your face on your hands when tired. 

3) Avoid getting shampoo on your face while showering: the sulphates in your shampoo will do your face no good, just strip it of all its natural oils that are there to help protect the moisture barrier. This tip should help cut-down break outs, as well as skin irritation. 

4) Don't cleanse while showering: 90% of the time, us ladies like to have our water quite hot. Usually way too hot for our delicate faces. So rather than putting your face under hot water and giving yourself broken capillaries, just cleanse once you're done showering. Or if you're still going to do it in the shower, briefly turn down the water temperature to lukewarm.

5) Wait 20 minutes indoors after applying a chemical sunscreen before going outside: chemical sunscreens need a minimum of 20 minutes to absorb in order to be effective and if you go outside too soon after applying, the sun will break it down and render it completely useless. More info on chemical sunscreens here.

6) Remove your makeup/double cleanse as soon as you get home: for some reason, a lot of us ladies tend to leave this chore till right before going to bed, rather than getting it over with as soon as we walk through the door. Why prolong the amount of time you have makeup, sunscreen, sebum, dirt, and sweat on your face? Think about it, instead of having all that on your face for an additional few hours, you can use those 4 or 5 hours to have skincare treatment on your face. So when you get home, put everything down, go double cleanse, and boom, you have one less thing to do before going to bed and your skin will thank you for it. This tip can easily give you a reduction in whiteheads and blackheads. 

These aren't life changing tips but rather just something to keep in mind while doing your routine :).

Next time on The Skincare Guide: Bad Lifestyle Habits For Your Skin

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Skincare Guide: Waiting Times

This post probably won't be suitable to all those who are impatient with their skincare routine, but if you're someone who wants to get the most out of your products, then stick around!

In your routine, usually the first thing you do once you're done cleansing is acid tone. And after you use your BHA or AHA, you quickly move on to your next product, usually a serum. However, if you're not in a rush to leave the house, then I'd highly suggest this one tip:

After using an acid toner, don't apply anything afterwards for at least 10-25 minutes. Now, hear me out. I know not everyone has the luxury of time or the patience for it. Though if it's in the evening, you really don't have much of an excuse. You can go watch an episode of Friends while you wait or have your dinner.

So here's the reason why you should wait:

Acid toners generally need a low Ph level to work efficiently, and when you put a serum or whatever product on straight afterwards, that product will more than likely have a much higher Ph and thus render the acid less effective. It will still work, but not as well. Therefore, giving your skin time to readjust its ph levels before moving on to the rest of your routine is very much advised. On average, it takes 30 minutes for an acid's ph to neutralize.

And if you're concerned about waiting in the morning before heading off to work or university, then my advice is to just go about getting ready while you wait. So cleanse, tone, then go have your morning tea or coffee, get dressed, pack up your things, and by the time you've done all that, enough time will have passed and you could quickly carry on with your routine.

By no means am I saying acids don't work at all if you don't give them waiting time, they just might not work as amazingly as they would with the time.

You will feel and see a difference if you implicate this slight change into your routine, I guarantee it.

I would also recommend maybe waiting a few minutes (5-10) with your serums, mainly to allow them to fully absorb properly without anything interfering.

This tip is definitely not for those with zero patience, but if you do have the patience, give it a shot! Make the most out of your products :).

Next time on The Skincare Guide: Tips You Probably Don't Follow

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Skincare Guide: Ingredients to Avoid Mixing Together

When it comes to mastering skincare, the best thing you can possibly do is simply become more aware. Become aware of product types, their functions, ingredients, etc. And one of the things to be aware of is the combination of certain products, specifically when you mix certain active ingredients. By no means does it all of a sudden make them toxic when combined, they just simply render themselves ineffective. Or in simpler terms: they cancel each other out and become useless. So here are three pairings that should be avoided if you want to achieve full effectiveness in your products:

BHA/AHA & Retinol - Acid toners (AHA &BHA - full post explanation here) should not be mixed together with retinol/retinoids (full post explanation here) because the acids can inactivate the retinol/retinoid. Mixing the two together actually diminishes the effectiveness of both ingredients. So what's the solution? Use your acid toner or any product that has an AHA or BHA in the mornings only, on days where you know you're going to use a retinol treatment at night. So just take out acid toners/all acids from your evening routine if you're using retinol or retinoid. And also be aware that some cleansers also contain AHA's/BHA's, including some well known products, like The Body Shop Nutriganics Softening Cleansing Gel. If so, just use a different cleanser if you're planning on using your retinol treatment afterwards.

Vitamin C & Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) - these two ingredients sadly also cancel each other out. So if you're using a Vitamin C serum and then apply a cream or serum or some other kind of product right afterwards that contains Niacinamide, then you're pretty much rendering both of them ineffective. Best to keep them apart. 

Vitamin C & Vitamin A - there are technically several products out there, that are formulated with both and work perfectly fine! This is not like mixing BHA/AHA and Retinol, where you really should just avoid all together. Vitamin C and Vitamin A simply work their best when used separately.

Like I said, mixing these pairings is not at all harmful. You're just not getting the most out of your money/products. 

I personally discovered these ill-fated pairings when one of my serums stopped working the way it use to. The change happened right after I had repurchased my acid toner and had began using it before applying the serum, which happened to contain retinol. When I took out the acid toner from my evening routine, the serum went back to giving me amazing results. So it's just a few little facts to keep in mind :).

And if you're ever unsure of what ingredients your product contains, you can easily check using this website:

Next time on The Skincare Guide: Waiting Times

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Skincare Guide: Retinol

Fun fact: did you know that our skin reaches maturity around the age of 21? Personally, I found this fact a little shocking, especially since our brains only reach maturity at age 25. Now, since I'm 21 myself, I've decided that the time to slowly integrate some Retinol into my routine has finally come. Before I go on about how I do this, let me quickly explain the basics.

What is Retinol?

A derivative of Vitamin A. As of now, it's considered to be the most powerful anti-aging ingredient. It has been proven several times in clinical tests to reduce wrinkles/signs of aging, tighten pores, prevent and reverse UVA/B damage, increase blood flow in skin, fight acne, increase cell turnover, boost your collagen and even skin tone. Pretty amazing right?

However, one needs to be extremely careful with Retinol. It's a powerful active for a reason and can very easily be overdone. There are usually side effects to using it, the mains ones being: redness, irritation, and dry skin- potentially peeling. 

Good news is that this can be mainly avoided or at least reduced if you simply start out slow. If you are thinking about beginning the use of Retinol, here's a guide on usage that has worked for me. I've had no unpleasant side effects so far thanks to this guide by FutureDerm, apart from a slight increase in dryness, which can't be avoided and I easily deal with by simply upping my moisturizing products. Your skin essentially needs to build up a tolerance towards it and so you slowly work your way up in terms of concentration and usage frequency. So word of caution here - using more won't give you better results, it will just burn your face off :P. Less really is more when it comes to Retinol. A pea-size is all you need.

Retinol has to have a minimum concentration of 0.1% to 0.3% in order to be effective. Anything less won't do anything. The highest concentration available is 1%.

Should I start using Retinol?

If you're 21 or above and you don't want your face to resemble a prune, yes! Or like me, you start noticing some fine lines appearing and want them vanquished. Think of it as the war on wrinkles. If you want to win, you better arm up with some big guns.

Important things to know when applying Retinol:

- apply it in the evenings not mornings; the sun breaks it down and thus leaves it ineffective
- don't use an acid toner (AHA/BHA) on the evening you use your retinol, the combination of the two renders the retinol useless and ineffective. You can still use your toner in the morning, just not in your evening routine.
- apply your retinol treatment after cleansing
-wait 1 hour before applying any other products (serums, moisturizers), it's much more effective this way if the skin is dry with no product.
- you can apply it everywhere on your face, except for your eye contour/crease and under your eyebrow (read the instructions for your specific product).
- wear sunscreen the morning after (though you should be wearing it everyday regardless *cough*), retinol makes your skin more photosensitive/vulnerable to sun rays and damage
- if you have a strong reaction (redness, irritated skin), then take a break from it. Let your skin heal completely and then try again more slowly, i.e. use it less often.
- be consistent, don't take long breaks, like several weeks or months. It takes 8-10 weeks before you even begin to see results, so stay persistent!

And to clear up some terminology confusion that you might experience when researching retinol:

There are different forms of Vitamin A, and are listed in terms of concentration/strength

1) Retinoids: these are the strongest forms of Vitamin A. They require a prescription from a doctor and involve more of the side effects since they are stronger and thus harsher on the skin.
2) Retinol: a non-prescription form of Retinoid, not as intense as Retinoids but still powerful nonetheless with fewer side effects.
3) Retinyl Palmitate: weakest form of Vitamin A. Doesn't work very well, though still has some effect.

Another thing to keep in mind: they all vary between each other in terms of concentration/strength, they don't transfer over. For example 1.0% Retinol equals to 0.05 Tretinoin (a type of prescription retinoid).

Product Recommendations (all are linked):

A good starting-off, easing into product - La Roche Posay Redermic [R] Dermatalogical Anti-Wrinkle Treatment - Intense (0.3% Retinol). Pictured at the top. Tends to go on sale often on FeelUnique.

Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($55)

Next time on The Skincare Guide: Ingredients to Avoid Mixing Together

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Skincare Guide: Korean Skincare

Once a person discovers korean skincare, they get sucked into this vortex of brands and products and routines and are never to be seen again! Well, ok, that's not quite true, but you get the idea. South Korea takes skincare to a whole new level. Formulations wise, they are years ahead of the West. and unlike the West, koreans actually spend more money on skincare rather than cosmetics like westerners do. They believe that if you have good skin, the less makeup you need. I very much agree with this mentality. However, their main motto comes down to this: layering. Koreans take layering skincare products to the extreme (in a good way).

The West preaches this kind of routine: Cleanse, Tone, Moisturize. Thanks to several skincare specialists online, we now know this is simply not enough. It's now: 1st cleanse, 2nd cleanse, acid tone, serum, moisturize. So that accounts for 5 steps in total. Well, in Korea they follow a 10 (sometimes 11) step routine... It looks something like this:

1) Remove Makeup aka 1st Cleanse - this is typically done with an oil cleanser.
2) Cleanse the skin aka 2nd Cleanse - this is usually done with a foaming cleanser (which I've discussed in this post here, that this only does damage to your skin) or a cleansing cream. 
3) Exfoliate - usually done with a scrub. Again, I'm not a fan of scrubs. Acid toners (post detailing it here) do a much better job and don't aggravate the skin like most harsh scrubs do.
4) Tone - usually a hydrating toner.
5) Essence - an essence is essentially a less intense/milder form of a serum, packed with some active ingredients 
6) Serum - a much more concentrated form of an essence, contains active ingredients. There are also products called "Ampoule", which claim to be an even stronger version of a serum (supposedly). 
7) Sheet Mask - contains some nice ingredients and are moisturizing. Not necessarily used every day.
8) Eye Cream 
9) Emulsion - a light weight moisturizer
10) Cream - a night time moisturizer (heavier)

*11) Sunscreen - if day time. If night time then a sleeping moisturizing mask to lock in all moisture

Like with all things you read online, you need to take things with a pinch of salt. There are some things that are great about this kind of routine, and there are some things that are best to forego. Of course, please do your own research before you decide on anything. Don't instantly assert to follow a korean skincare routine or Paula's choice's advice as if it were the bible (biggest pet peeve right now that I'm seeing online). You can pick and choose bits that you like and don't like. You don't have to 100% agree with one form of skincare. 

For example, I love that the Korean Routine preaches double cleansing, but I'm against the use of foaming cleansers. I'm also against the use of facial scrubs, I believe they're too strong and abrasive for our delicate skin. The rest I completely agree with, especially that they sun protection seriously. Sure, some steps might be unnecessary, like Sheet Masks or Essences but they certainly don't do any harm. In fact, layering products so far has only given me amazing results! The more the merrier really. Is it a faff though? It can be to some. 

Now, here are some reasons as to why you should consider giving korean skincare products a go:

1) They're cheaper - this is due to the intense competition between korean companies. They have way more brands than we do (like x 5), so in order to stay competitive among each other, they bring the prices down (yay!). 

2) Their ingredients are out of this world - they have been reported to be 5-10 years ahead of us westerners in terms of science in their formulations. Koreans are constantly trying to discover new amazing ingredients and they put them to use a lot faster than they would able to in the west due to less red tape. For example: snail mucin (an amazing healing agent), bee venom (increases production of collagen and reduces lines), stem cells, etc. 

3) Variety - again, due to the endless amount of brands. 

4) You will see results 

P.S. don't be scared when you see the term "whitening" on some their products. It doesn't actually whiten your skin, it means brightening/skin tone evening :).

If you're interested in giving some a go, I use this website for basically all of my purchases: 

The owner is a sweetheart, you get free-worldwide shipping (!!), AND you receive a ton of samples and full-sized freebies (as pictured above with my latest haul ^^). 

Next time on the Skincare Guide: Retinol

Saturday, 11 July 2015

The Skincare Guide: Ingredients to Avoid

Not all ingredients in products are actually good for our skin, so I thought I'd explain some of the big red flags in skincare that are for the most part best to avoid. I'll start off with the evilest and make my way down from there.

1) Sodium Laureth Sulfate & Sodium Lauryl Suflate or SLS for short: to put it point blank, this is a detergent. It's what creates the the foam and bubbles in foaming cleansers. It's also in shampoos, soaps, bubble bath, etc. Now needless to say if you've already read my Cleansing Properly post (you can read that here), you'll know why you should avoid this kind of ingredient." It's actually a well known skin irritant, to the point where it's used as model irritant in dermatological studies. 

“[Sodium lauryl sulfate] is such a consistent irritator for skin with an impaired barrier that it is actually used in ‘challenge patch tests’ to evaluate the barrier function of skin…it strips the natural lipids from the skin, disrupting the barrier and rendering it more susceptible to external irritants." -Dr. Leslie Baumann’s, Cosmetic Dermatology.

So my advice? Avoid this ingredient like the plague (at least for your skin, not your kitchen dishes :P). I'd highly suggest going SLS free in your shampoo and shower gel too if possible. I noticed a huge difference when I switched shampoos, specifically 50% less hair fallout and my hair was not as dry. If you want SLS free shampoo, I'd recommend Marc Anthony (if you're in Canada) and the L'oreal Professional Line internationally, they have a few good SLS free shampoos. And for body wash and/or hand soap - any soap/showergel from Dr. Bronner is a good one. 

2) Alcohol, Alcohol Denat, Isopropyl Alcohol, and Ethanol: this one is to be proceeded with caution. Rule of thumb: if it's in the top 10 ingredients on the ingredient list, avoid. If it's near the bottom of the ingredient list - there's very little of it in the formula, so it's fine. These are all drying alcohols. If  used in high concentration, they will dry out your skin. If there's not too much of it/ it's well formulated, it will aid in the absorption of skincare actives. 
Also, quick note: not all forms of alcohol are drying! There are also fatty alcohols, such as cetyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol. They are used to thicken formulas and add slip to the product and are harmless.

3) Mineral Oil (listed as/also known as - liquid paraffin, pariffinum liquidum, and liquid petroleum in ingredient lists): this is a very controversial ingredient in the skincare world right now. There are two sides to the argument: the first side says it's totally fine and does a good job at moisturizing the skin, whereas the other half says it just sits on top of the skin and clogs your pores. I'm on the latter side. I did an experiment where I went mineral oil free for a good few months, and my skin thanked me for it! I used to get little white heads on my cheeks, forehead, and nose, and when I gave up the ingredient they went away forever. Also reduced blackheads.

 Mineral oil works by coating the skin, rather than being absorbed. It's an incredibly cheap ingredient (so if it's in your super expensive moisturizer - you're being ripped off big time) that is derived from petroleum—as a by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline.

That being said, some people don't break out from mineral oil and swear it does wonders for their dry skin. My advice? Try going mineral oil free for a good 2 months and see if you notice a difference. But overall, I would still say avoid.

4) Oxybenzone: I mentioned this already in my sunscreen/sunprotection post (here), but I'll just quickly repeat myself. It's a form of chemical sunscreen that is officially known as a hormone disruptor, avoid at all costs! Unfortunately, several well-known brands still use this ingredient.

If you have any questions on the safety of other ingredients that weren't mentioned, leave a comment down below! :)

Next time on the Skincare Guide: Korean Skincare

Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Skincare Guide: Serums

Honestly, I've been dreading writing this post. Mainly because it's probably one of the most complicated topics to explain, no doubt due to simply the vast variety you have when it comes to serums. So I will carry on and tread lightly...

So what are serums?

Serums are the superheroes in skincare. They're the ones that really throw in a punch. Or to put it in skincare terms, this is where all your active ingredients live. Because of this fact, it deems serums to be the one kind of product where you really do need to splash on and bite the bullet at the cash register. But I promise you, you will see results with them. Not necessarily overnight (though some of those do exist), but definitely over time. For every other kind of product in your routine, you can find a cheap alternative (e.g. cleansers, moisturizers) because they do easy, straightforward jobs, like clean and moisturize, which usually involve inexpensive ingredients that are easy to formulate and manufacture. Serums tend to involve a lot of research and testing, such as clinical studies.

Sadly, cheap serums are therefore hard to come by, but the powerful ingredients in them really do make them worth it. Now without further ado, let's get into the different kinds of serums.

1) Antioxidant/Vitamin C Serums

These ones are multi-purpose. Their functions are:

brightening - so fading acne scars and sun damage
anti-aging - vitamin c increases the production of collagen (= firmer skin) and cell turnover.
boosts your skin's defence against UV damage, as well as pollution
glow - will get rid of the appearance of dull skin

Needless to say, a good all-rounder! However, this serum is mainly used for fading acne scars and hyper pigmentation. Its anti-aging strength isn't the strongest one out there.

2) Anti-Aging/ Preventative Serums -& usually also known as night time serums

These ones work by repairing your skin and preventing aging. They usually contain vitamin A (the ultimate anti-aging ingredient), and are recommended to be used only at night because of this, since it makes your skin photosensitive aka more sensitive to the sun/light. So if you are using this kind of serum, be sure to wear sunscreen during the day if you aren't already (naughty!). A lot of these serums also contain antioxidants, sometimes Niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3 that is anti-aging, brightening, redness reducing, acne healing), and occasionally peptides (another famous anti-aging ingredient).


prevent wrinkles
repair skin
lighten hyper pigmentation and/or marks left from spots & even-out skin tone

3) Hydrating Serums

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory... if you have dry skin or (yes there's a difference) dehydrated skin, which 99% of us have, then add yourself a boost of moisture with a hydrating serum. They really do make a difference!

My tips on serums if you're on a tight budget:

- spend less on your other skincare products (e.g. cleanser, moisturizer). There are many good, cheap alternatives.
- if available, buy mini's. Not all brands do them, but quite a few in Sephora do mini starter kits, such as Ole Henriksen.
- try out serums by korean brands, they are years ahead of western companies in terms of science and usually half the price due to fierce competition and vast amount of brands. A good brand to start off with is Missha.
- take note of how much you're actually getting from the product, as in the quantity, e.g. 15ml, 30ml, 50ml, 75ml etc. Sometimes it may seem expensive but then when you compare how much more you're getting with that price compared to other serums/brands, it may turn out to be cheaper.
Example: the Missha Time Revolution serum (a known dupe for the Estee Lauder serum) is $50/50ml, whereas Estee Lauder's is $62/30ml. So Missha's is $1 per ml, and EL's is roughly $2 per ml. So with Missha, you're getting more for your money.

*takes deep calming breath*...finally on to some recommendations! (all recommendations are linked)

Antioxidant Serums: 

Side note: this serum is very effective, but could be drying to some due to it's alcohol content (which is used in some formulations to allow the serum to be absorbed better and faster). If so, use every other day rather than daily, or use a hydrating serum afterwards.

Anti-Aging Serums: 

Hydrating Serums: 

Next time on the Skincare Guide: Ingredients to Avoid