SKII

RECOVERY – POST TRAUMATIC FACIAL

One fine Saturday morning, I was incredibly excited for a Pro Biotic facial (which I purchased from Gilt). I was so looking forward to someone caressing my face, performing extractions to improve the texture of my skin, thoroughly clean, relax and rejuvenate with some facial massage. The facial looked appealing and perfect for my skin.

As I walked in, the place looked peaceful, clean and welcoming. I was led to the room and asked to fill a basic form with skin background, conditions and concerns. This was followed up with a brief conversation about my skin concerns, to which I promptly responded I needed to resolve some underlying build up congestion which has not surfaced at all. Also gave a full history of why it happened and how I was able to resolve to a degree. Then I had couple of obvious hormonal spots on my chin and jaw, along with some usual white heads and blackheads around nose area.

Anyway the facial commenced, and my first yellow flag was she didn’t go beyond my face, no neck, shoulder or chest. I let it pass and on the face all felt ok until the point we hit extractions. I have high pain tolerance however these extractions were most painful in my life! The tool used and technique sucked and left my skin bruised and traumatized for a couple of days.

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Some red flags I should have picked up on: she was poking and prodding on the same area, she was also poking and prodding in areas which weren’t ready, she went close to milia (big no-no, given she isn’t a dermatologist). She continued with the facial, with mask, light massage, high frequency, blue and red light and exclaimed voilà! She suggested to take my time as I get up and get dressed. I tipped her (not sure why?!?!!!) and left the place wanting to see my skin in proper day light. I was horrified, the first pic I took as I sat in the car. With daylight brightness (clear sunny day), it tones down the redness in the pic.

I immediately noticed my skin is bruised, bumpy, traumatized, red, severely irritated, and didn’t want to even touch my face. The bumps were areas or spots where I had no active surface spots (pustules), these were under the skin congestion spots (nodules) that she had a field day with. From the ruthless extractions, my skin felt warm. I felt like my inner radiator was lit, like hot flushes (not a good feeling). Fast forward to Day 3 after the facial, and I had started to possibly notice scarring (from brutal extractions) and extremely dehydrated skin. Anyway so fast forward to how I treated. Mantra was simple yet methodical, and identified ingredients my skin needed to be fed.

As a part of this post, the focus here should be ingredients that soothe, heal and nourish the skin, not so much the specific product used. Having said that, I will include the specific products I used, but I recommend focus on ingredients and dig through your stash.

Mantra: Soothe, Calm, Heal, Repair, Nourish, Replenish, Resurfacing

Day 1 (post facial) – As soon as I reached home, I gently cleansed my face with cleansing milk because I wanted to get rid of the products she applied on me. Generously spritzed zinc spray (La Roche Posay Serozinc) to soothe my irritated skin. Followed by that I placed a cool hydrating sheet mask and rested for a bit. With this my skin temperature was under control and didn’t feel the hot flush. Post mask, again zinc mist, hydrating serum and basic Jojoba Oil. The same evening,  I followed the exact same routine.

Step 1 – Soothe, Calm, Hydrate – Calm the skin from that trauma

By this point, I knew my skin’s barrier was compromised, vulnerable and not resilient. So aim of the game was soothe, calm and hydrate while gently building a resilient barrier again.

Ingredients Focus: Hydration – Hyaluronic Acid, Zinc, Aloe Vera, Calendula, Chamomile, Turmeric (best anti inflammatory), Fermented Essence to pat in, and High Frequency.

I continued with some high frequency at home every couple of days to help heal the skin.  Slowed down on massaging the skin because it would instantly go red and not stand the lightest pressure either. My skincare routine for next few days included:

  • Cleanse – Milk Cleansers and Gentle Emulsifying Balms (because I didn’t want to use washcloths)
  • Masks – Raw or Manuka Honey based (Mahalo Petal Mask, AveSeena Beauty Active Mask, Amala Beauty Brightening Mask, Leah Lani Mermaid Mask, The Body Shop Ethiopian Honey Mask)
  • Tone – Fermented Essences (Whamisa, Missha FTE Mist, SKII), Zinc Spray (La Roche Posay Serozinc)
  • Serum – Hydration serums (Hyaluronic Acid, along with Humectants such as Glycerin, Vitamin E, Sodium Hyaluronate – salt of Hyaluronic acid with smaller molecular size allowing deeper penetrability, Yeast extracts).
  • Sheet Mask – Soothing, Calming and Hydrating essence sheet mask (SKII, Whamisa, A by Bom, Blossom Jeju, Dr Jart+, Bonvivant)
  • Moisturisers (for day) – Barrier repair formulations (Priori Barrier Repair Complex, Skinmedica & Dermalogica)
  • Balm (for evening) – Linoleic acid rich oils, Amazonian butters like Uccuba, Murumuru to improve skin’s elasticity and resilience. Along with essential oils like German Chamomile (soothing), Turmeric (anti inflammatory) (Mahalo Balm, HHW Marakata Balm). You have to ensure that your skin can withstand the essential oils given it is compromised and sensitive.

By this point, sensitivity, irritation all minimized and I can continue re-building skin’s barrier with little more than a Hydration serum. Below pic is clicked exactly a week later. You can tell, surface and texture is not the best, it felt tight, scars starting to show, and a long road to recovery.

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1 Week Later…..

Step 2 – Replenish, Heal – Address the dehydration and surface dryness. ReBuild skin’s barrier again.

At this point, while irritation has subsided, it continued to feel tight, flat/pale, and overall an unhealthy appearance.

Ingredients Focus: Still a strong hydration focus with Hyaluronic acid with Humectants however, now I incorporate Antioxidants such as Green Tea, Resveratrol, Vitamin E, Squalene, Coenzyme Q-10, Caffeine.

I slowed down on high frequency this week, and started light massage to get the blood cells moving and keep the lymph drainage going. We don’t want stagnation which would have slowed down the recovery path. While most of the routine remained same, the new additions were around light massage, gentle exfoliation and patting in a number of layers of essence:

Routine:

  • Cleanse – Milk Cleanser, Angels on Bare Skin (my version which is finer in texture, also contains Goat Milk powder, No lavender and very gentle on skin)
  • Exfoliation – Fruit Enzymes (Basics on Enzymes) Skin was ready for mild exfoliation, not aggressive with physical or strong acid (Skin Juice Facial in a Jar – combination of AHA and enzymes, PCA Revitalizing Mask – papaya enzyme, Rejuvi Exfoliating Mask – papaya enzyme, Dr Lewinns Reversaderm).
  • Tone – 7 Skin Method involves patting in the essence 7 times, but you can determine how your skin is absorbing it. Can be limited to 2-3-4-5 times as well. It immediately addressed the skin’s tightness, surface dryness and lackluster appearance. Skin was bouncy like water bed. This can be layered in with hydration and antioxidant serums and while skin was damp, I applied an oil or balm (Whamisa, Blithe, Missha FTE Mist, SKII).
  • Serum – Hydration (Jordan Samuel Hydrate, MD Sun Hydration, Twelve Beauty, Sukin Facial Recovery Serum, Auspect Vitamin B Serum)
  • Sheet Mask
  • Oil or Balm while skin is still moist from mask

Dehydration and surface dryness were dealt with by this week with really good results. The 7 Skin method from Korea, immediately plumps the skin and sealing with a balm captures all goodness (creating a hydrolipid layer on skin). To check the hydration levels, I would pinch my skin to check how quickly it bounces back, or try not applying any products immediately after cleansing or shower. If it felt tight and craved product I knew the condition persisted. The skin was ready to take on more, so I introduced actives.

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Step 3 – Repair, Resurface Address the spots that came to surface, and Introduce Acids.

For the spots that surfaced, I extracted only if they were ready or left them alone. I wrapped my fingers around Intrinsics Silken Wipes and gently pushed them out after steaming my face. The main thing was not cause my skin any more trauma. Its not the end of the bloody world, if someone sees me with a spot or two!

Now here is the key of how I introduced the actives, because we all know, the easiest way to compromise skin’s barrier is over exfoliation. But also important to build an acid mantle again.

Introducing acids and retinol was a well thought out, methodical strategy which involved the molecular size of acid (penetrability in skin) along with ph level (how gentle or aggressive it would be) which would determine if it would irritate my skin or gently treat it. I included the actives through varying stage such as acid toners, masks, serums or treatment creams.

Acid Progression Meter –  Detailed post on Basics of AHA’s

Poly Hydroxy Acids – Least irritating (Zelens PHA Pads – uses Lactobionic PHA)

AHA (in order of smallest or largest molecule – determining penetrability in the skin)

  • MandelicColleen Rothschild Radiance Serum, Naruko Dermalane Mandelic Acid Sheet Masks and 20% Radiance Serum
  • Citric – No Standalone Product, as a part of Acid Combination
  • Tartaric – No Standalone Product, as a part of Acid Combination
  • Malic – No Standalone Product, as a part of Acid Combination
  • LacticKate Somerville Clinic to go, Bravura London Lactic Acid Peel
  • GlycolicAlpha H Liquid Gold (operates at ph of 2.5)

BHA (Salicylic Acid) – to avoid further congestion (Bravura London Salicylic Acid)

Acid Combination (contains a balanced formulations of all AHAs) – Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads, Biologique Recherche P50, DermaDoctor Kakadu C Intensive Vitamin C Peel Pads with Ferulic Acid & Vitamin E (+ boost of antioxidants).

Retinol – Introduced to my skin when it appeared my skin was comfortable using Lactic acid and ready to progress to Glycolic acid. I needed to ensure I was not experiencing any surface dryness before I incorporated Retinol in the mix. Started with 0.15% which was gentle enough (Skin+Pharmacy Retinol with Hyaluronic Acid Wipes) and progressed to 0.5% (Skinmedica Retinol Complex).

Routine:

  • Cleanse, Double cleanse only if I’m wearing full face of makeup with sunscreen.
  • Exfoliation – Enzyme exfoliation with steam, Chemical+Physical exfoliation (detailed post on products).
  • Mask – Four to five times a week, sounds crazy but has significantly helped my skin bounce back. Started including stronger clay masks but added couple of drops of oil so the skin doesn’t dry and reverse all the hard work.
  • Acid Treatments – starting with 2 times a week and based on how skin responded, I increased to 3-4 times a week
  • Hydrating or Soothing Toning Mist
  • Serums – Exfoliation Serums (good balance of AHA’s and BHA with some moisturizing ingredients aid in resurfacing the skin to reveal fresher, brighter, even toned skin). Resurfacing Treatments are concentrated forms of AHA’s and Retinol to resurface and revitalise the skin. Used strictly as a treatment, once or twice a week (SkinBetter AlphaRet Overnight Treatment, Cosmedix Define, Kate Somerville RetAsphere Micro peel). Retinol Serums  (separate postDrDG Ferulic+Retinol, PTR Retinol Fusion, Colleen Rothschild Retinol Complex, La Roche Posay Redermic R).  
  • Sheet Mask (optional)
  • Oil or Balm

By thoughtfully and carefully introducing actives in the skincare routine, my skin showed significant signs of improvement in terms of texture, tone and overall brightness. The surface dryness was completely gone by creating and maintaining a strong hydrolipid layer on skin (applying an oil or balm while skin is damp from essence)

Step 4 (ongoing) – Repair, Resurface (Addressing Scarring)

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Week 5 progress  Skin looks Good (with makeup)

Yes, her poorly skilled technique of extractions has left me with scars. As I slowly incorporate stronger acids (DrDG, Alpha H, Neostrata, Naruko Dermalane) and gradually build tolerance for stronger actives again, my skin will slowly but surely bounce back. I know this last step will take weeks before I see visible improvement in tone of the skin. Will continue with more sheet masks as well, exfoliating masks as skin regeneration is crucial.

While most of my routine has bounced back to it’s usual self with strong resurfacing actives (including AHA and RetinolAlpha H Beauty Sleep Power Peel), I’ve had more focus on Pigmentation Serums which have high concentrations of Niacinamide (Vitamin B3). It’s the powerhouse ingredient. Absolutely 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 (Manyo Factory Galactomyces Niacin Treatment, Auspect Skincare Vita B Serum).

Other very important aspects which have been crucial in this recovery are:

  • Massage, getting my skin moving, improving the blood circulation is important for lymph drainage and skin to heal. Several videos on YouTube on how to massage either by hands or jade tool or roller for Gua Sha. The underlying point is get the blood circulation moving (avoid stagnation) and flush toxins from skin.
  • Always and Always be guided by your skin, it speaks to you and you need to listen, understand and adapt. If its reacting and going red, you’re not doing something right, it feels tight – you’re dehydrated and possibly surface dry, over producing oil – you’re stripping it off good healthy fatty oils, breaking out in certain spots – either to do with your diet, gut health or overall health. This list could go on and on, but it is very important to understand why your skin is reacting in the way it is.
  • Your Insides Reflect Outside – What you put in your mouth and how you digest it has HUGE impact on your skin. Having the right balance of enzymes, acidity/alkalinity and fluids is utterly the baseline of solid skin health. I’m not telling anyone to quit dairy, or go gluten free for your skin….let your skin tell you how its coping with your habits.
  • Supplements, in addition to my usual Vitamin D and Fish Oils, I added Hyaluronic Acid supplements on Lady Hirons suggestion and it has worked for me. Not saying this is for everyone but check with your doctor. Get regular blood work done. Again this reflects on the point above.

Well this is it for now, by no means am I aiming for perfection but I would like to get to a place where I find it comfortable again to step out without makeup.

HHW.com

xx

 

Fermented Skincare by @Gothamista

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renee-chowToday I bring to you, the most exciting collaboration and post by my personal favorite Renee, the gorgeous person behind @Gothamista! Renee is the beaming ray of positivity, light and sunshine with a wealth of Korean beauty knowledge that I rely on and refer to time and again. Surely you want me to stop my gushing over Renee and how incredibly thankful I’m for her to agree to do this for HHW blog. Hope you all enjoy the read, and enjoy the shopping after the read ;).

Just like so many of my favourite skincare innovations, the fermented skincare movement started in Japan. You may be familiar with the clever ‘story’ of how a chance encounter of cosmetic scientists and elderly sake brewers with extraordinarily youthful hands were the origins of what would eventually take the world of skincare by storm. SKII scientists, made a connection between the child-hands and the yeast they were in constant contact with during the fermentation process, then focused their powers on finding that special strain. Years later, they introduced the world to ‘Pitera’, the fermented yeast essence and that extra step that’s been missing in our skincare routines. 

Fermented ingredients have since spread beyond essences, and into other product categories as well as all other markets. If there was any doubt, there is clearly a growing demand for more of this anti-aging wonder. The Korean skincare market has been the most dynamic in developing products incorporating this process, and the response is huge. Infact, there are entire brands devoted to fermented ingredients such as Su:m37, Sulwhasoo, Goodal, Primary Raw, to mention just a few. Not only are they using fermented yeast, which is a very rich source of vitamin B, this process has been used on other plant ingredients to boost their potency. Since Korean skincare has already mainly been using food-based ingredients in their products, which easily lends itself to fermentation, this was an organic transition. Some Western brands (Estee Lauder, Fresh, Origins) have also been using probiotics and fermented ingredients in their formulas and more are being introduced to capture a piece of this rapidly developing market. This is still a relatively new thing and research into it’s effects are still developing though there are definitive studies that the potency and efficacy of ingredients are increased through fermentation as well as antioxidant activity.  But regardless of what anyone says, the proof is in that elusive natural glow!

Personally, I’ve been using products with fermented ingredients for a while now, which I strongly believe have made a difference in the quality of my skin and seriously, I rarely find products to be transformative. Particularly for my skin which (for now) isn’t in need of drastic repair. But a couple of months ago, in preparation for a Youtube video I was doing on the subject, I went really hardcore for over a month. Meaning, almost every product of every step of my routine was about these ferments. I first noticed my skin changing from being dry and sensitive to actually, normal. Then it happened, the stuff you see on infomercials. I’m at risk of sounding like a paid testimonial, but people started commenting on the ‘glowiness’ of my skin, strangers even. Infact, it apparently showed in my subsequent videos as people commented there too. Science be damned, you can’t argue with glow, man. The kind that comes before radiant primers, foundation and highlighters.

This is beneficial for all skin types particularly dehydrated, sensitive or skin needing repair. But certain ingredients, which happen to be my favourites, are particularly effective for anti-aging, hydration and brightening. These include, yeast extracts, ginseng, rice, soy or natto, green/black tea and certain flowers and herbs. These ingredients go through a natural fermentation process that occurs in an oxygen-free environment, which over a long period of time will cause the yeast and carbohydrates to produce enzymes and eventually form amino acids, anti-oxidants and vitamins. So, what exactly are the claims and why do we need fermentation in our skincare?

  • The process increases potency, creating supercharged ingredients that are loaded with anti oxidants, vitamins and anti-inflammatories. 
  • Causes the breakdown larger molecules into smaller ones which makes for deeper absorption providing more effective nourishment. This is also gentler and less irritating on sensitive skin. Essences potent with fermented yeast have been known to help reduce redness.
  • Creates natural acidity in ingredients which, helps our skin’s acid mantle. This is important for a strong and healthy moisture barrier.
  • Natural preservative so synthetic preservatives are not as required.
  • The actives in fermented yeast are rich in vitamin B and peptides as well as boost our skin’s ability to naturally produce hyaluron, which helps prevent transepidermal water loss.

So, enough of my babble. Here are some of my most loved products with my favourite fermented superstars, for each step of the routine:

Source: Gothamista Fermented Skincare Video

CLEANSER

Botanic Farm Grain Ferment Cleansing Sherbert

This is one of the most powerful oil-based cleansing balms I’ve ever used. This is a natural brand that uses no parabens or mineral oils and has a coconut oil derivative base. Formulated with one of my favourite ingredients, Saccharomyces Rice Bran Ferment from Sake as well as Soybean ferment extract. This will melt down all your toughest waterproof makeup and stains upon contact. 

Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick

My ride or die. The concept of this brand is built entirely on natural fermented skincare. “Su:m” is the Korean word for breathe, while “37” is the optimal fermentation temperature. Their products are also free of synthetic preservatives. Their lab and facilities are located in the middle of nowhere, where the water and air is completely unpolluted by neighboring commercial facilities. They have a whole seasonal process of gathering plants and the technology and science they use to get the best out of every ingredient is other level stellar-ness. This contains Saccharomyces and fermented Damask Rose as well as luxurious plant oils such as Camellia, Green tea seed, Apricot and Olive. This is a foaming, second step cleanser that has a low pH of 5.5 so will not strip your skin or harm your precious, little acid mantle.

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TONER

Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner

Not to seem dramatic, but this toner affects me on an emotional as well as cellular level. I get slightly euphoric. Not bad considering skincare routines are often a chore. Whamisa is another brand that focuses on natural fermentation to augment and preserve the potency of certain star ingredients. I find fermented toners particularly effective because right after subjecting our skin to cleansing, the smaller particles and potent ingredients are so good at calming inflammation and delivering lost nutrition to our skin quickly and without irritation. The better absorption also makes way for oncoming products to work their magic. This toner is viscous and richly hydrating, replenishing anything that might have been lost and gives the skin some instant volume. This is a waterless toner which purely uses aloe as a base and contains fermented Chrysanthemum flower, Galactomyces ferment filtrate, fermented Dandelion Root and Oat Kernal extracts to soothe, deeply hydrate and nourish the skin. 97% of the ingredients are certified organic, free of parabens, synthetic dyes or fragrances.

ESSENCE

Missha First Treatment Essence

This was a surprise. Though I started out using the SKII Facial Treatment Essence, I ended up preferring this formula. Truthfully, I did not want to. I refused to try this for a long time because I did not appreciate how boldly this product was ‘duping’ the SKII essence down to the name. Curiosity and a big sale finally got the better of me and, what can I say, my skin wants what it wants. The difference in ingredients leaves my skin feeling more hydrated and the glow, the fabulous glow! While SKII uses 90% Galactomyces ferment filtrate (Pitera), Missha’s essence uses 80% Saccharomyces ferment filtrate (Zyosis). This also has Sodium Hyaluronate, Niacinamide and Root extracts. I’ve even come to love the slightly sour scent. But as far as all the other high percentage, fermented SKII copycat yeast essences go, I have yet to try one that my skin prefers to this. 

Su:m37 Secret Essence

My favourite essence, my…my preciousss. This is a very special potion made up of Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces and 80 very carefully selected plant extracts which are fermented for 365 days. All these plants have various antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and nourishing properties. I feel like I’m spoiling myself every time I pat this into my skin as it’s refined, luxurious, and the price reflects it. But the skin will never feel better. This is watery thin, hydrating, sinks into the skin super quickly leaving no residue but really soft, smooth, hydrated skin that looks bright and vibrant.

Innisfree Fermented Soybean Energy Essence

The second essence I ever purchased and countless essences later, I still love this.  This has 91% fermented Jeju soybean. In a world of cosmetics where everything is diluted with water, these products with such graciously high percentages of key ingredients are bottled blessings. Few products leave my skin feeling as soft and plump as this. This original formula is amazing for dry/dehydrated skin people or during the winter months, otherwise there is a ‘light’ version available for those with oilier skin or prefer a lighter formula. 

Manyo Factory Galactomyces

A more budget-friendly, but no less effective brand devoted to this process. Manyo Factory is an organic brand that uses botanicals and natural preservatives. I would venture to say that during my staunch, “Fermented or bust,” phase, this might have made the difference. Fast absorbing, with a nice slip to the watery texture, this formulation that doesn’t have the typical sour scent, has a simple, 7 ingredient list. 97% Galactomyces ferment filtrate, 2% Niacinamide and droplets a few other plant extracts including Sodium Hyaluronate.

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SERUM/AMPOULE

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum

A serum that has over the years, become the quintessential elixir for anti-aging. The key actives here are the same probiotics found in yogurt, Bifida Ferment Lysate and Lactobacillus Ferment. The latter is particularly effective as a skin softener. This overnight serum has left my skin feeling hydrated, less red and volumized with fewer fine lines visible and a youthful bounciness to it. Their Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask, which holds half an entire bottle of the serum’s active ingredients, is probably the most powerful sheet masks I’ve used. Overnight, this transformed my skin, revitalized it and the hydration was off the charts.

Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule

An ampoule can either be used before serum or in the case of this product, in lieu of. This ampoule will outshine any serum out there so there’s no point in bothering. In addition to being less than half the price of the Estee Lauder ANR serum, this one has a far more impressive ingredients list.  This formula also contains probiotics Bifida Ferment Lysate and Lactobacillus Ferment, but additionally has Lactococcus Ferment to soothe and strengthen sensitive skin. There is also a good amount of Niacinamide, Retinol and a very long list of skin loving plant extracts and oils many of them fermented. This ampoule is a powerhouse and anyone concerned with anti-aging should consider using this.

FACIAL OIL

Goodal Waterest Lasting Water Oil 

The Goodal, ‘Waterest’ line of products is focused not just on fermentation, but double fermentation of their ingredients and they’ve managed to create a new concept oil in their uber popular ‘Water Oil’ products. This is the ultimate non oily, fermented oil blend for anyone like myself who love the idea of oils on our skin but really dislike the greasy and invasive way it feels. This has all the benefits of oil products, but is fast absorbing, skin softening, deeply hydrating and an all around pleasant skincare experience. This is categorized as a ‘booster serum’ (Korean products and their confusing categories and names), which probably means one should use this before serum. Since the consistency is very light and quite watery, I’ve often used this right after toner before essence. Honestly, one could use this at any step between toner and moisturizer, it’s such a versatile product that absorbs so beautifully and LASTS!

This contains a blend of 7 fermented moisturizing seed oils that are packed with antioxidants: Sunflower seed oil, Jojoba, Camellia, Green Tea Seed, Argan, Olive and Macadamia nut. These oils are micronized to absorb fast into the skin and sink deeper to nourish from deeper within and then sealed in with a bio gum complex for lasting results. I can personally attest that my chronically dehydrated skin stays moisturized throughout the day with this when usually it gets drier. But there’s more, this formula contains Bifida Ferment Lysate, Niacinamide and Licorice Extract for brightening, Aloe and Sodium hyaluronate for hydration and a wonderful trio of Ceramide, Cholesterol and Lecithin similar to our skin’s own natural composition which penetrates better into our skin and strengthens the barrier. This is for all skin-types, particularly if you have dull, dehydrated skin. You are welcome.

Goodal Water Oil Firming Camellia

This is the latest addition to the growing Water Oil family of products and I must mention it. This is more targeted towards anti-aging concerns which, I have. The first 2 ingredients listed are Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate and micro fermented Camellia Flower extract which has shown to be great for boosting collagen production in the skin. This also contains Camellia oil which is rich in antioxidants and has one of the highest percentages of Omega 9 oleic fatty acids than any other natural oil. This is great for keeping the skin moisturized and youthful as it’s heavier and richer in composition making it so luxurious. What sends this over the top for me is the intoxicating, light floral scent. I don’t usually like added fragrances but this is sensory bliss. I wonder if this is what Camellia flowers smell like, if so, I want to be surrounded by them. Just like the original, this delivers deep and lasting moisturization without the grease.

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Source: @gothamista

EYE CREAM/SERUM

Benton Fermentation Eye Cream

I was waiting patiently for an eye cream like this to come out. One that is formulated with similar high concentrations of fermented ingredients that I apply on the rest of my face. This is a wonderful, light, silky eye cream that glides over delicate skin and absorbs quickly. I really love the unique texture. There is the same sort of silky slip that the essences have that doesn’t come from oil or silicones. This formulation contains all safe, non-irritating ingredients, the first 2 of which combine the yeasts Galactomyces ferment filtrate and Bifida ferment lysate. There are also ceramides, EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor), plant oils and wonderful humectants. Perfect for crow’s feet control!

Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum

For those who want or need some extra help with that fragile eye area, this serum is is a powerful anti-aging fighter. The “Shaba Complex” is a concentrated dose of Saccharomyces Black Tea Ferment and copper peptides combined to effectively fight signs of aging before they begin, or stop things before they get out of hand. Black Tea Ferment is meant to be effective at preventing glycation which is supposedly where the sugar in your bloodstream can affect the proteins in our skin, like collagen and elastin. Copper peptides are great for promoting those proteins. Other notable key ingredients include antioxidants Edelweiss Stem Cells, Ubiquinone, Niacinamide, Sodium Hyaluronate and my favourite, Sea Buckthorn Oil. The texture is light, fast absorbing, and disappears almost completely, this creates no interference with other products you might be layering over including eye cream and makeup. I use this over my entire mobile lid.

MOISTURIZER

Primary Raw DoYou Soy Milk Cream

The star of this brand is the Fermented Soy Bean which has become one of my favourite ingredients as it’s particularly effective at hydrating the skin and fighting the signs of aging. Everything about this product is delightful, from the packaging to formula. This is a waterless formula which is always a huge benefit since I know there is no dilution of ingredients and I’m getting the most for what I’m paying. As well as the Soybean Ferment Filtrate, there is also Soybean extract, Aloe, Rice bran water, Niacinamide, Snail secretion, Green Tea leaf extract, Beta-glucan, Copper peptides, so, so many other fabulous fermented extracts. This cream is refreshingly lightweight and milky while being deeply moisturizing without greasiness or stickiness. Mildly scented, this will leave your skin feeling silky and hydrated. Great for all skin types.

SK-II R.N.A Power Radical New Age Cream

There are very few moisturizers I’ve come across that can create a glow comparable to this luxury cream from SK-II. Their R.N.A Power Radical New Age Cream is one of their best-sellers for a reason. Once you experience the radiance, you will cling on with a death-grip. The RNA line is formulated to target the 10 visible signs of aging and is good for any skin type experiencing or wishing to prevent further signs of aging. This is a silky cream that is creamy but not heavy. The texture is velvet-smooth and great for layering. Good for any skin type that has anti-aging concerns and want to address fine lines, firmness, dullness and dryness. This also contains Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate as a third ingredient as well as Niacinamide. This pretty much made a noticeable difference on me after a few days of use. My travel-depleted, dull, tired skin brightened right up and there is never a need for luminous primers with this.

MASKS

Fresh Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask

“Overnight” would accurately describe the success of this mask when it first launched. Their proprietary “Black Tea Complex” uses Black Tea Ferment and Black Tea Extract to super boost the antioxidant power along with Blackberry leaf and Lychee seed extracts to firm and smooth the skin. As an overnight mask, this is the final layer and step of an evening skincare routine. One that I leave until right before I go to bed. This is not invasively heavy or occlusive whereby most of the mask ends up absorbed by the cotton fibers of your pillow, or to the extent that all your hair is stuck to your face. By morning, the entire mask would have absorbed into your skin leaving it noticeably smooth, soft and for some people, firmer. This is a weekly treatment which after regular use will leave skin looking more refreshed and plump.

Goodal Waterest Vital Sleeping Pack

One of my favourite sleeping packs at a mere fraction of the price. Like the rest of the products in the Waterest Line, the main ingredient here is double-fermented lotus flower. The formula uses every part of the plant including the flower, seeds, leaves and roots to deliver and lock moisture into the skin. Which is what it does very, very well. After using this for the first time, I have never touched my Laneige Water Sleeping pack since. This also contains Sage Leaf extract, Hyaluronic acid and fermented Pumpkin extract which is a naturally derived AHA.  The texture of this is perfect for all skin types as it is a soothing gel texture that is refreshing but deeply hydrating. This is neither oily, heavy or occlusive. This absorbs, works on your skin overnight and leaves you with soft, volumized, hydrated skin after rinsing the next morning.

Whamisa Organic Fruits and Tomato Fermented Hydrogel Sheet Mask

Favourite sheet mask. This hydro gel mask is itself made of skin benefitting ingredients such as Aloe vera and Kiwi extract. This is soaked in a bottle of serum, one of the purest formulas I’ve ever seen so I don’t want to waste even a gooey drop. I tend to smear the excess serum in the package on my face first before applying the mask. The formula is 95% organic ingredients and mostly fermentented fruit extracts such as Tomato, Apple, Kiwi, Banana and Licorice root extract. There are no parabens, silicones, fillers, mineral oils, synthetic dyes or fragrances. There is an intoxicating scent that comes from the small amounts of Lavender and citrus oil that will relax and comfort the soul. This will nourish and rehydrate depleted skin as well as brighten the complexion. I can keep one of these on my face for about 45 mins sometimes even an hour without it drying out. The mask is cooling and soothing on the skin the entire time and when you peel this off, brighter, smoother, plumper, hydrated and refreshed skin is revealed. The results are wondrous and lasting.

PEELING/EXFOLIATION

Manyo Factory Active Refresh Herb Peeling Gel

Having had sensitive skin most of my life that stung and would turn red from a breeze blowing on my face, I still cringe at the thought of abrasive, physical exfoliators. I love my gommage peeling gels and if you also prefer something gentler, you might love this one. The exfoliation you get from this comes from natural enzymes mainly Papain (Papaya extract) and is insanely satisfying. You basically massage this on your skin and very quickly, fibers from the ingredients mix with your own dead surface skin cells, dirt, sebum and ball up creating a peeling effect. After rinsing off, my skin has never felt more soft and smooth. The presence of rice bran powder helps with that super smooth, skin surface texture. To nourish the skin, this contains fermented Pea Root Extract along with many other botanicals such as Buckwheat, Broccoli and Green tea extracts. There is also Hyaluronic acid to keep the skin hydrated as you exfoliate. This was clinically tested and is hypoallergenic for those with sensitive skin. 

Ofcourse, everyone’s skin is different. The same miracle ingredients for me could cause someone else to break out into a pox. I don’t see this ‘trend’ dying down anytime soon. I certainly won’t be quitting my beloved ferments, if anything, I am trying to fit more into my routine as I’m a firm believer of how too much of a good thing…can be wonderful.

by @Gothamista aka Renee

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

My Bedside Essentials

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An overview of what resides by my bedside. Some beauty and some random things: 

Candle – I prefer soy wax candles with essential oils, they usually burn when I’m getting ready or relaxing in bed reading on my iPad or watching tv.

May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon – the shallow part of me wants to say the scent just allows me to melt and drift away. But in reality, since I do my skincare fairly early in the evening (straight after work, before cooking dinner) by the time I head in bed I feel like slapping on another layer of oil or balm.

SKII Mid Night Essence – whilst this a newer addition to the bedside, I can safely say I will be repurchasing this. It has an incredibly hydrating and refreshing feel (menthol) on skin. Warm, balmy summer nights, my skin would love this. The impact on skin is rather luminous.

Burts Bees Lemon Cuticle Balm – suffer from really bad, dry cuticles and over the years, BBees and I have been steady. It makes an overnight difference.

Body Oil – again dry body skin, that screams for lovely scented relaxing body oil. If I had my way I’d slather blue cocoon all over my body (watch me go broke in a space of 1 week….at this rate).!

P1040068Magnifying Mirror – well because I roll out of bed and analyse my skin. Honestly this is one thing I should probably get rid of, because it pushes me in an obsessive zone with my daily skin health. Also greatly beneficial for extracting blackheads and whiteheads.

Papaw Ointment – staple for many many many years. This one is an effortless all rounder, being a lip balm, cuticle balm, moisturizing nails, heels, knees….basically anything.

Hand Cream (2-3 different creams) – usually with different fragrance base to adjust to my mood. One to always be a permanent resident would be some form of a rose fragrance cream (current rose – Grown Alchemist). Also keep Alpha H Glycolic Acid hand cream, La Roche Posay, and Aesop.

Hair Brush and Tie – few strokes through my hair, fine hair is prone to helluva lotta knots therefore having a paddle brush is crucial. Also in theory I should let my hair free, but I hate/despise the feeling of hair on my neck or shoulder when I’m sleeping, so I tie my hair very loosely (basically contain it).

Phone Charging Dock – well no brainer. All facets of my life are scheduled, organized and prioritized in this device. So scary as I write this….eeeeek

Drawer Miscellaneous – scratching stick (incredibly helpful for scratching my back), socks (need em), sleeping mask (don’t even know why I have this because I never use them).
Water – Always, I couldn’t sleep knowing a bottle of water is missing by my bedside.

What are your must have by your bedside? What am I missing?

HHW.com

xx