Category Archives: Exfoliants

PM Skincare Routines (Part I): All Out Spa Night

The last time I wrote about my skincare routine was back in 2014!!! D: Going back to read it makes to rotfl because I used Cetaphil!!! Sorry, I’ve let this blog rot for far too long, an update is due.

Thing is, I don’t have a single routine. I have an entire range of products and I mix and match everyday. The routine can range from 10 products to 3 products, all depending on how much time I have and how vain I feel. So here’s a selection of some of the night time routines:

  1. The all out spa night routine (below)
  2. The lazy night routine (I’ll write later!)
  3. The zombie night routine (I’ll write later!)
  4. The sensitive emergency routine (I’ll write later!)

I’m only sticking to night time routines here, because they are more exciting. More time and do weird things to your face, and you can get away with layering more products. I might get around to write my morning routine eventually.

(Take note that the steps matter more than the featured products, because the products can easily change).

1. The All Out Spa Night Routine

Spa Routine Part 1

Steps: Oil Cleanser > Foaming Cleanser

  • Oil Cleanser: Can I confess that I have never tried cleansing balms before? I have nothing against them but I find that oil cleansers work well enough for me, and they come with pumps so I find them extra convenient. I’ve been sticking to the Senka Perfect Watery Oil because I have a few refills, but there are many other Japanese oil cleansers that work well. An oil cleanser is a must because I wear sunscreen daily
  • Foaming Cleanser: I still haven’t found a cleanser that I truly love. I am currently using up the Kose Softymo Washing Foam but I’m looking for other alternatives.

Steps: Exfoliating Toner > Fermented Essence > Eye Cream > Serum > Face Mask > Moisturiser > Sleeping Pack / Facial Oil > Lip Balm

Spa Routine Part 2

  • Exfoliating Toner: This step used to be an AHA mask or AHA treatment, but ever since Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner came along it has become AHA/BHA toner. I am currently feeling infinite affection for Mizon because the toner has treated me sooo well, and I have this urge to try more products from this brand. (But then again, I remember the mediocrity that was Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream…) I might try for an AHA/BHA treatment in this step in the future, but the toner is working splendidly right now.
  • Fermented Essence: Estée Lauder Micro Essence, a Western variation of SK-II FTE. Many cheaper alternatives are also available from many Korean brands, including Secret Key FTE (review), IOPE Bio Essence (review). I am unlikely to repurchase both the ME and FTE unless they are heavily discounted because I really want to try a hand at the numerous cheaper alternatives from Korean brands.
  • Eye Cream: SK-II RNA Power Eye Cream. I am still not very convinced on the formulation of eye creams. While we know that the skin around the eyes are thinner and that there are no sebum glands in the under-eyes, there is no consensus on how eye creams should be formulated to accommodate for the differences.
    For the past 3 years, I have not been using eye creams. My last one was actually Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye (review) back in 2014. Subsequently I have used my regular face cream on my under-eyes as well. A recent addition is Elizabeth Arden Eye Capsules (featured here), which is essentially too light to be a serum. I have been using SK-II for 2 weeks, and currently withhold my opinion.

Spa Routine Part 3

  • Serum: Varies, I have a number of serums in rotation and I’ll choose based on my concerns. Right now, I’m working on my second tube of Melano CC Serum (review).
  • Face Mask: Varies with what I have on hand. Been loving the Kracie Hadabisei 3D Face Mask (featured here), which fits GREAT.

  • Moisturiser: I am currently finishing up the Kose Moisture Repair Cream YAY! I do like the moisturiser but I’m really looking forward to trying other alternatives.
  • Sleeping Pack: COSRX Rice Mask is the lightest of the sleeping packs that I own, so it fits best in a routine as long as this.
  • Lip Balm: A tub of Vaseline Lip Therapy Aloe. You can tell I’m not excited about lip balms.

That is all!

One last thing, if you wear eye make up, you should stick a separate eye makeup remover to the very beginning of the routine before oil cleanser. I haven’t been wearing eye make up for ages so I totally forgot about that step.

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SK-II Haul!

This is the sister post to the Korean beauty haul posted earlier. I have split the gigantic haul into 2 posts because they are so different. For the Korean beauty haul, sometimes it is difficult to find any information, product introduction, brand philosophy as well as ingredients list. This is especially for the Hanyul brand which somehow doesn’t have enough presence in the Western markets and blogsphere.

For the SK-II brand, there are literally mega-tonnes of information, blogs, forums, e-zines to filter through. It is obvious that many bloggers were offered free samples or full-sized products, not having spent a single cent of their money. Sometimes the resulting “review” is just a repeat of the official marketing materials. “… After x years of research”, “amazing ingredients xxx and xxx is shown to do xxx”. I have no qualms about brands gifting products for review (give me some please (๑•̀ㅂ•́)و), and I do like SK-II, especially the defunct Stempower Cream, but it gets tiring trying to find a genuine review.

So for the haul below, some are bought with blind faith that they will work with zero research done on my part.

sk-ii-haul

Obviously, I’m terrible at flatlays hurhur

SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion 160ml

This is an AHA/BHA toner with added pitera, which I will be comparing with the Mizon AHA&BHA Daily Clean Toner. Based on the ingredients list alone, FTCL looks like a winner, as it doesn’t contain alcohol. But then again, my skin is mostly hardy and I can tolerate alcohol in my skincare.

SK-II Genoptics Aura Essence & SK-II Genoptics Spot Essence

I bought SK-II’s skin brightening line after the results of the Magic Ring test showed that I ain’t doing well in that department. I since then, I have stocked up on a number of skin brightening serums. This Genoptics pair is the most expensive of the lot and I will be very disappointed if they don’t work.

I’m currently still on the Melano CC and I am scheduled to use these in mid-April if everything goes well.

SK-II RNA Power Cream & Eye Cream

Another attempt at my HG hunt. I have lofty expectations of the RNA line because the Stempower line has treated me wonderfully. I have started using the eye cream, but will not be starting on the face cream until I’m done with the Kose Moisture Skin Repair Cream.

That’s all, bye! You won’t be seeing another haul for the next half year because my wallet is seriously dented. (シ;゚Д゚)シ

K Beauty Haul!

k-beauty-haul-s

 

2016 has been a dry year in terms of skincare. I worked hard and spent most of the year using up my formidable stash which is mostly stored in my fridge. Now that my fridge is mostly cleared, 2017 is where I go crazy with the new-shiny-things.

Its only been 3 months and I already have 2 hauls heading my way. One is dirt cheap / affordable Korean skincare haul, and another wallet denting high end skincare haul (See it here SK-II Haul!). Here’s my first impressions.

mizon-and-cosrx-m

Mizon is a potential HG while the COSRX is…

Mizon AHA&BHA Daily Clean Toner 150ml

A bit of history about me and acids first: I have normal to dry skin, and I have been a regular AHA user for more than five years. I have never felt the need for BHAs as acne and clogs has never been my concern. My previous foray into BHAs with the DHC Salicylic Acid Toner was a terrible experience, which had me gifting my two bottles away immediately. After listening to a Snailcast episode about acids recently, my heart started itching again and I bought the Mizon on Qoo10. Its been 2 weeks of nightly use and I can say it is a good fit for me. Look at the dent that I’ve already made! LOOK!

(CosDNA)

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence 100ml

This is firmly in the same hydrating essence category as my favorite Chifure Essence and Unitec Advanced Hydrating Essence. I have given it a few days of tries, and so far it has performed well, but it is nothing to write about. Though seriously, can you ever do something different with hydrating essences?

(CosDNA)

COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask 50g

I bought this after the Japanology episode about how extracts from rice can help the skin’s ability to retain moisture. I already have a cream with rice extracts which I like, so its a sleep mask that I’m trying next.

(CosDNA)

Hanyul Baek Hwa Goh Silky Skin Cream

I haven’t been able to find a cream that I love following the discontinuation of the Hanyul Rich Effect line. The closest that I have gotten was SK II Stempower Cream, but even that has been discontinued. So I find myself getting both the SK II RNA Power Cream and falling back into the Hanyul trap. Baek Hwa Goh literally translates to the “White Flower Mushroom” i.e. Shiitake mushroom, and is also said to include hydrolyzed ginseng saponins, ginseng root extract and angelica root extract.

(CosDNA)

Hanyul Optimizing Mask

I have loved the Hanyul Optimizing Serum (review) and Hanyul Rich Effect Overnight Mask (review), so I’m guessing I should be at least okay with a marriage between the two.

(CosDNA)

Where I bought them: COSRX, Mizon on Qoo10 Global, Hanyul on Qoo10 Global

Quick Reviews: April 2014 (Mixed)

Laneige Water Sleeping Pack_EX (80ml)

Sleep mask is a fairly new addition to my skincare regime. I’ve only started using this last year and it’s the only gelish sleep mask I’ve owned. Normally at night I’d shower and finish my skincare routine, and get on with my work for another five, six hours before sleeping. By that time, my skin would already be dried out, tight and uncomfortable from the air-conditioning. The sleep mask comes in handy at those times, I’ll slather a layer on top of my routine and go off to bed. It helps with the tightness and occasionally peeling.

I’d want to try other sleep masks before repurchasing. I do enjoy this a lot.

Perfect Image Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel (30ml)

I still don’t dare to use this on my face. When I first got it I’ve tested it on my legs and arms, and they tingle a lot, veering on the edge of stinging. I tried it diluted on my neck, and argh, it feels like setting my skin aflame. I think peels and I don’t mix well. So far, the only one that I like and have seen results with are the Andalou masks. The rest I either cannot bear to apply on my face, or they give my acne.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+ Fluide Extreme (30ml)

As much as I like LRP, I must say I dislike this product. It leaves a white cast and does not absorb well. Will not repurchase. 

Cure Natural Aqua Gel (250ml)

This is a well-known product for a number of years now. Apply this on cleansed and dried skin, and rub gently, the dead skin will come off. It does help to rid of peeling skin on skin surface, so that your makeup can at least stick, and perhaps allow moisturizer to be more easily absorbed. Unlike chemical exfoliants, though, this is unlikely to do anything to help with wrinkles, moisture, acne, blackheads and whiteheads.

A State of Emergency

For the past three weeks, my skin’s been wrecking havoc, as a result of my irregular hormonal cycle. I’m not always affected by skin problems during PMS, but the severe lack of sleep and stress must be getting to me. I was affected by these pesky problems:

  • Tiny blemishes on cheekbones and forehead
  • Dry and peeling skin on cheeks
  • Peeling fingertips
  • Severe dehydration lines on forehead

It is impossible to use my regular skincare products in this state. Laneige Water Sleeping Pack_EX, for example, sting really badly.  I went on to experiment with all of the products that I own, to identify those can be tolerated, and those that must be avoided. Below are my emergency skincare products:

Skincare emergency

  1. Cure Natural Aqua Gel—to get rid of the patches of peeling skin, I didn’t dare to apply a chemical exfoliant in case the blemishes are further aggregated. I opted for the Aqua Gel which is a physical exfoliant. Dead skin is removed through the gentle rubbing motion.
  2. IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning (read review)—it quite a surprise that there is no stinging or tingling when applied to skin. I did not really love this product when used on normal days. However, I’ve read how SK II helped people with acne prone skin so I’m giving it a shot, since it is a dupe of the SK II. It’s been working out great.
  3. L’Herboflore Masks (read review)—for added moisture to the peeling skin. All masks are essentially humectanta, so it doesn’t matter what “flavor” you choose. Even though these masks contain fragrance, they feel really comfortable, non-irritating and hydrating to the skin.
  4. Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask—used as a moisturizer rather than a mask. Even without fragrance, there is a mild tingling sensation when applied, but much better than any other moisturizer.

I did not touch most of my other products, because anti-aging or whitening is not my priority, and fragrance and fragile skin doesn’t mix. I feel safer just sticking to the most basic items with simple ingredients. I have only used the four products above in the past three weeks, and my skin is on its way to recovery. I will not declare them miracle products, since I’m sure much of it is my body’s natural healing process, but they’ve worked out fine. I do wish I have La Roche-Posay Cicaplast on hand though, it sounds wonderful for damaged skin.

Aside from skincare products, there are also some natural remedies, both applied topically and taken orally:

  1. Manuka Honey—Apply a small dollop on a white head and covered the spot with a piece of cotton pad (or a band-aid), it will go down the following morning. Preferably higher UMF.
  2. Honey & Cinnamon Mask—Mix cinnamon powder with raw honey and apply to trouble spots, leave for 20 minutes. Both honey and cinnamon are anti-bacterial. Use a cheaper honey (manuka honey with lower UMF, raw honey, regular honey) for this as the mask t is going to be washed away soon.
  3. Evening Primrose Oil—Taken orally to help reduce PMS symptoms, promote and maintain hormonal balance.
  4. Flaxseed Oil—Caroline Hiron recommended taking fish oil or flaxseed oil for people with problem skin in her article here.
  5. Vitamins—I don’t think severe vitamin deficiency is the cause of peeling skin in my case, I’m not malnourished. But still, a little vitamin boost won’t hurt, especially since I’ve stopped taking them regularly in the past few months.

Of course, the best course of action is to eat well, sleep well and be stress-free. If you cannot do any of those (like me), then think of teddy bears and flowers, let thoughts of happier memories push you through the tough times! 🙂

AHA loves from Andalou Naturals

Andalou Naturals Masks

While my previous experience with  AHAs, the Alpha Hydrox (read review) was a disaster, I had luck with Andalou Naturals, both exfoliating masks give beautiful results!

Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask

Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask

“Organic pumpkin, rich in beta carotene, blended with Manuka honey and citrus glycolic AHA, gently dissolve and lift away dull surface cells, exfoliating and resurfacing for even tone and smooth texture, as Fruit Stem Cell Complex helps revitalize for a brighter, more luminous complexion.”  (from official website here)

I have already finished my first tub of Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask and I’m working my way through my second one. The color is similar to pumpkin purée; the smell is like pumpkin soup with loads  of spices. It stings every time I spread it on, but the tingling sensation will dissipate after five minutes. There is a numbing sensation that lasts for around half an hour after washing it off.

I have tried using the mask three times a week as instructed, but it is too much and my skin felt sensitive. It does however brighten and improve the skin texture. The effect is prominent when used once every two weeks. Right now I am slathering this quite enthusiastically, after the Guerlain Perfect White treatment (read review) has given me some discoloration.

I do wish the brand can provide more information, such as the percentage of glycolic acid and the pH of the product though. AHAs at different concentrations and pH have different cosmetic effects. It would be nice to know.

Repurchase? Yes. AHAs is the one area I’m most careful with, after the disaster that is Alpha Hydrox. It will taking me a lot of courage to try another product.

Andalou Naturals BioActive 8 Berry Fruit Enzyme Mask

Andalou Naturals BioActive 8 Berry Fruit Enzyme Mask

“Fruit Stem Cells, BioActive 8 Berry Complex, and Resveratrol Q10 create a potent portfolio of antioxidants to slow cellular damage and stimulate skin firming collagen and elastin, as fruit juice enzymes gently dissolve dull, dry surface cells to reveal skin’s vitality and ageless beauty.” (from official website here)

While the BioActive 8 Berry Fruit Enzyme Mask contains antioxidants like Resveratrol Q10 and Apple extracts, I’d still consider this an AHA exfoliant because of the the Papaya enzymes. It totally behaves like one, too. The mask comes in a pinkish gel, stickier than the Pumpkin mask. There is also a tingling sensation upon application but much more bearable than AHAs. There is an immediate brightening effect on the face.

There is not much to say about this one, it works just like the Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask on me, the same nitpicks (lack of information about pH and concentration). I’d be happy to repurchase this one. I’m don’t have a preference towards either one, actually.

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.)