Skincare: 19 posts

Vetiver Mist

Forest Essentials is an Indian beauty brand inspired by Ayurvedic treatments. It has a collection of skincare, creams, lotions, soaps, body mists and perfumes. I can’t comment on the Ayurvedic authenticity of its formulations, but the scents–jasmine, sandalwood and rose, turmeric, vetiver, narcissus–are beautiful. I like that they are based on the Indian perfume palette, and using these products is one of those small pleasures that make a day better.

One of my favorites from Forest Essentials is its simplest–Vetiver Spring Water, which is a vetiver hydrosol. It can be used as a facial toner, body mist or even a middle-of-the-day, pick-me-up spritz. Vetiver is soothing for the skin, and while it can be used on all skin types, it’s especially beneficial for oily skin. It’s also known for its regenerative properties, which is why vetiver extracts are often used in formulations designed to treat scars and acne.

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Antioxidants in Skincare – The Ordinary EUK 134

Ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol Manganese Chloride is not a name that rolls easily off the tongue, but it’s touted as a powerful antioxidant and a new miracle skincare ingredient. Granted, so far the studies have been sponsored mostly by Estée Lauder, but since The Ordinary, a company it invests in, offers ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol manganese chloride, also known as EUK-134, I decided to try it.

The Ordinary EUK-134 is available as a 0.1% dilution, a transparent brown colored gel. It’s meant to be applied in the evening on clean skin. It absorbs slowly, leaving a tacky finish, and despite the color, it doesn’t stain. It didn’t make my skin react in any way–no redness, itching or spots. I’ve used it for almost two months with hardly any changes to my skincare. During the day I’ve been using The Ordinary Buffet, followed by a simple pharmacy moisturizer and a sunscreen, and in the evening, after washing my skin, I’ve been applying a thin layer of EUK-134. My skin is normal-combination, so I don’t need anything else to follow the serum.

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French Pharmacy Micellar Waters and Cleansers

I’ve been loyal to La Roche-Posay Toleriane and Johnson & Johnson Purpose cleansers for many years, but I still like to test new products to see if there is something better out there. After all, skin changes over time, and so do product formulas. When I was recently packing for a trip, I discovered that I had accumulated quite a few skincare samples and testing notes and I thought that I’d share them here. These products are among the most popular ones at the European pharmacies.

Since everyone has slightly different skincare goals, I might as well mention what I like in a cleanser. As I’ve described in My Skincare Route, for my first cleanse in the evening, I use an oil-based cleanser such as DHC Cleansing Oil. For the second cleanse, however, I turn to a gentle foaming cleanser that doesn’t dry out my skin. It should leave it soft, with a comfortable, soothing feel. I use micellar water to remove makeup, refresh my skin after I get home in the evening, or during travels, when I need to streamline my routine and skip the oil cleanser. Even if some of these products haven’t passed the goldstandard test for me, many came close.

Micellar waters, by the way, are not the same thing as toners. The names comes from micelles, tiny spheres* of cleansing compounds suspended in the aqueous solution. One part of a micelle is hydrophilic, with an affinity to water, while another  is lipophilic, ready absorb or dissolve in oil, and as the argument goes, with skin sebum and dirt. Each brand uses a slightly different formula for the surfactants that aggregate into the micelles, but the idea behind all of them is similar–a water-based cleanser that requires no rinsing.

*Actually, micelles can come in shapes other than spheres; it depends on the molecule shape of the surfactants that make them. Just a chemistry geek note.

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Radiance Skincare Routine for Fall

Everyone has different goals for their skincare routine. Some people seek to reverse sun damage. Others want a product that will control shine or minimize the look of their pores. Different age groups also have different concerns, as do people who live in different climates. But if your goal is to find a simple skincare solution that will nourish the skin and leave it brighter and fresher, I would like to share a few things that work for me.

The biggest change in my skincare routine happens in the fall when I start using more exfoliating products like alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) or a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) lotions and serums. Although one reads that neither acids nor retinol increase sun sensitivity and can be used all year round, I made a point of verifying it with several dermatologists, and they agreed that anything that exfoliates the skin will make it more sensitive. Which means that using heavy exfoliation in the summer will either negate the results or leave the skin damaged.

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Top Favorite Japanese PA++++ Sunscreens

“Apart from genes and healthy lifestyle, nothing will make as much difference in the way your skin looks as sun protection.” These words come from my mom’s dermatologist in Kyiv, a woman in her late seventies who had the most beautiful skin I’d seen. It had all the natural signs of age, but it was smooth, even toned and glowed like the inside of a seashell. At the time sun worship was a religion, so her advice seemed outlandish. Nevertheless, so impressed was I that I decided to follow it.

My mom’s friend would have loved visiting Japan, where the skincare wisdom is based on daily sun protection. Parasols on a sunny day outnumber umbrellas on a rainy afternoon. Unlike in the US or Europe, where a tube of sunscreen comes out only for seaside vacations, women (and men) use sun protection every day. Which means that the expectations from the skincare brands are high. Not only are the sunscreens more cosmetically elegant, with finishes that make skin look healthy and smooth, but they also offer excellent protection against UV radiation.

For the past few years, I’ve been spending more time in Japan, so it’s been fascinating to learn of new products and try many different cosmetics. My favorite Asian sunscreens still remain the ones formulated for the Japanese market. They tend to have soft, matte finishes and wonderful, light textures. Many products contain alcohol, since it not only makes for an easier formulation, but also because it gives a cooling effect on a sweltering Japanese summer day. I avoid it. My combination skin is prone to dehydration, and I avoid anything with alcohol. The only exception on my list is Shiseido SENKA Mineral Water UV Essence, because the alcohol in that formula doesn’t bother me.

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