Ingredients

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.

HHW.com

xx

Enzymes 101

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In my last post on Acids 101 I decoded all Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids however this post I will talk about Enzymes. They are different to Alpha Hydroxy Acids in the way they operate. AHA’s dissolve lipids (oils) that hold cells together, penetrate in skin and loosen the clingy skin cells. However, enzymes dissolve the dead skin cells on the surface of skin. Enzymes are not pH dependent; therefore limited exfoliation can be achieved.

Skin Concerns: used to treat pigmentation, acne, fine lines, sun spots. The only catch to these products are the enzymatic activity (active period) lasts 4-6 months.

Textures & Consistency: comes in all forms, cleanser, exfoliants, peels or masks. Generally you can smell the original primary ingredient.

The Experience: stinging, tingling are common however you have to be guided by your skin’s tolerance.

Operation Mode: Enzymes are wonderful surface exfoliants without any manual scrubbing tugging or pulling action. They’re are gentler on the skin compared to AHA’s however some aggressive enzymes such as Papain may not be the best option for sensitive skins.

The table below shows the main types of enzymes used in products aiding in removal of dead skin cells with some product suggestions:

Source Enzyme Name Products Suggestions
Papaya Papain Cleanser: Jan Marini Clean Zyme

Exfoliator: Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder, Kate Somerville ExfoliKate

Mask: Astara Green Papaya Nutrient Mask, Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Mask, Mario Badescu Enzyme Revitalising Mask, Elemis Papaya Enzyme Mask, Jurlique Fruit Enzyme Exfoliator, Jan Marini Skin Zyme, Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy Mask

Moisurizer: Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream

Pineapple Bromelian Cleanser: My Chelle Enzyme Fruit Enzyme Cleanser, Alba Botanica Hawaiian Pineapple Enzyme Facial Cleanser

Exfoliant: Tracie Martyn Enzyme Exfoliant

Mask: Herbivore Botanicals Brighten Pineapple Enzyme + Gemstone Instant Glow Mask, Philosphy MicroDelivery Purifying Peel

Pumpkin Curcubita Exfoliator, Peel: Peter Lamas Exfoliating Pumpkin Facial Scrub, Perfect Image Labs Pineapple Pumpkin Enzyme Peel (includes AHA’s),

Mask: Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Mask

Pomegranate Cleanser: Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser

Mask: Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

Blueberry Mask: Ole Henriksen Blue/Black Berry Enzyme Mask

Hope this was helpful and thank you for taking the time to read this post!

HHW.com

xx

 

Acids 101: AHA, BHA, PHA

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We’ve all heard catch phrases and marketing spills from various brands that echo in our heads something along these lines, “using AHA, BHA …. product will give your skin glow from sun……………… blah blah blah!”

This post is intended to provide you further information on source of these acids, their purpose in life, how it would benefit the skin and some product suggestions.

ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS (AHA’s)

Operation Mode

AHA’s are water soluble which basically means it reacts with upper layer of epidermis and dissolves all dead skin cells on surface of skin. AHA’s operate at pH level of 3 – 5 (it’s the level of acidity, when compared to water at pH level 7 which is neutral).

Suitable Candidate or Skin Concerns

People experiencing sun damaged skin, aging, pigmentation, brown spots, wrinkles, rosacea, acne spots, congested skin.

Where should it be on the Ingredient list?

Products containing higher concentration of AHA’s would usually be listed 2nd – 3rd – 4th – 5th in the ingredient list (but these do not necessarily interpret effective result it may mean faster results).

Which acid is most effective? Which acid penetrates deepest in layers of skin?

It simply depends on the relevant acid’s Molecular size….Not all of the acids work in same way. Smaller molecules penetrate deeper in the skin for best results. But they are also the ones that give the skin tingling sensation or irritate very sensitive skins.

The following acids are in the order from . The following table shows the types of AHA’s, in the order of Smallest (deepest penetration in skin) to Largest molecule (more skin surface exfoliation), Source they are derived from, their Purpose in life and Product suggestions:

Type Source Derived from Function

Product Suggestions

Glycolic Acid

(Smallest Molecule)

Sugar Cane Degreasing and controlling production of sebum, and stimulate collagen production in skin. Alpha Hydrox range (12-14% Glycolic Acid)

Peter Roth Thomas Glycolic Range

Kate Somerville Glycolic & Retinol Peel

Alpha H Liquid Gold Range

Bravura London Glycolic Peel (10%) & Moisturizer (15%)

Lactic Acid Milk, Yoghurt, Sour Butter Milk or fermented fruit Antimicrobial, hydrating and adjusts ph level, skin softener, keeps skin moist Priori Gentle Facial Cleanser (13% Lactic Acid Complex)

Bravura London Lactic Acid Peel

Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant

Sunday Riley Good Genes

Malic Acid Apples, Cherry, Pears Hydrating, soothing and increases tissue respiration, increases oxygen supply to skin Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Packs

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel

Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser & Enzyme Exfoliant

Tartaric Acid Grapes, Berries, Currants, Passionfruit, Red Wine Antioxidant Arcona Raspberry Resurfacing Mask
Citric Acid Tomatoes, Oranges, Lemons (citrus fruits) Brightens skin, anti aging properties Mario Badescu Orange Tonic Mask

Ole Henriksen Truth Collagen Serum

Mandelic Acid Bitter Almonds Helps age spots, discoloration

Vivant Skincare Mandelic Serum

Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Brightening Solution

BETA HYDROXY ACID (BHA)

Operation Mode

BHA’s are lipid (oil) soluble, which basically means it can break down the oils on surface of skin and penetrate deeper in layers of skin. Due to the ability of BHA’s going deeper in skin, they aid in acting against sebum congestion under the skin’s surface. They have anti-inflammatory properties too. Like AHA’s, these operate at pH level of 3 – 5. BHA products may result in dryness and dehydration to the skin.

Suitable Candidate or Skin Concerns

BHA products are suitable for congested skin, blackheads, whiteheads, acne, wrinkles, and ingrown hair.

Where should it be on the Ingredient list?

Unlike AHA products, the products containing Salicylic acid would usually be listed towards end of the ingredient listing. BHA is far stronger and therefore effective on skin.

Type Source Derived from Function Product Suggestions

Salicylic Acid

(Molecule smaller than Glycolic Acid)

Salicylic Acid derived from White Willow Bark. Aspirin is also derived from White Willow Bark and its active ingredient is Salicylic acid. You may have heard Aspirin masks for acne prone skin. Unclog pores, helps with underlying congestion, ingrown hair.

NO impact on sebum production or killing bacteria.

Bravura London Salicylic Acid Peel 2%

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo (French Version)

Skinceuticals LHA Solution (also has Lipo Hydroxy and Glycolic Acids)

Dr Dennis Gross Purifying Booster

Perfect Image Skincare – TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid) 15% Gel Peel Enhanced with Salicylic Acid

Body scrubs that contain Salicylic acid are brilliant for ingrown hair

Categories/Types of products that contain AHA’s and BHA’s

Cleanser, Toners, Exfoliators, Eye Creams, Serums, Moisturizers, Chemical Peels. Below I have summarized some of the products that contain AHA, BHA, or a combination of two. 

AHA & BHA General Knowledge

1) Most important thing to bear in mind is AHA and BHA do cause skin sensitivities especially to sun exposure. Basically all hard work done with skin care products, can be reversed with unprotected sun exposure or inadequate sun protection.

2)  Skin regeneration is turnover of new skin cells that is critical for healthy, radiant and clear skin. Whilst AHA’s, BHA’s and PHA’s are brilliant for chemical exfoliation which continually “promote” growth of collagen in skin, it should be noted that AHA, BHA, PHA don’t generate new collagen. These are a great prep point for repairing products that have specific ingredients aimed at repair and nourish various skin concerns.

3)  There are number of companies and products that have a combination of AHA and BHA (Salicylic Acid). As for AHA’s you will need to read the ingredient list to ensure which type of acid is included in the product. Some companies also used synthetically sourced AHA and BHA, which is not naturally sourced. Think of it as, Vanilla extract (in a bottle with alcohol) as against using natural vanilla pod! Similarly some companies use AHA concentrate rather than extracts from natural fruit or vegetable. 

POLY HYDROXY ACID (PHA)

For sensitive skins, that are irritated with deep penetration of Glycolic Acid or cannot handle the tingly sensation from AHA’s, the Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHA’s) come to their rescue.

Polyhydroxy acids enhance exfoliation of the outermost layer of the skin and normalize its thickness. Products containing PHA’s cause less irritation to sensitive skin due to their large molecular structures. Considering it has a larger molecular structure it doesn’t penetrate deep in layers of skin, however it has has been proven the efficacy is not impacted in anyway compared to any other AHA.

Generally, the two types of PHA’s available are Gluconolactone (from oxidized glucose – natural sugar found in human body) and Lactobionic acid (from oxidized lactose – milk sugar).

Some product suggestions with PHA’s:

Thanks for taking the time to read the post and hopefully it has answered some of your burning questions.

HHW.com

xx

De’Mist’fying Rose Waters

Rose Water and Toners have been incredibly popular for its ability to hydrate, refresh, soothe, calm, and balance all skin types. Also known for its versatile uses as, toner, refresher, eye brightening, after shave spritz, pillow mist, mood enhancer etc.

In this post, I intend on shedding some light on Rose Waters in terms of types of roses, ingredient lists, some of my personal trials and experiences with some Rose Waters and some pointers you can look out for when deciding on a Rose Water for yourself.

 

Most common types of roses you’d expect to see in preparation of Rose Waters is Rosa Centifolia and Damascena Rose. Centifolia roses primarily grow in France and North Africa, have various sub types of roses, such as ‘Cabbage’ (left pic) or ‘Provence’ roses. Known to have first appeared in the late sixteenth century as a hybrid. They tend to have large globular blooms of white or pink, are fragrant and extremely hardy.

Rose Damascena commonly known as Damask Rose (right pic) with two distinct types i.e. Summer Damasks and Autumn Damasks. In addition, to these being used widely in perfumery, they are also known to be edible (Turkish Delight). The roses in this category are are a light to moderate pink to light red colour.

A Note on Preservatives Used: Consistently seen, Potassium sorbate is water soluble preservative and Sodium Benzoate – water soluble sodium salt of benzoic acid, usually used as preservative.

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My Trials, Experiences and Opinions (in order of my personal preference)

Kama Ayurveda Rose Water

Steam Distilled Rose Water

This is as pure and natural as it gets. As mentioned in my Oil Extraction Post (Water & Steam Distillation Process), Floral waters are by-product of oil extraction process. This is purest form of Rose Water you could possibly lay your hands on, where the original flower properties have remained intact. The mist is wonderful and thoroughly refreshing. In terms of rose scent, it has subtle rose fragrance, think of roses in rain scent.

MV Organics (AUD$40 – 70ml)

Water, Rose (Rose Centifolia) Oil, Polysorbate 40, Potassium Sorbate

With the least amount of ingredients, the simplest formulation and the most effective of the lot. One very important note too, the mist (mechanical pump) is damn fine! Crucial IMO. Fragrance wise, it seems to have the most subtle and “natural” rose fragrance. Fresh, Light and Nothing overpowering to make you nauseous.

Melvita Rose Mist ($15 – 50ml)

Rosa Damascena Flower Water*, Aqua/Water, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract*, Glycerin, Levulinic Acid, Sodium Levulinic, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Citronellol**, Geraniol**

*Ingredients from Organic Farming – ** Natural Components of Floral Water

Second Fav, with good ingredient (Damascena, Rosehip) with boost of Glycerin for sure shot way of sealing in hydration. Other less familiar ingredient is Levulinic acid which is plant derived acid used as preservative for its anti microbial properties. Whilst Sodium Levulinic is a salt of Levulinic Acid. The aerosol based rose water, is incredibly fine and wonderful to travel with. Fragrance wise this one smells slightly more like a mature rose, not light or fresh like MV Organic. In a few seconds, it has slightly sour note (in the best way possible) may be due to my own skin composition. Having said that, it still a very nice scent.

Santa Maria Novella Rose Water ($35 – 250ml, 8.4 fl oz)

Aqua (Water-Eau), Parfum (Rosa Centifolia)-Fragrance (Cabbage Rose (Rosa Centifolia)), Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Geraniol, Citronellol, Eugenol, Benzyl Benzoate (Made in Italy)

Oh dear, this is where I walk on thin line. Santa Maria Novella I love as brand, for its culture, heritage and history (and packaging, who am I Kidding!). This rose water is nice and I have repurchased too but when I glance at the inci list, I have slight cringe factor because it has Rosa Centifolia Parfum not Oil (Bloody Hell!). Latter ingredients are preservatives. Housed in solid glass bottle (not with a spritz, my ingenious addition). Upon spritzing you can immediately tell its not Rose Oil its Rose perfume, almost like slight synthetic rose note. Still very appealing even in its delicious synthetic form. Obviously not travel friendly.

Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Floral Toner (USA only – $12.95 – 178ml, 6 fl oz)

Aloe Barbadensis Juice*, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Distillate*, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Lauric Acid, Fruit Stem Cells (Alpine Rose, Malus Domestsica, Solar Vitis) and BioActive 8 Berry Complex*, Soothing Complex: [Hyaluronic Acid, Magnolia Officinalis Bark, Phoenix Dactylifera (Date) Leaf Cell and Boswellia Serrata (Boswellin) Extracts], Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract*, Hibiscus Sabdariffa and Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Extracts*^, Phenethyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) and Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium) Oils*, Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Oil

Non-GMO verified   *Organic   ^Fair Trade

This is where the plot thickens, this is technically a ‘Toner’ not ‘Water’. Inci list wise its great, price wise is mass appealing, housed in plastic bright fuscia pink bottle with decent mist. You cannot ask for anything more at this price point. Win.

L’occitane Rose 4 Reines Hydrating Face Mist (Discontinued)
Aqua, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Alcohol, Sodium PCA, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Sodium chloride, Butylene Glycol, Parfum, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Chlorphenesin, Methylparaben, Citronellol, Geraniol, Benzyl salicylate, Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Linalool, Eugenol

Disappointment is left for last, look at the inci list, where is the Rose?! It’s a NO from me (thankfully its discontinued). But I loved the bottle packaging and misting mechanism. Bloody, frigging, hell breaking, Excellent. Obvs retained bottle, to decant others and use (no brainer move).

So to condense it all, pointers for you to keep in mind:

  • Proper, Authentic Rose Water is steam distilled or a by-product of extraction process for Rose oil.
  • Check if its Rose Parfum or Oil?! Needless to mention, but Oil is the preferred option here.
  • Determine type of Rose used, Rosa Centifolia or Damascena.
  • No matter which rose is used, it should be a colourless fluid, any colour to the liquid indicates artificial colour added.
  • There will almost always be a preservative but it should be towards the end of the listing.
  • Commonly used preservatives include Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Polysorbate 40, Benzyl Benzoate.

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Now, after learning tad more about formulations, if you’ve lost all faith in Rose Waters, I highly recommend looking into Caudalie Grape Water which consists of Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Water*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice*, Nitrogen (USDA Certified Made in France).

Simple, inexpensive, effective and widely available. It lasts a while with a generous quantity packed.

Hope you’ve found this post useful and continue on your quest to find “The Rose Water”.

HHW.com

xx

A GUIDE TO SERUMS

As much as I’ve made a conscious effort to include Serums from all price points, I always say this is an area where you spend most of your money as the lightweight texture helps deeper penetratation in skin, with potent active ingredients reaping you visible benefits. Having said that, some inexpensive options are also fantastic and should be given their well deserved credit. Lets crack on, sit back with glass of vino, coffee, or any beverage or snack or meal of your choice!

EXFOLIATING SERUMS

Generally you’d be looking for a good mixture of AHA with some moisturizing ingredients. AHA’s aid in resurfacing the skin to reveal fresher, brighter, even toned skin.

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Sunday Riley Good Genes ($105) with 40% Unneutralized Lactic Acid, Lemongrass, Arnica, Licorice, Yeast is a bloody gorgeous resurfacing and radiance treatment. With slight lemony scent (attributed to Lemongrass) it instantly absorbs in the skin. I use this in very limited quantities. Use it, don’t abuse it.

Alpha H Gold Intensive Night Repair Serum ($68) having gone through multiple tubes of this myself, this product is one of my all time favs. Despite Alcohol Denat listed as the second ingredient it does not dry out my skin. Powerful punch of Glycolic Acid and Niacinamide (helps with pigmentation) excellent for resurfacing, boosting radiance and calming down any angry spots.

Skin Doctors Gamma Hydroxy Forte (AUD $60) housed in a glass jar, cream textured product packed with Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Retinol, Vitamin A Palmitate. Pleasantly scented and instantly absorbing formula, makes this is an excellent option for almost any skin concern (possibly not for sensitive skins).

Ren Radiance Perfection Serum ($55) This multi-active serum claims to leave skin looking more energized, radiant, even toned, plumped, and healthy. Over a period of time it claims to help reduce the appearance of sun damaged skin and hyperpigmentation, and help to boost hydration. I had deluxe sample of this, and whilst it is nice, the results didn’t sweep me off my feet.

Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% Hydrating Gel ($48) packed with Glycolic acid, Aloe Vera, Vitamin A, C and E making it a fabulous product. Alcohol Denat is on the list but it’s the last ingredient (sometimes used to stabilize Glycolic Acid). IMO quite an underrated product.

Derma E Overnight Peel ($19) is 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, GMO-free. Excellent for skin brightening, radiance, even tone (spots & scars) and texture. Needless to say it packs a wonderful inci list, packaging (plastic bottle), quantity (60ml), price point $19 with similar results to Good Genes.

Bravura London Lactic Acid 10% Peel Infused with Rose ($15) an AHA with a larger molecule (compared to Glycolic & Salicylic), enables more surface exfoliation and resurfacing action. Excellent for any acne scarring, sun spots, pigmentation, blotchiness, and boosting radiance. All skin types could use this including dry and dehydrated skins (also operates as humectant). I realize its named as a Peel, but its gentle on skin and can be used as serum as well (be guided by your skin’s tolerance). A simplified ingredient list makes it a friendlier option for people not so keen on dissecting inci lists (Purified Water, Rose Floral Water, Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Sodium Hydroxide and Sodium Citrate).

Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum ($14) is at an excellent price point for the ingredients it dishes up. Bilberry, Hibiscus, Sugar Cane, Citrus fruit extracts (Lemon), Orange flower extract. I have personally not used this serum, but my InstaSister @blogcreatifa loves it and I can see that on basis of the inci list.

OVERNIGHT RESURFACING TREATMENT

Concentrated forms of AHA’s and Retinol to resurface and revitalise the skin. Used strictly as a treatment, once or twice a week.

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Sarah Chapman Skinesis Overnight Exfoliating Treatment ($90) for dull, uneven blotchy skin.  A balanced cocktail of Lactic Acid, Willow Bark, Retinol, Exfolactive EL®, P Refinyl®, Glycorepair® which is gentle formualtion for the skin. Followed with a facial oil my skin appears plump and even toned the following morning.

Kate Somerville RetAsphere™ Micro Peel Retinol Glycolic Treatment ($90) Love the pump action, opaque tube with zero exposure to air and light (my heart serenades the packaging). This overnight peel not only includes all lovely AHA’s (10% Glycolic Acid derived from Sugar Cane and Beets, Natural Lactose) but also a decent boost of Retinol. Also thrown in for good measure are Licorice root extract, Arbutin and Hyaluronic Acid, which lightens scars and plumps skin. This has not left my skin dry or flaky despite 10% Glycolic and Retinol. For me, a definite repurchase.

RETINOL SERUMS

We’ve all heard horror stories about Retinol, here are some forms of Vitamin A (lowest strength to the strongest), Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Linoleate, Retinol, Retinaldehyde, Adapalene, Tretinoin, Isotretinoin, and Tazarotene.

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Auspect Clinical Pro A Serum 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 5-7 times so far, and it left my skin firm, under control (as far as spots are concerned), even toned and overall skin appeared wonderful. 

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.

Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65) is the only Retinol solution I’ve come across with the least possible ingredient listing. Slightly silicony texture but absorbs beautifully in the skin. The retinol formulation is gentle on skin and doesn’t result in dryness or flakiness. Excellent for calming angry skin, and resurfacing skin tone and texture.

La Roche Posay Redermic R ($57) My first array in Retinol, and it was instant love. Enriched with Retinol and Retinyl Linoleate with a cream textured gel like consistency in a metal tube, with no exposure to air or light. 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.

BREAKOUT HELP!

Generally recommended, BHA’s (Salicylic Acid) helps deeper penetration in skin due to its molecular structure. Some prefer Benzoyl Peroxide however I find it too harsh on skin.

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La Roche Posay Effaclar Serum Let me cut to the chase, I’ve used this serum and would not recommend solely due to the potency of Alcohol. Its listed second and when applied to the skin I feel alcohol burn my skin. My nose gets decent hit of alcohol and I’m high! Sensitive skinned don’t even look at it. Just NO. Having said that, all other Effaclar variants are a big YES from me!

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo (CAD26) Personally I haven’t used USA version with Benzoyl Peroxide (BP) and I don’t intend on using it either (therefore I won’t go in detail with the USA version). I find BP extremely harsh on the skin. Obviously both versions have slightly different claims, so I’ll be focusing on French version which I have used multiple tubes.

Normally I use this as a spot treatment, however during the fabulous time of the month when I feel every centimeter of my face might break out I spread a very thin layer of this gel cream all over my face. Next morning my face appears a lot calmer and “seemingly under control”. I still might have that odd break out on my jaw where I apply as a spot treatment in conjunction with nourishing face oils (always follow with an oil, nourish your skin dont declare war). This has been an excellent spot treatment for me, has worked consistently. Considering its 40ml its travel friendly too, which means life saver for bacteria infested long haul flights.

La Roche Posay Effaclar K (spot treatment Effaclar AI) $31 Can be used as daily treatment, gentle on skin, helps refine the skin and address odd spots or very mild acne. Includes Salicylic Acid (1.5%) to refine skin texture, deal with break outs and unclog pores. Surprisingly, this product leaves my skin incredibly soft and moisturized, always keep this one stocked up. It has not disappointed me at all. 

Bravura London Salicylic Acid Peel 2% ($14) I realize this product is marketed as a Peel, but at 2% Salicylic and a pH level of 4 it works incredibly well on spots as a serum or spot treatment. The texture is a colourless runny liquid and if followed with decent facial oil or moisturizer you will notice a difference in skin texture (overnight!). Even the underlying congestion is addressed with this bad boy. Simple concoction of 7 ingredients (Distilled Water, Salicylic acid, Propylene Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide).

Santa Maria Novella Fluido Pelle Impura Del Viso I’ve been through 3 bottles of this about 4 or so years ago. I didn’t repurchase because I couldn’t source it in Australia. Very light gel fluid which is instantly absorbed in skin. Incorporates a blend of Sage, Calendula, Echinacea and Burdock extract.

PIGMENTATION SERUMS

Look out for products chockfull with Niacinamide (Vitamin B3). It’s the powerhouse ingredient and certainly not cheap. Friggin fabulous for spots, red blotchiness, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. Other ‘natural’ ingredients to look out for are: Licorice, Arbutin (natural derivative of hydroquinone derived from plants, including Bearberry, Blueberry, and Cranberry), and Kojic Acid.

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Auspect Clinical Pro B Extreme Serum boosted with 8% Niacinamide (listed as second ingredient), Vitamin B, Lactic Acid, Peptides, Yeast (wonderful humectant), among other ingredients it claims to protect natural skin barrier leaving it healthy, hydrated and balanced – I’ve tried 4-5 times (so far I LOVE it), will report back in a month.

La Roche Posay PigmentClar ($53) I really like this serum, enriched with Niacinamide, Sodium hyaluronate, Ginkgo biloba extract (sacred tree in Chinese culture), and Salicylic acid. Tiny addition of BHA – Salicylic acid helps with ongoing battle with spots whilst the higher concentration ingredients do they’re advertised job.

Olay ProX Spot Fading Treatment ($45) Having Niacinamide listed as the second ingredient, pretty awesome work on behalf of Olay (as drugstore option). I didn’t have overnight dramatic results, but over a period of time it certainly helped my skin.

ANTIOXIDANT SERUMS

Very important ingredient to inhibit the oxidation of free radicals. Hundreds of Antioxidants exist in the market today, some buzz words you need to look out for, Green Tea, Resveratrol, Vitamin C, E, Idebenone, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Retinol, Squalene, Coenzyme Q-10, Caffeine.

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Aesop B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel ($120) By far the weirdest texture (like honey), absorbs in about 30 or so seconds and leaves skin glowing. Although in the same category there are other cost effective options. Enriched with Aloe Leaf Juice, stabilized form of Vitamin C (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate), Witch Hazel water, Vitamin B5, Lactic Acid, essential oils (lavender, chamomile, camellia, matricaria, parsley).

Grown Alchemist Antioxidant+ Detox Serum ($49) in a dark brown glass bottle with a pump. Many complain the texture of this serum is very watery/liquidy, personally I don’t see that as a deal breaker at all. Skin appears visibly healthy, although I tend to layer with another treatment like serum. It’s a great option for oily skins as a day or night serum. Fueled with Aloe Vera Extract, plant derived antioxidants, Vitamin B5, Nicinamide, Peptides, and Lactic Acid.

Sukin Facial Recovery Serum ($19) Now this one has a watery texture too BUT the texture is like milk gone bad diluted in water. SO before you think smell is rotten, NO. It’s actually quite a pleasant smelling serum. Claims to have natural actives of Kale, Spirulina, Chlorella, Parsley, Acai fruit extract, Grape seed oil, Avocado and Vitamin E. In plain words, I find it very hydrating for skin and a perfect makeup base. Again downside, only available in Australia. Sorry People!

VITAMIN C SERUMS

Buzz word be Ascorbic Acid (L-Ascorbic Acid) which is great for brown spots and aids skin with luminosity. Other forms of Vitamin C are Retinyl Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid.

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Auspect Clinical Pro C Serum claims to have a stable, oil soluble form of Vitamin C (Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate) with vitamin E and peptides. I’ve used this only for a week, will post an update in a month.

Hylamide C25 ($33) claims to have concentrated and completely stable 25% Vitamin C (Ethyl Ascorbic Acid) booster offers a fast-tracked approach to a visibly radiant, healthy skin tone. Housed in a transparent glass bottle with a pipette, an oily texture and at a wonderful price point, worth a try.

HYDRATION SERUMS

Ingredients to keep an eye out for are Hyaluronic Acid (an incredibly hydrating ingredient that holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water) along with some humectants (Glycerin, Vitamin E, Sodium Hyaluronate (salt of Hyaluronic acid with smaller molecular size allowing deeper penetrability), Yeast extracts) and oils (Jojoba).

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Black Chicken Remedies Love Your Face Serum ($79) – Since I don’t own this product or haven’t tried it, its only smart to link straight to Lady Hirons who has used this product and has a detailed review.

Pestle & Mortar Hyaluronic Serum ($70) I have not personally used this serum however if you would like to consider it there are plenty of reviews out there.

Dr Weil Mega Mushroom Serum ($53-30ml) is fortified with Sea Buckthorn plus skin-repairing Reishi, irritant-soothing Chaga and Cordyceps mushrooms, long used in Chinese medicine to heal, promote longevity and improve health. I do love the smell and runny texture of this serum which is housed in dark plastic bottle with pump. The result is beautiful, resilient, and plump skin.

Caudalie Vinosource SOS Thirst Quenching Serum ($49) claims to capture and continually diffuse water deep within the skin to restore its moisture balance and leave skin feeling soft and supple – yet to try, will report back in a month or so.

Clinique Moisture Surge ($39) is much raved about, a sample broke me out so I wouldn’t personally recommend based on my experience however some people swear by it. Therefore it is an option you could look into for yourself.

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum ($36) is synonymous with Sali Hughes. It claims with the advanced Dynamic Hydration technology it helps to distribute & lock water in all facial zones, preserving the freshness of beauty. Formulated with Hyaluronic Acid and Aquabioryl™ known to replenish the hydration with water and form a protective film. Contains fortifying and soothing Vichy Thermal Spa Water. Paraben-free. I’ve personally not used this so cannot comment, but again something for you to look into and consider.

Bioderma Hydrabio ($35) developed in the Bioderma Research laboratories, the Aquagenium® biological patent found in Hydrabio Légère retrains the skin to activate its natural moisturising capacities by stimulating the production of aquaporins, water channels in the skin, and retain the water it needs to be balanced. Its a gorgeous light gel textured serum, instantly absorbed in the skin. The skin feels like it binged on million litres/gallons of water!!! I’ve used this for couple of years and love the serum and moisturizer (legere/light version).

The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum in Oil ($27) – My most recommended and repurchased serum in oil. Still nothing beats this with the highest concentration of Wheatgerm oil (fabulous source of Vitamin E) which is fabulous for replenishing and recharging skin barrier. Not overly heavy or sticky just a wonderful easily absorbed, pleasantly scented formula at mere $27. Win! The skin is properly hydrated and looks well rested.

Juju AquaMoist Hyaluronic Acid Essence ($25) enriched with “Pure H100” essence preserves the moisturizing effect with hyaluronic acid that also builds up the moisture barrier to hydrate within your skin. In my opinion, it a souped up version of Hydraluron (availibility is limited in Western world).

Reviva Labs Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($21) has compounded a higher level of premium Hyaluronic Acid into a precious fluid that can help raise your skin’s moisture level to tone-down lines. I think, its a nice gel texture serum at an inexpensive price point, but we have better options to consider.

Hylamide Hydration Booster ($20) – Hyper-strength rehydration serum with 5 forms of hyaluronic compounds with varying molecular weights to target visible skin rehydration at multiple levels. Not used myself but I know fellow IG’er @tophcam loves this serum.

Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Serum ($18) – I’ve been hooked to this guy for least 4 years (to my memory), been through multiple tubes. The most effective formula (I’ve come across), although it needs to be layered under an oil or moisturizer. Obviously formulated with Sodium Hyaluronate and Red Marine Algae helps provide and seal in maximum hydration.

Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Jelly ($18) – Recommended to pair with Hydraluron serum, I found this jelly on its own sufficient for my skin. Claimed to use a combination of 5 ingredients to help provide instant and sustained moisture to skin. Suspended in a hyaluronic acid matrix this refreshing jelly features PatcH20, a micro network complex that helps to lock in moisture leaving looking skin soft, supple and glowing. If I had to choose between Moisture Jelly and Serum, it would have to be the serum for me.

The Body Shop Nutriganics Smoothing Serum (Discontinued) This pre-moisturiser hydrates, helping to smooth and plump the skin. I Love this, and I’ve been through 2 bottles except now it is discontinued.

ALL ROUNDER SERUMS

Good balanced mix of humectants, skin hydrating ingredients, skin plumpers, antioxidants, and treatment potions.

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Anne Semonin Active Serum (30ml, $145) If you compare full ingredient listing of Anne Semonin Serum and EL Advanced Night Repair, based solely on inci list you’d see why you’re paying such a steep price. This serum is mega power house of hydration and plumping action (with expensive ingredients). Fueled by Red Micro Algae, extracts of Evening Primrose, Irish Moss, Myrrrh, Bitter Vetch, Azelaic acid (wonderful for dark spots), Lysine (an amino acid to aid with fine lines).

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair II (30ml, $62) enriched with good Bacteria (Bifida Ferment Lysate, Lactobacillus Ferment), Vitamins (B5, C, E), Antioxidants (Kola Seed Extract, Chamomile), Hydrolyzed Algin (enzyme from seaweed), Caffeine, Squalane (strong antioxidant properties, helps fortify the skin barrier and improve skin hydration.), Sodium Hyaluronate, Yeast Extract. It has some colours (Red 4, Yellow 5) added towards end of the listing, which is unnecessary but doesn’t compromise the efficacy. One way to describe this serum is, Good Skin in a Bottle.

Dr Lewinns Reversaderm Tri-Collagen Accelerating Serum (AUD$70) housed in a white opaque glass bottle, creamy textured serum with some seriously fabulous ingredients like Irish Moss, Sodium Hyaluronate, Grape Seed Oil, Vitamin C, Oligopeptide-24, Resveratrol Ferment Extract, Glycolic Acid, Vitamin E, French Saffron Extract. Sadly availability is limited to Australia and New Zealand region. I absolutely enjoyed using this serum as it instantly absorbed in the skin and it appeared healthy, plump and well rested.

Trilogy CoQ10 Booster Oil Serum ($44) is technically (as per texture) a face oil. Enhanced with Macadamia, Blueberry, Tamanu, Black Cumin, Chia, Jojoba and Pomegranate oils, this leaves the skin so incredibly glowing, plump and refreshed the following morning. Its great value for money given the ingredient line up is excellent.

ANTI AGING SERUMS

For me this is a hard category to truly test product claims, considering I’m only using these as a preventative measure. I don’t have wrinkles or lines on my face (YET) but I could only talk in terms of its “all rounder” properties.

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Apivita Natural Serum Line Reducer ($40) I find this serum incredibly hydrating and moisturizing to the skin considering it has a decent boost of humectants and antioxidants.

Coup d’Eclat Ampoules give a serious firming action on your face, I don’t have wrinkles yet but when I apply this ampoule I feel my face has tightened and dont feel any saggy bits.

Nutox Serum Concentrate I absolutely adore the scent and love it for hydrating properties.

Hylamide Sub-Q Anti Aging I’ve yet to try will report back in a couple of months.

If you’ve used any of these serums, I’d love to hear from you about your opinions and experiences. I intend on keeping this as a continually evolving post as I try various serums. All updates, edits will be made here, making it The Serum Reference Point.

HHW.com

xx