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

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

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 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

The Lowdown On Antioxidants

Your skin is a part of your body, ladies and gents; it needs a variety ingredients to thrive and antioxidants are a big part of keeping your skin barrier strong and protected from environmental pollution.  There are a plethora of great antioxidants for your skin but I’ll only cover the ones that have worked for me and are a part of my skincare arsenal.

EUK 134 aka Eukarion-134

Euk 134 is a very innovative and cutting edge antioxidant.  There isn’t a ton of peer-reviewed research on it, which I am a big fan of but sometimes I’ll ditch my skin care prudeness and try something new.  The research I’ve read describes this antioxidant as a powerful scavenger of free radicals and eliminates hydrogen peroxide.  It protects the skin against toxic compounds, reduces redness, and protects the skin against environmental and UV aging, which leads to premature photoaging.  EUK-134 is supposed to be even more powerful than vitamin C, so I use it in the morning before sunscreen.  Even though this antioxidant has been around for a few years, it wasn’t readily available in skincare.  That is, until The Ordinary launched it in 2017 at a whopping $8.80 CAD!! The texture of this formula seems oily but it’s the propanediol, which is a skin conditioning agent and a humectant.  It takes a little while to fully absorb, so I work a little on my hair before applying my sunscreen.  Have I seen any visible improvements from EUK-134? No.  I don’t suffer from redness but I do want to protect my skin from environmental pollution and UV rays.  It doesn’t break me out, so I’ll keep using it.

Green Tea

My most favourite antioxidant of all.  Love drinking it and looooove it in skincare.  Green tea is yet another powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals, binds to said radicals and deactivates them before they can cause harm.  Winner!!  This amazing antioxidant is full of polyphenols, which are a class of bioflavinoids and have been shown to have anti-inflamatory and antibacterial properties.  It’s great for acne-prone skin and for those of us looking to prevent and treat the signs of aging.  Paula’s Choice uses green tea in almost all of their products.  One more reason I love this brand.

Resveratrol

If you love your wine (I don’t but that’s because of a prank my italian nonna played on me.  Another story. Another time) then you’ll be happy to hear that you’ve been ingesting resveratrol which is such an amazing antioxidant.  Resveratrol also scavenges free radicals and encourages your skin to pump up collagen production.  I first started using resveratrol in my skincare regime through Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging skin care line for normal to oily skin.  I use the Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner and the Resist Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50 in my morning routine.  Both are packed with resveratrol and they are holy grail products in my bathroom cabinet.  Another awesome product with a high-hitting dose of reservatrol is The Ordinary Reservatrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% serum.  The Ordinary’s Reservatrol is sourced from 100% derived Japanese knotweed, which contains high levels of trans-reservatrol.  Red grapes, traditionally used to produce reservatrol must be converted into trans-reservatrol for them to be effective. Japanese knotweed contains mostly trans-reservatrol, so it goes to work much faster in the skin to fight the baddies (free radicals). I use this serum at night, after my water based serums and before azelaic acid.  Works like a charm.

Ferulic Acid

Yet another antioxidant that fights the free radical bullies that wreak havoc on our skin.  Ferulic acid is a plant-based antioxidant found mostly in bran but also coffee.  It helps your skin against environmental assault and can help vitamin c and e work better.  I can not use vitamin c in my routine as it causes blackheads and breakouts for me but if you’re down with vitamin c (yeah you know me) then please add The Ordinary Reservatrol + Ferulic serum to your arsenal.  You won’t be sorry.

That’s my lot.  Hopefully this post helps you realize just how important antioxidants are to the well-being of our skin.  Got any favourites? Leave them in the comments below or tag me in The Ordinary and Deciem chat room. I’m always on the hunt for new favourties.

Much love XX

My Acne And Aging Journey (Part 1)

Acne at any age sucks but having acne-prone skin in your thirties is the pits.  Plus, you’re having to deal with the early signs of aging at the same time.  So, do you target the acne or do you use products whose main objective is to fight aging skin?  Thankfully, science-based skincare companies like Paula’s Choice and Deciem have many products that target both acne and anti-ageing skin.  Hallelujah! I’ll cover the four main active ingredients you need in order to achieve lovely acne-free skin.

My skin was an absolute mess before I created a skincare regime that worked to balance my skin and keep it happy.  I tried everything. Prescription oral antibiotics and creams, Proactive, natural skincare, the oil method; you name it and I’ve tried it.  I wrecked my skin (and my self-confidence) in the process and I was desperate to find a skincare line that actually worked and wasn’t based on BS marketing and new age gobbledygook.  It wasn’t until I started doing some serious research on the internet that I finally found a bevy of skin ingredients that were proven to work for my skin concerns.  I had nothing to lose. I was at my wit’s end but I now felt like I could make knowledgable decisions about what to put on my skin.

So, what the heck do you need to balance out that acne-prone skin and keep it healthy and happy, while targeting the signs of aging?  A good BHA, niacinamide, a retinol product, and azelaic acid are great multitasking products that help balance our moody skin and fight the signs of ageing.

BHA And Its Wonders

BHA or beta hydroxy/salicylic acid is a leave-on, oil soluble exfoliant that gets rid of surface dead skin cells AND unglues all the gunk inside your pores.  It’s perfect for acne-prone skin that is also prone to clogged pores and blackheads.  BHA is also anti-inflammatory, so it’s great for sensitive skin. Does it have anti-aging properties? I’m glad you asked!  BHA also helps diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles, evens out skin texture, and can keep your skin from looking dull.  My all time favourite BHA is Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Gel because it soothes and lightly hydrates my skin, while getting rid of clogged pores and bumps.  I use it twice a day but if you’re new to BHA, go slow. Start using it every other night for a few weeks, then every night, and slowly incorporate it twice a day when your skin has adjusted.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) 

My skin can’t get enough of this life-changing ingredient.  It’s in my toner, in my serum, and eye treatment.  It’s a glorious multi-tasker!  It helps minimize my pores, evens out my skin texture, fights fine lines and wrinkles, and lightly hydrates my skin. Yay! You can use niacinamide in multiple products without worrying if it will sensitize your skin, and it works well with AHA/BHA, vitamin C and retinol.  It makes friends with everyone.  I am currently using The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum and loving it.  I also use Paula’s Choice Resist Weightless Advanced Toner, which contains niacinamide among its cocktail of skin-loving ingredients, and Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Firming Line Minimizer on my smile lines and around my eyes.  Obsessed with both products.

Retinol (Vitamin A)

Retinols are skin whisperers.  Incorporating a retinol to your routine will result in a dramatic improvement to the skin’s texture and firmness.  They also help minimize the look of pores and pesky bumps.  Moreover, retinol products work in tandem with other active ingredients like BHA and niacinamide, helping them perform even better than just by their lonesome.  Remember, start slow and always wear spf 30 or higher when incorporating active ingredients into your routine.  My two favourite retinol serums are The Ordinary’s 1% Retinol in Squalene and Paula’s Choice Retinol 1% Booster.  Both are great for acne-prone skin.

Azelaic Acid (dicarboxylic acid)

My 2017 holy grail has got to be The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension.  I will never be without it! Azelaic Acid is both an antioxidant and a very gentle acid.  It’s great for both rosacea and acne prone skin as it helps to clear bumps and reduce swelling for both skin concerns.  It’s also great at decreasing follicular plugging, which is just a fancy way of saying that it keeps your pores clear.  Finally, azelaic acid works on pesky hyper-pigmentation and brightens the skin.  Winning!

So, start implementing these phenomenal ingredients in your skincare basket and enjoy the results! Your skin will thank you. If you have any mores questions or want to learn more about these fab skincare brands, check out The Ordinary And Deciem Chat Room. Fabulous information and awesome people sharing their favourite product recommendations. I’m a moderator there, so drop by and say hi 👋🏼

PS: Stay tuned for part 2 of the series where I tackle hydration.

Much love Xx