Colleen Rothschild

Enzyme & AHA Exfoliators

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Today in the market we have a massive range of exfoliators to choose from, of course the traditional physical exfoliator continue to exist but many have evolved to chemical (AHA and Enzyme) exfoliators. There is also a combination of physical and chemical exfoliator. So ultimately it comes down to your own preference and skin’s tolerance level. The general theme to all these products is the following category of ingredients:

  • Natural fruit enzymes loosen dead skins cells from the surface of skin. Also includes fermented fruit extracts
  • Physical exfoliants can be a huge range from botanical, herbals, precious stones to buff away surface dead skin cells
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids gently exfoliates skin and depending on type of AHA (and it molecular structure…to learn more about AHA click here), goes deeper than enzymes (learn basics of enzymes, click here). Lactic acid, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Malic Acid
  • Cellulose peels & Sugar extracts polishes, lifting away dullness revealing brighter skin

Choice of product depends on many factors such as:

  • How many actives? Just enzymes or AHA’s or combination?
  • Purely chemical exfoliation or including physical exfoliation too?
  • Product effectiveness?
  • Other factors to consider such as packaging, consistency, texture, smell?
  • Of course how much $$$ we need to fork out?
  • Certain brand principles and ethos?

In this post, I have attempted to round up all exfoliators I’m currently using and provide a brief summary on their composition and performance. Any questions or feedback you’d like to add to any product please post in comments below.

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PCA Skin Revitalizing Mask was a complete surprise for me! The ingredient listing, performance, results and finally the price. Primary base and first ingredient as Papaya fruit extract adds to the distinct green colour of the product. Tingles in a good way and sloughs off dead skin from surface. The product is enriched with Squalane, Sugarcane Extract, Sodium Chlorophyllin-Zinc Complex, Honey/Mel/Miel, Rose Geranium Flower Oil, Fennel Oil, Patchouli Oil, Green tea leaf Extract, Orange Fruit Extract, Lemon Fruit Extract, Apple Fruit Extract, Sucrose, Soybean Oil, Rosewood Wood Oil, Lime Fruit Extract, Orange Peel Oil. The skin glows and if followed by clay mask, the final result is spectacular. This is certainly not for sensitive skins, with combination of strong enzyme and essential oils it might be tad much.

Planted in Beauty Detox Exfoliant is a classic combination of physical and chemical exfoliation (pineapple enzymes). The physical exfoliation is very fine and wouldn’t scratch or damage the skin. It is also enriched with some lovely antioxidants (Raspberry and Moringa Seed Extract), plants extracts (Great Burdock, Fenugreek, May Chang, Alpine Willow Herb, Wintergreen), and sugars (Alpha Glucan Oligosaccharide). It appears to be well rounded in terms of formulation and performance is immediately visible results. Packaged in a tall 120ml/4oz pump bottle makes it very convenient. The addition of essentials oils makes it smell something like a product used in a spa.

Dr Lewinn’s Reversaderm Enzymatic Detoxifying mask sounds promising and heavy in its name. Purely chemical exfoliation, with slightest tingle however in terms of performance it does ok for people with low expectations. Don’t get me wrong, it does it’s job however its limited in its performance compared to many others in this post. The inci list stars include, Irish Moss Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Papain, Bromelain, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Vitamin C, Resveratrol Ferment Extract, Oligopeptide-24, French Saffron Extract, Glycolic Acid. Also the availability is limited to Australia and possibly online in UK.

BeautyPie Fruitizyme Five Minute Facial is a newer product on the market, with an interesting brand concept where their members can shop from an ever-expanding selection of unbranded luxury skincare and makeup products, and pay only the straight off the production-line prices. Anyway aside that, let’s talk about product formulation and performance. So formulated with Glycolic Acid, Pumpkin Fruit Extract, Lactobacillus  Pomegranate Fruit Extract, Quartz Powder, Bamboo Stem Extract, Rice Starch, Pomegranate Bark Extract, Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Witch Hazel Bark Extract, Raspberry Leaf culture. It is thick mildly physical exfoliating gel which positively tingles the skin and definitely does its job. Except how the brand works and does it truly save money, is largely questionable.

Själ Pearl Exfoliating Mask is the most expensive product on this post. A triple-performance exfoliant and mask that effectively detoxifies pores and brightens skin texture through a complex of enzymes, multi-fruit acids, and crushed pearl to minimize dullness, remove dead skin and excess sebum. The inci list is dissected below for each category of ingredient:

  • Galactoarabinan: Larch Tree extract (recommend reading this article by Oskia)
  • Precious Stones Exfoliators: Pearl Powder, Sapphire Powder, Diamond Powder, Citrine Powder, Amethyst Powder, Tourmaline Powder, Ruby Powder, Amber Powder – claims to have its own vibration that creates a gentle cooling effect when applied to skin that stimulates micro-circulation while helping to improve clarity and brightening. I don’t know enough about precious stones vibration and its impact & effectiveness in skincare but surely intrigues me a lot.
  • Enzymes: Pumpkin Fruit Ferment Filtrate, Pomegranate Fruit Ferment Extract, Bromelain, Papain, Bilbery Fruit/leaf Extract, Sugar Cane Extract, Sugar Maple Extract, Orange Fruit Extract, Lemon Fruit Extract
  • Other Extracts & Cellulose/Sugars: Smithsonite Extract, Rhodochrosite Extract, Mushroom Stem Extract, Algae Extract, Fennel Extract, Mannitol (type of sugar), Cellulose, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Royal Jelly Extract
  • Essential Oils: Blue Tansy Oil, Rosewood Wood Oil, Lavender Oil, Lime Peel Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Orange Peel Oil, Bergamot Fruit Oil

Upon application this product does tingle my skin, dries fairly quickly, and finally the skin is visibly radiant. To remove, I wet my fingers and gentle buff away the product as it has slight physical exfoliation component through precious stone powders. It is pricey and has a competitor in same price range which I’ve talked about below (Omorovicza Copper Peel).

Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator’s is much revered among the blogosphere, and social media. Of course I had to grab myself a 1.5oz (45ml) jar at $60. Quite a pricey proposition and the formula is basically Honey, Plant Oils, Herbal Enzyme (powders), Papaya Enzyme (41th / 49th ingredient) and Essential Oils. While it leaves skin soft, smooth, radiant, its essentially a physical exfoliant in a honey base and very little active enzyme (Papain, of course honey too). I feel no tingle expected from a typical enzyme exfoliant, however get more from this product through its physical exfoliation. I’m possibly the only one who feels this way about this product, and also feel there are other physical exfoliators at a much competitive price too.

Colleen Rothschild Dual Enzyme Polish (50ml at $55) is unique formula in this category of peels and exfoliants. While the formula consists of usual Bromelain, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Papain, it also has notable ingredients like Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and finally few more ingredients like Comfrey Leaf Extract, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Argan Kernel Oil, Macadamia Seed Oil, Olive Fruit Oil. The Vitamin  and C are on skin for such a short while I don’t see them making an impact on skin. This polish to be applied, left on for few minutes and then gradually exfoliated off the skin. Fresh, bouncy, soft skin reveals itself.

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SkinJuice is an Australian skincare distinguished by its intense bright colour packaging. Not widely known to the world but it is surely a brand to keep an eye out for. I tried their Facial in a Jar mask which is basically a hot pot of AHAs, Enzymes and potent botanical extracts. Some known ingredients included in this formulation are: Lactic Acid, Witch Hazel Distillate, Pomegranate Fruit Ferment Extract, Mandelic Acid, PhytoCide Elderberry Extract, Sodium Lactate, Manna sugar, Malic acid, Pumpkin Fruit Extract, Seabuckthorn Berry Oil, Moth Bean Seed Extract, Irish Moss Extract,  Rapeseed Oil, Ginger Root Extract, Papain, Sodium Hyaluronate etc. Packaged in an air tight pump up jar, and need only 2-3 pumps for a layer over the face. Slightest tingle on skin and leaves skin incredibly soft, radiant and refined. No physical exfoliation at all, however it major concoction of AHA’s and enzymes I doubt the skin needs any more exfoliation.

January Labs Power Peel & Go is one product I was very excited to try however it left me very underwhelmed. It appealed to me for its short, concise inci list and hoped it performed like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, but it left a lot to be desired. For non-elephant skin individuals this peel might work, however for me it didn’t do a thing. I contacted brand and they sent me the Pro version, which gave me mild tingle and flush to skin mainly because of Cinnamon Oil. Sensitive skinned people should be careful using Cinnamon oil in this formulation, as it may irritate the heck out of your skins. Long story short, for USD $75, there are much better alternatives available. Full Inci List: Water, Hypromellose, Phenol (magic ingredient in Biologique Recherche P50 1970, for numbness), Cinnamon Oil (stimulate the skin and increase circulation), Potassium Sorbate, Chloroxylenol, Grapefruit Extract (purifier, antiseptic, and preservative).

Chantecaille Fruit and Flower Mask is a gorgeous cream mask with not so clean ingredient list but performance surpasses many masks! A light whipped cream consistency mask, packaged in thick glass bottom jar, and enriched with Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, Hibiscus Flower Extract, Mandarin Orange Peel Oil, Grapefruit Fruit extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Papain (Hyaluronate and Papain/Papays enzyme are last few ingredients). I do feel a mild tingle on applying this mask, it smells just gorgeous of florals like Rose, Hibiscus, Jasmine, Narcissus. I also enjoy steaming my face as this mask eats away dead cells from surface.

Pixi Peel & Polish is a mild physical exfoliating or a leave on peel. Hence the name Peel and Polish. P&P is formulated with Lactic Acid, Sunflower Seed Oil, Witch Hazel Water, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Papaya Fruit Extract, Sugar Cane Extract, Sugar Maple Extract, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Orange Fruit Extract, Lemon Fruit Extract, Bilberry Fruit Extract. The physical exfoliation is courtesy of Polylactic Acid beads which are tiny, and not as abrasive on skin’s surface. For $24 this product performs well, and quick spruce up for skin. By no means this is an indulgent luxurious or clean product but like I said, does the job.

Speaking of luxurious and indulgent lets talk Omorovicza Copper Peel. A brightening two phase peel for brightening skin, combining a blue copper paste and a lactic acid activator, polishes and smoothes complexion and visibly reduces pore size for a brighter, more even skin tone. I was very dubious about this product, given the price and ingredient list appeared reasonable but basic.

So let me cut to the chase, did it live up to the hype? Yes! The paste is very very fine and very gentle to massage on dry skin. Paste is enriched with Sodium Bicarbonate, Squalane, Copper Gluconate, Camphor, Yeast Extract, and essential oils like Sage Oil, Chamomile, Geranium. I tend to leave it on for few minutes before proceeding with the Activator enriched with Hungarian Thermal Water, Lactic Acid, Hungarian Thermal Water Ferment Extract, Apple Fruit Extract, and Chlorella  Protein Ferment. Gently massage in the activator and it forms white foam (don’t think soapy suds, no). Finally splash water on water and throughly remove any residue. The skin feels soft like cloud, radiant like first ray of sun. The tubes last least 3 uses, for me personally I used 4 times. So it seems the dollar goes much further than initially anticipated and results surely make it worth it for me.

So as a final round up, couple of quick points from usage perspective, I tend to use 2-3 times a week. Typically after cleanse and before a dense purifying clay or mud mask. Also highly recommend steaming your face with these products on your skin, the results are astounding. If there is any product you’d like to recommend in this category, please leave your recommendation in comments below.

HHW.com

xx

Colleen Rothschild Mandelic Acid Radiance Serum

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Colleen Rothschild’s products are no secret to anyone. Over this past summer, she released a gorgeous new Mandelic Acid Radiance Serum. I’ve spoken about Mandelic Acid before (click here) which is derived from Bitter Almonds and helps with age spots and discoloration. Lets dive into CR Serum:

Claims: 

The Mandelic Acid Radiance Serum is an intensive daily treatment that promotes cellular turnover to address photo-agingfine lines, acnedark spots and overall skin texture. At the core of the formula is Mandelic acid which is a gentle, yet highly effective Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) derived from the Bitter Almond.

Pollution, Aging, Sun, and Stress take a toll on the skin and its natural ability to generate and shed skin cells. Dead skin cells sit on the surface of the skin causing a dry, lackluster appearance. The new Colleen Rothschild Mandelic Acid Radiance Serum is formulated to gently exfoliate, dissolve, and breakdown the tiny bonds between dead skin cells, revealing healthy glowing skin. Over time, a brighter and more radiant complexion is unveiled.

Gentle enough for use every day :

  • Refine skin texture and tone – Yes
  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles – Cant tell, I don’t have as many lines yet
  • Helps clogged pores and pesky blackheads – Yes
  • Inhibits dark spots and uneven skin tone – Yes Yes

INGREDIENTS (30 ml (1 fl oz) -$75)

Aqua (Water), Mandelic Acid, Lactic Acid, Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate (derivative of Azelaic acid), Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier), Hexanoyl Dipeptide-3 Norleucine Acetate (tripeptide), Ergothioneine (naturally occurring amino acid), Salicylic Acid, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate(Vitamin C), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Saccharum O cinarum (Sugarcane) Extract, Garcinia Mangostana (Mangosteen) Fruit Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Extract, Lycium Barbarum (Goji) Fruit Extract, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract, Morinda Citrifolia (Noni) Extract, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Salicornia Herbacae Extract (halophyte plant), Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Glycerin, PPG-12 SMDI Copolymer, Lecithin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Galactoarabinan, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxide

FORMULATED WITHOUT: Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, Synthetic fragrances or colorants

The wonderful thing about this inci list is all actives are listed before preservatives. To summarise, the list above is enriched with AHA’s like Mandelic, Lactic, Salicylic acids and derivative of Azelaic Acid. Includes Tripeptides, Vitamin C, antioxidants like Green Tea, fruit extracts of Apple, Sugarcane, Mangosteen, Pomegranate, Goji, Acai, Noni, Coffee, Orange, Lemon and fragranced with essential oil of Neroli.

In terms of consistency and texture, it is a clear slightly runny gel like liquid. The smell is wonderful of Neroli essential oil. Absorbs instantly in the skin. I take couple of pumps all over my face and neck. Generally layer it with some light hydrating serum. Due to the number of acids and essential oil actives, I find it does dry my skin if not nourished properly. To layer products on top is a complete dream, no rolling, no piling, just glides and absorbs smoothly in the skin.

Next morning, my skin has been smooth, even toned and textured and radiant. I absolutely adore how my skin looks and feels following morning. The makeup glides on beautifully and leaves a flawless finish. Although in saying so, I limit use of this gem to 2-3 times a week solely because it can be drying for my skin. The oilier skins would adore this serum, but my skin is temperamental in Chicago winter and has its dry moments. Over the course of summer, I used more frequently to address any sun damage and continue with radiance boosting products.

I highly recommend looking into Mandelic acid as an ingredient in your skincare routines. In this product, having Mandelic with other AHA’s, peptides, and anti oxidants gives it that extra boost. Do you have any other recommendations for products centered around Mandelic Acid?

HHW.com

xx

Encyclopedia of Face Masks

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

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

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

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

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

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Charcoal, Clay and Mud Masks

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

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

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

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

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Brightening, Radiance, Firming Mask

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

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

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Hydration Boosters

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

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

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

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Powder masks

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

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

Click here for my detailed review

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Sheet Masks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HHW.com

xx

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

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