Amayori: Japanese Bathing Rituals

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A new brand and concept surfaced on my radar recently, Amayori Rituals. For many in Japan, bathing is a meditative practice – a time to renew, revive, relax and cleanse the soul. Beyond cleansing the body, the bath is viewed as a time and place to wash away the cares of the day.

Bathing is done in two phases. First, there is cleansing which is usually done in a small shower or with a Hinoki wood bucket before proceeding into the bathtub to soak. Soaking and relaxing in the bath is just that – pure enjoyment.

This is the same experience that Amayori Rituals bring to us with their bathing rituals. Drawing on Eastern wisdom and capturing the beauty and mystique of Japanese bathing rituals, Amayori is not just a line of luxury bath, body care and aromatherapy products, but an experience for your mind, body, and spirit.

Whether it be a bath or shower, bathing is an opportunity to nurture yourself, reflect and have a beautiful moment. Rarely are we alone without external influences. This is the perfect time to take advantage of your solitude. With an intention to relax, experience the beauty of Japanese bathing rituals at home.

 Stop, Relax, Breathe and Connect with Yourself.

I was sent a generous gift by the brand where I received Shower Mochi, Multi use Oil and Perfume Oil. Each product had a different scent profile and products are dreamy, magical and virtually take you to Japan to experience the ritual.

In Japanese culture, presentation is everything. Keeping that in mind, the attention to detail with packaging is wonderful, gorgeous Japanese papers delicately wrapping each box. Whilst each product is housed in black opaque UV protection glass bottle making overall presentation of these products wonderful gifts for just about any occasion. The ingredients, scent and overall experience elevates it to a luxurious self indulging treat.

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Shower Mochi which is basically ‘shower bombs’ that gradually impart its mesmerizing scent profile as hot water and steam come in contact.

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The whole bathroom smells amazing and standing under hot shower as steam wafts of Italian Bergamot Oil, Jasmine Absolute, Yellow Mandarin Peel Oil, and their Natural Essential Oil Blend enthralls me. From a usability and cost perspective, three mochi’s valued at $21 price point, which is $7 per shower sensorial experience. Depending on how long you shower, where you place mochi and how quickly it dissolves in water you can stretch use up to 2-3 times to get most value from each mochi. I reserve this as complete treat to my over worked mind, which sometimes refuses to slow down.

Inci List: Mochiko (sweet rice flour) and Rice Ferment Filtrate (Sake), Organic Citrus bergamia (Italian Bergamot) Oil, Jasmine Grandiflorum (Jasmine) Absolute, Citrus reticulata  (Yellow Mandarin Peel) Oil, Natural Essential Oil Blend

As for the inci list, its as clean, simple and effective as it gets. Nothing negative or cautionary to say.

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Speaking of mind refusing to slow down, I have difficulty unwinding and going to sleep. My thoughts, to do lists, idea for upcoming projects, grocery list etc just does not stop. Before you say it, No I cannot meditate. Doing elaborate skincare routines and relaxing rituals helps me unwind. Which brings me to next product which is Dreams of Gion Perfume Oil. Every night I take ten deep breaths of this peaceful and tranquil blend of Wild Lavender, Mandarin, Ylang Ylang, Rosemary. Whilst its no miracle to convert me to instant sleeping beauty, it sure diverts my mind to gorgeous sensorial experience than thinking of to do’s and other lists.

Inci List: Organic Camellia Oil, Citrus Junos  (Yuzu) Oil, Citrus Reticulata  (Green Mandarin) Oil, Lavandula angustifolia  (Wild Lavender) Oil, Cananga Odorata Genuina  (Ylang Ylang Extra) Oil,  Natural Essential Oil Blend, Rosemary CO2 Extract

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All their Aromatherapy Perfume Oils have a base of Camellia oil and wonderfully curated blends of essentials oils. I was also provided with samples of other oils, and whilst I still haven’t steered away from Dream of Gion the scent profile and inci list for others is as follows:

Ambrosial Ofuro: Organic Camellia Oil, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Endl. (Hinoki) Essential Oil, Monarda fistulosa L. var. menthaefolial (Mondara) Essential Oil, Hedychium spicatum  (Ginger Lily) CO2, Michelia Champaca (Champaca) CO2, Natural Essential Oil Fragrance, Rosemary CO2 Extract

Hinoki Onsen: Organic Camellia Oil, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Endl. (Hinoki) Oil,  Jasmine Sambac (Jasmine) Absolute, Aniba rosaeodora (Rosewood) Essential Oil, Citrus reticulata (Red Mandarin) Essential Oil, Natural Essential Oil Blend, Rosemary CO2 Extract

Geisha Ritual: Organic Camellia Oil, Organic Citrus bergamia (Italian Bergamot) Oil, Jasmine Grandiflorum (Jasmine) Absolute, Citrus reticulata  (Yellow Mandarin Peel) Oil, Natural Essential Oil Blend, Rosemary CO2 Extract

Zen Morning: Organic Camellia Oil, Organic Citrus aurantium (Sicilian Blood Orange) Oil, Citrus aurantium v Amara (Egyptian Bitter Orange) Oil, Mentha arvensis (Japanese Mint) Oil,  Piper nigrum (Black Pepper) Essential Oil, Natural Essential Oil Blend, Rosemary CO2 Extract

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The addiction to this oil is truly what has me devoted to this brand. The versatility, magnetic scent profile, clean inci list and pump packaging has me going gaga. The site claims it can be used as body oil before or after shower, bath oil (few drops in bath), and hair oil. I’ve used it all ways except bath, because the temperatures are too warm to soak in bath. However trust me to experiment more, used as face oil and mixed with my MV Organic Jojoba oil as well. Smelled amazing and instantly absorbs in skin. Moisturized skin well and no noted congestion. The scent doesn’t linger for long.

The inci list is simple and straight forward which encourages its versatility. Surely the price point would ache a bit at $110 however you get full 100ml. So the range of purposes and the price would work but still on luxe spectrum.

Hinoki Onsen: Coconut Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Organic Camellia Seed Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Endl. (Hinoki) Oil,  Jasmine Sambac (Jasmine) Absolute, Aniba rosaeodora (Rosewood) Essential Oil, Citrus Reticulata (Red Mandarin) Essential Oil, Natural Essential Oil Blend, Rosemary CO2 Extract

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All in all, I definitely recommend giving this brand a go. It certainly is a luxe treat to unwind and detach from all cares and stresses in the world. Have you tried this brand? Tell me about your experiences.

HHW.com

xx

 

 

 

Skin Saviours

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Recently, my not so wise mind decided to change the brand of milk I consume, which resulted in mayhem on my skin. Congestion, breakout and my jaw was a complete bloomin mess. Once I narrowed down the cause, I had to cleanse my system and help my skin recover from some intense Salicylic Acid Peels, Azelaic Acid Serum, Effacer Duo Spot Treatment and Zinc mist. My skin needed rebuilding, nourishment, hydration, and even tone. These needs translated to consistently incorporating Just Herbs Indian Ginseng Gotukola Elixir (repair and rebuild skin barrier), and Kimsukadi Glow Oil (hydration and nourishment) and Manyo Factory Galactomyces – Niacin (even tone and help with scarring).

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IMG_9960Gotukola or Indian Ginseng or Ashwagandha is a  fast-absorbing, light-textured skin potion which is a potent antioxidant and immunomodulator with anti-inflammatory properties. In synergy with other plant nutrients it helps boost collagen-synthesis, cell renewal & tissue repair thus diminishing fine lines, spots and signs of photo-aging. Cold pressed oils of Rosehips, Wheatgerm, Safflower and Moringa seeds are natural sources of Vitamins C, E and A while extracts of Indian Senna are a botanical alternative to Hyaluronic Acid (for fine-line filling and intense  moisturisation).

Long story short, I friggin LOVE this! Ok, on a serious note and review point: packaged in tiny 15ml bottle with a pump (earned brownie points with a pump),  this serum is light gel consistency, seamlessly absorbed, But smells very authentically ginseng. If you’ve ever smelled ginseng in its true form you know its majorly herbally and strong. Not for the faint hearted. Even though this serum’s smell could put off some people, for the sake of skin’s goodness I can tolerate any smell. From inci list perspective, nothing stands out negatively or comes with cautionary warning. Its all fabulous. My only gripe with this product is WHY oh WHY its only 15ml! Greedy, hungry people like me, need a lil more.

IMG_9959Moving onto its counter part responsible for hydrating, moisturizing the skin! The Kimsukadi     Glow Tail aka Glow Oil. Stands true to its name.

Classic oil packaging with a pipette, rich burnt orange colour oil enriched with some seriously unusual but wonderful ingredients and also attributed to saffron, turmeric. These ingredients are typical of Ayurvedic ingredients. Formulated without parabena and mineral oil (tick and tick).

My last step to the skincare routine, absorbs nicely. To me this smells wonderful (masked the indian ginseng elixir smell) however to many the herbal smell may be a major downer. The directions recommend massaging this in, however I prefer to pat it in, sometimes even spritzing hydrating toner on top of oil makes patting easier thereby forming a hydro lipid layer. The next morning skin was always well balanced, not oily, not dry, not tight, just perfectly glowing normal.

 

IMG_9961Galactomyces Niacin extra essence in 97% consists of yeast rice fungus Galactomyces extract, Niacinamide, sodium hyaluronate. The essence effectively restores the skin’s vitality, evens skin tone, fights pigmentation of various kinds, moisturizes, soothes irritated skin, minimizes pore size and prevents inflammation.

Ingredients: Fermented filtrate of yeasts fungus (Galactomyces), Niacinamide, fruit extract, Japanese pepper extract, Korean pine extract, usnei borodulino extract, witch hazel extract, sodium hyaluronate.

The consistency of water, texture feels somewhere in between oily and silicony (still not able to figure out) but absorbs nicely in the skin. I usually use this straight after my acid tone (in place of hydration tone). Followed by serum and oils/balms/creams. The bottle will last a while even if used daily and within days you would be able to see results. Perseverance and consistency is key with this product. For me this is a repurchase and will be expanding my horizons with Manyo Factory as a whole.

It has certainly helped with improving skin tone, texture and overall brightening. Stands true to its promise.

Below is my skincare routine for 5 evenings, and my skin looked spectacular. I rotated cleanser, acid exfoliation and hydrating toners however remained consistent with Manyo Factory Galactomyces, Just Herbs Gotukola Indian Ginseng Elixir and Just Herbs Kimsukadi Glow Oil.

To summarize this is my plan for stressed, irritated, agitated skin – Phase 1 includes major Salicylic peels to address the breakouts and Phase 2 includes nourishment, hydration and address uneven skin tone and texture. How do you manage such situations?

HHW.com

xx

 

 

Encyclopedia of Face Masks

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The western skincare scene has usually been limited to clay, mud, charcoal, cream, gel kind of masks. Move to the east and we have a whole new innovative category of masks. Starting with the more traditional sheet masks for various parts like face, hands, feet with different materials to a rather new age innovative Oxygen bubbling, Splashing or Patting, Rubber modeling, Spot treatment, Lip masks!!!! Below I have a list of masks based on various consistencies and textures:

  • Clay, Mud, Charcoal
  • Powder aka Ubtan
  • Cream
  • Gel
  • Sheet – face and eye – cotton, gel, sea weed/kelp, hydrogel, foil back sheet mask
  • Sleep or Overnight – cream, gel or bouncy textures, water pack
  • Peel off mask – Gels
  • Rubber modeling
  • Oxygen Bubbling
  • Splash or Patting
  • Mousse pack – too cool for school eg mousse pack
  • Nose pack – mainly for white and black heads
  • Spot treatment
  • Hand & feet
  • Lip mask

In terms of why we mask, its simple – immediate crash injection of whatever skin needs. Below are some outcomes expected of masks, and the gobbledygook it’s usually marketed with:

  • Repair, Rescue
  • Detoxifying, Decongesting, Purifying, Deep Cleansing, Mattifying, Clarifying, Pore Correction
  • Exfoliating, Resurfacing, Retexturizing
  • Radiance, Brightening, Glow, Luminous
  • Hydration
  • Moisture
  • Firming, Lifting, Shaping
  • Self Tanning Sleep Mask

I’ll talk about my current masks on rotation based on their purpose in life and intended outcome for my skin. Here I have a decent mix of price points and regional availabilities. Of course if all else fails, diving into your kitchen and whipping up one of your own creations is always an option. I have a post on DIY masks you could refer for some ideas and inspiration.

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Charcoal, Clay and Mud Masks

I hate paying ridiculously priced clay, mud or charcoal masks! They are the cheapest ingredients and formulating a mask with them as a base doesn’t cost an entity as much moolah. Large mark up zone, so beware and ensure you read inci list here. Look for life changing ingredient (as if they exist – eye roll) to justify a price tag.

Generally formulated with some soothing, hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. This category of masks can leave the skin dry and parched. This happens because the mask is left on too long. These masks should be left long enough for it to work but not to the point where they are bone dry. By doing so it is drawing moisture from skin. Once you let it dry completely to the point you cannot move your face, you would need a bloody chisel to break through (exceptions: Aesop, SkinFood NZ, Sanctuary Spa). Therefore I prefer slapping these on when I intend to step in the shower. With the steam and clay/mud/charcoal it draws impurities to surface and truly detoxifies the skin. Plus its easier to remove and goes down the drain instead of messing up the sink.

Great for oily, combination, congestion prone skin. Alternatively also good for skin who need a detox. Drier skins need to be slightly careful with masks, add couple of drops of facial oil to avoid any post-mask tightness or dryness.

Quick blurb on all masks pictured above: Dr. Organic Virgin Olive Oil – too drying, hard to work with; Good Things Manuka Honey – purifying yet leaving skin supple; Nip+Fab Kale Fix – seriously softens the skin; Caudalie Purifying – too strong essential oils, not crazy about this one; Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus – smells amazing but results are mediocre; Moreish – another Kiwi fave mask, almost creamy and leaves skin supple; Cattier – limited availability outside France, good basic clay mask; Mahalo Bean (limited edition) – not available anymore but left skin radiant; Andalou Naturals – great drugstore option; Aesop – long time fave, wonderful detoxifier; SkinFooz NZ – the best mask truly, not drying, applies nicely, very mild exfoliating and nourishing; Derma E – exfoliating particles not for sensitive skins; Sanctuary Spa – warming sensation, easy to remove; Colleen Rothschild Detoxifying – minty freshness, leaves skin refreshed and purified.

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Brightening, Radiance, Firming Mask

Texture wise this category varies between gel, cream and whipped mousse. Ingredient base will usually have some form of AHA, or Enzymes to allow the surface exfoliation which results in brightening and radiance. Occasionally some masks include physical exfoliation aspect as well, in this case its M61 Skincare Vitablast C Scrub & Mask. I tend to slap it on, leave it for a while and then gently massage/exfoliate the skin. Given its formulation with Vitamin C it helps brighten the skin. Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey mask is an unusual one in this category, whilst Antipodes claim it to be purifying as honey draws impurities to surface I prefer this mask for subtle glow and brightening my skin. Easy cream application leaves skin soft, supple and glowy.

Blurbs on others: Andalou Naturals Berry Enzyme – again great drugstore alternative without hefty price tag; Forest Essentials Yogurt Purifying – stings skin slightly, smells yummy, whipped yogurt texture and results are meh; Dr Lewinns Reversaderm – sure shot radiance with runny blue lotion like consistency; Natio 10min Brightening – so good, but limited to Australia; Farmacia Barcelona Gold Mask – slightly gimmicky with gold ‘powder’ but decently hydrating; Nip+Fab Bee Sting – nothing firms skin like this fella, taut skin; Chantecaille Fruit and Flower – smells amazing, feels creamy and leaves skin glowy. love.

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Hydration Boosters

Hyaluronic acids, Glycerin, fermented ingredients or masks formulated with serious humectants are all about major hydration. Absolute treats for skin and sensorial experiences include Mahalo Petal – the smell is heavenly, apply and step in shower and the whole bathroom smells divine. Words are not enough to describe the scent. In terms of hydration its a mild everyday use mask. May Lindstrom The Honey Mud classified as cleanser, but No its too lush to go as cleanser hence a sweet spicy honey mask. An inexpensive treat is Super Facialist Una Brennan Rose Hydrating mask and Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses mask.

The beauty of these masks is you can use everyday (if your skin needs it). Leave it on for as long as your heart desires and skin is left hydrated, nourished and smooth.

Serious hydrating masks are – Bioderma Hydrabio (nothing like this fella), Rodial Dragons Blood Hyaluronic Acid (overnight leave on mask), Natio Ageless Vitamin C hydration and The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture mask.

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Powder masks

The purpose could vary from mere cleansing, exfoliating, detoxifying to enzyme radiance. Recently I wrote about cleansing powders aka ubtans could also be used as masks. Since the ingredients are in dried powder form this one has greater shelf life but can be messy to use. At the same time it gives you the flexibility and allows creativity on the liquids to use for mixing. May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver is enriched with spices and oils and tends to self heat (due to spices) when applied to the skin. Love this mask for its ability to decongest and purify skin.

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The new concept of splashing or patting unadulterated concentrated ingredients on skin for crash radiance. The methods of application can be as creative as they can get, but what remains consistent is the result on skin. Bright, radiant skin like someone slapped it to life! This product is truly tailored for clumsy individuals like me. Definitely look into this, now available in Sephora too, so you can try a sample.

Click here for my detailed review

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Sheet Masks

These masks are now becoming all the rage in western markets whereas they have dominated the east Asian market for decades. Made with various materials, ingredients these masks pack a punch and truly feed the skin. The beauty of these masks is you can get it for absolutely any skin concern. Sheet masks are also made specifically for neck, hands, feet, eye, and lips.

Personally I love using these after acid tone stage, as my skin drinks up all the essence in these masks, follow with serum or ampoule and finish off with oil or moisturizer. The fits and sizes of these masks can vary for a lot of non Asian faces. In some instances, the forehead is not big enough or nose is tiny, or mask in general is smaller. They are made with Asian faces in mind however the outreach of these masks is phenomenal.

Whilst Korea dominates the sheet masks domain, Asian countries like Japan (HadaLabo, SKII, Shiseido, Harihada, Biore), Taiwan (My Beauty Diary, Naruko, Neogence, Silk Whitia), Singapore (DrGL, BioEssence, RachelK), Hong Kong (Hiruscar,Wai Yeung Tong) are not too far behind and worth giving a try.

These masks are wildly creative with the ingredient formulation too, from oils to fermented ingredients to animal by products (donkey milk, snail mucin, abalone serum), EGF factors, etc. The price points can also range from a $1 to $40 per sheet mask.

The new trend also includes cleansing gel, peeling gel, aqua or milk peel swab (aka acid tones), essence and sheet masks making it a one stop shop for convenience and travel friendly. Reme G, Ettang, Papa Recipe, Somoon, The Saem are some brands which have got on board with this concept.

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Not a huge deviation from above mentioned Sheet Masks, these Eye patches specifically address puffiness, bagginess and brightening eye area. Common ingredients that are often used are caffeine, retinol, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, bamboo water and other fermented ingredients.

On a disgustingly warm day, keeping any sheet mask in fridge for few minutes before application can seriously feel amazing, slapping on cool sheet mask whilst everything around you is boiling and feel like your insides are melting. Amazing for travel, excellent short cut to an elaborate routine without compromising on results.

How innovative and experimentative are you with masks? I’d love to know in comments below is there any category of mask or brand I absolutely must try.

HHW.com

xx

Mintd Box

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New in the Subscription box world is Mintd Box, which includes 5 full sized beauty products for the UK and 4 full/2 travel sized beauty products for the Rest of the World (Europe, USA, Canada and Australia). MINTD Box curators believe you should only be putting the best & most innovative ingredients on your skin so they bring you the highest quality of beauty products on the market.

Unboxing Experience

I was generously gifted this box by the Mintd Box peeps, packaged in a solid white box, not flimsy by a long shot, tissue paper wrapped and gorgeous white ribbon bow. Includes a card with details of products. The products were neatly packed, delicate travel sized bottles were bubble wrapped. All in all a snug fitting box with goodies.

Full Reveal

This month’s box had the Explore theme . The curators have included a combination of premium body care, nails, makeup & skincare products to bring full body pampering experience.

Value in Great Britain: With a combined value of over £110 this month’s box sold at £65, aka  savings of up to £45 !!!

Value in USA: With a combined value of over USD$127 (break up below) this month’s box sold at USD$85 (Conversion of £65), aka savings of up to USD$42!IMG_9938

The goodies in the box are:

✨Ameliorate Body Scrub (Full Size 150ml, USD$29)
✨Smith & Cult Lip Lacquer (Full Size, USD$22)
✨Kahina Fez Body Serum (Travel Size – 30ml, USD$32)
✨Anne Semonin The Daily Musts (Mini Coffret, $26)
✨Anne Semonin Botanical Cleansing Milk & Toner (Travel Size 40ml each, USD$18)

You can get 10% off the first box when you sign up with this promo code: 10OFF1STHH (Note: I get nothing from this, just sharing a code). They also ship to USA, Canada and Australia. P1040789

Full Size – Ameliorate Skin Smoothing Body Polish

A beautiful fine scrub, wonderful for arms, legs and back. I considered applying on face however upon glancing the inci list I strictly steered clear. Ingredients like synthetic wax, mineral oil are ok for my body not for my face. Anyway so back to body, left skin wonderfully soft and smooth.

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Full Size – Smith & Cult Lip Lacquer 

Gorgeous neutral peachy sheer lipgloss, not sticky schmicky, no taste. However on my pigmented lips it needs to be layered with a lipstick.

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Travel Size – Kahina Fez Body Serum 

Kahina says it is a mysterious, sensual and exotic, a complex blend of steam distilled essential oils evokes the sacred Imperial city of Fez, Morocco. So here’s the thing, the inci list is so lush that I’m using this on my face! Don’t believe me look at this list:

Ingredient Listing: argania spinosa (argan) oil*, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil*, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cocos nucifera (coconut) nut oil, citrullus lanatus (watermelon) seed oil, rosa damascena (rose) flower oil, citrus aurantium amara (neroli) flower oil, citrus bergamia (bergamot) peel oil, citrus paradisi (pink grapefruit) peel oil, cananga odorata (ylang ylang) flower oil, pelargonium graveolens (geranium) leaf/flower oil, backhousia citriodora (lemon myrtle) leaf oil, santalum spicatum (sandalwood) wood oil, eugenia caryophyllus (clove) bud oil, cuminum cyminum (cumin) seed oil, pogostemon cablin (patchouli) leaf oil, vetiveria zizanioides (vetiver) root oil, bisabolol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, phenethyl alcohol

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Mini Coffret – Anne Semonin The Daily Musts

Travel Size – Anne Semonin Botanical Milk & Toner

Cute, Mini’s of Cleanser, Toner and Masks perfect for travel. I haven’t used them all but sure know I will be preserving these for travel for the convenience. Lush brand of skincare from France.

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If you’re tired of seeing usual ‘deluxe sample’ subscription boxes, check out Mintd Box. As for me, I cannot wait to see what’s in the next box with such a lush lineup.

HHW.com

xx

 

Retinol Treatments

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We’ve all heard horror stories about Retinol, here are some forms of Vitamin A (lowest strength to the strongest),  Retinyl Palmitate, Retinol Propionate,  Retinyl Linoleate, Retinol, Retinaldehyde, Adapalene, Tretinoin, Isotretinoin, and Tazarotene. The prescription strength retinol treatment has Retinoid acid. Basically a derivative of retinol which is super effective.

There is common misconception that retinols exfoliate the skin, in fact they go deeper into skin, enhance collagen production, aid with skin smoothing, evening out of pigmentation, helps with spots and future prevention of spots and addresses skin blotchiness.

Today there are three prescription-strength retinoids:

  • Tretinoin (brands include Atralin, Avita, Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Renova),
  • Tazarotene (Avage, Tazorac), and
  • Adapalene (Differin).

Many dermatologists find tazarotene stronger (and potentially more irritating) than tretinoin; adapalene is the gentlest but may be less effective.

In this post, I will not be delving into prescription products, instead will be covering various products and brands that offer retinol solutions without any dryness irritation and some added benefits of other ingredients.

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La Roche Posay Redermic R ($57) My first array in Retinol, and it was instant love. Enriched with Retinol and Retinyl Linoleate (15th and 16th ingredient in formulation) with a cream textured gel like consistency in a metal tube, with no exposure to air or light. Due to its mild strength and addition of Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, it doesn’t dry out skin and gradually does its job. I’d say if you’re starting with retinols I think LRP option is a safe bet as it’s gentler on skin and comparatively lower price point.

Auspect Clinical Pro A Serum is an Australian skincare brand. The formulation is enriched with Fireweed extract, Retinol, Lactic Acid, Kakadu Plum (one of my fav Aussie ingredient) housed in an opaque twist up pump action bottle designed to address skin resurfacing, even tone and firmer skin. I’ve used it multiple times, and it left my skin firm, under control (as far as spots are concerned), even toned and overall skin appeared wonderful. Did not experience any dryness or tightness or sensitivities (obviously wore sunscreen).

Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65) is the only Retinol solution I’ve come across with the least possible ingredient listing. The brand claims to have 1.5% retinol (third listed ingredient after Cyclopentasiloxane and Squalane) however I did not experience any dryness or flakiness. Slightly silicony texture but absorbs beautifully in the skin. Excellent for calming angry skin, and resurfacing skin tone and texture. Packaging is poor with see through glass bottle and pipette.

Kate Somerville RetAsphere Micro Peel – Retinol Glycolic Treatment ($90)  is a treatment peel in combination with Glycolic Acid (AHA). The formulation has Glycolic Acid listed as second ingredient with additions of Lactose, Glycerin, Arbutin, Plankton Extract, Opuntia Ficus-indica (Napol Cactus) Fruit Extract, Soybean Extract, Kelp Extract, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid,  Adenosine, Licorice Root Extract. Whilst all these are great additions, Retinol is listed as third last ingredient. I think the title of product is misleading in that the third last ingredient is prominently advertised. Nothing wrong with Glycolic peel but don’t shift focus by calling it Retinol and charging extra moolah for that. That aside, in my experience this product works better as stand alone after toning. If layered under an oil or moisturizer it does roll off the skin. Major kudos for packaging in a white opaque tube with a pump.

Colleen Rothschild Retinol Treatment ($65) is a relatively newer addition to my retinol familia. However one which makes me question why didn’t I look into this sooner. Retinol (listed as 4th ingredient), Retinyl Palmitate (listed as 5th ingredient), followed by thoughtful additions of Boswellia Serrata Gum Extract, Arabidopsis Thaliana Extract, Bakuchiol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Plankton Extract, Lecithin, Glycine Soja Extract. The formula is light gel cream texture and absorbs instantly in skin. Can be wonderfully layered under or over any other skincare treats and yet doesn’t compromise its efficacy. I’ve used this 5 nights in a row as well and not noted any dryness or flakiness.
Dr Brandt Overnight Resurfacing Serum ($85) is an odd ball for me. The ingredient listing is heavy of Shea butter and other skin moisturizing ingredients and retinol pushed all the way at 16th place followed by more nourishing ingredient like Jojoba. Overall the formulation appears very heavy on emulsifiers and preservatives. Therefore the results on skin are at best mild. The “resurfacing” term could be very misleading. Although credit to be given where its due, excellent packaging in an opaque bottle, zero exposure to light and heat with pump mechanism.
Cosmedix Define Treatment with Hydroxy Acids and Retinol ($80) This brand I’ve always known of but never took a plunge with. The ingredients and reviews all were in favour of the brand and its products. Eventually I welcome Define treatment and I found myself head over heels.
Unlike Kate Somerville peel, Define is very clear and mentions AHA first which is corroborated with Lactic Acid as second ingredient, followed by Glycerin, Albumen, Retinol (AHAAAAA 5th ingredient – claims to have microencapsulated retinol complex), some more acids: Stearic Acid, Malic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Witch Hazel Water, Olive Fruit Oil, Aloe Leaf Juice, Sweet Almond Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Ylang Ylang Flower Oil, Peach Kernel Oil. See this is why I love this product so much. No dryness, no sensitivity, no flakiness and overall noticeable improvement to skin with continued use. Texture and consistency of thick cream but once pushed into the skin absorbs seamlessly. On top if an oil or moisturizer is added no rolling or pilling either. Housed in a tube with limited exposure to light and humidity. This will definitely be repurchased.

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Eye creams with retinol are by far the most effective and results are visible sooner. From the picture above I guess needless to say but Dr Dennis Gross range of Ferulic+Retinol is my preferred choice.
La Roche Posay Redermic R ($46.95) is a fabulous eye gel cream enriched with Glycerin, Caffeine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Retinol, Retinyl Linoleate, Adenosine. Easily the most used eye cream for me with visible results. Smooths and tightens the skin around eyes.
Cane+Austin Glycolic Treatment Eye Cream ($105) is the priciest option on this list, comparable to any other face serum in terms of price. But the inci list may or may not justify the pricing. Glycolic Acid, Kelp Extract, Camellia, Green Tea Polyphenols, Retinol, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone (bioflavinoid), Sodium Hyaluronate, Phytonadione (Vitamin K), Milk Thistle Fruit Extract, Indian Gooseberry Fruit Extract,  Ascorbic acid, Arnica Montana Powder. The packaging is wonderful with a pump and no exposure to light or air. Absorbs nicely in skin, and helps with fine lines near the eye. Still cannot justify the price point.
Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic+Retinol Eye Cream ($68) possibly my fave texture and consistency in eye cream. So creamy, whipped and not as rich to cause any milia. The inci list tickles my soul with some acids (amino, ferule, gallic, ellagic,glycolic, lactic), retinol, caffeine, algae, sodium hyaluronate, lipids, and skin moisturizers, this is a definite repurchase for me however the Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic+Retinol Eye Serum ($68) is my preferred choice. The light gel texture is amazing, and feels like nothing on skin. Absorbs beautifully and within a week I had noticeable results. The fine lines under my eyes were less visible/deep, and overall skin appeared taut. Some of the ingredients in this formulation include Centella Asiatica Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Ferulic Acid, Retinol, Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract, Morus Nigra Fruit Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Quercetin, Caffeine, Ubiquinone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Panthenol.

Hylamide SubQ Eyes ($35) is a unique one, in that, on application I experience a slight tingle. Now I’m all for tingle on skin however near eyes it makes me uncomfortable (just personal preference). This is much raved eye serum however for me, this is my least preferred eye serum. Not impressed with inci list, not impressed with feel on skin and not impressed with results either.

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In my experience, my absolute favourite and most reliable products for retinol are Dr Dennis Gross’s Ferulic + Retinol range. Started my journey with their Brightening solution but soon fell in love with rest of the range.

Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid & Retinol Brightening Solution ($88) Repurchased this product for its effectiveness with acne scars (including any extraction scars), dark spots, and sun damage. Jam-packed with Ferulic Acid, Retinol, Licorice Root Extract, Bearberry Extract, Arbutin, Mulberry Leaf Extract, Willow Bark Extract, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, among others.

I have a detailed post comparing the Brightening Solution and Overnight Serum (click on link) where I take deeper dive with ingredients and expected outcomes. As for the Wrinkle Recovery Pads, are wonderful weekly or bi-weekly boosted treatment for the skin.

Some say its best to dive into prescription strength retinols, I beg to differ unless you have a serious skin concern which warrants that. Over the counter skincare products do a fine job at daily maintenance with added benefits of other ingredients. However it can argued both ways and not one is right or wrong. It’s what works best for you and your skin. Now that’s just my two cents on the topic.

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