Oct 26, 2014

Clear skin: It All Starts With The Cleanse

Picture by me
Don't you just love a good cleanse? I know I do. It leaves me refreshed and energised, its just a wonderful experience every day.

When it comes to fighting black heads, white heads and pimples, the truth is, any cleanser will do.

This comes from personal experience with someone with terribly sensitive and acne-prone skin. When I was fighting those harsh and angry pimples, I found that I could get away with the gentle cleansers, the moisturising cleansers and even the whitening cleansers!

Basically, my point is, you don't necessarily have to go and get those suited for acne/ oily skin. Simply because, these type of cleansers tend to be more harsh and irritating on the skin than the usual cleansers out there. Forcing it upon your skin because of a localised breakout could further aggravate and irritate your current breakout, or aggravate other parts of your skin that is otherwise healthy.

The most fundamental rule about cleansers: Go with the ones you're most comfortable with

If you have breakouts and at the same time, dislike that ' tight and dry' feeling you get from a certain product, don't carry on using it. Always remember that your treatments don't necessarily have to come from a cleanser.

The second tip is : Go with the flow

Your skin is ever changing! Some days your skin feels great. Some days, not so much. You can switch up your cleansers on a day-to-day basis depending on your skin's current state.
I have three cleansers I alternate from depending if my skin is feeling sensitive, dry, or very oily. Well, you get the drift.

The third tip: Don't wash too much or too often

I usually stick to twice a wash a day. Washing too much may irritate the skin, and thus may aggravate your current acne. Additionally, if you have oily/combination skin, it may even stimulate your sebaceous ( oil) glands to produce even more oil, which is the last thing you would want.

The forth tip: Always use a make-up cleanser to remove your makeup!

This might seem obvious, but some ladies I know don't do this. This could risk some leftover makeup residues on your skin that could clog your pores.
I would always use a cleansing water to get rid of my makeup and would then follow it up with my regular cleanser on my face.

My favourite make up removers are the micellar solutions. It looks like water but it is actually not! My absolute favourite is the Caudalie Cleansing Water. I have the Bioderma Sensibio as well, but nothing quite beats the Caudalie one.

So enough about that, lets get on to the cleansers I think are worth mentioning!

Oct 24, 2014

Clear Skin: The Cause of Breakouts & Tips

photo by me

We've all have had experiences with blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. No one wants them. 

I myself dealt with acne for years. At one point, my forehead was covered with angry and painful pimples, even my scalp wasn't spared. At that point, I was willing to do anything to achieve clearer skin. I've tried everything as well. I went for facials, I tried the blue light technology, I even tried changing my diet!  Dairy, nuts, and anything with a high glycemic index or oil content were all thrown out. Regardless of my efforts, I had minimal success. Oh and before you ask, yes I have tried loading the vitamins as well.

After countless trials and errors, I think I finally got it down on how to achieve clearer skin. I'm really excited on this new series because all these tips have really helped my skin over the years. Of course, I still get the occasional breakout, but everything is basically kept under control. 

So here is what is coming in the next few posts! Do stay tuned for :

Clear Skin : Exfoliation Is Key Part I ( Salicylic Acid) & II ( AHAs) 

Clear Skin: Treatments

Before we get down to business, I think it's important to first establish the two main causes of acne. They are what I call the environmental induced acne and genetically induced acne

 What I call 'genetically induced acne', usually involves painful cystic acne, usually found in the deeper layers of the skin. This is compared to what I call the 'environmentally induced ' ones that are usually found on the surface of the skin. Such cystic acne, like the name suggests, is generally genetic and inherited.

Thus, for those under the 'genetically induced acne' category, it is my observation that a dermatologist's intervention is usually necessary and that the drug isotretinoin ( used to be called Ro-accutane) have been proven most effective. It works at the genetic level to diminish the size and secretion of the sebaceous gland ( say bye to oily skin!). However, it is potent and in this case, I would advise those to seek a medical opinion on it if you're interested in it, especially before any deep scarring comes into play.

Truthfully, the former are much easier to self-treat due to the reasons already discussed, although the tips from this series may soothe the latter's skin aggravation as well.

So let's get rolling!

Oct 17, 2014

One Trick For A Slimmer, V-shaped face

You have an occasion later, or none at all. You want to look beautiful and have that confidence that radiates from within. But wait, you wake up with a puffy face. These things happen,
so take heart for there is a solution. Using no products or expensive tightening facials. Just a simple, elegant home-made mask. You probably already have what you need at home!

This mask is suitable for all skin types. Even for those with sensitive skin or oily skin (which I happen to have both). 

Ingredients :

1. Half a tablespoon of yogurt ( any is fine, though I'd personally avoid the favoured ones)

2. Half to one teaspoon of instant coffee granules or left-over coffee grinds 

3. 3 quarters to 1 tablespoon of oatmeal 


4. Half a teaspoon of honey 

The benefits:

Oct 9, 2014

Cheapest way to get Real Techniques Brushes! (International - Singapore, Australia etc)

Real technique brushes was all the hype one or two years back. Tanya burr, Pixiwoo, Zoella were all using it. They are affordable, super soft on the skin and they even look great on your vanity. If you're living in Singapore, you would know that just two years ago, you couldn't get them anywhere. Real techniques didn't ship them online and I had to get mine from a little blog shop for SGD $24 that I found on Google. Now that drugstores like Watsons, Guardian and online retailers like Luxola jumped on board, one would think that the problem is solved. But it's not.

 They are so overpriced. 

In the US, Real techniques are priced US $9 for their Expert face brush, but in Singapore, it costs us SGD $ 18 ( USD $ 14.2). Not only are they overpriced, most of the bestsellers like the Expert face brush, Blush brush and Setting brush are always sold out. Plus, they don't carry the new and latest products as well!

When my mother was going Australia I asked her to pick some up for me. However, after checking online, I found that they too, were really overpriced.

 So this post will show you ladies out there how to get these brushes at an affordable price internationally. Be it Singapore, Australia or the country that you're residing in.

Oct 5, 2014

Philosophy | Brand Impression Part II

As mentioned in my previous post, I attended a Philosophy skin care workshop and was able to walk away with some travel-sized goodies! So here's what I got:

Miracle Worker Anti-ageing Moisteriser & Miracle Worker Overnight

If comparing ingredients alone between the two, the miracle worker ( left) has more essential oils ( corn, sunflower, macadamia, olive, linseed, rapeseed and sesame) while the other has more plant extracts and lactic acid (read my previous post to find out more). Although it's a different form of vitamin C in both creams, the idea of having vitamin C in both day and night moisturisers is nice as well.

Take Shelter UVA/UVB SPF 30 PA+++ sunscreen

I'm actually quite impressed with the broad range of sun protection it provides. It has the highest UVA protection of PA+++ which protects the skin from premature ageing.

Also, as I was checking the ingredients (as I would usually do) , I was really surprised. On their website, Philosophy only said that there was a 'complex blend that helps neutralise skin radicals'. Nowhere did it market that there were multiple fruit and plant extracts ( namely watermelon, orange, ginko, green tea),  lactic acid, vitamin C ( in form of ascorbic acid and ascorbyl palmitate) , coffee extract and caffeine in it!

If you've been following my posts you would know that have a big love for lactic acid. I have mentioned products that contain it in my Philosophy Brand Impression and Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask recently. It's basically an AHA that acts as a chemical exfoliant to slough off the outermost dead skin cells on your skin. This is commonly used in anti-ageing products and often would leave your skin smoother and might even reduce appearances of fine lines. It's nice to know that this sunscreen would actually benefit my skin in the long run.

(To read in depth of lactic acid click: Clear Skin & Anti-aging; AHAs (pop-up window) )

I was surprised that the anti-oxidants chosen to 'neutralise skin radicals' was Vitamin C. Surprised that there was ascorbyl palmitate in it, which is decently stable. More surprised that Philosophy did not push market that there were vitamin C in it, as most brands would do.

(To read in depth on how your skin benefits from vitamin C read: 5 Reasons Why You Need Vitamin C in Your Skincare Routine)

Lastly, there's coffee extract and caffeine in it. Who would've known? A possible reason I think why Philosophy would add this into this is that they may want their customers to feel more rejuvenated after using their product. It is a known fact that caffeine can be absorbed through the skin quickly. Ladies should also know that caffeine can constrict the blood vessels under the face, which would temporarily slim down the face. However, those concerned over caffeine intake should be warned away from this product. Having personally suffered from a bloated face in some mornings, there's a home made caffeine mask I would make to effectively slim down my face for that day. The recipe for the home-made mask can be found in my post : One trick for a slimmer 'V-shaped face.  So I guess this is an added bonus to the sunscreen.

Microdelivery Exfoliating  Facial Wash

I was expecting this to be a chemical exfoliator. When I found no chemical exfoliants in it's ingredients a search online simply showed that it had exfoliating beads to physically exfoliate the skin, which I'm not too excited for.

Comparing it to other physical exfoliators, this fares pretty well. The beads are fine, offering decent exfoliation without feeling too scratchy. 

Total matteness: oil-free mattifying pore refiner

This toner aims to minimise oil production throughout the day which it did - when paired with an oil-control primer. It also contains lactic acid which provides chemical exfoliation as well.

Be warned that this can cause slight stinging sensations and is best used when chilled.

Coconut frosting lipgloss ( full sized) 

Oh my, I love the coconut scent so much. It smells so tropical and creamy, it's just a divine experience putting it on my lips. I have accidentally ate some of it ( yes, it was an accident) and it is sweet! I can't make this up. I'm not recommending any of you to taste it either, but it tastes sweet!

I don't know how else to put it but I really love this. It was really unexpected because I didn't expect much from a brand that specialises in skincare. Plus, the tube packaging isn't a very good indicator of a good lipgloss in the makeup world. It reminds me of those Forever 21 lipglosses they sell by the cashier actually.

On to the texture itself, it comes off thick and sticky on the hands, but rest assured it does not feel sticky on the lips. In fact, it feels extremely comfortable to wear. It may look awfully white, but it also does not alter the colour of your lipstick as well. The best part, it gives your lips a beautiful subtle sheen! Major plus points to philosophy on nailing that part down. I personally do not fancy an overly shiny lips that some lip glosses provide. I don't think it's flattering on me. I was quite apprehensive at first when I saw that the lipgloss had some shimmer, but the effect was minimal.

Overall, this is one yummy lipgloss that happens to be a very flattering for a daytime look. It retails for SGD $18 at Sephora. I highly recommend this if you love a good transparent gloss and the coconut scent.

So thats all for the samples! I hope this post was useful and do tell me if you've tried any of it.


Oct 3, 2014

Philosophy | Brand Impression

Something quite exciting happened on Sunday... thanks to Luxola, I was invited to Philosophy's skincare workshop! I was thrilled because I love trying new products. There were only six spots available per slot so I was really lucky to be part of the six. My only regret was that it was such a small event I never got a chance to take some pictures.

The workshop itself was hosted in one of Philosophy's store. It was just a small workshop where we got a chance to learn and try out their products. Their skincare expert was there to teach us about the brand, recommend products specific to our skin type and promote their latest product: the Miracle worker Overnight. She even went a step further to  teach us 5 steps to practice to have a 'Miraculous Morning'.

If you're curious, it is:

1. A breathing exercise : breath in for 5 seconds, then hold breath for 5 seconds, breathe out 5 seconds, hold breath for 5 seconds and repeat.

2. Never drink coffee on an empty stomach

3. Make a positive affirmation : " I choose to have an awesome day"

4. Make a positive music playlist

5. Step out of your house with your dominant foot by checking which is the dominant nostril
(the lady swears by it, although she did admit it could be psychological )

Although I'm not discounting any of the statements above. I thought they went slightly overboard with the marketing don't you think? But definitely an A for effort right there!

It is nice to note that point 1 is actually a commonly used method to ease anxiety, and was personally taught to me years back as an exam tip. (To allow the brain to receive more oxygen for increased alertness)

On to the actual brand impression, here's what I thought of the products I tried on site :

Miracle Worker Overnight - age-resetting, anti-ageing moisturiser

First and foremost, I really dislike how most of Philosophy's moisturisers comes in a jar. As mentioned in my review on Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Ash Mask,  jar packagings are a rather unhygienic way of storing a product. At the price of SGD $85, I think they can do more.

On the actual product itself, the moisturiser was very light and fluid in consistency. I would feel safe putting it on myself knowing that I wouldn't look greasy in a few hours time. My guess is that they modelled it after their bestselling moisturiser : Hope In A Jar. There was definitely a scent to it, which was neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but I definitely detected some slight plastic hint in it. To each his own, some may even like it.

This product supposedly has an "age-resetting complex" from a rare algae in France and a "next generation Vitamin C", or so I was told. Not sure how true it is, but I'd take it with a pinch of salt.

Checking the ingredients, I like that there are fruit extracts (orange, lemon and apple) and that there is lactic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) commonly used in anti-ageing products to reduce appearances of wrinkles. (read more about AHA below) On the other hand, I'm not that big fan of the alcohol and fragrance added to it.


Even though I have not tested the product on myself, but just judging from the texture alone, this is pretty decent because of how lightweight it felt on the skin, rather than the usual thick night creams many have encountered.

Due to the presence of the lactic acid, your skin will most likely appear smoother from the exfoliating effect it provides, some fine lines might even lessen. This is especially so if you are new to the ingredient. However, there are many products out there with this same ingredient for a cheaper price. As for the effectiveness of the algae and vitamin C, it is hard to say. This algae is supposedly quite new, and little is known on how stable this 'new' type of vitamin C is. If you're considering on getting it, my advice would be to try it in their stores or Sephora, and if possible, get a sample.

Microdelivery peel- in- home vitamin c/ peptide peel

This was the next item she recommended to us. This was promoted as a 'complete skin makeover in just 3 minutes'. With vitamin C/ Peptide resurfacing crystals, it is said to exfoliate while delivering vitamin C and peptides into the skin. As the beauty assistants were demonstrating the products on our hands, I was quite impressed when I felt a warm sensation, as if the product was really working. I was also loving the citrus scent coming from the scrub as well. I could immediately see why so many ladies love this product so much.

Later when I actually did some research, I found that the warm sensation was actually just an acid-base reaction which we all know, gives off heat. In Step 1 was the sodium bicarbonate ( commonly known as baking soda) which is slightly alkaline in water, while step 2 was the salicylic acid, which, according to Paula's Choice, is pH 2. So don't be fooled by the warm sensation ladies!

However, out of all the products I tried there, I believe that this was the product that delivered what it promised the most: exfoliation. Not the vitamin C or the peptides, but namely the crystals which acts as exfoliating beads as well as the combination of salicylic acid and lactic acid.

The combination of the three would guarantee smoother skin per every use. Salicylic acid or BHA, is a common acne-fighting ingredient as it exfoliates into the pores and surface of the skin to fight blackheads, whiteheads and acne. (To read more about salicylic acid and products that contain them in my post: Exfoliation Is Key ( Salicylic acid) )

Lactic acid is the gentle AHA that exfoliates the outer surface of the skin, making your skin smoother. You can see why this combination of acids and crystals works well on so many others. With the additional warming sensation and the citrus smell, this is definitely a pampering treat for the skin- if you can tolerate the price tag of SGD $ 109.

Personally, this isn't a product for me. I'm a firm believer of chemical exfoliation and I tend to stay away from any physical exfoliators. Though I know ladies who love physical exfoliants, I'm not one of them. I actually find them too abrasive and harsh for the delicate skin. I also found this product to be too overpriced for an exfoliator, even with the vitamin C peptides. No doubt, this is slightly more of a luxury item, not a must-have for your skin.

Turbo booster c powder - 99.8% topical vitamin c powder

This little bottle filled with powder was one of the few products that caught my eye on the display. The idea of mixing vitamin C into my daily water-based moisturiser sounded really great. As far as I know, there are little in the market that offers such a powdered add-on. When I asked the kind beauty assistant to test it on my hands, the powder turned the serum used milky white. And 10 minutes later, there were even some chalky residues of the powder on my skin. Oh the horror.

I also knew that many topical vitamin C were actually unstable and would break down before it could fully be effective on your skin. There are mainly three types of vitamin C: L-ascorbic acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate and Magenisum Ascorbyl Phosphate ( MAP) with the L-ascorbic acid being the most unstable and MAP being the most stable. Willing to blame that little bit of chalky error on the choice of serum used, I kindly asked the spokesman if the vitamin used was stable. She then proceeded to tell me how their vitamin C was more potent than most vitamin C products in the market and after beating around the bush a little bit, she admitted that it actually wasn't that stable.

When I went to Philosophy's website to check the ingredients, I found that it was ascorbic acid ( similiar to L- ascorbic acid). Some mentioned that because the product is in powdered form, it makes it more stable. It does sound possible but I still wished that it was made of MAP instead. As of now, there's just too much uncertainties about it's stability to make a purchase.

So until Philosophy changes the formula of this product, I would personally give this a miss. Besides, nothing can quite beat a healthy diet rich in vitamin C for good and healthy skin!

Note: To date, I have yet to find an affordable vitamin C product. However, those keen on getting your hands on such stable vitamin C products should know that brands like Estee Lauder make products with very stable Vitamin C. The products includes: Perfectionist [CP+R] Wrinkle Lifting/Firming Serum, Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum,
CyberWhite HD Advanced Spot Correcting essence serum correction,Idealist Even Skin Tone Illuminator and Idealist Pore Minimising Skin Finisher.

Conclusion : 

While some of the products at philosophy are effective and promising, namely the chemical exfoliants like micro-delivery triple-acid brightening peel, microdelivery peels and retonoid pads, I still find them to be quite overpriced. There are definitely more reasonably priced and effective alternatives on the market without having to fork that much cash. I still don't personally use Philosophy products for this reason, although I will give the samples I received a go.

I have shown the samples and the brief overview of it here : Philosophy Brand Impression part II

PS. Philosophy is hosting another skincare workshop to the public on 15 October 2014 at TANGS (singapore) from 6.30 - 8.00pm! Just thought that some ladies out there would appreciate it:



* credits: photos above taken by philosphy.com