Category Archives: Skin Treatments

A Week of Repairing Skincare

When I just returned from my trip to Switzerland, MY HEART WAS FULL (´ ▽`).。o♡ but MY SKIN WAS TERRIBLE (⌣_⌣”).

Despite taking a small army of skincare items, plus protective gear like hats and sunglasses with me, I still suffered from redness (a combination of the cold, sunburns and windburns) and the feeling of skin dryness and tightening is almost constant. So when I returned, it was an uphill battle to get my skin back to the pink of health.

Here are a few things I did to get my skin to calm the F down.

The ceramidin mask is pretty awesom. It is also the most expensive mask that I have ever repurchased. 😦

1. Masking, masking, masking

A huge problem I had was the inability to retain moisture. As soon as I stepped out of the shower, there was an uncomfortable tautness in the skin. The answer to that, I found, was using a mask every single day. Be it regular glycerin-propylene glycol-hyaluronic acid type of mask or the high end ones that claims to do everything under the sun, it is the consistency that counts the most.

I have been enjoying the JAYJUN Baby Pure Shining MaskDr Morita Hyaluronic Acid Essence Face Mask, and my absolute fave by far DR. JART+ Ceramidin Mask (review), a mask full of watery and oily goodness.

As for the mornings, I have no time or patience for masks, but I was sure to use Chifure Essence (review) or any other hydrating essences.

Repairing Skincare 02

Some high end stuff in the mix!

2. Mositurise

Following the mask, I moisturise immediately. Without a layer of emollients as well as occlusives to keep the water in, I find that my skin returns to the previous state of uncomfortable tautness. In mere minutes I can feel my skin shriveling up like an old man, seriously.

I have been enjoying: HABA Squalane (review), which isn’t occlusive enough to replace a face cream, Hanyul Baek Hwa Goh Intensive Care Cream (review) absolute fave, Hanyul Seo Ri Tae Skin Refining Cream (review) for the day time under sunscreen, and SK-II RNA Power Cream.

On the first few days, I’ve also worn the Sulwhasoo Overnight Revitalizing Mask (review) on top of the cream as yet another layer of occlusive.

I had to take a photo with these alliums (basically flowering onions, I think?) I love having fun with the styling of the photos on this blog XP

3. Careful with the AHAs

I packed a BHA along with me for the trip, because AHAs can lead to sun sensitivity and I don’t want it to be a problem, even though I touch up on skin screen almost religiously. But as I have normal to dry skin, AHAs always made a lot more difference to my skin than BHAs ever did, so I was happy to be back home and reunited with the Cosrx AHA Whitehead Power Liquid.

The thing is, AHAs have kinda stung for my entire life. Even after 5 years of regularly using AHAs, it hasn’t gotten any better and it is something that I’ve come to accept and anticipate with any AHA usage. With my skin in a highly sensitised state, I only applied the AHA once in the week, and left it at that. Gradually, it went back to 3 times a week, which is how I normally use it.

Really short routine, but this is exactly what I used for the first 2 nights when my skin was at my worst.

4. Bring out all the anti-oxidants

I think everybody has a favourite serum for, you know, general anti-aging. If not, I wish you loads of luck and you can click through my Serums and Skin Treatment reviews for ideas. For me, my one true love has to be Estée Lauder ANR, which is my oldest cosmetic love. I don’t exactly know what is working for me, maybe it is the Vitamin A, but I always have a 100ml on hand, even though most of the time I’m trying out other serums. But during this period, I have turned to those that have consistently worked well for me.

Serums that I’m using now: Estée Lauder ANR and Melano CC Medicated Intensive Spot Correcting Serum (review). If you have dabbled in skincare for a while now you’d have your own faves too, just make sure you stick real close to those tried and tested formulas, rather than popping yet another serum that you’ve never tried open.

What I Used To Do

I’ve actually had loads of experience with dryness and sensitivity, and I’ve mostly stuck to the routine.

Back in 2014, I’ve tried a hell lot more, as seen in my post, A State of Emergency. Some things include:

  • Manuka honey mask – which I most commonly use when I have both sensitive skin and pimples, I cannot vouch for its efficacy, but it is a delicious mask 😉
  • Manuka honey + cinnamon mask – Again, delicious mask, does it do anything at all? ><
  • EPO, flaxseed oil, vitamin supplements – Nope, haven’t done any supplements in a while now, but I’m a lot healthier than I was back in 2014 (exercise & eating well. I’m still not getting enough sleep).

You can go to my old post and have a laugh (but seriously its not TOO bad) =.=

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Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules

This serum claims to enhance the skins’ barrier repair function, increasing moisture and minimise the appearance of aging signs. Sounds exciting? Wait till you hear the name:

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum (ノ-_-)ノ~ ┻━┻

What a mouthful. Lets just call them Ceramide Capsules shall we. I’ve gone through 3 months worth of these capsules so it is time for a review.

The tiny transparent ones are for the eyes which I’m not reviewing because I’m lazy 🙂

The Fuss About Ceramides

The key ingredient is ceramide. The cosmetic scientists over at The Beauty Brains have a super informative episode on ceramides which everyone should go listen to, but if you’re short of time, here’s what the fuss is about:

  • Ceramides are fats which that are major components of skin’s outer layers, and acts as a moisture barrier.
  • Ceramide are shown to be able to penetrate the skin layers.
  • Ceramides do penetrate the skin, but it needs to be combined with other ingredients in a specific ratio for optimal effect: around 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 15% free fatty acids
  • The mechanism of ceramide as an ingredient is not really well understood, but based on available evidence, they help to repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture

So, after understanding the mechanics of ceramides, things start to get less certain. The specific ratio of ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids are the most daunting. In addition, it is impossible to identify the ratio of ingredients based on the ingredient list alone. Therefore, honestly, even if a product ticked all the right boxes, you have to put faith in them that they are in the right ratios.

Ingredients

I will direct you to the trusty CosDNA for the full list, but here are the star ingredients:

  • Ceramides: Ceramide 1, Ceramide 6 II, Phytosphingosine
  • Fatty acids: Isostearic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, oleic acid
  • Squalene is the less saturated sister of squalane, and chemically less stable. But the capsule packaging should allow the contents to remain fresh for each use.
  • Retinyl linoleate and retinyl palmitate are both very far down in the ingredients list, which means that they are present in trace amounts and not likely to be in high enough concentrations to do much for your skin, which is a bummer. A combination of linoleic acid and palmitic acid with vitamin A sounds really promising. I’m very surprised that both score a high 9 on safety (i.e. hazardous in the CosDNA rating system). Both ingredients have been linked to cancer and tumour growth by a study some years ago. But do read up more on this study and decide for yourself if it is worth the risk. I’ll link you up to Paula’s cosmetics directory here where you can read more.

It ticked all the boxes except for cholesterol, meaning that the ingredients will not be found in the golden ratio of 50:25:15. Does this mean it is not formulated for optimal skin absorption? Yeah, probably. Does this mean this product is totally ineffective? Nah. Just because something isn’t formulated in the optimal ratio does not mean that it is totally ineffective, but definitely it does plant a seed of doubt whether it is worth splurging on.

How i incorporate this in my routine

Exfoliating toner > Fermented Essence > Serum 1 > Serum 2 > Moisturiser

This is a little different from the regular routine steps which generally follows a serum with a hydration serum or sheet mask. Because it is an oil based product, I like to layer it behind another serum and follow up with moisturiser immediately. No hydration step involved.

The serum 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. A huge contributor of that smooth feel is the diamethicone, which is the base for the products i.e. The first ingredient. After a while you can recognize the silicone feel, and the feeling isn’t that great.

Chemistry isn’t my suit here, but I wonder if it is even necessary for the serum to be packaged in individual capsules. Is there any ingredient that easily degrades, oxidises or breaks down?

Verdict

I am less likely to recommend high-end products because I feel the pain when I buy something expensive and it doesn’t work. Testing out an affordable product is simple enough. If I hate a Mizon products, it is just $10 flushed down the drain. I cannot say the same for a $100 product though. Think about how many Mizons and COSRX I can buy with that money.

I’m hoping for more genuine reviews for high end beauty products. You know, just honest and objective thoughts about products, (as long as it is not paraphrased from the brand’s media kit).

All things considered, I can say the Ceramide Capsules is decent for normal to dry skin types. The possible drawbacks, aside from the prohibitive price, are:

  • Diamethicones as the first ingredient
  • Lack of cholesterol in formula

Where to Buy

You can find this in your local mall, but hey, I don’t buy stuff at my local mall because they’re so expensive. T.T I bought mine off strawberrynet when it was on sale, with 60 Face Capsule + 60 Eye Capsules coming to a total of US$58), which is not too bad. I would repurchase, but only with discounts.

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).

haba-skincare-02-s

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.

haba-skincare-s

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.

Review: Alpha Hydrox Retinol ResQ

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I got to know this product when I was reading Paula Begoun. I don’t agree with quite a number of her views (e.g. no to jar packaging, no to essential oils), so when I read her site, I take it with a pinch of salt. But if there’s one thing I really like about her website, is the comprehensive cosmetics ingredients list and their functions. It really does help to educate consumers and teach us to be more discerning. Last year, after reading so much about the benefits of anti-oxidants in skincare, I decided I want to try products with them to see how it works out. I zeroed in on the “Five Super Anti-Aging Antioxidants“:

  1. Vitamin E
  2. Vitamin C
  3. Resveratrol (found in red grapes and some berries)
  4. Retinol (a.k.a Vitamin A)
  5. Green Tea

After vitamin C, the easiest to get hold of is the Alpha Hydrox Retinol ResQ. It claims to contain vitamins A, C and E. The packaging has not been marked with the concentration of each ingredient. I can however guess that the concentration of vitamin C is very low, lower than the necessary 5% for it to do any change to the skin. When you open up the tube, there is a tiny trace of yellow residue near the opening, which is due to the oxidation of vitamin C. Compare this with the residue on La Roche-Posay Redermic C, which has 5% vitamin C, you can see the difference. Of course there should be allowance for different forms of vitamin C, but I guess in this case the difference is quite glaring.

I approached the product with caution after the horrible experience with the Alpha Hydrox AHA, and used the product for three nights along my neck, before I dared to apply it on my face. The product comes in a tube of scentless cream, which spreads and absorbs easily. I don’t find Retinol ResQ moisturizing enough on its own, so on days I wear this, I apply a layer of my regular moisturizer right before I go to bed.

I can’t pin point exact what it does to my face. The overall texture has improved, as well as the minor dehydration lines on my forehead, but then it may also be the effect of excellent moisturizers from Hanyul which I use more regularly than this. I don’t notice a “glow” or “reduction in pores” as some reviews have gushed. However, that may also be due to the fact that I only use it as an occasional treatment, used for several days in a row when I remember, rather than a daily moisturizer.

Will I repurchase this? It’s a little underwhelming, but if I cannot find another retinol product, then maybe I shall stick to this.

Guerlain Perfect White Melanin Diet Treatment Intense Whitening

Guerlain Perfect White Melanin Diet Treatment Intense Whitening 01

Most of my photos as a teenager appear to be over-exposed—mostly you can only see my eyes and two holes for a nose. Yes, I was that pale! It started getting better after I started exercising and involving myself in outdoor activities. Recently though, I’m thinking maybe I have overdone myself a bit. When I saw Guerlain Perfect White Melanin Diet Treatment Intense Whitening on sale last year, I snapped it up.

Little did I know, this bloody thing has nearly driven me mad! It is close to impossible to find information about the product on the web. This is not even a dinosaur-age product, but information is so elusive its as if some hacker had taken down all related sites in a personal vendetta. Here’s what little I managed to find:

Guerlain Perfect White Melanin Diet Treatment Intense Whitening with pearl lily complex advanced that triggers whitening action and so prevents the appearance of dark spots. Under the effect of melanin treatment, it can reveal a translucent complexion in just 2 weeks.

The treatment consists of two weeks supply of 2.5ml vials. Week 1 and 2 treatments are of different formulations, and are supposed to achieve different purposes.

Guerlain Perfect White Melanin Diet Treatment Intense Whitening 02

Week 1: Destock Diet

“To eliminate the deep nested melanin in all the layers of the epidermis.”

The first week ampoules are watery, I use them as serums day and night before my day BB cream and my night moisturizer. It is actually impossible to finish a vial a day, so the one week supply eventually lasted me a good 10 days. I did not notice any visible lightening or brightening, but they work fine as serums.

Guerlain Perfect White Melanin Diet Treatment Intense Whitening 03

Week 2: Shock Diet

“To reduce the appearance of new melanin and prevent its migration and accumulation on the surface of the skin.”

The second week ampoules are of a slightly thicker consistency and has the same characteristic fragrance as the first week set. getting the last drop of treatment out is a problem because it is so thick, and I ended up spraying my facial mist into the vial to make it easier to pour out. I don’t like wastage.

My skin did not react very well to this, though, I ended up with tiny pimples and whiteheads along my cheekbones, chin and forehead. When they healed in a week, they healed with discoloration of the skin so it looks like sun spots or freckles. Sigh.

The Verdict

I am not sure if it is because of the AHA exfoliation or the treatment, but yes, I do observe brightening of the skin. It might be due to placebo effect, I’m not sure. Skin coloration is one area where it’s hard to stay objective. This is one of those try and move on products for me.