Basics

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

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Face Oils over Moisturizers?

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In this post, I will unravel the worst kept secret, I prefer oils over moisturizers. WHY you may ask? Before we proceed, I need to clarify on the onset, by NO means am I being conclusive on oils over moisturizers, and neither am I claiming to be 100% Green Beauty person. I love my scientific skincare just as much and have no problems with laboratory generated ingredients. Neither am I saying one is superior to the other; it’s a matter of making an informed and educated choice for your skin. And eventually we all want something that works and does its job as it claims.

Moving on…..Over the last couple of posts we’ve been through, types of oils, their formulation, and extraction processes which impact overall quality of oil. I’m blatantly assuming you already know some, if not all benefits of oils.

Any basic oil formulation is a well measured and balanced blend of carrier and essential oils to benefit the skin. However, moisturizers are a slightly different story. Let’s start with analyzing, some popular oils and their ingredient listing.

Left pic – MV Organic Rose Booster Plus

Camellia (Camellia Sinensis) Oil*,  Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinesis) Oil*, Rosehip (Rosa Canina Fruit) Oil*, Rose (Rosa Damascena) Oil, Geranium (Pelargonium Roseum) Oil, Vitamin E non GM (Tocopherol), Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) Extract* With essential oil of: Rose Otto and Rose Geranium  (* Organically Grown)

Right pic – Essano Rosehip Oil

Rosa Canina (Rosehip), Fruit Oil (Ingredients from organic farming), Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Pulp Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (VitaminE).

Now focusing the ingredient listing specifically on moisturizers. In the spirit of simplifying ingredient listing, you need to only focus on bold ingredients (bottom of the post).

Generally, all moisturizers start with Water/Aqua. Once you add water to any formulation, you need to add other classes/categories of ingredients to achieve right consistency, texture, absorption properties and longevity in a formulation.

Please note: This list is not expected to contain all ingredients in the products below; instead it is intended to identify different categories/classes of ingredients added to a typical moisturizer formulation with some examples of ingredients in each category. The list of ingredients in the beauty world is exhaustive.

  • Surfectants – PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, PEG-80 sorbitan laurate, and PEG-40 stearate are mild cleansing agents, Laureth-7
  • Alcohols – Benzyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Alcohol Denat (most drying but in some formulations its necessary), Batyl Alcohol
  • Skin Conditioning – Propylene Glycol, Methylsilanol Hydroxyproline Aspartate
  • Emollients – Panthenol, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Acetate
  • Emulsifiers/Thickener – Paraffin, PEG (-4, -6, -8, -10, -12, -14, -16, -18, -32, -40 -100 Stearate, -150, -200, -350) Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 20,40,60,80, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Carbomer, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate
  • Silicone – Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, acrylates/dimethicone copolymer, cetyl dimethicone, caprylyl methicone, dimethicone crosspolymer, methyl trimethicone, polysilicone-11, siloxane, triethoxycaprylylsilane, vinyl dimethicone/methicone silsesquioxane crosspolymer, methicone
  • Preservatives – Phenoxyethanol, Borax, diazolidinyl urea (releases formaldehyde, should be avoided), sodium benzoate, sodium citrate, sorbic acid, Parabens (isobutylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben, and ethylparaben)

These don’t necessarily imply the ingredients are “bad”, “toxic”, “harmful” ingredients. I guess it’s a matter of making an informed choice if you’d like to apply all these to your skin or directly apply oils (in its purest form….as much as possible). I chose the latter for my skin, as it works just fine for me. So whilst majority of the times, I prefer oils and balms for my skin occasionally I love the ritual of opening a jar of thick whipped white cream, dipping my fingers in the jar and slathering the cream all over my skin. It’s a different sense of pleasure in that ritual.

Side Note

When you’re reading your ingredient listing Mineral Oil can be listed in various names such as C13-14 Isoparaffin, Petrolatum, Paraffinum liquidum, Paraffin Oil, Liquid Paraffin, White oil, Hydrocarbon oil, Petroleum Hydrocarbon.

Ingredient Lists for you to peruse:

Tula Skincare Night and Day Cream

Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Squalane (plant derived), Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Lactose, Milk Protein, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Yogurt Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Cichorium Intybus (Chicory) Root Extract, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Vegetable Oil, Camelina Sativa Seed Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Ascorbic Acid, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Bulnesia Sarmientoi Wood Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Juniperus Mexicana Oil, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Sodium Lactate, Sodium PCA, Sodium Carbonate, Polysorbate 80, Polysorbate 20, Beeswax (CeraAlba), Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Disodium EDTA, Pentylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol

Dr Scheller Lavender Night Cream for Sensitive Skin

AQUA (WATER), HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED OIL*, GLYCERIN, SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS (JOJOBA) SEED OIL*, COCOS NUCIFERA (COCONUT) OIL*, GLYCERYL STEARATE CITRATE, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, OLEA EUROPAEA (OLIVE) FRUIT OIL*, SQUALANE, CETEARYL GLUCOSIDE, BENZYL ALCOHOL, PLUKENETIA VOLUBILIS (INCA INCHI) SEED OIL*, LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA (LAVENDER) FLOWER EXTRACT*, BISABOLOL, GLYCYRRHIZA GLABRA (LICORICE) ROOT EXTRACT*, GELLAN GUM, PARFUM (FRAGRANCE)**, LINALOOL**, LIMONENE**, GERANIOL**, BENZYL SALICYLATE**, COUMARIN**, CITRAL**, XANTHAN GUM, STEARIC ACID, PALMITIC ACID, POTASSIUM SORBATE, TOCOPHEROL *ingredients from certified organic agriculture **from natural essential oils

Context Skin Night Cream

Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Squalane, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Stearic Acid, Sodium PCA, Dimethicone, Polysorbate 20, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Hydrolyzed Elastin, Hydrolyzed Silk, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Panthenol, Ethylhexylglcerin, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, o-Cymen-5-ol, Phenoxyethanol.

Clarins Hydra Quench Cream

Water, Glycerin, Diethylhexyl Succinate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Silica, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dipentaerythrityl Tetrahydroxystearate/Tetraisostearate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Polyacrylamide, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium PCA, Tetrasodium EDTA, Butylene Glycol, Dimethiconol, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Tocopherol, Laureth-7, Cedrelopsis Grevei Bark Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Pyrus Sorbus Bud Extract, Biosaccharide Gum-4, Thermus Thermophillus Ferment, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Lapsana Communis Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid, Potassium Sorbate

CLINIQUE Moisture Surge Intense For Very Dry To Dry Combination Skin

Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Squalane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Bran) Extract, Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract, Caffeine, Whey Protein\Lactis Protein, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Powder, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Cholesterol, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Petrolatum, PEG-150, Sucrose, Pyridoxine Dipalmitate, Linoleic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citric Acid, Polysilicone-11, Propylene Carbonate, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, PEG-8, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol

Kate Somerville Deep Tissue Repair Cream with Peptide K8™

Water, Stearic Acid, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Myristate, Isocetyl Stearoyl Stearate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glycerin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil,Squalane, Cholesterol, Urea, Sodium PCA, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Silk Powder, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Triethanolamine, Butylene Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Xanthan Gum, Polyquaternium-51, Trehalose, Tocopheryl Acetate, Fragrance, Allantoin, Limonene, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ceramide 2, Citric Acid, PEG-10 Rapeseed Sterol, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Tribehenin, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Triacetin, Copper PCA, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzoic Acid, Geraniol, Disodium EDTA.

Kate Somerville Oil Free Moisturizer

Water, Pentaerythrityl Tetracaprylate/Tetracaprate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Isocetyl Stearate, Dimethicone, Sodium Polyacrylate, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Nylon-6, Behenyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Octanoate, Xylitolglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Algae Extract, Pullulan, Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract, Butylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Trideceth-6, Triethanolamine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.

Kate Somerville Nourish Daily Moisturizer

Water, Cetyl Lactate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Butylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Chlorphenesin, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Parfum/Fragrance, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Carbomer, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Polysorbate 20, Retinyl Palmitate, Limonene.

Zelens Stem Cell Rejuvenating Overnight Treatment

Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Ethylhexyldodecanol, Phytosteryl Canola Glycerides, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Propylene Glycol, Methylsilanol Hydroxyproline Aspartate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Polysilicone-11, Butylene Glycol, Polyacrylamide, Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Acrylate/Carbamate Copolymer, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Ozonized Oryza Sativa Callus Culture Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Laureth-7, Parfum (Fragrance), Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Xanthan Gum, Dextran, Salicylic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-2, Linalool, Helichrysum Italicum Extract, Trifluoroacetyl Tripeptide-2, Pentapeptide-31.

HHW.com

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Decoding Oils – Edition 2

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(Photo Image: EssentialWellness.com)

Generally we dont query the  source or form of extraction employed when we buy our face oil, body oil, cleansing oil, hair oil or any oil. Although having the knowledge at your finger tips is vaulable in case you doubt the quality of oil and have questions around its extraction processes. This edition intends to provide you with knowledge of various types of extraction employed for different ingredients so you can gauge the quality and integrity of the essential oil you’re using.

Oil extraction is a very complex area. I’m making a humble attempt to keep it high level and approach the topic with minimal jargon. By no means, I want to bombard you with information and kill your interest in this area. Having said that, here are some points to note:

  • Different ingredients require different methods of extraction due to its individual properties
  • Different methods of extraction determine the degree of quality for each oil (including consistency & texture of oils) especially when heat and additives are involved

The table below shows, each class of oil (as talked about in Edition 1) and appropriate methods employed:

Carrier oil Cold pressed, Expeller Pressed, Infusion, Centrifuge or Solvent Extracted
Essential Oil Distillation (steam, vacuum and hydro), Cold Press, Solvent (although much debated method in Aromatherapy world)
Absolutes Solvent or Enfleurage
CO2 Extracts Hypercritical CO2 Extraction (not covered in this post)

Cold Pressed or Expression – Think of cold pressed juices, similar concept adopted to extract oil from seeds, nuts, kernels etc. This method helps the oil maintain its original properties, constituents and depth. This method ensures no therapeutic benefits are lost to heat. Possibly the top quality oil you can lay your hands on.

Expeller Pressed – A small amount of frictional heat is produced which is created by hydraulic presses. This makes the oil suitable and economical as a base for cosmetics because of its fairly undisturbed molecular state.

Centrifuge Extraction – This method is generally used for Virgin Coconut oil, where the coconut milk is spun in the centrifuge machine (and the oil separates, similar to the way cream separates from milk). This process is repeated a few times before pure oil is obtained. During the process, the temperature is closely controlled and monitored to keep the ingredients characteristics intact.

Due to the absence of very high heat in the extraction process, the oil is pure and retains its properties. It has a very mild aroma; although any form of heating will intensify the scent. Analogy: Think of raw food, uncooked it has a mild scent, you cook it and the delicious aroma intensifies.

Solvent Extracted: Sometimes, with some seeds, nuts or kernels, it is necessary to use a solvent (an additive to enable extraction, examples include petroleum ether, methanol, ethanol or hexane) to extract oil in order to make the extraction costs effective.

Upon final oil extraction, the solvent is removed from the oil, but a trace of percentage of the solvent may still be present in the final oil. Coconut, Palm, Grapeseed and Rice Bran are typically solvent extracted.

Some fragile flowers like Jasmine, Hyacinth, Narcissus and Tuberose cannot handle the heat of steam distillation (explained below). Therefore, solvent extraction method is employed to ensure the botanical properties remain intact and not lost to high temperatures. Essential oil extracted under this method is concentrated and close to the natural fragrance of the ingredient.

Controversy – Whilst solvent extraction is used extensively, some strongly believe that essentials oils from this method should not be used in Aromatherapy since a residue of the solvent may be present in the finished product. Some reports suggest, solvent residue of 6-20% is still present in the final extraction, but this was the case when Benzene was used as a solvent (no longer used as solvent as it is regarded as carcinogenic). Although, Hexane (a hydrocarbon) as a solvent, the residue goes down to about 10ppm (parts per million) and it is considered to be extremely low concentration of residue in the final product. After the ingredient has been treated with solvent, it produces a waxy aromatic compound called “concrete”.

Infusion/Macerate: This extraction method entails “infusing” the ingredients with the fat soluble properties of other botanicals. The ingredient selected is gently bruised and soaked in base oil for a set duration of time (something like bruising meat and then marinating). In some instances, the base oil is gently heated to encourage infusion. The composition is then filtered and additional material may be infused in the same oil a number of times (makes it more cost effective). The final oil is thoroughly filtered again to ensure any traces of plant particles are eliminated. The benefit of using oils from this extraction process is that the infused oil will contain the therapeutic properties of both the ‘marinating’ oil and original plant material.

Enfleurage (cold fat extraction process) – This method is usually adopted for flower petals that continue to give aroma even after harvesting. The petals remain in a greasy compound (animal or vegetable fats) for a few days or a couple of weeks (depending on the ingredient used) to allow the essence of petals to disperse into the compound.

Over a period of time the depleted petals are removed and replaced with a fresh harvest of petals. This process is repeated until the fatty compound mix is saturated with the essence. This process is repeated couple of times until the optimum saturation is achieved. When the mix has reached the saturation point, flowers are removed and the ‘enfleurage pomade’ – the fat and fragrant oil are then washed with alcohol to separate the extract from the remaining fat, which is then used to make soap. Long before the solvent extraction method was popular, flowers were extracted with enfleurage method in the Grasse region of Southern France.

As soon as the alcohol evaporates from the mixture you are left with the essential oil. This is a very labor intensive method of extraction, and needless to mention very costly way to obtain essential oil. Jasmine and Tuberose essential oils are extracted with this method. Today, Grasse continues to be one of the few areas in the world that continues to employ enfleurage as a method of extraction, although it is rare in the aromatherapy market due to the expense. If one finds a Jasmine enfleurage on the market, this would typically be considered an absolute (Source: Naha Org).

DISTILLATION

Distillation

(Photo Image: Union-Nature.com)

In the distillation process, ingredient is placed on a grid inside the still. The still is then sealed and depending upon the methods employed, steam or water slowly breaks through the ingredient to remove its volatile components. These volatile components rise upward through a connecting pipe that leads them into a condenser. The condenser cools the rising vapor back into liquid form. The liquid is then collected below the condenser. Since water and essential oil do not mix, the essential oil will be found on the surface of the water where it is drained. In some instances like that of Clove essential oil, the oil is heavier than water and is found at the bottom rather than the top.

1.Water distillation – The ingredients are completely immersed in water and the mixture is brought to a boil. The advantage of employing this method is the water acts as a barrier to prevent it from overheating and losing its properties. When the mixture cools down, the water and essential oil is separated and oil is decanted.

As a part of this process, the water that is separated is used, marketed and sold as ‘Floral Water or Hydrosol’ such as Rosewater, Orange Blossom water.

Water distillation can also be done at reduced pressure (under vacuum) to reduce the temperature to less than 100 degrees, which is beneficial in protecting the ingredients and the essential oils. As an example: Neroli oil is sensitive to heat and therefore will be successfully extracted using this method. Flip Side: Some ingredients contain high amounts of esters that don’t work well with this form of extraction. With extended exposure to hot water, the ingredient will start to break down the esters resulting in alcohols and carboxylic acids (e.g. Lavender).

2. Steam distillation – The ingredient is placed in a still and steam is introduced in the still. The hot steam enables release of aromatic molecules from the ingredient as the steam forces open the pockets where the oils are stored in the plant. These molecules are volatile oils which escape the plant and evaporate into steam.

The temperature of steam is rigorously controlled to ensure its just right to obtain the essential oil without impacting its integrity. If the temperature is too hot it may burn the plant and essential oil.

The evaporated steam (contains essential oil) is passed through cooling system to condense the steam. The resulting liquid separates water and essential oil.

Lavender is heat sensitive (thermolabile) and with this extraction method, the oil is not damaged and ingredients like linalyl acetate will not decompose to linalool and acetic acid.

Hydro diffusion (a type of steam distillation) – A relatively newer method of distillation, used for extracting essential oils from tough/solid materials like wood barks or seeds. The underlying difference between Hydro and Steam distillation method is the way steam is introduced in the still on the ingredients being extracted:

  • Hydro Diffusion – steam is introduced from top
  • Steam Distillation – steam is introduced from bottom

The condensation of the oil containing steam mixture occurs below the area where the ingredients are held in place by a grill. The main advantage of this method is that less steam is used (ensuring properties remain intact), shorter processing time and a higher oil yield.

Based on this information, you may be able to understand and appreciate why we pay so much for good quality, ethically sourced oils. My next post in thi series will unravel the worst kept secret: Why I prefer oils over moisturizers.

HHW.com

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