Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Minimalist Pair from HABA

I’m alright a long ingredients list in my skincare, because my skin can handle a pounding: parabens, mineral oils, acids, all of these never really wrecked up my skin. (*•̀ᴗ•́*)و ̑̑

Occasionally though, I do get curious about the less-is-more philosophy, which Japanese companies like HABA do really well. HABA hails from Hokkaido and they claim that all their products are free of parabens, mineral oils, colorants, fragrances and petrochemicals.  (Totally unrelated, but next on my try-list is another Japanese brand FANCL, which claims all their products are 100% preservative free).

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HABA White Lady (¥3,888 for 30ml)

Ingredients List: Water, sasa kurilensis water, glycerin, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, pentylene glycol, polyquaternium-51, sodium hyaluronate, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, citric acid

HABA White Lady contains sasa kurilensis water, a bamboo extract which stands-in for traditional preservatives, and vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the most well known and extensively researched topical antioxidants. Continuous use has been shown to improve signs of aging and brighten skin tone.

The form of vitamin C used in White Lady is sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP), which is less common (and less extensively researched) than the standard ascorbic acid, but is stable and water-soluble nonetheless. Like the magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), it is gentler and milder than ascorbic acid, and concentrations of 1% to 5% is shown to be effective. In comparison, vitamin C serums that uses the ascorbic acid variety generally contains 15% to 20% (examples being OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum and Paula’s Choice RESIST C15 Super Booster).

Prior to HABA White Lady, I have only used one other vitamin C serum–OST C20 Serum. From the very first use I can confidently say that White Lady is my preferred serum for everyday use. White Lady is unbelievably gentle. I give amount 4 pumps of White Lady and pat only my skin every night. It goes on the face with a texture of toner, and sinks into the skin very quickly. C20 Serum on the other hand stings upon first application, and has the very distinct scent of citrus fruits. It absorbs slowly and settles into a film on the skin. I do not dislike the C20 serum nor find the scent offensive, but it does makes my face look and feel sticky and look greasy.

This is where I find HABA a better fit in my skincare routine–it layers so well with all of the other skincare items and I can use it in the daytime under moisturiser and sunblock.

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HABA Squalane (¥2,700 for 30ml)

Squalane is a botanical lipid which is naturally occurring on the human skin. However, production of squalane slows as we age. HABA Squalane is 99.99% pure and aims to replenish the naturally occurring compound. I cannot find an ingredient’s list, so I cannot comment on what is the remaining 0.01%.

How to use: The official instructions by HABA is to apply 1 to 2 drops of squalane using moist hands on moist skin, after cleanser and toner, to create a well-balanced film over the skin.

In practice, I use it several ways:

  1. Mix it with with toner on the palm before applying to the skin, really go ALL OUT on the “moist hands and moist skin” by actually mixing squalane with a toner. The HABA G Lotion is an excellent companion.
  2. After moisturiser as an additional layer to seal in the moisture, particularly around the eye and lip area where the skin is most prone with wrinkles.
  3. BEFORE a sheet mask. It does not make sense to apply an oil before a sheet mask–wouldn’t the oil prevent penetration of any hydrating benefits of the sheet mask? But IT REALLY WORKS FOR ME! I don’t know it is weird.

As far as face oils go, the slight drawback is that Squalane absorb much quicker than most the other facial oils that i have used before. It takes some getting used to, as I usually do a quick massage on my face when I apply face oils, but Squalane doesn’t provide as much slip because it sinks so quickly.

Overall, the HABA line is excellent. No overnight magic here. The key is “gentle, nourishing and stable”. These are products that slowly inch their way into a place on your dressing table, and before you know it you’re repurchasing again.

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In Rotation: Serums and Treatments

I made it a New Year’s resolution to update this blog regularly and my friends are holding me accountable, so here we go.

The beginning of the year is always crazy busy for me, but even then we all need to treat ourselves like the queens that we are 😉 Here’s what I’m using to pamper my skin.

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Estée Lauder Micro Essence (125ml) – I will not talk about Estée Lauder ANR anymore, you guys know it is HG. ME is relatively new in my skincare repertoire, this one being my second bottle. I want to talk about this in detail together with SK II and about treatment essences in general, but overall I can do without it in my rotation.

Chifure Beauty Essence (30ml) and UNITEC Advanced Hydrating Essence (30ml) – These beauties are excellent hydrating serums and are very similar. I last wrote about them in 2015 (here), I think I have gone through close to 10 refills of both combined. They are excellent as morning serums as they stay put and never cake under layers of sunblocks and make ups. Chifure has a slight edge as it is S$6 per refill, but it is hard to get hold of outside of Japan. UNITEC comes in a pump tube so the content is not oxidized before using, but it is S$20 a tube and there is no refill option.

Kanebo Kracie Hadabisei 3D Super Moist Mask – My favorite new find from Japanese drugstores! They have been around for quite some time but I haven’t gotten around to using it. They come in only 4 pieces per box and you can use them up pretty fast. The great thing is that the masks don’t dry out easily and contours to every crevice of your face. Seriously, it has the best fit to my face compared to most other masks I’ve tried (and I’ve tried SK II lol).

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Elizabeth Arden Capsules for Face & Eye – The official names are Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum and Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Eye Serum which is a mouthful, so lets just call them capsules shall we. A set contains 30 eye capsules which are smaller and transparent, and 30 face capsules which are larger and opaque. Each capsule contains far more serum than needed for one time use, unless you use in on your neck and décolleté as well.

I cannot recommend this item enough for normal to dry skin types. It goes on with the texture of a thin face oil, but absorbs quickly without a hint of greasiness. Within minutes you see an improvement in dehydration lines and rough patches.

The capsule packaging is great to prevent oxidation of the serum which can happen in a traditional dropper packaging, but since I break a capsule in the morning and finish it with a second use at night, that benefit is mostly lost on me.

So here it is, cheers and hope everyone sticks with their resolutions!

Estée Lauder: A Prime Pairing

Happy new year to everyone out there!

I had a particularly rough 2016 on the personal front, so it is a definite relief that my annus horribilis is behind me. Now onward to a better 2017 with more positive energy and blog posts about my passion!

(ノ^∇^)ノ゚

Sometime ago I went ahead with the Magic Ring Test at an SK II counter, which involves the simple steps of taking a close up of the skin with a camera with all your flaws magnified, and putting the resulting picture through a program which analyses the skin on the “5 dimensions of crystal clear skin”.

The results were surprising. My skin age is 10 years off my actual age! But my favorite part is the analysis of each dimension. My skin did not fare so well in Texture Refinement (i.e. hydration) and Spot Control (i.e. fading freckles, sunspots and preventing new ones), but was excellent in the dimensions of Firmness Power and Wrinkle Resilience.

A Prime Pairing (m)

And this I have to attribute entirely to the best pairing of serums I can ask for–the Estée Lauder Perfectionist CP+R Wrinkle Lifting/Firming Serum and Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex.

The ANR seems to have won every single beauty magazine award there is, so today I will focus on the lesser known CPR serum.

The CP + R stands for correct, prevent, and repair. It is purported to be Estée Lauder’s “most effective wrinkle-fighting serum ever”.

Perhaps what makes the two serums so distinct is the texture. ANR is very light and fluid. CPR’s texture however is much heavier, something that I would normally associate with a lotion. After a look at the ingredients list, the texture is not so surprising. Dimethicone is the first in the list, even before water. I have nothing against silicones, in fact, I like using products that contain it during the day as it fills out the small dehydration lines and wrinkles, and give the illusion of more refined skin.

That being said, I try not to use ANR and CPR in the morning. I know the skin needs antioxidants, vitamins and emollients regardless of day or night, but if I’m splurging $200 each on the jumbo sized serums, I’d want them to work without the additional stress of UV rays and pollution. For the daytime, I will focus on hydration and protection.

Two pumps is normally needed as the serum is quite hard to spread, especially when I have not used a toner before hand. With a bit of trial and error, I find the best way to apply this is after toner and ANR, when my face is still slightly damp. It becomes a breeze to spread the serum out after my skin is hydrated from the ANR. I guess because I use so much every night, it is goes down quite fast. A 100ml jumbo sized bottle can perhaps last me 6 months.

And whether I will repurchase the CPR serum… When wrinkles become a concern, definitely. But right now I have more urgent matters to take care of. Remember the dimension of “Spot Control” which my skin didn’t fare too well at? I guess its time to to work on that!