Skincare Fiction- All Natural Means Better

The organic and vegan community are very passionate about using natural and organic ingredients in their skincare and beauty products. I think they’re coming from a good place but the information they’ve been given by skincare bloggers and youtubers is often based on false information. So let’s seperate fact from fiction.

Some natural ingredients are GREAT for skin but that doesn’t mean that all of the are good.

Many natural and organic ingredients in skincare products can cause irritation and sensitivity to our skin and build up over time.

Some natural and organic ingredients can actually breakdown our skin’s ability to defend itself against environmental damage. The main culprits are fragrance (natural & synthetic) and essential oils, which are lovely aromatherapy treatments but never ingredients that should be used on our skin.

Many of us believe if we don’t see signs of irritation on our skin, then we are the exception. However, our skin is very tricky and can hide signs of irritation in the deeper layers of the skin.

Natural and organic ingredients to avoid lie the plague are:

  • Some Alcohol
  • Allspice
  • Almond extract
  • Angelica
  • Arnica
  • Balm mint oil
  • Balsam
  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus juices or oils
  • Clove
  • Clover blossom
  • Coriander oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Cypress
  • Fennel
  • Fir needle
  • Geranium oil
  • Grapefruit
  • Ground up nuts
  • Horsetail
  • Lavender oil
  • Lemon
  • Lemon balm
  • Lemongrass
  • Lime
  • Marjoram
  • Oak bark
  • Papaya
  • Peppermint
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Witch hazel
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang ylang

Natural products to embrace:

  • Clays
  • Chamomile
  • Bisabolol
  • Seaweed
  • Kaolin
  • Amino acids
  • Ceramides
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Grapes
  • Green tea
  • Chocolate
  • Licorice
  • Oats
  • Soy
  • Willow Herb
  • Coconut oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Canola oil
  • Shea butter
  • Honey
  • Mica
  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Argan oil
  • Carnauba wax
  • Meadowfoam
  • Rice Bran oil
  • Turmeric
  • Rosa canina Fruit oil
  • Palm oil
  • Omega fatty acids
  • Corn oil
  • Glycerin
  • Lecithin
  • Aloe vera
  • Jojoba oil
  • Pomegranate
  • Algae extracts
  • Sea whip extract
  • Feverfew extract
  • Bearberry
  • Mulberry
  • White tea
  • Cocoa butter
  • Sesame oil
  • Borage oil
  • Ubiquinone
  • Acai oil
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B3
  • Goji Berry
  • Coffeeberry extract
  • Evening Primrose oil
  • Tamanu Oil
  • Curcumins
  • Silybum marianum extract

(Full list derived from Paula’s Choice website)

Now that you know the difference between fact and fiction, get out there and take the first steps towards healthier and stronger skin. Much love, xx

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Peptides- Overblown hype or a worthy skincare addition?

The research on peptides has exploded in the last few years and while some peptides are falsely marketed as the next coming of Jesus in the skincare community, there are a lot of remarkable peptides that are worth adding to your routine.

So, what the heck are peptides? Basically, they are fragments of protein found in your skin and are made up of amino acids (water-binding agents). Proteins are the building blocks of skin. So, think of peptides as the bricks that help your skin stay intact. No peptides = loss of firmness, appearance of wrinkles, texture changes, and skin that doesn’t bounce back the way it used to when you were younger. Peptides are the teachers of skin and you definitely want those bricks in the wall!!

I recently found out not to buy peptides that come in a water-based formula because the peptides become unstable. Another surprise is that peptides are vulnerable to attack by enzymes present in our skin and they can break the peptides down to the point where they become ineffective. The horror! But science is a wonder and chemists have been able to produce synthetic peptides in a lab, which are engineered to be more stable on and within skin. Therefore, lab engineered peptides are able to survive and thrive on the skin and help target aging skin concerns. Hooray!!

There are a plethora of amazing peptides on the market right now, and more and more are being made in labs. While they are definitely something that will help your skin keep its bounce long-term, they are not miracle workers; your skin still needs other ingredients to operate at optimal levels and it’s never going to replace cosmetic procedures (Debbie Downer over here) no matter how much we wish they could.

So, are peptides worth the hype? In short, yes. There are lots of peptides that are definitely worth incorporating into our skincare routine but there are some peptides, like copper peptides that are over-hyped and over-priced. So keep that in mind when you’re on the hunt for a peptide product. Great peptide serums are out there, like The Ordinary Buffet serum, their Matrixyl 10% serum, and Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster. The Ordinary Buffet + Copper 1% Serum won’t be one I purchase because from everything I’ve read, it’s a good skin-restoring peptide but not worth all the buzz it receives.

Peptides are worth the skincare investment and I’m loving the effects they’re having on my skin. Want to discuss more with me? Head on over to my instagram, talk to me and the rest of the mod squad in The Ordinary and Deciem chatroom, or leave a comment on this post. Love hearing from you.

Much love XX

Top Four Acne Busting Myths

This post is not in any way a shaming post.  I’ve done most, if not all of the mistakes listed below.  My goal is only to help you not make the same mistakes I made early on in my quest to calm and treat my acne.  I hope it helps.

Nope.  Just. No.  I’ve been down this road and it caused havoc on my skin and made my acne so much worse in the long term.  Deliberately drying up your skin by stripping moisture-binding substances on the skin’s surface hurts your skin’s ability to fight acne causing bacteria and encourages more breakouts, and unfortunately, causes post acne marks to stick around longer.  Be gentle with your skin.  Acne prone skin is sensitive skin and you need to treat it with kid gloves.  The best thing I ever did was to start using skin care products that are specifically formulated to calm, control acne bacteria, and speed up healing.  Check out the products and skin care routine that have worked best for me here.

Not true!  Dirt doesn’t cause acne. There are several factors that could be causing your acne, but dirt isn’t one of them.  Acne can be caused by hormonal fluctuations, internal inflamation, stress, hair care products, and defintely using harsh products to cleanse or harsh scrubs to exfoliate.  Using harsh scrubs, soaps, foaming face washes, and over-cleaning your face will inevitably create tight, dry, flaky, and aggravated skin.  Your skin is now in chaos mode and will over compensate by producing more oil and sebum, which will clog your pores and lead to painful breakouts.  Start embracing gentle cleansing.  Use a gentle cleanser in the morning, or don’t cleanse in the morning at all.  I no longer cleanse in the morning and have found it to be one of the most effective ways to balance my skin.  I only use a soft wash cloth and lukewarm water to cleanse in the morning. Use an oil cleanser at night to wash away make up and your sunscreen.  Make sure the oil cleanser doesn’t contain oils that are potentially pore-clogging.  I made this mistake with coconut oil.  Do your research.  Another great way to gently exfoliate your skin on a daily basis is to use a BHA product with one or two percent salysilic acid.  Salysic acid is derived from aspirin and has anti-inflammatory properties. It penetrates the oily layer of the skin and helps dislodge blackheads along with dead skin cells.  Beta hydroxy acids help unclog your pores, prevent pimples from forming, and keeps the skin smooth and clear.

I wish this was true but again, nope.  Spot treating can definitely reduce the redness and swelling but it won’t work with the breakouts that are just starting to develop underneath the skin.  Spot treating is ok only if you get a pimple once in a while but if you’re dealing with mild to moderate acne consistently, spot treating isn’t an effective option.  So, use acne-fighting products on a daliy basis where you breakout.

If something feels uncomfortable or straight-up like liquid fire on your skin, don’t use it.  Ever.  Stay away from products like alcohol and essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint oil.  Witch hazel is not good for your skin.  Menthol and citruses like lemon are no good either. These ingredients can actually sensitize your skin and lead to irritation.  Either immidiately or over time.  Some of these ingredients are great to smell and can have calming or energizing effects when you smell them but they don’t belong on your skin.  They can make acne worse, so just stay away from them.

Have a I missed any acne myths?  What ingredients and/or products were big fails for your acne-prone skin? Leave a comment ( I love reading them) or drop by The Deciem and Ordinary Chatroom to further discuss.

Much love XX

The Battle of The Primers (feat. Hylamide HA Blur & Paula’s Choice Resist Smoothing Primer Spf 30)

I love applying a good primer before I slap on makeup on my face.  I’ve tried tons.  Most of the Smashbox range, Dior, Urban Decay.  Most I’ve enjoyed but I wanted to start using a makeup primer that would not only blur my pores and help my makeup go on smoothly, but provide real skin care benefits as well.  Lucky me, my two favourite skin care brands have great primers with skin care benefits.  Score! So, let’s take a look at each of their claims, how well they held their ground with my makeup, and whether I saw any visible improvements from using them.

Hylamide HA Blur (Hyluronic-Based Prismatic Blurring Surface Finisher)

Whew! Long-ass name for a hyluronic based primer! The HA Blur is part of Hylamide’s Finisher Series.  After one uses their Core Series products and any of their Booster Series’ products,  Deciem recommends using one of their Finishers.  So, I chose the Ha Blur because of my skin’s affinity for hyluronic acid.

The Claims

Hylamide HA Blur promises to blur and minimize pores while hydrating and plumping the skin.   It uses a new form of powder based hyluronic acid which is supposed to provide blurring properties to your skin.  It also claims to be compatible with all makeup and all skin types.  In fact, Deciem states that “…it’s so compatible with makeup that you can apply under or over foundation, or mix it with any liquid foundation for an ultra-high-definition skin finish.” (Hylamide, 2018)

Ingredients

caprylyl methicone, aqua (water), peg-12 dimethicone/ppg-20 crosspolymer, hexamethyldisiloxane, polysilicone-11, cyclopentasiloxane, isodecyl neopentanoate, vinyl dimethicone/methicone silsesquioxane crosspolymer, cyclomethicone, peg-10 dimethicone, sodium hyaluronate, pseudoalteromonas exopolysaccharides, sodium salicylate, adipic acid/neopentyl glycol crosspolymer, methyl methacrylate/peg/ppg-4/3 methacrylate crosspolymer, tocopherol, acrylamide/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, silica dimethyl silylate, laureth-12, polyacrylate crosspolymer-6, isohexadecane, polysorbate-80, dimethicone, cyclohexasiloxane, cetearyl dimethicone crosspolymer, vp/va copolymer, cyclotetrasiloxane, amodimethicone, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, citric acid, butylene glycol, hexylene glycol, caprylyl glycol¸ ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin.

Looking at the ingredients, HA Blur uses a heck of a lot of crosspolymers to formulate their primer.  Crosspolymers basically do the same job as silicones in skin care; they work as film-formers (hence the blurring claims) and work as aesthetic enhancers, helping your makeup glide on smoothly and stay put longer. It also contains sodium hyluronate, which is a salt form of the skin-replenishing ingredient hyaluronic acid, and it’s supposed to be more effective for skin than pure hyaluronic acid due to its greater compatibility with your skin.

My Results

I’ve used HA Blur since last October.  I first tried using a pea-sized amount alone and as a layer before my foundation.  No bueno. My experience using the primer this way goes against Deciem’s promise that this will work under foundation.  It pilled and made my foundation patchy.  I had to rub the foundation around my face for quite a while before the patchiness went away along with most of my foundation.  The next time, I tried mixing it with my foundation and this worked beautifully.  No pilling and no patchiness.  Definitely blurs and minimizes pores.  Did it hydrated my skin? My skin is well-hydrated since I use a healthy amount of hyluronic acid already, so I didn’t feel any significant difference in the hydration level of my skin.  Did it plump my skin? Nope. Again, I use a shit ton of hyluronic acid already.  Would I repurchase? Yes.  It looks great in pictures and it definitely blurs my pores.

With Hylamide HA Blur

Paula’s Choice Resist Smoothing Primer Serum SPF 30

This primer serum is part of PC’s RESIST line of skin care, which is specifically targeting anti-aging (I really don’t like this term.  We need to come up with a better alternative) concerns. It’s both a primer and a serum in one.  Let’s get straight to the claims.

The Claims

Paula’s Choice primer serum promises to target fine lines and wrinkles, protect against sun damage, protect skin from environmental damage, and prevent early signs of aging.  It preps the skin for a perfect makeup application and has a lightweight silky texture.  All claims are right up my alley.

Ingredients

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 2%, Homosalate 4.0%, Octinoxate 6.0%, Octisalate 4.0%

Other Ingredients: Isododecane (texture enhancer), Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer (texture enhancer/skin-softening), Butyloctyl Salicylate (skin-softening),Polysilicone-11 (texture enhancer), Bisabolol (skin soothing), Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract (antioxidant), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (antioxidant/skin soothing), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (antioxidant/skin soothing), Retinyl Palmitate (antioxidant), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (hydration), Calluna Vulgaris Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (antioxidants), Chlorella Vulgaris Extract (antioxidant), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (skin-replenishing), Physalis Angulata Extract (skin soothing), Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract (skin-restoring), Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate (antioxidant).

The ingredient list makes the skin care nerd in me drool.  Ya know I love me some antioxidants and this primer serum has a very decent selection.  Licorice root extract helps fight discoloration, fades age spots, fights free radical damage, and helps reduce oil production. Coffee seed extract helps skin retain moisture and smooth the skin’s texture. Matricaria Flower Extract calms sensitive skin and fights inflammation. Retinyl Palmate is the ester of retinol and is a gentle form of vitamin A.  It’s gentle enough for sensitive skin and a great antioxidant for us acne prone skin types. Chlorella Vulagaris Extract is derived from seaweed and prevents the breakdown of collagen and elasticity. Apple fruit extract is rich in antioxidants and helps reduce the look of pores.  Pretty Impressive!

The PC primer serum contains a blend of chemical sunscreens and as always, layering sunscreen is a great idea and helps keep your skin protect from the sun’s rays longer. Definitely a plus.

My Results

I’ve been using this primer for over a year.  It definitely has a silky texture and goes on smoothly and leaves a velvety feel to my skin.  Yes, it does blur my pores and also works great as an eyelid primer.  My foundation lasts all day and I don’t end up looking like an oil slick by mid-afternoon.  Looks good in pictures but not as much of a blurring effect as the Hylamide HA Blur.  You only need a pea-size amount to cover your face. Would I repurchase? I already have a backup stashed in my vanity.

With PC primer

Extra Tip

I’ve used both of these primers together. I layer the PC primer first and then mix the HA blur with my foundation.  Do you have a special night coming up and you want your skin to look flawless? Try this method.  Works like a charm.

I would recommend both of these primers.  Both are great to use with makeup.  Both have skin care benefits.  I’ll continue to use them both.  What are your favourite primers?  Have you used either or both of the above? Leave a comment below or come by the Deciem and The Ordinary Chatroom and discuss your favs with other skin care addicts like yours truly.

Much love XX

The 90s Are Back! Minimalist Fashion for Spring 2018

If you’re a 90s kid like me and you long for the days when you could turn on the TV and watch Friends to make a mental copy of what Rachel was wearing, and try to imitate the look for Monday, then you’re going to love the comeback 90s minimalist fashion is making this year.

I’m a style chameleon but I always apply a minimalist flair to any outfit I wear.  I like clean and simple.  I don’t love to over accessorise, so this trend is right up my alley. I love the way the French (yes, I’m obsessed with French women) do minimalist fashion. The picture below perfectly personifies simplicity and style. She’s wearing an all white outfit. Simple crew neck t-shirt and cropped, wide legged jeans. Her only accessories are black sling backs, a straw bag, and hoop earrings. That’s it. BUT she looks hella stylish.

Another great example of a casual minimalist styleJeans, a camisole or t-shirt, and a pair of espadrilles. There’s your outfit.

A minimalist style is also super easy to translate into workwear. Below is an example of wearing an updated trench coat with pants and loafers.

And here I am throwing my hat into the minimalist fashion arena

I’m wearing a light crepe wool blazer from Aritzia, Citizen of Humanity cropped sculpt jeans, a wide belt, and to add a pop of colour to my outfit, a green Kate Spade ♠️ bag from Designer Swap.

Minimalism in fashion is quite simple to achieve as long as you edit your outfit. Choose clean, simple lines, and only add one or two accessories. Keep your makeup simple as well. No unicorn highlighter with this style.

Hopefully the French inspired you to try a minimalist look this spring. What are your favourite fashion trends of 2018? You know I love hearing from you.

Much love XX

The BEST AHA Launch of Late 2017

Paula’s Choice does not get enough praise from the vlogger or blogger community, and I’m here waving my hands frantically in the air, calling all the skin care lovers to try her products and sing their well-deserved praises.  Let’s start with Paula’s new AHA product of 2017 – RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA.img_2067-1

Paula’s choice finally came out with a cocktail AHA product that is targeted for normal to dry skin BUT combination and oily skin types can most definitely reap the benefits of this powerful yet gentle exfoliant.  It’s formulated with the following:

  • Four alpha-hydroxy acids ( glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic, and tartaric acids)
  • Beta-hydroxy acid aka BHA
  • Peptides
  • Ceramides
  • A blend of antioxidants like grapeseed, green tea, licorice root extract
  • Skin- soothing ingredients like bisabolol and allantoin

Benefits of The Cocktail Approach

It’s a fantastic way of targeting sun damage, clogged pores, blackheads, and fine lines/wrinkles with one product.  The mix of antioxidants also protects your lovely skin from further nasty environmental damage. It’s also got ceramides, which help bind skin cells together and creates a protective barrier against environmental aggressors.

How Does it Feel?

Light as air is the best way to describe this chemical exfoliant.  It’s not a runny liquid nor is it a gel or lotion consistency.  More like a hybrid between a liquid and a gel.  It has a bit of a velvety feeling as it goes on skin.  It absorbs extremely quickly and does not leave my skin feeling tight or dry.

Does it Sting?

I only felt a slight tingle for the first five seconds and then it went away.  No stinging whatsoever.

Can You Use Other Products in Conjunction With RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA?

Yes, you can! Follow up with your other serums and/or moisturizer.  I use the PC Retinol 1% Booster mixed with The Ordinary’s Niacinamide +Zinc 10%, and Hylamaide’s Hyluronic Acid Booster. No problem.  You can also use it all by its lonesome if you prefer.

Times per Week?

I use this twice a week during my nighttime routine.  I’m alternating between this and PC’s RESIST Advanced Pore-Refining Treatment 4%.  Paula’s Choice states that you can use this daily if you wish, once or twice a day after your toner/essence.  I think her recommendation is a good one if you’re used to chemical exfoliants but you want to tackle any existing sun damage or tough line/wrinkles that just won’t budge.  As always, please use spf 30 or higher.  No exceptions.

Any Results?

After using this for a month, my skin is smoother and brighter.  My stubborn congested pores are almost all gone.  The stubborn sun spot I have on my left cheek is lighter and I’m hoping with continued use, it’ll start to fade more.  Crossing my fingers.

Is it Worth Buying?

Definitely.  It’s more powerful but so gentle on my skin.  I like The Ordinary’s chemical exfoliant selection but I’m weary of mixing their glycolic toner and lactic acid and using them in the same routine.  For me, it’s worth the extra money and it lasts a relatively long time.  I only need about 3 or four drops to cover my face and neck.

So, go get you some!! And join me in some Paula’s Choice lovin’

Much love XX

Are Thermal Water Sprays a Necessity?

Thermal Water Sprays seem to be a staple in a French woman’s skin care routine, and I will hop and skip to the skincare aisle to try out any product a French woman touts as being an essential in her chic skincare routine.  Enter my foray into thermal water sprays.  I’ve heard the claims of using thermal water sprays an eon ago but I never thought I’d pay twenty-five bucks for water in a can.  Well, I did and here are my conclusions.

Avène Thermal Water Spray

Avène Thermal Water Spray was formulated in the 18th century and it’s at the centre of all of the company’s products. The Avène thermal water spray is one of the most popular sprays you can purchase and it contains the least amount of minerals compared to other thermal water sprays, which is supposed to decrease any skin dryness.  It contains a fairly high mixture of calcium and magnesium and has an impressive amount of bicarbonates.  

Avène Thermal Water Spray and Its Claims:

  • Clinically shown to soothe, soften and calm skin
  • Reduces skin sensitivity and helps restore skin balance
  • Soothes redness
  • Calms itching sensations
  • Safe for infants, children and adults

My Results (after two weeks)

I’ve been using it in the morning after I use my trusty wash cloth and lukewarm water to clean my face.  It absorbs quickly and yes, my skin does not feel dry afterwards compared to using regular tap water. So, I do think the claim of restoring skin balance after washing your face with regular tap water is true in my case.  I don’t suffer from any redness or itching, so I can’t verify whether or not it’s effective against skin irritation.  I also like to use this spray after my makeup application to set my makeup and I love it!! It softens the look of my makeup if I went a little overboard with powder and it feels lovely.  It does not disturb my makeup at all.  The mascara doesn’t start running down my face.  Great way to set your makeup.  Highly recommend.

La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water Spray

Also has an impressive array of minerals and antioxidants, much more compared to the Avène Thermal Water Spray.  It is high in calcium and bicarbonates, but lower in magnesium compared to Avène.  It also contains zinc (soothes skin, antioxidant), copper (a component of the powerful antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Remember euk-134?), and selenium (neutralizes free radicals before they can lead to wrinkles).

La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water and its Claims

  • Protects against UV damage
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Decreases skin irritation
  • Helps prevent skin aging

All of the antioxidants listed in the ingredients are good at fighting free radical damage caused by UV light, so I’m happy to spray away.

My Results (after two weeks)

I use this spray at night, after double-cleansing my face with Hylamide’s High Efficency Cleaner and Niod’s Sanskrit Saponins.  The La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water Spray does take longer to dry on my skin than the Avène spray but I just take a little bit of time to press it into my skin.  My skin does feel a bit tight but not necessarily dry after using this spray and there does seem to be a bit of flushing of the skin, but it goes away after a few seconds.  I follow up with the rest of my skin care routine and no adverse effects.  I have not tried to set my makeup with it because it does leave my skin feeling a bit dry and I ain’t taking any chances.  Would I repurchase? Maybe.  I do like the added antioxidants.

Any Drawbacks?

I use Beautypedia religiously for links to research and skin care and makeup reviews.  Paula Begoun definitely does not rate thermal water sprays.  In fact, Beautypedia states the nitrogen used in these spray bottles can cause cell death. Ouch! A did a little online digging and found Lab Muffin’s breakdown of thermal water sprays. She counteracts this conclusion by stating, “…nitrogen gas (N2) make up 78% of the air we breathe! It’s actually very unreactive, so unreactive that it’s commonly used in laboratories to flush out more reactive things like oxygen and water. (The papers cited in the Beautypedia article actually involve chemicals that just contain nitrogen atoms, not nitrogen gas itself.)” (Lab Muffin, 2016). Now, I’m no scientist but this seems pretty darn conclusive (I’m sorry Paula).

Do you need a Thermal Water Spray?

I think if you suffer from skin irritations from time to time, eczema, redness, or dryness from regular tap water then give it a go.  The ingredients are relatively safe and it’s not going to harm your skin.  It’s definitely great for setting makeup and generally a good way to prep your skin before introducing other products.  Is it a necessity? Not, really.  Do I want to feel like a French woman, even for a few seconds? Yes. Yes, I do.

What are your thoughts on thermal water sprays? Are they a staple in your skin care routine? Can you live without them? Are you a french woman? Can I hang out with you?

Much love XX