Beauty: 66 posts

Scented products other than perfume: candles, creams, incense, oils, soap and much more. I also include skincare tips, favorite makeup discoveries, DIY ideas and beauty rituals incorporating scents.

The Ordinary : Review with Sample Routines

The Ordinary is a relatively new skincare brand that did something so radical that it caught everyone’s attention. It showed that you can make effective skincare products at affordable prices. I realize that the internet is full of reviews of these products, but since I have tested them for over a year, I feel confident to give my opinion on the results. I also would like to share a few sample routines.

Deciding how to use The Ordinary is something I found difficult in the beginning. My skin is combination, and it can be capricious. The brand promotes its products as inexpensive, and while it’s true that many are under $10, the collection is enormous and if you buy everything indiscriminately you can easily spend a hefty sum. So which products to get? In what order to apply? How to combine several serums into one routine? The Ordinary skincare products don’t fall into the usual toning, firming, hydrating categories, so figuring out how to use them–and how to maximize their benefits–took some research. The Ordinary website gives a few regimen suggestions, but it still left me slightly confused. Below is what worked out best for me, although it’s by no means the only way to use The Ordinary.

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A Brief Guide to Vitamin C Serums

When I shared my skincare routine, the most frequent questions you asked concerned vitamin C, so here is my short guide on how I use it, why I like it and what are some of my favorite Vitamin C products.

Out of all the ingredients that skincare companies advertise as miraculous, vitamin C (along with retin A and retinoids) has been shown in independent, clinical studies to have real benefits. It’s a potent antioxidant that prevents sun damage. It increases the production of collagen, even in adult skin. It brightens the skin and helps to lighten sun spots. It’s anti-inflammatory, which means that it’s a good ingredient for those who struggle with acne or rosacea.

This is all good news. The bad news is that Vitamin C is highly unstable. Because it’s such a potent anti-oxidant, it begins to bind to free radicals of oxygen even when it’s still in the bottle. Which means that it becomes potentially damaging to the skin! The sure way to tell is if your Vitamin C serum has changed color and turned yellow or orange, but many brands cheat and add botanical colorants. Then, there are formulations that use so little Vitamin C, it makes no difference. Or they use a type that doesn’t convert to the active form in the skin.

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My Skincare Routine and Layering Technique

Many of you have asked me about my skincare routine, and of course, I’m happy to share it. Skincare is my favorite part of my beauty routine, and while it may sound like blasphemy for someone who works in fragrance, I’d rather imagine going without perfume than without sunscreen. I also enjoy researching the best products, reading studies in dermatology and comparing active ingredients, and skincare offers plenty of such geeky delights. At the same time, I don’t want to spend an hour each morning and evening doing my skincare treatments, and I’ve worked out a routine that takes me a maximum of 10 minutes from start to finish–and it can be compressed even further, as I will explain below.

skincare routine2

The main principles of my skincare are cleansing, hydrating and sun protection. I don’t use particularly expensive products, apart from the eye cream, and I prefer to layer products. In other words, instead of using one moisturizer, I use several layers of moisturizing products. My skin is combination, and layering helps me to keep my skin hydrated and soft, without a risk of blemishes.

Such layering skincare routines are usually described as “Asian,” but of course, you don’t have to use Japanese or Korean brands. In fact, most of my favorites come from North American and French lines. The only exception is sunscreen, since no other country makes more effective and cosmetically elegant products than Japan. The main principle of layering to keep in mind is to start with the thinnest products and finish with the heavier creams.

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Roses and Jasmine : Skin Toners

One of my favorite discoveries during my stays in Japan was the skincare. Any beauty store, from the glitzy establishments like Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya to the emporia like Matsumoto Kiyoshi and Ainz & Tulpe, has knowledgeable staff that not only can help you select the right products, but also diagnose your skin type and choose the right regimen. This is how I discovered the versatility and usefulness of face toners and mists. In my new column, Putting on the spritz: face mists, I cover some of my favorite products, both naturally scented and fragrance-free, as well as ways to incorporate them into a skincare routine.

spritzes
Although my face toner schooling took place in Japan, most of the products I use are made by the American and European brands that offer well-formulated and interesting choices in all price ranges. I mention all of my top favorites in the article: Clinique, Tata Harper, May Lindstrom, Omorovicza, pure rosewater and more.

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Sunscreens : An Update

This is the second installment to my original overview of (mostly unscented) sunscreens. I have so much to say about Asian sunscreens that I shall keep them for a separate post, but today I will cover a number of selections from American and European brands. Unlike the first selection, this group includes products I disliked or found lacking in one aspect or another. Many of them have received glowing reviews from leading skincare bloggers and dermatologists, but since skincare is never made to suit everyone, I thought that another perspective would help those looking for the best sun protection.

sunscreens

First, I should mention what I look for in a sunscreen. My skin is combination and a sunscreen shouldn’t irritate it. It should also leave a satiny, non-oily finish. It should be lightly moisturizing. It should allow for layering–I reapply sunscreen at least twice a day. I also prefer my sunscreen unscented. Finally, and this is the most important part, it should have full spectrum protection, UVB and UVA. I don’t have preference over the sunscreen being chemical or physical, but a mix tends to have the best results in terms of finish and protection. This is my ideal type, if you will, and yes, such a sunscreen exists (many of them were described in the first article.)

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