Monthly Archives: November 2013

Lancôme UV Expert GN-Shield BB Base & Make Up Base

Lancôme UV Expert GN-Shield BB Base & Make Up Base

As the world is moving on to other alphabet creams, I’m still here clinging on to the BBs. The Lancôme UV Expert GN-Shield BB Base SPF50 PA+++ (30ml) is the only BB cream I’ve ever owned, so I cannot say how it performs in comparison to other BB creams, especially the Korean ones that started all the rage. I purchased it to ease myself into using foundations.

Lancôme UV Expert GN-Shield BB Base

BB creams are supposed to provide coverage with added skin care benefits like SPF and anti-oxidants–I don’t really buy that, using BB cream on its own certainly does not provide the same level of skin care benefits like serums. Also, I don’t really like to apply too thick a layer of this in case it gets caked up, so how much skincare benefit can I expect from this–The SPF 50 and PA +++ may not be enough on its own, since I do not apply a thick layer that is necessary for sun protection.

This BB cream has sheer coverage. I have no qualms about the greyish color since I’m relatively fair and the color does settle nicely on my skin. I wear this in the mornings on top of my serum, and finish with a dust of powder.

I’ve also experimented with mixing it with my serum (alright), mixing it with a gel-moisturizer (alright), mixing it with a sunscreen (very good) and mixing this with oil (eww). There are lots of ways of playing around with a BB cream so it depends on what results you are looking for. My favorite would me mixing the BB cream with a sunscreen–I am not afraid to slather the mixture on because the coverage is even thinner, there’s little fear of the color sinking into the lines, and added sun protection!

UPDATE Jan 14, 2014: I’m currently using the Hanyul Rich Effect BB Cream, and the comparison has led me to rediscover some flaws in the Lancôme BB Cream. The Lancôme lasts maybe three hours before it turns ashy, as a little bit of sweating will wash off the color. Blot your face using tissue paper and you’ll find your face almost wiped clean after a while. I had previously believed all BB creams are like that, until I encountered the Hanyul, which is entirely sweat-proof.

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Lancôme UV Expert GN-Shield Make Up Base

Lancôme UV Expert GN-Shield Make Up Base SPF50 PA+++ (50ml) is a later addition picked up at the airport duty free. This is a travel exclusive that come in a larger size than the regular 30ml.

The color is a much prettier shade of beige compared to the greyish BB Base, but has almost zero coverage. This is a make up base, but since I don’t really wear make up much, I use it the same way as I would use the BB cream, except I only use it on days I care enough to wear my corrector and concealer for my under-eyes. Like the BB Base, it holds up pretty well, lasts long in the heat and does a decent job of sun protection.

I like these two babies. You can see how worn out the packaging is, as a result of knocking around in my purse with my keys and other junk. But yes, I’m ready to move on to try others!

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Lousy moods and spending habits

I tend to plan my life, not down to the OCD level of counting steps while walking or creating sock indexes, I just like it when things are structured.

My personality manifests in my beauty habit as well. I spend time thinking about my beauty needs, researching an item, estimating how long I’ll need to finish my current one, and setting a date when I’ll make a purchase. Thinking and researching to actually making a purchase can take up to a year. It may sound like no fun, but delaying gratification is actually quite exciting, partially due to the anticipation leading up to the purchase.

Now you can see why I hardly ever binge purchase, except when I travel and have to make spontaneous decisions.

Recently, though, I’ve found myself having a greater desire to snap up a product right then and there, and such times are always when I’m in a terrible mood. Last week I had a row that left my mood sour for most of the week. Since then I’ve been having the urge to tear up my teddy bear, snap at everyone who comes my way and buy my entire wish-list on shopping sites. I won’t need any of the products until next February. But damn, it’d be so easy to click checkout, pay, and a bundle of happiness will be on its way. Such a thought is an immediate mood-booster even though I haven’t put it into action yet.

Now that sounds like I want to indulge in retail therapy—to use purchases to uplift my mood. It sounds harmless enough, retail therapy has been scientifically proven to actually make people happier. Articles like this gives righteous justification for shopping. “Well, shopping boosts my creativity, it relaxes me and I can make friends shopping. Isn’t that great?

However, buying to uplift one’s mood is actually the a leading cause in people spending beyond their means. Shopaholics think the purchases will improve their moods, and hope “their purchases will lift their mood and transform them as a person.” Combine such a belief with the ostrich mentality of ignoring credit management until the problem rolls around leads to compulsive shopping.

I haven’t let emotions cloud rational thought yet, even though I almost-violently scroll and scroll down the list of products (thank god I’m too busy to actually go out). Somewhere in the back of my mind I still dislike losing control, and know that I will regret this decision. At the rate my emotional roller coaster is going though, one day they may just get the better of me. 

Hanyul Optimizing Serum

Hanyul Optimizing Serum 01

The last time I visited South Korea in 2006, Korean skincare wasn’t really a big thing internationally. I don’t remember seeing a lot of the brands like Nature’s Republic and It’s Skin  on every street and corner. Since then, KPop has exploded and the along with it awareness of Korean cosmetics through idol endorsements. I wasn’t into Korean products, but I did snoop around the Amore Pacific online store for intel.

Earlier this year, I wanted to try the Sulwhasoo products, as the concept of using traditional ingredients appealed to me. It is however out of my budget. Then I found out about Hanyul, a supposedly “more affordable” version of the Sulwhasoo, belonging to the same company Amore Pacific. I asked friends to help me purchase some of the products during their trips to South Korea—the Hanyul Optimizing SerumRich Effect Whitening Powder Serum and Rich Effect Revitalizing Cream—the ones listed prominently on the Amore Pacific site. Later I realized the brand has a separate website. I wanted to kick myself for not doing proper research and going through their entire catalogue first 😦

I cannot find information about the product in English, even the ingredients list is in Korean so bear with me, I can only go with my feel on this. Unarmed with information it seems like one of my senses has been robbed from me.

Hanyul Optimizing Serum 02

The serum comes in the form of a brownish gel-like liquid with a herbal fragrance which I cannot place. I do not understand the ingredients list but I do smell alcohol in there. It is very quickly absorbed with a slightly cooling sensation, which of course is due to the alcohol.

I like to wear this serum in the mornings, directly under my sunblock/sunscreen/BB cream. Having a layer of moisturizer before the SPF is really uncomfortable for me and the BB cream especially tends to slip. When used at night with my regular moisturizer I do not observe any effects the morning after, except when I pair it with Rich Effect Revitalizing Cream (but that is entirely thanks to the the cream, not the serum).

Repurchase? Hmm no. As I use this daily, I’m constantly reminded of the awesomeness that is Estée Lauder ANR (read review). The color and consistency is similar, but ANR is superior in its morning after healthy glow. After months of psychological side-by-side comparison I think I’ll continue my quest to find a younger version of the ANR.

UPDATE Jan 14, 2014: I’ve recently switched over to Lancôme Génifique for a week, and BAMF, out popped those whiteheads. After the subsequent scramble to get rid of them, I have a new found appreciation for the Hanyul Optimizing Serum. Honestly, while it is not ANR, it is fantastic at calming the skin and reducing inflammatory response to products. I estimate I have a further 2 weeks supply of this serum, and then I’ll be out.

Definitely will repurchase after the current stash of serums run out. It is worth coming back to, every now and again.

Alpha Hydrox 10% Glycolic AHA Enhanced Cream

Alpha Hydrox 10% Glycolic AHA Enhanced Cream 01I hopped onto the exfoliation bandwagon fairly late. I have normal skin, I breakout once every two years, and those are due to allergic reactions to products. I saw no reason to use exfoliants when they are mostly lauded for the management of acne and oily skin. Then came Cure Natural Aqua Peeling Gel. I saw how my face became so much smoother after the layers of skin came off, and I itched to get my hands on those AHAs/BHAs. I purchased Alpha Hydrox 10% Glycolic AHA Enhanced Cream together with Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask, both highly rated products on MUA.

The Product

Based on online reviews alone, I did not expect much difference between the two. Both rely on glycolic acid to slough off dead cells on skin surface. I was however more excited to try the Alpha Hydrox, as the Andalou did not label its product with the percentage of glycolic acid, while the Alpha Hydrox did. And I like it when my skincare appears to be clinical, scientific and specific. The Alpha Hydrox is supposed to:

  • Helps prevent fine lines & wrinkles
  • Refines texture & evens tone
  • Improves elasticity

Alpha Hydrox 10% Glycolic AHA Enhanced Cream 02

One day into using the Alpha Hydrox, I broke out along my entire jawline with pustules and papules. I have never gotten acne before, even in my teenage years I’ve been blessed with blemish free skin except for the occasional pimple or two.

“Purging”? “Detoxification”?

Breaking out after using the AHAs is supposedly part of the normal process of “purging” or “detoxification” after a quick google search. I didn’t know that organs other than the liver conduct the detox process, but I stuck with it. MUA loved it; Paula Begoun loved it; so it must work for me.

Two more uses on alternate days and the acne got worse, and I finally gave up. Alpha Hydrox is not working. The painful acne is not a result of “purging”. It’s my body begging me to stop. Either the concentration of glycolic acid is too high, or the cream contains something else that is irritating my skin.

I have not given up on exfoliants yet, the Andalou mask works beautifully and I’ looking forward to try other AHAs. But lesson learnt—a product that works for others may work poorly for me, and I should trust what my body is telling me.

Repurchase? No. I’m trying to finish up what I’ve left on my body, which thankfully is incapable of breaking out.

(If you’re in the US it’s easy to get hold of this. If you are elsewhere in the world good luck. I got this off drugstore.com, with a hefty shipping charge, oh well.)

Clarins High Definition Body Lift

Clarins High Definition Body Lift 01

I’m sure 90% of the women out there agree with me, cellulite is one of our worse enemies.

I exercise at least 3 times a week and keep my diet in check, but the damage of my youth is done—I have cellulite along my entire thighs and buttocks, along with ugly stretch marks from my massive weight gain during puberty.

I know I cannot expect them to magically disappear. If cellulite creams really do work their wonders, the world will be cellulite-free already. Many products though promise that when used as part of a diet and exercise plan they help to speed up the process of breaking down cellulite. The Clarins High Definition Body Lift is one of them:

Clarins High Definition Body Lift 02

The Product

A body cream for the hips, thighs, and buttocks that visibly corrects stubborn cellulite while smoothing, firming, and redefining. Clarins breaks the vicious cellulite cycle with the first slimming treatment that visibly corrects the appearance of cellulite. It targets cellulite before it starts visibly smoothing hips, buttocks, and thighs for a slimmer silhouette. It hydrates and softens skin, reshapes, lifts, tones, and visibly improves skin firmness.

The peach colored cream contains small red granules that end up all over your bathroom floor as you massage. There is also a tendency for the cream to peel off like dead skin after massaging for a while. I have tried exfoliating prior to application, but the effect is consistent no matter what I do. Perhaps there is some form of film-former included in the formula, I don’t know. It smells heavily of menthol, really unpleasant, but thankfully doesn’t linger.

To test the effect out, I massaged it onto my right thighs and right buttocks as instructed. You can find the official Clarins anti-cellulite massage here. If it works, I should see a visible difference between my right and left legs at the end.

The Verdict

At the end of 400ml, my legs did appear thinner, the gap between my thighs wider, but I believe that is a result of the consistent exercise and diet, not Clarins. There is no discernible difference between my left and right thighs, nor my left and right butt cheeks. There is still the same amount of cellulite appearing on both thighs when I squeeze them.

Maybe 400ml is not enough for the product to work its magic, maybe I don’t exercise enough, or maybe you cannot really have such high hopes for anti-cellulite products. Many reviewer will go at this point: “It helps with skin elasticity”, “It helps in improving skin tone” or “It is moisturizing”. But the fact is, the main selling point of anti-cellulite products is to reduce the appearance of cellulite, and many clearly fail to deliver.

Will I buy High Definition Body Lift again? Nope (Re-purchase is also not possible, Clarins has replaced this with the New Body Lift Cellulite Control).

Will I give up on anti-cellulite products? Nope. I’ll still be seduced by the promise of ugly thigh dimples gone, but of course with much lowered expectations.